Archive for the ‘drinking’ Tag

A series of parties

old school first group picture

old school first group picture

Random Observation/Comment #198: This dorm life I live is continuously surprising and ever-so lively.  Somewhere, a party lurks every night and sometimes they exist for the strangest reasons.  “It’s Thirsty Thursday – we have to drink.”  “Let’s party because it’s Wednesday and that’s hump day.”  “It’s Monday so I need a small low key party to slowly wean me off the alcohol withdrawal from the night before.”  “I felt like cooking for everyone in the dorm.”  “The bar’s open tonight.” “I’m bored…”  I’ve attended parties every day of the week and somehow it doesn’t get boring with such great company and excess alcohol.  I hope I’m always young and blessed with a healthy liver.

I’ve always believed in the phrase, “Everything in moderation (even moderation).”  I’m actually not exactly sure what it means in a broader sense, but I think it’s relevant.  Partying is a form of stress relief and a way to unwind.  In Japan, they take it to the extreme because people are so completely absorbed into their roles and the masks they wear in front of family and work that they never get to just let loose.  It’s actually a little depressing seeing adults in full suits passed out on the street next to a puddle of theirs (or someone else’s) old dinner and stomach acid (I’ve seen it often in Osaka).  Although this could be relieving, in one way or another, I would suspect that the hangover creates a bigger problem than just going home for a good night’s rest.  But, alas, people must be pleased and sometimes that self-sacrificing Asian characteristic just gets the better of their reality.

Europeans, on the other hand, just drink every night.  This does not mean that they’re alcoholics, it just means they really like the taste of beer with their meals.  If it’s a nice day outside, it’s a perfectly valid excuse to grab a beer from the automat at noon.  They basically drink it to quench their thirst and maintain its role as a social lubricant.  It’s not some idolized, freedom substance abuse to get this drunken feeling – no, it’s just something to do when watching a football match or in between chews.

The difference in the perspective of alcohol is also apparent by age.  I find the Japanese culture towards drinking as the cure to all their problems for that one forgettable night.  It’s like a frat party filled with people that want an excuse to make stupid choices.  The European culture still involves drinking, but the higher tolerance level just leads to louder chants and livelier conversations.

Unfortunately, the American culture doesn’t see this as a symbol of freedom or a daily routine, but instead, it is treated as a chance to rebel.  The 21 drinking age just makes teenagers feel like it is “cool” to get drunk.  This little nugget blooms dangerously, and if the law isn’t changed, I will proactively teach my child about alcohol in my own way.  You don’t just make it some forbidden fruit – don’t you know that just makes people want it more?  Don’t girls love chasing guys they can’t get?  (That comment may have been uncalled for).  The point is: Teenagers are going to get their alcohol somehow, so you might as well legalize it to remove the adrenaline rush of doing something illegal.

What is my proactive solution?  Class never goes out of style.  Nobody likes a drunken frat dude except for other drunken frat dudes.  If beer tastes crappy, then why drink it?  If getting completely plastered makes the next day unbearable, then why do it?  The answer is: because you are studying abroad and you can, so you should.  But, remember: in moderation (even moderation).  PS – Drink Guinness because it’s not just a beer; it’s a meal. ::Thumbs Up::

~See Lemons Partay for the right reasons

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St Patty’s Day Recollections

 

 

Free hats for all!

Free hats for all!

Random Observation/Comment #179: There aren’t many rules I follow for St Patty’s Day.  In fact, there is only one rule I follow: I must drink Guinness.  That whole wearing green thing is non-sense; everyone looks like a pink elephant by the end of the night anyway.  I often wonder why I don’t try to make every party night a reflection of the St Patty’s Day spirit, but then I remembered that my liver actually has other bodily functions.  I’ve mentioned how much I absolutely love Guinness, but if my other entries’ tributes weren’t  enough, I’ll reiterate: I would trade that Klondike bar for a Guinness even after doing the unmentionable deeds I’d need for that chocolate-covered goodness in the first place.  Mmmm…  Maybe a Klondike bar dipped in Guinness… no, that would be too good to be true.

