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Report From Japan - 26JA00

I have off Tuesday and Wednesday. A typical Wednesday has just passed. I woke late - about 11am. I rode my bike to the gym and spent my typical 30 minutes being one of the biggest guys there (no fault of my own - just a racial difference), speaking bad Portuguese with some bad Brasillian dudes, and giving the apparently amazingly charming "high-five" to a diverse variety of passers by. Since I didn't have to be anywhere anytime, I spent a few extra minutes chatting up Chikaho [CHEEK-a-HO] who has just gotten a haircut. My cellphone rang and didn't make me look as cool or as important as I felt. It was the beautiful blonde girl - Sheri. her class was finished and she said to meet her back at our building. She also has Wednesdays off, and she's usually up for small adventures. After taking a shower and shaving my head, shoulders, knees, and tounge like every Wednesday, I went upsatairs to find her mood/mode had changed. Now she was going on about relaxing and writing letters and - let me tell ya - it was a great day out. Since she is fluent in East Coast U.S. vernacular, I used some "positive" encouragement to persuade her to stick to our original plan and go explore north. "Where north?," she asked frustrated - as maybe YOU have been - with my apparent inabillity to answer a question directly. After a frustrating silence, I frustrated her more by saying, "North." It amazes me sometimes how my friends tollerate me. She tollerated me to the point of consent and we rode our bikes north/east for about an hour. We stopped at the 100 yen shop (dollar store), and instead of buying one bandana for every color of the rainbow, I opted for cheap chocolate. I scare myself sometimes withthe stuff. I'm like a broke junkie or a punk urban teenager sniffing glue or gasoline for a high. I don't care who made it, how old it is or where it came from. If you can even vaguely catagorize it with chocolate - no matter how unpure, regurgitated, processed, powdered, or corrupted - if it's cheap, I'll eat it. Ohhh. Cheap chocolate! Then we were bike bound again. Since I ride in front as a subtle encouragement for Sheri to speed up (she would say she rides in back in the hopes that I will slow down), I pretty much get to decide where we go next. Since the sun was still up, the nearby mountain seemed a logical destination. We rode up a dirt road until the upgrade became too much for our single speed grandmotherly bikes at a spooky hillside cemetary in a bamboo forest. We found what was roughly a trail and started climbing up the mountain, through the bamboo and past the cemetary. It was starting to get dark. We came to another (or maybe the same) dirt road and followed it up for a while. Soon we came to a place where some erosion stops made a staircase leading upward more steeply. After a few steps, I heard a grunting noise and caught the quick motion of fleeing I-have-no-idea-what-but-they-were-pretty-scarys. They where somewhere between the size of a dog and a motorcycle and were black or brown. They made a piggy grunt each of the 3 or 4 times I pretended -for Sheri's sake - not to be scared into peeing my pants by them that day. Groups of them (I think) and us would often startle each other, before that scary grunt and their quick flight to a usually not far enough away location it the woods. I never got a good look. I have since asked my students about local wildlife and so far the options are: razorback (what's that?), wild boar, fox, or this thing that there are statues of all over the place called a Tanuki. I'm not sure if it's a real animal or a myth, but the statues always depict it with balls the size of babies' heads. After about the third encounter, when we had finnished making it up to the peak to watch the sun set over Lake Biwa, I picked up a stick and pretended - for Sheri's sake - that I just wanted a walking stick. But by the time we made it back to spooksville cemetary, I had fallen to my knees, holding my open palms up to God, with tears in my eyes and screaming, "WHY OH WHY MY BEAUTIFUL BLUE BABY BUHDAH HAVE YOU SENT THESE DEMONS TO HUNT ME?!" I think that was the point at which Sheri got a little concerned too. Okay just kidding about that last part (I'm not that devout a Budhist). It was cold by the time we made it back to the road, and we were a bit behind schedule if we wanted to meet some others back in Hikone as promised on time. Sheri was uncharacteristically uptight about it - oh yeah and we were lost - but I was having a fun old time just pedalling and singing and swirving in and out of traffic. We got to the ice rink about 15 minutes late and found about 3 Japanese people and a convention of whities - our group (embarassing?). Their biggest skates fit me and guess what - I didn't die! We skated for a couple hours and plotted to steal the Zamboni. What would the crime be: Grand Theft _____? Finally, we came back to apartment 3D for relaxation time with movies Glen Gary Glen Ross, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. The first one was good. It gets 3 1/ 2 out of 5 GWs [GW GW GW G]. Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemon, Al Paccino, Ed Harris, and Alec Baldwin live a high pressure life as real estate agents competing to keep their jobs in a 2 scene movie adapted from the play.

In other news, Scott - the least interesting roommate will move out tomorrow thereby increasing the size of my room (I will remove the "wall" between our rooms) 100% and giving it a balcony with a view of the famous castle. What a guy.



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