Monday, 21 February 2011

Lucky Gym

I have now started my internship, and am enjoying the delights of daily relations with a chair and a computer once again. Things picked up with today's revelation that there's a Subway that only takes an acceptable-lunch-break-length's to walk there, eat and journey back, so that's a fairly regular six-hundred yen that I'll be losing out my pocket every afternoon sometime 'twixt one and three. Does beat sitting in the smoking section at Tully's Coffee drinking bitter black caffeinated hard as nails water and chewing on a hotdog with bizarrely finely grated gherkin atop it. Doesn't beat a cigarette-sucking Japanese man who could have easily lived in three centuries leaning over to you, taking the little milk sachet/pot-let out of your very hands and then prising the plastic/foil seal off it for you with Krueger-esque fingernails before unceremoniously dropping the whole milk/seal/pot in your gasoliney coffee.

But having now left the delights of that particular coffeehouse, Subway it is. Once again, Japan has managed to take something I know much better than the back of my hand and just mess with little details, which completely addled my sleep-deprived (and in a rather Pavlovian manner, expecting coffee with lunch) brain. Subway Tokyo-style, you go up, you choose your filling and bread, which were understandably different from the UK, but, yes, I could deal with that, but then they toasted the filling and the bread separately. And then my sandwich artist put the salad on first. Then the filling, and then the topping. By the time he asked if I wanted a drink with that in flawless English the Queen and maybe even Kate Middleton would have been proud of, I was almost quivering.

On the subject of nervous wreakages, had a minor existential breakdown at the gym. Having now returned to my treadmill overlooking the lights of Shibuya, and once again started up the regular half-hour staring contest with the crows that roost on the roof of the building opposite, I fast discovered that after a week of sedentary browsing and evenings of what I will tentatively call comfort food but really means easy calorific fixes after long days at the office (which from now on will of course be remedied by work-out sessions and McDabstinence), but after all that I could no longer cope with forty-five minutes at eight-and-a-half km./hr. Add it up, calculate the calories burnt or unburnt - the guilt sets in, and you head back to the gym and do the manly thing and then have to head back to your little room and iron four shirts and the testosterone just about levels out

Back in the gym: we - the treadmill and I, connected by the wire from my earphones that seems to link us charging forwards but not heading out over the precipice of the five floors between the sheer glass window and the paved concrete below, along with the five feet of feminine something that I couldn't see in my periphery but was wearing perfume for her work-out, so was worthy clearly of some of my peripheral attention - clocked in just over twenty minutes  before I caught sight of my years flashing (literally) past my eyes: 20:01, 20:02. 20:03, 20:04, 2005, 2006... by the time we hit 20:20 and then 2030 and then 2040 my sweat was running cold as sweat can get before it's not sweat and you're frankly just leaking a little out of fear.

Sometimes I sweat just because it's a hot room and I'm still wearing my coat. I think that's fairly usual. Was such a case last Friday, after I (sort of) blagged my way into the opening reception for an exhibition based around Spike Jonze's new short film, I'm Here. You can watch it online, though I won't patronise with a link, though I'd recommend find it. Like Where The Wild Things Are but with twentysomethings who also happen to be robots falling in love in L.A. It's the invention, the creativity, the ideas that get me. Anyways, fan-boy issues aside, event was sponsored by Absolut Vodka, blah, feeling gregarious, blah blah, met Sonny Gerasimowicz and Meryl Smith, blah blah blah. But didn't meet Spike Jonze, Andrew Garfield, or Sienna Guillory. Admittedly, they weren't there. But then, come Saturday, I did walk in on the (and I quote) 'godawfully pretty girl' from Miila and the Geeks at her little store in Shibiya. 'Cept I didn't realise it was her until after I'd asked her if this tiny little indie record store carried any records by her band, and then discovered who she was. Awkward in my fave kinda way. And she's going to mail me her record. And she invited me to her next gig. And we tweeted each other. 

But on a more realistic note - p'haps even an aside - have now gained a place at a university of choice. Out of five chosen, two offers so far from three that didn't interview, and one rejection from the two that did. Seems my ex-girlfriend (and current girl friend, sorry M) was right when she told me, 'Jamie - you're much better on paper than in real life.' And so I blog away merrily, free from angst and worries, you know.

