Saturday, September 29, 2007

Locked up in Jurassic Park

Being that it's pretty much Zach's fault that I was in Japan in the first place, and that I hadn't been down to Osaka to visit him in a while, I figured it would be a good idea to swing by his tiny bachelor pad for a few days and hang out with one of my oldest pals.

The weekend kicked off with a trip to Lockup, a prison themed restaurant that involved sexy police women, prison cells, escaped monsters, and mad scientist style drinks. The highlight of the night wasn't the sexy police women, it was the gloriously delicious fried potato-cheese creations that we ordered three times!

The next day, while Zach peddled gamely through downtown Osaka to his Japanese lesson, I met up with Travis and our friend Lynnsie at Universal Studios Japan. USJ is an almost exact carbon copy of the original park in LA, only everything is in Japanese and the lines are a LOT shorter. Maybe it was just the heat of late summer in Kansai, but the park was certainly on the empty side, which made waiting in line a lot more convenient that it could have been. We rode every ride we had on our "To Do List," and even rode the excellent log-flume style Jurassic Park ride twice!

Why I wanted to plummet straight down almost 10 stories twice, I'm not quite sure. But it was great fun, and the adrenaline rush helped clear my mind of the fact that in three days, I was leaving Japan.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2 AM Takoyaki

Yesterday afternoon, approximately 14 hours after departing Kansai International Airport, I landed in back in Denver. It felt weird. For one thing, I've gone from higher and wider than average right back to short, and if not slim than certainly not large!

My reunion with my family, and the dog, was as joyous as would be expected being that its been over nine months since we last saw each other. A delicious homecooked meal was just what the docter ordered, and then it was time to sleep. For all of four hours.

I woke up around 2 AM, after dreaming of takoyaki (octopus balls) and going out to an izakaya. I never really liked takoyaki as I've never really liked octopus, so I find it strange that I'm dreaming fondly of them.

Note: I have several exciting posts from my last weekend in Osaka just waiting to go up, so don't worry loyal readers, this blog isn't over yet.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Frodo Baggins?

Leaving is going to be more difficult that I could possibly have imagined.

They say that "You can't go home again." I wonder just how true that might be. If home is where the heart is, then what happens to home when the heart changes? I'm certainly not saying I don't hold a passionate attachment to many things back in Denver. I eagerly anticipate going hiking, eating Chipotle, and of course spending lots of quality time with my family and friends.

But what about everything else? I'm not who I was two years ago. To take up the reigns of my old life not only doesn't interest me, it terrifies me. Of course, expectations can change and morph, I've proved that by the very fact that I've changed over the course of the past two years. Things that scare us one day can be the very things we cling to the next.

I suppose a large part of it is simply expectations. Not only is Japan "normal" to me now, but it is the United States that is unknown. We all make plans in life, and I had made my plans, encompassing a move to Tokyo, trips to Fuji and Hakone, Tokyo Disneyland, the mountain paradise of Nikko. Teaching lots more English. Eating lots more okonomiyaki. Its hard to change your expectations, and its only been a bit over two weeks since that future evaporated. I've done wonders in retooling my expectations, but its hard to change so much so quickly. My future is Denver is completely unknown, I have no expectations. I don't know who I will meet, what I will do, where I will go. That sort of limitless "freedom" is both inspiring, and terrifying. Humans like to be limited, to an extent. It gives us security and comfort.

In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins saved the world he loved, but at the cost of his ability to be at peace there. While my journey has certainly been far less traumatic than his (I still have all my fingers), I still wonder if I will be able to be at peace in Denver. Having tasted the outside world in all of its glory and heartbreak, can driving up to Best Buy on a Saturday afternoon really interest me? I suppose the answers to these and all related questions will be revealed in less than two weeks. Far sooner than later, and that in itself is rather frightening. For better or worse, this is my last weekend in Ishikawa.

Next Stop: The wild blue yonder.

and Roxborough State Park. ;-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Two year Japanniversary

It is hard to believe that two years ago today I stepped off of my flight from the United States and into the muggy Aichi heat. It has been a long, strange, wonderful trip. The things I've done, the people I've met, the places I've seen, the food I've eaten, it really has been a fantastic two years.

Now, I've reduced those two years of intense experiences into an 8 minute video, roughly in chronological order. Of course, I wouldn't blame anybody if they can't sit through all 8 minutes of tinny rock music and slightly pixelated pictures. After all, I am the one with an emotional attachment to all these images. Though, I imagine that a few of my blog readers can find themselves buried in the avalanche of Grant's memories. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Goodbye Grant

I've been to so many farewell parties over the past two years, but it was pretty surreal to be at my own farewell party. We had a fantastic time, with all you can eat Okonomiyaki, plenty of beer, and lots of good cheer. It was pretty emotional for me, and its only getting worse as I say final goodbyes to my students, day by day. It's hard to believe that two weeks from now, I'll be getting on an airplane and flying home.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Profusion of Confusion

I just can't keep changing my mind!

