22 Hours North

I am Ryan.
I wear a dead man’s pants.
I never met the guy, but I like his style, and I like the way his pants stretch, because my thighs have gotten thicker.
But I think I had left off waiting to hear where the company in the opposite end of Kyushu would place me, + that is where I start.

It turned out that they wanted to put me someplace really seriously uninteresting, but I, politely, wasn’t having any of that.
I looked on their website to see if they had some places any discerning person might want to live, and I saw a description that sounded just like the town in Chichibu I once lived in.

I used to like living there   <  …kind of >.
I liked the temples, trees, and mountains very much at least.
I only left because back home my mom had come down with intestine removal cancer, and as nice as the nature was on weekends, daily life there was a dire crushing weight – magnified somewhat by the very slim prospects of ever meeting a single woman without embarking on a 3 hour (one way) journey into Tokyo.  Really all the young people I ever saw in Chichibu were just passing through (very quickly) or already married with kids, farms, high cholesterol, and/ or back problems to attend to.

Seeing as I’m married now and 3 hours is probably close enough to Tokyo to make my wife happy, I suggested that that company stick me back there.  There are still some temples and places I’ve been wanting to go back and paint after all.
The person I talked to said they’d pass my request along to the appropriate branch – The “get me the hell out of Kagoshima branch” (if there was one).  Much as I would have liked going back, it seems lucky now that they didn’t send me there.

It’s lucky because the company went bankrupt the next month, …and I would have been jobless/ out on my ass again, …only in a scenic mountain village instead of a scenic seaside one.

I looked at other jobs, but traveling up to Tokyo etc., to talk about working can only happen very rarely when you only make about $300 a month.
Eventually I found an ad from a company I had had an interview with 3 years prior.  Back then, I had been living discontentedly in urban Saitama, and had hoped that they might be able to find me a job someplace with trees, or temples, or mountains …like Chichibu.  They offered me a job, but it was in one of those places you would never choose to live if presented with a choice.  (I chose to try Kagoshima instead.)
This time when I talked to them, they had a tentative opening in a place right near the base of Mt. Fuji.  They remembered me well enough to agree that it wasn’t really necessary for me to fly all the way back up to the center of the country for another interview.  Lucky!

I like to think they remembered me because I’m Awesome,
but it may be because they have good memories,
or because riding a bike through 3 cities in the rain to arrive there for a job interview is memorable somehow;
It might be some combination of the 3.)

Anyway, I sent in the papers they asked for.  Then we all waited around to see if the town really did feel like hiring somebody else to work there.
When they decided they did want somebody, I didn’t have enough time (or money) to fly up to Tokyo to get their approval before starting the job.
I would have an interview at an as yet undecided date.  If things went well, I would have to move there within the same week.  If for some reason they changed their minds about hiring anyone or wanted someone else for the job, I would be very much out of luck.

I had almost a week to pack up my house and drive from the absolute southern point of the southernmost section of the southernmost prefecture in Kyushu (itself about as far south as you can go and not be in Okinawa or Indonesia).  I stuffed everything of any weight or value from our house into my little car until I thought I heard a windows crack. I could not put my seat back at all, or open either of the rear doors or trunk without things bursting free and spilling loose of the car.

———————This story needed a line going through it here and there.———————1

I drove: a little over 22 hours north: cramped in my teeny tiny, very cheap car – which doesn’t have so much as a functional tape player.
I spent about 16 hours of that trip trying (unsuccessfully) to get any kind of music on the radio.
I took a break for almost 4 hours and slept upright at a rest stop from 4:15am until the 8am tour busses started parking boisterously besides me.  I passed many places I wanted to stop and see, but I didn’t have the money to pay to get on and off the highway to do it.  I ate old cold French fries I got with a coupon my wife had, and soy hot dogs I had packed from home because nowhere along the way was there any vegan food to be found (without getting off the highway).
I ate slowly while driving – slowly, because it wasn’t until the 2nd day when my car was able to move all the mass inside it faster than 100 kilometers per hour.
I went all in one go, alone, with nothing but a stack of print outs of maps my wife had made and highlighted to help find the way (although a lot of the way it was dark and I couldn’t see the maps).
I arrived there, in the span of 30 hours, still knowing nothing more than the name of the town.  It might have been quicker, if my legs didn’t get cramped in that little car after driving for only 30 minutes.  It’s a problem I’ve had before, so I’ve learned to drive with my left leg as well, but even doing that I had to stop and stretch them occasionally.  (I also like to see what the Hello Kitties in rest stops in different regions look like.)

I left Kagoshima early Thursday, and passed through Nagano Late Friday afternoon.

The people in Nagano weren’t wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts like I was.  They weren’t walking around shirtless like my friends in Kagoshima had been either. You generally don’t even need long pants in Kagoshima until mid November.  Here it was still only September, so I left all of mine at home with my wife,
but it was cold!
Although I did have the good sense to pack a windbreaker and a long sleeve shirt, I must have packed them under or behind everything else I brought, and I couldn’t get anything out of the car without investing a lot of time getting pretty much everything out,  …in which case, trying to get them all back in again would be no trifling matter.

I was ‘shocked’ to ‘see’ how cold it was!
Kofu was not nearly as cold as high up in Nagano, but still colder than I had expected.   I got there about an hour and a half before the real estate agent’s closing time.  The maps my wife had printed out helped give me an idea of the layout of the streets, but there were a lot of streets, and a lot of traffic!  I did manage to find the place, somehow, however.  Let’s just say I was lucky.

The idea was that I look at a bunch of places to live, then if the meeting with the town went well, I could go back to the shop, pay the real estate agent, unpack the inside of my car, and have a home for when I started work,  < …If I started work. >
(I’m not sure what I would have done if I didn’t get the job.  Driving all the way back to Kagoshima wouldn’t have helped; There were rarely any jobs there, few that lasted, and never any good ones besides.  My wife always hated it there too.)

——————–This story needed a line going through it here too.——————————-2

The real estate agent spent about 40 minutes brainstorming reasons why he shouldn’t rent an apartment to me:
“You can’t speak Japanese.”
“… But you and I are actually speaking in Japanese right now.”
“You can’t speak Japanese like a Japanese person.”
“How did that become the criteria for renting an apartment?”
“It’s because you can’t read the contract. …You can’t read the contract can you?”
“Probably not, but I think my wife can probably read the contract.”
“Is your wife Japanese?”
“Oh, that’s great.    …But she’s not here now … is she?”
“Nnnnnnoooo…, but she doesn’t need to be here to read a contract, and she doesn’t
need to be here for me to look at apartments.

<  And I wouldn’t think they’d get an awful lot of people coming in and reading through a contract without at least, say: looking at an apartment.  That much I did not say.  >

“….Surely you could mail or fax a contract to her if needs be.”
“No we can’t fax a contract.  < Are you mad?! > Will she fly here tomorrow?”
“No I don’t think she will fly here tomorrow.”


I sent my wife a message while the guy went in the back of the office.  She said her mom or sister could sign the contract for us.  I hadn’t thought of that.  I told the guy:
“her mom and sister could both read and sign it”.
“Well we actually want 2 other people to sign it.”
“That is 2 people.”
<Roll your eyes;  Most people would assume that her mom and sister aren’t the same person.>
“Oh. …How old is her mom?”
“I don’t know.     …60?”
“Hmm, that’s too old.  She can’t sign it.  Plus, you can’t speak Japanese.”

