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My "big date"

Yesterday sucked. A lot. That being said, yesterday evening--albeit completely exhausting--was good.

[Note: this next paragraph is boring, so you might want to skip it.] I had to grade that damn 英判 all afternoon. Which blew big chunks, 'cuz Tsu (that fucker) gave Carolyn and me the hardest part to grade. To make a long story--and I mean long as in starting at 11am and going until 5pm--short, everybody finished three hours before we did, so they had to start grading our portion. If they hadn't, we'd have been there 'til Christmas. The other teachers just had to check multiple choice or single-word answers, while Carolyn and I had to do multiple sentences. It was awful. By the time I finished, I'd consumed an お弁当 (free lunch, in this case), both of my 毎日果実 (fruit snacks), a regular coke, a "tropical fruits" tea (新発売!), several pieces of chocolate, a chocolate-chip vanilla cookie, three sweet rice crackers, two Indian curry rice crackers (the big ones), and something else I have long since forgotten about. I told myself I was gonna eat my own lunch and not the supplied free lunch (lots of fatty, greasy stuff in it), but I didn't. Why? Because once I opened it and saw all the fried shrimp, I realized: I will look like an ass if I put this back. So I ate all the rice and the shrimp and the boiled egg and processed fish and nice piece of grilled 鯛 (sea bream--it's better than it sounds), and dumped the rest (politely and humbly and where no one could see--I covered the box back up and made it look like its contents had been completely consumed). Afterwards, I helped Carolyn record the listening portion of her exam.

By then, I was completely wiped out.

At around 5:40, I phoned the mathematics' teachers' research room and told Miyadera-sensei I was ready to leave. So I get my bike and we start down the hill. He says, "Why don't I run while you bike?" So I took his backpack and he ran down the hill while I biked (very slowly). Still not QUITE sure what that was all about. Lost him when he took a wrong turn (I thought he was taking a short-cut I often take when I have to walk to school--bikes can't go through 'cuz of the stairs, not that that's stopped me yet....) but we met up again in front of Canaan House, where I had parked my bike. Kara saw me and made fun of me, saying it was all weird I was going on a date with some older guy. I explained that it's wasn't a date and he's actually a nice guy and isn't weird like that at all, but she didn't believe me. This coming from psycho-diabetic-Kara didn't phase me. I like her a lot, but she's exhausting.

(That reminds me of that story Mary told me about her: she got drunk her first night here and tried to proposition Mary. Said she was "tired of guys" and wanted to try something new. Kept going on and on at the office about how she and Mary were gonna hook up. Mary was NOT pleased, but I half wonder. I mean, why'd she tell ME if there wasn't something inside trying to get out?)

So, Miyadera-sensei and I hop the train to Okamoto Station, where we meet these two guys he wanted me to get to know. One of them was cute in this "I'm gonna be a scary stalker someday" hotness. His name was Touno or Toudou or something like that. It's not a normal Japanese name, that's why I couldn't remember it. (What IS it with me and scary guys?!) He had these GORGEOUS shifty eyes and he kept looking at me, watching everything I did all evening. Although, I have to give the guy bonus points: he noticed that I'm left-handed. As someone fighting the great fight against a right-handed world, I was impressed that a righty would acknowledge my lefty greatness. ^_^ Anyway, he's a high school dropout as of this past year (he went to KG, but stopped going to classes just before I started teaching there). He's 18 (barely legal!) and is currently working on writing short fiction. M-sensei told me that T was a genius, too smart for the school, and that his portrayals of women are sensitive and accurate, according to Nakamura-sensei (?), the Japanese literature teacher, who said she was amazed at the depth of his perception. (::Edit:: Wow, that was the fucking worst run-on sentence I have ever written in my entire life. I attribute it to exhaustion.) I do have to agree with her on one point: he's always observing stuff, but still....I wasn't impressed by the high recommendation. I always find "portrayals of women" to be farcical at best (i.e. they're nothing like me). T wants to win an Akutagawa Award before he's 30. (Sources say "NO!")

