Friday, August 25, 2006

Thompson, Manitoba

Have I ever had myself a little adventure.

Anticipating the month of hunger (TAs get their first paychecks on October 1st, and nearly half is shuttled directly off to pay "segregated fees) I signed on for a gig with the department of Forest Ecology, collecting data on the impact of climate change on the boreal forest in Thompson, Manitoba, about 750 kilometers north of Winnipeg. As my friend Cameron put it, I was prepared for a "mossome" experience.

HOWEVER. We were accompanied by "Kaitlyn," a 21-year-old tattooed, pierced undergraduate from bustling Black Earth, Wisconsin, who made it known immediately that I was persona non grata. Literally every comment I made was met with derision, condescension, eye-rolling, etc., and this continued for the entire 6 days, two of which were spent in a UW Fleet van. She claims, additionally, to be allergic to my dog, and wouldn't let him set foot on the first floor of the house we shared. While everyone else drank beer, watched movies, etc., I was minding my dog outside or in the 'slaves' quarters' in the basement. I spent the last week, friends, shaking with anger.

But I am back now, and with friends. Further, I did befriend some of the grownups on the trip and will be hanging out with them tonight. Lastly, though, one of my new internet friends painted me the following tableau, and I feel oddly vindicated:

"Kaitlyn with a K. How quaint. Was she one of those people with a chip on her shoulder the size of a city block? Perhaps she just missed her favorite bull from back home, some stocky redneck guy wearing coveralls, a straw hat, and toenails that poke holes through his former brother's sneakers. His name wouldn't be important, but the fact that he insists on drinking before fucking her might be of some use. Maybe they met one sweaty summer night at some bonfire out in the middle of Sauk county when they were both 14 years old. He told her she was cute, either because he meant in the sense that her buckteeth weren't as long as the others or because she put out. I'm sure their romantic swoon in mashed down piles of yellow grass co-mingled with dog crap paved the way for what was meant to be a long, arduous road filled with farms, an engagement ring with a stone the size of an eyeglass screw, bratty filthy little kids with no shirts and no diapers, and an orange painted kitchen filled with yellowish stains from both greasy cooking and cigarette smoke. Of course, this relationship would commence with his untimely and unfortunate death from exposure after getting drunk and locking himself out of the house one January, and she'd raise two felons, a prostitute, and a black sheep who went on to satisfy his dream of owning a bird/nature trinket store in Madison. She'd go one to live alone in an assisted living facility with a cigarette protruding from her tracheotomy tube.

Or, maybe she was on the rag."

I may have to nail this dude.

Thompson, Manitoba

Have I ever had myself a little adventure.

Anticipating the month of hunger (TAs get their first paychecks on October 1st, and nearly half is shuttled directly off to pay "segregated fees) I signed on for a gig with the department of Forest Ecology, collecting data on the impact of climate change on the boreal forest in Thompson, Manitoba, about 750 kilometers north of Winnipeg. As my friend Cameron put it, I was prepared for a "mossome" experience.

HOWEVER. We were accompanied by "Kaitlyn," a 21-year-old tattooed, pierced undergraduate from bustling Black Earth, Wisconsin, who made it known immediately that I was persona non grata. Literally every comment I made was met with derision, condescension, eye-rolling, etc., and this continued for the entire 6 days, two of which were spent in a UW Fleet van. She claims, additionally, to be allergic to my dog, and wouldn't let him set foot on the first floor of the house we shared. While everyone else drank beer, watched movies, etc., I was minding my dog outside or in the 'slaves' quarters' in the basement. I spent the last week, friends, shaking with anger.

But I am back now, and with friends. Further, I did befriend some of the grownups on the trip and will be hanging out with them tonight. Lastly, though, one of my new internet friends painted me the following tableau, and I feel oddly vindicated:

