December 11, 2008

R.I.P. Abby Bear

i will not write about this. i am still in shock. i don't even know if i should post this picture. i can't believe it. 

December 09, 2008

not much to write about. just another day. in which i slept in until 4:30pm because i can.

well i don't have that much to write about but i thought i would blog. i just hung out with my older brother joel for the last time for this month until christmas. we had pizza night at jerry's and then headed over to growlers. the only time i can drink there is when it is crowded, which it wasn't so i had a red bull, which is now accellerating my typing speed as we speak. he needs to shave! here is a picture i just took now. see?

Have you ever done yard work and looked over at the neighbors yard and think, they need to do some yard work in their yard too? Well I think that’s what the neighbors think of our yard. Our bamboo trees are dying. The garden is a mess. The blackish yellow carcasses of once glorious tomato plants are draped over the neighbors yard to the left. To the right, the blueberry bushes have gone skeletal and grass grows tall around it. Occasionally our dog Abby snacks on the long grass when she feels the need to vomit in the backyard. In the garden patch by the house, several cucumbers have started to dry out. Unlike gourds, they are black and squishy.
ok that's all.

i'll go climbing tomorrow right before work at 3pm. i'll go running tomorrow maybe, but it's so l;kasjdfl;ksjf cold!

December 03, 2008

Writing of Bermuda

Last April I went backpacking to bermuda and I found some writing of it, so i will post it here. In other news, i just climbed my first V5 the other day :D :D

My Travels: each and every of my trips are out of the ordinary and take a little more creativity, nerve and guts then the typically comfortable route of the american tourist

so here it is: the travels of i

the world as my backyard

chapter 1: backpacking in bermuda

so the initial plan was london. stewarts fam was this time around situated in the grand ole uk and it only took a 20 mile hiking trip to come to the idea for spring break.

it was... not called for- you know, the usual conversation college students engage in, places they want to go, countries to visit, cool people of places met, etc

i had driven out from gaithersburg md to purcellville, va, about an hour's drive for a long day hike on the AT. we were going to start at Raven's Rock and make north for harper's ferry, come home and make a meal or something. it was tim raveling, sophomore at patrick henry college and stewart lundy, a junior, also at phc. i had done this hike 3 or more times with tim and other phc students before. i was a little apprehensive- it had been more than 6 months when i last hiked more then 15 miles. i was a little late, even though i left home early, but we did eventually set of on a decently overcast morn around 9:30am. we walked. that's it. and while walking, talked. about the current status of our lives, school, people we know, music, movie, books, and history, and things we wanted to do and see and places we wanted to go to, life after college, careers, etc. aka, the typical conversation.

blast. geez, their shower was dirty. but it felt good to be clean after hiking up 18 miles of grime. it was an icy then muddy walk, various landmarks laid out etch a sketch my year before at phc. good times.

tim was making dinner - it smelled good and i think i picked to often at the red onions simmering in the jack daniel's sauce

stewart... or was it tim? sat up and said, 'what if we just... go somewhere for spring break?' stewart wanted to go to ethiopia. the laptops before us said no- ticket prices to africa were hefty. we tried asia. the same. europe? tickets to the uk were not too bad. "we could hike hadrian's wall" stewart i swear almost giggled at showing up on his parents doorstep during spring break, what a surprise that would be. dublin? irish pubs, hell yea! but still we were looking at around $500 per person. then, us, n our innocent youth, derived NOT to purchase any tickets whatsoever, but the moment class got out, head over to the local airport in the morning and demand to be sent out of the country, (with fingers crossed for great britain.) it was february? middle of the month i recollect.