The other guy was Hamada, and I hated him on sight. He's a grad student studying literature at Kinki University and he thinks he's SOOOOO great. He has this way of leaning slightly to the side while adamantly flopping his right hand around while he talks and interrupting ANYTHING anybody says. He thinks he's smarter than he is. He also talks incredibly fast and then laughs hysterically in this hyena-like fashion after saying anything at all. And he has ENORMOUSLY big teeth that spread out across his face. (The dude has like 20 laterals.) He's read Nakagami Kenji's works and thinks he's an expert on the guy. So I asked him about 「赤紙」("Red Hair"), and he was floored. He had NO idea what I was talking about. Mwa-ha-ha-haaaa!

We also met this woman I see in the office every once in a while, and I always say おはようございます or こんにちは to her, but I had no idea who she was. Apparently, she worked in the health room about 10 years ago. She asked me if my cold was better and I thanked her and said that it was fine now. She remembered T and H from when they had been KG students. Then we hopped the JR to Nada Station.

Although I had sworn up and down that I had never been to the place where the museum was, as soon as we stepped off the train and headed down the hill, I recognized the place immediately: it was where Sakamoto-kun had had his recitation contest last fall. It was where I had run into Jessi. And the gorgeous building I had taken pictures of? IT WAS A REAL ANDO TADAO!!! EEP!!!!!

I was so excited when I found out. (M-sensei had explained before that it was the world's most confusing building, that you thought you should go one way when really you should have gone another.) I had liked Ando's stuff so much when we studied Asian architects in that Asian art class last year, and it was funny to think that the building had met my fancy so much that I had taken two pictures of it without realizing what it was. Here's one that does it NO justice:



As soon as we stepped inside the "courtyard" area, I knew it was the real thing. The combination of concrete, glass, and sky was so super-evident. Complete Ando. I was so excited about the building I forgot why I was even there in the first place: we were going to see an enormous Higashiyama Kaii exhibit.

Now, I'm not a fan of landscapes. Never have been. The human body interests me so much more, and there are SO many shitty landscapes out there (ever been to a Holiday Inn?) that as soon as I see one, I forget I've seen it. This guy was different. They had nearly everything from his early stuff (including a very nice self-portrait of him as a boy) in the 1910's and 20's to the last thing he painted before he died in 1999 at the age of about 91. The incredible thing about the exhibit was how apparent it was that his painting had improved over time. All the paintings were in chronological order and that's what made the exhibit so fabulous. His early stuff was pretty awful, even the stuff he did when he studied abroad in Germany just before WWII, but as I moved from room to room, I could see his style and technique evolve. His ability to capture light, his sponging methods, his color choice, everything got gradually better with each additional painting. One of my favorite parts was the fact that many of the pieces had gold mixed in the paint which gave them a gentle shimmer, something that--unfortunately for me--won't be visible in reproductions (I bought a book of his stuff at the end of the exhibit). Towards the end, the images were breathtaking, to say the least. And there was an entire room devoted to this 10-year-long project he undertook: he painted all the sliding doors in Toshodaiji Temple in Nara (no, I've never heard of it either, but I always say that, so maybe I've been there on multiple occasions and just can't remember it).

Side note: my inability to remember ANYTHING is starting to scare me. When Ashley and Michelle and I went out to celebrate M's birthday at Outback, Ashley asked me to relate this story about one of my students getting a hard-on AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT. It was horrible. So I sort of half-made-up this lame-o story that wasn't funny at all. WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?!!!!

Anyway, the exhibit was really amazing, and although we had to hurry (we only had 45 minutes to see the whole thing and the place was PACKED), it was definitely worth the 1,100 yen entrance fee.

Afterwards, M-sensei and I made it out the front of the building, but we couldn't find the other three people. M called everybody on their cellphones. T was up in the top of the building, that lady whose name I don't know was stuck in the gift shop, and Hamada was on a set of stairs overlooking the ocean. It was hilarious. ^_^ Just like M said the building was: unbelievably confusing. Had there not been signs, we'd have never made it out alive.

