Starting over with everything..

I lived and worked in Japan for a long time and have come back in a time of economic and ever present family drama to try and gain a foothold in my so-called home country. Armed with nothing but dog fur, a crappy car, a laptop that hates me, I try to see how far I can get.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I am writing this still laughing from what a student just asked me. I have another dentist appointment today and since I didn't have time to go home before my appointment, I decided to brush at school after lunch today. This is a common practice at my school as most of the teachers brush right after lunch. With some of their teeth though, you would think they are brushing with gingivitis laden toothpaste. Anyway, so I'm out in the hall by the sink just brushing away and there are some students waiting in line for their health check-up outside of the nurse's room.

One student looks at me with wide eyes saying, 'Wow, you're using a toothbrush?!?'

I look at her confused as does her friend behind her. I mumble, 'Ha~?' Japanese for 'what the hell are you talking about?'

'I thought foreigners didn't use toothbrushes!' I almost choke on spit and toothpaste. Her friend looks at her like she's crazy.

I struggle to say 'Why, do you think that?' with a frothy mouth.

She says, 'Trees, right? You use trees to brush your teeth, don't you?' Her friend cracks-up behind her. I spit/choke /rinse and ask, 'What TV show did you see that on?'

She continues, 'you use like twigs and chew on them, right everyone does that, I saw it on TV.'

TV the information source for foreign-lore/culture in Japan, especially for those out in the sticks. TV tells my students I have the same brushing habits as a panda. TV causes my students to stare at me and take mental notes as if they were novice Jane Goodalls out in the field watching the gorillas brush.

EQUALS...... ??

Her friend asks, 'Maji?' meaning 'seriously?' in Japanese but is now staring with at me doubtingly to debunk this outrageous claim that her friend so ferverently believes.

I rinse again, shake my head and say, 'No sorry, we use toothbrushes, not trees.'

The friend looks disappointed and her friend says, 'but- they said that's what foreigners do..'

I smile and say, 'Maybe somewhere far away they do... far, far, far away. Where I don't know.'

As I walk back to my desk I hear her telling her friend, 'I really did see that on TV...'

I became curious as to who these bark chewing people were so I began to research right before I wrote this and this is what I found.

The toothbrush as we know it today was not invented until 1938. However, early forms of the toothbrush have been in existence since 3000 BC. Ancient civilizations used a "chew stick," which was a thin twig with a frayed end. These 'chew sticks' were rubbed against the teeth.
Everyday mysteries- Fun science facts from the Library of Congress

At least she almost had it right, just not recently, or in the past couple of decades. I also learned that the first bristle toothbrush was invented by a Chinese guy- what didn't they invent? However the first nylon brush was invented by an English guy. GI soldiers were influence by European soliders' habits during WWII and that's how it the practice of good oral hygiene came to the US. I was shocked to learn that most Americans didn't brush their teeth until the war, but damn it all if most havent kept up on that.

Jeez louise, I've been tooth obsessed lately. Doesn't that mean someone's gonna die or something bad is gonna happen, snakes will become the rulers of the earth, etc...? I'll look that up later. Off to find some trees.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Men are tards and I am a tard magnet

*Sigh* What else do I have to say? I seem to be going out with men recently who have very similar dating habits which I find quite alarming. No, I don't think that men having the same dating habits is freakish, what I find alarming is their actual dating habits and the similarities between them. Apparently I'm a frightening gal who deems the supervision of a chaperone. It's insane. Or maybe that's normal now? Have I fallen into a coma recently and fallen into victorian times by mistake? Is this some sort of strange 'The Village' experiment? Maybe I should be challenging my dates to a foot race or something. If I have I'd rather know.

Although I know that girls often use the tactic of inviting a friend along to feel "safe" on their first dates, I didn't know guys over the age of 13 (who have to driven by their mommies) implored this tactic unless the girl they are going on a date with insists on bringing a friend.
As this has not just happened to me once recently, I can tell you it's not exactly ideal for a date. Especially in the last case where the friend my date invited got violent diarreah from an undercooked hamburger and was in the bathroom for nearly 30 minutes when we tried to leave the restaurant. Maybe it was a clever rouse to get out of the date early, but I doubt that a friend would stay in the bathroom so long and then going pale and sick looking just to get his friend out of a date. Maybe I'm naive. None the less it was entertaining.