in the next few weeks i tried to keep my excitement and plans on the down low, telling nobody. i requested off work for that time, with the excuse that i was probably going caving in west virginia ( i have never been caving). in my mind, i laughed silently at my insanity. we were 3 poor college students, deliberately choosing NOT to plan! it was madness, and brilliance! i had no idea AT ALL what would happen during spring break, or even more importantly where the hell we were going. it was comfort to me, and carried me through- dropping all my classes- one which i dropped by accident, and it occupied my thoughts, even when i got to go rock climbing outside, something that i rarely get to do. yet i was crazed, silent, smiling, imaginative. it could have easily gone nowhere. and that's what we thought when

one bright morning, the 19th of march, i asked my mother to take me to dulles airport in sterling. the coolant pipe in my car had broken off, causing coolant to drain from my car, and causing the engine to overheat within 30 minutes of running. so i was screwed, especially looking into the cost of fixing it- i had to buy another coolant tank, running around $300 for the part itself. i doubted i could install it myself, but when you're broke, that's kinda what you have to do- scrounge around for tools in the house, and utilize to the maximum the powers of google and internet car repair forums. at the time i needed to fix my car, which had just broken a few days before spring break, i had almost no money in the bank, probably about $200 with all my accounts combined. so i loaned 200$ from my parents, and crossed my fingers. the night before the drive to the airport, i had fled scuba class because i had left my bathing suit at home and was also tired from a long shift at work. all in all, i was a broke quitter, hiding from everything important. if i didn't go on this trip, which i had knowingly no idea what it held i knew things could blow up for me, i was due and ripe for disaster. so the break was also going to be for me a flee, an escape from responsibility and necessity. good.

it was early and cold! i was glad i brought a wind shell. all i had packed up was in a 40 liter backpack on my back. i also brought running shoes and a digital SLR camera. so i felt a little shamed when i saw that tim and stewart had packed much less. it was a day ago that i talked to tim on the phone and he told me that max shrumpf, their roommate decided he was coming too. i didn't tell my parents that i was planning to flee the country with three boys. oh well. it just sounded strange, i knew each one of them was fine and cool. still, it felt a little strange.

with packs strapped on our back, tim, stewart, and i entered the dulles airport. apparently max was still awaiting the arrival of his passport and didn't come this time.

it was awkward at first, but after the first try, it got easier.

"Hi.... we're basically 3 poor college students who want to fly out of the country for spring break."... "um specifically? the uk we hope... oh. okay. thanks. bye."

the airport was filling up. we were there at how early? 8 or 9 am. not too early. it was bustling. there were no tickets to be found. instead, most desk attendants at the various airlines, advised us against what we were doing- or rather the method of it. the internet, the commended to us. sigh. back to square one.

but another hole to crawl through was found - airline 1-800 numbers. from jet blue to taca to united airways there were 3 various youth buzzing of by windows with packs, requesting to be sent anywhere.

i called taca. an airline like ... taco. apparently they only had flights going out to countries in south america. and all the tickets to south american countries were gone. PROOF of the vast amounts of illegal immigrants in the US the freaking airline sells out!

then tim called jetblue again. rebecca? the name of the phone attendant...? she found tickets to a place called bermuda, for 525 dollars, leaving in 3 days on sunday, tim cupped a hand over his cell, and called out to stewart and i. all that went through my mind was a book when i was ten or twelve. it was about the bermuda triangle, a mysterious whirlpool that swallowed up ships and sea worthy vessals. it's out there in the carribean, said tim. okay, i'm in i said after maybe 2 thoughts - the recollection of the book and the color of the water there.

525$ is a lot of money to pay for a plane ticket. but then again, it's not the death. at $500, the ticket beckoned to me, it's vitality. it wasn't a $500 ticket to puerto rico or costa rica. it was "bermuda" to me an island aligned with scientific mystery. excitement is worth $500. i could survive $500. yea... yea, i could!


bursting out in the rain: the moment we landing in bermuda, i unbuckled and popped up. i was excited and wanted out. i looked up the window, already i knew it was stormy and at a minimum raining. we had experienced turbulence on the way in. ii put on my raincoat, caught a breath and with a heave pulled my pack over my back and buckled up, bursting out of the plane in the pouring rain. it was warm, not hot, not cold. nyc was cold. sterling was windy. bermuda was warmish. and rainy. as we entered the terminal, we walked by a middle-aged native man, set up by tourists i love you and your money, wearing a hawaiian shirt, and playing jolly ole island music on a small guitar. the americans before and behind me were happy by this show of hospitality. we checked out, all of us passing through customs, lying through the teeth that we planned to reside at "aunt nia's inn" we exited the airport and taxi drivers hailed us, trying to get us to enter their miniature vans. a lively elderly black man succeeded in apprehending us and led us across the street to his vehicle. he had a strong british accent and his car played island music from the 1950's. "where to?" "are you heading to St. George?" "what hotel" "where in st. george do you want to go?" "are you going to st. george's club?"

