Chapter Two

The Ghost of Christmas Past

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(I didn't actually take any pictures on Christmas. These were taken by James and given to me by Mark)

To those of you who were concerned, Christmas was lovely.
I spent it with some wonderful British people, and a Canadian. It felt good to be outnumbered.

"Prezzies" were exchanged,

games were played. . .

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dinner was made. . .
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and we ended the evening of good conversation, good food and good times by watching the Never Ending Story.

lovely, lovely, lovely

Better late than never?

I can only hope. . .
Sometimes I forget that you read this of your own free will, and I feel guilty for posting things that are only interesting to me. On the flip side, I feel guilty for NOT posting things as well. . . This is really a lose lose situation, until I inevitably snap out of it, throw caution to the wind, and blog to my little heart's content. . .

All that said. . . Press on little heart of mine! May the huge hearts of the readers at large be warmed, inspired and at the very least, entertained.

The long awaited, and much anticipated, soon to be fully appreciated. . .


Can you handle it? I certainly hope so.

Chapter One

The Kasukabe Krew and Satte Too Christmas Fest

(That's not what we called it, but in retrospect, we SHOULD have)
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Here we have Sharon (aka: Shaz. . . Aussies are big on nicknames, and abbreviation in general). She's an artist from Arizona, that shares an appreciation with myself for film festivals, art shows and music. . . Although we both tend to be too busy to do any of those things together, I love it when we actually do end up in the same place at the same time.

To the right we have Adrian (aka: Age). He's from Melbourne, and is my vegetarian partner in non-crime. We stick together with the "Sumimasen, begetarian desu. . . " and defend one another to the server whenever our food shows up with fish flakes on top. I also love Age, because every (and I do mean every) time I see him, he is compelled to hug me and say "Aaaaaaawww. . . MEL!!!" for no apparent reason. . . .maybe it's the mutual animal love.

We had dinner. . .
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and a "white elephant" gift exchange at a local izakaiya. . .
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(In truth, Age knows you are his father. . . but don't tell anyone, it's a secret.)

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Geeeeeeeeeeeez. . . Janice! When are you going to get off that radish, and start enjoying the party?

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That's Terrence (aka: Tez) in the middle. He's from Sydney, and don't you forget it! (One time I did, and you should have heard the lecture he gave me!)

On the right we have Age's lovely girlfriend Yuka. Her English is flawless, and in fact, she has an adorable British accent from studying abroad, so I personally like her English better than my own.

No evening would be complete without a good round of Karaoke
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That's Rachel on the mic, giving her rendition of what was most likely a pop song.

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Let me introduce you to Marcus from Canada, and his girlfriend Mitsuko. I love them both, and you would too, trust me.

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These are two girls that we ran into on the way to Karaoke. Apparently Tez had met one of them somewhere before, so we convinced them to join us for the latter half of our Christmas shinanagins.

Good times had by all.
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pi-su out


Speaking of hand signals. . .

Last night I saw John Zorn's Cobra. . . perhaps many of you, like myself, are unfamiliar with Cobra. At least I was, until my friend Matt invited me to see it.

What is "Cobra"? you ask. . . Well, I'm so glad you did.

Cobra is a game that sets up rules for making improv music, and it's pretty much one of the most amazing musical performances I've ever seen.
I won't go too much into detail, because that would only kill the magic. . . but imagine this. . .

Twelve or so musicians (one of whom was one of the girls from Buffalo Daughter, on a moog) playing all sorts of instruments, from an electric bass, drums and laptops, to tiny little keyboards, a biwa, various things that are blown into, vocal chords and a newspaper.
Hand signals, signs on poster boards, green headbands and a camouflage hat were all a part of the process, and in the end it was amazing.

No one in the audience knew the rules (or are supposed to know the rules) to the game, and that is a huge part of the entertainment, that and watching someone try to point to their nose with two fingers while playing the stand up bass.

Should Cobra come to town in your city of residence, I strongly urge you to check it out. . . Or if you'll be passing through Japan during the month of May, perhaps, if you're lucky, you can come along when we see it again. . .

On a happier note. . .

On my way to the interview, four people got onto the train I was in. Actually, there were more people than that, but these four really stood out.
They were each wearing a red, shiny baseball jacket. The jacket had one of those eye in the pyramid things that are on the US dollar, only it had sprouted wings, and it was framed by the words "Security Angel" and "Safety Patrol". They were wearing black cargo pants, black work boots, black, grippy gloves and red berets. Each beret was covered in a variety of pins. . . Gold stars, eagles, Japanese and American flags, anime characters, the numbers 9 1 1. . . They had utility belts with water bottles, walkie talkies, and lots of keychains strapped to them. These people were all business. They paired off, and stood by the doors of the train car. At each stop, one member of each pair would get off the train, stand by the door, and then get back on once all of the "normal people" had disembarked, and gotten onto the train. They had fancy hand signals, and there was a lot of nodding and eye contact going on. I wanted really badly to take their picture, but I was afraid that one of the Security Angels would confiscate my ketai, and I had an interview to get to. . .

