day one: tokyo

I have several friends in Japan right now, and the pictures they’re posting are making me sad and wishing I was there too. This in turn is making me feel guilty, like I’m forsaking my beloved London for another country. While I’m fully aware that it’s possible to love TWO (or more) places, you can only really live in one place at a time – so where’s my heart? Is it in London or Japan? I’m living in a Sweet Valley High book, except instead of choosing between handsome, sensitive, steadfast Brody and handsome, hot-headed, impulsive Chad, I have to (hypothetically) decide between beautiful, comforting, elegant London and beautiful, intriguing, inscrutable Osaka. What’s a girl to DO?

Luckily, I woke up this morning homesick for London, so I guess I don’t have to decide right away. Also, all of this is entirely in my head – it’s not like I have an opportunity to relocate to either Japan or the UK, but I can pretend it’ll happen some day. And I do love a good list, so I’m amusing myself by itemizing the pros and cons of each location while I wait for documentation to import. It’s the little things.

We spent the first 5 days of our trip in Tokyo, staying in a house in the Minato district. It was a great location: nestled in a maze of cool houses, two blocks from a magical 7Eleven, around the corner from a train station, and more. Much of our first official day (which was Sunday the 2nd, as we didn’t make it to the house until around 8pm the night before) was spent exploring the area: we found a Tokyo Swallows game about to start, a newly-opened Shake Shack, an enormous cemetery lined with cherry blossoms, an architecture museum, and so much more. In the evening, we went to Akihabara to see the fabled Electric Town for ourselves. I spent many yen trying to win something from the numerous claw games (spoiler: I failed), the kids explored every floor of Animate, and we had our first (and best) bowl of ramen in a tiny joint down a dim side street:

Living_that_ramen_life____kimlichiwa

in his noodly name, ramen

It was an excellent (and exhausting) first day.

_akihabara_at_night__kimlichiwa

6 floors of delicious chaos

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MEAT (and a cat cafe, in which the cats were girls)

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something for everyone: the second floor was a cat cafe, the third floor a shooting range, then a bar/karaoke club, maid cafe, and night club

on japan (part 1)

Things I Will Miss About Japan (alternative title: things to import from Japan):

  • ROBOT. TOILETS.
  • .. with taps, for convenient and eco-friendly cleanliness!
  • Vending machines EVERYWHERE, with recycling bins attached – so you can always find a drink, and always recycle the empty
  • Canned/bottled milk tea
  • Vending machines that deliver hot canned coffee and tea
  • Ticket restaurants! Pay up front, present ticket, receive food.
  • An amazing country-wide rail system that runs with eerie efficiency
  • Tokyo Banana! It’s delicious.
  • Gashapon! You do not want to know how much money I spent in vending machines in Japan, and not just on water/milk tea/corn
  • Tiny 600cc city cars. It’s like a scooter with walls!
  • Wet rooms and the art of sitting down in a shower. Makes for good, warm sleeping (even if you shouldn’t).
  • Japanese 7Elevens. “7Elevens are universal”, I foolishly thought before our trip. “You’ve seen one rancid hot dog at 3am, and you’ve seen them all.” Oh, how wrong I was. Japanese 7Elevens are EVERYWHERE and they are AMAZING and they are the true epitome of “convenience store”.
  • Onsens! More on this later.
  • Baby wall seats so you can put your baby down while you pee or wash your hands. It’s genius, and I don’t know why we don’t have them in North America. I don’t even HAVE babies, but I can immediately see how brilliant this idea is. Travelling solo? Don’t have someone to hold the baby while you do your bathroom business? WALL SEAT. Baby is safe, happy, and most importantly, off the bathroom floor while you allow a robot toilet to blast your nethers with warm, pulsating water. It’s like a gentle hug for your anus while you make silly faces for your wall baby.
  • In Japan, roaming trucks play jaunty tunes. Is it an ice cream van? A truck that delivers red bean paste and soy sauce? No! It’s the garbage/recycling truck, playing music to announce their approach! Forgot to set the trash out? No problem! When you hear the familiar tune, you can rush outside with your neglected waste. Smart *and* hilarious! Also, ice cream vans aren’t necessary because ice cream vending machines are totally a thing that are wonderful and so much cheaper in Japan.
  • Speaking of ice cream, you can buy soft serve waffle cones in the freezer section of convenience stores (including my beloved 7Eleven). They’re delicious, and like ¥130 (just over $1US/$1.50CDN).
  • Solar panels everywhere. If a tiny mountain town in the middle of Japan can have solar panels atop almost every damn building, why are we still arguing about them here?
  • Whiskey Ice. You can buy bags of crystal clear ice meant for whiskey sippin’ (or in my case, water) everywhere.
  • Cream puffs the size of my hand (which is admittedly small, but still large in terms of the mighty cream puff)
Things Japan is Missing:
  • Diet Coke
  • Me (don’t be jealous, London – I have so much love to give)
  • Every hotel room shower cap in a 4-city radius (sorry Japan, but I need them when I dye my hair)
  • The automatic Canadian reflex to apologize when you bump into someone (there are so many people in Japan that being walked into is just a way of life)
  • Escalators in most train stations – I have never walked up and down so many goddamn staircases in my life, but damn if my calves don’t look great

