Sunday, August 25, 2013

Let's Start With What a Not Idiot I am

I mean, we've all done stupid stuff when we were kids. Like trying to discover kissing when you're five with your neighbor boy who you didn't even like when your mom finds you behind your house, or putting an orange TicTac up your nose to see if it'll fit (I'll have you know, it comes out dissolved and white when you're done with it). And probably even more stupid, reckless stuff when we're college students, like starting the night off with four shots of vodka because your friend, who is incredibly good at Crash Team Racing on the Playstation, challenged you to a race and raised the stakes at the last minute before it was too late to back down (that's a hangover I'll never forget). Or maybe you've seen the movie The Divide (it's a horror movie that is seriously, SERIOUSLY not for the weak-stomached, weak-hearted, or anyone who can't deal with a heavy dose of reality regarding human nature) - that's probably my latest mistake.

Oh no, I'm sorry. That WAS my latest mistake. 

Gather 'round, boys and girls, it's time for a story.

It seemed like it was going to be a good day, hanging out with a friend, eating pizza and watching movies and laughing. Because first of all, PIZZA?! IN JAPAN?!!? That's right; while Pizza Hut may be the worst kind of pizza in America, when you're in Japan its status increases ten-fold. That delicious mozzarella cheese, pan-style pizza, with onions and green peppers and meat...and no tuna, or corn, or other kind of fish the Japanese put on pizza - and ESPECIALLY no mayonnaise, uuugh like seriously, it was so great to have some "real" pizza, however unreal Pizza Hut pizza usually seems. In any case, the pizza was SPECTACULAR.

After I walked my friend home from the station, I thought to myself, though it was nearing eleven at night, "It's time for a convenience store run." Now this is a fairly normal urge for one to get while in Japan; I remember several times going to the store at night while I was in Nagoya for that late-night ice cream. Of these incidents, I now recall, however, that I was always on foot. 

Well, I think to myself, I'll be smart. Not only will I save time by not walking, but I'll also be faster than any predators lurking in the shadows! Oh-hoh! Haley, you are a smart, smart smart smart, girl. Look at you, being so smart. 

And so it was with this in mind that I smartly hopped on my bike and went to the convenience store.

The night was dark as I crossed over the train tracks, and only a few cars traveled on the road that evening. A couple of headlights flashed past, the cicadas were chirping to one another, but other than that, everything was still, quiet. It doesn't occur to me that I couldn't see the road that well, as there are some streetlights; they're just somewhat few and far between. 

I'm crossing the street, not a block away from my destination, when it happens. I'm suddenly in the air - then on the ground - and my bike is below me, my chapstick rolls past me, and upon instinct I'm already standing up again, for I've found myself in the middle of the road. A car passing slows and then  continues on its way as I'm standing, fixing my skirt, wondering what the hell just happened.

You see, ladies and gents, for an instant, as I watched the street light instead of the sidewalk, there was what you may call a barrier between me and my destination. And if I had been a little smarter that evening - because biking in the dark, that seemed so smart as it was - I would have remembered a key street difference between America and Japan.

In America, our sidewalks and curbs look like this:

And in Japan, Japan, they look like this: 

It may be a bit hard to tell from that photo, but if so, I'll explain; the curbs are raised in Japan, like a sort of barrier between the road and the sidewalk (this is a really wide sidewalk incidentally, they're usually closer to a third of this size). And where there are curbs, the barrier curves with it, so that to cross the road you have to go a little to the right, cross, and then once past the barrier on the other sidewalk you go a bit to the left and you're back on a straight path.

I, I who take the road less traveled by, indiscriminately went straight, not seeing the curb, and properly ate asphalt. And this curb, specifically, seemed to not like foreigners - coupled by its clear thirst for blood, I never stood a chance.

I also have the evidence of my wounds, or as I like to call them, battle scars. 

Unfortunately, that's not even the worst of this. As I write to you, my fellow readers, I have an ice pack on my side, where I do believe I've bruised a rib. It hurts to laugh, cough, and move - which is unfortunate because I must get up and get my charger for my computer now before continuing this post. HEREIGOHHHHGHHH. That took way longer than it should have. In any case, there's not a lot one can do for a bruised rib, except to lay low, put on an ice pack, and tough through it. It became excellent incentive to write a blogpost.

So besides being an idiot some of the time, life in Japan has been good. For example, before I ate shit while biking, earlier that day I had made a wonderful investment by...purchasing a bicycle. That's right, my brand new bike threw me off of it like a horse who hates people and can't be tamed. Bike: 1, Haley: 0. The good news is the bike is fine; the bad news is the basket...not so much. A little bent, but hopefully it can get fixed.

Anyway, before I remembered why I hate exercise, I went for a bike ride with it around Tateyama town. Here are the results.

It looked so innocent then. Little did I know...

 Please enjoy my thumb in the upper right corner. Thank you.

It was a beautiful day, to be sure. And there have been many beautiful days in Japan - and no doubt there will be many more to come! If I can manage to stay on my bike. 

Earlier this week I climbed Mt. Tate with friends from the JET Program - and let me tell you, it was stunning. It's too bad it started to rain - of course, it made the climb that much more dangerous and that much more exciting - but I had wanted to see a beautiful view from the top. Guess I'll have to go up sometime this fall and hope for better weather! Still, got some great shots on the way up, before the rain started...

If anything, the fog and rain only added a sense of mystery and wonder to it. Tateyama is a beautiful place, and I'm enjoying exploring it quite a bit.

Maybe eventually I'll talk about work and other things, but for now, this is where I'll end. 

My closing message: Beware of bikes, don't take the road less traveled by unless you know where it goes, and while being careful, find a new adventure everyday. They turn into great stories later on (even if you can't laugh at them right away due to your bruised rib).


  1. Haley I wish at times I was there with you! It looks so magical, another world I may never see in my lifetime! Love you sooo!

  2. And you know it is you momma!