October 18, 2012

The First Rain

A French accent woke me up from my sleep this morning. The voice was familiar, but I had a hard time placing it. I was alone in the apartment and there were words in my head belonging to a Frenchman. Something about cheese. And suffocation. It took me a moment, but I finally placed them and suddenly the words became very clear. They belonged to Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, a marketing specialist who once narrated a video I watched in class.

...in America the cheese is dead… is wrapped up in plastic. I know that plastic is a body bag. You can put it in the fridge. I know the fridge is the morgue; that's where you put the dead bodies...
Why were these words ringing in my ears? What message was Dr. Rapaille sending me from his multi-million dollar mansion?


In an effort to preserve my prized treats, I put them in the freezer the previous night. Who doesn't love a cold Hershey's Bar or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup? Something about the cool chocolate compliments the rich flavor. But I was wrong. These special edition works of art are living, breathing entities that would suffocate should I keep them in the freezer.
I had inadvertently sentenced these treats to an icy prison. How Dostoyevski of me!

I have since removed the bars and am happy to report that
a full day in room temperature has returned the flavor to a normal, living state. I can verify this to be true as I have just consumed 3.

Boy, what an emotional morning...

The main goal today was to get my résumé printed for my Gaba interview tomorrow. Much like my diploma, I had not considered bringing résumés or cover letters, so I ventured off to a Kinkos in Shinjuku.

After a collection of wrong turns, incorrect train routes and wandering down endless shopping alleys in the rain, I arrived at my destination. My head was clearly still not in the right place after almost losing 8 boxes of Kit Kats, and Apple's dreadful Maps app was not helping my situation.

I was delighted to discover how high-tech even a Kinkos is in this country! The machine I used to print photos of myself (suggested for all those applying to teach English) had the ability to import from SD cards, flash drives, iPhones, wirelessly beam from iPads and other phones, and even had a special USB that plugged directly into a computer and allowed access to all files. At a fucking Kinkos! And it took coins! And, since it is located in Japan, each loading screen had a friendly character to help me pass the time.
I may pursue a career in photography just to be able to use this machine again
After parting with this futuristic machine, I headed out to meet Catherine in Setegaya, which is where she's currently living. It was clear from the coffee shops, vintage stores and smaller buildings why this area is considered the Brooklyn to Tokyo's Manhattan. Was that right? ...why this is considered the Brooklyn of Tokyo. There, that's better.

We met at the only place my iPhone has been able to locate thus far, a somewhat famous coffee shop called Bear Pond Espresso. I could tell it was good because the woman working there was French. That and the $5 small iced latte.

I walked around the area with Catherine and her friend, ducking into every shop we could in order to avoid the drizzle. We found two small american vintage shops and I wondered about the history of these clothes. How did they make it from America to Japan, and then into a second hand store? 
I also wondered if this was an effective way to sell panties.
I've been discovering that an area can be densely packed with stores and shops, but not feel chaotic. I have yet to figure out what creates a "bustle" but I can deduce that it's not the amount of sock shops per square inch (SSPSI). Setegaya seemed to have at least one per block and yet did not feel overcrowded or chaotic.

Catherine and I walked back to the beautiful family home she's staying in. It was my first time in a Japanese house here in Tokyo and I was extremely intrigued. Again, the Japanese do not lead ostentatious lives. They are extremely efficient due to the limited space in the city, meaning homes and rooms are only as big as they needed to be. Furniture is carefully arranged in order to create the maximum amount of living space. It is a type of comfort I have never experienced before. We tend to think of comfort as something grand, such as an oversized couch or enough room to sprawl out and create your  own personal domain. The Japanese do not have the luxury of space, so they have created a different type of luxury.

It was nice to be in a home.

Together we created something that I hope will become a staple of this blog: animated signage. I have been collecting photos of various signs around the country that, for one reason or another, give me a chuckle. This one, for example, showed a woman traveling the subway with a concerned look on her face. While it is probably alerting people to ask for help if they feel faint or lost, I translated the text for Taylor as "Listen ma'am, if you don't stop sweating on everyone I'm going to have to slap you straight". 

I have a lot more in the works. But here's a preview of what I'll be working with:

The day was capped off over dinner with Lizzy where we enjoyed good food and even better conversation as well as the completion of another goal! To find out which, click here.