Things I Missed from Vancouver:

  • Cats
  • Soft beds/pillows
  • Being naked all the damn time
  • Bacon

Things I Will Miss, Period:

  • Being on vacation
  • Travelling with friends
  • The stillness of Takayama
  • The hustle of Tokyo and Osaka
  • The jaw-dropping beauty of Japan in full cherry blossom season
  • Vending machines

Trip Highlights:

  • The amazing lunch with an equally amazing view in the Tokyo Skytree
  • The show at the Robot Restaurant
  • Stumbling upon a Sakura Festival
  • Staying in a ryokan
  • Having an onsen completely to myself
  • Osaka Castle Park
  • The small bit of Kyoto we saw
  • Shibuya Station and the Scramble, where I got my Jet Set Radio Future and The World Ends With You fangirl on
  • The Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the National Art Centre in Tokyo
  • .. especially the Infinity Room
  • everything.

Things I Regret:

  • Not having enough time in Kyoto
  • Resorting to American food when exhausted
  • Not attending Kanamara Matsuri
  • Coming home
  • Not buying more gashapon items
  • Vending machine corn chowder

Things I Drank Instead of Diet Coke:

  • All the water (Japanese tap water is delicious)
  • Milk Tea
  • Canned cream puffs (okay just once)
  • Water
  • Pocari Sweat
  • Coke Zero (gross)
  • Coke (even grosser)
  • Coca-Cola Plus (Coke with fibre. Why?)
  • Water
  • Melon Fanta
  • Orangina
  • Qoo
  • Mango in any form I could find
  • So much water

Devastating Life Lessons Learned:

  • I will never be a flight attendant.

Hope you’re not tired of photos from Japan, because I’ve only been posting pictures taken with my phone. There are still the camera pictures to go through. #kimlichiwa

Godzilla_Road___kimlichiwa

bite my flesh for delicious juice

I can’t get a complete inventory because counting makes me itchy, but based on what I HAVE counted and can see, I have over 70 mosquito bites. It sucks, and is not at all embellished for the internet: I am gross all over. I have ten bites on my left kneecap alone, and the back of my legs is an utter horror show. My arms are a nightmare. I look pox-ridden. 

But! I had an excellent time in Orlando! My coworkers are completely awesome, and far less scary than my anxiety predicted. There were 20 of us down for the week, and instead of hotels, we stayed in two 10-bedroom resort homes in a fancy gated complex that were super fance: each room had its own ensuite (I lucked out and randomly picked a room with a soaker tub), the living rooms had nice squishy leather couches, each dang house had a pool and hot tub out back, the kitchens had ample counter/table space for laptoppin’, etc. Apparently, this is how people do Florida. I could get used to it (maybe without the mosquitoes though). 

