katekat: (Default)
When I got ready for the trip I kept just thinking: it's only for a month. I'll go, I'll hit up bookstores, I'll try and do some research, and maybe if I get my act together I'll try to email those professors I need to. It's going to be weird to be there for such a short time, but before I know it I'll be heading back home.

now, about how I was going to get enough money to there...that's another pain in the ass )

Unexpectedly great things:

Housing: instead of staying at a Guest House like I've done in the past, I found and reserved a room through Airbnb (which is sort of like a do-it-yourself rental place with everything from couches to full houses - all over the world). The woman who ran the place I ended up at, Sayuri, had actually gone to highschool in California, and was super sweet. She's a jazz singer. The place itself was great - a three bedroom (2 bath) apartment where I got my own room with air conditioner (so necessary!) and a washer/dryer. The room had the bare minimum: a bed and a shelf - which made sure that I went out every day into the world (so good, otherwise I probably wouldn't have). It was in the north part of Tokyo, but on the Yamanote line, so everything was pretty easy to get to. Sayuri was there most days doing clean up/checking in new people/etc, so we had great chats about food and books and stuff, and she invited everyone in the house to her place for the Natsumatsuri (Summer Festival) - she lived in an apartment on the Sumida river, right where they let off fireworks. For an hour and a half (or maybe two hours)! It was so much fun. So two thumbs up there!

Yokohama friends: One of the friends I'd made when I was staying for the long program was still living in Yokohama, and she invited me to hang with her and her husband a bunch. Even though we only ended up getting together twice, it was great to see them both, and pretty perfect both times. The first was when a friend of theirs was visiting, so they came up to Tokyo and we walked through the Imperial gardens and then went to the Japanese National Museum of Modern Art's Crafts building (which displays the modern masters of craft wares - like laquer and kimono and pottery). the second I went down to Yokohama to their place for game night (though it was mostly talking with an uno-like card game thrown in just to keep socially lubricated).

Random lectures: I'm on a bunch of discipline-focused mailing lists, and the first night I was in Japan I sat down and went through to find as many public lectures as I could since people always send out these notifications that start out, "If you're going to be in Tokyo on the 27th...."

The two most productive were the Media Mix & the Sophia Lecture, but I went to one other )

The Two Scholars: The two scholars whose work has most inspired me are actually husband and wife. Tatsumi Takayuki is actually an english lit professor, but in his spare time he has published like half a dozen books on Japanese SF, been active in both US and Japanese SF fandom and academic circles, and is like a powerhouse of theory. Kotani Mari, who is a public intellectual, though I think she does some seminars from time to time at Meiji University, wrote this book called TechnoGynesis which is all about the intersection of monstrous and feminine in science fiction and fantasy (American and Japanese) and she goes to Wiscon every year because she's fascinated by cosplay and yaoi (Japanese slash, kinda) and fanworks and fan community. So I emailed Tatsumi and wasn't sure how I was going to get ahold of Kotani because she's notoriously bad at emailing back... but luckly I'd made friends with that women at the open lecture, and she generously invited me along to a dinner she was having with Kotani to catch up!

ok, so it's really intimidating sometimes to meet people whose books you have read when you want them to like you )

there were other really good things: food, and the Literary Museum (which had an SF exhibit), and my bra-shop still being there, and ordering from Amazon, and the thing I found when I went to the SF second hand book store. But I'm going to have to save that for another day, and another post, because this one has already gotten way out of hand.
katekat: (Default)
Decided again last night that I was going back to the sushi place - in part because apparently lots of restaurants in my neighborhood are reservation only (or are filled with reservations) on a Friday night. Which, hey, cool! It means I'm not the only one that thought the food was good!

And of course I had to bear the horrifying burden of getting to eat fish again for dinner. I wish I could have taken pictures of these oysters, omg. You don't even know.

So, productivity wise, things have been very achi-cochi (back and forth). On the same day (tuesday) of this last week I met with BOTH the professors I wanted to meet with who are specializing in SF.

The first for about an hour conference where he told me someone had already written a book on Japanese artwork (terrifying) but then also told me about a current fanzine he and others put together that includes all kinds of speculative essays and the like. And told me that the artist I'm writing on is still alive and I should probably get a hold of him (also terrifying, but true). We had a great conversation about theoretical definitions of science fiction, where I called him on his use of rhetoric that made it very much like a discourse (a point he conceded). He also said that our talk was very interesting, and put some emotion into his voice as he was saying it, so I think in the end I made a good impression. And while I don't agree with all of his readings of things (hey, that's the point, I'm a grad student, i disagree with everything slightly), it was still really cool to meet him.

And then, that evening, thanks to a friend I made at the first Media Mix lecture, I got invited to dinner with the *other* scholar (and a woman who writes SF who was doing a guest lecture herself). It was awesome! We talked more about manga than about SF, though a bit about that too, because my friend is doing a history of manga. But that's ok, it was still a foot in the door, which was great. And this woman (the scholar I wanted to meet) was curious about my work and also knows one of the authors I'm thinking of using in my third chapter! So that was pretty damn cool (since she offered to introduce me).