"uh... sure" said stewart, not sure what he was saying sure to. so the taxi drive took us away from the airport, across a bridge, to a little hotel / cottages in the town of st. george, called st. george's club. max went inside and got maps. it just hit me now, that i never entered the hotel the taxi took us to. i just waited outside each and every time we found ourselves there.

every time we passed a cluster of loitering happy locals, i kept thinking of the lines in the jack johnson song, holes to heaven, the part when they sweet talked local officials and bribed them with cigarettes and booze. and after a trip to one of the many many liqueur shops within the second day, during stewart and max bought aged bacardi rum, the words were quite fitting, as we found havens from the weather around the island, in trails and on the beaches, with obvious markings of local hangouts- many butts and bottles, and cartons for seats. tim carries tobbaco, paper, pipes, and pipe tobacco, max a variety of cigarettes, and every time we sat for a bit we brought out the rum and the tobacco. we didn't carry food, just the essentials, as you can see.


November 17, 2008

The Obsessed Me: Climbing

Hi, my name is Lily Cornett and I like climbing. No, I love climbing. Right now i'm writing with a bit of a grimace because my right hand and elbow is sore. For reasons unknown. Undoubtedly, climbing related. I'm a novice climber and my main passion lies in the wicked sport of bouldering. (Climbing short routes or boulders that consist of single or few problems, ropeless, and more focused (I think) then toproping or trad climbing.) I'm writing this not because I'm an expert of any sort, but because I'm in the process of learning the art of climbing and I think it would be helpful to document my attempts and my trials of error.

I don't really know why I started climbing. I was mainly a toproper in a gym in Rockville, committing about 2 times a month from January 2008. But from June I started going twice a week, and I was passionately hooked. During the summer I had a decent share of toproping out at Carderock, MD with some friends. Climbing outside, I learned a lot about balance and using tiny holds, since Carderock is mostly slanted rock and you climb better that way. During this time, I was climbing solid 5.9's and V1s at Earth Treks.

I took a break from climbing to travel to Japan for two months in August 2008. I had been climbing for two months. But even in Japan, I found people to climb with. I bouldered twice a week. When I came back, the wall at Earth Treks had been done over and none of the climbs had been rated yet. I worked on V3s and some V4s (unknowingly). Not knowing the ratings is a beautiful thing. You learn to focus on the climbs for what they are, not blindly following a botched rating system.

I left Maryland for two and a half weeks to campaign for a friend's political race in rural South Dakota.

When I came back I went back to Earth Treks, and progressed to being a solid V2 climber, solid 5.9s and shaky on the 5.10s. I sent most V3's and also, as of recent, 2 V4s. My goal is to be by the end of this year, a solid V4 climber. I like V4 rated climbs better than V2s and V3s because they are getting more technical and more like a fun puzzle. I am learning a lot by attempting V4s. I don't really care what ratings I climb in the long haul. I just want to possess the techniques required to climb them.

The reason I think I'm shaky on the 5.10s but more confidant on V3s and V4s is because the holds are smaller on 5.10 climbs and the routes are longer. I think with a little physical training, I'll become a solid 5.10 climber. My goal by May is to be a solid 5.12 climber.

Here are some of the things I learned so far:
Chalking Up:
Chalk up, but AFTER you tie in. Focus on what you are doing and you won't end up doing prep work out of sync before a climb. Plus, you'll probably climb better. Don't overchalk. If you are working on a sloper, then fine, chalk up. But when you are at the gym, most likely you're just overchalking to build unnecessary friction. Rely on proper technique and weight distribution rather then blindly chalking and throwing clamp holds. Do you really need to squeeze that hold so much it'll pop?

Trust it. That means, with confidence, commit to the next move and go for it. But don't use a rope to constantly break or lean back on it to pull over a lip. Find a break spot without leaning back on the rope and you'll get better at finding rest spots should you start trad climbing.