Last Monday I was all set to leave. Then On Wednesday I decided to try and stay. On Friday I talked to my Mom and Sister, and realized just how much I truly missed them, and now I've been horribly homesick, and determined to head home at the earliest opportunity.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Life: Subject to Change Without Notice

Well, I can honestly say that this stay in Japan/ leave Japan debate has been one of the most difficult choices of my life. Add in my still rather fragile emotional status, and the incredible time pressure, and it hasn't been an easy week.

I had made the decision to leave, and even booked a flight, but I think I'm going to cancel that flight today. For some reason, inexplicable even to myself, I just don't feel good about leaving right now. When I think of seeing family and friends, I feel great, but the thought of leaving Kanazawa just makes me sick to my stomach. While I think I must leave, and should leave, I've come to the realization that I just don't want to leave.

There should be an ALT position or two opening up in early October, and if I get that job it would come with an apartment and be good till March, so that would really help me iron some things out in my mind and my life, without a full years commitment.

As always, thank you everybody for your support and love in this time of trial. I've been hurt before, but those were preludes to the main event. I guess nobody can make it through life without at least one major heart break. I just hope I can keep the number of times something like this happens to a bare minimum. Once is far too many times to feel this kind of pain.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Final Decision

Obviously, this blog had been destined to be renamed Tokyo Tales, and would have chronicled my adventures in a new and exciting city.

Events have changed that plan, as they have so many other plans.

The past few days have seen a LOT of soul searching, but in the end I have decided to leave Japan, and travel to Europe for a little while. This was not an easy decision to make, but I had to look at my reasons for staying. While I love Japan, and Kanazawa, I had to look towards my future. As long as I was making a good investment in my future, for example courting a beautiful woman with a strong wedding bell possibility, I could stay and enjoy myself. With that option gone, I had to think about whats next. Staying here would be staying in the past, and I think half the reason I want/ed to stay was so if she had a change of heart, I'd be available.

This is obviously a VERY bad reason for staying. I have rather painfully, but successfully so far, put the past behind me. While a planned happy future is gone, I have made it my goal to plan an even happier and better future for myself. To this end, I think I have learned what I needed to learn here, and that further time in Japan, while very enjoyable, wouldn't really be putting me on the path that I need to be on.

So, I have three weekends left, two in Kanazawa, one in Osaka. Then I will fly to Hong Kong for five days, and then I will bid the Orient adieu (for now) and jet off towards the Occident and a family rendezvous in Paris! I'm certainly going to keep my blog going, and update from my new European adventures as much as possible. To that end though, I'm going to need a new title. Any ideas, loyal readers?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Kurobe Gorge

Last Saturday I went on a great day trip with two of my students and two delightful children. Our destination was Kurobe, a city, gorge, and river located next door in Toyama prefecture. Both students have a link with Kurobe city, one will move there this spring to be a doctor, and one grew up there. Kurobe Gorge is one of the premier autumn colors spots in Japan, and even in summer is very picturesque.

As Japan has very little in the way of coal supplies, most of the electrical power that fuels the industry and the bright lights of the night spots comes from nuclear and hydroelectric power. Huge dams are dotted all over the mountains, and the steep fast grade of the Kurobe river make it an ideal spot for multiple generating stations.

The cute mini-railway that was built to construct and maintain the series of damns was then put to another use, as a tourist trap! Luckily, the area is still increadibly beautiful, despite the rather high incidence of concrete!

There are stacks and stacks of river side open air onsen, but we didn't have any towels or other onsen gear so we had to be content with the foot bath, which was still pretty relaxing, if not quite as relaxing as the whole onsen experience. Of course in some ways its better, as it features 100% less rampant public nudity.

Sadly, for me, with the kids in tow there was no way we could hike up further up into the mountains, but even without that we had a really fantastic Saturday, capped off with a delicious stop at MOS Burger.

僕は ともだち と 先土曜日 に 黒部 に 行きました。黒部 は どんな ところ ですか? きれい な ところ です。秋 すごい あざやか な 葉 です。 黒部 の 日本 の 一番 大きい ダム。たのしい 週末 でした。ありがとう れい と のぼる!  

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A few days later.

I guess that I am starting to feel better about myself, my life, and the drastic change in my future fortunes that has occurred.

I may have lost a girl I loved, but I still have my health, my family, and friends all over the world. I have to say, the outpouring of sympathy and generally friendly love from all over the world has really helped me get through all this. Of course, it's still hard, but it's always hard.