<So, so, so much wanton mis-generalization there. …It’s hard to find a place to start.>

“You know we are still both speaking in Japanese right now.  And What!?  You won’t rent apartments to old people?”
“Oh yes!  Of course we do! But if there was a problem, like if you had a dog, …and it was too loud, and we needed to call you to tell you that, then you couldn’t understand us.”
“Well, okay!  …because I clearly didn’t understand anything you just told me about
the hypothetical situation where I have a hypothetical dog, which was hypothetically too loud.  …and I couldn’t just hand the phone to my wife when she comes to live here next month, after we get the dog, if there were ever a problem, …hypothetically”

<I don’t remember the exact conversation.  It was long, and long ago.  I don’t know how to say “hypothetical” in Japanese either.  I just mean to say that after more than 26 hours in a small car, I would have liked to have slapped that man around and hard! >

But they had the nicest apartments, and the biggest selection of them.
In other countries a dickwad of a real estate agent like that would suffer some loss in business, because you could see what a dick of a man he was, then go to any other real estate agent and see any of the same apartments without having to deal with him.
But in Japan, if you want to see 8 specific apartments, you might have to visit 8 different shops.  And if you aren’t Asian/ easy to mistake for a Japanese native, you’ll probably get treated like a strange beast that crawled in through the window – As in’:  “Should we wait calmly for him to find his way out, or should we try to push him out with our file folders?”

I called my wife – not having seen any apartments.  The shop closed.

——————–This story needed a line going through it here and there.———————3

I got to Yamanashi a day before I expected to, so I had an extra day to try to see places where I could live.  It was cheaper and far more convenient to stay at a cheap hotel than it was to use the highway to drive another 2 or 3 hours to my mother in law’s house.  The people at the hotel directed me to an Indian Restaurant, which offers a buffet if you go in the afternoon. I like Indian food!    (and buffets)

My wife called her mom + explained the situation about the real estate agent.  Her mom, a very  determined  lady, called me at 8am, 8:25am, and 8:30 am, to tell me that: she was going to call the guy, that she had just called the guy, and that she would be calling the guy back.  This led me to believe that the owner of that shop was probably going to have either a change of heart, or a very long day.  In fact, when I arrived there a little after 10am, he worriedly asked if she was going to continue to call him all day long.
I felt no sympathy for him.

It was another guy who actually did show me the set of apartments we were interested in.  He was pretty nice.  I asked him if he knew anything about the Indian lunch buffet, and he said he didn’t because he isn’t allowed to eat at the office or take any lunch or dinner breaks at his job.  …So I guess his boss is just an all around dick.

He showed me a pair of apartments that were adjacent to graveyards, and another apartment that had a graveyard on 2 sides of it.
I didn’t mind that so much as the fact that there wasn’t enough parking.

I found a nice yellow house split into 2 sections, each with an upstairs and a downstairs.  It had a small space for a garden, a slightly newer looking kitchen, a bathtub that would reheat the water, a nice view of Mt. Fuji, with some fruit trees and a temple right nearby.  It also turned out to be quite close to where I would be working and not built on a graveyard.  The parking is pretty good too.

My wife called a couple other real estate agents that had apartments worth looking at too.
“Meet this real estate agent at this park in 30 minutes she told me.”
“I don’t know where I am or where the park is, and the traffic seems bad.” I said.

I stopped for gas and asked them how I could get there.

“Did you really drive here from Kagoshima?” they asked me.
“Do you know where this, or this, or that is?” they asked me.
“I did and I don’t.”.
But I somehow got there about 3 minutes early and was quite proud of myself.

It was when I arrived that I first came to think how it might be hard to tell a real estate agent you’ve never met from any other – normal person you’ve never met. They’re generally inconspicuous aren’t they?  Although maybe a few of them are dicks!

She found me about 15 minutes later and said I was in the wrong part of the park, but I was still proud I made it to the park at all.  She also asked if I really drove all the way up from Kagoshima.
I had!

The apartment she showed me was really odd. The only room you could keep a washing machine in, was too small for a washing machine.
Well, you could fit a washing machine in, but if you ever wanted to be able to open the bathroom door more than a small small crack, you would have to detach the washing machine and drag it out the front door or the house.
<So if chubby people ever came to visit, they would have to find a place to pee outside.>

It was advertized as having 3 stories, but to get to the room on the top floor, you had to use a special hook on a big metal pole to pull down a trap door with a ladder, and  anyone opening a door anywhere on the second floor would knock you off the ladder…  The whole apartment was long, but very narrow.  The walls were very thin.  The neighbors on each side had children, and the nearest parking lot was 5 minutes away by car!
There was no bicycle parking either., so you couldn’t ride a bike to where you car was parked, you would have to jog there, …or take a taxi.

My favorite real estate agent was the woman who drove a bright pink van absolutely stuffed full of Hello Kitty paraphernalia and fluffy lacy things.  She had gigantic fake eyelashes.  The apartment she showed me still had all the dishes in the cupboards.
Having visited a total of four shops, I drove further on, from Kofu to Saitama, where my wife’s mom lives.

—————-This story needed more lines going through it here and there.——————-4

The next day, I went back to the same company I had visited 3 years earlier.  They explained the pay and the company rules.  Pretty standard all of it:
“Show up and leave on time.”
“No kicking a man when he’s already unconscious”,  etc.

Some lady who works there – who would be in charge of me, drove me all the way back to where I was the day before and got lost from her 1st turn off the expressway.  She had a lovely personality.  I only say this because she didn’t.
I was worried about the interview – I mean,
…I was worried in as much as I ever worry about anything…
so I suppose I wasn’t the slightest bit worried about the interview at all,

But I did think to myself that it would be unpleasant to have to drive my little car all full of allll my stuff allllllll the way back to southernmost Kagoshima.
Really, I needn’t have even not worried (as I actually hadn’t) in the first place!

We went into the town office and sat at a little table with a small group of people. Someone got up and told the old man at the big desk in the center of the room that the people were there for the interview.  He said something loudly in Japanese which I think translates best as:
“Ahhhhgh!! Christ! I have to do an interview too now?!”

He came over ‘ungracefully’ and sat.  “Plopped down” is the phrase they use.
He sighed.
He looked at the paper.
He looked at me.
“Please do a good job.” he said and got up to go back to his desk.

But before he could actually take a step, someone asked if maybe they shouldn’t ask me some questions.  He sat back down,    like bricks in dirt.

“Are you married?” someone asked?
“I got married last year.” I said.
“His wife is Japanese.” said the lady who drove me.  (Japanese people are typically thrilled to hear you have a Japanese girlfriend and so far, it works the same if you have a Japanese wife.)  The old guy said:
“You better watch out for those Kagoshima women.”, and he made an angry face, a yammering noise, and put a finger up on each side of his head to look like a devil.
“But his wife is from Saitama.” said the lady from my company.
“”Oh!  …They’re even worse!!” said he, with his fingers up on top of his head + making noises again.
“Tell me about it!!!!” said I.    < I mean, I can really appreciate that! >

Somebody else asked me where I live, and I didn’t quite say how I was drifting – homeless at the time, but I showed them the paper from the real estate agent that explained about the apartment I liked the best.

“How’ll you get to school?” was the only other question asked.
I said I’d go by bike if I could, but I didn’t know too much about the town’s geography just yet.
“That’s impossible!” said the old guy.
“It’s too much: up, down, up, down.  You’ll get to school and be too tired and fall asleep and have to go home because you’re too tired.”
“But he did ride his bike 12 kilometers to get to his old job.” said somebody who seemed to be reading it off of a piece of paper.
“12 kilometers?!”  (I guess that was the last question asked.)
“Yeah, it was far, but it didn’t have the up, down, up, down.  I was several years
younger then too.” I said.
“Ah, you’ll be fine.” Said the old guy’s back, half way back to his desk.