Other than using proper footwork, ever know what the leg where your weight isn't on doing? Is it flagging? Is it just flailing around? Are you using it to scrape your way up to the hold that's just out of reach? Pay attention to what you usually leave up to the unconscious mind. If your like me, a novice climber, it's probably not doing the best thing it can do. Why not? Well you don't have proper footwork down as a skill. Most people don't. If you dont focus on doing it the right way or using it at all, you'll most likely waste the extra leg, or worse, make it more difficult to complete the move. Rather than letting the leg hang on some moves, use the idle leg to assist, by flagging, scraping up, drop knee, whatever and try to use all those limbs that God gave you to make the next move.

Focus on what hand will reach for what hold before you climb. Visualize how you will climb a route. BUT ALSO visualize what footholds are going to allow you to reach which holds. Footholds, I am slowly learning, are the key to reaching handholds properly. And this varies person to person. So in light of your height and your reach, visualize what footholds are good and when to use them in hand with handholds.

Finger touch:
If you can just make contact with a hold, with even just a finger, you can wrap around to reaching the hold. Trust me, just making surface contact you'll stick to the hold. And if you can reach a finger, put a little more oof into it next time- stick your knee further over a hold and reach, and you'll probably tag the hold this time around.

Stick it:
Just force yourself to stick it. Keep your arms straight. You'll be surprised that you have the strength to hold a move. IT'S SOOOO MENTAL! Remember, that when you keep your arms straight you are using your skeletal structure and not muscle and you'll last longer on the rock. Also, when you get up there sometimes you'll be like, whee I can't believe I got this far. I am GOING to send it. Let yourself get determined and more confidant as you are climbing. It's really not that hard!

Falling is okay. That's what pads are for.

Take a moment to find yourself. Rest your hands. Look down at the holds. Then downclimb. You'll be surprised at how confidently you take most of the weight with your feet. If only we climbed up this way!

I love what little slopers I have worked on. They are good for you. Good for learning proper pull and placement. they force you to concentrate on how you hold them, and where you are pulling/placing your center of gravity. Try to keep you arms straight, and weight pulling down directly under them. Otherwise you can slip off.

Step into:
Step into a foothold and reach with confidence. If you step and then reach your body may fall back and you'll miss the hold. Well if this happens in some cases then you are not relying on your feet. But on overhanging walls, you need to reach as you are stepping. Use the momentum, for a reach, and not waste energy pulling with the other hand.

These require stepping up with confidence and carefully flagging the idle foot. I suck at these and am still learning. But I love deadpoints because of their dynamic nature. I really am alert when I commit to them.

Rests and Confidence Building:
Take rests. Don't just keep climbing and pumping out. Work on a climb with a straight head. That way you'll climb it in 2-3 tries and not 15. Focus on what you are doing, but also build a commitment that you are going to climb a problem. Be confident and smart as you plan your next method. And then climb the route with such confidence, head-on-straight manner, and thinking progressively as you climb. If your like me, technique is not yet second nature and you have to think as you go, but also, commit to sending the route. Don't muscle your way up there though! This is easier to do in the gym.

For Rizzle is the Shizzle:
Climbing outside is harder, and more scary because of the lack of padding. However it is Better. Yes, it is. Climbing outside has more crimp holds and slopers, requires more dynamic movement sometimes, and you have to think consciously about how you are going to use the holds in relation to footwork and where you body weight will be pulling. Climbing outside requires a lot of conscious technique work. The holds are not just freebie clampers like all the man made ones in the gym. If you want to build technique, I'm telling you, because I learned the most out of climbing outside- Outside is best. Plus you get to grapple with the rock, struggle with it, and come to love it.

No Obsessing:
Don't dream about and obsess about climbing when you are not. Have fun. Otherwise you'll end up like me and start blogging about all the little tiny things you are thinking about climbing related. It's baaaaaaad.

And that's just a little about what I am learning while climbing. I can't wait till my older brother Joel gets home tonight and my arms heals so I can hit up the rock or the gym again with him!

October 29, 2008

The Power of the Phone

what's next? we have people calling us from other countries for tech support and advertising. but now we have something else- campaigning. i think it's pretty cool and amusing: it testifies to everything you can do with something small. in this case, the phone.