Also, I was never without Diet Coke or ice cubes, for which I am absurdly grateful. I don’t require alcohol or specific food stuffs or special treatment, but DAMN if I don’t appreciate being accommodated. I was delightfully caffeinated all week long! I am easy to please. 

There are very few good things to be said about a total disregard for the environment, but I had forgotten how glorious a shower with epic water pressure is. I tried to keep my showering short (not in part because the water was stank with swamp), but daaaang. Every morning it was like sandblasting the previous evening’s bad decisions off my person. Loved it (but still feel bad). 

I ended my trip with a minor catastrophe in the air: I lost my passport. I remembered having it at the gate when my boarding pass was scanned, and then .. nothing. I emptied out the bags I was carrying, tore apart my seat, disturbed every person in a three seat radius, but nothing: my passport had simply vanished. The flight attendants called the airport with their fancy airplane phones and had the ground crew check the gate and walkway, but there was no sign of it. I tried to remain calm (and did a pretty good job of not losing my shit [no pun intended]), but I knew I was facing a difficult time at YVR customs .. oh and also I leave for Japan in a week and can’t do that without a passport. Fuck. And who the hell loses important documents along a 10′ walk in a straight line? Me, apparently. 

After I had disturbed people as much as I could, I resigned myself to staying on the plane until everyone had left so I could check the other seats. The flight landed, people stood and gathered their things, and then the best goddamn thing happened: the woman sitting behind me spotted my passport in the overhead bin above my head. HOLY SHIT WHAT A FUCKING RELIEF. I didn’t think to check the bin above me during my search because my carry-on bag wasn’t in there – I had placed it in the bin across from me, and checked that thoroughly. As near as I can figure, when I got on the plane I hoisted my bag into the bin then set my passport and boarding pass above my seat – in the bin – to arrange myself and stash my tote bag. In my haste to sit down and get out of people’s way, I utterly forgot that I had put my documents down above my head. It was fortunate that the lady was taller than I, because I’d have never been able to see into the overhead bin and would have missed it entirely during my search. Stressful as fuck, but it ended better than I could have hoped AND I didn’t have to beg Canadian Border Patrol to let me in. Score!

All in all, a great week (passport stress and bites aside). I had some great conversations about work and music and video games and Japanese sex acts, finally met most of my coworkers in the flesh, successfully escaped Mars, and wasn’t eaten by an alligator. A++++++, would #cycleweek again. 

Oh, and I have fully embraced the fact that I am a Ravenclaw through and through, and own the robe to prove it. 

stranger danger

I have pretty severe social anxiety. Meeting new people is my kryptonite; strangers are terrifying and rhyme with dangers for a reason.  They often have candy and vans with blackout windows, and according to the year 2000, every single person on the internet is a deranged sex pervert who wants to chop me up for some sweet Canadian stew. Pretty scary stuff, right? It only makes SENSE to be wary of people you’ve never met. Every one of them is chockfull of BAD DECISIONS.

I’ve been experiencing a low-grade panic attack for the last three days, and it’s getting worse. On Monday morning at 4am, I’ll be making my way to Orlando for a week of meetings. I’ll also be meeting my co-workers in meat space for the first time. We’re all staying in a couple of resort houses, so socializing will be done in a hot tub. And I’m the only woman.

So, let’s recap:

  • Flying to a country in political turmoil
  • With skin an indeterminate shade of brown
  • For work
  • To meet people for the first time
  • In a swamp
  • Filled with alligators
  • Staying in a house with 9 men I work with
  • That has a pool and a hot tub
  • So bathing suits are happening

I am legit terrified. People are scary. What if everyone hates me. What if I say really stupid things and people think I’m an idiot. What if I forget I can’t go in hot tubs and pass out and break my head open on tiles. What if Florida has no Diet Coke. What if crocodiles eat me. What if I get brave enough to put on my bathing suit and everyone laughs at me. What if people realize I have no idea what I’m doing at work and out me as a big faking faker who fakes. What if I didn’t pack enough cardigans. What if I forget my medication and revert to my original form.

