Monday, March 27, 2006

A Long Expected Party and The Choices of Master Mattwise

The Lord of the Rings Marathon Weekend
A Long Expected Party

The weekend went great. A raging success!
On Thursday I used a day off that school owed for having worked on a weekend a while back. I went into Tokushima city to Barbara's house to roast a chicken and bake "lembas." Barbara is a missionary who works with the Japanese Baptist church which lets us use their building for our English church service. The house she lives in is imported from America, including a proper oven, which is rare here.
When the chicken came out of the oven my first thought was "This chicken smells good enough to make a vegetarian think twice!"

(Incidentally, you'd be surprised how hard it is to find a whole chicken for roasting in Tokushima, but there is a place. If you want to know where it is, I can tell you.)

Then on Friday after school
- I ordered sushi for the next day
- ate sushi at the sushi store with derek who saw me there on his way to my place
- went into town and bought TONS of groceries
- picked up Smitha at South Komatsushima Station at 9:20 and went back
- ate udon with Derek and Smitha late at night.

Saturday went pretty good, too.
We got up at like 7:30 as per plans, and I got most of breakfast ready, aside from the stuff to be cooked. Jim called at 8:30 to say he'd slept in and to start without him. Rich and Lei arrived, and I cooked the mushrooms, as well as some bacon. I neglected to take any digital photos, if you can believe it. But it was a great hobbit feast, and we ate right through the whole first movie. Strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, two kinds of grapes, apples, garlic fried mushrooms, english muffins with raspberry jam or cream cheese, bacon, orange juice, and boiled eggs. What a breakfast!

After the first half of Fellowship of the ring we went for a walk because it was a beautiful sunny day! Crystal clear blue skies! Singing birds! It was almost a tragedy to be sitting inside. Jim arrived not long after we started disc two, and had his breakfast, which we had saved for him (his egg, mushrooms, and english muffins had been in danger of disappearing).

About an hour into the movie the man from the sushi store came and delivered our sushi. This was for the Gollum/swamp/orc theme lunch. We decided to take a break and go outside to a park bench and enjoy our sushi in more delightful surroundings. Poor Jim had only just finished breakfast! Oh well. Smitha is a vegetarian, so she had a special set of tofu sushi etc. Derek is also vegetarian, but he eats fish (pescatarian).

When we got back, there was a package awaiting me. The tortilla chips and salsa had arrived in time! So we finished the first movie, and were a little alarmed at how late it had become and we'd still only watched one film. So with a minimal break or none at all we continued through. While the movie was playing I washed the dishes, and for the second half (I think) I made the guacamole and set it out with the chips, salsa, and sour cream. I hadn't had that in AGES, though my family back in Canada has it all the time. And avocados are so cheap here! Oh yeah, I also made Orc Grog for us to drink. Nobody asked for seconds. (-_-;; ) But chips are hard to come by. I also went to pick up the chicken from the school's fridge, where I had left it on Thursday.

Then for the third movie I took the time to cut all the veggies and cheese etc during the break, and set it all out with red wine, nuts, bread, olives, cherry tomatoes and the like. I think Smitha found the chicken a little revolting. Nonetheless, it was a meal fit for a king! Thankfully we had all finished eating by the time Denethor sent Faramir out to die in the movie, because I think we might have lost our appetites, seeing as how we were eating mostly the same meal as he was. While his meal becomes a metaphor for death, ours was merely outrageously tasty.

Derek, who is a high energy cyclist, watches VERY LITTLE on tv or movies. I was quite impressed that he had done the whole day so far with no complaints. So I was not too surprised when despite all our begging him to hang on for two more hours, he went to bed before the last two hours of movie was begun. Oh well, maybe he'll see the end another day. He DID have an early morning planned though.

Having not had enough lembas for a piece for everyone for every movie, for the third movie I substituted shortbread. Yum.