Palestinian Ibrahim Abu Jayab, 24, is seen next to his computer, ...
AP Tue Oct 28, 1:07 PM ET

Palestinian Ibrahim Abu Jayab, 24, is seen next to his computer, in his family house in Nusayrat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. A young Palestinian in a Gaza refugee camp is doing his part to get out the vote for Barack Obama. With a little help from the Internet, 24-year-old Ibrahim Abu Jayab is cold calling random American families from his parent's home imploring them to vote Obama. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

October 28, 2008

Campaigning/canvasing, my prodigy, tumbleweeds

I'm in cold windy South Dakota campaigning for my friend Isaac Latterell. Today I'm working on a website for him that answers some questions presented by the tiny Aberdeen newspaper here.

That's where I am- Aberdeen!

It's definitely a struggle to campaign. There are many things to weather here, including, the weather, the candidate (haha), the bias, and the essence of time, which in this last week is quickly coming to a close.

One thing for sure: I am having fun, and I am learning a lot!

Isaac's little brother Matt, has started making YouTube vids, alongside my help with a tad edit. The vids are made with a digital camera so forgive the quality. This 12 year old is quite the talent!

I saw my first tumbleweed on Sunday!! That alone has made my trip worthwhile.
Here is a tumbleweed attacking isaac:

October 14, 2008

US Prez sighting and Kayaking

Well hello there. Yesterday I got to see the prez of the US, along with the Italian prime minister, Laura, and Condi Rice on the Southlawn of the white house.

I unfortunately only had my 50mm f1.8 lenses, so I couldn't get too many close ups. Anyways it was worthwhile, although at the beginning my borrowed shoes were getting to be a pain. Renee and I aerated the grassy lawn of the white house with our heels. I had to stand on my tippy toes to keep from sinking (once more). I am lucky to have a friend like Renee who has such close connections to the president!
After I got home from riding the metro, I went back into DC, this time to go kayaking. It was the rizzle deal, with a spray skirt and life jacket and helmet and all. I learned how to exit from the kayak when I get flipped over- tuck your head down, slide your knees up, all while yanking off the spray skirt. I love kayaking! I want to get better!

So this evening, I put out for $140 shoes from REI, they were the La Sportiva Miuras, size 38. I normally wear shoe size 8.5 and my old climbing shoes were evolv 41!!! So this is quite the change.

October 10, 2008

Lykke Li Coming to BLACK CAT Sun Oct. 19

Hello, I'm back in the good ole US of A. First thing I did after I got back was go bouldering, even tired! More posting on my last days in Japan coming. but now this:
very very - so good - scandinavian pop

Lykke Li & Bon Iver doing 'Dance Dance Dance' in L.A

Lykke Li "I'm Good, I'm Gone

Also check out the single "breaking it up":

September 29, 2008

Bouldering in Honjo, Party in Kamo

My good friend Shoko decided to throw me a good bye party! Also, the day of, Ochi took me bouldering for one last time. Kenta-san came along with Shoko, and the four of us spent the day at the ocean, playing around with musical instruments, trying to sing, trying to climb and just goofing around. 

That night we went to a restaurant where Ochi works and ate and drank well. We later took taxis to a Karaoke box and sang. (this was my first time in a karaoke box!) We then crashed at Ko-chan's room in Kamo. Overall it was a great party and a great night!

Soba, an Old House, and the sighting of a street musician

This past week, Miyako-san took me to Bundekkashokkan- a rich farmer's house from Edo-period Japan. It's right down the street from the house. After looking at the house and having a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, we ate Soba at a Soba house in the garden of the home. It was Izumo style, where three plates of soba are stacked upon each other. YUM!

That night after I came back from gym climbing (a very good night in which i conquered two 4Qs woot!) There was a young man singing Bob Dylan style in front of Izumoshi Station. There was no one there because it was soo late at night (11:30PM) and plus, it's the countryside. His song was okay, but his voice was even better. 

September 23, 2008

My Day Off

Well hello there, it's me Lily. Today I went to Matsue in the morning and met up with Tanaka-san. We went to her secret rock climbing practice wall outside in Matsue and I struggled with the face. (I don't have any pictures because that's right, it's a SECRET!) Anyways, we later bought some onigiri (Rice balls woot woot) and headed over for M-Wall, the rock climbing gym I usually frequent on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

We ate lunch outside; Tanaka-san eats lunch like a kid from a third world country. 

