Their unplanned night in Tokyo having drawn to a close, my parents boarded their morning flight out to Nowhere, Japan – aka – Oita. Originally they had been due to arrive in Oita around 8pm Sunday night and with this in mind I had crafted a whirlwind itinerary that kicked off from the following Monday morning. With my parents instead arriving in Oita a day late they had the pleasure of beginning their activity-packed adventure right from the get-go.
My girlfriend and I arrived at the airport about 10 minutes early and began the wait for the two giant Americanos to emerge from the arrival gate… mom made a suitably grand entrance.
We had some coffee and introduced the parents to my darling girlfriend, then caught the bus back towards Beppu.
Saturday rolled around and it was time to blow off some steam, so the usual suspects were rounded up and plans were drawn. It was going to be a typical sushi & karaoke outing, but with a twist – we were going to visit a brand-new SCBR that had opened a few kilometers west on the same road as the one we usually patronize… bit of foreshadowing here for you: we were not going to be disappointed.
Perhaps two or three weeks ago Jessica, the Taiwanese Representative of the YonKaiChiimu, came to my room USB drive in hand in search of photos chronicling “American life.” After ensuring that there weren’t any pictures she could find that might get me arrested, I left her alone with my vast and bizarre array of digital camera photos that I’ve taken while traveling hither and yon in the past 3 or 4 years. When asked why she needed said photos she mumbled something about an exhibition or some other such nonsense. Frankly, I wasn’t really listening…
So you can imagine my surprise when a week ago people I ran into on campus started telling me that they really enjoyed my pictures, or alternately, that they had spotted me in “the exhibition.”
Being the good little students that my friends and I are it took us exactly two weeks before we just couldn’t take it any longer and had to zip out for a night of karaoke. Saturday night was a special night because it was the first true group activity of the 4th Floor Team 2006. While not every member was in attendance – Jessica was conspicuously absent – all of our new additions made it out and the overall attitude and pervasive style of the group was firmly maintained by Satoshi, Taw, and myself.
Well that bit about having lots of time to post hasn’t quite proved true this past week, but I’ve finally gotten most of the errands I had to do upon return out of the way and am settling into a somewhat regular schedule.
Today is a briefing, if you will, on what is in store for me this coming semester. Class is a good place to start – this semester I’m enrolled in:
My date of departure approaches. I leave Japan on the morning of December 28th for a three month absence that will have me circumnavigate the planet by airplane – seriously. APU, bless its frosty heart, is doing all it can to make me desperate to leave. Winter so far has been unseasonably cold – we’ve had snow 5 out of the last 7 days, including the current tempest I woke up to this morning. I enjoy snow, very much in fact – but the snow I enjoy falls gently down to earth, accumulating into a beautiful silent white panorama as far as the eye can see. APU snow, on the other hand, on account of our ever-present hellacious winds, *never* accumulates. Instead, it prefers to stubbornly drive itself into your eyes, up your nose, and occasionally even into your ears. I don’t particularly enjoy this…
Underneath every aspect of APU life there has been one thing, one theme, one reality that is so constant that it simply cannot be denied. In fact, the existence of the thing of which I speak is so certain that it might as well be considered the genesis of Truth itself. That thing… is wind. Laugh not at this seemingly simple observation. I have heard of places on this fair planet that are what you might call “windy.” Chicago seems to be one place in particular that carries with it a sort of mythos of moving air…
My presentation completed successfully, I staggered back home and collapsed into bed for a well-earned nap. 9pm rolled around and I decided it might be time to get some work done – ahh yes, the hours us students keep – so I plopped down into my chair and commenced with the email checking. At this point in my life, after well over a decade of computer use, I’m pretty sure that if one were to sit down in front of said machine and *not* immediately commence with the email checking, his head would explode right there on the spot. We can make allowances for lack of an internet connection of course, but be warned, there is ritual written all over your lil’ PC, and you are it’s unknowing slave.
In any case, I checked my email and found one waiting for me from Prof. Zhang entitled “Could you give me a hand?” — odd. Thinking it was some sort of class mass-email, I opened it, and was further surprised to see that it was addressed solely to me. My surprise gave way to sheer astonishment as I read the contents therein:
…you find yourself making powerpoint slides on a Friday night… Gah. Anyhow, this is the life I lead these days. Tuesday afternoon is the last group presentation in Prof. Zhang’s Theories of Sustainable Development class, and it just so happens to be my group — big mistake. While all of my group-mates are intelligent and can satisfactorily articulate their ideas in English… well, for the scam we’re cookin’ they wanted someone who could take the heat and take it like a pro.
It’s been a crazy couple of days around here, I hope you’re ready for a massive journal! Thursday’s talk by Amartya Sen was interesting if you’re the sort of person who gets excited when Alan Greenspan comes on CNN, otherwise, it was pretty dry. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the inherent importance of economics, and also the indisputable credentials of a Nobel Prize winner who also teaches at Harvard. Even with that in mind though, it was a struggle to maintain focus in light of the early hour. APU provided simultaneous translation via radio-headset for the Japanese students — I thought that was pretty cool. Moving on…