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I am tired. It’s been a while since I last logged on and shared my pointless drivel with the rest of the E2 world, but I must admit, even though my mind was occupied by work, life, love and beer, I did miss the seemingly endless staccato tapping of my calloused fingers on these slightly grubby plastic keys.

My lady-friend has abandoned me and gone to London with her family, so aside from excessive masturbation, the only other things I have to occupy my time is writing and drinking. My liver is already on its way out and my hands are calloused enough as it is, so here I am.

It is bloody warm here, around 30 degrees (Centigrade).

I don’t really have much to say aside from ‘Hello, how are you doing?’

I trust this finds you in good health, yours with only the most grudging respect,


This is a daylog, and I feel free in form.

This is a medium, writing on a node is a medium, different to me than simple writing. Maybe I am not as good at this medium as I wish, or than I am at mere writing, but that doesn't matter. Here I am free in form.

I have things I wish to say, this forum is wonderful. So many beautiful things are scattered in between pages of political treatise and random explosions of data, but they are all beautiful to someone. I wish to give back.

I am traveling. I am on the road. I have been on the road for some time now. I write these emails to my friends, maybe you gotten one or one like it. When someone travels they often write large emails to friends about the things they see and feel. Traveling can make one feel profound. It happens.

My emails however are of a different medium, I cannot find a way to put them here. They are daylogs that span many weeks and take up many pages. But I wish to give back.

This is the truth: We'll say I started years ago, September, 2000. I had quit high school a few years before and now was the time I would be going to college, so I decided I would take a whack at it and went across the country to Evergreen College in Olympia. This is the beginning, me living on the soles of my feet. I am no longer near anyone I know. I am responsible for my self.

College soon looked like a complete waste of time (and money) and so I left after six months, this is also a beginning. I went to Guatemala because I was young and didn't know what to do. It was beautiful. Broken glass covered sidewalks. Firecrackers and roosters making noise at all hours. Working at a guerrilla radio station. Sharing lunch with glue sniffing street kids. I was away from my country for the first time, truly responsible for getting home safely every night. After 2 months I went home to work.

I am still traveling. I work on an island off the coast of New Hampshire. It is in America, but it is not America. No cops. No money. 3 cars. It's small, and mostly run by the seagulls. What's left for us humans is run by around 100 kids my age. Work hard, but have fun. I leave with the resolution to keep traveling.

The plan was to go to Europe with two friends, Europe seems like the inevitable destination. But one should never make plans, plans can fail. Instead one should have ideas up to the last second, I could do this. Ideas can change. And I changed mine from Europe to Cuba, but I didn't have enough money yet from my island job, so first I went to China (make sense?).

I was to make money teaching english in China. I taught in the rural farmlands of Anhui, I taught in a fishing island off of Shanghai, I traveled all around in the six months I had. Making scenes in Shanghai night clubs. Running down broken sections of the great wall. Taking illegal pictures of terra-cotta soldiers. I slept on rusty mountain tops of Wu Tang fame in monasteries, and ate beautiful simple meals with monks. I made enough money to go to Cuba.

I had one week in America between China and Cuba, and because I was fleeing SARS I had to fly to New York instead of my native Boston. Here I accidentally met my friend Harrison, a friend from when I was young, and his three Swedish friends who he studies with in Sweden. Here I also fell in love with one.

But then it's Havana, I'm drinking mojitos and walking down the malecon, I'm hearing Castro speak on May Day, I'm living in a small colonial town on the south of the island. I'm smoking cuban cigars and lying on the beach. I got a barber to give me a mohawk in Havana (he made me promise not to tell where I got it), and later a different barber (proved afterwards to be drunk and loose in the head) took a straight razor and made the sides of my head very smooth. After he cut my hair he told me he loved me. I love life. But soon, too soon, my month is up and even sooner, my money. So for the last to days I couldn't eat, for lack of cash, and ended up in Toronto on a bus back to Boston feeling real hunger for the first time in my life.