 

Sometimes this holiday/tradition/obligatory drinking day has its ways of sneaking up on you.  It’s funny how I don’t even remember most of my past St Patty Day moments from the past few years.  I think there was one time where I was living in a hotel near 42nd street and just grabbed a Guinness at a bar, and another where I woke up in a part of the city I’ve never been.  Regardless,  I think they were good times.

I don’t quite remember most of the night, but my camera seemed to have captured the majority of the celebrations.  Not only were there free funny hats, but there were also tons of alcohol and music in a very cozy Irish pub.  As with most drunken nights, we met other groups our age with interesting quirks.  I’m not sure why, but the Indian British guy stood out in my mind (after writing this a month later) – it’s probably because he was enthusiastically pissed off about everything in the world.  It might have been a result of sleep deprivation or high alcohol concentrations, but this bloke was just hilarious.  I don’t remember if he said funny things, or just said them in a funny manner, but it really brings a night together when there’s an angry drunk with a heavy accent to liven up the crowd.  Cheers.

I couldn’t think of any better way to end the night than learning a valuable lesson.   My introduction to Reeperbahn was basically like a first swimming lesson on the Titanic.  I mean, I didn’t risk the chance of dying from this experience, but a fairly flustered Clemens is rare.  I guess I wasn’t expecting the skimpily dressed lady to walk up to me and grab my arm.  She said words I didn’t understand, but her eyes and suggestive grin was more than enough to give a signal.  It made me extremely uncomfortable, which led to this slight bow and paint-on defensive smile.  Who knows? She could have been a sweetheart and offered me a discount – “That’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard” (Props if you got the reference). 

In order to avoid these awkward situations, a man should escape the devils’ eyes/radar/sixth sense/targeting system.  If you were in the jungle, like Arnold, you would try to cover yourself with cold mud (easier reference).  I guess this would work as well, but an easier solution would be to latch onto the closest person possible.  Their view seems to only focus on individuals.  Large groups walking with arms linked and synchronous stepping just blends into the surrounding.  It is also an imperative to avoid eye-contact.  Their hooker-instincts prey on the weak-minded; if you sneak a glance, you give off the stench of an injured rabbit.  However, going to Reeperbahn is really like joining Fight Club; if it’s your first time, you gotta get harassed.  It’s part of the welcome, and – oh, my – is it a welcome.

Other than getting attacked by hookers, this was also the first night of getting to know some great friends.  This new network of individuals would bring me many more good times and unforgettable memories. 

Everyone’s Irish tonight.

 

~See Lemons Irish

that's the spirit...

that's the spirit...

The Rules of the Night

 

 

Drinking a beer in front of the po-

Drinking a beer in front of the po-

Random Observation/Comment #165: Drinking in public is illegal in New York.  It’s so illegal that if you’re standing in the street with a suspicious paper bag, a police officer could rightfully write you an $80 summons/ticket for public consumption of alcohol.  This does not exist in Europe (most probably because Europe rocks).  I remember the first time taking that open bottle outside and tasting the beer on the concrete sidewalk.  It was everything I wanted it to be.  To make the moment even better, a group of police officers walked passed.  My initial reaction of hiding the beer (or running away) was quickly replaced with a proud and valiant flaunt of my “tilt.”  The 45 degrees upward tilt of the bottle does nothing to the taste, but it does look pretty badass.  I smiled at the officers and tipped my hat slightly with the beer.  They gave me an awkward smile which paralleled the raised-eyebrow expression, but it was the only thing they could do.  Although this idea of public drinking was short-lived in its legen(-wait for it-)dary freedom, I was happy for those precious moments.  As for my current opinion of public drinking – I’m over it.  It was cool, now it’s normal.  I don’t feel the urge to purposefully abuse this privilege, and I still finish beers before leaving the bar or drink it in the appropriate environment.  Mweh – go figure.

