The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stress, Thy Name Is "Moving"!

Yep, it's moving time again. What a wretched thing it is to have to move in and out of an apartment every 3 to 4 months. Why do I do it? I have no idea ... I suppose the real question is: Why do I continue to buy junk while I'm here? Why can't I learn not to buy unnecessary stuff that I will just have to agonize over later - whether to keep it and pay moving costs, or throw it away? I think the Buddhists were on to something when they said that an adherence to material goods was the root of all suffering. Or something like that. I can start to see the benefits of owing just "one robe and one bowl" now.

So anyway, I have enlisted the help of my calligraphy teacher. She is rich and has two houses anyway, so it's not a huge inconvenience for her to take some boxes of mine while I go to Canada for two months. But still ... I realize that I am just forestalling the inevitable. At some point I'm going to move more or less permanently, and I'm going to have to throw away (or maybe sell) a lot of stuff. And packrat that I am, that is going to KILL me!

One of the tough things about being a teacher is that, every semester, the students give you a whole pile of souvenirs and mementos - photo collages, collections of signatures with nice messages, cards and little gifts ... exactly the sort of thing that you really don't need but you just CAN'T bring yourself to throw away. So, what you do is, you lug it around for 4 or 5 years, until you have finally forgotten who was who anyway, and THEN you throw it away. (Don't tell the students that!!) I can tell myself that I will keep all the stuff they gave me this year (they really were a great class this year) but I know that, at some point, in an angry red haze of "moving and packing" frustration, I will throw it all in the trash.

Meanwhile, I have to deal with all the presents I have bought people. Since I am poor, (so very miserably poor) my presents are all mostly cheap crap. But unfortunately, cheap crap takes up just as much space - probably more - as nice stuff. So, I think at least half of my going-home suitcase will be gifts! It's not fair somehow. I suppose that I can always buy clothes to wear when I get home ...

Which brings me to my next point: if you are wondering whether I am bringing you something from Japan, I'm probably not. (Sorry!) And if I *do* have anything for you, just remember that, although it is probably cheap crap, it is cheap crap that took up a lot of valuable space in my luggage. I hope that's some small consolation ...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The HOT Before the Storm

Hi folks! There is a huge typhoon (we call 'em "hurricanes") inching towards Kyushu right now. As it is very slow-moving and quite large, they are expecting a fair bit of damage. All week, they have been predicting landfall this weekend, so nobody wanted to make plans, but I had a party with my students last night anyway, and had a great time. We went to a restaurant, then down to the beach for some fireworks, and finally ended up in a karaoke box. Unlike North America, where Karaoke is typically something that happens once a week in a sports bar (and so you have to stand up and sing in front of a bunch of strangers) in Japan, Karaoke is usually done in a room with just your friends. Your friends, and a really, really loud sound system that you can crank up and then sing your head off. It's a lot of fun, actually. If you haven't tried it, you're really missing out. (For the record, if it looks like some people are bored, they are actually just exhausted ... I took this picture towards the end of the night and it was past 3:30am as I recall)

Anyway, I woke up this morning a bit surprised to see sunlight coming through my curtains - I was sure it would be gray and rainy.

I'm a bit of a slave to the weather. If it's sunny, I feel compelled to go outside, even though I am basically and indoor person and I get a sunburn at the drop of a hat. That is why I say it's a compulsion - I go outside even though I don't particularly enjoy it. So I put on a hat and some sunscreen, stumbled outside, and wandered around a bit. And let me tell you: it is fricking HOT right now. I walked a few blocks down to the station, did a bit of shopping (the air conditioning in the supermarket is turned up so high that it kind of hurts your lungs when you first step in from the furnace outside), then trudged back home. After my walk, I was so sweaty that I just had to take a picture. Actually, I don't look nearly as sweaty as I felt. It felt like my sweat was sweating.

There is definitely something weird going on with the temperatures between Canada and Japan. I checked the current temperature in Beppu on the internet, and it said it was 27 degrees, 29 with the "heat index". I guess that is like the Humidex we have in Canada. Anyway, I can vouch for the fact that it is WAY hotter than it would be on a day that they said it was 29 in Canada. It feels more like 35 or 37. So, I don't know who's lying, but there's something weird going on.

So apparently, this is the calm before the storm. I grabbed a current satellite photo off the web ... I am situated right in that tiny cloudless window on the east part of Kyushu.

But I'm sure there isn't anything to get worried about. The storm is scheduled to spin up the west side of Kyushu, meaning that my old town Ikitsuki is probably going to get hit pretty hard. But they are expecting Oita to be relatively unaffected - just rain and heavy winds, I suppose. I'll let you know how it goes... in the meantime, I guess it's time for a Sunday afternoon nap. Aaahhhhhhh....