Archives for category: Mishaps and Mayhem

Yesterday, I dripped ink from a printer cartridge on my pants. Actually, it wasn’t my fault. I was under the assumption that the cartridges are drip-proof. Alas, this was incorrect. I had 3 bright pink splotches on my tan pants to prove it. Since I was at work, I had no choice but to go through the entire work day with these pink spots glaring at everyone from my thigh (note to self: get a pair of emergency pants to keep at the office). I tried blotting with a tissue, but it accomplished so little that I found myself thinking snarky thoughts at everyone I’ve ever heard say, “You’re supposed to blot, not rub.”

Fear not, however, because I have discovered the secret method of how to remove ink cartridge stains from pants. I will now generously share my new knowledge with you.

Step 1. Ask Facebook what you should do.

Step 2. As per the best suggestion, dig out the old can of hairspray from the back of your cabinet and spray it on the affected area.

Step 3. Watch the affected area closely to see the stains magically disappear.

Step 4. Be extremely disappointed when the stains do not magically disappear.

Step 5. Wet the area thoroughly with warm water, pour laundry detergent on the area, and scrub desperately with an old toothbrush.

Step 6. Become dismayed at the lack of results and as a last resort, dejectedly fill the sink with hot water and submerge the stained portion of the clothing.

Step 7. Completely forget about the clothing soaking in the sink as you binge watch House of Cards.

Step 8. Be surprised when you go to wash your face and brush your teeth before bed and you see the clothing that you forgot about is still soaking in the sink.

Step 9. Warily check the clothing and…success! The stains will be gone and the only reminder will be a sink full of pinkish water.

I hope my expertise will be helpful to you. Happy washing!

I don’t usually swear.

I just don’t feel that it’s necessary in daily life. In fact, I think it sounds pretty crass when you curse all the time. I have friends who do it, it’s fine, no judgment. I just usually don’t. I do, however, get that there are situations in which a swear word is actually the best option to perfectly describe what is going on. Like when you flip your half-cooked grilled cheese sandwich onto the lit burner instead of into the fry pan.

Then a few f-bombs actually feel pretty good.

The Namba area has no shortage of interesting places to visit in your free time. There are plenty of stores ranging from designer to discount. It’s an area well-known for its food, and just about any street will offer up plenty of choices. If it’s culture you’re after, there’s the National Bunraku Theater or the Ukiyo-e museum. All the best electronics deals can be found in Nipponbashi, also known for its manga shops and cosplay cafes. So with all these possibilities at our fingertips, my friend Jung A and I decided to visit…a cat café.

Welcome to the cat cafe! Prepare to be ignored.

Welcome to the cat cafe! Prepare to be ignored.

A cat café is pretty much what you guess – a café that has cats. Lots of cats. While stray cats are plentiful in the Osaka area (especially around my old apartment building that always smelled like cat pee and featured nightly “serenades” in the parking lot just below my window), not many people have them as pets. This is in large part due to the number of people who live in apartments where pets are (supposedly) not allowed (again, old apartment building where at least one person kept a pet rooster I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING).  Cat cafes have started becoming a popular alternative to actually having a cat of your own.

I found the café by looking on the website nekonojikan.com (“cat time”). The website gave lots of useful information such as the rules, the drink menu, and the names and pictures of all the cats you might see on a given day. The website also claimed (falsely) that all the cats are friendly and will probably even seek out your attention once they get used to you. Being a cat-lover, I was pretty excited about this. Being a former cat-owner, I was skeptical. But I figured if nothing else, it would give me a good blog post.

After washing our hands at the sink in the lobby as instructed, we entered the café. We paid our 1000 yen for one hour of cat time, prepaid 200 yen for a drink we could order at any time during that hour, and prepared to be greeted by hordes of affectionate cats. There was a family of four already there, as well as a guy probably in his 30s. The mom and dad were cheerfully watching their 2 daughters walk around petting the various cats. They were kind of noisy, so I wasn’t too surprised the cats hadn’t seemed to warm up to them. The guy, however, was surrounded by cats. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor and had 2 cats in his lap. He also had the good sense to sit right in the middle of 3 cat beds, each of which contained 1 or 2 cats. The cats were completely disinterested in me and Jung A. But I thought if we could just bide our time until the other people left, then we could have all the cats to ourselves.