The lady from the company drove us back.  She didn’t get lost on the way back.
What she did was ignore the flashing big electric signs warning people that the
road through Tokyo was experiencing heavy congestion (or maybe she didn’t ignore it, and just thought it would somehow still be quicker to go that way than using the more direct route with no traffic jam (? I dunno.)).

Eventually… we got back, and I signed the contract, then stayed at my mother in law’s place for 3 more days.  It was quite boring there, but comfortably boring, except when it was time to eat.  That was less comfortably boring.

You see, she started growing vegetables in a rental farm plot, and she was growing something slimy that she served great quantities of breakfast, and lunch, and dinner every day
She and my wife’s sister did whatever paperwork needed to get done to get us a place to live.  I met my old roommate, the guy that helped me move 8 out of 11 times, and he gave me a futon to take to the new place.  I had to loose some things from the passenger side seat of my car to get it in, but it worked out alright.
I started working on Friday morning, the 1st of October, and I wasn’t to get the key to the apartment until that same Friday evening, so I stayed at a hotel the night before (and went back to the Indian restaurant again).  I went back for lunch probably Saturday and Sunday that weekend (and many other days) because they do have the buffet, and I didn’t have any way to cook anything aside from using a toaster (which isn’t really cooking).
I also didn’t have any lighting fixtures, nor furniture.  No: fridge, gas or running water at first either.

The gas got turned on after the 1st night, but the water took 2 more days!  I found a little community gym near my house where I could use the bathroom during the day, and I didn’t need to go so much at night …there being no water to drink and all…

I ate dry seaweed and dry toast with canned soy hash for dinner until my wife’s mom asked how it was going in the new house and I told her that there was still no water.  She apparently had the real estate agent send someone to fix it up.  After the water and gas were both finally working, I ate instant vegan ramen for lunch and dinner for the next week and a half.  It was better than that slimy vegetable my mother in law had been feeding me continuously,
and only twice a day.

I didn’t have a fridge, so I couldn’t keep soy milk or margarine.  I could only have toast with jam for breakfast (presuming the sugar in the jam would keep it preserved well enough in the short term/ until I got a fridge).
I brought my insulin to school everyday because there was a fridge there to store it in.  Of course I forgot it there one evening and had to go back.  I was just about to pour hot water on my night time brick of hard ramen noodles when I realized it, and I was glad I could get back in the school to grab it at 7:30pm.
During those 40 minutes I was gone from home, the shipping company came and left 6 boxes of stuff my wife shipped from Kagoshima (including my bike).

I asked the nice old lady who lives next to me if she could sign for them if they came because, sure enough, after days of waiting at home in the evenings, that’s when they arrived.

My wife’s mother had given me a small package of something to give to whomever we found we lived next to; I guess it is good to introduce yourself that way.  I knocked on her door the day I moved in + gave the little package to her.
In return, the nice old lady gave me a bunch of grapes.  I told her I enjoyed the  grapes and asked if she could please sign for my boxes if they came while I was out, so she stopped by with more grapes when she saw me stuffing the boxes in the door.

It was a lot of free grapes!  I spit all the seeds into the garden, but we aren’t producing wine just yet.

I had spent hours disassembling my bike to try and fit it into the smallest box possible (in order to get the cheapest shipping possible).  Of course, having lived in Kagoshima for a time/ the time where it rained continuously for 4 months, my bike was all rusty, and a lot of the screws were rusted tight.  Even after spraying them with a rust stripping agent, the rusted up faces of the screws generally fell apart before coming loose, so I had to leave the kick-stand and a few other protruding parts as they were.

I have switched a part here and there from time to time, but I’ve never taken an entire bike apart, or put one back together before.
I did a fairly good job I think…
I didn’t get bike grease all over the house or anything….
I only got a few big spots on the back of a door (somehow).

——This story needed at least a few more lines going through it here and there.———-5

The bike was rusty, but it had always worked well enough before shipping it.  After spending 3 or 4 hours trying to put it all back together (all the ball bearings that had come loose when I pulled out the rear axle for instance), I came to the conclusion that a part that fit inside another part should probably be a part, and not 2 parts all bent up.  The only bike shop I had seen was very far away on foot, so I had to undo some part of my reassembly work to get the bike in my car, to take it there, to get their opinion.
“$95 for a new rear wheel” was what they said, and it took them a week to get the parts and put them on.  Finally, after the whole 1st month had passed, I had a working bike, and I’ve hardly used the car at all since, …as is my custom.

——This story didn’t need a line going through right here exactly but, there you go——6

Waking up anytime in the morning is generally too early for me, but I have to get up very early in order to get to work on time.
Traffic in Kagoshima was when a few cars got stuck behind a farm tractor for a few minutes.  Here, with all the cars on the road in the morning, it took about 30 minutes to drive the 5 kilometers to school.  <  What is that?  3 miles? >  At school, when I asked where I could find a convenient post office, one of the teachers pulled out a book of maps to show me.  I looked at the map and found that the road I used to get to school the 1st few weeks, which had seemed like the most direct way, was less direct than the road that I live on, which also happened to be far less crowded!  It’s only a 12 minute bike ride there now, and a 7 minute bike ride home.
That hill is monstrously long and steep! – just like the old man in the town office had failed to adequately imply (despite his efforts).  It wakes me up in the mornings at the very least.
After the 1st few weeks, my old roommate who usually helps me move came in a big van and helped me again.  He brought a smallish fridge, a washing machine, another futon, 2 very small tables, a hairdryer, a couple blankets, and an assortment of curtains – all things that people abandoned at the guest house he works for.  It’s not the greatest stuff of course.  And I don’t even have the hair to work the hairdryer on, but it was all free, and my wife had forbade me from buying any furniture until she arrived (3 months later).
(This I would have ignored if I had had any money, but I only get paid once a month, on the last day of the following month, and I had hardly been paid much of anything down in Kagoshima besides, so I couldn’t buy any furniture.)

Anyway, I was glad to have a small table to rest my only bowl on
…as I sat on the floor against a wall
…in a room with no lights,   eating ramen
…night after night after night.

Of course at that point, having a fridge too, I bought some food to keep cold, and quit having ramen entirely.  I bought a couple really nice cups and a serving dish at a recycle shop back then and my wife is still mad that I didn’t call her to consult her about it;They have cute little bunnies on them, so clearly – no consultation was needed.  I actually did call her a few times back then, but she always hung up quickly complaining about the cost.
Those damn women from Saitama ARE a giant pain in the ass!

————————————–There is a line here.————————————————-7

Hooking up the washing machine was a giant pain in the ass too!  Our apartment doesn’t have the same awful design flaws that that other place I looked at did, but there were still problems.  The space for the washing machine was, thankfully, large enough to fit a washing machine.  The odd thing about it is: It’s on the second floor, and the drainage hole in the floor doesn’t line up with the drainage outlet on any washing machine I’ve seen.
I got in the shower after turning the machine on for the 1st time, and I wondered why the water in the shower wasn’t draining out.  I got out of the shower, dried off, went into the next room, and wondered why I was still ankle deep in water.
Flooding! Oh my!

I used my only spare towel to push all the water on the floor of the washing machine/ sink room into the drainage hole under the washing machine.  I was too busy mopping up water to realize that the machine had started another rinse cycle.
Busy, busy.

All of that water also got spit out onto the floor.
It took a little over an hour to do all the cleaning there.

