Sunday, February 07, 2016

8 Tips for Snow Survival in Sapporo

This past weekend The Mister and I packed onto a plane with The Aussies(TM) and flew up to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.  Specifically, we went to Sapporo, for their winter festival.

In the weeks leading up to this amazing trip (quick shout-out to KP2, who planned the whole thing!), we had many conversations around the dinner table with The Aussies(TM), where they would express their excitement at experiencing REAL snow, in REAL quantities, in REAL cold temperatures; all for the first time.  Meanwhile, I hail from a town which much of the US regularly refers to as “The Frozen Tundra.”  So while I can definitely see the appeal and beauty of snow (particularly when it’s sculpted by teams of artists into fantastical beasts!), I became really conscious of not wanting to be *that* person at the table.  You know, that person that’s like:

“ugh, this is nothing special.  allow me to quash your dreams of how fantastical this trip will be by telling you how easy it has been for me to maneuver my previous 31 years of existence in snow.  Why, as a child, I walked to school uphill both ways in ten feet of snow in temperatures approaching absolute zero…”*

You see where I’m going with that.  I wanted them to have the wonder, because snow is super COOL, guys (HA HA puns!)

But then I realized that being *that* person was a far better outcome than how much I may have failed my friends though not just giving them some helpful hints on… you know, how to be in the middle of all that wonder and NOT turn blue.

In tribute to my favorite frozen friends from down under, and for those who may be heading up to Hokkaido themselves for the remainder of the festival, I wish to present:




1.  Layers!
This is the cardinal rule of winter heat-regulation.  I wore nylons and fleece leggings under my jeans.  I wore two pairs of socks.  I wore gloves under my mittens.  The more layers of fabric and air pockets that the cold has to whip through, the better chance you’ll keep the closest layer to you the right temperature.  Note, however, that these layers can’t be constrictive.  Your blood stream takes the heat from your core to wherever it needs to go… unless those socks are too tight and then your piggies are gonna get chilly.

2.  TAKE OFF the layers (brown chicken brown cow), as soon as you go inside! 
At least take off the topmost layers.  If you let yourself start to sweat, as soon as you go back outside you will be colder than you have ever been in your life, because that sweat will freeze.  Next to your skin.

3.  Lotion.  
One of the times I laughed the hardest was while living in Texas:  We had a dusting of snow overnight, and in the morning, I watched a very exasperated meteorologist on KTAB explain to his audience that “snow is what happens when the water in the air gets so cold it freezes.”  
People were confused about that.  
And I just… whatever I guess can’t say I wasn’t confused by Texas’ ridiculous heat waves in the summer, so we’ll call it even.  But okay, the point of that is when the water in the air has been sucked out and made into snow, the moisture in your skin will leech out to replace the water vacancy in the air.  Maybe that is too much.  Let me sum up:
Winter air is DRY, and if you are out in it long enough, your knuckles and lips can crack and bleed from lack of moisture.  Bring lotion.  Apply liberally.

4.  Sunglasses.
The color black absorbs light.
The color white REFLECTs sunlight.  You know how snow is white?  Don’t burn out your retinas staring at the pretty sunlight sparkling off the snow slopes y’all, protect ‘dem peepers!
Science!*

5.  Plastic Baggies can be your bestie.
I didn’t bring winter boots with me to Japan.  I don’t live in a place where that would be necessary enough times during the year to rationalize finding space to store winter boots in this apartment.  But you know what I do have?  Socks, sneakers, and plastic baggies.
Here’s how that works:
You put on a pair of socks.
You put, over the top of that, a plastic baggie.
Over THAT, you put another pair of socks to hold them in place.
Then you put those tootsies inside your sneakers.
The plastic layer between your socks will keep any snow that gets into your sneaker from getting to your foot.  You stay dry and warm.  Everyone wins.  Parents in my neck of the woods do this for little kids in the winter, and it works.

6.  MITTENS.  
Good lord Japan, where are your MITTENS?  I couldn’t find them in any of Nagoya’s shops (though I will admit I am cheap and refused to check camping stores for ¥4000 mittens)
I know there is a heightened finger functionality (heyo!) when wearing gloves.  But when you wear gloves, each of your fingers is sectioned off to fend for itself.  Have you ever seen those survivalist guides where they tell you if it’s too cold and you’re stranded outside to get naked and huddle together with your group to share the body heat between you?  Same principal for your digits, yo.  Get some mittens, or make them- in fact, I made a pattern (sized to print on A4 paper) and I’ll share it with you for FREE if you click [HERE] (it’ll go to a .pdf on my google drive), and those fleece lap blankets at the dollar store are just the right amount of fabric for a pair or two! 