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Unfortunately, we never had a chance. Most of the cats were sleeping, and the ones that were awake definitely did NOT seek out our attention as the website had claimed. In fact, we were lucky if they even let us pet them while they slept. Mostly we were swatted by their little paws and snarled at, but in a few cases the cats actually ran away. And since we were strictly forbidden from scaring or chasing the cats, all we could do was just stand there forlornly and watch them flee, much like our hope.  Perhaps if I rub some catnip on my socks before my next visit…

Tonight, I had a simple mission: buy toilet paper.  I stopped at the local drugstore on the way home, expecting to run in and out.  I wasn’t really in a hurry for any reason there than that I was hungry.  So I walked in the front entrance and made my way towards where I thought the tp would be.  Imagine my surprise to see that there was no toilet paper in the whole store.  Seriously.  I walked up and down every aisle twice, some of them 3 times.  Not a square to be found.  Then i started wondering, do they carry tp at drugstores here?  Where had I bought it last time? Certainly not at this drugstore. I realized I had only bought it once since moving in to my new place.  My host mother had bought a jumbo pack for me when I first moved in, and being a single person, it had taken a while to go through it.  I had bought a 4-pack when I had 2 overnight guests, and I had bought it in a hurry at the supermarket because I had to get back home and vacuum and finish putting the laundry away before they arrived and I just didn’t have time to screw around looking for the best deal.  So apparently, this drugstore was not going to help me out.  I left out the front entrance again, and as I came around the corner, I passed the little-used side entrance of the shop.  Which I guess also serves as the official toilet paper section.  An entire shelf unit full of toilet paper.  Because why wouldn’t you display it in the dimly lit alcove next to the store?  All those years working in retail, I never was very good at promotional displays.

Tonight as I was riding my bike home from work, I had to stop for the train as I usually do.  As I was waiting, an old woman walked up and stood to my right about 7 or 8 feet away.  I gave her a little glance, but didn’t pay much attention.  But then out of the corner of my eye, I saw her edge a little closer to me.  I glanced sideways at her, wondering what caused her to move closer, but didn’t see anything unusual.  Then she edged closer still.  At this point, I became paranoid that she was going to make a grab for the small bag of groceries I had just bought and was sitting in my basket.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized the groceries were just begging to be stolen.  What was I thinking, putting them out in the open like that?  I could tell she knew I had found a good deal on frozen French fries and she wanted in. So I coyly wrapped the plastic bag handle around my handlebars.  “Just try it now, lady, ” I thought smugly.  The train passed and the rail went up and I thought I was home free, but then I found out the real reason she had moved closer.  Her diabolical plan all along was to step right in front of me and then walk as slowly as possible.  I had nowhere to go.  To the left was nothing but rocks and train tracks.  On my right, other bikers were passing me at the speed of light, only too happy that they were not the ones stuck behind her.  Well played, old lady.  Maybe I should have just given her the groceries.

While we’re on the subject of annoying things that people to do to other people (i.e. me) on the street, I think there needs to be a law that prevents groups of 2 or more people from forcing someone off the sidewalk and into rush hour traffic just so that they can continue to walk next to each other.  Or maybe they just need to start teaching basic physics in Japanese schools, because obviously they do not understand that 2 people cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  Unless of you is a ghost.  Which I am not.  And hopefully, neither are you.  If you are, then we’ve got even bigger problems.

OK, kids, gather round the campfire because I’m about to tell you a horror story.  Forget what your parents always told you about there being no monsters under the bed or in the closet.  Because there ARE monsters, alright.  But they’re not under the bed or in the closet.  I know because…I SAW ONE ON MY STAIRS!!!

Seriously, though, this happened sometime in May or June, I think.  It was a beautiful warm day, not hot and humid yet.  The kind of day that makes you feel alive, and happy to be so.  The kind of day that you feel like nothing dangerous or evil exists; and if it does, then it’s certainly not going to bother YOU today.  But I would come to find out that that was so very wrong.  I left the apartment in the late afternoon on this fine Saturday, not a care in the world.  I had no sense of foreboding as I bounded down the steps of my apartment building.  But at the 4th step, movement by my foot caught my eye.  It’s amazing how quickly the mind works.  In just a split second, my brain went through the possibilities of what the movement may be: a mouse?  a cockroach?  a leaf? a dust bunny? an incredibly tiny and mute dog?   Then my brain registered that this wasn’t just any movement; this thing had snapped at me.  I skipped down the remaining few steps, turned, and was horrified to discover that the source of the snapping was…a giant Japanese clawed googly-eyed crayfish monster thing!  It was staring at me warily with one of  its eyes attached to the end of a stalk.  The other eye stalk was stretched out in a different direction, but I could tell me was giving me the stink-eye with that one, as well.  Anyone could see he was angry, just daring me to try and get back to the safety of my apartment.  He viciously snapped in my general direction with one of his jagged claws as if to say, “That’s right!  These are MY stairs, girlie!”  I was frozen with fear, rooted to my spot.  For a moment, I thought I’d actually gone insane and was having a schizophrenic hallucination, or something to that effect.  My mind reeled at the sight of the impossible creature.  And then I realized, I was in Japan, after all.  I mean, this is the home of Godzilla and Mothra, giant turtles and killer robots.  What’s a giant clawed googly-eyed crayfish monster thing compared to those?