After that, Rich and Lei made their way home, and Smitha, Jim, and I cleaned up and set out futons etc.
Derek was up bright and early for a cycling trip south and just nudged me awake to say goodbye. The rest of us woke three or four hours later, and after a light breakfast of pancakes went to check out one of the town's waterfalls. Then we went to the cafe that overlooks the gorge and had the delicious lunch set. We drove Smitha into the city to catch her train back to the middle of nowhere (in other words, the middle of Shikoku), and Jim and I went to see Narnia. Yeah, I know, yet another movie! But after calling everyone we thought to be free and interested in playing a board game, we gave up and decided on the theatre. Ha!

Stalker Girl
The Choices of Master Mattwise

While I was at Barbara's roasting the chicken, her cell phone rang and without answering it she asked me if I remembered [so-and-so] who used to be one of Derek's students. She said [so-and-so] came to church once. But Derek was in the practice of bringing his students to church, and I couldn't put a face to her. Barbara said the girl had called a couple days previous asking for Derek's new phone number, and Barbara said she'd ask Derek about it and call her back. Then the girl proceeded to call Barbara six or seven times a day. (O_O) Barbara doesn't give out numbers, particularly cell phone numbers (which is all Derek has), but prefers to call the person and have them call the one who wants it, if they are so inclined.

I recalled the girl who had tormented Derek some time back. Short, cute in the normal way, and insanely obsessive. Hmm.

When the girl called back again, Barbara answered and in some fashion communicated to her that she wasn't ever going to give her the number, if not that bluntly.

So on Friday night while we were having udon, I mentioned that to Derek, and he related the whole story to me and Smitha. At TOPIA (TOkushima Prefecture International Association) Derek, who speaks Spanish as well as Japanese and English, has answered a note put up by someone who wanted to meet up and hang out for language exchange and practice. Anyways, this girl was really shy, quiet and timid, and used only polite Japanese (teineigo). I'm already foggy on details, but at the very least they exchanged phone numbers and cell phone email addresses. I think the second time they met up was when Derek brought her to the English service at church. If she was interested in language exchange, what better place, right? I tried to talk to her, as did several other people (we try to be welcoming), but she was really shy and stuck close to Derek. I presumed she was a student of his and this was a bit more than she was used to. So they only met up once more after that, as it was becoming clear to Derek that this girl wanted more than just to learn English. She called and emailed incessantly, and when he was not responding to her advances, she sent him a really angry email. Derek mentioned in particular that she said なめるな、ボケ!(nameruna, boké!) Which are fighting words you encounter in every boys manga, effectively communicating "Don't mock me, you asshole!" And then a little while later she apologized in her timid, polite, reserved way. But Derek had clearly seen the dark side and did what he could to get away from her. I think maybe she eventually left him alone. I forget.

Anyways, that was like a year ago, and Derek is now living in Osaka and has a different phone, and is engaged.

While we were watching The Two Towers, I got a phone call. I was expecting people from church to call about Sunday so I took it outside to answer. I didn't know the number. I'll try to recall the conversation as accurately as I can. It was all in Japanese.

