Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Should I acknowledge that I skipped a week on the blog?  I mean, we all know it’s because of PokémonGo right?  Yes, we all also know I’m a grown ass woman who *should* be beyond childish video games, but we also all know that I flipping love Pokemon and as a grown-ass adult woman I’m allowed to have weird hobbies and interests because you most certainly have them and you just don’t blog about me so LET ME LIVE.

*ahem*  sorry okay I’m fine.

There are certainly more phone zombies out on the streets, but I have to say that I’m really happy to have had such an easy in to conversations with native Japanese people in the park lately, and I’m particularly pleased as punch over the gym I won yesterday with the help of the oldest, most turtled little obaasan lady.  #TeamInstinct.  And that’s all I have to say about Pokemans.

So yesterday I returned home from a walk to put my key in the lock when I overheard the worst noise any cat owner can hear -if you’ve ever had a cat, you know the noise- it’s the “URK - URK - URK” that immediately proceeds an epic cat vomit.  Your response to this sound might, like me, be to find the offending feline as quickly as possible, so that it might be relocated to a space in the home that has laminate flooring for easier hork-clean up.  

In this particular instance, I was not fast enough.  I unlocked the door and burst into the hallway just in time to see Bubba going “exorcist-style” all over the tiny little couch.

ah yes, these are the types of photoshop skills that make my parents particularly proud of that art degree I have...

I mean, I know we don’t really ever sit on the stupid tiny couch, but I do still try and keep it un-vomit-y.  Except, then there’s cleaning products in Japan.  Which... can we just take a minute?

The Mister and I are planning a trip to the Navy base for Obon (mid August National holiday in Japan).   While many might think that I’m excited to hit up the commissary for some new clothes or American foods, what’s actually on my shopping-spree list of American goods is… cleaning products.  The Japanese stuff just seems weak to me.  Maybe it isn’t, but there is something comforting about the smell of antibacterial-chemicals that makes me actually feel like something is clean.  That is not an aroma that comes with any of the Japanese cleaning products I’ve found in our local grocery store.
yep, that's real.  I'm adulting.

On top of that, upholstery cleaning isn’t super common here?  That’s a guess I make because I have yet to find any cleaning products specifically for cleaning upholstered stuff like… couches.  

Long story short, yesterday I had to take the covers off all the couch cushions and run them through the wash - effectively leaving a frame of springs and discomfort in the middle of the living room.

Meanwhile Mac is adjusting to his new bed nicely.  Dog bed?  Nah.  They don’t make dog beds big enough for Mac-dogs here (just like they don’t make couches big enough for Kp-peoples…), so when this happened a week ago:

this look says "do you see this memory foam, ma?  it's all wrong for my lower lumbar support."
…we went out and bought yet another toddler’s mattress for our own princess-pooch and the pea.  He sleeps on three mattresses piled on top of each other because his aging joints like a little extra cushion, and also because that is the minimum limit of bedding for Mac to actually stay in that bed all night, instead of trying to crawl up into the people bed and shove me off the side at 2AM.

It’s a good thing they’re cute, is what I’m saying.

Is there something your adorable pets do that 
make you day-dream of scotch guard?  
Tell me in the comments?

today’s little language lesson
watashi no neko wa outoshmashita.

my cat threw up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Gaijin Summer Survival Kit

Believe me when I say that the irony of the most popular Nintendo game in recent history not yet being released in Nintendo’s homeland of Japan while I am in Japan is not an irony which is lost on me.  

(though I did manage to catch a server test the other day while it was up for an hour… and then I also caught an Evee.)

In any case, best get my weekly blog post in before PokemonGO *does* release in Japan because lord knows that I will fall into that void for at least a week or so.

So.  This was the weather report this morning while I waited at the train stop.  That’s 9:15AM.  30 seconds after I took this screen shot a wave of torrential rain fell from the sky while the earth continued to reach higher and higher tempreatures.  How does anyone survive the temperature/ humidity/ sudden downpours that are so common during this season? 

Let me introduce you to... My Gaijin Summer Survival Kit
this stuff (minus the hat) lives in my backpack all summer long.

  1. Sunglasses.  Because when it isn’t raining, there seems to be an endless supply of windows and other various reflective surfaces which will surely burn out your retinas. 
  2. Brimmed hat.  See above reasons.  Also it keeps your ear-tips from getting sunburned and crispy like you’re growing bacon on the sides of your face.
  3. Sweat-rag.  Because you sweat when it’s hot and then when there’s so much humidity in the air that you’re basically walking through a soggy sponge on your commute, that air isn’t going to let any of the aforementioned sweat evaporate.  Take matters into your own hands.  Your handy dandy sweat rag is your new bestie.  
  4. Umbrella.  Because it rains so much harder when you don’t have one.  The heavens… they know.  
  5. Ever-cool neck towel.  You add water - hot or cold, doesn’t even matter! - and then place this thing around the back of your neck.  As this towel slowly dries out it magically stays cool, and by proxy, keeps you cool too.  I don’t understand this magic, but I am thankful to our unicorn overlords for bestowing their gift upon us.
  6. Bottled water.  ...Or at least 110 yen in your pocket so you can buy a bottle of water at the next vending machine.  Or better yet both.  You’ll need it.  Stay hydrated folks!
  7. Oil Blotting Paper.  The post sweat-rag option for when you’ve found your destination and have managed to get yourself back inside a building (preferably a building with Air-Con*).  A handy maneuver to look a little less like you visited an olive oil factory and fell into the processing tank.
  8. Hair Style Reset Wipes. These claim to take the excess oils and sweat out of your hair once you’ve successfully escaped the outdoors.  They don’t really “reset” your style to it’s original condition, but they do make you feel a little less gross if'n you don’t have immediate access to a shower.
  9. Body spray fragrance in travel size.  Because no matter how amazing your deodorant, it doesn’t last as long as you need it to in this weather.   However, just so we’re very clear, body spray is no excuse to skip the deodorant.  I wish I could tattoo this sentiment on the people I always get stuck next to on crowded trains.
  10. Not pictured:  nylons or spandex-y undergarments.  I know you might think: “Oh God, another layer of clothing?  What on earth are you thinking!?”  To which I say: Skirts give your legs access to some air circulation, but heat rash/ chub-rub is a very real and present danger to the non-Japanese proportioned gal.  Nylons add a buffer zone and fix that.  You’re. Welcome.  Side-note, Uni-Clo offers boxer-short type things made of fabric which boasts “sweat wicking technology."  This is a technology I would not have guessed I’d be ready to offer virgin sacrifices, but you know, here we are with an alter, a pure goat, and a pair of cooling boxer briefs.

