The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Roughing It...?

Where did I leave off? Anyway, it's been a tough couple days so far. I was told that I could move into the apartment ahead of schedule, which was a lifesaver since I didn't really have anywhere else to stay, given that I had to leave my Abiko apartment on the 17th. So I picked up the key for the new apartment, got all packed, moved out of my old place, shipped most of my stuff by courier, and boarded the train for Nihonmatsu.
With me, I had my backpack with a pillow and my toiletries, a briefcase-thing with my important papers, my sword (I didn't want them to lose that) and my foam mattress which folds up. All in all, it was manageable... but just barely. I got onto the train and, much to my displeasure, saw that there were no seats. I piled all my junk in the alcove? vestibule? (the space between trains) and stood with all the other losers who couldn't get seats. It was pretty awful, and that lasted for about 1 hour until enough people got off the train to free up some seats. I finally got to sit down for the last hour or so.
I got into Nihonmatsu around 6 pm. It was dark and the wind was incredibly cold and strong. I couldn't believe the difference 2 hours made in terms of temperature between here and Chiba. I took a taxi to the apartment. As expected, it was absolutely freezing inside. They had told me that the bedding was at the cleaner's so there wouldn't be any blankets. Indeed, there was just a bare mattress. The apartment itself is huge, especially for one person. I turned on the kerosene heater, setting it to full blast. There was absolutely nothing to do, (all my stuff was in transit so I didn't even have a book to read) so at about 9pm I tried to sleep on top of the mattress with all my clothes on. With the heater going at top speed, the apartment began to feel approximately liveable so I drifted off to sleep...
But then at around 3am, the heater started beeping to tell me it had run out of kerosene. Great. I looked around for another tank or something, but there was none... Japanese homes idiotically have no insulation whatsoever... it's like living in a tent... so within 5 minutes the inside temperature had dropped back down to about zero. I eventually hit upon the idea of sleeping underneath my foam mattress... this worked halfways well but was pretty drafty. (Imagine you are a hot dog trying to sleep between two pieces of bread... not exactly ideal.)
Anyway, I have since purchased 60 L of kerosene which should last a while. I have also been informed that the blankets won't arrive until Wednesday. Sigh. I shouldn't complain, I suppose. They weren't expecting anybody to move in for another week, at least. So until the other teachers start arriving, I am kind of on my own. It's not an exciting prospect, spending Christmas by yourself in a cold, drafty apartment, but it could be worse. I'm not sure how, but I'm sure it could be. Well, for example, I could be in jail in Malaysia facing execution after having been framed for importing 3 kg of heroin. That would definitely be worse. Warmer, but worse.
By the way, if you would like to try calling me, I received an international call the other day so I know it can be done. You have to follow the international calling instructions in the phone book which means you dial either 0-1181-80-5008-5333 or you dial 00-1181-80-5008-5333. The difference is whether you put one zero or two zeroes at the beginning. I'm not sure, so look it up and give me a call. Be forewarned, it's probably really expensive.
I don't think there is any way I can call anybody. I am currently using the internet on what appears to be a Commodore 64 here at the city hall. At least it's free. So I can check my mail and everything, and update this blog once in a while. Once I start work, I don't know how things will go but with any luck, at least some of my neighbouring teachers will have a laptop that they will let me use occasionally. So.... stay in touch and I will try to do the same. Send warm thoughts to me!


At 7:57 PM, Blogger BeatDogg said...

Oh man... I was cracking up so hard when I read this, because I can picture your exact facial expression: a combination of utter rage, complete disgust, and total contempt. It's strange that a country that takes such pride in its efficiency and technological advancement has yet to discover the wonders of fiberglass insulation. Burning kerosene indoors sounds like a bad idea...

You should throw a little party for yourself at xmas, Jeffro. Decorate the kerosene heater, drink a bottle of champagne and stagger through the streets, cursing incoherently at bewildered Japanese people. Just be careful you don't get a katana in the stomach.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Zambo said...

Sorry to hear about your recent struggles, buddy.

Have a good Christmas anyway.

I hope the kerosene doesn't blow your place up like a meth lab.

Your Pal,



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