Archive for June 2006

Still Crazy After…

June 23, 2006

M

arriages are rarely perfect. I am not exception. We love each other, and I certainly cannot imagine living with anyone else, but there are times when things do not go smoothly. A failure to consult, a sarcastic comment or ill-conceived retort can, at times, escalate into a full-blown argument. But as long as the good outweigh the bad, things can be nice.

I have known M for over ten years, but today marks the sixth year of our married life. And it has been a good six years…

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Too Much Dorama

June 20, 2006

T

he J-doramas are starting to take over my life, I think. I not only look forward to them, I think they are affecting my dreams as well. Last week, I had some very vivid dreams, but since I didn’t write them down, I forgot about them. I even told M about them too, but I guess it doesn’t matter who has the dreams, everyone forgets them after a few hours, and certainly after a day or two. Sooooo…

In an attempt to log my dreams for posterity’s sake–if not for my own peace of mind–I will tell you about the dream I had last night, as well as I can recall it. Text in italics refers to my thoughts after I woke up. As is the case in most dreams, it just starts…

I find myself at a Japanese poetry conference on some deserted island. I know a couple of people there: Haruo Shirane of Columbia University is the chair of the conference and more interestingly, Sayoko, colleague at the think tank I once worked at in Tokyo who I hadn’t thought of in maybe ten years until yesterday when I ran across an old Christmas card from her during my unending endeavor to clean up my work area.

During one of the presentations on poetry written in Chinese, I was asked if I had something to say, as Profesor Shirane knew that Jakuren–a poet I am interested in–made reference to this poem through his own poem. Embarrassed, I was unable to answer any of his queries. I went straight to my room and went through my suitcase only to find Jakuren’s poem quickly along with some old paintings of Jakuren because in dreams, I’m always prepared with things that I need.

I return to the presentation with the appropriate material and show the old portraits to the ooos and aahs of those in attendance. But before long, it is time to leave and Professor Shirane tells me to take the stuff home and to be sure that I return everything to its appropriate place, especially the stuff that’s supposed to be returned to Maryknoll, the elementary school I attended. As I gather all the books and artifacts, someone gives me a gift to take home as a memento of our time on the island: a plastic toy shark. I say thanks, shove it into my back pocket and I finish getting my things together.

I then find myself climbing narrow stairs at Maryknoll. I must return the items borrowed from my old elementary school and the storage room is on the top of the auditorium. While the building is that tall, it seems to get higher and higher as I climb the stair. Not only that, the staircase becomes narrower and steeper. But I finally get to the top. I walk across the flat roof to the storage room, open the door, and take a whiff of the musty air inside as I place the old paintings on wooden crates scattered here and there.

I walk across the roof again back toward the stairs and notice that there are trees lining the roof top. But they are not potted plants. I look over the ledge and realize that they are actually trees growing up from the ground, very slender, white, naked with leaves at the very top right at the edge of the roof. They remind me of the weird trees depicted on Dragon Ball Z. I take four or five steps down the staircase when I realize that it is not a staircase at all. It’s a ladder!

Holy shit! Have I ever mentioned I have acrophobia? Am I descending a ladder facing forward? I grab onto the ladder in a death grip and slowly descend, confirming every step with my butt–right foot, left foot, butt settled on the next rung. When I get to the landing, I find that it’s as narrow as the ladder itself and I can’t swing my way around to continue my descent down the next flight of “stairs.” I begin to squeal like a girl.

“Help! Someone help me! I can’t get down!”

Thankfully, I have lungs an opera singer would be proud of, and the fire department arrives. Sturdy firefighters race up the stairs to my rescue. I feel like a cat who had climbed a tree but couldn’t get down. “But that’s okay. I am a cat person,” I think as I watch my rescuers ascending the final staircase. Suddenly they themselves start screaming and running down the stairs.

“Hey, I’m still here! What are you screaming about?” Then I make out what they’re screeching, “Shark! Shark attack! Everyone out of the water!”