"Kaitlyn with a K. How quaint. Was she one of those people with a chip on her shoulder the size of a city block? Perhaps she just missed her favorite bull from back home, some stocky redneck guy wearing coveralls, a straw hat, and toenails that poke holes through his former brother's sneakers. His name wouldn't be important, but the fact that he insists on drinking before fucking her might be of some use. Maybe they met one sweaty summer night at some bonfire out in the middle of Sauk county when they were both 14 years old. He told her she was cute, either because he meant in the sense that her buckteeth weren't as long as the others or because she put out. I'm sure their romantic swoon in mashed down piles of yellow grass co-mingled with dog crap paved the way for what was meant to be a long, arduous road filled with farms, an engagement ring with a stone the size of an eyeglass screw, bratty filthy little kids with no shirts and no diapers, and an orange painted kitchen filled with yellowish stains from both greasy cooking and cigarette smoke. Of course, this relationship would commence with his untimely and unfortunate death from exposure after getting drunk and locking himself out of the house one January, and she'd raise two felons, a prostitute, and a black sheep who went on to satisfy his dream of owning a bird/nature trinket store in Madison. She'd go one to live alone in an assisted living facility with a cigarette protruding from her tracheotomy tube.

Or, maybe she was on the rag."

I may have to nail this dude.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Myspace interface


Seriously, I fucking love myspace. Where else would I meet "SHADOW" from Burnett, Wisconsin (pictured above)?

Here's Ryan's blurb:

SHADOW's Blurbs
About me:
Well I get along with most ppl ,I'm honest about all subjects that I talk about. the trueth is the best way to go nomatter who you are with and what you are doing.I love going out and haveing fun shooting darts and listening to music ,sometimes I dance at the bar.I like to take long walks and at night just to lay back and look at the stars because it is so peacefull.There is alot of fighting in this world. Me I had alot of ladys in my life that just used me and just looking to go out on dates just to see what is out there for now for me!!MY mom died when I was 11 years old ,SO I help out my dad still makes me sad . fantasy layout @ HOTFreeLayouts.com love / music / movies / frazy
HotFreeLayouts
Who I'd like to meet:
I like to meet someone that don't take advantage of me and is kind hearted, that likes me for who i am and to me it doesn't matter what age you are as long as you are 18 and up because love has no age limit and no boundary's.

Okay, I confess. I fucking love this dude. I want to go to his house, huff some paint, and ride on ATVs all day. Maybe pretend they're unicorns. Shit, I don't know. I ain't never huffed before.

Anyway, I will be in Thompson, Manitoba for the next ten days, collecting moss for the Forest Ecology department. Hey, it's a gig. Plus, the O-man gets to come, so it's a working honeymoon, sort of.

When I get back, I start TA-ing. I can't wait 'til they let me at those little fuckers. Teach them there are people who don't have cellphones, and shit.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's been a long time

and I'm still too lazy to post. There was a return from Tokyo, and about a month and a half of organic farming. Now there's waiting for school to start, and a war with my transient alcoholic neighbor who insists my dog attacked hers a year and a half ago.

Meanwhile, I find this eerily fascinating.

Those Asians.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

All "SJ Ranch" an' shit

So I just got back from the "supermarket," which is more of a glorified bodega tweaked to appeal to Midwestern college students with its "Beer and Milk [arrow]" neon sign all in cursive and shit. Since I am now making $350/month (I calculate 30 hours/week x 4 weeks = 120 hours or just UNDER $3.00/hour) I have no call to be all buying my personal hygienies at "Studio Quest" and such, and am nearly out of shampizzles, I sprung for a $2.05-bottle of VO5, like, "Tropical Classics" shampoo or something. Honestly, the last time I deigned to use VO5 I was straight rocking it anorexic-style at SJ Ranch horsie camp for girls in Butt Plug, Connecticut, so this will be a hella blast from the past.

Some background: having finally given up on getting a "real job" (complete with a boss who acts like he's making straight 40K more than he is, "successories" on the wall, and radios tuned to "light rock favorites") I joined up with P_ H_ Farms in Stoughton, Wisconsin, for a summer internship.

As many of you know, "internship" is code for "slave labor," but that's cool if you really like your Massa, and he ain't livin' all high off the hoggie hisself. More info on Massa and the crops later, but suffice it to say I have a kind of sunburn "Guernica" going on as a result of rotating my shitty shirts - also I got stung by a damn bee on my first day, and with my "stipend" I will net just about NEGATIVE $50.00 for the summer.

That said, I fucking love it. More later, stinkbombs.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Further dispatches from the East

Here goes: Tropic of Caitlincorn, Part II

Hi, Mom!