 

It wouldn’t have been a touristy visit of Hamburg without visiting the nightlife in Reeperbahn.  Reeperbahn is the Red Light District of Hamburg, which is covered in sex shops, brothels, clubs, and bars.  It felt like two Avenues of St Mark’s Place after a sprinkle of shady side alleys.  I never actually went into the pure brothel area where no women or people under 18 are allowed, but I heard from a friend that it’s similar to Amsterdam.  I heard this area has the display cases taking window real estate in most of the buildings.  I also heard that it was about 30 EUR for 30 minutes and they don’t accept plastic.  A friend told me this in great detail – we mutually kept the conversation flowing in a question and answer segments about prostitutes and prostitute-affiliated random stories.  Even though I never walked into the heart of the beast (so to speak), I did find it much less uncomfortable for the male to walk with a girl holding hands.  Any single guy becomes a massive heat source for these homing missiles.  If you let you look unprotected, they’ll blow you (up – hah).

The most memorable night in Hamburg was also the least memorable for the majority of those involved.  It began with some Canadians and some orange juice, and ended with messy subway seats and quarantined Diesels.  The details are still a blur, so amongst new friends, we’ll take all the real events in that story and replace them with more cheerful ones.  However, the one thing that has maintained fairly consistent was my nickname, appropriately called “New York.”  In fact, “Hey, New York!” became the new way of getting my attention – to which I would respond, “Hey, I’m waulkin’ hea’.”  Stereotypes are a riot (in a humorous and non-offensive way).  I didn’t pass up the chance to poke fun with aye’s and aii’s, so I figured anything was fair game. 

This drunken night made me realize that the new generation truly celebrates the diversity of culture.  I think most study abroad students welcome meeting new people, and pass their judgment on an individual basis rather than origins.  To the educated, it seems the subject of religion is becoming hazier and the boundaries of stereotypes are slowly fading.  If stereotypes are discussed, it is either blatantly ignorant as to infer some type of humor, or delicately put to clarify misconceptions.  After meeting people with heritage from all around the world, I’ve become more enlightened to different customs.  Although religion is rarely discussed, we share observations about social differences and openly accept new perspectives on approaching problems.

Languages pose some issues with the natural formation of clicks and groups, but I’ve found it to be more interesting hearing the different tones and pronunciations for each native tongue.  Although I have no idea how to speak Hungarian, Turkish, Finnish, or Sweedish, I begin forming sound patterns in order to distinguish at least the type of language without associating it with the people.  Speaking languages fluently cause slurs and impossible speeds for learning specific words, but repeats in sentence structure and emphasis between nouns and verbs opens my eyes to a strange array of combinations.  The sounds swirl in my brain trying to form links from word to word.  The key is to pay attention and try not to let the sounds be ignored by your brain as noise.  It didn’t say it was easy or that it wouldn’t make your brain melt and ooze out of your ear canal, but it does keep those neurons firing. 

To expand my background about each country, I asked how to say “Cheers” and “druuuunnnkkk” to make sure I can communicate as a social drinker.  To put it more simply, alcohol builds bridges when we all share the common interest of enjoying the company of others.  Under the socially-accepted unwritten laws of drinking, we form a new bond; laughing at nothing and everything at the same time, carrying new friends with a helpful shoulder, and giving a helping hand with well-prepared plastic bag.  At the end of the night, no matter where you’re from, we’re all engrained with the same party-genes and desires to let loose, relieve stress, and enjoy life.  Rep NYC.

 

~See Lemons Make New Friends

mmm... beer...

mmm... beer...

London Drinking Adventures

 

 

Wordlife.

Wordlife.

Random Observation/Comment #154: I am used to being the only Chinese person in the crowd of mixed culture backgrounds, but never have I been in a situation that has brought me to hate another person with such a passion over racial confrontations.  I look back on it now and laugh, but the bouncer at the door just had that tone and snicker that made me want to paint the walls with his entrails.  He was a little bit bigger than me (a 300lbs black dude that looks like his muscles grew extra muscles on them) and I was a little drunk off of some amazing Guinness, so I backed off, but this was quite possibly the one time I was mad at a stranger.  He eyed me from top to bottom at the door and said, “We don’t sell DVDs here.” What?!? My response did not involve that reaction, nor did it involve any reaction at all.  I did not give him the pleasure to pass a funny joke.  I was stoic and didn’t even let him give any gesture of apologies, while making it fully obvious that his comment was received.  I hope he loses sleep over it.

