Thoughts on life after the PhD
Hi there. It’s been a while. Being away from you for the better part of four years, I suppose I should expect a certain amount of (reverse reverse?) culture shock, but you really seem to be pulling out all the stops this time. Was it something I said?
First off, why you gotta be making me sick? Four years in L.A. and I think I got a flu or a cold maybe two or three times total (granted, that’s probably the result of the extremely rare climate, but still). Just over two weeks and already I’m coughing and sniffling like crazy. Not sure if it’s aircon-byo (that disease that comes from moving constantly between a hot & humid outside and an over-airconditioned inside) or kafunsho (allergies from all those cedars that were planted on the hillsides years ago), all I know is it’s making life rather difficult. Not to mention that this yellow powdery cold medicine cost me $15 and doesn’t seem to be working very well.
Second, when did I get so old–or when did you get so young? I know that Harajuku and Shibuya can make anyone over the age of 25 feel ancient, but for some reason I’m *really* feeling it this time. These girls in their platform heels and fake eyelashes clutching teddy bear purses look like aliens to me–very, very young aliens. I hope that Kameari, where my new apartment is located, won’t make me feel like an obasan.
Third, has your food culture always been so heavy on the fried meats and fish, or have I just been eating healthier over the last few years? Granted, I’m staying in a district that caters mostly to salarymen (and if the various junk food options in this neighborhood are all they’re eating I really don’t know how they’ll all live to retirement). I seem to remember you being a much healthier city. There are *four* frickin’ McDonald’s within walking distance of my hostel. I suppose I really can’t be mad at you–it’s my country’s bad influence that’s to blame.
Finally, I know that talking (or complaining) about the weather is a national pasttime here (small talk is much easier when you can just spend five minutes talking about the heat or the cold), but really, this is too much. Five minutes outside and I’m a soaked mess. With the heat and the sniffles I barely have enough energy to walk down the street to the conbini, much less spend half a day getting on and off of trains and walking up endless flights of stairs. I guess I should have heeded the words of the Sunscreen Song–“…live in southern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.” Lack of real weather has made me a complete weakling.
I would, of course, like to thank you for all the good stuff you still have to offer. Thanks for allowing me to get around without a car. Thanks for Mother’s Organic Restaurant, Nabezo all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu, Tenya, peanut cream sandwiches, Fuji apples, and crepes. Thanks for the dear friends that I missed and can catch up with again. Thanks for the Japan Foundation and my fellowship. Thanks for Karigurashi no Arietty, which was gorgeous, if a bit sappy.
Now just fix the whole weather-illness-age-fried food thing.
PS–My posts seem to be taking the form of direct addresses lately. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the heat.
writing•translation•scholarship on Japan (and a few other things)
tales of travel, research, and life
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