Oh, sorry about your flash flood. We had one here on Tuesday while I
was wandering about from Ekoda to Sakuradai, and all my stuff is wet. I
am going to have to replace my 40 dollar kanji dictionary, I suspect.
Because it is the rainy season it is wet all the time - humid in the
day, damp cold at night.

Oh, my little O. How I miss him. Now it is *beef soup* - more
accurate. I was a little concerned about your continuing to refer to it
as *kale soup* when *meat porridge* was more to the point. I missed him
especially yesterday when I saw a photo of a baby corgi on an ad on the
train (which could have been an ad for just about anything - the ads
here are so ridiculous) and then when I returned home, exhausted from
the day:s walk around the Imperial Palace (it:s HUGE) and through
Yasukuni Shrine) to find, on channel 6, a TV program about elderly
Japanese people teaching their baby puppies to do ridiculous tricks.
There was even a training montage, the background music to which was the
theme from *Flashdance.* Ridiculous. I realized that if I put O-man on
a raised platform and told him to jump over little obstacles he:d find a
way to tell me to go fuck myself, then he:d lay down in my spot on the
bed. I love that little bastard.

As far as I know, Peter is now in a British hoosegow. He apparently is a
50-year-old vegan who did not have these cats spayed or neutered due to
misdirected animal welfare sympathies, which means that we currently
have NINE cats, but the number could increase exponentially in very
little time. In order to put the kibosh on this situation, another
vegan, Liz, has contacted some agency which finds foster homes for
troubled kitties like ours and is, in the meanwhile, taking care of four
of them. One of these cats has decided that it belongs to me and I have
even once come into my locked room to find him on my pillow. This would
be irritating enough if it weren:t for the ever-present threat of fleas,
on the one hand, and my debilitating allergies, on the other. Still and
all, it:s hard not to pity these wretched creatures. It:s not their
fault they:re cats; it:s not their fault they were accumulated by some
irresponsible crazy man with a precarious visa situation.

Anyway, I love you guys and miss you. Have fun on the boat (hahaha)
Today I will go to Shinjuku, the Tokyo one sees in pictures, with all
the neon lights, etc. There is apparently an observatory on the top
floor from which one can see all of Tokyo. Also there is *Piss Alley*,
a tiny little row of buildings which miraculously survived the 1923
earthquake - amid all the skyscrapers, some tiny little wooden restaurants.

As for food, I:ve been trying to eat one big meal a day, around 3 p.m.
This way I can economize without eating rice and gyoza every day, like
all the other tenants here. I of course want to go to restaurants, the
more *authentic* the better, so I look for places which appear to be
closed because the sliding doors are closed, the menus are only in
Japanese, etc. The first day I had a big sushi plate, telling the
sushiyasan to give me whatever he thought appropriate. He gave me a mix of
various things. I asked for wasabi, having forgotten that wasabi is put
into sushi here, unlike into America, but he gave me a weird look and
gave me some. Because I was one of the few people there, and the only
American, and I am pitiful and obsequious and nice, he gave me an extra
piece of sushi gratis. Alas, it was another piece of squid, and I had
had a tough enough time choking down the first one. I thanked him
profusely and fought the almost overwhelming urge to haku (puke)

The second day I found a tiny tonkatsu place in Nerima. Tonkatsu,
incidentally, is my new favorite fat-girl food. *Ton* means pig, and
tonkatsu is a big hunk of pork breaded in panko flakes and fried, served
with a spicy-sweet sauce, shredded cabbage and, of course, sticky rice.
It:s delish.

Yesterday we stopped at a little cafe where I had kani (crab) chahan,
basically fried rice. I hadn:t the foggiest idea what I was ordering,
except that the suffix -han refers to rice, but I was moderately pleased
with the result. This cafe was near Tokyo Eki and so was more Western,
less tasty, and more expensive than my previous choices, but my feet
were by then so tired that sitting down was the priority. The waiter was
unable to convey to us the difference between the faintly yellow-tinged
water in our glasses and the faintly yellow-tinged water in the carafe
on our table, so instead of pouring ourselves glass after glass (we
tested it, rather intrepidly: it tasted the same) he returned time after
time with 8-ounce glasses of the stuff. Bizarre.

