Sunday, January 2, 2005

Plans For Next Week

It's Sunday night and I'm getting ready to go to my southern banking center (on Kyushu Island -- I live on Honshu) for a week. I always hate the thought of leaving home, but my friends are in Kyushu and so I always have a fun time when I'm there. The city has great restaurants, and I usually stay in the BOH (Bachelor Officer Housing) so I get to catch up on American TV and shower in an American shower. Plus, my banking center down there is in really great shape. In November 2003 it was doing so poorly that I moved to Kyushu for six months to build it back up. That was a rough time. I handed it off to the current manager in May of this year, and she's done great. We have a great staff and it's a pleasure to visit. I don't know why I dread going so much -- I think what happens is that I spend so much time in hotels for work and fun that I really hate leaving my house. I guess what I really hate is the packing -- I think I've lived 1/2 of my adult life out of a suitcase. But I do have fun once I get there. Since moving back to Honshu in May, I try to spend one week out of every month in Kyushu. Plus, I pass the great city of Fukuoka on the way down, and usually stop for a few hours or a few days either coming or going. Fukuoka (foo-koo-oh-kah) has awesome museums and good shopping. It's a canal city so there's water everywhere. Plus, it has a Seattle's Best Coffee. Does it get any better?

Today some little friends came over to play. We put Snoopy puzzles together and ate marshmallows (yuck -- but they're a treat for Japanese children.) They chattered away, and as usual I heard my name every few minutes. I can only pick up on a few words they say, and can't wait for the day when I can finally speak to them in Japanese and understand what they're saying. On Friday I left work early and some other little friends came over to play. At one point I called my office to see if everything was going ok, and I noticed that the kids started to get much louder when I was speaking English. I don't know if it sounds chaotic to them or what, but it was a real difference, and pretty soon I had to get off the phone because I couldn't hear (and I wasn't being loud.) As soon as I hung up, they were quiet again. ??

Earlier I went to Lawson's (like 7-11) to buy a concert ticket. Sting is coming to Hiroshima in a few weeks and I'd like to go. Lawson's has a little kiosk that looks like a small ATM that sells tickets. I need to ask for help since it is in Japanese, but the employees are always willing. However, as I drove by the store I thought, "Oh, I'll just pop into Lawson's real quick and pick that up today" and that never really happens (quickly, I mean, things never happen quickly.) It's 100% my fault for not speaking Japanese, but everything turns into an epic/mini-series/marathon and takes forever. Every event here is like a patience test. I did get the ticket and it only took about 30 minutes, which is a record. It was ¥9,000 for a "special seat" which I think just means the most expensive. That's about $90 US.

The temperatures have just started to drop lately and it's finally winter here. I don't know if I've covered this yet, but Japanese homes don't have insulation. I don't mean old homes, I mean all homes don't have it, and none have central air/heat, either. (Several rooms in each house have wall units.) It's really different. Homes are built sectioned off so each room has two or three doors to shut it off from the rest of the house while you heat/cool it. It's too expensive to leave the heat on all the time, so you heat up a room and spend your time there. When you have to run to the kitchen or use the bathroom, you dash out as quickly as possible. I try to shut my heat off at night (sometimes I leave it running in my bedroom, but it gets hot with the doors closed!) and in the morning IT'S FREEZING. A few days ago I got out of bed and went downstairs to the front door to see if it was snowing. When I opened the door, I noticed that it didn't seem any colder outside than it was inside! It's a problem.

That's it for now. I'll try to write this week while I'm away. I don't have access to a PC outside of the office when I'm traveling (which turns out to be kind of a nice change) but sometimes I visit the base computer lab to catch up on personal e-mails. Have a good week!

No comments:

Post a Comment