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I ask you, will I ever get home? This past week, I've been home for about a day. Let's summarize my past week or so. I went over to Houston for my cousin's birthday. Had fun, gave him the Lord of the Rings DVD, and bought some cool T-shirts from a nearby mall.

I came back home to Miami, only to leave to Orlando the next day. Let's summarize my experiences to Disney World. Imagine seven people cramming into a 2001 Toyota Corolla. Can you imagine it? No? Well, too bad, because that's what we did. It was my cousin's car--he had it dropped, and had put in huge tires with big rims. Now, the condition of that car, coupled with the fact that we had seven people in it, caused the body of the car to somewhat stab into the tires. So, basically we had car troubles. That was no worry, because I had my Radiohead CD and Tool CD to keep me company (no, the "company" which I am referring to, does not involve the hole in the CD, and me sticking "stuff" into it--get your mind out of the gutter). Well, while at Disney, it started pouring, causing most of the rides to close down. Then on our way back to Miami, we had to rent a car, and we stayed an extra night in Orlando. Well, we finally arrived to Miami, and staying here less than a day, I find that I am leaving again.

Where am I going this time? Well, I am going about an hours drive away to Ft. Lauderdale for a religious thing called a "jamaat." I will stay there for three days, and come back probably on Sunday.

Now, always being away from home isn't that bad, except for one thing. I have been on a mission to download every single Simpsons episode ever (or at least, all of them after season six). Now, due to the fact that I have a 56K modem, downloading these enormous episodes takes forever. Now, that, and the fact that I'm never home to dowlnoad them, will take forever and a half. So, let's just hope I come home quickly, so I can continue with this downloading, and spend some more time on E2.

TODAY WE ARE TWO

I've been a member of this fractious family for two years now. Two years of my life spent reading, learning, writing, contributing, laughing, crying, getting pissed, getting happy.

I've been to a nodermeet. I've hosted one. I've swapped comic books and mixes. I've bought the t-shirt, been frequently blessed and never cursed (though I have been borged from time to time). I've met noders, hugged noders, kissed noders, fed them, smoked them out and put them to sleep.

What's left?

Last year at this time, I daylogged a question: Am I writer? I guess the only thing left to do now is answer that question.

Fuck yeah, I'm a writer.

Better yet, I'm a noder.

Life is good. Thanks nate and dem_bones and everyone for making this place the coolest corner in the dim, smoky, freaky coffee shop that is the Internet.

I KISS YOU ALL FREELY AND WITHOUT SHAME. And then I go poop.

Stress, stress, stress. I leave for CERN in fourteen and a half hours. I'm mostly packed, double checked my passport and my flight tickets. What else am I forgetting? I have this horrible, horrible feeling that I am not remembering something vitally important. I still need to get my health plan info from my mom and print of my hostel reservation (the CERN hostels, despite being called hostels, are apparently closer to hotels). Send my itenary to my mom, what else, what else, what else?

I should be getting really, really excited right now. This is like a childhood (well, teenagehood, I didn't know what physics was in childhood) dream come true. I am going to CERN, and not just to be a tourist or something (can you even get in as a tourist?) I am going to "help" with the Hadronic Endcap Calorimeter / Electromagnetic Endcap Calorimeter (HEC-EMEC) Testbeam period. Make sure everything works before they turn the big machine on. I say "help" because I have just begun my masters and really, I'll be more in the way than anything else, but my supervisor thinks it will be good for me.

Well, I've been thinking about what I'm forgetting for an hour now, it must not be THAT important if I can't figure it out by now. I know there is a few things to throw in my bags in the morning, shower stuff, hairbrush and toothbrush and so on, but that's all already on The List so I don't forget it.

Well, hopefully it comes to me before morning. Either that or I calm down somewhat. I sure hope I can sleep, I'll probably only get four hours in the plane from Vancouver to London tomorrow night (I get off at 11:20 a.m. London time, but 3:20 a.m. my time). Even so, YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I'm going to Geneva, and someone else is paying for it! Grad school rocks!

Ahem.