Also this woman works on fanfic and the like too, and had run across her first Omega!verse fic, so we had to explain about that too, which was fun and thrilling and a little bit bizarre. BUT SO COOL.

So, with all of that, I've also gotten my hands on the book that's ostensibly on SF Art and discovered it's short bios of every major Japanese SF artist. Which is cool and all, but NOT what my project is doing. YAY! So that was a huge sigh of relief. I still have to contact the author though, and introduce myself, and explain what it is I'm working on.

I've also gotten a bunch of SF magazines (I had an orgy of spending on Sunday last week), a first edition of Komatsu Saikyo's Japan Sinks, which is probably one of the most famous SF stories in Japan (and one I've never read - it's a bit daunting at two books, but whatever, I have no life). One magazine actually has a roundtable discussion about SF art that I've been slowly making my way through (about a page at a time, but hey, it's better than nothing). It's from the 70s, and is a casual discussion between artists and scholars, which is pretty cool, and I'm actually translating a couple of sections not just for use in the paper but because they're kind of interesting statements about how SF Art is being conceived of, and given a kind of history, in Japan.

I also lost like three hours yesterday in the Asahi Shinbun (newspaper) online archives trying to figure out what were the most popular magazines in the 1960s ... which IS actually directly related to the chapter I'm ostensibly writing. This is both good and bad because it means I have even MORE to read.

Somehow I managed to lose my electronic dictionary out of my bag while traveling, so I've got an app on my phone I'm limping along with.

So all that adds up to a kind of work, for sure, and the gathering of materials that I honestly wasn't sure I was going to really do much of while I was here. so... YAY!

It does not, however, directly relate to page counts or words written. Which I'm almost an entire month behind on. That part is hugely frustrating, and while I'm slowly working towards the info I need to get past it, it's still a ways away. So I'm at a coffee shop again, writing this instead of doing the reading I need to. But I wanted to check in too, since that's mostly what I've been doing every day -- sitting at a coffee shop somewhere, be it the coffee shop in my neighborhood or the coffee shop in Jinbocho, or the coffee shop near Meiji Daigaku... a coffee shop somewhere where I can spread out and attempt to do work.

See, this is me, going to do work!
katekat: (Default)
For the first time that wasn't on a class jaunt or a trip to a fast-food like kaitenzushi restaurant, i had sushi. I had yummy, yummy sushi.

This was in celebration of me showing up at a talk given by the husband of one of my advisors - it was part of a translation studies group run out of Sophia University. Really interesting talk that was basically preliminary findings on newspaper discussions of Japanese books translated into English in the 1800s, but the really cool part?

The talk's organizers practically offered me the space to give a talk myself when I get my research together. Because they're that interested in science fiction translation. OH YEAH baby. that's pretty frigging cool.

So as a way to celebrate getting something "done" in terms of networking, I tried the local neighborhood sushi restaurant. Thing is, it's a tiny place, and I ended up at the counter. now, for those not in the know, when you're at the counter you're supposed to actually order directly from the sushi master. And you kind of need to know what you want so you can order it (oh, sure, there's a "menu" of things up on the wall, but if you're me and you hardly ever pay attention to the names of the fish you eat, you don't remember what it is you like). So I explained that I hadn't really eaten at this type of restaurant before and the Sushi master graciously fixed me a sampler set. Which was nummy, totally nummy.

But the best part? THE OYSTERS. I had looked over and seen the man sitting next to me had them on his plate, and for some reason I've been *really* into oysters lately. So I asked if I could have some of them... they are kane. And they were SO good. Oyster afficianados will note these suckers were huge (like the meat was actually the size of the palm of my hand... nice and big), and they only had a little dab of onion and something else a tiny bit spicy in the middle. Fresh and pure tasting, not salty or bitter, they were DELIGHTFUL.

Adventures in Japan today? Feeling pretty good about them. I should know sushi is always a win!
katekat: (Default)
It's 11 pm local time, and I've been in Japan for all of two days, and I'm so glad I'm back! I got off the plane and the air was so humid I felt like I had to chew through it, but I'm slowly feeling more and more acclimated to that crazy humidity (well, and it's fluctuated a bit so I don't think it was quite 90 degrees with 90% anymore either).

I always have the most ridiculous adventures the first night I'm here - last time I ended up spending most of the night huddling in a corner outside the Yokohama train station because I'd forgotten to book a hotel. This time I managed to set up my stay just fine, and since it was in Tokyo I'd even communicated to the woman who runs the house (it's a bit like a private hostel) when my plane was going to get in and how long it would take me to get to the city. I forgot, however, to let her know I had gotten in and was on my way. And I hadn't yet gotten a cell phone.

