Friday, December 24, 2010

24.

I'm "officially" 24 now. I was born at 2:15 p.m. in Korea. Japan and Korea are in the same time zone and it's after 2:15, so I really can't be telling people I'm 23 anymore. A bit sad really as this marks the beginning of my mid-twenties, though mother insists I started the mid-twenties at 23. I'm not too concerned though, I fixed a good portion of what was wrong or broken in the past few months and feel good about how I'm living. When I turned 23 I felt despair and confusion when the clock struck midnight, but 24 feels hopeful and happy.

Tonight me, my suitcase, carry-on bag, and a big bag full of Christmas presents will go to Fukuoka City and meet up with Walter. We will eat cake and enjoy being together for クリスマス in Japan. My first Japanese Christmas. And then on Sunday morning I'm off to Germany. Europe still feels magical despite the fact that this will be my 7th trip there. I just can't help myself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the morning.


Right after it rains, everything is just right. From my walk to work this morning.

I've renamed my blog "Little Satans." The Krampus shtick got tired. The name will be inane forever.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top Five: German Food


#1: TORTENBUFFET. I don't even need to say more. Cake buffets are the best invention of all time.



#2: Käsespätzle. Cheesy egg noodles topped with fried onions in a big bowl. Just a big bowl of carbs and fat that will probably give you bad breath. I'm already waiting in line drooling into my drool cup.




#3: Nordsee. The only other fast food I get this excited about is In-N-Out Burger in California/Arizona/Nevada. Nordsee sell fish, shrimp and other seafood in sandwich, patty, filet and recently sushi form. I'm a fan.



#4: Flammkuchen. From what I've read and seen it's similar to a thin pizza and can be topped with anything. I can't wait to actually taste one!


#5: Currywurst. It's really just a crappy hot dog with curry powder and ketchup on a paper plate, but it represents so much more. Currywurst is the iconic sausage that stands for Berlin, and Berlin is where magic happens.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Back to life after being dead.



Here it is, a song that lifts my spirits to the point where I grow little horns right out of my skull. It's like I woke up from a coma and suddenly remembered who I am. I cannot translate my feelings into words so please accept my terms unconditionally: everything is right in the world. The little part of my brain reserved for psychedelic drug experiences, eating delicious forbidden food and rocking the heck out has been stimulated. I believe this is "spiritual."

Yes I know Mercyful Fate did it first, but Ghost and their unabashed return to the roots of black metal (which is somehow "psychedelic" or "doom" in this confusing modern world of classification...?) are such a welcome breath of fresh air. I haven't gotten really excited about metal in months, but "Opus Eponymous" is an album that's going straight to loop on my playlist.


"Ritual" is probably my personal favorite due to the blissful simplicity of the keyboard and vocal harmonies present during the chorus and flawless guitar work throughout. There's no extraneous wanking anywhere - proof that "badass" can exist without the inclusion of 64th notes. I'm a huge fan of the spoken passages in goofy demonic voice too. If you can't appreciate cheesy soliloquies about sacrificing virgins and goat lords, get the fuck out of the hall.

I have thought about my fascination and relationship with metal, Satan, Satanism, evil and hellfire imagery. I do not actually believe any of it is real yet I do genuinely find it titillating and thrilling to imagine the situations painted on cautionary medieval murals, where naked and lost souls fall into the fiery pits only to be tortured by grotesque looking demons with two dicks each. I have considered the possibility that it is a disingenuous or ironic fascination, but it's really not and it never will be. If you don't get it, you probably won't.

Hail Satan!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top 5: Japanese Food


広島お好み焼き: Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki. Like a cabbage/pork/egg latke sitting on top of fried udon or soba noodles. Best with copious amounts of sauce and mayonnaise. Bonito flakes wave in the wind. It's never not unsettling watching them move; are they waving hello or contorting in pain?



すき焼き: Sukiyaki. A delicious assortment of beef, tofu, and vegetables that is cooked in a hot pot in a delicious sweet and salty sauce. Wintry food, ideal for entertaining guests as you can make a lot at once. All major food groups except chocolate are covered here.




エビチリ: Chili shrimp. There's an obvious Chinese influence here. Usually at restaurants the sauce is very sweet and not really spicy at all, which is the giveaway that those silly delicate-tongued Japanese have neutered an imported entree (you should taste their "kimuchi" bullshit).