Anyway, I:ve got to go soon if I:m to do anything today. The blisters
on my feet are a problem. I have decided to suffer it out, but it:s not
easy. The ones just below my big toe have me in constant agony, but I:m
not here to lay around with my feet up. Today, at least, I will be on
my own, so I won:t be struggling to keep up with a Polish dude who
thinks I:m being a pussy for sitting down. I spent much of our time at
the Yasukuni Shrine Museum yesterday sitting on the little benches
beside elderly Japanese dudes, pretending to read the little didactic
pamphlets only available in Japanese to alleviate the blinding pain in
my feet.

Okay, love you.

I gotta take my 100 yen shower, then I:m off to Shinjuku. Perhaps I
will toss my hat in the air all Mary Tyler Moore-stylie. I:m gonna make
it after all!

-Cake

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Everything's terrible/organic farming/race relations

Okay, so here's a mini-update on my humiliating life. First, I have been searching for a job that doesn't involve suits, excessive A/C, shitty coffee, or jokey e-mail broadcasts. I have found two organic farming internships, but they naturally don't pay very much, you know, MONEY-wise. The first guy's name is Rob, and I spoke with him this afternoon. He is just SO weird that I may be in love with him, all talking about his seven strains of garlic and such.

I took a long walk with the O-man, around Lake Wingra where all the homeless dudes get together to drink and shoot. I seriously don't give a shit what they do; as a die-hard Democrat I vote to increase funding to help these wretched slobs every chance I get. But I would really, REALLY like to be able to take a walk without having my body described to me in lurid detail. I understand that black men prefer "a big backyard," so to speak, but I don't need to be reminded of what, in my culture, is considered a BIG (haha) shortcoming. Honestly, a white man will never follow you, saying, "Now THAT'S a big ass," because 1) he doesn't think it demands applause but correction; and 2) he appreciates that it's totally humiliating. My friend Sarah, whose ass is exponentially bigger than mine, was unfortunate enough to walk past a black man with a microphone on Landsdowne Street in Boston; said man followed her, chanting, "Now THAT's a BIG ASS!" until she broke down in tears.
I guess what I'm saying is, regardless of your sexual preferences, try to be a little considerate. If I had a fetish for acne scars, you FO SHO would not catch me hanging out at the bus stop yelling out to otherwise attractive people "DAMN, YOU GOT SOME ACNE SCARS! THAT LOOOK GOOOOOOOOODDDDD!"


Lastly, the O-man got into a scrap with a pit bull today. Honestly, I don't know what it will take to make him act like a normal dog. We pulled them apart by the legs, and I didn't notice (despite screening him) the puncture wound under his left front arm until about an hour ago. So tomorrow we head to the vet again.

Everything's terrible. Tune in for back-blogs on Tokyo, later.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mickey's pissed



Stolen from flickr, what else?

Retro-blog Tokyo: "Tropic of Caitlincorn"

It's never to late to J-blog. I didn't blog from Tokyo because I was on a shared computer in a common area fighting for internet time - instead I sent a series of broadcast e-mails, starting with:

TROPIC OF CAITLINCORN

Sorry for the delay in e-mail; the last two days have been, to say the
least, hectic and disorienting. This trip is so far a mixture of Kafka
and Henry Miller.

To begin, I sat on the plane with my new penpal, a handsome
Korean-American kid from Houston who is just back from Iraq and was on
his way to Seoul to visit friends. Honestly, a 13-hour flight is an
ordeal that makes lifetime friends. If you can survive the flight
cramped in like veal calves and still speak to each other, you have a
special bond. He is returning to Tokyo, but alas, not until after I
have left.

I managed to get to Ikebukuro by *limousine bus* which is a lot like the
airport shuttle from Mishawum Station, except that the anti-maccassars
(sp?) are lace, the curtains are silk, and the overhead announces in
Japanese and then the Queen:s English, *please do not use your
cellphones on this bus, as it tends to annoy the neighbors.* Excellent.