"Hello?" said Matthew.
"Hi! This is Nakamura! Is now a good time?" said an energetic pretty voice. A man's voice can be heard in the background.
"Umm, I guess so." Matthew said, glancing back at his apartment door.
"Do you remember me?"
"Uhh, no. Where do I know you from?"
"I'm one of Derek's friends. From church."
Recalling a really pretty girl from Derek's church, he had met only once Matthew said, "Oh, that person from Tokyo?"
"What? No, I'm one of Derek's and Danny's friends."
"Oh?" Matthew recalled that REALLY cute girl who was at Danny's goodbye party, who he would have love to meet again. Or meet again to love?
"So why are you calling?"
"Well, I want to hang out with you, Danny, and Derek like before. I was talking to Danny"
"You were talking to Danny? What? Don't you know she's in Africa?" Did she mean email? Why wouldn't she just say that?
"Yeah, she's been there for months, teaching English. She'll be back in a year or two though."
Matthew wondered how any of Danny's friends could have possibly not known she was in Africa. Daniella Filice is one of the best networkers he knows, keeping in touch with EVERYONE. Just who was this person?
"Is there church tomorrow?" she asked.
"No, church is on the first and third Sundays of the month."
"Oh, so are you going next week?"
"Maybe, maybe not. I have some plans I haven't decided about yet. I'll go on the 16th for the Easter service though."
"Easter? What's that?"
"Uhh, why don't you just come and find out." said Matthew, doubting his abilities to describe Easter over the phone in Japanese.
"So, is it true that Derek lives in Wakayama?"
"Yeah, Wakayama or Osaka, one of the two."
"Is it true that he's engaged?"
"Yeah, that's right I think." Matthew's suspicions were now starting to be confirmed.
"Ohh, I see," she said in disappointment. A guy's voice laughs in the background. Very suspicious.
"Are you going to be in Tokushima for a while?"
"No, I'm going back to Canada in like six months. I go back in the summer."
"Can I have your email address?"
"No! Why would I give my address to someone who I don't remember?"
"Oh right..." she said. The guy's voice in the background laughed really hard.
"So, Matthew is how much?" Or at least, that's how Matthew chose to understand her question about his age.
"Pardon me? How much?"
"Umm, yes, how much?" The guy's voice in the background laughs again.
"You mean like ¥2000, ¥3000?" Matthew was stalling, trying to think of a way to end this conversation.
"Oh! No, how old are you?" This was why Matthew is so bad at chess, his strategies go no further than a move or two, and never accomplish any worthy goal.
"I'm twenty-five," he said in resignation.
"Oh, I see," she said in a voice that somehow sounded like she was thinking, 'Yes! He's the right age for me!' The guy's voice in the background laughed again.
"--beep beep--" Saved by the bell! It was a call on the other line!
"Oh, I've got a call on the other line," Matthew said.
"Okay, I'll let you go then."

That may not be exactly how it happened, but it was something sort of like that. The call on the other line was the school secretary asking about some paperwork. Odd to call on a Saturday, but wonderful timing!

Walking into the apartment, and into the living room, I asked Derek, "What again was the name of that girl who was stalking you?"
"Nakamura-san." He replied.
Widening my eyes and shaking my head, I said, "Guess who just called."
"Ha! No way!" Derek replied.
"You're kidding!" Smitha said in shock.
Everyone else looked a little confused.

A little while later the phone rang again, but I wasn't sure if it was the secratary again or Nakamura again. So I let it ring itself out and then checked the numbers. Yep, it was Nakamura. I turned my cell phone off. Not long after, my home phone rang. I let the machine get it. Derek confirmed the voice for me. He thought it was hilarious. Or just surreal and unbelievable. One way or the other he was laughing. Everyone else was pretty surprised, too.

During the break halfway through The Two Towers Everyone but Derek and I went for a walk to find some coffee in a vending machine. Derek filled me in a little more, as a warning. Once he had finally made it clear that he was in no way interested in a relationship with her, she sent him an email saying やってくれない? or "Will you do me?"
If there had been red flags before, there were air raid sirens blaring now.
My phone rang again. The number, though unfamiliar, was not a cell phone number, and still expecting friends from in town to call, I answered it. I'm sure you can guess who it was. This time I spoke all in English, and was really curt with her, going so far as to say that I was at a party, which was true. She apologized and let me go. Somewhere in there she had found space to ask if we could meet sometime, and I had responded, "At church." There's no way I'm going to let this girl think I'm going to go on anything remotely resembling date with her. Ever.

When the others came back, they were surprised to hear that she had called again. Smitha had filled everyone in while they were walking.

I don't think she called again until the next day, AT SIX-THIRTY IN THE MORNING! It was Sunday for goodness sake! Who's up at six thirty on a sunday morning? Stalkers, that's who. Smitha suggested that maybe if she answered the phone then maybe she would take the hint and not call back. So I hoped she would call back while Smitha and Jim were still here.