Monday, 14 February 2011

And I've Ten Lays

Another charming anagram of 'Valentine's Day'. Tokyo does still feel like an anagram of sorts; it's taken lots of things I know reasonably well - coffee, shopping, fashion, roads, etiquette, umbrellas, weather - and jumbled them up and mixed them around until there's only that sneaking suspicion left that these if you broke them down into their component parts, you could spot something you know. But as it, it's just nonsensically brilliant.

Last Friday night: underground (in all its senses) gig with Miila and the Geeks - sort of like CSS if they were Japanese and enjoyed feedback. They're on MySpace (still), and they're a saxophone, a drum machine, and a godawfully pretty girl with a bass guitar and a mic. Found the tiny bar they were playing at after a half hour of browsing online for s/thing to do, and coupled with the almost-Sapphic anime film (replete with English subs) projected onto the whitewashed/smoke-stained walls, was a top eve. The tipsied-munchies in MacD's afterwards didn't hurt matters, although my asking for a ヲッパ may have hurt the unfailingly polite till girl's feelings.

Still trying out the comedy scene (Eng.-speaking, course), and headed down to the Pink Cow for a stand-up night on Sat., and took Ronnie (♀, but then that feels Pokédexed) along on Sun. evening for an uptown event. Found some London Pride, which was a charming addition to the gaijin feel - much nicer chilled. Not looking forward to British tendency to only chill road, middle of, lagers. Also not looking forward to abandoning my Japanese peanut butter - or peanut cream, technically. As if it had been mixed with honey, and oh so good.  Must cut down on the toast.

After a rather complicated internship dilemma, should finally start work tomorrow. My two-week trial pass at the gym also expires tomorrow, so I'll find out whether they want me to get a bank account or if I can simply hand over some more large wodges of yen to keep going. Seem to keep spending said wodges quite easily - dropped what was actually only about a twenty-pound note the other night over a beer, entry, chips, and then udon, but felt like plenty more. That was with my new-found Japanese amigos - they all love to adopt a gringo or two, as I've found my housemates particularly enjoy (esp. the whole cultural issue of lavish gift-giving), although that hasn't really come into play for yours truly yet. Chopsticks crossed.

Friday, 4 February 2011

One Week's Worth

Arrived in Japan a week ago, but feels like months since I met Enrico the Italian at passport control, and think I'm not so much turning Japanese ('I think I'm turning Japanese') as living in a magical-land-on-steroids [Hyphens incl. to avoid accusations of drug abuse], straight out of a  C. S. Lewis/Aldous Huxley crossover project gone wonderfully wrong. Found myself brushing my trainers with a toothbrush a few days ago, just to make sure they were clean enough for the Japanese (via Venice Beach) gym I now haunt. Had my first muttered 'Hello' from another gym hare today - not quite as exciting as Saturday night, when hipster #1 asked hipster #2 (numbers are hitting triple figures round here) to check out 'that cool cat' as I walked by. Now reads like I was simply in the same vicinity as a nice looking feline, but boosted my ego sufficiently for that night.

Spent the rest of the evening wandering round Shibuya before, after careful consideration and deliberate pavement hopping, walking right into a crowd of Australians set on celebrating their football team's assured victory over the Japanese in the final of the Asian Cup that evening. After much Jap-lish (Engl-nese?) taunting and beery cheering, the Japanese won 1-0.  We retreated behind the Golden Arches©, only to end up following a huge Japanese chap who was just as beer-y as he was bear-y across the street to the club he owned. Cue much foreigner-as-celebrity welcoming, with London having the edge over Melbourne that particular evening. London especially carries a certain cachet, although the clued-up hipsters are rather impressed by Brighton connections.

Have passed two evenings (Tues and Wed, just to count it out) touring Tokyo's English-speaking comedy scene, Skyping (Sun), poring over Infinite Jest (around the four-hundred page mark out of a thousand, thanks to daily visits), meeting a rather entertaining OW journalist in the Foreign Correspondents' Club (Thurs) and tonight (Fri) may venture out for my first free gig in the city of cities. (I can't account for Mon -  must have stayed in?) I have yet to find a full routine to make sure I can keep track of days/make surethey all blend into one another, but this morning I may have found the café to establish myself as a regular in, and finally plucked up the courage to enter the gym's sauna. All of a sudden rather conscious of the colour of my skin and all that entails, incl. the (urban) legendary endowment of Western males.  See Charisma Man comic strip for more details.

I start work, have an interview, do laundry, revise Japanese vocab, and plan a trip to Cuba...