It was nice outside and so was standing in front of the great heavy metal gates of M-Wall. We opened up the place and started climbing. 

Ochi showed up and sent a route I have been struggling with for weeks wearing nice jeans, a nice shirt, and dress socks. He is a spider! Later, Tanaka-san's friend Masuo and her older sister showed up fer some climbing. I started to get sweaty and tired so I stepped out of the gym. 

Outside I talked to Shoko on the phone and looked over at my arm. A massive mosquito landed above my elbow and started to pump me for my money. I watched it swell then lazily swatted at it as my conversation ended. My finger held almost a full drop of red blood and from the other finger the mosquito limply fell to the ground. Ochi was leaving and I waved goodbye, he turned and drove towards my direction. I waved again and called out it was good seeing you, etc. But he stopped and asked what I was doing on Saturday. This man is lazy! I asked him if Shoko had talked to him about the party on Saturday night, and he said no. So I said you will find out. He started to say something else, but a car behind him honked at him so he waved his box of orange juice at me and drove off. 

It got more and more crowded and a quite Saturday morning had churned into a bustling air-fanned noisy afternoon. It was a different crowd then that of the usual Tuesday or Friday nights but it was fresh and new. But I wasn't. I was beat. Swimming the other day near Hiroshima made me tired. 

Shoko called me to ask me where the heck I was. I forgot! I was supposed to meet her at Adachi Art Museum in Matsue! I apologized but let her know I would be a little bit. She decided to wait but her friends had to leave so she introduced me on the phone. I talked to them for a little while, getting acquainted in mixed japanese, then english. Then I left the gym. 

Where was Tanaka-san taking me? To the Adachi Bijitsukan- Matsue Museum of Art. It's a beautiful gray-cut building right alongside Shinji Lake. During the day you can look out the window and see wake boarders make mistakes and capsize into the water or you can step outside and walk along a trail of copper life-size rabbit statues to the water's end. If you stop to pet the one right before the last- the second to the last, they say you'll meet your lover soon. I poked the rabbit the other time I was there. Mie-san, the girl who took me to the museum the other week stroked the rabbit like she was desperate. I think she spent over 30 seconds petting this copper rabbit, selectively garnished with a flower necklace and coins galore at its feet. I chuckled inside. The Japanese make me laugh. What I like about the museum is three things. 

First, it's right by the wondrously misty Shinji lake, where I enjoy biking to from Izumo. (Being out of breath after biking 30 km and staring at ducks in a fog-filled lake while panting and gulps of water makes one dreamy). 

Second, and most importantly, the museum has one painting that I liked especially, that being "The Wild Sea" by Claude Monet. (I can stare at it for probably 10 minutes or more and still want to look again- black gray rocks much like Izumo's clashing with the waves. And as much as the waves beat up against the dark earth they are for the most part settling back out to home- the milky blue sea) 

Thirdly, the museum is showcasing a special exhibit on Eric Carle, the famous children's illustrator that I grew up reading. That is where I was headed. To meet up with Shoko and see this man's handicraft. 

back to today: 

When we got to the museum it was around 4:45 and I felt like such a dope because I promised to come earlier. And I hadn't seen Shoko in like a whole week or longer. So I missed her and this was no way to treat a friend! The Eric Carle exhibit was too short. But also very natsukashii! I bought some more postcards. Japan is profiting from my massive purchase postcards, daily weekly regularly. I love these artsy postcards. I am an addict. 

it was a weird but good night and here's why:

We waited for Shoko's sister to pick me up and take me to the train station. blah blah blah. poof I am at the train station. I had 40 minutes to kill and no book to read and overplayed songs on my 15-dollar mp3 player so I bought some dried squid and light light beer. I am ojiji! (likes the habits of old men, for example i have braces so i use a toothpick). The station was empty, as the next local train would come in 40 minutes. I sat down on a bench, and start gnawing on the squid and sipping the light beer. BAD LILY! An older man dressed neatly sat down a couple benches down. I casually glanced at him, but that sent him over. 

