When Last We Left Our Hero

As I write this, there’s a pot of Asian red beans with two enormous boneless chicken thighs simmering away on the stove in a home made Asian bbq sauce.  I just tried it and the chicken is good enough to make me squeal like a little kid discovering Santa isn’t a evil captain of the coal industry.  Well, the chicken is outstanding, but the beans have a ways to go.  I’m gonna let it simmer away some of that sauce for the day, hopefully those four dollar quarter kilo bags of beans won’t have been purchased in vain.  Bloody expensive beans.

Writing this is challenging as I’ve hit a sort of writer’s block recently.  I’ve got a couple different little side order personal writing projects because I actually do enjoy writing.  But for some reason I haven’t been able to generate anything in this marshmallow head of my mine for the past two weeks.  Maybe it’s this mass of curls on my head that are attaining enough density to generate their own gravity and are now sucking the imagination from my brain.  Usually crazy and stupid ideas aren’t a problem for me.

I tried to get them chopped off(the curls) a few weeks back but the metrosexual Japanese guy(which is to say  a Japanese male under the age of 30) who explained it would cost me 3500 yen, or about 40 dollars.  The second place I went to said something similar.  And the third.  And the fourth.  Forty bucks for a hair cut is something I am not willing to pay.  Doesn’t matter if it comes with a complementary hot towel, a neck and scalp massage, a shampoo and my choice of naughty mags.  I am not paying forty dollars for a hair cut.  Again.  It happened once, and I’m not proud of it.

I’m assured by the other gaijin teacher from Canada in these here parts that I can get a hair cut for under 2000 yen, but I’ve yet to find this mythical and magical place from which reasonable hair cuts spring forth.  Maybe I just need to look harder, because Google Maps is great for the trains but bloody useless for finding run of the mill stores.  I spent two months looking for a gaming store and travelling into other towns and cities to get my gaming fix because this two-horse city didn’t have one.  Turns out, I was wrong(I’m getting remarkably accustom to this fact nowadays), and Google Maps is wrong as well.  It’s practically down the street from me, a 15-20 minute bicycle ride.  Found it last week and it even sells English product.  I’m sure by this time next month I’ll have found a perfectly reasonably priced barber shop that’s around the corner from me and has a barber who speaks some English!

The problem is that the cost of things is perfectly reasonable.  You’d think meat would be expensive, and it is.  But living in North America where meat is cheaper has trained me otherwise.  And alcohol, Canada and Europe has this annoying habit of charging us a bit of a premium for getting sloshed.  But here I can get sloshed without spending anything more than seems reasonable.  The candy and pop is cheap, eating premade food is cheap, and making your own food is only a little cheaper which seems perfectly reasonable!  And then I encounter red tape and I lose a small piece of my sanity.

The red tape is not a lie.  I know some people associate Japanese with creepy middle aged men and deep sea cephalopods, but my recent experiences are making me associate Japan with stupid recycling policies, wasted paper work and light years of red tape.

If I forget to clock in at work, my boss can’t go to my time sheet and sign off and write in when I arrived.  No, she has to bring out the special sheet that needs my signature, her signature, her stamp, and a bunch of writing in Japanese that I’m sure someone is using to gather some really funny demographic information  And then she needs to fill out another form so that whoever is checking this kind of thing knows she didn’t sign and stamp that other page by accident.

If I want to sell some magic cards into the local magic card market, I can’t go to the store and  get them to make a note in the computer that they bought some cards for X amount.  No, they need me to fill out a form in Japanese because English is NOT DONE(insert German accent here) with each cards’ name and store value and set number, write down my address(again completely in Japanese), phone number(which I don’t have), email address and let them take a photocopy of my resident card(which I’ve learned to carry around everywhere like some kind of worry stone), all so that they can give me an in-store only cheque that I can redeem for cards or cash.  Selling magic cards is taking me 20 minutes or longer, but back home I usually had to wait in line for 20 minutes, but took 2 minutes to actually sell.

You do not want to know that land mines that have been waiting for me in this nutty country.  I like it, but it’s no surprise there is so much repression among their populace.  The rules are breeding generations of people who need to find weirder and weirder stuff to let out their inner frustrations and demons.  And I’m such a smashing example of normalcy after all the tortures I endure by she who shall not be named.  Maybe this country is more my mental speed.


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