Monday, September 20, 2004

week-long late-into-the-night-every-night deserted-beach concert-parties are, to use the beckism, where it's at.

1950 20 September
Apartment

This weekend was a bit of a blast. Saturday, after stopping at the lame free internet place they set up for gaijin to use as a courtesy but which has everything firewalled and ancient computers, I went home and took a nap, and then showed up an hour late to kendo practice because apparently there’s a difference between 6:00 and 16:00. Dammit. Then I got beat up by a middle school kid for an hour. Can’t wait to go back.

After that, I went to a meeting of the local English Speaking Society, which is a bunch of middle aged Japanese people who meet every week to read and discuss some page about whatever. This time they were reading a comparison of Iraq to Vietnam. They were all excited to have a real live native speaker in their midst. So that was fun.

Then Sunday morning I went to the local Buddhist temple with a member of the Niihama guides club, and we did zazen meditation. Alas, no sattori for me this time – I had a bit of a cold and just sat there sniffling for an hour as all these people were so still and silent they could have been dead. I was really embarrassed. But it was cool, I’d like to go back.

Then, the excitement began. Monday is a national holiday (“grandparents day” or something like that) so no work today. That means Sunday night I went to the sun and moon festival. Now, I’m not sure how legitimate a festival this was, in terms of traditional Japanese festivals go. It was more of a 4 day beach party/folk rock concert on this absolutely deserted isolated beautiful beach about an hour and a half away from where I live by car. A lot of the music was absolutely crazy, notably this band called “Motto” (Japanese “motto”, not English “motto”), which had a keyboard, a huge standup base, and a bongo played by the woman who sang. They had such a crazy cool sound.

I went up there with the local expats. The crowd there was mostly Japanese people with a good chunk of English speakers, many of the English speakers in Ehime showed up. So the result is that I got to know the gang a little bit better, and have decided that more or less I really like them.

There’s Tricia, who seems just kinda laid back with a touch of the old road rage. Didn’t really talk to her altogether too much but I’m sure I will in the coming months. She and Jackie came to get me at the station, she’s a fantastic driver, which is kind of scary, taking narrow-as-hell mountain roads at 50 mph. I believe she’s American.

There’s Todd, who is leaving soon. I like Todd, he reminds me of someone but I can’t put my finger on it. Just seems like kind of the group center, which makes his impending departure a bit of a shame. He’s the guy who always has a good thing to say about (almost, get to that) everyone. Also, he seems like the group slut, which is kind of funny. IE, we’re trying to figure out sleeping arrangements in tents and he was all like “Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ll find a tent.” But it’s all in good fun, he’s only half serious all the time. I suspect I’d really get to like him but he’s out in two weeks so oh well. He is Chinese, but from New York.

Let’s see, then there’s Jackie, who I found out is 37, which is weird cuz she’s like almost 40 and that’s weird. But she’s really cool, hard-drinking music-loving clever-as-hell joyce-reading (!!) fun. She’s one of the JETS in our town. Also, she’s apparently got a band which may or may not be in need of a bass and wants me to join cuz “even a monkey can learn bass” so maybe I’ll be in a rock band. She is British.

Then there’s Pat, who seems to be the go-to guy of Niihama. He’s got a hand or foot in anything – he’s technically an English teacher, but he has a cooking class on the side and is working on starting up a local FM radio station. For this beach party he set up a stand to sell shish-kebob and beer. I suspect a really useful guy to get to know, I’d like to jump on board his radio station, he says he could use some help. He is Canadian.

Ah, and I might as well get around to Karen. Karen is from Jamaica. Karen loves Jamaica. Karen hates Japan. Karen can’t stop talking about how much she hates Japan and loves Jamaica, and apparently can’t stop calling people and whining. Karen arrived one week before I did, and is apparently already driving everyone absolutely mad. As a testament to the kindness of this group, they all invited her to this party/concert anyway, cuz they don’t just wanna leave her isolated and by herself out here. But she came and just bitched the whole damn time. And THEN she turns out to be a religious nut, evangelizing to us during this concert. And then when Pat’s girlfriend drank too much and was throwing up, and the rest of us were like “whatever, she’s fine” she got really mad at us. And it’s just everything, she takes a really irritating moralistic high ground and bitches about the rest of us and about Japan and about the Japanese (which she refers to Chinese half the time because “They all look the same to her.”) So yeah, she was the exception to Todd’s kind outlook. She just makes no effort and it really kinda gets everyone down, but what can we do? She’s going to be my new Bellinger, but at least I can avoid her. Also, hopefully this’ll be the last time I say anything about her; I’m gonna try real hard not to just start bitching about people. But it’s sad that there’s this kinda drama out here, I wish people could just be cool.

Let’s see, who else? There’s Emma and Sarah, a couple of JETS who seem like they’re cool enough. Their thing is that at beach parties they twirl these chain things around that have fire burning on the ends, it looks pretty cool at night, I’d like to learn. There’s Nevin and Yuki, who I met for the first time last night. They’re from kinda near Niihama, and seem cool enough. Nevin is a salsa dancer and Yuki is a surfer. I think at 26 they’re the youngest English speakers I’ve met. There’s Jay and I believe his girlfriend’s name is Ellie. Jay plays guitar and seems about the laid-backest guy around, and his girl seems cool enough, though I didn’t really talk to her.

There were a few more, but I spent most of my time talking to Jackie, getting talked at by Karen, and flirting with Nevin. I’m really starting to dig it around here. It’s good to know that there’s a base around here that I can actually relate to. I really would have thought that too much to ask, ya know, like living out in the sticks of Japan I’d be happy to meet anyone who speaks English at all, let alone a crowd of really considerate, with-it people who have read Finnegans Wake and like Wong Kar Wei movies. This is pretty swell. Also, I suspect they all kinda like me, which is good. Jackie when she was drunk was telling me they were relieved that the new young guy turned out not be a “wanker”, but is clever and cool. So that’s cool.

Hmm, for such a long weekend that seems like rather a short post. Ah, and the lousy thing is I got back today, showered, and laid down for a nap around 1 and woke up around 730. That sucks. I have work tomorrow.

Oh, Sarah, I’m rocking out the Coldplay and really digging it. Haven’t so much gotten into the other one, but I think this disc will make my permanent rotation, which is quite a feat.

At some point here I’m going to have to step out for some food. I’ve decided that I make a really comfortable amount of money – basically, I can ration myself 200 bucks a week and bank 200 a month. This means I’ll be able to afford a Playstation 2 from Todd in early October when I get paid. So that’s exciting.

Also, if any of you want anything from Japan, please let me know. There’s a lot of “stuff” here. Zach, that means Dreamcast games, lemme know if there’s any Japanese-only that you’re looking for, there’s a small selection of used at a local used stuff store.

Meh, I was gonna try to fill up the rest of this page so I can start at the top of the next one next time I write, but I got nothing. If you guys know anyone who would be interested in reading about my exciting adventures, please feel free to pass this URL around.

Have a good one!

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