First, a word on my hiatus from blogging: I decided last February to apply to law school, which, as it turns out, entails a rather grueling sequence of standardized testing, application writing, and anxious waiting for a final decision. Fortunately, said decision came last Friday - I'm going to Harvard Law School! I settled on HLS because of its excellence in environmental law and international legal studies, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to be attending Barack Obama's alma mater. Here's to hoping the grandiosity of the place doesn't go to my head....
Anyways, last week's decision has freed up a lot of mental real estate, and it only occurred to me yesterday just how long I had neglected my dear old blog. Having just handed my papers declining Arida's offer to extend my teaching contract, it's hit me pretty hard that my months here in Japan are numbered. Fortunately, that number is 7,which allows me some time to cultivate at least a few more stories worth writing home about.
For now, though, please enjoy this snippet of conversation from the Fisherman's Bar in Arida last night:
Master - the chef and proprietor of my favorite restaurant, Arida's Fisherman's bar
"R" - Master's bubbly assistant, a senior at a local high school, master of the fine arts of barroom banter and the management of drunk fishermen.
Katsuo - nickname ("katsuo"= a relative of tuna) of a Fisherman's Bar regular, speaker of the thickest, most unintelligible Wakayama dialect I've yet encountered
"C"- Yours truly
(Scene: R has just poured small cups hot sake for Katsuo and C at the Fisherman's Bar. Master is concentrating on slicing small slivers of fish flesh behind the bar.)
Katsuo: (jokingly) I expect an awesome souvenir when you get back from America. You're leaving next week, right?
C: Good of you to remember. I'm sure I'll think of something worthy of the great Katsuo.
R: Really?! You're heading back to America? Wowwwww..... That's, like, so foreign. I mean, Korea's a foreign country, but America's, like, super foreign. Wait?! So is Japan, like, a foreign country to Americans?!
R: Whoaaaa! So can you, like, drive to America?
C: I'm afraid not, R. You see, America's......
Master:(interjecting) Y'know, R, cars are no good, but you can take a bus to America. (winks at C and Katsuo)
R: REALLY? like the one that runs to Tokyo?
Katsuo: Yep. Leaves right from city hall. You sure you haven't heard of this, R?
C: It's a hell of a lot cheaper than flying, though the seats are pretty cramped....
R: Huh... so it's, like, an all night bus ride? That must be pretty uncomfortable....
C: Twenty hours. Terrible.
R: I can't believe I'd never heard of it! Imma ask my mom about it when I get home.
Master: She's gonna laugh at you, R. It's super famous.
C nods in agreement, stifling laughter. R takes a moment to make a mental note of this new fact. Five minutes pass, and she serves beers to two regular patrons after they enter the bar.
R: Y'know, I've been thinking about taking that bus to America that leaves out of city hall. (puzzled looks from the newcomers) You never heard of it? Well, I'm more knowledgeable about the world than i might look.....