 

I grew up drinking Guinness.  It was my Dad’s incredibly ingenious child-raising technique that made me love beer itself, and not love the effects of beer (although it does its job as liquid courage).  I did not drink to get drunk because it would be too expensive buying Guinness rounds in NYC bars.  The enjoyment is the taste and the luxury, not the spinning room and pink elephant.  I think the technique he taught was much further beyond maintaining a classy taste for alcohol; it was to suppress my curiosity.  It may sound like a terrible idea, but at the right age, and with the right spin, it worked out surprisingly well. 

I think one of my first drinking experiences was with my parents.  He wanted me to get drunk.  He actually got drunk with me and puked along side of me in a separate Chinese, red-dyed plastic bag.  It was a night to remember… well, sorta.  It was a night to learn limits.  Unbounded curiosities are dangerous at an age where our futures and careers are so malleable.  It’s no longer that set path from high school; we should actually see the next phases based on our own interests and decisions.  It scares the shyt out of me knowing that I’m no longer holding my parents’ hands.  Let’s hope my foundation is well built to maintain the strong winds of the sea.

With this said, I could not have left London without going to a proper pub, drinking a proper beer, and then getting proper shyt-faced.  I’m glad I did it proper-ly.  It was a level of drunk-ness maintained by a steady flow of Guinness into my stomach.  I loved the taste and became more and more willing to spend money supporting my taste-buds’ desires.  Knowing my limits, I found that threshold that redlined the gauge between tipsy and dieseled (a new phrase I learned from some kiwis at the Interlaken Hooters).  It’s interesting how this shift is the difference between half a beer.  Jokes seemed funnier and girls seemed prettier.  Overall, the party mood definitely stepped up a notch.

The hostel+bar combination was probably one of the most profitable ideas I’ve noticed.  It’s almost as genius as making a hotel+casino.  Actually, the hostel+bar is probably the hotel+casino for poor people that are willing to spend money on drinking instead of spend money pulling levers in a very brightly lit sparkly room.  If you think about it, there’s nothing easier than going to a bar connected to the hostel, which gives discounts for locals and plays music for study abroad students to make some bad decisions.  I’m not saying that I was one of these students, but I’m also not saying that these opportunities were not plentiful.  There’s a certain level of suspicion that should arise hearing one of these girls say they’re on birth control (not that I asked or it happened – it was in a story I heard somewhere at some time in my life).

Anyway, I suspected there would be at least a few of these nights where I would meet a few travelers and wind up walking around the city and tagging along the next day, but I didn’t expect this to proceed throughout my travels at a fairly consistent basis.  I’ve learned that, although drinking and partying causes a late start to the tourist side of things, it allows for a certain level of intelligent conversation between not-quite-sober individuals – the key word being: certain.

I guess my point is that drinking and socializing at the bars is as much a part of the backpacking experience as taking hundreds of pictures of the surrounding attractions.  I should add that this should not be a nightly thing (as many crazy study abroad students so often do), but alcohol definitely alleviates much of the awkward prying questions asked by a stranger.  I’m not insinuating that if things go well, another level of the friendship will arise, but it is a great way for a single traveler (or a traveler by himself/herself) to find a buddy.  Make sure this person shares common interests in taking pictures and has a sense of humor because the next day should be about absorbing the local customs and cultures.

~See Lemons Proper Drunk

 

Head up the ass. Probably something like that the next morning.

Head up the ass. Probably something like that the next morning.