“Huh?” I look around trying to figure out what the hell is going on, when I realize that the shark toy I received as a gift is still hanging out of my back pocket. “Hey guys! It’s only a toy!” I scream but to no avail. Stunned, I don’t know what to do, when I realize that it’s not me up there. In fact, it’s a TV drama, “The adventures of Onigiriman,” and I’m on the set as a consultant. I look up to the sky and see that the person playing me at the top of the building is actually an actor, Namase Katsuhisa who plays the Vice Principal at Takakin High School in the drama Gokusen (That’s him behind Nakama Yukie)

This is when I wake up…

Whew! What a nightmare! No, it’s not the conference or the stairs that scared me. I am more disturbed by the fact that I am played by Namase. I mean no offense to Namase, but couldn’t the actor playing me be GTO’s Sorimachi?

I mean, even Kinpachi sensei played by Takeda Tetsuya at least sorta looks like me, and he plays a great teacher. Why Namase who plays a weasley vice principal?

*sigh*

Anyway, hope I didn’t bore you too much. I just needed to set down my dreams so I won’t forget them.

Still Busy

June 15, 2006

A

s I mentioned earlier, I am not teaching summer school this summer. I am taking a well deserved rest. But that doesn’t mean I am not busy. Egads! Since I have all this time, M is like, Well, now you can do the things you’ve been meaning to do for the past… 5 years! Like pulling out the shrubbery in front… or changing the toilet seats and plungers… or fixing the hole in the drywall… or CLEANING YOUR DESK.

Yes, I am a slob. It has taken me five days so far, and I am almost finished with cleaming up the area around my desk. Man! What a pain. It is amazing what you can accumulate when you are in the habit of just stacking papers and shit on the floor. I found graded finals from Spring Semester 2003! But it is a bit neater now, and I am surpised at the room I have to stretch my feet when I lean back.

Anyway, so far, I’ve trimmed most of the shrubbery in front, although I still need to pull the roots of the over-zealous azaleas. I have changed the three toilet seats and two plungers that needed changing. The dry wall is another matter. It is a hole in the ceiling and I find my coordination rather lacking. But I will try one more time, when I feel a bit more up to the task.

Besides that, I have been watching my J-dorama as usual and find myself unusually addicted to it. Last week, I thought I’d try to watch some American movies and rented six DVDs from Blockbuster, including A History of Violence, Harry Potter, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Derailed. While I enjoyed watching them, I found myself trying to watch them quickly so I could hurry up and return to my beloved J-dorama! Curse this year’s seniors! A pox on those who have awakened my weakness for sappy Japanese TV shows!

*sigh*

Oh well, back to housework…

Yard Sale

June 6, 2006

I

n Japan, there are scattered flea markets where individuals can sell their wares. But I have never seen anyone sell anything in front of their own home like they do in the US. Yard or garage sales seem to be a rarity in Japan, maybe because most people don’t have a yard or garage to speak of.

To be honest, we don’t have much of a front yard either. And we don’t have a garage at all. But that is the price of living in a townhouse community. But we do have a community yard sale where residents can bring their old stuff and try to sell it to an unsuspecting public. Well, this was the first time M wanted to participate. We’ve been living in our house for more than 6 years now and she had gathered unused things together–hand-held blender, a couple of purses, an earthen tea pot, a Japanese tea cup set, some plates. We were wondering if we should ask friends if they wanted anything, maybe take to the local thrift shop or maybe the Salvation Army. But when we got the notice for the community yard sale, she wondered if the stuff we had was good enough to sell, and I said, “There’s only one way to find out.”

She got so excited. Apparently, she had always wanted to have a yard sale and she spent every night for a week, getting things together, going on e-Bay (at my suggestion) to look at prices of similar things. She wiped, and polished and priced about thirty different items. I added a famous classical Chinese painting reproduced in 1959 by a reputable Chinese printer, which I priced at $55–it was just sitting in a cabinet collecting dust.