Thus when I arrived at the proper train station, went out the proper exit, well... I couldn't find the apartment. This is in major part due to the fact that Japanese addresses do not work like American addresses. In fact, they mostly don't work as addresses at all unless you're both holding a computer navigation system in your hand and you're also used to the way this shit functions. Because unlike most American addresses that work off of city blocks (and roughly go up one direction and down the opposite), Japanese addresses go around a block. And the block numbers go around each other too. Oh, also, there aren't good street markers because most of that information is grafted to telephone polls or embossed on a plaque on the side of a building (no ridiculous street signs here!). So I sorta could tell from the map at the train station that I was probably heading in the right direction, and mostly even in the right set of blocks. see, Japanese addresses go: city, district, sub-district, block number, then a house number. (no street names, because it doesn't work). I'm staying Tokyo, in the Bunkyo district, in the Honkomagome sub-district. And the #s are: 5-66-10 These numbers are also in descending order -- so I'm in the 5th Honkomagome division, on the 66th block, looking for house #10.

Hilariously? There are actually 2 House #10s on this block, and I couldn't find either of them

Ok, so the great thing about my Japanese-fresh-off-the-plane adventures is that I get shown over and over again the awesmoeness of Japanese people. This time it was in the form of a woman having a quiet smoke on her front step. Someone who lives at 5-66-7 ... who willingly walked me around the entire neighborhood, then actually called my landlady person for me, to get directions to the place I was staying. Also though, just think about that - someone who lives 4 doors away had no idea how to locate an address that's supposed to be on her block. Of course that's because her block is shaped like a leaf, and the 5-66 applies to all of it, but still. This is one reason why I love Japan.

Also a reason why I wish I had a smart phone though. Sadly I'll just be navigating through life here on the skills of other people. It's ok, I actually don't mind that much, and it gives me a reason to practice my Japanese.

After all that I did get settled in, had lovely discussion with my landlady, who went to highschool in Pasadena. My room is the bare basic of a bed on the floor, and an airconditioner, which means I'm not spending a whole ton of time sitting here (which is good, i shouldn't be). So far I have walked all through the shopping streets connected with my neighborhood (it's a couple of miles all told), went to the neighborhood famous garden Rikugien (六義園) -- a place I'd actually been to visit in 2008, hit up the 100 en shop (like the dollar store, but with Japanese cheap stuff, YAY) for a laundry basket and other random things, had sushi in Ikebukuro, met a friend from school who is also here for omo-rice in Shibuya, found the awesomest little coffee shop in the neighborhood called the Charles that has a chandelier and plays jazz (and have already been back once), done a couple of chapters of research, tried the local Indian food place AND an asian fusion place where I had a salad that was so spicy I had to blow my nose.

I'm going to be eating out pretty much every day because the kitchen, while perfectly decent for one or two people, is currently hosting 5 people, and it's simply not going to work. The good part is my budget actually can deal with that, so, um, YAY. And who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to cook with the people I'm "living" with. though so far signs aren't good - I've had sorta conversation with a Taiwanese woman who is here doing a summer internship, and sorta weird conversation with the two french women who just got in today. Hopefully they were just jetlagged, and will be more interesting later.

And there you have it. Just another day in this humid, ridiculously green, wonderfully Japanese country (that now has me in it for another 17 days)
katekat: (SUITS_adorable harvey)
over the last month I've been absolutely buried in work, in life, in Bones and Leverage. No. Seriously.

I graded 45 midterms and 45 papers of 6-10 pages each over the space of three days. I've met with 2/3rds of my students to review their work. I applied for four different types of funding (endowed fellowship, summer grant, summer travel, and writing program teaching assistant) for summer and fall that took me three or four days at a time to write up (though one took a week). I've applied for gotten a position on a SF panel at the MLA, had a proposal accepted at an April grad student conference in Berkeley, and a conference in Poland I haven't heard from yet. I've gone to talks on photographing the gentrification of Highland Park, on Medieval Japanese studies, and on what to do after graduation. I've started the planning our own Grad Student conference (hopefully coming 2015) with an initial budget.

I made breakfast-for-dinner for friends (waffles!), had dinner made for me (homemade tapenade and roasted chicken for the win!), got my housemate drunk (a couple of times, though not on purpose), had a movie night to show off Sakuran, went out twice with grad students for recruitment dinners, hosted a prospective grad student at my house, and took the dog to the dog park twice (she loves it, my car hates her fur).

I found out I received an endowed fellowship for next year (one of those funding proposals) which is like the most amazing thing ever - next year I will *only* be writing, not TAing and not any other thing. Also, it'll be the first time i will be above the poverty line in three years, yay!

other stuff )

so you could say it's been a bit of a long month. the bad part is i've only read one article on my own research and not written a single thing at all. that changes this weekend.
katekat: (Default)
Well, i didn't actually mean for it to go this long in between postings, but I suppose all that prepping for the end of the year just got the hell away from me. Things, in bullet(ish) form:

- we finished with our end of the year presentations today! mine was yesterday, and it went fine (not perfect, but when is anything ever perfect? and i was one of the few people who got two questions with her presentation, so that's good). today the other half of the school went. and now all we have to do is show up on friday to get our final evaluations and then have the school party. getting tipsy with our Senseis. hee.