When Jim, Smitha, and I were driving into town and my phone rang and it was her. I pulled over and ran to Jim's car to hand the phone to Smitha. Smitha managed to drag out of Nakamura that she wanted to become my girlfriend. Then Nakamura asked if Smitha was my girlfriend. I thought it better she say no, but she said, "Maybe, maybe yes." Oh well. I figured she'd still call back again, but it gave me time to weigh the options of saying yes to Smitha being my girlfriend, but then if she heard from someone else that it's not true, then it all starts over again. Better to nip it in the bud.

While Jim and I were sitting outside the theatre, killing time before going in, my phone rang again.
Showing Jim the display on my phone "stalker girl 中村" I said, "It's her."
Jim eagerly said, "Answer it! Answer it!" He was clearly enjoying this.
So I walked out of the earshot of so many sitting and relaxing Japanese people and psyched myself up to be blunt, even if I thought it was cruel. Obviously the girl is lonely and desperate to be acting like this, but I hardly want to have her drag me down. She needs another girl to come alongside and help her. Anyways, the conversation went something like this:

"Hello, this is Nakamura. Is now a good time?"
"For a little, I guess."
"Oh, good."
"So Smitha told me you want to be my girlfriend." Matthew wanted to get straight to the point.
"I called earlier and... huh?"
"Yeah, and you talked to Smitha. She told me you want to be my girlfriend. Is that right."
"Yeah... that's right." She was at least acting a little embarrassed.
"I'm not looking for a girlfriend right now."
"Why not?"
"I go back to Canada in six months..."
Then she said something which hinted that six months is long enough for a relationship, or something which was going to go that way.
"No, with all the stuff I have to go before going, I'm really busy, my mind is full, and I couldn't give a girl the time a relationship needs."
"Well surely..."
"No, a relationship takes work. To get into a relationship now, especially to start a new one would be really mendokusai (boringly troublesome?) and I just don't want to do it. Right now, I don't want a girlfriend."
"Was that girl who answered the phone your girlfriend?"
"No, but that's unrelated, isn't it?"
"Oh yeah."
There was a pause.
"So what time does church start?" she asked.
"Uhh," Matthew's mind went suddenly blank. "Eight, no," Matthew looked at Jim, as though Jim would know the answer to the question despite not having heard it, "Eight, no, six. Six o'clock."
"Do you have Derek's number?"
"I have a question for you, how did you get this number?"
"Danny gave it to me."
"Well then, I'm going to want to talk to Danny."
"I don't know how it is in Japan, but for Westerners it's really rude to give out someone's cell phone number, especially to someone they don't know."
"Is that so?"
"Yes. So I won't give you Derek's number, but what I will do is give your number to Derek, and if he wants to call you, he can." Matthew found his gorge rising, he was getting angry for some reason. Perhaps it was the girl's dogged persistence that was grating on him.
"Oh, I see." She sounded very discouraged.
Then she asked something Matthew was totally unprepared for.
"So what day of the week or time is a good time to call you?"
"Please don't." Matthew felt cruel as he said it.
"Oh. Well, please say hello to Derek for me." She sounded pretty shaken up.

I felt pretty bad after that. But still angry for some reason. Aggravated. I do not think my actions were ill advised, but I wish I knew a wise way to do that more kindly. I think I might have brought her to tears. Her voice was shaking a little after I told her not to call. But maybe she was just surprised. Gaaaah. Guess who really doesn't like conflict. Me. Unless I know the result is going to be good, like in judo or jujutsu, where win or lose it's experience. But as for human relations, there are no rules to make it safer like a sport. So then before the movie started, I emailed Danny a message that read, "hey this girl that was stalking derek a while back called me like 10 times over the last two days and she said she got my number from you"

It turns out that Daniella got this simple message saying "hey, how are you?" and misread the email address. Thinking it Masaki, a mutual friend of ours, Danny asked if he (Masaki is a guy) was planning to cycle up to mine like they did last time. Then she got a mail back asking for my number. Knowing our Masaki to be a little disorganised at time, though thinking it strange, she sent him the number. Little did she know. Then she got an email back saying "Hey I heard that you are in Africa now" which set of red flags for her, because who DOESN'T know she's in Africa? Then she checked the email addresses and found it wasn't Masaki's after all. So she emailed the person back Sunday morning (midday sunday or later for us?) saying "hey, I made a mistake. who are you?" The mail she got back was "hey what time is it in Africa now" but never said who it was. And she had just put two and two together and was about to email me.
It turns out that Nakamura had relentlesly called and emailed Lindsey, another friend of ours in the city as well. So it would seem that it isn't just foreign guys she is obsessed with.