"Where are you from?" a pause. "Where are you from? Venezuela?" 

Usually Japan is very safe. It really is. It was tonight. Aside from two drunk men consecutively trying to make conversation with a tired foreigner wearing a red american eagle sweatshirt and carrying a massive bright orange top-loading 35L pack filled with climbing gear and clothes...

I decided to play dumb because I didn't know whether he was drunk or simply wanted to brush up on his English skills. 

"WHAT? Where am I from?" I finally responded. I pointed to myself and said, "America. I am from America." 

In Japanese he muttered, oh she doesn't understand. [he paused] where are you from? where? are you from matsue? are you from nage? 

I responded, "I'm sorry I don't understand you." I help up my hands and sheepishly grinned. 

I should have walked away but I wanted to see what he would try to say next. Besides there were people around, he was far from me, and the worst I could do was make a fool of myself in another country. 

It went on for a little bit, he would say something like, (in japanese) I am going to nage. where are you from (in japan)? i am sorry i don't know any english. i am sorry. i am forgetting it all. i am drunk. i am sorry. the train will come soon. i am going to nage. you're a cute one. how old are you? are you twenty? i am sorry. i don't know english. i am drunk. i am sorry....

(THE first person in Japan to guess my age right, the third to blame their lame english skills on being drunk)

oh you are drinking beer, he said, motioning to my asahi clear. I hid the squid and picked up the beer and said, "This? Do you want it?" I held it out to him, and he said, "No, no, no" it's okay. i don't need a the beer in the trashcan beside me. bad move to have the beer! 

I knew it was best for me to stand up and leave. And as much fun as I was having hearing him try to communicate with me while being drunk (even calling a friend to ask him what "from" meant), it wasn't right proper to carry on a conversation with a drunk old man in another country, as harmless as it might appear. (yea right) Which was perfect timing because Miyako-san called me. I stood up and said, "bye bye", pointed to my phone, picked up my backpack annymore. (BAD MOVE i will never casually drink even the most girlish lightest water-like beer in public places again.) I promptly dumpedd left. I walked to the opposite end of the station. 

(NOTE: Here is why I didn't stand up to leave right away. In HIROSHIMA, where I spent this past weekend, Japanese people are constantly coming up to you to either speak english, or make sure you aren't lost or something or to say "welcome to hiroshima, where are you from?" So coming from this fresh experience I was at ease with conversing with strangers in a safe public setting. Besides other than a desire to practice english, japanese people won't strike up a conversation with you unless they have good reason.)

I sat next to a group of old ladies bickering about when the next train was coming. I started gnawing on the squid, missing the superlight beer, for beer goes with squid. I glanced over the platform. Young women reading manga or surfing on their cell phones. An older woman drinking tea from a bottle wrapped in a handkerchief. And, a man i saw earlier in the first area where the drunk man tried to talk to me. At the benches there were two other people who minded their own business. A woman, who went away, and later, a man who sat down to eat dinner and chuckled at the old man struggling to make conversation with me. He walked over to me and spoke in english, "I want to apologize for that drunk man over there. Please don't think the Japanese are like that. Japan is a very safe country." I said, "Nihongo wakarimasu yo." (I understand japanese) His face turned to surprise and then he laughed. He repeated in Japanese, apologizing for the drunk man's behavior, bothering me for conversation. "I know you might not want to be bothered but I am going to San Francisco next week and I want to brush my english skills. My first time to America. Can I practice little english with you? If not, it's okay." He got up to leave. 

"No, It's okay. I don't mind. Please sit," I responded, motioning him to sit down on the bench. "I will practice a little english with you." 

But the train came and I got on the train and so did he. "Do you still want to practice," I asked. He did so we sat down in one of those four seater spots- to benches facing each other. The other passenger was a woman trying to sleep. oops. 

The story gets long and it's getting late and I am always one to end far from perfection. 

All I'll say is that it ended well I got home safe, and I got to peer yet again into who the Japanese are from a series of interactions with random strangers during a time of transit. 

When Kinetsu-san picked me up, I made a puzzled face and said, shouldn't you be drinking sake- it's late. he responded that he would when we got home, and i then knew i was back in peaceful normal izumo, guesting at the home of miyako-san and kinestu-san. 