- i have done a lot of shopping and not so much with the packing. i will be doing a final round of going out and getting stuff tomorrow, and pack over the weekend, because i get on an airplane on MONDAY OH MY GOD. yeah that's just never not going to be crazy.

- we got taken out to dinner last night by one of the guys who is a member of the agency that funded our tuition and it was like a seven course meal. pretty awesome. i can't describe any of it. no, wait, ok, one course was an entire grilled fish. the fins were salted and crunchy, and the asparagus and pickled shoot (sorry, it was some veggie, but i have no idea what) that came with it was ridiculously tasty. fine japanese dining - they bring you little courses spread over two hours. first was pickled veggies, then sashimi, then a rice/mushroom thing, then grilled steak, then the fish, then watermelon (and i think i'm forgetting something). MMMM.

- now i'm making myself hungry.

- my computer is on the fritz (which is ok since it's made it all the way here). i can still use it, but anything that is 'black' on the screen has little red lines running through it. either the screen itself is going out or the connection to the screen is going out. i hope to get it fixed in the states. did NOT want to have to try to get it repaired here!

- i looked great in my suit for the presentations. (sorry, forgot to mention that part!)

- i found back issues of the SF magazine that I'm doing research on for 500 yen a piece (roughly $5) and bought like 20. now i have to find a way to mail them home. but i'm going back to the same place that i bought them tomorrow to see if i can get the ones i'm missing first. tomorrow is going to be errands day.

- japan is (once again) awesome: when you cancel your electricity/water/gas they send a guy out to turn it off ... and you can actually just pay your final bill to that guy! no mailing a bill to another country, no muss, no fuss.

- my [community profile] summer_of_giles ([livejournal.com profile] summer_of_giles) day was today! I just posted! Movie posters! they're Giles + a bunch of characters doing his debonair thing in a Film Noir kind of way. Directly inspired by film noir movie posters (and for at least one, using it as the base for a manip). Check 'em out?

ThirdManIcon ShortCut-icon
on lj l on dw
katekat: (Default)
No, seriously, I did. On the streets of Omotesando (one of the neighborhoods in Tokyo). We were getting Lindt dark-chocolate soft cream after having hamburgers and mojitos and spiral cut fries for lunch at this awesome open air food cart circle Sam knows, and this guy just walked around the corner with a cappuchin monkey on his shoulder. I started jabbing Eli in the arm saying, "monkey, Monkey, MONKEY!" and got everybody to turn around - because MONKEY.

So yeah, Tokyo is a place of wonderful delights. Even though we have our final test on Monday, me and Sam and Steph and Eli got out and had some fun last night at our neighborhood bar, and then met Mychah and her fiance Brandon today to go eat. Sam is the MASTER at finding these little out of the way places that serve scrumptious food. Not that Tokyo isn't just *filled* with little places like that, because it is around every corner. But, he finds the best ones - this one had drinks from champagne and microbrews to custom berry-rose soda (which i had -- it was SO GOOD - kind of like an italian soda but all their syrups were hand made). And I had one of the yummiest california avocado hamburgers i've had in *forever*, and some tea soaked duck (don't ask how the make it because i don't know - but it was tender and tasty). And one of the guys does spiral cut fries spiced with allspice that were so good i think sam and i polished ours off in less than 10 min.

And after that apparently we needed to fortify ourselves with coffee at this place called Omotesando Koffee, but couldn't resist stopping on the way for chocolate soft serve. The Koffee place, by the time we got to it, was one of the most charming I've ever been to. It's a little remodeled front of a house with the most charming garden. Then there's the entry and the most adorable man standing behind a wooden bar waiting to take your order and make you a beautiful cup of coffee with a heart in the foam. No, seriously, the part of their website I linked to shows some of the cuteness of the space, but here, this is the little garden you can sit in to enjoy your coffee:

this is the little garden you can sit in to enjoy your coffee )

see, i'm telling you, super cute!

and after we were caffeinated properly we split paths, and Sam and I went shopping. For him (well, for his girlfriend) we went to buy pretty girlie underthings. Which we found at half the price (no, i think actually 1/3 the price - it was great). For me (for our final presentations) we found not one, but TWO suits. Well, suit jacket and skirt. One gray pinstripe and one black pinstripe. The great thing about Japanese suits, even when they're made for larger frames (and it's not like I'm a skinny girl even for U.S. standards), is that they're lighter material made for humid climates. So I will be able to wear them in high summer in LA. They will be awesome.

and that? was what I call an awesome day (even if i did end up home before 9 pm on a Sat night).
katekat: (Default)
And we got to read a sci fi story for my last class, which was doubly awesome! I'm already starting to get nostalgic though - this whole year has been an isolated bubble of tons of homework and very little other responsibilities and all of that? pretty awesome.

like how the most I had to concentrate on was getting through the readings, memorizing new things, making sure i got enough sleep after hours and hours of homework, and managing to pay the bills on time with my grant money, and getting into intellectual conversations with a pack of smart people. Even when I was driven most crazy it still is pretty amazing just to be driven crazy while living in Japan.