Once in Ikebukuro, the closest JR stop from Oizumi, where I am staying
(the central loop around central Tokyo, Yamanote-sen, is owned by JR,
the national railroad; the spokes radiating out from this hub are owned
by various private corporations, such that, in order to get around, I
have to buy two monthly passes, each about 10000 yen, or 100 USD: one
from Seibu Department Stores, who own the Seibu Ikebukuro line which I
have to take to get to the central loop; one from JR, to get from
Ikebukuro Station to all other central destinations. I make up for this
expense with my cheap lodgings, of course, but more on that scene below)
I wander around in search of Oizumi. The sense of disorientation is
strong here, even when one has not been awake for over 30 hours, but
after the flight it was too much. I had intended to walk to Oizumi from
Ikebukuro - the nice people at Narita (and they really are VERY, VERY
nice, provided that one demonstrates effort in speaking the language and
bows obsequiously) had told me it was a 10-minute walk. NOT SO. After
walking in circles for a little over an hour, I found Tokyo Metropolitan
Plaza and the Crown Plaza Hotel, a bastian of Western-ness in a
distinctly un-Western part of town. The bellhops and I spoke Japanese;
they disabused me of the idea that walking from Ikebukuro to Oizumi was
a good idea. For this I am forever indebted to them.

I managed (somehow) to figure out my way by train to Minami-Oizumi, but
only after getting off at Nerima-ku and wandering around. My first
impression of Nerima is that it is extremely beautiful; although the
houses are small, it truly is a country of aesthetes, all of whom
display meticulously-kept semi-tropical plants. My second impression?
*Damn, but there are a lot of whores here.* To their credit, they:re
really meticulously-kept semi-tropical whores. After another two hours
of walking around in the dense, humid air, past pachinko parlors, sake
bars, and the like (resisting the by now almost overwhelming desire to
stop for a hot sake, ooki no o, kudasai [the big one, please]) I found a
worker:s union with a tiny restaurant where two middle-aged Japanese men
gave me directions back to the station and photocopied a map for me.
Like a number of people that day, they complimented me on my Japanese
(nihongo ga jouzu desu ne!) A lovely young Japanese waitress from the re
staurant, Arishia, walked me back to the station where, in frustration
(it was by now 8:30 p.m., my plane having landed at 3:30) and on her
advice, I splurged and enlisted the services of a single-fare cab (ie,
anywhere in the area for 650 yen, or just under $6.50) Money well
spent. For the next hour he and I drove through streets so impossibly
narrow that the average American sedan would have a hard time of it -
these were, however, TWO LANE streets, so we careened through Lombard
Street-like curves nearly missing oncoming garbage trucks and private
cars. Also, my cabbie gave off a strong smell of whiskey and water. In
his defense, he was about 5 feet tall, so it probably didn:t take that
much Suntory to suffuse his little system. Having driven in circles for
about 30 minutes, we stopped and used his cellphone to call the
venerable Yoshida House for better directions, but there was no answer.
*dame,* we repeated, in defeat, *inai*
(no good; there:s no one there) I confess that, despite my postmodern
sympathies, I was raised to believe that one can get places with a map
and the correct address. Not universally the case. Every four blocks
or so we would find a home whose owner was so extravagant as to have
purchased street numbers, and we would get out, scratch our heads, say,
*dame,* and get back in. At the end of a long alley by a tiny river we
found this truly odd-looking little structure, a tiny cabin enclosed in
vegetation, with two little tables with ashtrays, an odd assortment of
garbage, an antediluvial naugahyde loveseat, and cement statues of
Buddha. *Kore wa nan desu ka?* I asked, and he replied he hadn:t any
idea. Seeing a light through the vegetation, etc., I asked to get out
to ask directions of whoever was inside. I got out and saw a funky
little sign adorned with a mosaic of what I think is supposed to be a
whale and the words, in English, *YOSHIDA HOUSE*

*YO-SHI-DA-HAU-SU!* I yelled. *Kimashita yo!* (*we:ve made it!*) The
driver leapt out, exclaiming, *yokatta! yokatta!* - *YES!* and I
followed. We gave each other a high-five and I was so happy I teared
up. I gave him a generous tip by Japanese standards, 20000 yen (2 USD)
to compensate him for having spent an hour navigating Minami Oizumi with
me for less than the price of the gas consumed, and he looked at me
quizzically. *Okanemochi desu ka?* he asked (Are you a moneybags?)
and I replied, no, but you were such a good driver. I was exhausted,
elated, and had a Suntory contact high.