Then I went downstairs to have breakfast, but couldn’t have breakfast yet, because it was raining in the kitchen.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that either.  Saying that it was raining in the toilet might be considered an exaggeration, because, in truth, it was merely drizzling in the toilet.  If it weren’t for the light in the bathroom ceiling collecting several inches of the water coming through it would have “rained” harder there too.  That light still works somehow (by the way).

It was full on raining in the kitchen though.

I had to wait for it to stop, wipe the ceiling, and throw away all the sugar and salt I bought the week before (because colored ceiling water leaked into the cheap containers I’d bought to store them in).  I had to rewash all the dishes in the affected area because there were brown and orange streaks on them.  Pieces of ceiling tile grout fell periodically over the next month too.

Pretty much every weekend after that, I’d have to mop up at least some water on the floor of the room with the washing machine because the outlet hose would not go into the drainage hole without having a serious kink in it.  I think it was after the 3rd try that I went to a home center and bought some bricks to prop the damn machine up enough to stop that from happening.
I bought some plants and some nuts and bolts there too.
I like to keep house plants, but I usually can’t keep them from dying for long.

I used the nuts and bolts to build a bike shelter out of old cardboard boxes behind the building.  It’s ugly, but it keeps my bike from rusting in the rain any more than it already has.
The problem was, that wild cats, or the nice lady next door’s one eared pet, used my bike shelter as a place for a leisurely pee, and my bike tires as a way to keep their claws sharp.

I got to school one cold morning, 13 minutes uphill.  (I go slower in the cold…)  It generally warms up somewhat in the afternoons, not a whole whole lot, but it seems it was enough to somehow make my rear tire explode after leaving it parked for a few hours.  It was 13 minutes uphill, and about 40 minutes to walk it back down.  Then it took more time to take my bike apart again, stuff it into my teeny tiny car again, and drive back down to the bike shop again.
Replacing the tire and the tube cost about $35.  When considering that, with the cost of the rear wheel, the brakes wearing down, and the cables and everything else rusting everywhere, it gets to be where it makes more financial sense to get another bike,  ..I tell myself…  But the more I think about it, the more and more deluxe the one I imagine one day buying becomes.  I still wouldn’t be paid for another month and a half at that point anyway, so it was better to keep repairing the cheap but sturdy thing I have.
My wife was supposed to have moved up about a month after me.  That’s the 2 weeks notice required, plus 2 more weeks for politeness sake, and another month and a half on top of that because her pharmacy down in Kagoshima took their sweet sweet time not doing anything about her leaving.  It’s February now, and I don’t know if they’ve even hired anyone to take her place there yet.
I probably should have been upset to have been left alone in a new house, in a new town, with few appliances or furniture for so long, but instead I had a great time playing video games all night and not catching dirty looks about it.

————There’s another line here just for the sake of having another line here.———–8

She did fly up to her mom’s house one weekend in November to go to a friend’s wedding in Tokyo.  She brought a lot of stuff to pass off to me to take to the new apartment: shoes, clothes, the cat…
The cat seems to like jumping up on the washing machine, and stepping on all the buttons so that it turns on in the middle of the night.  He also likes running up and down the staircase – despite not being much good at it with his little legs + extra weight.
A friend of mine warned me that cats go crazy if they ever move house.  Ours wasn’t so bad, but he did scratch a few places initially, and he peed on a futon one day while I was just leaving for work.  I had to toss it in the bathtub with some bleach + citrus scented bath stuff – to keep it from drying + smelling like something to pee on again.  It took a week to soak, wash and dry.  Thankfully it has not rained here but once in 3 months.
While I was washing it, my phone fell out of my pocket and broke, so I had to stop at a post office on my way home from work to ask where a phone shop was.  It was back near where I work they said; At least I know now.
Cats purportedly don’t like to scratch or pee where it smells citrusy, so I bought a bottle of orange scented spray cleanser.  He still scratches the wallpaper beneath the window ledges when he tries to just up with his stubby little legs and extra weight, but not too often and not too badly.  I have, however, decided to always keep the door to the bedroom closed, so he wouldn’t have any opportunity to pee there again.

Not long before Christmas I rode my bike up and down some roads I hadn’t explored yet.  I often do that to get a better idea of the lay of the land/ what is where…  I got home and it was chilly, so I put the kettle on.  I didn’t see the cat at all, but I figured he was just sleeping somewhere.  Then I decided I should go to a local jewelry design place’s Christmas sale before it ended – it was the last day you could go.  I got my wife her big Christmas present there (and another for her birthday too).  It took some time to pick it all out, and I stopped at a store on the top of the very big hill on my way back.

When I got home, the house stank.  I wondered why.
It was because I had forgotten to turn the burner off when I went out, + all the water had probably long been cooked out of the kettle I had left on long long ago.  I could only guess how much longer it would take for the house to have burnt down, but it still smelled quite badly + the gas bill was really high that month.  I opened a lot of windows to air the place out + wondered, again, where the cat was, because he wasn’t trying to jump his short legged chubby self up on the window sills like he usually does when I open them.
I didn’t bother to look for him though, because the store called to say that I had left behind the food I bought.  (The cashier had carried the shopping basket to another counter while I was digging my money out of my backpack to pay, + I had just gone home without it all.)  I had to go all the way back up the very big hill again to get that stuff.
The air was a lot better outside anyway, cold though it was.
I got back from the store the second time and heard the cat meowling.
He was trapped in the bedroom.  He had probably snuck in while I was dressing that morning.  In the meantime he peed on the futon again so, again with the same process of soaking it in scented disinfectant, and leaving it out to dry for several days.

Almost burnt the house down, huge gas bill, forgot the ingredients for dinner at the store, cat pee on my bed again:  It’s not the worst day I’ve ever had.
It’s good I had the spare futon, and luckily, it had only rained once in 3 months.
I made a plastic flap for the front of my bike shelter with some old packing material. It remains to be seen whether the wild cats, or the neighbor’s one eared semi stray cat can still hide there and scratch my tires to ruin.

I actually could have had the tire switched at a motorcycle/ scooter/ + old lady bike shop on my way home from school, but they only had standard mountain bike tires, and I remembered the big shop I first went to had several different types.  I switched the rear tire to an almost entirely smooth one, thinking it would be a lot faster most of the time.
That seems to hold true.

It was noticeably faster at first at least, but now, never raining has turned to occasionally snowing, and when I go anywhere by bike, the back end gets no traction and drifts around behind me when I make more than the slightest turn.
It’s funny because I fall on my ass!

—————————–There is a line here too. ——————————————————–9

I seem to be a lot more interested in cycling these days, perhaps because it’s the best way to get a good look all around a new town.  Also, Jack, who lived in my old town in Kagoshima, once worked at a cycle shop back in the old country.  From time to time I’d get his advice on replacing rusted parts of my old durable cheap rusty thing and on what kind of a bike I could replace it with – if I were ever paid anything (or granted some wishes).  He had a cool bike!  Our drunken Japanese friend in the same town – saw that we two were thin + rode bikes, so he, and his father also bought relatively cool road bikes they pretty much never used – either of them.  I’ve been thinking that I’d like to get a road bike too.  They seem to use less leg power and attain much higher speeds; I love when things work efficiently.  It’s also nice to get a little exercise – to keep my insulin working well, and I only have to fill up the gas in my little car every other month (at most).
I figure I can take advantage of the weakened dollar to get a used bike off of ebay of a higher quality + at a lower price than a new one at a store here. < Better model at a lower price >
Shipping is still expensive though, …and I don’t want to tell my wife that I plan on keeping a finely crafted Italian racing bike in our TV room (where wild cats can’t get to scratch at it).
When she’s not watching TV, she’s often complaining about the cool looking Kabuki banner I put up in there, or the few Buddah statues I have in strategic corners of the house.
“It’s bad style.” She tells me when she isn’t saying it’s “ugly”, or “not romantic”.
“Your mom has a big Kabuki banner hanging up in her house and this one is much
nicer than hers.”
“No it’s not.  Hers is okay.  This one is ugly.”
“Hers was probably black and white when she hung it up 30/ 40 years ago, but now
it’s brown and dingy brownish white.  Ours is clean and fits in that space perfectly.”
“It’s not romantic.  I don’t want to do ‘anything’ when I have to look at that.”
“You don’t have to look at it, and you won’t do ‘Anything’ unless all the lights are off
anyway,  so it shouldn’t matter.  And since when are you romantic?”
“I am romantic.  You are not romantic.”
“Neither of us are romantic!” – Which is probably true.