Hiroshima Trip!

My Hiroshima Trip was September 20-22: 

20: Day 1: 
Peace Park

Day 2:
Hiroshima MOCA, where I spent over 4 hours looking at art by Masuo Ikeda
Hiroshima Shikkeien Japanese Garden
Tokyu Hands Shopping
Swallowtail Backpacker's Bar with Kiyo

Day 3: 
Road trip to Namikicafe and the beach there

September 19, 2008

Beach biking

Here is what is part of the general scenery: Rice patties everywhere! This is the land of Pachinkos, the gods, rice fields, bad wine, good water, and good sake. 

After english class, I went biking to the beach. Last night I gym climbed for 3 hours. It was amazing. Friday was ladies night, so the gym was crowded. It cost me 250Yen to get in! That's under 2.50US! Here are some beach pics below:

Reading the Four Loves by Lewis, halfway through eros

Bird watching / spying on North Korea?

The sky!
My quickly gathered shell collection: 
This is at about 4pm

September 07, 2008

Grudges, cleanliness, a boring concert, the lake, kimono and castle pictures

Some pictures from kimono and castle day: 

Rie-san is trying on different wedding dresses: 

I tried a WAAYYYY to expensive one on for kicks: 

The Japanese pride themselves in not getting angry. But they are excellent at holding grudges. In fact by holding back anger so much, grudges are unconsciously customary. I made that observation to Miyako-san today, because she kept going on about how the Japanese are so well at holding back anger. But the reason why is tied into the inevitable all-controlling, all-limiting culture of tradition and manners. The reason why we rotate our cup of matcha twice and the reason why we say certain polite phrases for a myriad of occasions also ties into the way we present- and control ourselves. It really frustrated me when I came to Japan. You are unable to confront another. I think this is wrong. For Japanese, it's just something you don't do. 

Another observation: 

The Japanese have a fetish for bathing and cleanliness. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then the Japanese are super gods! They bathe daily, if not twice. They carry a towel with them to wipe sweat and a handkerchief to wipe their hands. The bathrooms are immaculate, the houses are spotless and cleaned regularly with fury. Even my hygiene has bumped up a scale due to the customs surrounding me. I did not know people could be so clean until I came to Japan! 

The Japanese are the cleanest people on earth that I have observed. They are so clean! Daily they wash their clothes, and never wear something that has been worn without washing. they take their shoes off before they enter the house. They wipe their plates clean with napkins after eating. 

On my new jobs: 

I have one :(. I am not in Japan long enough to obtain an ordinary job so I am teaching English to two people daily, excluding the weekend. Ordinarily you are supposed to charge 10,000 yen per lesson ($100), but I charge much cheaper since this is my first time and I don't have any prior experience or training. My dad tells me that I am charging pennies. It's okay. The only thing I need money for is this, that, and bus tickets to Hiroshima and later Yokohama. 

I will post on Japanese food later. But here are some pictures taken at a cake/coffee shop: 


Japanese percolators in action: 
in resting state: 
preparing the food: 
the display
some cakes: 

Here are some more of Emiko-san, her daughter, and I sightseeing at a castle: 

Last night I went to a temple that was halfway between Matsue and Izumo. The concert was long so I left after an hour and a half. The band playing was a group from Jawa (Java?). It was Thai stylish music. But it seemed like the same song was going on for an hour and a half! Besides I was tired from biking 65+ km to the lake and back again. (See pictures below.) Ochi returned my jacket and gave me shot glasses for a birthday present. I'll have to use them sometime soon. Unfortunately I didn't stay long enough to meet up with Tanaka-san. There is some new music I want to give her. 

Here are some bands I've been listening to: 

MF Doom

Stephen Marley

Michael Franti & Spearhead

The Chemical Brothers

MGMT (I can't get enough of this hot stuff!)


Groove Armada

The Guillemots

The Strokes

Over the Rhine




Pete Bjorn and John

Bob Marley


Ministry of Sound Dance mixes

Buddha Lounge Mix music

and finally, the classic Chris Tomlin

here are some pictures: (see post below)

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