Size Is All Relative

From the How-to-lose-business-without-really-trying Department:

I went into a boutique a while ago and was just browsing when the shop lady came to me and said, in English, “We have big size.” Granted, I’m not a narrow-hipped, skinny-thighed, flat-bellied Asian woman, but I’m not an Amazon either.

I’m surprised, but maybe shouldn’t be, at how often that happens. In shoe stores, they ask my size and I say 23.5, and they say, “They’re in centimeters, you know.” OK, well, I wasn’t expecting inches and can’t really imagine anyone with feet that big anyway, and there’s a pretty good chance that I know my own shoe size, but being tactful, I just smile and say, “Yes. I know.”

Back in the boutique, I looked at the woman and tilted my head. She looked back at me. After a moment, I saw the light dawn in her eyes and could hear her thinking,  “Oh, dear. That is NOT the right thing to say to ANY woman, in ANY language, ANYWHERE, EVER.” I smiled the smile you give to someone you think might be weak in the head and left the store, never to return. I’m not really the boutique type anyway.


Golden Week

It’s Golden Week again. (For those who are too lazy to look that up, it’s a string of national holidays that happen to come all at once.) This should be cause for rejoicing, but it’s pissing down rain and I have a terrible cold. A nice bowl of chicken noodle soup would be just the ticket, but the thought of schlepping around the neighborhood looking for it is daunting, mostly because it’s probably not available. Life in Tokyo has its wonderful points, but it does seem like chicken soup should be easily had, especially when one’s head is bursting with bacteria. It did occur to me that I could make it myself, but what’s comforting about that?

*Silver Lining* Being freelance, holidays usually have nothing to do with whether or not I have to work, so I am grateful, at least, that my germs and I are not required to work outside the house this Golden Week. So my infected cranium and I will hunker down and be glad that we don’t have to impose our (Dare I say it?) snotty attitude on anyone else.

**Update 30 minutes later** So I did make it myself, using Chinese chicken broth paste, pasta stars and a little dried dill. My throat feels better already. Yay!

***Update a few hours later*** I felt so much better after the soup that I made brownies to celebrate. Bad idea. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT eat brownies when you have a cold.


A bad day?

During a walk yesterday we came across a woman crouched down on the street smoking. And I mean SMOKING. She had two lit cigarettes in one hand and three in the other. She was also rocking side to side and mumbling to herself. I can only assume that she was having a REALLY bad day.

At the same time, the sun was shining and I had a tummy full of yummy cheeseburger (without mayo!) and was feeling rather pleased with the world in general. I guess that’s why she made such an impression. If kismet decreed that someone had to have a bad day, I am grateful it wasn’t me.

Friendly Buddhas

  I had some time to kill the other day so I went to Kuhonbutsu (Nine Buddhas) Temple. After checking out the Buddhas and climbing around in the cemetery, I encountered this fine fellow on the way out. It’s hard to see in the picture, but  his over-sized left hand is extended and he’s holding a piece of wood in his right. He’s got a grotesque grin on his face, and it looks as if he’s saying, “GIVE ME ALL OF YOUR MONEY OR I WILL WHACK YOU WITH MY STICK!” Or maybe he’s just got really bad indigestion.

After the serenity of the temple, I was amused by the irony.

Crosswords or Cross Words?

I’m a total crossword puzzle dork and have been since I was a kid. That’s why I like writing sub-titles. It’s kind of the same thing—get the maximum meaning into the smallest space and still be comprehensible. In a sense, getting paid to do my hobby. Win-win.

What I don’t like is technical writing. I just finished a really awful technical writing project. Five essays, maximum 200 words each, and each came with a 110 word vocabulary list from which I must use at least 15 words, and the words are almost completely unrelated and of increasing difficulty. (Examples from list 5: preclude, jeopardize, eradicate, pertain, encompass, precipitation, philanthropy, referendum, chromosome, embargo, nausea. And “stub”. Stub? Seriously?) Oh, and please choose topics that will interest high school students. Yikes!

Recently, a friend asked if I’ve ever thought about constructing puzzles instead of just solving them. It occurred to me as I was working that technical writing is like puzzle constructing and neither is any fun at all.