I think the stalking is now at an end, but we won't know for sure until I go to the Easter service at church, I guess.

Oh and a last bit of trivia that ties the whole post together. It would seem that on set, the Sean Bean, the actor who played Boromir in Lord of the Rings was quite popular with some of the ladies on set, whether he liked it or not. The group of girls who were his mini-fanclub there were referred to as "The Bean-Stalkers."

[Smitha's blog has a shorter, alternate version. It's funny, too.]

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzy as a bee.

So many things going on lately. Last week Thursday I went to the elementary graduation, which was a little more casual and cute than the junior high one, but maybe not so much as one might expect. On Saturday I went to see the musical again, this time at Wakimachi town's Odeon-za Theatre, which is an old kabuki theatre. Kabuki is a traditional drama style in Japan, lots of wild colours and personalities. So it's a beautiful old building with its own distinct atmosphere. Adding to the atmosphere the fact that this year's performance of Peter Pan is so outstanding, it really was a great show.
Monday was MY last day of classes, as Tuesday was a holiday (vernal equinox day) and I took Wednesday and Thursday off. On Monday night we'd had our staff Farewell Party (four teachers are changing this year). The after party (nijikai, literally second party) was at a karaoke joint and was by far the most unique karaoke experience I have yet had. I would say that for every five minutes of singing there were four minutes of talking between songs. We sat and ate and drank and talked and reminisced and also sang.

Following that I drove to Brian and Christine's place to crash for three hours before we all got up at sometime after 4 am. Why? We were being picked up by Colin and Jenni (and Jenni's brother Andrew, who was visiting) to get a ride to Osaka to watch sumo. With a little effort we found cheap parking for the day and still got there in time to get tickets for the cheap seats.
Cheap seats: $20
Normal seats (sold only in a set of 4 for): $1000
Of course there are a few levels between those, but you get the idea. And even the worst seats in the house are still pretty good.
So after safely getting our tickets, we went for breakfast as Subway. Then we walked around for a while, finding Andrew a hotel to put all his stuff at, went to Osaka's outrageous Spa World, two floors of public baths themed after various countries in Asia an Europe, lunched at a Mexican place in Shinsaibashi, and after watching fat men push, wrestle, and judo throw eachother around for two hours, we drove home. A very satisfying day. (Brian's version here)
I crashed at B&C's again. We played a VERY sleepy round of Settlers of Catan before bed, which Christine won decisively. And then I slept until noon while they had to go to school. How awesome is that! You appreciate your rest so much more when you know other people have to work. I did manage to do SOME preparation for this weekend's Lord of the Rings party though. And at 6:00 there was the formal PTA Farewell Party, which I had the good sense to drive to, lest parents and town councilmen ply me with beer for two hours. I prefer to be one of the few who actually eats his entire dinner. And some of other people's, too. [big grin]
But yesterday (thursday) was sooo nice. I roasted a chicken for the first time, and when it was done it smelled good enough to make a vegetarian think twice! Also, I had success on my second attempt at making lembas. And then I had the evening free to watch Napoleon Dynamite for the first time. Given how everybody raved about it, I expected to be really let down or bored, but I laughed A LOT. I think I still need to watch it like four more times before I will feel prepared to return to Canada though. I wonder how many other significant pop-culture events I have missed out on in the last three years? This at least was one I could see from across the pond.

So tonight the festivities begin! My apartment still isn't 100% clean, but it will have to do. Right after school I head out to start ordering and buying all the food for the main event tomorrow, as well as some stuff for the four or so people who are crashing at mine tonight. Ohhhh boy! It's gonna be great! Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday! Four days of stuff! Suweeet!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Temperamental Season

Spring in this country definitely affects me stronger than spring back home. This being the third year, I think I can with confidence attribute my current state of being to the season rather than just daily life stuff.