The story of a bottle of jager and rum – it ends with their sacrifice

 

 

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epic bbq. look at all that food 🙂

Random Observation/Comment #101: As the alcohol content in these little Japanese people’s blood stream increases, so does the frequency of slurred Jap-English phrases.  I had no idea what they were saying, but it was fun trying to figure it out.  Even if I did understand, I waited for them to draw a picture or make funny gestures for my own entertainment.  Although this was a little mean, I actually remembered the words they taught me much better when they explained it in different ways.  How could I forget the creativity of their charade clues?  Good times.

 

After the paragliding adventures, we had a few hours to play some soccer and baseball.  These two sports seem to be the staple of Japanese culture.  Not only does everyone want to be a baseball player, but they practice tirelessly enough to succeed.  From our conversations, I couldn’t tell if it was a love for the sport or a motivation to become a superstar and travel overseas to make money as a professional.  I guess I didn’t expect a group of engineering students to make irrational decisions, like dropping all their work to pursue a career that has little chance of success (cough).  I know happiness is important, but I guess it doesn’t buy security (::Shakes fist at Angus::).

I never really played baseball, but I consider myself a well-rounded athletic person.  I think basic hand-eye coordination skills and some motor functions are all you need to play quick pick up games with students that build robots.  It may sound cliché, but I remember the little league kids teasing to come closer whenever I went up to bat.  I felt a surge of confidence when the Japanese people all moved back when they saw I was next.  I wish I could play little league now (Mitch Hedberg reference).

The BBQ feast we had was epic.  We cooked the amount of beef equivalent to a full cow.  The sizzling moo kept me stuffing my face until I truly could not move.  The food coma struck me swiftly and skillfully like a trained ninja.  Fortunately, the promises of sake and soju kept me from pitching a tent and calling it a night.  My eyelids were heavy and my breathing slowed while I struggled to maintain a Japanese conversation.  I knew it was a bad sign when I couldn’t think of anything but jumping cows and fluffy sheep.

The token Irishman (hopefully not as offensive as my “little Chinaman” nickname) did not disappoint the typical stereotypes of alcoholism and drunken rage.  His bottles of jager and rum proved useful for the night to follow.  The Japanese students didn’t really need a drinking game.  Most of them nursed two beers and showed their Asian glow.  By the third, they were laughing for no reason and started bursting out into song.  “Ponyo ponyo ponyo ponyo pon!”  echoed in my ears and haunted all those that tried to escape its addictive tune.  By the four, half of the group huddled in a corner, while the heavier drinkers started our drinking games.  I’ve never been so drunk by 10PM (maybe zombiecon trumps it with 2PM).  My memory of the night is a little patchy, but I distinctly remember wearing pink slippers outside and getting into a fight with a vending machine… He started it.

~See Lemons a Little Tipsy

 

Another beer tower

Another beer tower

So your wife let you out tonight. How much allowance did you get?

doesn\'t that just want to make you drink them even more?

Random Observation/Comment #17: Long hair is probably stylish because hair cuts are expensive (2000 yen). It might just be the style because hair products are also quite expensive. Maybe Japanese people are just crazy.

Just because it was a Friday doesn’t mean it was any different from any of the other weekdays. At this point, I had already done enough for the presentation for the next week, and I was more interested in learning new Japanese sayings and looking at other researcher’s projects. This networking thing has become one of my favorite pastimes, but it kills my productivity for the lab. Given that I only have 5 more weeks of working before I spend the last month doing more traveling, I did not have much to do because we were still deciding the details of my project. It was only yesterday that the head sensei confirmed my tasks – so everything up until now was for my leisure.

As the minutes of talking evolved to hours of philosophical discussions, we all decided to have dinner and then go out for some drinks. They apparently get their paycheck this day, and it’s prime time to spend a few thousand yen in celebration. It was the first time drinking with researchers so I didn’t go all out in the beginning. In the beginning, it was just chatting with a beer about religion, women, and Japanese cultures, but then we ordered more food while waiting for the rest of the group. It is offensive to have an empty beer glass (maybe that’s just me), so we kept drinking and talking in English. Finally, some non-broken English.  I felt relieved that I didn’t have to simplify all my sentences to smaller phrases. It was comforting to see that even though they were brilliant, they know how to have a good time. Mind you, the talk was still the nerdy random facts picked up from who-knows-where blended with a slew of sarcastic comments. Thus is the humor I have come to exhibit – a quick, witty response that catches the other off guard. This is especially effective in a drunken state.