At this time I would like to 'offer my services' to Brian Urlacher, international Golden boy and Middle Linebacker for the Chicago Football Bears. I understand that he has a large house, and most certainly he and his wife have their hands full taking care of little Pamela AND playing football for the Superbowl Bound Chicago Bears. So, it would be in their best interests to hire a 'housekeeper' to 'assist' with any 'duties' that need to be 'performed'. For instance, I would be happy to 'polish the trophies' at any time, as well as 'organize the game balls'. I'm particularly good at 'dusting the banister'. I will gladly keep your 'pipes clean'. Or perhaps I could 'neaten up the bedrooms' every day. Or keep the 'basement warm'. I would be happy to 'clean out the bathtubs' and 'fold towels'.

I will take care of your child and provide you with another one if you so desire it. Whenever you asked, I would be happy to 'give you something to eat'. If you are otherwise 'locked out' I will 'let you in the backdoor'. I will give 'backrubs' and 'front rubs' and whatever other kind of rub you may need. I will 'wax your car'. I will 'iron the ties'. I will run out to McDonald's and buy you a 'quarter pounder' when you are 'craving it'. I will also 'make tacos' if you are so inclined to have them. And perhaps your wife and I could 'work together' to make your home a more 'inviting place'. I would like to 'get to know both of you' in a purely 'professional' manner. I find you to be 'intriguingly witty' and 'talented'. I would like to 'apply lotion to your body' and 'dress you in the morning'. But I digress.

Please /msg me at Everything2 if you're interested in my offer.

/me sighs

On one hand is an opportunity that has presented itself and on the other is a girlfriend who i love dearly

Im sick of working on the helldesk and spending my life in front of a screen and dealing with the cretins who wouldn't know a file if it bit them on the nose, my coding is shite so i cant lurch upwards towards being a programmer so I figure I shall go away and get a snowboard instructor certification and see where it goes from there, but the obvious consequence is that i will be following the winter around the world which I like the idea of but...

London in summer is great though, everyone is so anethetised by the heat on the tube that a wave of relative calm has decended upon the public transport system, that and most of England is in Majorca, and i've found out that the pedestrian gates to Richmond Park stay open all year round except in November when they cull the deer so i can go night riding in winter.

Im off tomorrow for some climbing in the Dolomites , which will give me a chance to mull it over and make a decision.

Without realising it, today has been a very important day in my life. After today, things are different.

When I graduated from university last year, I already had a job lined up, and a small group of friends to move to Southampton with. We rented our house from a landlord who could be more helpful, but then landlords are supposed to be like that. We started at the company, and I soon made a new set of friends. Some of whom introduced me to everything.

Since I joined, 8 months ago, I have regularly read the nodes as they appeared, flicked through the daylogs, yet I never noded anything myself. Why? Sorry to launch into cliche, but I wanted my first post to be good. I was searching for the correct style to write. I didn't want to look back in a couple years time to think: "Did I write that?!!!". So why have I chosen to start in the daylog? Well, as I said, events happened today that change my life for good.

The past year I have lived in Southampton. For the three years before that, I lived at University, in Coventry. For the 18 years before that, I lived in Cornwall. More specifically I lived in the town us locals liked to call Liskeard.

Since going to University, I have felt that I live in Liskeard and that I'm just visiting where ever I happen to be; that my home is still back in Cornwall, living with my parents.

My parents move out today. I no longer live in Liskeard.

All our belongings are boxed up. All the furniture is headed for some warehouse to be stored. The cat is in the cattery.

I find it hard to believe. I have been at work all day, dealing with awkward developers who are unable to understand the test tools I spend hours working on.

The last time I was at home was just over a month ago. I had to go through my bedroom, and clear out all that junk that you collect over time. The drawer full of old marbles, bits of string and wire, packs of cards given to you at christmas. Even then, it just felt like I was giving my room a good tidy.

My parents told me I would have my own room in the new house. But I've got to ask: is it really my room? It'll be where I sleep when I visit my parents. But I'll only be visiting.

I'm about to leave work and go home. Back to my rented house, with my friends from University.

I have to accept that I'll be receiving this year's pack of cards from the same stocking, hung in a different house.