7.  Use those heater packets sparingly.
Those little heat packs are GREAT if you really need them, but be sure you REALLY need them.  If they make you sweat, you’ll just be WAY colder when you take them out.  And don’t put them directly next to your skin, they’ll get too warm.  Make sure there’s a layer of cloth between you and that little pouch of chemicals.

8.  A note on traction.
Slipping and falling on your tookus is a real possibility in snowy conditions - particularly if you’re at a festival where thousands of people have trampled the snow on the ground to a perfectly flat, shiny surface.  I’m not going to say I’m perfect at this, but I am going to say if you use your brain, you can walk on stuff like this without boots that have bottoms resembling cleats.  Keep your center of gravity low.  Watch where you step.  Go slowly.  Walk on your ENTIRE foot.  You take a tip-toe and it’s over.  And if you fall?  try to go backwards.  More cushion on that end.

Do you have any uncommon tips that I forgot?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
雪だるま 作ろう?

Yukidaruma Tsukurou?
(I had to.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Put it in the mail, and mail it to me.

I just got back from THE post office, where I dropped off my absentee US voter registration so I can contribute my two cents to the nation's decision of who the next leader of the "free world" is.  

I say THE post office because I have a favorite here.  In a country that LOVES sending mail for every occasion, it can seem like you’re never more than a stone’s throw from a post office.  But I.  I will walk 20 minutes out of my way to go to one specific post office.  MY postoffice.  The one that’s technically closest to our apartment, but is the opposite direction from anything else that’s helpful in my day to day shenanigans.

Let’s back up a bit here.  We all know my Japanese is FAR from perfect, and I so I can understand why to many Japanese folk here, I can be a little intimidating to interact with.  And on a whole, I genuinely appreciate the amount of effort that people will put into communicating with me when I need help.  Directing me to a park, or clarifying if the train I’m on is a rapid or a local, or even that one time I needed a whole bunch of help figuring out what to do with dog poop. 

That said, while I can now confidently navigate the ins and outs of necessary conversation, I occasionally miss the “fun” conversation.  You know, the pleasantries one can exchange to add a little flavor throughout a chat.  Something that displays your personality and makes an exchange more than “Noun+Verb?”  “Noun+Verb.” 

But like I said before, I can be an intimidating person to talk to.  It’s rare to find someone who will take that leap with me and try.

Case in point, at the grocery store with the good baking supplies, the cashier is less than pleased with my enthusiasm for his speedy checking skills.

Then there's the post office.  At MY post office, there is one lady who makes sure to wait on me every time I walk through the doors.  At first, I just liked her because I could tell she was excited to work with a foreigner (sometimes you can get that look when you walk up to a register which can only mean “oh sh*t.”)  Then I liked her even more because in my crappy Japanese I asked her to make me a sample of how something should be addressed, and she came out from behind the counter to show me just what to do.  THEN, I started to look forward to our interactions because I could tell she was really striving to find me the best deals on sending things to the states (y’all, it’s not cheap).  

A few weeks ago I got our “Happy New Year!” cards ready to send out (Japanese folk send HNY cards instead of Christmas cards.  I appreciated the deadline extension, so I decided to assimilate to that particular cultural idea).  I dutifully brought them all to my postoffice, addressed just how my favorite post-clerk had shown me.  (Yes, she has a name… but let’s call her H-san for internet sake).  She chatted with me while she figured out postage for each:

“These are going out a bit late for the New Year, you know.”
(Not catching the hint of fun teasing in her voice, I was so ashamed that I immediately threw The Mister under the bus)
“Oh.  Um… yes, I know.  I had to wait for my husband to finish writing his cards out.”
And then she giggled and said: 
“That’s why I’m not married.”

It took me a minute, folks.  But once I realized she was making a joke, I LOST MY MIND.  No one here had made a joke with me yet!  And that was a decent -albeit simply worded so I can understand-JOKE!  I laughed like a hyena on a bender for the next five minutes.  

A day or so later I had to mail a box of cat toys as a thank you to a friend who had let The Mister use her computer to do some Navy stuff while we were home over the holidays, and she had this great gem:
complete with arm "explosion" and "pachow!" sound to make sure I really understood the question

So we’re best friends now is what I’m saying.  Me and H-san.  Who wants a package?