Spring in this country makes me fall in love.

While it may be true that I am in general the type to get overly enamoured with something or someone in a relatively short space of time, I find that it is happening to me much quicker, and much more regularly of late. And while I generally think of myself as a Romantic in the sense that is like being an idealist and a dreamer, in spring in this country I seem to make a shift from being a Romantic to just being romantic. I find myself stopping more often and getting lost staring at the hills or the flowers, and listening to the birds calling. About a week ago I was so struck by the beauty of my surroundings I was on the verge of tears. I stop for long moments to fill my lungs with the spring fragrances. Girls who I have known for however long suddenly strike me as being truly gorgeous. My temperament, my outlook, it warms along with the weather.

Perhaps I am allergic to a pollen in the air?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Most Boring Day Ever (maybe)

Yesterday and today have largely been preparation for the graduation ceremonies tomorrow. Transforming the gym, cleaning the school, practicing songs for the ceremonies, and doing two or three practice runs. This year there are going to be at least FIVE long speeches. In order: Principal, Head of the Board of Education, Mayor, some other guy (another BoE guy or maybe a member of the town council? not sure what his title means), and the head of the PTA. The middle three of those are going to seriously suck. The principal is a good speaker, and the PTA head knows some of the graduating students really well, so that speach is generally touching or funny or both. But the five speeches could well take up almost an hour! Gaaaaah! At least the dry runs just skip that bit.

I'm sick of the ceremony already. But there are some things to look forward to:
• the speech from the valedictorian-like-student
• the grade seven and eight kids singing "sakura" to the grade nines
• the grade niners all crying to hard to properly sing "March 9th" back to the seventh and eighth graders

And then after all the main formalities, we (teachers, students, honoured guests, parents) line up in the halls and the various club members have gifts for them (signed baseballs, volleyballs, table tennis racquets and forth, depending on the club they were in) and they walk walk through the hall between us and we all applaud them and the students pass out the gifts. It's a really cool moment.

Then there might be some kind of snack provided by the parents for the third years (grade niners) to eat with the teachers. A last time to hang out and chat et cetera. [Every teacher will probably say something to the students, so I've got to think of something to say and then get a translation ready so I can say what I want to in English and then say it in Japanese so they can understand it all.]

And then in the evening is the enkai (feast party) with the third years' parents. I missed the one last year because my sister was visiting and we were in Osaka, but the one two years ago was really good and I'm looking forward to this year's.

And yes, graduation is on a Saturday morning.
Tomorrow is a suit and white tie day!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(=_=;) Eyes... barely... open...

Man oh man oh man am I worn out today. Not that it should come as a shock or anything considering that
1. I got to participate in full-on sparring in jujutsu for the first time.
2. After that I went out for two hours of karaoke
3. After karaoke we stood around talking for an hour
4. There was that 45 minute drive home

In jujutsu I was initially kept from full sparring because they wanted to teach us (the newbies) some of the basic holds and escapes first. The first sparring we attempted was choke and joint holds barred. Basically, that meant breaking out of the "closed guard" and trying to sit on the other person's stomache for four seconds. The closed guard is when you wrap your legs around your opponent's waist, and lock your feet/ankles behind their back.

But this time they let us do full-on sparring. You know, to get used to the fact that the other person is going to try to choke you or inflict pain on your joints. On the one hand this is really good for me, because having done judo, I'm not nearly as much of a newbie as the other noobs. So I got to fight with some of the other guys who have been doing it for years. And it is fun.

But after matches I was getting these massive headaches and seeing stars, and I was like, "Why the hell is this happening?" And then afterwards when we (the newbies) were being shown more holds, it became clear. In showing a follow-up choke hold he mentioned that whereas in judo they generally put pressure on the trachea to literally choke, in jujutsu they more try to put the pressure on the arteries providing blood to your brain. So what it means maybe is that I'm stupid. Or maybe stubborn. I just don't want to tap out, I guess. On the bright side I lose less, on the downside, I get a big headache after. Give and take, eh?