I always get the last word in in these conversations because I am always right.  Also, I’m the only one who is typing this.

——————-I suspect these are good places to start or stop reading————————10

The TV room is the only room that has a heater, so that’s the one we usually use when we aren’t cooking or sleeping.  We got a TV for it.  It’s on top of one of the small tables my old roommate gave me.
When we lived in Kagoshima we couldn’t get a TV because she didn’t want to have a nice TV in an old house, and she didn’t want to have to move or ship it when we did eventually go.  There was also the matter of our part of that little town getting no TV reception without several signal boosting devices.
We picked it out when she flew up for her friend’s wedding.
Whenever we go to her mom’s house, the two of them sit there for hours staring at the TV and saying:
“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh” anytime anything happens.

I figured she’d want a TV to be there right when she moved up, so she could watch and say:

“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh” until she found a job.

We looked at some newspaper ads for TVs. + larger refrigerators, as the one my old roommate brought for us was really too small for 2 people; Those 2 people usually try to maintain large stocks of: soy-sausages (soysages), and pickles each respectively.
Her mom took me to 3 shops in her town 2-4 times each because, like I said, she is a very determined lady.  Much like the cool ass bike I haven’t bought yet, I only wanted to buy these things once, and use them for years and years until they’re all worn down to dust.

“This fridge has a special space for pickles.” Her mom said.
“Yeah, but this one has more space for frozen foods.” (soysages et. al.) said I.

At the 3rd shop she asked the salesman to drop his price on a nice fridge which he did, reluctantly, after a few minutes time.  Then she took me back to the 1st shop.
I wouldn’t have believed it, but by stubborn insistence she got the salesman there to drop their price $200 below the lowered price at the other shop, …and she never told him that that price at the other shop was for the smaller sized model.  Then she took me to the 2nd shop again (this was the 2nd time).  They didn’t have that brand of refrigerator, so she seemingly just picked an even larger one at random and asked them to reduce its price below the already twice reduced price from a twice smaller sized fridge, 2 shops ago.  The salesman and I were both surprised – him more so.
Then we went to recycle shops.  She had never been to one before, but we went to all of them that day.  She has since developed a genuine fondness for them.

I had already spent a month looking for one of those Japanese tables you stick a heater on the bottom and a blanket all around.  (They only had ugly ones in my town – at their cheapest for $110).  She got a guy at a recycle shop to sell me the biggest one they had for $29.  It was also ugly, but $81 better looking as I see it.
Of course I couldn’t fit it in my little car, but she said my wife’s sister’s family would drive it down to me before the month was up.  (The guy at the shop said it would have to be picked up within 30 days.)

When we got back to the 1st electronics shop the 3rd time, it was evening and we had spent the whole day at it.  She had them knock another $20 off the final price of the fridge and TV, and they agreed to deliver them both to where we live for free.
I played a pair of Spiderman games with the Wii my wife never really used on the big new TV until I found the ultimate edition of Dragon Age on Ebay.
After a year and 4 months of playing off and on (but mostly on), I’m beginning to see where it might, one day, not be quite so much fun anymore,
…but it’s not there yet,
and Dragon Age 2 will be out in less than a week, so I can foresee my time being sucked down a marginally different – black hole of fantasy nerdsmanship.

——————————————-This is another——————————————————11

My aunt gave me most of her large stockpile of insulin in July, and it all expired in November.  It’s early March now, and I’m still using it, but I went to a doctor in December to get unexpired stuff just in case.
In October, the town sent some kind of advisor up to the school to consult with all the teachers individually on their personal health concerns.  The vice principle said that I looked plenty healthy, but if the town wanted me to talk to a young girl advisor on their dime for 20 minutes, I may as well do it.   She gave me a list of doctors good for Diabetics, so I just chose the closest one off her list + went there.
Some doctors ask me what + how much they should prescribe me, others take all my medical information + use a graphing calculator to determine how much, and of what they should prescribe me.  I invariably lie to these doctors to skew their calculations to get more insulin per visit, so I need to go back less frequently for it.  With a “good” doctor + careful exaggeration, I can save on office visit fees (as much as $300-$400 per year), which would be better spent on a sexy Italian racing bike.  This doctor also seems to want to get an Italian racing bike, because he hurridly makes me an appointment just before I leave every time and disappears before I can thoughtfully postpone making a reservation.
I’d like to stop going there so often so I can save the hassle as well as the $60 office visit fees – even if the girls at the pharmacy (+ my wife) are cute.


It got much colder near the beginning of December, and I started to wonder if my wife’s sister’s family were really going to be coming by to visit with the ugly cheap heated blanket table I bought.  I asked my wife’s mom, but she didn’t remember saying that they probably could.
That’s okay, because I remember her saying it twice,
…so if you average them together, I am still right.

Apparently she brought my brother in law down to the shop with her (on one of his few days off), and they disassembled the table, stuffed 99% of the parts in a box and spent much too much money to mail it here – express.
I don’t know why they did it express.  Mailing something that big + heavy – express probably made it cost as much as a new one at the store here.  It also took me a week to get to the store to buy a bolt the right size to attach the last leg to it, and I didn’t get the kind of blanket part you need to use it for another 3 weeks more, so it’s not like I needed to have it leaning 3 legged against my wall that much sooner.

It was quite nice to have working here at last though.  I can turn the table on and switch the kerosene heater off sooner + not worry about my computer overheating while I’m playing Dragon Age.  The cat likes to hide under it (where it’s warm and dark), and sometimes he pounces on legs that go in or past it.

Easily the biggest problem with the cat is that it has extra long hair in the winter.  We didn’t know that when we got him early last spring.  His shorter summer coat was coming in then…  As it is now, “things” stick in it when he goes to the bathroom.  I like my cat a lot, but had I known this when the drunk man passed him off to us, I might have refused.
I’ve been wanting to take him to a vet to get “that”, and his screwy eye consulted on.  I’ve got enough in real actual money now to do it even.  It took awhile, because of the 2 month delay in being paid here, and me having to pay back my wife for the 2 and a half months I was in Kagoshima without work/ not being paid at all.

The 1st weekend of December, she/ my wife flew up for our friend’s wedding.
I once asked this same friend if she wanted to come up to Nagano and go skiing, but she didn’t, so I asked my wife if she wanted to come up to Nagano and go skiing.  She came a bunch of other times after that, then she was there all the time, then bothering me about getting married.
I think I could blame my wife for making 4 people get married now as:
l    our getting married was her volition,
l    this other girl stayed with a guy she knew after coming to our wedding party in NJ
l    It was a few weeks after when she realized she was pregnant.