In summary, the Security Angels did not make me feel safe. In fact, they instilled a fear in me where there wasn't one before. I must be unsafe, if I need people in red jackets to protect me. Although, I guess whatever it was they were protecting me from couldn't be all that bad, if all it took to ward them off was a water bottle and some keychains.

Like a baby. . .

Today I had my re-contracting interview. I knew what to expect, it was the same deal as last year. . .

"Are you satisfied with your work situation?"

"How is your workload?"

"What are things that you feel could be improved upon?"

"Do you dress appropriately for work?"

Things were going smoothly, until they got to the one where they asked me, "Are you planning to re-contract?" I felt my stomach turn into a little fist, and was sure that my cheeks and nose were quickly turning pink.

"No. . . no. . . I'm not re-contracting. . .no. . . ."

"Why not?"


"Is that all? What if your work situation were changed? What if we moved you to another school? Would that affect your decision?"

"No, you don't understand. My school is wonderful. I work with wonderful people, the kids. . . the kids are amazing. . . No, no, no. I have to move on. . . I have to. . . I can not stay here in Japan. . . "

The world started getting all liquidy, and my interviewers mercifully changed the subject.

But then, at the end. . . they asked me if I had anything else to say. . .

"You are all doing a great job. You are doing too good of a job. You are making this very, very difficult for me. . . I don't want to leave. . . No. I HAVE to go. . .but thank you."

Then I lost it.

I was so embarrassed. I tried to talk through it, but I couldn't see my interviewers' faces through all the water that had somehow found its way to my eyeballs. So I said thank you a few more times, did some awkward bows, and stumbled off.

So that's it.

I'll be back in America, land of. . .
Land of not here.
in no time.

It's not that I don't love you (you being the people for whom this blog is intended- not that I mind the extra readers- the people who I left behind and will be returning to, come August). As I was explaining to my dear, dear friend Adrian,
"I love Japan so intensely, but I also love all that is home to me in America a lot. I have a lot of love to give. . . I have a RIDICULOUS amount of love to give, the trouble is that I can't be everywhere and do everything in order to get all that love out at once. I suppose things have to be loved one at a time, and that really sucks."

So, I'm working on an "omnipresent-for-a-day" machine, or perhaps a magical pill. . . . I don't think one day is too much to ask, especially if all I want to do is love everything and everyone at the same time, and only once in a while.


And so it begins. . .

Ok, ok, the time has finally come for the post holiday catch up. Sorry for the delay, I hope it's worth the wait. . .

Brace yourself.

We had a Christmas party at the same orphanage we had the Halloween party in October. You know what that means. . . I'm about to bombard you with photos of kids that I think are both amazing and adorable.

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That's Erika on the left. Although she blends in with the kids, she's an ALT like myself. She's actually one of my favorite people in Japan, and she lives about a five minute bike ride away from my apartment. Now isn't that convenient? Why, yes. Yes it is.

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This is Prem. . .

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She's also an ALT, and coincidentally, also one of my favorite people in Japan. She's always saying things that freak me out with their amazingness. Just yesterday, she said something and I made her stop walking and take a look at my face, because it was saying how impressed I was much better than my words ever could.

Oh, and by the way. . . she's magical. What's not to love?

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This little boy is an angel. Not only did he remember me from last time, and was quick to give me a hug, but he was also quick to grab a broom and be super helpful during clean up time.

Do you remember this little girl?

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She's the one that loved having her picture taken last time. Apparently, a lot can change in a couple of months, and this time, she thought it was much more fun to cover her face or the camera lens rather than be photographed. So, instead, I lent her my camera and she took the rest of these photos.

It started out a little rough. . .

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But, once I showed her how much better the pictures look when she keeps her fingers off the lens, things started to improve. . .

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(This little girl was wonderful, by the way. She's a Jr. High student, could speak a little English and was very patient with my Japanese. We totally bonded, mostly by talking about boys, but it was still awesome.)

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Poor Rudolf

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Pretty good, right? I wish I could take that little girl with me everywhere. I wonder if I could hire her to be my permanent photographer? Hmmmm. . . .

ok, that's it.

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