The title of this entry refers to the Japanese culture’s organization of power in a household. Many of the researchers I spoke with moved to Japan with their wives and decided to work towards their PhD. Although we had about an hour of laughing about Japanese wives, we came to realize that the Japanese husband-wife relationship is more of an economical move than a love-based one. I am in no way speaking of a loveless marriage, but the divided powers in a typical marriage lean towards the woman wearing the pants and the man just making the money. The wife is the accountant for the family and has the responsibility of stopping the impulsive male spending towards alcohol and new electronics. It may be true that the female would go shopping for clothes and handbags, but it seems like the Japanese restraint in money spending is tamed when they get married. Maybe marriage leads the women to acquire some extra power of guilt, as well. Dale mentioned how his wife says just the right things to make him not angry at her for being right, but feel this deep guilt in himself that makes him re-evaluate his choices. For example, she would say something like “didn’t you spend that money a little too quickly?” Ah, a trick question. You can’t just say “No, b*tch! Give me my money.” That’s not healthy at all. (Maybe he should try $sudo give me my money.)

At one point, the conversation about religion brought up an interesting observation about all modern researchers I’ve met. Everyone at the table was agnostic even though they were brought up with the Sunday schools about Christianity and Judaism. Although they knew all the stories in great detail, it only seemed to fuel their jest against the religion itself. In all of our scientific and logical sense, we just agreed that our generation is not ready to believe. Belief is a very powerful thing that can drive millions of individuals to give up personal will and subject themselves to a group mind; this is how we win wars. Be it nationalism or faith, we put way too much trust into a force that is built on manipulation. Our generation is seeing that believing in an invisible man is a great story where morals can be drawn, but our Sunday mornings are spent at the lab, not in a church praising such a deity. I guess we believe in science and its ability to move our society forwards. We do not fear death as much because we love living the lives of today and tomorrow, not 40 or 50 years from now. It’s as if religion was built as guidelines for morality, and the scientists around me already follow the common rules of humanity.

Then again, another point was brought to the table that made me even quieter in deep thought. Richie said, “I find the parallel between the attitude of a teenager towards a parent and our people towards G-d quite fascinating.” Here, he points out how the age of our people in a larger time span of generations is growing into a phase of rebellion and lack of appreciation towards our dependent. We forget that our age as a species is just a spec compared to the Earth and even more of a fraction of an atom’s size compared to the Universe. As children growing up to teenagers, our large community view has begun to reject what we once thought was the answer to all miracles. Now that we’ve developed to see the world before us with science and flawed observations, we each have slowly resented the power above (below, side to side, depending on how you look at it in space). I wonder when we’ll make the mistakes as a whole and crawl back to G-d for shelter and morale support. What devastating fall will we have to get back up from? And when will we grow up knowing that G-d is not someone special to place on a pedestal, but just another one of us trying to look out for our best interest. Replace G-d with parents, and maybe a sense of appreciation will help rethink those decisions that ignored their annoying rules, or those actions that showed you took everything they gave you for granted.

I have in no way become religious. I don’t need such beliefs to give me hope for an eternity of bliss, or give me fear for an eternity of torture. I believe in controlling my life and influencing the lives of other around me. In some way I am a missionary, but it is only to convert loneliness to warmth and bitterness to reason. My rules as a human being do not need a holy text. It is only led by an ingrained idea of love, life, and happiness.

In one way or another, these ideas were scribbled throughout my notepad after hearing Richie’s statement. It echoed throughout my mind all night in the capsule hotel. I wound up there again because it was my first time taking the kita-senri train back to ishibashi and I became completely lost. It was the last train, so I couldn’t even go back a few stops to correct my mistake. As fate would have it, it brought me back to familiarity.

~See Lemons Enlightened