I didn’t introduce them or anything of the kind, but the people at her wedding all said
“Oh!!  You are Ryan!!!!”  as though I was the sole party to be thanked or blamed.

I’m only mentioning all of this because they had a dessert buffet at their wedding party, and the Fruit tart was really really good!
How is it I had never come across one during my 1st 32 years of life?
+ Why is it that nobody told me it was only a 10 minute buffet?

The third weekend in December, late on a Sunday night, my wife drove up here from Kagoshima and ate all the potato chips.  Her car is a lot newer, and she drives scary fast – and just plain scary, but she only beat my time by 3 hours somehow.  Maybe that is a lot faster.  She was caught in 2 separate traffic jams so,  …Yeah,   much faster..

She saw the 2 single sized futons my old roommate had given us, and thought I didn’t want to sleep in the same futon as her.  I never said anything of the kind.  I had to remind her that she had forbidden me from buying anything for the house until she arrived, and that the single futons were free, but even then she was only marginally less sad.
She gets sad + angry over the stupidest bullshit.

It’s more than 2 months later and we’re still using the 2 single sized futons because she’s decided she likes it better that way.  She says I take up too much space, which may well be true,
…but I have photo evidence of how she usually sleeps, and her idea of comfortable bed space is 3 sleeping bags wide splayed out diagonally limbs wherever they will.

This time she stayed up 'til 12!


One day she asked me if we should keep our snowboards in the other room, and I said the top of the closet would be the best/ the only place big enough to hold them.  She suggested we just leave them in the other room against the wall.  I said I didn’t
“…want all that shit in there all year round…”,   and she went crazy,
…like she does.

While I made breakfast she moved all her stuff into the other room, and put everything in that room belonging to me and to the cat, in a box.  Then she didn’t speak to me until night time, when she asked if she should just move back in with her mother.

We had been talking about the 2 snowboards.  (Hers is nice by the way. Mine truly is “shit”.)
<”Shit” is a colloquial synonym for stuff.  It does not necessarily make the inference that it is stuff of a lower quality.  Sometimes it does.  To be fair, I would have to admit that there is a very minor negative undertone to it’s use here, but I just meant that they were too large to be leaning against a wall until we move out.>
But she somehow decided that I was:
1.    Not talking about our snowboards, but only hers
2.    Not talking about snowboards, but everything else she owned too
3.    Not merely talking about everything she has, but her as a person too.

I had always heard married men on TV talking about how their wives get really angry for no clear or discernable reason, and I always thought that they were probably just not understanding something; Something insignificant to them perhaps, but something real.  Is it just my wife that concocts wild fantasies and gets glaringly angry at me over them?
Another time I was using a small towel as a bathmat, because we don’t have a bathmat, + that’s what we’ve always done.
“Why did you put that on the floor?” she said.
“I didn’t. It’s been there for a long time.”
“It’s dirty now!  Why did you do that?”
“Do what? It’s been there for a long time.  I didn’t make it any dirtier; I just got
out of the shower.”
“You ruined it!”
“I didn’t ruin it!  It’s fine!  It’s still a towel! And I didn’t do anything to it that you
yourself haven’t been doing for weeks! What are you mad about?”
“Throw it away!”
“I’m not throwing it away!  There’s nothing wrong with it!  You can wash it later
if you really want to.”
“You are that kind of person!” she said gloatingly in Japanese, snatches up the towel and turns away.  I chase after her, naked as I am, and grab it back before she can throw it in the garbage with all the used kitty litter.  (That would be gross).
She kicked me in the thigh.  I deflected a punch and pushed her away.  I also held my hand with the towel in front of my groin, because she was still angry, and I was still naked.
She comes back into the bathroom after me and grabs at all the other towels up on the shelf and starts throwing them on the floor!
“That’s making things better isn’t it?!!” I yelled.
She tried to hit me again, but I didn’t laugh at her that second time.  I grabbed her arms to keep her from hitting me or throwing more stuff around, and she tried to hit me again.  She pulled hard and kicked at the wall and fell down on her ass and started screaming like I had killed her family and eaten them.
She screamed for 2 or 3 minutes like a 30 year old new born angry baby, then she ran downstairs.  I dressed myself.  I went downstairs and made breakfast quickly expecting the police to show up at any time, and I don’t think they serve vegan food in Japanese jails – not that I did anything wrong, but when one is a woman making that much noise and one is a foreigner: things are not going to work out to my benefit.
I went in the room with the TV and the table to eat.  She sat watching TV and laughing on the telephone.

I would love to not be married when she’s having one of her ‘crazy spells’, the rest of the time – for the most part I merely don’t mind being married.
She also wants to fight about money from time to time – usually once or twice a week.  She says I can’t save any money.  I say that I used to save lots, but I can’t save money when I have to pay for tons of wedding stuff, nor can I save it when I only get paid $300 a month.  She laughs at me like this is a stupid excuse she has heard many times.  If she would kindly stop hounding me about money, I would gladly stop reminding her of how my financial health is a necessary outcome of the situation she had imposed.
.  She makes nearly 3 times what I do, and lately thinks it’s a good idea for me to put half of my pay in a “shared” bank account that doesn’t have my name linked to it in any way.
“You are out of your fucking miiiiind!!!” says I. “There is no god damn way I am putting half of what I make into a bank account I will have no access to the next time you get angry over nothing!”
Now the idea is that I make a bank account that she will put money into, so I’ll at least be able to buy a plane ticket home when she decides to set the kitchen on fire because the weather is bad – or whatever other screwy offense she comes up with next.
Last night it was the same thing – for more than 2 hours.
“I told you to save $1,200.  You can’t even do that.”
“I saved more than a thousand, and I don’t get paid that much”
“I told you to save $1,200.  Where’s the rest?”

I switched telephones because the company I had been using was charging me 3 times the rate I would pay if I switched.  It cost me $200 to get the new phone and cancel the old plan.

“Why did you have to do it this month, why not next month or next year?”
“Because I have to pay $20 more for every month I waited to switch; I’d have
$240 less money if I waited a year – which is more than the $200 you’re bitching
“I knew you couldn’t do it.”  She said with glee in her eyes.
“You make a lot more money than I do, it’s easy for you to do.  Why don’t you pay
the same proportion of your salary as I do?”
“I don’t know what proportion is.”
“I get $2,300 a month, and you decided that I have to pay you $1,200.

< I pull out my new phone with the calculator function. >

That’s 52% of my pay.  You get $5,000 per month and you pay $1,300.  It’s easy for
you to pay that!  It’s only 26% of your pay.  If you want to save the same proportion
as me you ought to be paying a little over $2,500.
“Why should I pay more than you?  That’s not fair!”
“Well it’s not fair for you to decide how much of my money I should put in your bank
account.  I also do nearly all the cooking and cleaning!  Why don’t we split that
“I work later than you.  You have more time to do it!”
“Exactly!  I have more time to do the housework, and you have more money to put
in the saving’s account.  So, I should do more work here, and you should pay more
than me,
or at least get off my case about $200 from some stupid number you made up!”
“I don’t understand what you are saying.  Give me the $200 why don’t you.”

She wants to buy a house with it.  I think that implies that the sexy Italian racing bike I hope to get one day soon will not be so sexy, or Italian,  ….or anytime soon.