Does the journey end here? Does it begin again? I take a bus across country, four days, to Bellingham, then a boat (wonderful alaska marine highway) for two days north to Petersburg, Alaska. I work for two months, 16, 18, 20 hours a day, losing my mind in a fish processing plant. I have a very special job, out of 400 people only 2 other people have my job. As the salmon come down this long (10 meter) machine they get all their bits cut off. The machine is called the iron chink because it used to be done all by chinese people. Now however, blades come slicing down and cut off the heads, then the fish are flipped up into a wheel that cuts off everything else. My job is when a fish gets caught, to stick my hand up in the machine and pull out the fish. You can turn off the machine, but not too often because we lose 500 lbs. a minute. Every single person that had my job got injured or went insane, and eventually of course I got injured. My finger got sliced, but I got lucky because they day before me someone lost the same finger to the knuckle.

I made money, not enough, but I made money and bought a one-way ticket to Sweden. One way, I guess I'll figure out the way back someday in the future. After a month and a half in Sweden with the girl who has since become my girlfriend, and in fact even in cold Scandinavia, love can occur, I took a boat to Estonia. The journey ends, the journey begins, the journey continues. The plan is to got to India, someday, and never use a plane. Planes are cheating. We took trains through Russia. I saw a brown bear being ran down the side of the street in St. Petersburg, in a muzzle. I saw countless beautiful churches. I lived in houses run by a puppet theater, run by the circus, I saw Lake Baikal in winter time and ate the caviar sold by the lake. I spent a week in Siberia, -30 degrees celsius, where it hurt to breath and everything is covered in ice, before catching a train back to Beijing.

I spent my second, and third time on the great wall, hiking sections untouched by tourism. No one asked me to buy anything, or charged me anything. Walked down mountain tops on the decayed wall by the light of the full moon. Climbed on top of a guard tower in daytime and flipped my arms up, flying on top of the world. Wandered the forbidden city, through a place choking on its own history. We lived in a hutong south of Tiananmen square, an old alleyway of chinese culture.

I just got to Guangzhou, by train. I am in the south of China. It is 20 degrees celsius. After Siberia, I appreciate this fact very much. Jenny, my girl, says- This is the part I like, when we don't know what will happen next. I am trying to find a job teaching english to pick up some more cash to continue on. We have no guidebook, no friends, no clue as to where we are in anywhere. We just wander around and do what we want. Life is amazing.

This is long, maybe out of place, but it doesn't matter much to me. I have seen beauty inside a world that can sometimes look very ugly, and I wanted to show a little of it here. Or maybe I just wanted to tell a bunch of strangers that I have discovered this wonderful thing, something I have never known or rarely seen before. I have fallen in love and I don't ever want to get up. My heart has burst open from me trying to stuff the world and a girl inside, and some of has seemed to spill here.

Something just clicked with me this morning, somewhere between the shower and shaving. It was in that dreamy state when one is no longer asleep, but cannot legitimately be described as being awake.

There is a trend on the Internet away from the anarchy that was present in its early days, where throwing something on a web server was good enough. The important part of this trend, “content is king” has been going on for some time. Sites that actually tell you something are valued over flashy logos.

But a more subtle trend has emerged, too. Basically, it is a return to “traditional” spelling and grammar. No longer are typo-filled posts considered widely acceptable. Well, that may be going too far—the odd error is probably tolerated in some circles, but posts where you have to think about it to decipher simple words, or using so many instant messaging abbreviations as to look like line noise are likely to raise someone’s ire. A conversational tone is acceptable, but it should at least look like you are making an effort.

I suppose I first encountered it here on E2. I discovered that running the spellchecker was not just appreciated but the bare minimum to be done. So, I read and re-read my nodes prior to posting. When errors do slip through (and, as sure as I type this, one or two will slip through this very node), it is pointed out. These folks are certainly trying to help (they certainly don’t qualify as flames), and I have appreciated the pointers. Ultimately, I assumed it was due to E2’s mission—a desire to node for the ages.