Anyway, I quickly recovered my senses enough to escape, praying desperately that it wouldn’t follow me.  I dreaded coming home all evening, but it was all for naught.  It seemed the monster had better things to eat than me, and by 10:30 that night it had disappeared.  The truth is that as time passes, I wonder if I ever really saw it.  Was it just a figment of my imagination?  Had I eaten some bad sushi?  I only know that I never want to see it again.   I was so freaked out that I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take a picture of it with my camera phone, although it probably would have just wrenched the phone out of my hands and smashed it against the wall.  Anyway, I’ll post a picture of a creature that bears some resemblance, although please note that it lacks the same fury in its eyes:

This must be a much smaller and kinder cousin to the creature that I saw. Notice how he ISN'T snapping his claws menacingly.

I hope you all can sleep tonight…

So, I’ve been making cakes for our cafe (Cafe Joyful) recently.  I have never had a problem until the last 2 weeks.  After a month-long absence, due mainly to an incredibly hectic schedule with end of the semester stuff, PM, and visiting friends, I finally baked a delicious apple cake one fine Tuesday AM.  I took the cake out, noticed it’s beautiful golden-brown color and mouth-watering aroma, and walked it over to Cafe Joyful.  Only to discover that the cafe was closed for a 3-day holiday.  Then this week, I again made the apple cake, using the same ingredients, same oven, same temperature, same pan for crying out loud.    And.  It.  Burned.  Seriously burned.  As in smoke-pouring-out-of-the-oven-burned.  After only 15 of the required 40 minutes of baking time, someone came downstairs to fetch me.  I was told there were even some flames.  It was tragic, annoying, bewildering, embarrassing.  Next week I will try one more time to bake a cake for the cafe (NOT an apple cake, no apples even in the kitchen near the cake).  If there is yet another incident that attempts to deter my efforts, I will conclude that my cake-baking days are over.  As they say, 3 strikes, you’re out.

In the name of fashion, many of us have made some…mistakes.  Perhaps you’ve bought a lipstick that looked nice in the store, but  made you look like Ronald McDonald when you tried it on at home.  Perhaps a dressing room mirror convinced you that you HAD to buy that blouse because “it really made your eyes pop”, only to discover in the more honest light of day that the mirror had perjured itself most profoundly.  And let’s not even get started on the haircuts.

I recently made a grievous error of the worst kind in trying to improve my appearance.  In Japan, it is the fashion to remain as pale as the day you were born.  I believe I’ve mentioned this before.  Part of the reason for this may be that the climate here does not lend itself well to tanning.  In June, it rains or is cloudy almost every day.  And when the sun finally emerges in July, it’s so hot and humid that you don’t want to go outside even to water the flowers.  You are forced to sequester yourself within the air-conditioning until at least mid-September.  So really, there are not many opportunities to get a decent tan.  For this reason, I have been using the Jergens Natural Glow lotion.  It works well.  It gives a very natural color and never streaks or spots.  Very easy to use.  But it’s a bit light.  Perhaps it was that small complaint which led me to try something new.  While I was recently in the States, I asked a friend if she used a certain brand of self-tanner, to which she replied no, but then gave me the name of another brand.  In fact, she gave me what she had at home of the other brand so I could try it.

Well, I got back and of course got busy and fell into my normal routine.  I forgot about the tanner she had given me.  Until she sent me a package with another, brand-new tube.  I decided maybe it was time for a change.  My friend had used it on herself, after all.  I read the directions, and scrubbed and shaved my legs in preparation.  Then I VERY CAREFULLY and VERY THOROUGHLY (this is important) spread the gel VERY EVENLY over my legs and feet.  Feeling confident, I went to read a book while I waited for it to dry.