Do you frequent a particular business 
because you dig the employees?  
Tell me about it in the comments!

today's little language lesson:
この猫のおもちゃは爆発性です。
Kono neko no omocha wa bakuhatsu-seidesu.
this cat toy is explosive.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Year in Review 2015

It is time.  Time to look back upon 2015 and see if I lived up to past-me's expectations.  Let's do this (and I'll keep it short and sweet because I am well aware this is a very self-serving post each year).


2015's Goals!

1.  Move to Japan.  
CHECK!  I knew when I wrote it that it would -yes- happen, but it still seemed like such an impossibility.  And yet... 
we are here, and happy, and in good with the owner of this fabu restaurant which we frequent.




2.  Be less of a hermit than I was in Mexico.
"To be successful in this goal I will need to have found a group of my OWN friends (not just friends who are friends through proxy of The Mister)."
CHECK number 2!  Guys.  I have real friends here.  That like, are friends I want to keep in contact with for the rest  of my life.  And we do things.  Like go to OWL CAFES (I will post about this eventually, I promise).  


3.  ARTING. 
"Staying sane for me is largely controlled by my ability to create things.  Some of this has been stalled lately because the to-do list is overwhelming.  I'll need to figure out what ARTING will look like, what medium it will take on once we're over there, but I want to create another 4 fabulous projects just for me which I can be proud of."  Ooooh snap.  CHECK NUMBER 3.  Doing amazing over here.  Feelin' good.

Exibit 1: I constructed wearable art by making my own patterns for both fabric and foam applications

dog coat
viking costume
Exhibit 2: I did a BUNCH of knitting
only 2 of at least 20 scarves
 
Exhibit 3: And a BUNCH of baking

cupcakes!
cookies!

Exhibit 4: And of course, there was some home decor art projects... which were met with appreciation from some more than others...

plants pre bubba
plants 24 hours later post bubba eating and horking one.
 And there was more!  I had to select 4 to show here!  Awesome sauce.


4.  The Dreaded 45.
"The Dreaded 29 has been conquered since 2012.  That's pretty awesome.  But I haven't made much progress since then.  I'm crossing my fingers that a few key changes to our lifestyle will make another 16 pounds possible this year."

   er.... this one didn't *really* pan out how I hoped.  But not altogether a loss.  Turns out, if you transition from a 90% sentient lifestyle, to one where you walk literally everywhere (literally is actually used properly here!) that you don't so much loose weight as you loose fat and gain muscle.  So I gained weight... but I'm down a pant size.  Ok I guess?


Let's call that 3.5/4  That's a solid B+ folks.  I'll take it!  And honestly, that it's not 100% success makes me feel like I did a good job of not just lobbing myself softballs. Where to from here?

GOALS FOR 2016
The things I'd like to do for me, to make me feel good about myself and my life:

1.  Pass the JLPT 4 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 4).  This... not gonna lie, will be hard.  As you may or may not remember, I have sat the JLPT level 5 and... failed by a single point.  Assuming I can convince my Japanese teacher that I am ready to take it in July, I might have two chances at this one (they test in July and December every year).  If not, I'll sit it for sure in December and hope for a one and done scenario.  So.. fingers crossed.

2.  Do something I'm proud of with FINvites.  I'm not sure just yet that I know how to make this measurable.  I'd like to be able to look back and say I did something other than just housewife at the end of this year.  Don't get me wrong, housewifing is great, but there is more to life. FINvites seems like the best option to make that happen.  Future me, I will leave the judgement to you on how successful that is.

3.  Another 4 Fabu Arts.  You know the drill on that one.

4.  Maintain the pant size, and loose 10 lbs.  Can it be done?  I shall see.


What are your goals for the year of the Monkey?  
How will you measure if you're successful?  
Tell me in the comments!

Monday, January 18, 2016

coming in with a whimper

My little cousin wins all the cool points.
Ever.
That title sounds pitiful now that I typed it out.  Hmph.  Okay but whatever I'm leaving it.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to crank out witty blog titles?  Almost as hard as it is to come back to writing the blog after a prolonged hiatus.  Oh yeah, you noticed, eh?  ..sorry...?

So whence last we saw our heroes, I had just awarded The Mister his Christmas gift of bear onesie - less than 12 hours later the two of us were off on a plane to the states, onesies in tow.  I'd like to say we had epic adventures in our onesies, but mostly we were just caught up in a whirlwind of jetlag, to-do lists, and making sure we got in genuine, much missed facetime with our families.

And weirdly (weird for me, as I'm usually an over-sharer here), I kinda wanna keep all that to myself to just hold onto until the next visit home.