I still check on E-bay often and yahoo auctions.jp less often for a good deal on one.  (I do have a good bit of money saved up in my own country, despite what she says.)  I even bought one, not an Italian one, but a high spec model at a good price I assumed I would be able to use until I am too elderly to use a bike.  Then when the guy I bought it from was packing it up, he noticed that the serial number was missing, and asked what I wanted to do about it.  From what I’ve been able to learn, expensive bikes (and other things) are inspected before being sold, and the ones that fail inspection can often work their way onto the market out the back door of the factory.  They say that the slightest crack or flaw in a carbon framed bike can lead it to fall apart underneath you (probably when you’re going fast enough to make it really painful).  That’s not to say I’m not still interested in it.  I’m just interested in paying a lot less for it if I’m going to wind up sliding down the big hill on my skinless back with broken pieces of bicycle trailing down behind me.

Speaking of broken, my snowboard is.
Part of one of my bindings keeps coming free when I turn, so we went to a recycle shop to see if I couldn’t get another set or just a replacement binding for cheap.
I couldn’t!
The bastards at the recycle shops here charge so much more for things than other parts of the country. I paid $20 for the board and bindings 5 years ago, in Nagano, and I’ve seen better for even less in Saitama. Here just the bindings without a board cost $40 and up!  My wife has since confessed that she doesn’t like snowboarding anymore, so it’s good I didn’t buy a replacement there.  I did find a green winter cycling jacket for the same price while she was looking through all the books and clothes.
It’s great because it keeps me from freezing when I ride my bike up the bottom of the big hill – early in the morning.
It also keeps me from sweating too much when I finally get near the top of the big hill – early in the morning.
It keeps the wind out when I ride down the big hill in the evening at 65.9 kilometers per hour (that’s on a mountain bike with bad brakes), and it has lots of pockets for gloves and the ninja mask type thing I got myself to keep from breathing so much cold hard morning air deep into my lungs as I go up to school.
It’s really comfortable too, so I’m reluctant to take it off at school (which is often just as cold inside as it is outdoors).
After the first week, I somehow got black ink all up one of the sleeves.   I’ve had so many bad accidents involving art supplies and: clothes, my jacket, my watch, my car, my bike, my old phone, the cat, the walls and floors and doors of all the places I’ve lived in, but

The dead man’s pants are still in good shape at least.

————————————————-14th part———————————————————

Like I said,
I never met the guy.

He was taller and thinner than most folk, and with just a few exceptions (a $600 rain coat for one), I think his other relatives had qualms about wearing his clothes.
My wife’s mother had me try on pretty much everything he owned when I stayed there before moving.  It took about 2 hours to get through it all.  It wasn’t 2 hours of checking how they looked on me in the mirror, It was a long, fast paced: “can you force them onto your body?”, then carefully refolding them exactly as they had been to maintain perfect creases.
I heard he was fussy about that sort of thing.
I was bothered by the smell.  My head hurt, my sinuses stang.
The smell of mothballs might have been strong enough to wake Mothra, and force him to flee his island home.

I went out to meet my old roommate to get the 1st futon he had swiped for me.  I was looking forward to breathing the clean air outside.  My wife’s mom stopped me at the door and determinedly (as she is very determined) recommended I take a jacket with me, because it was a bit chilly.  I stuffed a plastic bag in the jacket pocket, and I took it off as soon as I had got around the corner.  Then I put the jacket in the plastic bag and tied it shut.  My old roommate and his friend both still remarked on the scent, but we all thought it was funny how she had forced me to take a jacket – as though I was still only 5.
The clothes that “fit” on me stayed in a pair of boxes, themselves in bags, in the room with the kitty litter.

“Let the bad smells battle it out!” I thought.

After my old roommate came by with the small fridge and washing machine,… after I got the washing machine to wash without flooding the house up and down,…
I began to launder that stuff, with absolutely no regard for the maintenance of pleats and creases.

I learned with the 1st load not to wash any of that stuff with clothes from any other source.  Just one of my father in law’s old shirts could make a load of old socks smell ….odd.
I washed them, hung them out to dry, hung them in closets with burning incense, washed them with soap and bath salts, left them outside in the breeze for weeks on end…
But, or course,  when the wind blows at all here, my laundry pole goes sailing down from the second floor balcony into the dirt in the garden, or over the fence into the neighbor’s yard.  Eventually, when I tried to pull some of those shirts on, I realized I couldn’t move my arms or close the buttons over my chest, …and they still smelt besides.  Maybe he had always had them dry-cleaned.   < Waste of time! >


The garden is mostly rocks.  There are big ones and small ones and a bit of dirt mixed in too.  I tossed all the asphalt and concrete I found behind the house. I made rock paths through the small area, and a rock piles with a smaller rock pool against the far wall.
There was this one rock in the way of where I wanted to plant some spinach seeds, so I tried digging it up.  3 hours one weekend, and 2 hours the following weekend, with naught but a little hand tool, I was finally able to free it.  I would be just a little smaller than me if I curled up into a ball, but it was, in truth, a lot heavier!
I could carve a pretty serious rooftop gargoyle out of it if I had the tools, or a roof that could support the weight.  It looks nice out there anyway.  I like the way it all appears out the window.  I might sit out there someday if the nice lady next door ever empties the fishless fish tank full of stagnant green water she keeps in her garden right next to ours.
Any day in October, you could kill 2 mosquitoes just by closing your eyes and clapping your hands once.  This, of course meant, that there were plenty more than 2 mosquitoes flying around at any one time.  They didn’t quite qualify as a swarm, or a black cloud, but they would have, if not for the frogs.
White ones, green ones, brown ones, yellow, and pale grey-bluish ones! I’ve never seen so many frogs hopping around on dry land.  Does that make them toads?  They were all of them quite small though, so I doubt if they could have eaten more than a hundred or so mosquitoes each each night.
Frogs are great!  They look cool, they jump around, get rid of bugs, and they let you know when it is a hot summer night.

Years ago, at an Indonesian restaurant, I got a funny statue of frogs having sex.  It’s funny because frogs don’t have sex at all, and what they do do, they don’t do with the same enthusiasm.
My wife keeps hiding this colorful item in the closet because:
“It’s ugly.”  And
“My mom will visit someday.”
I admit, her mom probably wouldn’t understand the comedic value of that statue, but it spices the place up nicely.  I like to think it might inspire any curious frogs which also happen to come and visit someday.

It has rarely rained here at all, so maybe they were toads in the garden.
Anyway, whenever there is a lot of extra old dish or bath water I fill a small trash can full and throw it out in the garden to keep the vegetables alive.
I planted several types of seeds, but a green leafy thing like spinach is all we’ve gotten so far.  My mother in law also mails us big boxes stuffed full of vegetables from time to time.  I put a lot of her long tube onions in the ground in our garden, because it was just far too much food – for even a vegan like me to eat before it spoilt.

This is something else that makes my wife very very angry.
“It’s a waste to throw it away.”
“I agree, but there’s only so much we can eat.”
“We could save more money if we ate everything my mom sends us.”
“It’s not like I’m always out buying vegetables.  We only eat her vegetables!  I have
not bought any vegetables since you got here.  It’s just that she sends us too much.
I can’t just sit here chewing through cabbages for 6 hours a day, and the spoilt stuff
has to go somewhere”.
“But we should use the stuff she sends us!”
“We try to…  Why don’t you have some cabbage?”

I’d give the rest of the stuff we can’t eat to our friends, but neither of us have any friends here yet.

I tried to help her in that regard.

I mean, I can keep myself busy, and I don’t need a lot of chattering – women though,   …they like to talk.