We finally met back up in front of the building and headed back to the station. It was about 9pm at that time, and everybody got the brilliant idea to go out for dinner. So we hit this little Western food cafe-looking place and I ordered the spaghetti with eggplant (なす) and tomato (トマト) sauce. My food came WAAAY later than everybody else's, so I was sort of responsible for keeping the conversation going, since I didn't have any food to occupy my mouth. H and I argued about Nakagami Kenji for a while. Then he started going on about sports and asking me all these questions about American baseball players and I had to explain that I didn't give a shit about American baseball. (I'm a Hanshin Tigers fan, dammit!) T complained that he didn't like sports at all. I told H that I didn't like most American sports, although I do watch the Super Bowl every year and I'm a HUGE hockey fan. I said that hockey's great because it's violent and thus it is never boring. ^_^ I'm such a glutton for blood on ice.

I also told them I'd read Genji Monogatari and Heike Monogatari (unfortunately, H started going into how much he knew about the subjects, which wasn't much more than I did, actually), and that I'd seen a Kabuki play (Sukeroku), and loved it. T whined that I was more Japanese than he was and had done more Japanese things than he had.

Later in the conversation, H started talking about some guy named Norinaga or something. I said I'd never heard of him and T said he hadn't either. I laughed and said, "Thank goodness! It's not just me!" (「よかった!私だけじゃないです!」) T blushed and looked down. It was SO cute.

(Yes, I'm feeling a little desperate. I ran into Dan the other day, walking home from school and he was wearing shorts and suddenly looked VERY appetizing. Come on, Abby, it was Dan. The-guy-next-door, Dan. The nice guy, everybody's big bro, Dan. It's not that he's unattractive, it's just that he's not my type. I REALLY need some sort of release other than my hitachi, although that, combined with H-manga, has been a pretty good combo lately. However, I'm starting to think it's not just about cumming. I think I need to channel some of this "loving" energy that's just building up in me. It reminds me of this analogy Mom made for me once: God fills us up with love everyday. His love is like milk. If we don't go out and spend it each day, it starts to spoil inside of us and becomes something ugly and awful. So we have to be loving to people every day. Of course, taken the wrong way, it sounds sort of gross and sexual in a weird way, but I was about 7 years old at the time, so it was a good analogy.)

I could feel T's eyes on me as I ate my spaghetti. He was watching the way my tongue curled around the noodles curled around my fork. He was watching the way I licked my lips, wiped my mouth off with my napkin. Had I not known he was a writer, I might have thought he was making mental photos for a one-on-oneself session later that night (then again, maybe he was and I'm just in some weird state of denial).

M paid for everybody's dinner and that's when T noted that I was left-handed. The lady left us then to take the Hanshin Line home. On the way to Nada Station, M-sensei left us and so it was just T, H, and me heading back. I thought it unfortunate at the time, but it turned out alright: T wasn't going as far as H and I were. I was kind of dreading having to have a conversation with H without M-sensei's help (H kept using these words I totally didn't understand in Japanese). We talked about various things: T is thinking of studying abroad in some English-speaking country next year, possibly America. His current story takes place in the "dangerous, gang-ridden streets" of some part of New York City. I asked him which part, but he didn't know. It was kind of hard to keep from laughing. At least GO to the place if you're gonna write about it (sorry, Nob). ^_^ The dude's never been to a foreign country, AND HE'S NEVER BEEN TO TOKYO! I've been TWICE and he's never even been once! And he wants to be this great writer? I know you can be a great writer without traveling, but why he even bothers writing about international locations without having even been to TOKYO is beyond me.