So just a few fun pictures:
couple selfie at the NYE Redwings v. Penguins game
We were seated next to an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.
He rode the zamboni.  It almost made up for the Wings loss

The very next day, the Mister and I hopped on the TINIEST
plane ever to fly over the Lake to Wisconsin.  It was tiny.
As in, couldn't even put my feet down on the ground tiny.
We were... dubious.
It all works out when, upon landing, you get an Old Fashioned.
Which, for whatever reason, area only good
when they're made in the state of Wisconsin.

Pin: "Wisconsin - outdrinking your state since 1848"
After a few of those Old Fashioned(s), I can confirm pin is correct.

Mum and I tried to take a picture.  Her dog wasn't having it.
He was, however, 100% having the snow.
We took a walk along the Fox River in Green Bay.
It looks so cool when it's iced over.
 And then, of course, there was the Jet Lag.  Beautiful, Horrible, Jet Lag.
...we're *mostly* over that now.

Tune in next week for a year in review!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bearing Down for the Holidays

I have finished hibernating, which means it's just about time to get on a plane to the States.
hibernating: synonymous with cookie baking.
(this also means no blogging until I return late-January.  Never fear, I shall return, and share all the doodles that are sure to crop up.)

As you may remember, The Mister has been in the States for the last two weeks for Navy schtuff - I have been holding down the fort here in Nagoya.  He's flying back here this weekend... just in time to get on a plane with me which will head BACK to the states.  It's a weird long story and I'm sorry he's about to spend so much time in the air, but I am excited to see him.

I'm also excited for him to see his Christmas gift because I finished it yesterday and it's stupendous... and also because since I'm about to type about it I can't post this blog entry until he opens it!

I made him... a Kigurumi.
You may remember from previous entries here that I have a long-standing obsession with a Japanese fashion phenomenon known as the Kigurumi.  For the uninitiated; a Kigurumi is an adult onesie which makes the wearer resemble adorable popular cartoon characters or animals.  They are everywhere here, but what I was finding were all cartoon characters and I rather soundly had my mind set on a giraffe onesie.  A Kigurumi should represent your essence, your spirit, your patronus.  It should be... your spirit animal.  So I certainly couldn't just settle on a Winnie the Pooh onesie as my first foray into onesiedom.  I am set rather firmly on a giraffe.

You understand.

A few months back, Kp2 and I resolved to either find proper onesies or make our own.  Somehow we stumbled upon an H&M that was selling Halloween onesies, and we snapped at the opportunity.She snagged a unicorn for herself and a panda bear for her S.O.  I got the remaining design; the shark.

And all was well in the world, except... for a few key points:

  1. A shark is not a giraffe.
  2. In the 4-people friends circle of Kp2 and her S.O., me and The Mister... there were only 3 Kigurumi.
  3. A unicorn, while magical, is not Gudetama.*


Naturally then, I needed to fix these issues... and I when I found a decent fabric store in this town... y'all it was on like Donkey Kong.

mid spot-painting.
The Mister left for his navy responsibilities and I got to work:  I purchased a copious amount of yellow sweatshirt fabric, a zipper and thread, and some elasticized dark gray fabric for sleeve and leg cuffs.  I came home and worked out a reasonable pattern for a basic onesie, and I sewed it up.  And I knew I had hit pay dirt.  I had decided to make my own first just in case I needed to do a lot of tweaking - that way it would be perfected for the one I made for The Mister.  After some trial and error I got some spots on the darn thing and now I'm pretty sure I'm never taking it off.  This is my true form.



boom, baby.
Now... the all important question: what animal to make for The Mister?
I thought, what an easy question this will be to ask.  And I was SO WRONG!

don't believe me?
click to embiggen
 the whole convo
.
He took over two weeks dodging the answer to this seemingly simple thing to identify.  Including one very amazing side conversation between the time where he identified himself as a bear but before he was able to pinpoint what type of bear where I made a joke about the terminology used in GLBT language wherein the term "Bear" is used as a way to identify hairy gay men.  The Mister apparently didn't catch this joke.  Additionally, "Bear" is also apparently a popular search term to identify the same type of man in porn... and if you don't have your google safe search turned on you can apparently get some pretty questionable search results.  Particularly if you're The Mister and you're at work when you're trying to appease your pestering wife's weird texts by finding a "what type of Bear am I?" quiz and then you get to spend the rest of the day hoping you didn't trigger one of your employer's HR internet flags.