I don't know how much I've managed to convey about the program, but these professors are some of the most dedicated and generous people I have ever studied with. With minor exceptions they constantly went out of their way to give us extra advice, encouragement, and also just respect. It's crazy how much feeling respected makes you *want* to push through your own limitations to express your ideas.

So yeah, last day of class work. Next week we have a full day of placement testing (so we can find out if we've gotten better going out than when we came in) and a lot of final presentation workshops, and the week after we do our final presentations spread over two days, meet with our Sensei's for one last time to set goals for the future, and ... that's it.

It's coming up fast. And even though I can't wait to be home, I'm going to miss this a LOT.
katekat: (Default)
Ok, so, I have to say at the outset that this is all me meandering because Mom has all the pictures from the first half of our trip. My camera battery died and I didn't nab a new one until we got back to Yokohama.

so, the word for 'lake' in Japanese is 'ko' when appended to a name like Kawaguchi )

Next up: Karoke and Kyoto!
katekat: (Default)
I had a Mom in Japan for two weeks! We galavanted hither and yon (as much as we were able) including bullet training to Kyoto at the height of Golden week and running out to the Fuji lake district to get (sort of) up close pictures of Mt. Fuji from lake Kawaguchi. It was a great visit and I was sad to have to say goodbye at the airport this afternoon.

I am bushed though. So i'm going to write up all our adventures later, and just wanted to say, you know, that was really cool. :D
katekat: (Default)
today i have:
x done laundry
x cleaned bathroom
x set up stuff for [livejournal.com profile] summer_of_giles
x talked to both parents
x watched spartacus finale
x talked to [livejournal.com profile] gray_ghost about spartacus finale and possibility that japan will get bombed by korea
x mock interviewed another friend who is applying for a mechanical engineering position
x organized my food stores
x done dishes

do you notice the lack of homework on there? i do! apparently i really really really needed the weekend off. this is good for the brain. not so good for the homework monday, that's for sure. ugh.

anyway, before i head into the trenches, i thought i'd say that i am alive! and this is what has been going on... )

and now, to homework!
katekat: (Default)
it rained sheets and buckets at the beginning of the week, making it cold, and dreary, and putting off that kind of feeling that just makes you want to crawl back in bed in the morning instead of getting up and going into school.

except the really cool windy rain blew all the sakura flowers off the trees i walk past on my way to school and covered not only the street but the walls and steps of the houses across the street - little pink circles of color scattered over gray stone and green leaves and white painted fences. they evenly covered a couple of people's cars (which i'm sure were a pain in the ass to clean off, but were pretty and kind of charming to see).

i didn't make it to any of the giant sakura-viewing sites, in part because of the cold i caught the last weekend of my break, and in part because the weather for the most part was cloudy and gray. but i did take pictures of the local park with all it's trees, and one afternoon when i was with Sam we walked to the local pond in his neighborhood and saw all the sakura trees that had draped themselves (or been trained to drape) out over the water. it was beautiful, and of course there were a ton of locals eating their lunches out on the benches watching the petals fall. and the place where our school is is absolutely filled with trees planted in rows up on rows, so we see them from the windows of the building every day.

it's crazy how amazing the trees are, even when there's just one in your neighborhood. i'm sure those of you who live in places that actually get weather (not my LA LA land steady 72 degrees) are used to this, but after the cold and shriveled winter, suddenly encountering tress that are like puffy delicate floating clouds with just a hint of pink is just ... this thing that made me smile every time it happened.

and there are stages for the sakura. there's the first blooms, but then also the falling petals, and these become pinker as they go. and the leaves of the trees that come in *after* the flowers are actually reddish brown, which i find fascinating.

before this all happened i kept seeing trees start to bloom with pink blossoms, and kept asking if these were the sakura, and being reassured i would know when the season actually happened, and oh my god now i understand why people were slightly condscending when they told me i'd know when it was time! it was time! and it happened in a joyous rush.

and now it's time for other things to begin springing too - today we had the first warm afternoon in a bout a week where the sun was out and the sky was blue and all the leaves are bursting forth on all the trees, there are bulbs flowering, and even though the sakura have mostly fallen off the trees, there's still this magic in the air that they've left behind.

of course it clouded back over this evening, but that just made me curl up under the kotatsu and think about making chocolate milk, so you know, worse things could happen. of course motivating to get out of bed tomorrow will be a bit of a stretch but ... it must be done.

