One of my new goals is to do a blog post at least once a week. I'm not sure if anyone is still reading it or not, but if you do happen to randomly check it, rest assured that more posts are coming!
It's obvious from my lack of posts that I'm pretty used to living in Japan now. I don't feel weird on the trains (unless I'm dressed in any way "sexy" or "cute") or asking for help any more. I'm not that scared when I order at a restaurant and have no idea what the server will bring me.
I was sick for almost three weeks. I didn't feel all that bad; I just sneezed and coughed and snotted my brains out nonstop. My throat was always dry. I don't think it was the flu. Several of the grades at Miyada Elementary and Miyada Junior High, where Zack teaches, have been shut down because of swine flu. I haven't heard of any deaths though. I don't really see how this strain of the flu is any more harmful than the regular flu, but I don't plan on finding out firsthand, either.
So I was sick on my birthday. I went to work, had a wonderful lunch with two of my adult students, Hatsue and Mieko, went back to work for a few hours, then met Zack for dinner. He bought me these amazing cakes from a dessert shop in Miyada. All told, I got three bottles of wine, a coin purse, a little Japanese small object holder, little chopstick rests shaped like cats, free food, and lots of cake. Not bad. The day after my birthday we celebrated a little with Tetsuya's family and Takei's family. We went to a trick or treating event in Ina, which Zack and I both dressed up for (I was a cat and he was Rilakkuma, "relax bear"), then went to Illumination. Illumination is a crazy light display put on by local businesses and schools. I said it reminded me of Christmas, but our Japanese friends didn't really know what I meant by that. We ended the night with a little party (for me!) and another beautiful cake (there are not cheap-o grocery store bakeries here). It was a really good weekend!
Next was Zack's birthday on October 29. I got up early and made him breakfast (French toast with honey, cinnamon, and kiwi; sauteed mushrooms and onions; and green tea). I had to work til late so I met up with him and the gang later that night for a free parfait from West Village, an "American" style cafe.
On Halloween, Zack and I headed to Nagoya to visit our friend Melanie. She's currently taking classes at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies and has a pretty good idea of where the party's at. She took us to a really cool bar called The Misfits for a nomihodai, which is Japanese for "all you can drink." Zack ended up losing the scarf I just got him for his birthday and I lost my custom-made cat ears that I bought for $20 off the Internet last year. We learned that we are, in fact, too old for nomihodai and had a very unpleasant bus ride home the next day.
It's November (already!) and I've seen some of the most beautiful fall foliage of my life. Japanese maples turn shocking shades of red and deep purple in the shade; ginkgo biloba trees are bright yellow; and in between there are silver trees, green trees, and all different kinds of orange. Riding the train towards Iida, we pass orchards full of apples and persimmons. I can see the first snow on the mountains. It's breathtaking.
We went for a small hike up a mountain yesterday. Aside from a sign warning about bears, it was really nice. No cars or anything. We packed a picnic lunch of homemade sushi, cakes, and apples. We used a little toy sushi maker that Tetsuya and Misaki gave us for our birthdays. It's kind of like an EZ Bake Oven for Japanese kids (which is why there are only like three overweight people in Japan). You just put the rice, toppings, and nori into a little plastic thing and turn knobs and it rolls it together for you. They laughed when we said we used it, but I don't care if it's a toy or not. It makes sushi easier, and that's awesome.
I'm not trying hard enough to learn Japanese. I can still barely read all the katakana. That's another goal of mine for this month. To completely and utterly master kana. My last goal for the month is to complete NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month. By the end of November, I'm supposed to have a 50,000 word rough draft of a novel. I'm working with an idea I got last year for a class project. So far, I've got at least 6,000 words. Not as many as I should, but not bad, either.
My job has gotten a lot better lately. I don't even want to talk about my visa situation because it's so complicated. So I'll tell you about it later. I'll post some pictures soon, too!
This weekend we're going to Kyoto and I'm so excited! I love Japan!