By now it was 9:30. I sought out an open door and found one ajar. I
pushed it open with my free hand to find a stark naked Japanese dude who
said, without any register of indignation, or even surprise, *oh ,
um...* I slammed the door shut, apologizing in a panic, and walked
around until I found another Japanese-style sliding door, open about 1
inch, and called in, in Japanese, *excuse me, I just arrived from
America. I am Meagher-san. I am to stay here.* I was met at the door
by a truly enormous, and not unattractive, Frenchman named Geoffrey, who
let me in and showed me my room. *Vous etes Francais?* I asked, and he
was floored. He asked whether I spoke French and I replied that while I
had *plusieurs annees en etudiais, je nai pas l:occasion pour le
pratiquer.* He was ecstatic. He is from Lyons, but I told him about
mon petit frere qui joue le baseball a quelque chose-sur-Orge. He
replied, in French, *I didn:t know there was baseball in France.* I
showed him h
avebatwilltravel.com to confirm my claims. He was duly impressed.

Soon my first naked Japanese came in - I have seen, in my day, fully
naked half-Japanese and half-naked Japanese, but this was the full
Monty, (fu-ru mon-chi) so to speak. I apologized again but promised, in
Japanese, that *chinchin ga mimasen deshita.* (I did not see the penis)
In fact this was true. It had happened so quickly that I didn:t think
to look down, even if I had been so inclined and, let:s face it, I would
have been. I:m a scientist, after all. I seek to know.
He thought this was hilarious, and looked relieved. Geoffrey proposed
that this was only because the chinchin was so miniscule, which met with
laughter and broke the ice.

I told them I knew Peter was on vacation, but that I had arranged to
stay the month. They let me in on the truth: Peter is not on vacation
in Bangkok, he is in a detention center, having been deported for visa
problems (which apparently plague about a third of Yoshida:s tenants)
Peter left in a hurry, shackled, no doubt, to some humorless immigration
official, abandoning his NINE CATS, who prowl about begging for food;
the ad-hoc cat policy being not to give them any, in the hope that they
will take the hint and scadoodle. One of these cats has twice followed
me into my room; another tries to jump on me every time I sit down. My
room, though carpeted, comes with a broom, which has proved an
invaluable tool in Caitlin-cat relations.

As for my room, it is the worst place I have ever seen in my entire
life, but there is something about its abject squalor that makes me want
to tough it out. My floor is sunken in several places; the *bed* is an
army cot covered with several quilts to signify a mattress, which I am
instructed to air out every week or so to kill fleas.
Exhausted, I lay down and slept better than ever before, but was awoken
by immigration officials conducting an impromptu sweep. When asked in
Japanese whether I lived here on my way to the shower (one building
over!) I responded, in Japanese, *yes, since yesterday* and was left
alone. The other tenants were in hiding, peering out their windows from
their rooms or playing possum.

Thus I began my first full day in Japan, eight full hours of which I
spent in search of an ATM that can read American cards. I spoke to
about forty Japanese during the course of the day, each time reciting,
*jidoukikai wa America no ka-do ga yomenaindesu ka. Amerika kara kitta
bakari desu yo. Komatte ne.* (Your ATM does not read my American card.
I have just come from America, and this is a terrible problem.) I was
met with flattery for my language skills, sympathy, and regret that they
hadn:t the foggiest idea where I could find an international ATM.

My quest took me, finally, back to Ikebukuro, where I found, in the
basement behind an upscale gourmet department store (*fat kid Disney,*
as I have named it) at the end of a seemingly endless hallway, a
citibank ATM which, alas, cannot for security reasons dispense more
than 50000 yen or 500 USD per day to foreigners. So I was able, after
an eight-hour (no, really) trek to pay my rent, but nothing more. Today
I will return to Ikebukuro to withdraw another 50000 yen. This is an
excellent money-saving device: merely accessing one:s money is such an
ordeal, one is more reluctant to part with those cartoon-colored bills.

So today I will return to Nerima-ku, where I will speak to Maho Cavalier
of dclanguage about Japanese lessons, and I will perhaps make it to
Shitamachi by the end of the day. In this country, one can:t take
anything for granted.

It:s now 9:30 a.m., so I have to be off. More adventures in Tokyo later.

Love you all,

Cake