But I’ve seen it in other places. The FAQ for the “Television Without Pity” website goes to great lengths to explain a desire to have their forums have correct spelling and grammar. They aren’t strict—so long as things are generally understandable. However, "l33t sp34k" is not viewed as warmly. It’s not a free-for-all.

Then, there is Strong Bad. In his e-mail responses, he has often mocked people’s grammar and spelling (and names, general disposition, and anything else he could think of). I assumed it was part of his act. Recently, in an e-mail called “Local News,” he put together a whole CD of tips, “Strong Bad’s Rhythm N’ Grammar.” The one that sticks out in my mind goes a little like this:

and I don’t care how they spell things on the Internet
But when you e-mail me, you spell the whole word out
And I don’t care that your cell phone
Has a camera in it

I know that three anecdotes don’t qualify as a trend. However, I think, overall, I like the general direction. I don’t think the Internet will change the language that much (certainly not to the point of damaging it).

If nothing else, it makes me look like I actually earned my degree.

Today, I am very excited. Tomorrow is my boyfriend and I's 6 month anniversary. I know that it might seem to be just a little bit of time, but it has been a while for me. I have never gone out with someone for more than a month, and I am really proud of myself. We have had many fights, most ending in laughter and forgivefulness, and some almosted ended the relationship. I love the little time we have together, being that neither him nor I have a lisense, we don't see each other very often. I look up to him, I cherish him, and most of all I love him.

Well, it's nice that E2 is back. I've missed it, even though I don't write nodes much at all these days.

However, I feel I can no longer be silent about the new E2 copyright policy. Maybe 10 or so of my writeups, about songs or poems, were deleted. Other complaints aside I agree with the deletions, as those writeups all included maybe a paragraph or so of explication which is kind of irrelevant without the accompanying text or lyrics.

Personally, I understand the editors' reasons for the policy, but I really think E2 is losing something. Sure, I can find lyrics at a number of places on the web that are less concerned with copyright law. What E2 did with lyrics, though, was put them in context. The writeup containing the lyrics would usually include some insightful commentary, hard links to terms in the song, soft links to the writeup about the band, writeups about the various albums the band had put out, soft links to other similar or related artists, to the genre of music, and to other writeups of interest. Basically, everything unique and cool about E2, in addition the lyrics.

Other sites have the lyrics without the context. Now E2 has the context without the lyrics. I just think it's a shame. E2 brought a unique treatment to lyrics, poems, short stories, and other bits of writing reproduced perhaps a little less than legally. I personally doubt anyone would've chosen to sue E2 for such violations, but then again, I'm not privy to what email the gods and editors receive. I'm not suggesting the policy be reserved, because I know that won't happen. I'm just lamenting the loss of what I considered one of E2's most appealing types of writeups.

So I headed down to good ol' Qdoba for lunch today.

Ordered up the usual: chicken fajita ranchera, extra meat, extra veggies, plus both kinds of beans, a scoop of every kind of salsa, cheese, and sour cream. Which, make no mistake, is quite a hearty burrito to begin with.

You ever go there and get one of those burrito makers who's distracted by something, like talking to someone in the back, and just doesn't seem to realize how much shit they're actually putting in the shell? Well, today was the epitome of that scenario. My eyes were bulging in disbelief... the sheer horror as that burrito moved sluggishly down the line, adding to its tremendous bulk every step of the way, was overwhelming. I could barely speak to the cashier, who, when she saw what was coming, immediately ended a conversation with a coworker mid-sentence and turned a deathly pale.

"Is... will that be all, sir?" she pleaded. I replied that indeed it would be, and we exchanged possession of the monstrosity with shaking hands and uncertain stares.

Needless to say, the eating of this behemoth of a Mexican entrée was quite the experience. Unwrapping the tinfoil at my desk, the thing simply exploded out of its former prison, spraying its guts all over my workspace, as if the meager foil cage had barely been able to contain it. But it still lived, despite the gaping wound, and bellowed a challenge I could not forsake. I'd never met a Qdoba burrito I couldn't defeat in hand-to-hand combat (except for the mighty Signature Breakfast Burrito this one time, but I was still drunk). I went to the break area for a fork and a fistful of napkins. This would prove to be messy.

