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.

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