I just had a rad dream where I was still in Japan but all the shop clerks were replaced with American rednecks who were even more prejudiced. When I went to check out at a store (I was buying a white board which I had tested out while waiting in line by telling a random girl in the line “Let’s write a poem. What’s your favorite color?” (her favorite color was a color I had never ever heard of!) and which had impressed me even though the marker was dripping shitloads of ink) clerks started silently signaling each other until one came over to assist me in checking out. When it was my turn to pay, the cashier lady didn’t even look at me, she just whispered the price to the assistant, which was in yen. I was like “Hey, I understand English.”

I couldn’t write a scene like that if I tried. Dreams are cool.

But seriously, pet peeves about cashiers in Japan:

1) Speaking to me through whatever Japanese person happens to be standing next to me, which is a sign of the following (incorrect) assumptions:

-White people don’t understand Japanese.
-Japanese understand white people tongue.

2) Speaking to me in bad English on the assumption that my Japanese is even worse. I had a door-to-door saleswoman tell me to go home once. She didn’t mean it. Besides, I WAS home.

Usually people aren’t that shitty, but it happens. Sometimes they also give me the finger. Just kidding.


So add it to your dictionaries now.

Finally got a new computer. I can’t remember if I already explained, but my beloved and only four-year-old iBook met an untimely and drunken fate over our long holiday (“Golden Week”) when I accidentally spilled beer on it and then submerged the entire unit in a soapy, water-filled bathtub.

A friend told me it would work!

Anyway, it was already unusable once the beer had been spilled. And as much as it stings to suddenly part with two thousand dollars, which was most of my bonus for putting in a whole year of loyal service to my company, it sure is exciting getting a new computer. These new MacBooks are sleeker than speedboats covered in glass dolphins. And that’s the second sleekest thing I can think of. Next to new MacBooks.

Fun times ahead. I suppose I should use this as an opportunity to urge all you friends to get Skype if you don’t already have it. We could be talking in real time, whenever we want, for free, with video for crying out loud. And dammit it’s lonely out here. Last week I saw a moth and I wouldn’t let him leave.


I tried so hard today to go to a cafe that isn’t a gargantuan, nation-wide chain, but all the small places are evidently closed on Sundays, because who wants to go out for a leisurely cup of coffee on their one and only day off for the week (no such thing as a Saturday for most people here)?

Not knowing each place’s operating hours (or even locations) ahead of time, this had me wheelin’ around on my bike back and forth like a paperboy with extremely premature Alzheimer’s. Up the road, down the road and back again. I passed one couple four times. By the end of it I must’ve had them thinking I was an apparition (which, by the way, most Japanese people I’ve met here are alarmingly quick to assume. Hey, what’s that stain on the floor? Ghost did it, spilled some cranberry juice, the spooky-ass butterfingers. Hey, whose footsteps do I hear? Ghost’s, that’s the only explanation. But you said Japanese ghosts don’t have feet, you explicitly told me that a breath ago. Yeah but they know how to simulate that sound. You gotta sorta thwock your tongue against the roof of your mouth, like ::THWOCK:: No no no, you’re just clucking, that’s different. Ghosts don’t do that shit).

I passed another spot by a busy road twice within about five minutes. The second time I passed, the whole area was deep in the chaotic aftermath of an accident. A large, expensive-looking thing had its front completely smashed in, another car had some other area smashed in (I didn’t get a good look), and a confused woman stood with a cop in the middle of the road, making a dimwitted face that was pretty much immediately telling of her driving aptitude. I mean call it an unfair generalization, but that was definitely the face of a terrible driver and an anti-Semite.

Five minutes at most and all this. If I had hit a couple more red crosswalk signals on the way I might’ve witnessed the accident first-hand. I might’ve even been sandwiched between cars as I tried to bike across the street only to have our new friend the rocket scientist careen into me at full force in her armored soccer mom dreadnought. They don’t even have soccer moms here, just their cars.

It got me thinking about how much can happen in the five minute space where you’re blinking. It doesn’t have to be five minutes though, and you don’t have to be blinking. You could go out of town on business for the weekend and in the meantime your wife meets a hunky man with one of those chins that’s been severely dented by an unhappy lumberjack, proceeds to find some point of commonality with him, proceeds to be seduced, have hot, cheaty sex with him, and become pregnant with his baby, also with lumberjack-sculpted chin. You return home just forty-eight hours later and your world has been virtually nuked.

What did I do? I left town two years and three months ago, and then I went back in December and my country had no money and we had a black president (not a bad thing, sorry). Next time I go back there’ll be an epidemic and no such thing as Chrysler. In a couple years I’ll go back and DC will be infested with radroaches and road warriors and shit.

When have you blinked only to open your eyes to vast change?

Ultimately I ended up settling for Mister Donut, which is not only a chain, it’s just about the biggest coffee-selling chain in the entire country. I guess my resolve to help out the little guy collapsed under the weight of my sudden reminder: time is of the essence. Do what you want to do now, because next time you blink they might drop the bomb.

Also, for god’s sakes, how could a cafe not be open on Sundays? It’s not like any of these quaint little coffee shops offer takeout for the workperson on the go. Each one I visit is lazier and cool jazzier in atmosphere than the last. They might as well give them all names that are variations on “Sunday Cafe” because that’s exactly the day you’d think they’re perfect to go to on when you see them. ::Sigh, man:: What a backwards-ass place this is.