Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Japan and Vietnamese Sandwiches

Yes, I realize the only thing that relates those two items is the continent of Asia, which is pretty freakin' large and barely a connecting force.

Japan and Globe-Crossing Girls.

Hello! It's Tuesday, and I leave for Japan in eight days. I have been freaking out about this trip, at least until I found some blogs about Round The World (RTW) trips, especially this amazing girl's blog, and realized that comparatively, my trip is pretty small potatoes. We're going to Japan for twelve days, all the hotels and airfare are booked, I'm traveling with two people AND I have a few contacts in the region. This is a walk in the park compared to, say, an overland trip through Mongolia.

Luxury, Discomfort, and Buckminster Fuller.
I'm reading Tim Ferriss' book The Four-Hour Work Week, which I'm not even going to bother linking to because its everywhere, and it's fascinating--not just for Tim Ferriss' unique point of view and his language structure, which at times reminds me of R. Buckminster Fuller--but also for its use of quotes. Either Mr. Ferriss has done some extensive reading or his editor has, because there are some amazing quotes in there that I have never heard before. A key one is attributed to Jean Cocteau, which I can't find online and can't remember word for word, but it's about how luxury is only within the reach of those who are not afraid of discomfort. I need to print this quote out and glue it on the insides of my eyelids, so I can read it every time I blink. I need to remind myself that a little food and water is all a body really needs. If I'm cold, or damp, or annoyed, or poorer than I'd like, a little discomfort is surely not going to break me. I can refrain from whining or taking it out on those around me, I'm an adult and a citizen of the world. I can do better.

Hopefully I can remember this lofty goal during my trip to Japan with a couple who lives quite frugally and seems to have completely eliminated their tendency to whine. I've never seen the house less than sparkling clean--floors polished and everything--and they are both Serious Career People. It's not like they just sit on their butts at home. On the weekends they clean out their garage and basement--and they enjoy it. Much like the LT, who rushes home and fixes my microwave, saws out my lampshades so they fit non-standard 1940s-style light fixtures, and eagerly tackles bike maintenance, they have the innate ability to LOVE the chores they do, instead of only doing what they think they will love. This has been my big resolution for 2008--to convince myself to LOVE CHORES. So far I can bring myself to enjoy cleaning my kitchen. Still on the list: laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, and purging. Still some ways to go.

Speaking of Purging
Up until now I've collected socks. I can never remember to bring them places, so I end up stealing socks from my roommates, (Hi Noey! Still have a pair of your frog socks!), friends, relatives, and even boyfriends.) I had two plastic bins taking up the bottom of some wire shelving, one for white socks and one for colors, and they were both filled to the brim with mismatched socks, most of them not in pairs. It was seriously becoming an issue. And yet I couldn't throw them out, even the ratty ones. I thought, "Those socks aren't mine to throw out", or "That's a waste of good socks." Yesterday I finally thought, "Why the hell am I treating about five dollars worth of mismatched socks with such reverence?" and performed a sock purge! I now have ONLY pairs of sock that I will USE, no mismatches, no extra socks. It's hard to convey how exciting this is.

Titan Update
Titan has a new girlfriend. She lives across the hall, her parents and I are sharing dog-sitting duties, and they treat the dogs so much better than I do that Titan PULLS on the leash, trying to get to their apartment, every time we go for a walk. I would be way more hurt if I wasn't so happy that he's getting emotional support and stimulation from all different places. When I go to Japan, for those who are curious, he'll be at The Hotel Fory, aka my grandmother's house. Two weeks of dog sitting would be a lot to ask from a couple I barely know, and my grandmother likes having him over.

Final Japan Note

I bought several things for my Japan trip, in the midst of the freaking out (note that I haven't actually cracked a single Japan GUIDE yet, because buying things is easier than reading). Things I've bought include: two pairs of easy-wash, easy dry underwear, two sports bras and two tanks of the same material, and a water-proof, wind-proof, breathable jacket that can fold up tiny. I plan to wear my jeans, take a few light pairs of pants and a skirt or two, and maybe a nice shirt--and that's it. A few toiletries, including the special face cream, but I've managed to wean my hair down to weekly washings with the help of dry shampoo, which I plan to take.

A word on shoes: I'm not sure what kinds of shoes I'll take. I have a pair of nice round-toe flats that I plan on wearing, and of course a pair of slick tennis shoes. (This, however, requires socks.) Should I take a dress pair? Discuss.


skydiamonde said...

I'm the wrong person to answer about the shoe question. I'm not a big shoe person. I don't have a feeling for what good taste in shoes is. Yet despite these facts, whenever I pack for any trip, even just a weekend long, I manage to pack 4-5 pairs of shoes.

I don't remember if I already told you this tip about Japan, but I find it's useful to keep a pen and small pad of paper with me wherever I go when I'm there. When getting around asking questions in English, the Japanese seem to understand WAY better if you write down the question when you ask. Their English reading/writing ability far surpasses their English listening/speaking ability, because of the way their language requirements on learning English are.

Have a terrific trip!

l-t said...

Dumb question: what does this post have to do with Vietnamese sandwiches?