So after jujutsu I am as sore and tired the next day as I normally was after judo. Maybe even moreso. At least sore in different places. And so so tired. Add to that the not going right to bed, but instead doing karaoke... That was with a friend who is taking off to university in Saitama (right next to Tokyo).

Good grief am I tired today.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I guess I am pretty happy when I'm busy.

Or rather, I'm happy when I am busy enough that I am forced to get up early, but I still like to have those gaps of empyt time. This weekend was a great example. Friday at school is usually a pretty slow day for me. But I was slated to speak at church on Sunday, and had made little progress on my message. Or rather, I had written a message, and then decided it was no good and was freaking out over what I was to talk on. So Friday was spend at my desk digging through the bible, talking to Phil in BC, and a phone call with Colin who was going to lead the service. And lots of silent prayer; mostly, "Dear Jesus, please help me!" In the end I resolved to go back and work out what was wrong with the original message, which was the application. So after school I spent three or so hours typing it up and working out the bugs. Funny how it's like a design project that way. You get to a point where you could run with it and it would be fine, but you know that if you just spend those extra two hours it will be that much smoother. And the difference is the confidence. Some of the stuff in my message involved talking about personal weaknesses, so the emotional freak-out about saying that to thirty people I had on Friday night alone in my apartment, twice or more. But having gone over the message several times, and tried different resolutions, it just had to be in there. And come Sunday I had peace about it.

And then I stayed up until 4 am playing around with the FontBook, AutomatedTasks, and GarageBand software that came with my computer, and which I had never used.

In turn, I was unable to get up before 11 the next morning as I had desired, pushing everything back. I woke up just before 12, I think, and after a shower and a bite, packed up gyoza imported from Miyazaki (on Kyushu, so in Japan but far away for fresh goods), and all the stuff I needed to take to the recycle station. Almost all of my garbage, like everything except compost, goes to the recycle station. Kamikatsu is pretty unique in Japan this way. There is some that gets burned, but it's not that much at all.

Then it was a drive down into Naruto with a couple errand stops en route. Unfortunately, due to the musical and various other things, we were unable to get a fourth person to play settlers with at Brian and Christine's place. And three people can only eat so many gyoza. We ate 36 between us, so I have 14 left over. Dinner tonight? You bet! Two games of Cities and Knights, gyoza, chicken fried rice, and salad. Sweet. And as an added bonus I got to use their high speed access update a ton of software on my laptop. Given that I have effectively only a dial-up connexion at school and no other access, my computer has been whimpering for these updates since the summer. There, there, little Fletchmobile. I lost both games. So it goes.

Then my reason to get up in the morning was 1. to get to the school so I could print out my message for that night, and 2. to make it to the musical performance in Matsushige town (an hour away) by two o'clock. This year they are doing Peter Pan, and let me tell you it is the best musical in the three years I have been here. I'm going to do my best to make it to the Wakimachi performance (which they do in a litte old Kabuki theater!) and to bring a camera or two with me when I go. That's in two weeks.

So after that it was back to Naruto (which is next to Matsushige), where I sat in my car and went over my message one last time, and then walked up to Brian and Xine's again for dinner. Yay! Then it was off to church for us. I was pretty pleased with myself. Usually I quite freak out when I have to stand up and speak formally before people. Yeah, I know, you'd think it would be no problem given how enamoured I am with my own voice. But speaking casually in a conversation that happens to have a lot of people and typing a long blog to unseen audience is very very different from speaking in front of a group of people who are full of expectations. But the old maxim "I you sweat in the prep, you won't bleed in the battle," was applicable here, I guess. A bunch of people told me afterwards that it was good, so I guess it was.

After church I had a fourth meal (!!!), joining Colin and Jim at "TokuToku Udon" which I suppose means "Get Get Udon." And on my return home, did I get that much needed sleep? Of course not! I bought a manga at the convenience store (Bleach #21), got home and read that, as well as nearly a hundred pages of a book by Floyd McClung.

So needless to say I slept in this morning...