Good times, Mister.  Good times.

Long story short - now there is a bear onesie with plaid lined hood and pockets.  It has paw-mittens attached and a bear nose and by God I almost had a moment where I debated switching my onesie out with The Mister's.

And by golly, he's a-damn-dorable in it.


Do you do silly Christmas presents?  
This is our first go at it and we're digging it - a lot less stress about finding the perfect thing, you know?  
Tell me about your gift giving scheme in the comments!

today's little language lesson:
キリン 着ぐるみは いちばん です。
Kirin kigurumi wa ichiban desu.
Giraffe onesies are the best.

*Guys, don't worry: Kp2 solved #3 all on her own:

Monday, December 07, 2015

From under my rock

All is well in the world, just a lot of world to keep track of.
This time of year is always hectic, and it always seems to leave me feeling a constant level of overwhelmed.  

This year, however, I've been given a gift that few people would cherish the way I do:  I've been given hermit time.  The Mister has taken off for some navy responsibilities over the next two weeks, and I'm using this time to really take the time to hunker down in the apartment by myself, take care of myself and make sure my charge meter is back at 100% before we take off for the holiday smorgasbord of travel.  

This is not to say I don't like being around people; I really love being with friends and family (more on that in a second).  When I'm with others though, it feels as if I'm a human iphone:  I'm super fun and I genuinely enjoy being a part of the [candy-crush] party... but I can only go so long before I need to be left be to plug in and recharge.  So that's what I'm doing.  Long story short; you'll excuse me if I'm not particularly verbose today, but I have a moisturizing hand mask to apply today.*  Important stuff.

Since I don't have much to share, let's just go with some pictures and call it good. :)
     
We hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with our Aussie friends.  It was a great time, I managed to put together a proper spread using only the magic of a crock pot and a microwave oven we had: spinach artichoke dip, ham roll ups, dried apple slices, stuffing, mashed potatoes, a whole chicken, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, gravy, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie.  The chicken got tricky (I should have done just pieces of chicken instead of trying to time out cooking a whole bird to coincide with the rest of the meal), and the pumpkin pie wasn't as sweet as I'd have liked (Japanese pumpkins aren't as sweet as the pie pumpkins sold int he states, so my recipe was skewed), but both of those are factors of life here that I can correct for next year.  In any case, the pies went over well because even if it wasn't sweet enough, it's not like you can tell from underneath a mountain of whipped cream, Mister.

I also got to use our nice table linnens (Bubba couldn't be bothered to care about the love and effort of a nicely set table), and since our Aussie friends are unfamiliar with Thanksgiving, I put together a "kiddie table" placemat to ease everyone into the holiday.  Hand turkeys were weird to explain, but everyone got a big kick out of them once The Mister made an example gobbler.  
     
Since this Thanksgiving party was also the last time that all of us were gathered together before Christmas, we also did a fun secret santa exchange.  My secret santa for me a foot warmer (which I have not gone a day without using since... in fact I'm using it right now), and a pencil case shaped like a paint tube.  And the Mister's secret santa (who may have been me), got him a ninja kit, complete with the samurai sword umbrella that he's been coveting for months now.

     
Mac's 7th birthday was this week, and we took a nice long walk with cookies and pictures to celebrate.  Thanks to Facebook's recently implemented "memories" feature, I had a great time going back through the picture of him I've posted every year on that date to celebrate, and pretend that his face wasn't getting a little gray-er.  Gah, he's such a good boy.

In totally unrelated news, according to the grocery store it's suddenly mango season again.  So... rejoice.  (none of the pictured mangoes survived the past two hours in this house... so goooooood.)


today's little language lesson
うるおい 閉じ込め 
uruoi tojikome
trapped moisture
aka, hand moisturizing masks exist, and i'm about to make that happen.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Okay But, So We DON’T Have Our Health.

I mean, I’m good NOW.  No worries.
I caught a bug a few weeks back, which I’m going to go ahead and blame for my lack of timely blog post here last week.  I was feeling pretty rough, and as anyone who interacted with me will attest, I SOUNDED pretty rough. 

We’re talking smoke-a-pack-a-day-for-30-years rough.
We’re talking drag-queen-after-she-finishes-an-all-night-kareoke-hosting-gig rough
Folks, we’re talking Andre-the-Giant-gargled-tacks-and-sand ROUGH.

And then directly following that, there were a few days where I would open my mouth and my lips would move and zero sound would come out.

I think it’s safe to say I had a touch of laryngitis… and judging by the snot-volume, also a cold.