What do you keep in your survival kit - 
tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
kono kisetsu wa tsuyu to yobarete imasu.  Daremo ga sore wo kiratte imasu.
This season is called the rainy season.  Everyone hates it.

*today at my Japanese lesson, we were talking about vacation spots around Japan.  My teacher told me she spent a few years living in Thailand and it was beautiful, but so hot that she had to keep the air conditioner on 24 hours a day!  The incredulous tone to her voice made me pause and ask "wait. how long do you keep your Air Con on during this season?"  To which she replied, only when it is too hot.  Maybe an hour or two each day.  Guys, I don't know when I last turned the Air Con in our house off.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I haven't melted yet.

bwah.  okay hi.  

I’ve been working on keeping up with life over here so the blog has been a bit sparse these last few weeks.  Sorry not sorry, #letmelive.  

I also try to keep things light and happy when I write.  Because, hello:  I am well aware that I am a very privileged woman to be able to travel and live abroad multiple times.  To have the support of a  Mister who puts up with my shenanigans and encourages my art and never once batted an eye when I insisted we spend a LOT of money to make sure both Mac and Bubba can come along for those adventures even though he’s a little bit allergic to Bubba and in this tiny apartment sometimes that gets pretty yuck for him.

It’s hard to see a downside in a place this beautiful.

That being said, we’re in the middle of Japan’s Rainy season - a time when it’s reasonable to expect torrential downpours at any hour of the day.
Mac's v. fashionable rain coat, his post-downpour-walk face, and his "omg now it's a thunderstorm and we are certainly about to die" face.

However, in an unusual phenom that I’m sure has ties to Global Warming and our imminent demise, the *really* hot and humid (we’re talking at least 90*F each day with 75% or better humidity) part of the year has started in Nagoya a few weeks earlier than usual.  This effectively means that if the heavens are not trying to drown you, they are absolutely trying to melt you like that one time you forgot the gummy bears in your car.  Or as I affectionately refer to it: It’s like living in an armpit.  

A few of The Mister’s coworkers are trying hopefully to speculate that if the season started early, it’ll end early... but I think we all know that this constant feeling of swamp-ass and floating through everyone else’s BO cloud is just gonna be real life for us all until at least mid September.

I can’t spend the next few months being a cranky whiner, so instead, let me look at the top 5 amusing things going on in my Nagoya life right now.

1.  The cicadas are back!  I know not everyone is a fan of cicadas, the ground dwelling bugs that lay dormant underground for years and then suddenly all know to come above ground, molt, sing their song, mate, and die all in the same few weeks together.  But they are fascinating to me, and the molted cicadas are really beautiful jewel tones, and I think their song is a good substitute for a white noise machine in the middle of the loud, bustling city.
lookit his little "peekaboo!" face in the first picture.  eee!

2.  It’s eel season.  I. Love. Eel meat.  If you don’t, great- more for me.  If you do, hit me up, let’s go get an Unagi bowl RIGHT NOW.

3.  It’s almost Mac bootie season.  There comes a time when not only is it so hot in Nagoya that Mac cannot physically live outside long enough to take a walk until after the sun goes down, but the sidewalk remains hot enough that he has to wear little booties to be able to comfortably put his paws to pavement.  Have you ever seen a dog in booties?  Because it’s the best.
duck walking.  yesssss.

4.  Birthday planning has begun.  Or really, I’ve decided what kind of cake I’m going to make myself, and I am REALLY excited to bake it.  (I also decided what kind of cake I’m going to bake for Kp2, who’s birthday is right after mine, and I think she’s gonna love it).

5.  Oktoberfest is this weekend in Nagoya.  Yeah, you read that right.  A celebration that many westerners associate with a specific fall month, instead takes place in the middle of the hottest part of summer here in Japan.  The Mister, The Australians™ and I are gonna go watch the yodeling, the lederhosen, and drink ice cold beer as we sweat out all the water but retain the alcohol content in what is obviously not a real big health risk for the participants.  Good times ahead ya’ll.
last year's yodelers

What do you like about the 
(totally oppressively hot and humid) summer season?  
Tell me in the comments!

today's little language lesson:

watashi wa wakino shita ni sunde imasu.
I live in an armpit.