now about the nitty gritty of life and what i did on my vacation after my vacation )

and i'm *still* not doing homework, or at least i'm not while i'm typing this entry. it did happen today, about five hours of it, so i'm not entirely lazy. but there's always more waiting around the corner ;)
katekat: (Default)
Dear Diary,

I went to a penis festival. Yep, you read that right. In a little town North of Nagoya called Komaki they have a harvest festival every year that hopefully will bring fertility. Setting aside the patriarchal underpinnings of only celebrating the penis as the active maker of fertility *cough* hello vagina anyone *cough* it was a really amusing day. Lots and lots of foreigners were there, but there were plenty of Japanese too, celebrating, taking pictures, buying penis-shaped food, and drinking shrine sake. And after that? Sam and I went to the Ise Grand Shrine, dedicated to goddess Amaterasu.

I ended up with incredibly painful blisters (by the end o f the night on the second day I literally had tears in my eyes) and sunburn that makes me look like a raccoon (which is why there are no pictures of me on the second day, omg) but had a great time. Our friend Fede brought two of his friends to hang out with us at the festival, and we laughed and were goofy all day. And Sam not only put up with my limping the whole second day, but is still talking to me afterwards – which is a tribute more to his patience than anything else.

Be warned, here there be wooden and stone penii! (and ok, they're really not so bad) )
katekat: (Default)
1. man, I never get to say that! 今晩は (konbanwa), i mean. It's partially that I end up studying at home at night, and partially because you don't *really* say 今晩は much anyway when you walk by people at night (my neighborhood is very much a 'nod' 'nod back' neighborhood, not a spoken greeting neighborhood). All i know is i hate the way the announcer guy says it on the American Iron Chef. Hate like burning.

2. Anyway!! HI everybody! I have been wrapped up in the end of school stuff for the last two weeks... Not that our program is over, but we are four days away from finishing our third semester. And then we get a two week break! SO needed - I was getting exhausted just from the schedule and the continual push pull of homework.

3. My presentation today went well - 15 min in Japanese on revising the definition of SF, with ten minutes or so of question and answer. The lovely part is that people got enough of my presentation to really actually ask probing questions. Good and simultaneously tiring since it's heavy lifting answering these questions in either language.

4. So all my shoes died. Not that I had a ton, but I had three pairs of boots all get holes or start losing their soles one after the other. So I found our neighborhood shoe repair place. Of course the two guys who work there are very nice and chat with me about what the hell i'm doing in Japan. They are literally astonished that I am studying Japanese literature and told me over and over that they had NEVER heard of anyone doing that. I am a serious curiosity. When I picked up my shoes yesterday they invited me to hang out with them and other shop owners in the neighborhood - apparently they get together on the weekends and grab food and drink. I gave them my number, so we'll see if they call, but it will be interesting. I'm afraid I'll feel a bit like a zoo animal, "Come one! Come all! See the Japanese Literature Grad Student in her Japanese-habitat!!" but we'll see.

5. I am currently involved in making plans to go to a festival in Japan where they parade a giant penis around the town. Yes, for reals. It's a harvest festival called 豊年祭り (Honen Matsuri) I will not be praying for my own fertility though.

6. As a treat I made myself this chicken piccata and OMG. If you like chicken and capers and lemon, you must eat this IMMEDIATELY (or as soon as you can). I took pictures of my own dinner and will post them when i get the energy. But OMG SRSLY.

7. hanging out with Sam's housemate last week and I found out she is in fandom too, and was sort of horrified that one of the other students in the program had found her fandom tumblr. Of course, the reason why that person had found the tumblr was because *she* was *also* a fan (so hey, equal levels of geekyness). We did have a talk about anonymity/revelations/etc. One of the things I comfort myself with is that if someone's going to find my stuff they will also have to be fans themselves to find it. Though these days I'm more ghost-like than fan-like, but hopefully there will be two solid months this summer when I get back to the states wherin I will PLAY ALL THE TIME and make some fannish contributions above and beyond 'kudos' at A03.

8. got linked by another one of the students at our program (who is nice enough to rec sherlock fics to me) to a post at fandom_wank and got lost down the rabbit hole this afternoon. It's been a while since I've paid attention to their posts and I love them so. Also, please, take a look at this ridiculous Misha Collins Youtube Video of him and his son having the most goofy time. I don't know if it'll strike you guys as totally awesome or not, but I literally laughed out loud over and over again.

And if you're curious about the Sherlock fic, I haven't read it yet, and the reccer tends to like angst with a happy ending, but here:

The Fabric of Life by [archiveofourown.org profile] holyfant (Sherlock/John / 150,000 words / read the warnings)

9. did my taxes! am getting money back! (of course, that's because according to my earnings statement i'm not exactly living above the poverty line). glad they're done though. i just wish all the other paperwork i have pending (forms for my program in the states, etc.) would be as easy to take care of.