H and I talked about going to the doctor's office and having to do everything in Japanese and how much that sucks. He said he'd freak if he had to do that in English. (Eep, I'm so great!) We made fun of T and he blushed a lot. Then T got off at some station I didn't catch the name of. I figured it would be hellish, riding the rest of the way with H, but it actually turned out to be okay. We started to talk about movies and I found out that he's a HUGE Jim Carrey fan. (Who'd've thunk it?) He LOVED "Bruce Almighty" and "Liar Liar." (I took the liberty to explain the line "How's it hangin'?" He got a big kick out of that.) Of course, he pulled an "I'm so smart," but it wasn't too bad. He said that he understood most of what was being said in American movies, and didn't need the subtitles, that the extra explanatory ones were obnoxious and got in the way of the movie. I have to agree with him, though. They're good for getting all the meaning out of the movie, but that's about it. It was funny, H kept reenacting the scene where Jim Carrey tries to say that a pen's red when it's actually blue. Abso-fucking hilarious. This wimpy Japanese guy with a button-up shirt and pens in his pen-pocket and big glasses and bigger teeth copying Jim Carrey. It was great, and actually gave us something to talk about other than literature. We relived all these great scenes. Then he showed me this button on his breast-pocket: it was a PR pin for Charlie's Angels. Turns out he's a HUGE fan of the movies. (I asked him which angel he liked the best. Answer: Drew Barrymore. Heh, me, too.) ^_^ I finally left at Kotoen Station (he was going on to Nigawa). And I actually had had a good time talking with him. We said our goodbyes and how we'd meet again and all that crap. It was nice. Then I trudged home and got back to my apartment at 10:30pm. Waaaay past my bedtime.

Showered, got ready for bed, and was asleep by 11:30pm. Got up at 8:00am and managed to get out of bed. Not getting 10 hours hurts. I biked to school and I just couldn't get the pedals to go. Proctored for 2 hours and wrote this witty insight (yes, I'm very tired) into why Japanese girls, especially in Osaka, dress so badly. And I played solitaire on my fake palm pilot. Proctoring's good when you bring something to do (e.g. your brain). ^_^ Had a fabulous lunch (same as always) and finished grading for 言コミ.

Checked my phone and there was this email from Cliff. Apparently, he had tried calling me twice the night before, but I can never hear my phone. He asked if I still wanted him to take me to that anime-fan-whatever place in Kobe. Then came the funny part: he said the real reason for the email was that he wanted me to go with him to see this "great landscape painter." Who was it? None other than Higashiyama Kaii, the guy I saw last night. He wanted to take me last night, but I hadn't answered my phone. I could READ his nervousness in the email.

He was asking me to go on a date with him.

And as I read the email, I got this creepy-scary-weird feeling. What IS it with me and scary guys? He's really nice, and kind of cute, but he has these strange mannerisms and is one of those scary anime freaks that I'm forever picking up. And I kept replaying in my head that line he pulled a few weekends ago when we were having dinner with Mika and Kathy: "Hey, well, I'd be lying if I said I didn't like to see naked girls." Eh. I mean, yeah, most people don't, but that's not the sort of thing you say at dinner when you're eating with three girls you barely know. I think Kathy nearly chocked on her tiramisu. I thought it was funny and insightful in a strange way, and I have no problem talking about porn or sex or anything with my friends, but I barely know the guy.

Then, naturally, I started wondering evil shit that my mind can't help but latch onto like: well, does he think about me when he masturbates? Does he check out my boobs when he's around me? Which would be flattering and yet very frightening. I'm no prude, but I wish only sane, nice people fell for me, instead of the normal crazies I pick up. I mean, even ANDREW made fun of me once, laughing at how I'm a freak-magnet, and coming from Andrew, that's pretty bad.

Biked up the evil hill with three bags of groceries in my basket. Thought I would have a heart attack before I got to the top, but I made it. I RULE!

Ran into Steve and Eriko as I was headed back up to my place and got roped into going to this Music Festival in Osaka tomorrow. Michelle, Derrick, and Un-hi are going, and possibly Dong-Jin (::crosses fingers::)!!!! ^_^ He's a cutie!

Well, I haven't had dinner yet and I've been doing nothing but type for the past two hours. MUST HAVE FOOD.

Promised to go out with Dan and Sara and whoever tonight, but I'm so tired. Maybe I'll just crash tonight.

Laters.

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