Still not yet settled in our new apartment: living out of our suitcases, surrounded by boxes. The only really disagreeable aspect of the place only appears at night: there are mosquitos. There don't seem to be many, and I rarely hear them, but at about 1:30am they begin stinging my feet and hands, mostly on the knuckles. They only sting me on my joints. I search the walls and ceilings every night before lying down, but almost never see one. After an hour's feeding, they completely vanish. Go figure.

I know this is late, but I've only just got home.

So yesterday we got up at 8.30am, somehow. I've found it easier getting up, in the past. We could only force down a glass of orange juice each before we left. Perhaps it's a trivial thing, but I didn't find it so, and neither did he, I don't think. Sure, he felt underwhelmed, but then everyone does at that stage. It's natural, I told him. Of course you feel anit-climactic. We got the nine thirty train down from Woking, and it was wierd to be back once more. I'd not considered, when I left, that I'd be back, but here I was. My presence was tangible and undeniable fact.

Few of my old friends were there, prefering to stay in bed a little, or just ignoring the event entirely for fear of what they might find. So we got what we came for, and we were both pleased, justifiably very pleased indeed, with what we had been given. So we went up town and bought six 'Juicy necs' for a quid fifty and shared them, content. we went back and some of my old friends were actually there, ones who lived in the area, some. It was very pleasant to see these people again. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed them all, but.

We hung around a little more, and finally some of my better friends did rock up, late but confident. Ging was especially pleased with how it had all gone. He really deserves everything he got. I know how damn hard he worked for it. So to celebrate we went to the one banned pub, the Wyk. Every day walking past for lunch, marchiong eagerly onward for out grey, anonymous meals, right past the damn extractor fan of the pub's ever-busy kitchen. Onions. Onions. Damn, did I have onions today. Steak and onion sandwich, in fact, but the onions were sweetest. I wrote my name on the foam of my Guinness, with the fountain pen I did it all with, and, yes, your name really does go right to the bottom.

We left reasonably early, because he wanted to see his family off, which was entirely reasonable. I'd've only've got drunker. As it was, I had a hangover that evening. He bought The Princess Bride, and we left.

So we got back, saw off his familiy, and settled down to watch The Lord of the Rings on DVD on his 45 inch plasma screen with stragically placed speakers. Oh my. Half-way through he had to get up to talk to his girlfriend, who'd also been worried about the day (I think) but who'd done very well indeed. We were getting on very well indeed, as in times of old: we were both relaxed and content with ourselves and the world in general. LotR was, of course, fantastic, but this fifth time around, (first out of the cinema) I noticed that Ian McKellen tends to gabble occasionally, and some of the superimpositions are poor, but. We then ordered a curry and drank some more beers whilst sitting down to watch The Princess Bride, which it transpired I'd seen half and hour of before. But. This was a very, very, pleasant evening. All was well with all. Realistically, it could not have been any better. At all. I've seen my friends, and with the day's events, I can apply to any university I like. Right now, Life is Good.

when it's over

weill in japan: day 45

The summer course has ended. Please deposit 250,000 yen to continue.

As I write this at 7:30 PM on Friday, I am less than 12 hours away from the moment I'll leave this house for the last time. While I had a lot of fun in Japan, I am happy to be returning home after six weeks.

The course I took was underwhelming to say the least, underscored by our terrible culture-related skits today at the end-of-summer party. Nevertheless, the less-than-enjoyable class situation brought the students closer together towards the end of the class. Only six people out of our class's 13 were in their seats at 8:30 AM today, although two more joined us late. Four of the five students who didn't show today likely failed the course, but they don't care. As long as they had fun, their summer was not lost. Our evaluations, handed out on Thursday, included a sheet intended specifically for our class alone. Hopefully our constructive criticisms will improve the program next summer.

It has been a fantastic six-plus weeks here in Japan. The weather has been scorching hot every day with high humidity, but these are the sort of conditions that I'm used to from summers in New York and Pittsburgh. The food, capped off by a dinner of unagi (broiled eel) tonight, has been good for the most part, although it had its moments. Among the more unusual foods that I've eaten -- and liked -- during my stay here are takoyaki (octopus cooked and served inside dough) and nankotsu (chicken breast cartilage breaded and deep-fried). There have been uneasy nights when I disliked the food that my host mother made, but I worked with her to decide what foods I would like and not like to eat.