At 7 AM on Saturday, the day of the yard sale, it was drizzling. I called the coordinator and she told me that if it was still raining at 8AM, the sale would be cancelled until the following Saturday. I could have gone either way–I mean, it is me who ends up hauling the goods back and forth, going to the bank to make sure we have change, calling to the coordinator for more info, et cetera–but M looked so anxious that I couldn’t help but hope the rain would stop. And at 8 AM, it did stop.

So we packed up the car and took our wares to the outskirts of the community, across the street from the local high school. Many others had already started setting up “shop” so we ended up at the very end of the block. But that wasn’t too bad. We were under some trees and whenever it sprinkled off and on, others joined us under the long leafy branch we were under.

Now, I’m not sure how to measure success at these yard sales, as I had never done it before either, but we had a number of people drop by and we were able to sell a few items. Most of the stuff we put out was priced between $1 to $3 dollars, and we sold roughly half of the things we brought, including the Chinese painting for $47. M was dying to go to the other sellers and buy stuff–she is a sucker for these kind of things–but I reminded her that it would be rather pathetic to return with as much stuff as we had brought, and she sighed in agreement. When we got home and counted the money–a little less than $100 earned–she was even more excited and began telling me how smart she was for not buying anything from the other sellers. Yes, dear, it was very insightful of you. *sigh*

Anyway, we had a nice Saturday yard sale adventure. Just another bonding experience for the Riceball family.

I should add that one buyer asked if she could buy the light sweat shirt M was wearing–the original Onigiriman sweatshirt M is wearing above. I said it wasn’t for sale, but that she could buy one at the Onigiriman shop at CafePress.com, along with the Onigiriman baseball cap. Hahahahhahaha. I will go for the cheap plug anytime, anywhere… even here!

Thanks: Much appreciation for the words about the DVD burner. I will be getting one soon. I just bought an external hard disk as well–Seagate 250GB.

External Components

June 3, 2006

T

his is not a real post–I’m still hoping to get some feedback about what kind of posts you guys like. (See previous post.) I will get back into the swing of blogging, but a little guidance would be nice… But what I really want to know now is: Does anyone own an external DVD burner and could you tell me how you like it? I’m thinking of getting one but am totally lost. There are so many choices out there. Anything advice would be appreciated 🙂

Update: I am referring to an exernal DVD burner to connect to my PC.

Your Favorite O-man Story

June 2, 2006

O

nce, a couple of years ago, whonose wrote to me, telling that I should consider publishing some of my writing. I laughed thinking, wou the heck would read it? Or better yet, who the heck would buy it? I have had a number of my students make the same suggestion. One–who already has a book deal of her own–told me that I should consider contacting a publisher as my writing is “mildly amusing.” This is high praise from her as I can scarcely remember her raising anyone. Today, I received another similar comment when I was IMing another student.

mistybeech: i still think you should publish parts of your journals. there is some really interesting shit in there
me: hahahaha, if you are so bored out of your head, why don’t you choose the good ones and let me know. I dont’ know which are good and which are not
mistybeech: my judgment at the moment is not exactlt trustworthy
me: they are all good/bad to me
mistybeech: why don’t you ask your readers to pick their favorites?

Hmmm… now there’s an idea. This sounds rather narcissistic, but do any of you have a favorite post in mind? Is there any one that says, that’s the O’man! If you do, could you tell me? You can give me a brief description of the post–Yeah, I like the one where the O-man is trying to do comedy on stage at a rundown club… or something like that. If you can only remember parts of it, you can do a Google search–onigiriman japanese toilets–and find stuff that way… but I’m sure you wouldn’t want to go to that much trouble.

If you go to my mirror site, the JAJournal, you will find links on the right column to posts that I personally enjoyed–like hot chili peppers, when I touched certain parts of my body I *ahem* shouldn’t have…

Not that this is actually the beginnings of a book or anything, but if there is enough interest and enough material, I may try to put it together in a more coherent manner and send it somewhere for a look see.

Anyway, I hope many of you will chime in and share your opinion.