I took me 40 minutes to finish the damn thing. Coworkers would occasionally walk by and quickly avert their eyes at the site of the gruesome battle. My cube neighbor once peered over our mutual partition to see what could possibly be making those ungodly grunting, slathering noises. My gaze snapped up from the grim feast to meet his, snarling as fresh salsa and cheese shreds dripped from my gaping maw, my crazed eyes begging him to please, kill me now, and end the pain. He could do nothing but recoil in terror. Later, I overheard him whimpering in the bathroom stall. Someone mentioned that maintenance had to have him forcibly removed.

Somehow I managed to finish that mutant burrito, before it stripped away the last vestiges of my humanity. I retain my title of being undefeated by any burrito...

...but at what cost?!?

I will never eat again.

I like to daylog every once in a while, just to set the events in my life in order.

So, I guess the most important thing to affect me at the moment would be my visitation to a doctor to get tests run to see if I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Today, two weeks later, I went in and got the test results, luckily for me they came back totally normal. This is good. This means that with proper diet and exercise I should be able to maintain a completely normal life. WHOO!

Also I saw some people over the past weekend. I want to say that those guys are so incredible, and thank you to them.

And lastly, I just got back from Return of the King. Not going to ruin the movie for others but; WHOO GOOD HOLIDAY FUN!

Cooking tomorrow. Gingerbread and popcorn balls for Christmas. Enjoying the snow completely. Santa I want my pony this year, kthnx.

Kaytay's First Experience with Suicide in Japan, or
Inappropriate Smiles

There’s nothing like sharing a nearly empty train car with half a dozen drunken senior citizens who are so busy bowing to their friends who remain on the platform that they don’t notice the gaijin sharing their space. I’m not sure if it was their cheerful wizened faces, or the fact that for once I was being ignored despite my gigantic presence looming against the open door jamb that made me grin like I understood more than half of the elaborate leave-taking ritual which was unfolding before my eyes.

The train was at a dead standstill for fifteen minutes even before the posse of drunkards boarded, which is terribly unusual for Japan. The train lines here are like clockwork for the most part, never more than a minute late, and usually not even that. Something was definitely wrong.

The conductor made an elaborate announcement every few minutes, but unfortunately all I understood through the mumbles and intricate forms of keigo was something along the lines of "Honored customers, we’re very sorry, but there is an unresolved issue at Komaba Todaimae. Please wait, we will be moving again shortly. Thank you very much." Of course it took the man at least a minute to say this, so I assume there was more to it. It wasn’t until today that I learned there had been a suicide at Komaba Todaimae – someone, possibily a rejected University of Tokyo applicant, had thrown him or herself in front of the Inokashira Express train. It’s not a very common occurrence on the Inokashira Line, but when it does happen, it’s always at Komaba Todaimae Eki. I can only be thankful that I had switched from the express to the local train and was blissfully ignorant that there was an issue until getting stalled in Fujimigaoka, which is about twenty minutes farther down the line from Komaba. if I had been just a few minutes later getting to the station in Shibuya, I would have been on the express train that that poor person jumped in front of.

I heard that the Chuo Sen is most popular for these types of suicides. I’ve ridden on it before and was amazed at the breakneck speed of the Rapid Express train that comes through every eight or ten minutes. It’s Tokyo’s straightest line, and therefore the speed makes sense. I found this bit of information:

The Chuo Sen is one of Tokyo's most popular train lines, and not just with commuters. It's the city's premier suicide spot. Dozens of people throw themselves in front of its trains each year. The problem isn't confined to this train line. Last year across the nation more than 30,000 people killed themselves. That's three times more than die in car accidents in Japan and 12 times the number of suicides in Australia. *
And to think, I had been smiling like an idiot when this particular suicide took place, oblivious to the tragedy behind me.

* : source at http://www.abc.net.au/am/s429302.htm

back to Being a foreign female in Japan

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