Life at home has been very quiet and relaxing. Nearly all the time, I have enjoyed privacy and enough personal space to be comfortable. My two older brothers who share a room at home have been out of the picture due to late nights of work and study, but my relationship with my host family parents has been very good. My host mother and I talked about anything and everything, while discussions with my host father have centered around sports (Japanese and otherwise) and technology. My host father is 60 years old, but is still fascinated by computers and technology. He has printed around 30 photos from his digital camera using his new inkjet printer. I helped him pick out both the camera and the printer, deciphering the sales spin-doctoring across a huge language barrier.

Life on campus was easy-going, due to the fact that International Christian University is not ostensibly international or Christian. While I met people from all over the world, the majority of students in the summer courses are from the U.S. English became the dominant language of conversation between the summer course students I met, but there were also a large number of students who conversed in Cantonese. I was very apprehensive about applying to a school with "Christian" in the name due to my Jewish upbringing, but there was very little that is outwardly Christian on campus. At the opening meeting, campus minister Rev. Paul Johnson led the students in a non-denominational saying of grace. After that, I never saw Rev. Johnson or was exposed to anything religious as part of daily activities. Of course, ICU's centrally-located church is highly visible as a sign of the Christian principles on which the university was founded. Bilingual religious services are held every Sunday. I sometimes saw posters promoting religious seminars and lectures around campus, but they were not at all mandatory. I even met a few openly anti-Christian students in the summer course, and there was no hostility associated with discussing and questioning Christianity in the dining hall over lunch. During the regular academic year, more than 95% of the student body is native Japanese. Christians make up less than 1% of Japan's population, so I would suspect that religious activities are also low-key during the regular academic year.

I think Tokyo is a wonderful city where I would not like to live full-time. Coming from New York and having visited Manhattan on many occasions, it was very easy for me to adjust to the blistering pace of life in Tokyo. While I do not enjoy being smashed into impossibly-crowded subway trains, I felt that Tokyo has a little bit of everything. Very friendly towards the large numbers of foreigners who visit for business and/or pleasure, Tokyo has more restaurants than any other city in the world (more than 50,000 in total) and imports everything from perfumes to motion pictures. This makes the city the most expensive in the world in which to live, beating out second-place New York City. Public transportation, while extremely convenient, is managed by several private corporations. Some students, myself among them, had to purchase passes for different bus and train companies rather than a single transportation pass that would have saved us even more money. In any case, it's better than driving in Tokyo. When the traffic isn't bumper-to-bumper, I am still terrified by the prospect of driving on the left on impossibly narrow residential streets and understanding traffic patterns on the major roads.

I would not rule out the possibility of returning to Japan. Because I still had homework and projects to do, I didn't get to have as much fun as I would have liked. I still want to do a lot of traveling around, to places like Kyoto and Osaka. In retrospect, I might have preferred to travel in the one month before coming to Tokyo, but the World Cup made travel plans expensive or outright impossible in most cases. Although it is very difficult for foreigners to secure full-time employment and residency in Japan, I would be interested in a job with a company that has offices in both the U.S. and Japan. In this job market, it's hard for me to wish for anything.

My week ahead will be filled with sleep to relieve previously-unseen jet lag, unpacking, repacking, traveling around the New York region, and otherwise preparing for my seventh and final semester at Carnegie Mellon. I am glad that ICU provides students with public computers to check e-mail and otherwise stay in touch, since I have become dependent on those means of communication.

It's not the flight that I'm worried about tomorrow, but rather getting to the airport on time. I have two legs of transit, with my host mother accompanying me to Shinjuku before I take the Narita Express solo to the airport. I'm down to my last 3,000 yen and change, which should last me until I arrive in New York. It's an early start, and I say my last goodbye to Japan at 12:00 PM tomorrow -- unless oncoming Typhoon 13 sidelines my plans.

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