Thursday, July 27, 2006


It's my last week here in Japan ( I leave on Sunday) and things have been going especially great! It's like a punishment for not having fully enjoyed my time here while the end seemed so impossibly far away.

Chinese medicine is amazing. I put some Yu Nan Bai Yao powder on my toenail and today it felt attached, instead of like it was on a hinge yesterday. There are also two mysterious little red balls inside the container that you take only in dire circumstances, like if you're going to die or something. You think I'm joking?

This morning, we had lunch at our across-the-street neighbor's, Takami San, and then she took us to a nearby shrine for a tea ceremony. It was so lovely and peaceful sitting in the tatami room with the doors slid open, gazing at the neatly tended garden outside. At the Bagel K office, my aunt and I walked to Osaka Jo (Castle), which is hundreds of years old, surrounded by a moat and tranquil as well. People were bicycling and jogging around the castle, which was very cute and reminded me of Town Lake. Then I finally went and got a haircut at a nearby salon, which was very intimidating at first, because everyone who worked there was young and stylish and had really nice hair. And here was I, couldn't speak more than eight licks of Japanese, dressed extremely casually in a shirt and cords (it was nearly rude), and sporting a very overgrown, unkempt mop- I do that a lot to haircutters: terrify them by bringing them a big rescue project of cleaning up to do; they are probably tempted to start making before-and-after ads, it's nearly shameful. I just don't believe in $50 trims, ya know? Anyhow, I got to strike up a mostly successful conversation in English with the girl who washed my hair, despite that she was alarmingly pretty (Erin says that being intimidated by people who are a lot more beautiful than you are is rather normal).
OK, let's get this straight: in general, Japanese girls are very pretty and fashionable (a.k.a. super vain and materialistic??), and contrary to "popular" belief, they don't look clownish one bit.
After my quick cut, which looks pretty different, very thin (so this is what early cancer hair maybe feels like..), kind of glammy rocker, poofed- up hair atop my head, but for girls, but not altogether bad- looking, I started chatting with a few of the other girls there and by the time I reluctantly left, I was chummy with half the staff. I'm just regretful and I slap myself for not going there sooner, because it was so neat getting to know them, even if it was just for a few hours. And to think, the only good intentions I had going in there was informing them that the 'luxurly' in their company logo wasn't a real English word. ('Luxurious' would've run it terribly out of alignment though.)

After getting over the fact that I may never see them again, I realized that the main reason I wanted to get to know them was because they were simply attractive people, and they were just excited at the rare chance to talk to a foreigner, especially an American. Well, this isn't coming out exactly the way I imagined it, but the general point is, we were each attracted to the imagined idea of who the other person was based on one characteristic and not seeking reality. So, now would be a good time to inject a comment about how there are so many ugly white guys with pretty Japanese girlfriends he
re. (But to my surprise, that's not accurate at all.)

It makes me feel guilty, because I feel that I am cheating through much of life instead of earning it. Ex. Rightful B's at the end of the semester inexplicably turning into A's on the grade report, receiving high marks in fencing nationals twice due to underhanded placement by the coach (long story), getting treated with favor and special interest here because of my "exotic" American status, securing high- paying, low- effort summer jobs because of connections, tricking teachers into believing that I got writing skillz even though I never properly learned grammar rules in junior high and because of a big word vocabulary I amassed from reading other writers, and just being able to inspire awe. It's much too easy. And if that's how everyone else's experience is, that's dreadfully disappointing.

Sometimes, or rather, because of a recent viewing of Breakfast at Tiffany's, I like waltzing into expensive jewelry shops with a $50 budget (adjusted for inflation).. well that too, but mostly, I think about:

"She's a phony, but she's a real phony."

Oh well, I hear that you can't completely fake through getting a Ph.D., which is somewhat reassuring.
It's probably all thanks to that killer thesis.


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