Perhaps I was used to the fool-proof, overly-light Jergens lotion, which can be applied very liberally.  Perhaps I only imagined I was careful and thorough.  I have gone back to that fateful Monday night many times in my memory, yet I cannot account for the disaster that struck next.  I’m not quite sure how long it was after I applied the lotion (1 hour?  2?), but I looked down at my legs and was horror-struck by what I saw.  There, stretched out on the floor in front of me, were two legs that I would never have identified as mine if they had not been so obviously connected to my body.  They were streaked and spotted with brown.  There were huge holes, for lack of a better word, that looked as if I had purposely avoided them as I was applying the lotion.  While the tops of my toes were dark, the spaces in between were still pinkish-pale.  And the color that actually did show up was not a color that is seen in nature.  It looked like the melanin in the lower half of my body had suddenly revolted.

Needless to say, I have been avoiding skirts, capris and sandals since then.  I think I am on the mend, though.  After about 5 unbearably hot days of wearing jeans and shoes that cover my entire foot, it looks like I may be able to pull off a skirt tomorrow.  I hope one more good scrubbing in the shower in the morning does the trick.

I’ve included pictures below, but believe me that they do not accurately convey the ugliness.  Enjoy!

The last 3 weeks have been an absolute non-stop whirlwind of activity. I have been working day and night to prepare for all my classes before I leave for the U.S. In addition, I’ve had my regular schedule, plus ministry involvements, as well as having to make 8 original tests. I’ve been working on my day off. I’ve been bringing work home. I knew something had to break sooner or later; I just didn’t know that it would be my brain. Well, I have now officially reached the last stage in what the experts call “ultimate spaced-outness.” Today I missed the train to my English class at Gakuenmae Chapel. No, I don’t mean I was late and missed it. That wouldn’t be nearly as bad. As it happened, I was at the station, standing on the platform waiting for the train. I don’t remember this next part, so I can’t be entirely sure, but it seems as though the train I needed arrived, stopped, passengers got off and on, and left again without me on it. That’s right, folks. I was standing there watching for it and neglected to actually get on it. Granted, I was reading a book at the time, but that doesn’t mean anything. I frequently read while I’m waiting and I’ve never missed the train before. This time, I never even noticed. And before you go offering your kind excuses on my behalf, I must inform you that I catch the exact same trains every week. I have that schedule memorized. I arrived at Fuse station the same time as always – right around 12:45. I was waiting to catch the 12:52 express to Nara. When I looked down at my iPod because it seemed I had been waiting an awfully long time, it said 12:57. There is no excuse. I’m just an idiot.

This incident is the latest in a series of increasingly stupid mistakes. Take last Wednesday for example. It was test day for my students. At my 3rd (and last) class, I completely forgot to give them the reading portion of their test. It never even occurred to me. Not until I was grading their tests afterward and saw the glaring omission in the reading score box.

And I’m the one teaching the next generation how to communicate.

So, I had my first Major Bicycle Mishap today. I was going shopping with 2 friends, Yumi and Asaka. We are all part of the Catering Ministry, and we had to buy food for a ladies’ fellowship tomorrow. I was bringing up the rear, and I could tell my bike was not riding like it should. I could feel every little bump in my spine. But, not wanting to cause problems, I decided to bear with it until we got to the store. It turned out that the rear tire on my bike had gone completely flat and wasn’t even really around the rim anymore. Our first step was to call a local bike shop and ask them to come out and fix it. Yumi called, but they said we would have to bring the bike in. “OK,” I thought. “I can do this.” Really, I didn’t expect my friends to come with me. I figured they could go on ahead and do the shopping while I went and got my bike fixed. But of course they never even thought of letting me go on my own. They even offered to push my disabled bike while I walked with one of theirs! But I was determined to do at least something on my own. So we started out, me lifting the back end of my bike so the rim wouldn’t suffer any more damage. Of course, we didn’t get very far. That bike is heavy! Finally, Yumi rode on ahead to a friends house and brought him back with her. He couldn’t fix the tire there, so he carried my bike to his house while I walked with his. Then Oka-san, my host mother, came walking by and she offered to go to the store and buy a new inner tube for me. So while they were taking care of the bike, Yumi, Asaka and I went a did our food shopping (I borrowed Yumi’s friend’s bike). Then later, Yumi rode back with me and I swapped bikes. All is well again.

You know, I knew very little of what was going on because I didn’t understand most of what they were saying. I felt a little helpless, but I was ready at any moment to be left on my own to take care of the problem myself. I have no idea what I would have done, of course. I didn’t know where the nearest bike shop was. It would have taken me 3 times as long to get there even if I had known. I am so grateful for my friends here and the body of Christ!