Whatever.  Point is, I survived with little consequence.  Though it did give me some observations about winter and sickness in Japan.  And, I figure, y’all seem to like bulleted lists, so, you know, let’s do this thing.
  • During the summer months, I ceased to question what it would feel like if I melted like that candy bar you forgot in your car mid-August.  Unbearably humid is an understatement.  And yet, somehow this same city is so dry during the winter months that my skin flakes and I make little “snow piles” anywhere I sit for more than five minutes.  Going through lotion like Germans go through sauerkraut, still doing snow globe impersonations.  Notable as, dry air is not helpful for sore throats, donchaknow.
    dramatic re-enactment of my skin.
  • At least, along with the dry air comes some cooler weather.  It’s beautiful here right now, the outdoors is AH-MA-ZING.  This weather, however, is something the Japanese folk like to pair with turning on ALL the heat in ALL the places.  Now, when I say cooler weather, folks, I mean like, “oh, it’s a perfect day to take the dog for a super long walk wearing a thin sweatshirt.”  Somehow this gets translated into “oh, you need to take the train? Don’t worry we’ll make sure it’s heated to at least 80 degrees fahrenheit BEFORE we pack it with shoulder to shoulder people."  Am I running a fever?  I have no idea because I’m sweating but I feel cold… but I also just got off the Tsurumai line 9:15 train, so it’s anyone’s guess.
  • You should NEVER say “bless you” / “salud” / “gesundheit” when someone sneezes, because you would be shaming that person for the rudeness of their sneeze in public.  Western folks (at least those here who I know) tend to be really torn on this one… not saying something makes us feel inconsiderate, but we know it makes others feel inconsiderate to say something. So when you’re hanging out with a fellow Westerner and one of you sneezes… you know what suddenly becomes REALLY fun and novel?  Screaming “BLESS YOU!” and then locking eyes and sharing an implied “high five for how awesome we are in this moment” while grinning like super weirdoes.  
  • Also never acknowledge someone when the cough.  Even when it’s in a crowded public space (see above train scenario). Even when they don’t cover their face.  Even when they are coughing like a seal onto you.  Similarly to the above example, apparently it’s rude to ask the person coughing their plague germs onto you to … you know… STOP coughing their plague germs onto you.  What I’m saying here is “HEY TINY OJISAN ON THE TRAIN THREE WEEKS AGO, THANKS FOR OPEN-MOUTH COUGH-BARKING ONTO MY ONIGIRI I HOPE YOUR TINY BRITTLE TURTLE BODY WAS ABLE TO SURVIVE THE DISEASE YOU SHARED WITH ME AND MY TUNA-MAYO RICE-TREAT ON THAT FATEFUL DAY."
  • ...Unless you’re a foreigner.  If you are a foreigner and you display any sign of sickness, it is perfectly appropriate for Japanese folk acknowledge your diseased existence by throwing super-sized-judging-stares at any sniffle or attempt to clear your throat.  Or, you know, if you’re in a store that sells them, it’s totally common for a Japanese person point you to a box of face masks rather insistently.  No, I didn’t ask for face masks.  No, I’m not interested in marinating in my own mouth germs and stale coffee breath all day.  No, the fact that they have a Hello Kitty pattern on them does not convince me to buy them anyway.  Please just tell me in which aisle I can find throat lozenges.
Hello Kitty face masks are real.  They're a real thing.
  • Soup?  Screw soup.  Get yourself a giant bowl of pork ramen to soothe your sick soul.  Awwwww yissssss.  
if breadcrumbs were pork ramen, I am this duck.
  • Don’t blow your nose in public.  OMIGOSH how dare you blow your face-trumpet in public you horrific beast, you.  This is the social norm note that I have the hardest time with.  It is more acceptable to do that thing where you sniffle so hard that you suck the snot into the back of your throat loudly and either swallow or spit it out.  I hate that sound.  I haaaaaaaaaaate it.  It’s the worst sound that’s ever been.  And yet, I also hate being judged for blowing my nose.  So more than once, I may have horked back snot while waiting at the train station.  I bent to the will of society and became that which I despise.  It’s the beginning to my super-villain origin story, mark my words.



What’s the worst sound you’ve ever heard?  
Is it snot-horking?  
Or Andre the Giant after sand-gargling?  
Something else?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
そのおじいさんは小さな、脆い、亀の体を持っています。
Sono ojisan wa chisana, moroi, kame no karada o motte imasu.

That old man has a tiny, brittle, turtle body.