My wife just started working at her new job 2 weeks ago.  She says the people seem nice and I am certainly inclined to think so too, but she isn’t quite on vegetable sharing terms with them yet.  < Next shipment perhaps? >

She had job interviews, phone calls, and appointments for about 3 weeks after New Years’.
One company said they would let her bring home anything from any of their stores home at cost.  They owned drug stores, convenience stores, and pet stores, so it seemed like a very nice bonus to me.
Me, I make less than the unemployed people who get handouts from the government for pretending to be looking for work; And I’m fairly certain I could pretend to look for work more convincingly than they.  Anyway,
Another company was going to pay her $3,000 just to agree to work for one of several pharmacies they introduced her to.
<It would have taken me more than 10 months to earn that much at my old job back in Kagoshima…>
Plus, there was a hospital that said they would make her the manager of their pharmacy department, and pay her an extra $20,000 per year so long as they had enough patients to do it. But:

I wanted to get some extra insulin before the winter vacation shut everything down, so I went to the same Dr.s’ and the pharmacy as last time.  The pharmacy had a cute young girl working there who stared at you like you were some sort of fascinating creature who just climbed in through the window and asked for drugs.  When I went back the second time I called my wife, who was returning from an interview somewhere else.
I thought she could take a peak in this other pharmacy, and maybe she could make friends with that girl (everybody likes to have more cute girls hanging around, yes?).  Maybe they were even hiring.
I gave that same girl my prescription as she stared at me.
I introduced my wife and said that she was also a pharmacist, and was currently interviewing for jobs. My wife had driven there, so I left her still in conversation, ‘cause women,   …they do like to talk.  And I went back home by bike.

We didn’t know it was that other girl’s last day, or my wife might have tried to get her number.  I would have liked to have known what the hell was wrong with her.
She didn’t make a friend.
I tried.

My wife did get hired to work there though, so I guess it wasn’t all a loss.

My job isn’t as spectacularly well paying, but I enjoy it well enough.  I help the real teachers when they do English classes, and I sit around – draw pictures, spill ink on new cycling jackets etc. when there are no classes.
Most of the teachers seem quite nice.  I still only speak when spoken to or when circumstances demand:

“Whose car is that?”
“That’s ====?=== sensei’s car.  Why do you ask?”
“They’ll probably want their keys back.  Can you give it to them?”
<keys hanging from the side of a car door>

At one of my old school some kids stole a teacher’s car and crashed it into a tree after taking it all around town.  This school seems a lot nicer.

They had a big party at the end of 2010 too.  I think was something like $50-60 for dinner and all you could drink.  I just wish someone would have told me it was only a 2 hour long party.  I would have eaten + drank a mite bit faster,
…or brought some Tupperware.

Parties are nice because it gives you the chance to find out who that ugly bastard who always sits across from you is, and what it is he does between naps.
<His naps/ my naps – all the same>

The kids at school are all very friendly too.  We played tag a few times when we were supposed to be cleaning.  There’s this one kid who’s always waving to me and calling out “Hey! Hey! Piss on me!”  I did clarify the meaning with him, but that really is what he wants to say.  He writes it on his papers sometimes too.  It’s only moderately less funny after several months.
“Good on him!” I say.  Also,
“Not on me!!”

One day they told me that they were going to have a marathon the next week, and would I like to join it?
“A marathon?”
“A real marathon?”
“Well for the students and teachers at this school…”
“A marathon?”
“Wow!     ……how far is this marathon?”

Only a quarter marathon, 13k sticks in my mind though, + that’s a bit more.  That’s a lot better than the half marathon I once did,
<back before I had the experience to know not to do things like that>.

What it came to was: run in a quarter marathon for an hour or two on a Saturday and you get off the rest of the day, as well as Sunday, + Monday.   If I slept in on Saturday, I would have had to spend 8 hours at school – alone – on Monday.
It was an easy choice!
And the pace it took to get 169th place wasn’t too demanding.
They had said it was a marathon for the teachers and students, but what they had meant was that it was a marathon for the students, …and the teachers to watch.

Why they all had to put track suits on to stand by the side of the road near their cars with cameras I cannot say.  Each of the other 2 teachers to actually try running it were both younger and slower than me somehow.  One of them came back in a taxi.


For Christmas we made a soy-pheasant, and the 1st of many fruit tarts to come
<and go but Damn!. Quickly!>  I got my wife a heart shaped pink gold necklace with some sort of stone – made by a jewelry design place in town.  I got her a lot of books, dried fruits, 3 pounds of some sort of bean she likes to cook with, slippers, Tim Tams from Australia, underwear, one of those Starbucks cups she’s always looking at
…I forget what else.
She got me a jar of salsa, and a can of bike grease.
I was at the store with her when she bought the bike grease (the day before Christmas), …or I guess it would have just been salsa for Christmas.

She also ordered a bike light I found on the internet (to replace the one that jumped off my handlebars while I was going downhill), but she didn’t remember to pay for it until well after New Year’s.  I like to have a light.  I think it keeps the cars from killing me at night.
I’m saving the bike grease for the cool ass bike I hope to get one day.  I mentioned that much already.

That afternoon we went to the winery that is 50 yards/ 50 meters from my school and had some samples.  I bought some bottles of hot wine to have with dinner and on cold nights.  She protested against the expense: $3.50 a bottle!
<She asked if she could have some almost every night after until they were all gone.>

She fell asleep immediately after dinner, so I drank the hot wine myself, and tried to talk with my family in New Jersey over Skype.  Whenever they asked about her, I would pick up an arm and wave it around at them or give them a thumbs up while she slept.

We went to her mom’s house for New Year’s.  It’s the biggest holiday in the country, ..but I’m still not sure why.  You watch TV, you eat some noodles once, then you watch TV for a few more days.  There’s some kind of soup with sticky rice in it that my wife likes a lot, so her mom made it for her: 3 times a day, every day.  It was good the 1st time, not too bad the second; It peaked early!  But it wasn’t nearly as bad as that slimy vegetable she had been feeding me all the time back in October.
We went shopping on the 1st, ‘cause that’s when they have the best sales of the year.  I made sure to take us to a shopping mall that had a bicycle store, …but they didn’t do bargain sales there.  Pretty much all the other 109 shops in the mall were marketed directly towards women.  My wife told her mom how I spend too much money, as they both bought scarves and shoes I’ve never seen them wear.

“Ryan wants to buy a suuuuuuper expensive bike.” My wife tells her mother.
“What happened to his old bike?” her mom asked.
“What will he do with the old one?”
“Throw it away!”
“I never said anything like that!  I said  <and I really hadn’t! >
“You can buy an old junk bike from the town for $40.” Said her mom. “It’ll have a basket in the front.”
< I didn’t even know where to start trying to set all that straight, but before I could start they had moved on to criticizing my driving and parking styles – although I am the only one of the 3 of us who has never been in an accident. >

We saw the then new Harry Potter that night too.  You can see any movie on the 1st of January for just $10.  They sat past the ending of the credits, because they couldn’t believe the movie would just end like that.
“Part 1.  It’s called ‘Harry Potter and the Something Something Part 1’  Why would they call it that if there was only the one part?”

The rest of the time they sat on the floor and watched New Year’s specials on TV and said:

They were both upset with me because I had run out of needles to use with my insulin.
“You should plan ahead better.” I was told
“But we did plan ahead!  We planned to leave here 3 days ago! ”
She was mad about that too.


I had planned to write this sooner (and in shorter installments), but this is what it is.
Now I have a job where I sit idle near a computer (where almost every webpage is blocked).  Perhaps I will write again before long.

At any rate, I figure I ought to make some record of my days for the historians – who won’t be interested, and for any potential future legal proceedings, where it would probably be somewhat better than simply saying:
“She’s crazy and she nags me!  Why don’t you believe me?”
It’s all true, and accurate, and probably grammatically correct even.

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