Another guy told me he didn't know what to do with me on a date. (?!?) He said his image of dating a foreign person was similar to that of being in an Italian movie. I said, what do you mean? Like holding hands and skipping down the road or something? He said no, not skipping, maybe just walking with coffee...
My image of dating in Italy
Alas, I don't know if I'll be going on a date anytime soon. I think my dating career is heading more towards cats-ville, but at least that's more interesting. Wish me luck either way.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Arita Tooth Inquisition

I haven't been to the dentist since I was 13 years old. Even then I only remember going to the dentists only when I was 13 years old. I didn't have health insurance back then and stuff like dental and yearly doctor visits were a bit of a luxury when I was a pre-teen. That was just the way things were.

However, I brush regularly and don't have too rancid of breath and no green teeth yet but I didn't doubt I had a cavity or 6 lying around in my mouth. And since I have fabulous insurance now I decided, now's as good of a time as any to get started fixing everything.

I went to a doctor a friend of mine recommended last year. I also used to do yoga with the denists daughter so I figured he had to be nice because she was always so nice too.

I was asked to bring in my toothbrush and when I got there was asked several questions on tooth care and what not. Thoughrougly embarrasing.

Dental Hygenist (DH): How many times do you brush a day?
Me: (proudly) Two, at least. (on most days if I haven't fallen asleep exhausted but
who would blame me?)
DH: Do you feel that you get your back teeth properly brushed?
Me: Um, I try... but maybe not always.
DH: (Writes notes in my file) Mmm hmm, I can see you have cavities in
in your back teeth. Your tooth brush head is too big.

She comes back later and demonstates how I should brush my teeth with the itty bitty brush she gifts to me. She says, 'it's not that hard right?' as if to offer encouragement. (Really a sweet guesture, but half sarcastic if you ask me.) And then reports her findings to the dentist.

He comes over nods and preceeds to inquire more about my tooth. 'Why do you think you have cavities?' Because I like sweets was apparently not a sufficient enough of an answer as I was asked how many sweets I ate, what kind of sweets I ate, why I ate sweets and if I thought I could curb my behavior and if there was any other thing that could possibly lead to my teeth problems. I sullenly replied, beer and other alcohol, so we would do down that what kind of alcohol road and hopefully not repeat the kind of questions he asked for the sweets. He just nods and writes on my chart.

I can't believe it. I feel like I'm 4 and have just pulled the cat's tail and got caught or something. I'm actually hanging my head and avoiding eye contact. I tell myself to stop, but I just can't. Thank God they decided to move on before I start to cry. He really is a good dentist. He tells me my fillings need to be replaced because they are made from Mercury (NOT GOOD!) and that it's not healthy. I agree and tell him to please do all of them over. He only filled one tooth, but he didn't even give me novacaine! It didn't really hurt! He did something with metal, I don't know what but I swear the pain was minimal. Did I mention he's a healer too? I had to do something with a laser and a box at the end but supposidly I was all balanced afterwards.

I like holistic medicine and believes it works, so bring on the healing dentists. I go back tomorrow, hopefully things go well and I can keep eye contact.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Viet nam

Vietnam is a beautiful country. I dare say it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in Asia. Parts of it had rolling fields of greens which reminded me of the tea fields all around me. Although, it's difficult to appreciate them when you feel like your boobs are gonna bounce straight off your chest while you ride on the bumpiest road you've ever encountered.

There are gorgeous caves. These caves were created by the decending dragons that protected Halong Bay.

Boats waiting in the bay are awaiting people in the bay and
take you back to a time where you can just see pirates alive
and well with hooks and all their burliness.

We slept on the boat which I recommend doing after you've drunk some delicious Vietnamese wine because apparently there are creepy crawlies all over your room. Eh well, just stay in a wine-induced sleep and you'll be fine.

Motorbikes and incessent honking make crossing the street exciting in Hanoi. Life buzzes on the street as it's the happening place to be. Smells of food, petrol, bread and so many unknowns sometime lead the way when looking for adventure.
Adventurers seek food and drink.

Mission accomplished.

Next one is to have clothes made. Submission: Look great while becoming broke.
Again, mission accomplished. Sorry you didn't get to see the clothes, but trust me they're great.

Did I mention how beautiful Vietnam was? This is China beach, about 7km from the city of Danang and one of the nicest beaches I've ever been to. Never would have guessed it was a killing zone, acting as a base for the Vietcong. Later on it was one of the places where the boat people fled from the terror of the Vietnam War. Today it is one of Vietnam's luxury beaches. Strange events, strange ending. Far off in the distance were the Marble mountains where according to the tiger balm girl, is full of monkeys. Didn't have the chance to see it. Maybe next time.

Sorry so many pictures, there are so many more I'd like to share, maybe I'll stick them up somewhere. Til next time. Miss ya'll.