10. it is *almost* cherry blossom season. There is a plum tree that is covered in white blossoms (very like cherry, but white) I see every day on my walk to school. The starbucks has started offering 'sakura' (cherry blossom) flavored drinks (which taste like pink). Over break I will be trying my damdest to get to one of the viewing spots that isn't super croweded to take some pictures (well, if things actually blossom during break...) it's hard to pinpoint the time exactly, but the air is getting warmer these days, and the sun does feel stronger, so I have hope! ... well damn, just checked, and the best viewing day according to the "sakura weather map" is April 4th. oh well, at least spring is coming!
katekat: (Default)
on fun
went out last night to the favorite neighborhood bar and had these, where they serve my new favorite drink. it's called a 'blue moon' though actually violet, not blue. and not sweet at all. but omg tasty:

and some of those, with really good company, plus fried oysters (on my part tasted for the first time and they were ludicrously good) made the evening beautiful. the oysters were after we ended up at a pool place and stupidly amazing shots were made (not by me - i suck, but i'm cheerful at sucking). everybody made it home before the last trains died, and i didn't even have any problems getting into the apartment on my way back home. miracles!

on classes:
we have three weeks left in our current semester, and while it's all rushing up super fast, it's also not coming fast enough - everybody is tired and strung out on a lot of japanese - and each day is a grind. i did two presentations last week, one on monday on the meaning of pop culture, and one on friday on posthumanism. this next week i'll be doing one for our fiction class on feminist rewriting of a mountian-witch fable, and another one that i have yet to choose yet.

i don't think i mentioned before that this semester we have elective classes - so i've been taking literature and popular culture - lit two days a week and pop culture four days a week (and then we have regular grammar studies two days a week).

next semester we change classes again. i'll actually be doing independent research three days a week, literature (two classes) three days a week, and grammar two days a week. it's going to be busier but i'm looking forward to finally getting to my own research. I have two books that i'm going to be trying to read, which is terrifyingly exciting to have as a project. RESEARCH! OMG ALL THE THINGS I WILL HAVE TO LOOK UP.

but in between we get a break and i can't wait to take it. even if i spend half of it poking around tokyo and doing little else.

on recs
Speaking of miracles, if you're a graphic artist and you don't know about hybrid genesis, you should seriously check her stuff out. she just posted some really beautiful new textures, and has both a free and paid stuff available on her website. Or you can follow [livejournal.com profile] hgx to see new updates too. she does completely inspirational artwork too, and seriously, just, words can't even explain. check out her stuff.
katekat: (Default)
went out with Sam and Kat and Colin and played pool last night. Kat is like some kind of a pool shark (though she did not try to take our money, because we're friends!) with crazy accuracy. Colin is pretty damn good too (thus they make a good pair - since they're married it kind of works out well) and Sam wasn't a slouch. And then there was me. Who cheered when I got my first ball in because I literally played an entire game where I DID NOT SINK ONE BALL. finally they took pity on me and started lining up angles so that I could take proper shots.

But it was also just hilarious because we were, you know, in Japan, playing pool. Sometimes life is just bizzare.

The other strange (well not so strange, but weird to us) thing was that this pool place had no one else on the tables, and the entire group of other people there were either watching or participating in the very serious dart games going on. This seems to be a major Japanese pastime - darts. Throwing things at very high speeds that requires lots of accuracy.

It was a really good night! And low and behold, because I am now in charge of locking the chain lock, I was able to get back into my apartment when I came home at 11:30 last night. HOORAAY!

Let's see, other than that, I ended up taking thursday off after the great roommate debacle of wed. night (although by the end of the night, for those following along at home, roommate and i had reached new detente that didn't actually involve armed hostilities, but instead some redrawing of lines and different negotations, and now hopefully things are going to be ok). but even after she and i were done talking i was too keyed up to sleep, so ended up awake until 2:30 am. So, I took the day off. Little did I know that, out of the 5 students in my afternoon class, 4 of us were going to take the day off all on the same day! So we got a strongly worded email from our teacher asking us to please get our asses to class. And it really was sort of accidental - one guy had a friend in town and had emailed the teacher letting her know, one girl had a doctor's appointment, and then me and the other girl decided to take personal days. And yeah, it had to be horrible for the teacher, but in retrospect it's also kind of crazy.

this is also the third actual school day i've taken off since i've been here. the other two were for sickness, and frankly, being emotionally sick counts just as much to me. so, while i feel a little bad for how it must've looked, i'm only *slightly* guilty for the horrible cooincidence.

anyway, had a really good day so far today - woke up and was able to talk to both parents, picked up my stuff at Sams (left my backpack there yesterday), went grocery shopping and got stuff to make cumin-crusted pork loin tonight, stopped to grab a kebab-pita from the kebab guy next to the train station and had a nice chat with him, and am hoping the postal guys are going to bring me a care package from the mom.

