Day 4: It’s so nerdy in here, I could taste it. Oiishi :P

This is my project...

Random Observation/Comment #8: Jay-walking is highly frowned upon. Eff that. I’m a New Yorker – jay-walking is second nature. I’m the Juggernaut, bitch.

I didn’t have the case of the Mondays. There were plenty of essentials that needed to be taken care of. For one, my apartment room did not have any pots, bowls, chopsticks, cups, soap, or garbage bags. These items were luckily available at the wink of my eye and purse of my lips. Contrary to popular assumption (mostly from my close friends and classmates), I did not seduce the receptionist to get the best supplies available. All the supplies were the same – I checked. She spoke English decently, but I couldn’t tell her age.

This seems to be one of my largest dilemmas in this community. I can’t assume they’re all older than 18 because they honestly don’t look, sound, or dress that way. And many of my friends might say “…and? When that has that ever stopped you?” To that I reply, “f*ck you and your presumptions about my questionable morals.” That’s wrong. They’re under-developed as it is, so you might not be able to tell the difference. Ooo… Burn! But the pursuit is still a negative. I am haunted by the terrible advice of friends who want to laugh at the expense of my willingness to experiment.

I developed a pretty solid rule for determining female age in this country: If they look 16 and are not wearing school uniforms on weekdays, they are probably college students. If they look 18 and they’re wearing skirts with knee-high socks, they are probably 22-year-old research or master’s students (also major JAPs). And if they look 21 and they’re wearing dress pants, they are 28 and in a sexless marriage. (No offense even if it is true).

The added polynomial age to the appearance age does drastically inverse at some point. I am not quite sure of the exact age, but it might be an overnight phenomenon. You wake up one day, and your youth disappears. You are 45 and you look damn near 60. The hump begins to form, your pace slows, you’re limping, and dinner grocery shopping has moved up to 9AM. What happened to all of the years between the extremes of looking like a hello kitty wearing teenager and looking like a walking zombie?

They have been given the gift of youth, and it is a pity to see them waste it with the layers of makeup and artificial enhancements to their hair, eyes, lips, cheeks, and nails. They look more like dolls than the flawed beings that actually roam this Earth. If your cheeks are polished enough to see a glare, then you’ve a) spent too much time before leaving your home, and b) hidden the beauty of nature. My rant can continue, but I have digressed enough.

Rent is ridiculously cheap here and I get my own room. I think I would pay close to $600 if this apartment was in the city, but I’m paying about $250. There’s a small balcony overlooking a little pond, and also enough room to fit a small kitchen, bathroom, foyer, bed, dresser, and two desks. Stories of the so-called “prisons” in other campus dorms were described to me in great detail. Let’s just say I am very fortunate to have my own bathroom. I think this would only happen in an International dorm because Japanese culture barely raises their voice or dares to Jay-walk, let alone steal. I mean, who the hell doesn’t jay-walk if there are no cars in clear sight right and left?!? (Notice it’s not left and right because they drive on the wrong side of the road… what a bunch of amateurs.)

To exchange yen for rent and spending-money for the rest of the month, I had to go to the bank. Do not make the same mistake I did. Bring your passport to the bank when exchanging money. They do not accept color copies of passports or drivers licenses, nor did they understand my plea that I live 20 minutes away.

The walk to the bank was during rush hour so I was basically the salmon swimming upstream. At least I was sure that all of these students were of college age. Their walking pace rivaled that of a New Yorker. The sound of the marching footsteps drowned out the few voices that conversed. Umbrellas were carried by women to keep their pale complexion, signifying a different taste in beauty. Once again, it seems their goal is to look the least Japanese as possible – bleached hair, pale skin, rounder and larger eyes, and fuller lips. Believe me when I say that the view was blinding. These girls were very pretty, but their objectified goal of beauty did not fit mine.

Everything worked out well with the exchange, but it was already noon when I got back to meet with the internet service company representative. A salesman was sent to my door and offered some very expensive Internet plans. The one that I wanted to get was 160Mbps for $60 a month. I would normally splurge and just subscribe so I could exploit this speed, but the contracts are binding to a minimum of 6 months. Even if it was cheaper, I would have to pay the guy in cash so he could use his credit card to pay sign up for the service. Mendoksai. Damn. Could you imagine 160Mbps? I might have considered it for a minute longer if I had brought my external hard drive.

The first day I arrived, I was given very vague directions to get to the research lab, but everything wound up working out because I had a map and balls of steal. The events unraveled nicely due to my high expectations for getting completely and utterly lost in finding my way there. I was not pessimistically viewing the situation, but rather probabilistically calculating my chance of success. In fact, I was so sure that I would fail that I prepared myself to be disappointed, frightened, and in a panicking state. Oddly, this layer of confidence in my failure made me unbelievably calm. There was just nothing I could do to help myself in this situation, so I did nothing and I arrived safely and in a timely manner.

I arrived to my meeting with Professor Ishiguro, and very quickly fell into my position as the new guy. The resemblance between himself and his android really is frightening. I was directly thrown into a corner with an internet connection and a few English speaking fellow researchers. Martin, Richie, and Cyril were my first acquaintances, and I must admit, they gave me positive reinforcement of an enjoyable stay.

Martin is a Canadian who is fluent in speaking Japanese. His friendly nature mixes with an oddly familiar sense of humor, both combined to form an interestingly mellow aura. I catch the “for sure” and Canadian “Eh” sometimes, but he often uses Japanese pause terms like “Ee”, “Eto…”, “Ano…”, “kore wa …”, etc. Although he has grown accustomed to speaking without eye contact (sometimes like me with my wandering gaze), he has been very helpful with meeting new people and teaching me everything about Japanese culture.

Richie is a very tall, fluent Japanese speaking Irish. He looks like Jake’s brother when he doesn’t shave for a month, but with a red rabbinical beard and a slight Irish accent. Sometimes he even puts the same inflections on sentences as I have observed Dave to, which is very strange when I hear him speak Japanese. He emits a strong presence with a matching unique sense of humor, supported by a great deal of knowledge in almost every subject.

Cyril is a stylishly dressed, expert cellist from France. There is a bit of a French accent in his English, but we understand each other when discussing fencing, metal cello (Symphony & Metallica), and origami. His routine is concrete down to the hour: same few favorites for lunch, same few favorites for dinner, a set time for cello practice, a set time for grabbing snacks (chocolate pocky with a 500ml can of coke), and a routine of making a small paper crane from the dinner’s receipt. In no way was I stalking, nor am I imposing any negative judgment. Instead, I am merely stating that my conclusions were based on very clearly portrayed characteristics in his (and everyone else’s) methodical actions.

The initial set of personalities and cultural backgrounds made me realize that this was very much an international research facility. There are individuals of every background that are each brilliant in their own ways. I feel the advance of my studies to be constantly surrounded by different nerds (used in a flattering sense – or at least I take it as flattering) who have very different yet familiarly acceptable quirky personalities. The truth is that I feel comfortable socializing with these people. Maybe it’s the idea that I might not be the nerdiest one here, but I’m sure there is another less selfish explanation. Whatever it may be, I’m glad to be a part of this research facility. (I use glad because I may regret any other level of excitement or gratitude when I am assigned a project beyond my capacities. When this happens, and oh it will happen, I will start imagining them with whips and a completely new feeling surface.)

~See Lemons Content

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