Stick That Out Your Window and Aerate It
Several of you expressed consternation upon learning that we have Lucy and Ricky futons in our expatriate marital home. Also about the availability of storage space in the demi-closets, but that had more to do with the pending opinion in Handbags et al. v. Trains.
There is, however, a very good reason for the single futons. It would be virtually impossible to do this
with a queen-sized futon. Aren't the giant blue futon clips awesome?
Special birthday shout-out to my fellow June celebrants!
The Lydia Deets Experience
Lately (meaning within the last three days), whenever I've mounted my sketchy bike, one scene flashed through my head. It's the scene near the end of "Beetlejuice," when Winona Ryder leaves school on her bike, rolling cheerfully down the hill, waving to her friends. Now, I'm not Winona Ryder in a schoolgirl outfit, and while Kitakami is a mountain town, it's not quainte olde New England.
Is it because I'm rocking a messenger bag wherever I go? Is it because I'm married to a guy who builds models? Is it because I'm surrounded by young women who almost without exception wear white blouses, pleated skirts, and knee socks, regardless of whether they're schoolgirls? Did I spend altogether too much time watching this movie in my adolescence?
Incidentally, aspects of the 80s are alive and well here. Legwarmers, Paula Abdul's "Rush Rush" over the sound system at the Sakurano shopping center, and those red boxes of crinkle-cut fries from the early days of microwaves have all entered my sphere of experience. It is worth noting that the microwave fries share space with similar green boxes of microwaveable edamame.
You might be in Japan if... you get a lot of little gifts from the companies you do business with.
Sure, back home, you might find the occasional freebie. Fill your tank with gas, get a free toy car. Buy a bottle of Scotch, get a free tasting glass emblazoned with the distillery's name.
That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the way almost any business will give you a pocket-size pack of tissues for almost any transaction. Send a letter at the post office? Here's your receipt and a pack of tissues. Sign up for cell phone service? Here's your phone, user manual, and two packs of tissues!
It's not always little packs of tissues, either. When we bought a sitting cushion from the futon store, they gave us a full box of tissues instead of a little packet. A taxi driver gave me what I initially thought was a packet of tissues, but turned out to be a folded garbage bag. And when a moving company came out to give me an estimate, the estimator gave me a 2kg bag of locally grown rice.
If the transaction doesn't go completely smoothly, they pull out the big guns. After I signed up for my postal savings account (yes, you can bank at the post office, but that's another story), I had to go back the next day because they'd forgotten to copy one of my documents. After they made the copy, they gave me a "we're sorry we made you come back" towel, complete with the postal savings logo.
Greetings from Kitakami, and welcome to Let's Sharing! If the last week is any indication of how our lives will progress here, blog entries will center on the following topics:
1) Whatever I'm cooking or we're eating;
2) The cult of Matthew's moustache;
3) Travel on our sketchy bikes.
We launched the blog this evening fueled by delivery udon. The udon delivery joint functions a lot like room service in that the udon shop brings your food in actual stoneware dishes that they collect the next morning (don't forget to put them outside!). I am a big fan.
For those of you who have never met Matthew, or have not seen him in a long time, he is a six-foot-tall French-looking guy sporting a pointy handlebar moustache. The Moustache is developing a reputation around Kitakami. In fact, while we were out this morning, we encountered a denizen who referred to Matthew as "hige-san," or "Mr. Moustache."
Unlike many places in the US, Japan is very bike-friendly. This is fortunate for those of us who have not ridden a bicycle in sixteen years and now have to do so while a) carrying groceries, including pastries and large bottles of Sapporo beer; b) wearing a suit; or c) wearing Steve Madden heels and carrying a fetching handbag. However, neither of us has attempted doing a), b), and c) simultaneously.
We are both enjoying our nascent adventure quite a lot. Matthew's teaching gig is challenging, but keeping him happy. I'm settling in and trying to make the most of my negligible Japanese. Speaking of, I have a placement test for Japanese classes tomorrow, so -- oyasuminasai! Good night!