WHAT IF.

I hate anxiety. It is a twat.

we are judging you

make your whites whiter

swag

This gif if bringing me a great deal of joy, but even so, I have ass marbles.

The kids in the original video are half-Korean. The woman that desperately tries to wrangle them is their mother, and is Korean. However, every (adorable) piece of art about the now-infamous video depicts the children and family as white, as though people couldn’t possibly be entertained by the shenanigans unless skin tones matched their own.

This on the heels of the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie in which the Japanese main character has been replaced with a caucasian Scarlett Johansson (and scene of a delightful marketing campaign that is backfiring spectacularly), a Bruce Lee biopic focusing on a fictional white guy instead of, you know, Bruce Lee, Tilda Swinton (love her, but come on) playing a Celtic mystic to replace the original Tibetan mystic in Dr. Strange .. all within the last year.

It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. It’s disheartening.

So, yeah. Even when it comes up in a fantastic gif that makes me happy, I can’t help but feel a twinge of “this too?”.

I-Am-Major

ETA: see?

NP6fLR9

 

 

 

who runs the world

It is International Women’s Day (and contrary to the beliefs of our .. first lady? Do we have that in Canada? The Prime Minister’s wife. Seems like she ought to have a title. Anyway. Contrary to her beliefs, I will not be using this day to celebrate the men in my life, because what the ever-loving fuck, lady.), and I am celebrating women – myself, the women I know, and the women who walked this path before me so that I may do the things I do, wear the things I wear, and be my best, uncompromising self. It is also the day of the International Women’s Strike, which I am less able to participate in – not because I don’t believe in it, but because a day without me isn’t really anything anyone would notice. I mean, I refuse to do housework today, but it’s also Wednesday so that’s not really out of the norm. I am not raising any children today (or ever), so that one is out. A day without me at work .. well, if I’m not there, the world won’t end. Some commas may appear where there ought not be any commas, but my absence would not make any sort of resounding statement, so I’m working. I AM working topless, though, and wearing a red bra. Because I CHOOSE to do these things. Breasts aren’t political, they’re just awesome.

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! #persist #resist #slay #glue

 

forever in blue genes

MORE TESTS! MORE DATA! MORE HYPOCHONDRIA!

Mutual Friend Ian™ shared a service called Promethease, that:

builds a personal DNA report based on connecting a file of DNA genotypes to the scientific findings cited in SNPedia.

It asks you to download your raw DNA data from the testing site you used, and upload it to their magical cloud box, then spits out a report that you can view for $5. It analyzes your spit data for the good, the bad, and the ugly: things you may be susceptible to, a carrier for, or have advanced immunity from. It is very cool! I did it this morning (it took ten minutes, based on processing and queues), and have learned that I am:

  • 1.5x~2.7x more likely to live to 100: you’re stuck with me for a long time!
  • Optimistic and empathetic; handle stress well: I am optimistic that I will live to 100 and feel bad for those who will not!
  • Bad at cancer: In addition to being at higher risk for “a number of cancers”, I am also bad at metabolizing cancer medication, and am more likely to get prostate cancer
  • Totally validated in not having children: I’m a cystic fibrosis carrier, and also carry the Von Willebrand gene which is like hemophilia for poor people
  • Not supposed to be fat: This makes sense. I’m the only fatty in the family.
  • Have the “Asian Flush”: lol, and yeah no kidding
  • Have a “Possibly impaired folate metabolism”: can’t absorb cancer meds!
  • Have stronger cravings for alcohol: On the plus side, if I AM alcoholic, naltrexone treatment will be twice as successful!
  • 1.74 times more likely to get gout, and if given gefinitib to treat said gout, will get 4 times the diarrhea: O_o
  • Super good at caffeine: Fast Caffeine Metabolizer

This is all super interesting, and well worth the $5. I am still thinking about doing the more expensive DNA test down the road, but only because data is awesome and allows me to worry that every little pain I feel is an impending heart attack.

Thanks for the share, Ian!