The only good thing about the whole project was the Friday deadline. I am now at liberty to spend Sunday enjoying the sakura.


What sort of an idiot goes out in a typhoon when she doesn’t have to?

Yup, that would be me.

Once a year, my gal pals and I get together for a sakura party, and it was planned for Tuesday. The bad weather came on unexpectedly, so it was too late to reschedule and we decided to go ahead with it. So after spending the day at home in my pajamas hiding from the storm, I got dressed and headed out. This meant doing the Wrestle the Umbrella ballet in gusting winds and swirling rain, only to arrive at the station and find that the entire line was shut down.

“That’s that,” I thought and walked back up to street level where I discovered that the buses were still running. “Well, I’ve come this far. Let’s see how this plays out.”

We arrived at Shibuya and there were hundreds of people waiting for buses. The taxi queue snaked around the station and disappeared past Hachiko. I crossed my fingers and prayed that the Yamanote line was still running. It was.

When I got to the restaurant, everyone clapped and cheered, and we continued to do that for the rest of the evening as other bedraggled ladies struggled in. Most of them had come from work and so were dressed in girl clothes. One British lady congratulated me on being “appropriately garbed” in my genuine blue artificial suede fake Ugg boots.

The storm apparently acknowledged Woman Power, because it stopped raining and after a while we could open the windows and appreciate the cherry blossoms outside. Lovely.

Step Lively

I tried to do a step class at they gym today, with “tried” being the operative word. I used to do step all the time but it’s been a long time, so I expected it to be a bit difficult. Well, the class started out normally enough, but then the instructor exploded, arms and legs flying in all directions, pirouettes, leaps, reverses, chasses. Plus he had a very soft voice and the music was loud, so I couldn’t hear his instructions. Yikes! I’ve done a lot of different step classes with a lot of different instructors, and I know how to do all of those steps, but I’d never seen anything like that. I tried to keep up but after a while just stopped and watched him flail around, and when he called a water break, I grabbed my stuff and fled. I’m not too proud to admit when I’m out of my league. Besides, she who runs away today can run away another day, right?

The Gyn Odyssey

I finally went to the gynecologist today. It had been a long time. She scolded me, of course, and I promised to be good and go again next year. I explained that my previous doc was kind of scary so I stopped going. When I went to her clinic, she would bark at me in English: “Why are you here? Why did you come to my clinic today?”

“Um…pap test…please? If it’s not too much trouble?” Scary.

But every two years, the ward sends me tickets for an almost free pap test and mammogram and they expire at the end of this month. The new doc doesn’t seem to speak English, but she knows the terminology. My Japanese is pretty fluent, but there are gaps in my vocabulary. Between what she knows and what I know, the visit went very well.

Here’s something interesting. The doc told me that since medical care is so expensive in the States, about 90% of American women get their annual check-ups as preventative care. But since Japan’s medical system is semi-socialized, only about 30% of Japanese women do. She said breast and cervical cancers are the number one killers of women. I didn’t know that. So I will make my annual pilgrimages and maybe even try to learn some new words. Boob test is scheduled for next week.

Going Ape

There’s a building in my neighborhood that has a gigantic gorilla on it. The building houses a convenience store, a bike shop, a kick boxing gym (not mine) and a storage facility. No explanation about the ape. There’s a school girl sitting in the palm of his right hand. I thought maybe he was helping her peep into the gym, but she’s faced the other way and is calmly reading a book. She doesn’t really seem to be aware of her predicament. He does have a twinkle in his eye as if he’s planning to eat her, but as far as I know, gorillas are vegetarians. Maybe he’s a very polite Japanese gorilla and is just giving her a safe, comfortable place to do her homework.

I can’t imagine what his purpose is except maybe to make people scratch their heads and ask themselves, “What’s up with the big monkey?” I was so perplexed by it today that I had to treat myself to the best soft freeze I’ve ever tasted. Aha! Maybe the ice cream guy put the monkey there to make people crave a treat. Is there some psychic connection between monkeys and sugar?

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