OH, and I got Sam to divulge his recipe for fresh sauerkraut (which, i know, isn't sauerkraut because the cabbage hasn't fermented, but which tasted REALLY GOOD anyway).

this is more a list of ingredients than a recipe, because that's kind of what sam does - throw things at pans and make them go )
katekat: (Default)
OK, so, I am *totally* being lazy on this one. Instead of doing short descriptions I numbered the photos -- got questions about a photo? tell me the number and i'll tell you all about it? (yes, i am a dork, but a dork with finished homework and a deadline to sleep!)

so, without further ado:


KYOTO PART II: more gardens than you can handle ... ok, not really. )
katekat: (Default)
It started with an all night hang out in Tokyo, waiting for the freshest fish in the world to be served at 4 am, then I ran off to visit as many temples in Kyoto as I could handle - actually probably more than. It was awesome. And I'll miss more than just the warm toilet of my room at the ryokan. But I might be temple-ed out at the moment....



And that's where I'm going to end this set today. Rest up tomorrow or when I get the chance!
katekat: (Default)
Hysterically I celebrated New Years earlier than I usually do (in the sense that Japan is ahead of the US) and I still didn't manage to post online greetings until 7 pm my time on the 1st. Such is life!

I've had a quiet vacation so far - not that I haven't done anything, but I definitely haven't been travelling as much as popping up to Tokyo to wander around the city with friends, and catching up on sleep and quiet time and just ... resting the mental reserves. Cooking.

friday party - I think i mentioned this )

For Christmas... )

Other little day trips )

In between I've been cooking all kinds of things - potato cakes with cumin, a cumin-soy-garlic chicken that I devised myself, cod okonomiyaki, japanese fried chicken (actually called chicken karaage), rice cooker coffee cake, a cucumber salad I've made like three times, and this morning simple, but tasty, sweet potato hashbrowns to have with my egg and english muffin.

finally New Years )

You know how they say whatever you're doing on New Year's / New Year's day will shape the rest of your year? Well, I have been a total sloth, so I guess my year will be filled with talking to my mom on skype, cooking, folding laundry, and rewatching Suits. It could be worse. (either that or it's going to be a year of beer pong, which could be very strange... )

I was feeling sorta like I hadn't accomplished much this last year, because this last week has been pretty quiet and I still have a lot of homework to get done. Then I realized -- I QUALIFIED TO BE A PHD CANDIDATE this year, spent the summer taking one of the hardest Japanese classes of my life, and have spent the last four months in JAPAN, and told myself I was being silly. It's good to look back sometimes!

And that, I think, is about it. I'm going to go scrounge some leftovers, make myself some hot chocolate, and find another movie to watch. Tomorrow is another day.

Happy New Year to you all, dear flist. I hope you had a good year in 2012, and are looking forward to 2013. I don't know what the future year will bring, but I believe there will always be a little good in it.
katekat: (Default)
  • it's been so clear here the last two days that I can see Mt. Fuji on my walk home. Last night the sunset was completely incredible - I haven't moved the pictures I took from my camera, though I know they won't do it justice.
  • roommate has been downright friendly, cheery, et al. the last week or so, so probably look forward to it all blowing up before she goes home? i always speak too soon on these things
  • school is good, though i've ratcheted down to doing about 20 minutes of homework a night (so has everyone else, trust me). Class is really engaging, it's just that we're all tired and we only have like 6 class days to go, so it's really easy to want to just scrap it all. Of course, I have a semester-test next week as part of the "last week of classes" which should be ... ugh, yeah, not so fun.
  • I've been helping everybody edit their grad applications, and one of my friends who was applying at Oxford just found out that he got in (conditionally... and the conditions are fortcoming, but it was a congratulations email he got). His stuff was murder to edit - linguistic analysis of classical Japanese and Chinese - but whatever, I'm counting it as a win! Besides, it's good to see him happy.
  • Saw a "Bunraku" (Japanese puppet theatre) play last week Wed. MONKEY PUPPET!!! It was at the National Theatre so they do this whole middle section where they explain a little bout the different roles of the singers, musicians, and puppeteers. I felt culturally enriched!
  • And that was my 2nd trip to Tokyo in the space of like a week, so I feel well traveled even if it was just to take the train for 45 min or so. I also learned awesome words at my friend's birthday party - apparently "threesome" in Japanese is たんっぴ or "tan-pi". THE MORE YOU KNOW.
  • I got the coolest smelly thing in tokyo. It's a flower diffusion thing, where there's aroma oil in the bottle and the flower, that is made out of paper, soaks the oil up and changes from white to color in the process. Kind of like this except mine is taller and has two flowers. It is awesome - I come home every day and my room not only smells great, but I have pretty white flowers turning to pink-ish flowers. It was kind of expensive (like $20ish) but worth it!

ok, that's not everything worth telling, but that's all my brain has right now. i just wanted to say "hi! i haven't been killed for my room yet or anything!"

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