豚丼: Butadon, aka sliced pork on rice. Simple and easy to make. My school cafeteria makes a KILLER butadon that is worth dreaming about and possibly dying for. I'd probably be properly thin if I didn't insist on eating butadon every Wednesday.



なす田楽: Nasu Dengaku/Baked Eggplant with Miso. The most delectable of gourmet dishes. It's just an eggplant with miso paste in it, yet it has somehow achieved food perfection. You can't get this glorious treat from a crappy vending machine restaurant.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The sights and sounds of Tagawa






Sights: Odd furniture here and there, more flower boxes than in the whole of Paris, rice paddies, cats with and without tails, and cheeky vegetable patches.

Sounds: Stillness, cars, countryside quiet, the eardrum-raping revving of 50cc scooter engines, and the eerie sound of fighter jets circling overhead.

I took these on my walk home from work today. The clouds cooperated nicely.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Capitalism


Japan isn't the place to be if you've made a bet with a friend to see who can find more "Jesus Is The Reason For The Season" bumper stickers on cars. Christianity, while legal and tolerated, is not a big deal here - though Nagasaki does have its fair share of Catholics around. I think one teacher out of all the staff at my school is a Christian, and she's a Nagasaki-born Catholic who doesn't seem particularly pious.

If you're a secular "Kristen Kringle" type (please refer to this book
for details), Japan will please you in ways not even America can. Should you find yourself out shopping any time between October 31 and January 1, you'll find the malls, shopping centers, plazas, department stores and restaurants flamboyantly decked out with "illumination" lights and decor displays (see image) and special promotions and sales. Your ears will sing and dance to myriad variations of the Wham! classic "Last Christmas" as well as .midi covers of "Good King Wenceslas" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," and if you're quite lucky you may be treated to a dainty, tinkle-y music box rearrangement of Mariah Carey's Christmas album. KFC's Christmas roast chicken dinners have become a hallowed and wildly popular tradition, and you can order a "Christmas cake" from any convenience store or bakery. I'm still not clear how a Christmas cake differs from a regular cake, but seeing as I'm spending my first Christmas (and my birthday, Christmas Eve) in Japan in just two weeks' time, I'll be sure to let you know. I'll be doing it the proper way - spending the day in bed with a lover, moaning and groaning in pain from too much cake.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

scrambled think-eggs

I'm almost satisfied with my appearance. Almost. I still have gross shitty crooked teeth and a flopping gut, stretch marks and shit that jiggles some places, but I can almost overlook those. I was trying on boots at Uniqlo Shoes yesterday and I couldn't get most of the zippers halfway over my calves, but instead of getting discouraged I just felt like a major badass because my legs are so muscular. Seriously, if I flex and slap my thighs, nothing jiggles. There is space between them. It is a victorious state to be in.

I talk about weight loss and running and blah blah food food food exercise a lot, but it's only so I can catch up. I feel like people who have always been thin and in shape simply don't have to worry about it. For those of us late to the party aka former fat people, it's truly a gigantic lifestyle change that warrants laughter, tears, and a shifting identity. Some days you get bitter, tantrum-like notions of nostalgia and overromanticization of a less healthy past. It's just like culture shock and fatigue when you extend your stay in a given new locale beyond a month or two weeks' vacation honeymoon. Just like I am sometimes convinced I actually miss pasty, obese, ignorant retards aka the cream of the American crop, some days I feel like the world is a dog and I am a chew toy, and why the FUCK don't I get to eat plates of rice with lunch like my 45 kg colleagues?


This morning I weighed myself and I was heavier than yesterday despite eating less yesterday than I did the day before. But I'm going to quit using scales as the tell-all. A scale is after all just a measuring device that does not take into account that the miso soup was oversalted at Yayoiken. A scale can't tell that I'm getting JACKED (okay, not actually) because I want my shoulders and back to look awesome in my backless, mostly frontless New Year's Eve dress. The scale also does not take into account that I've come a fairly long way, beating nicotine addiction and a very strong conviction that I will never be able to run for longer than five minutes.

I know what I'm doing works and that if I keep it up, I'll be healthy, progressively able to lift heavier things, and my endurance and heart will be optimally functional. Maybe I'll even live to be old and hot. I hope when I'm fifty I can have an affair with a hot nineteen-year-old. Now that's a goal worth working towards.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sushi


I prefer Westernized (some would call them "abortions") versions of sushi to the traditional Japanesey kind. Give me a Philadelphia roll - salmon and cream cheese - over sea urchin or raw squid any day. The more deep fried crap, dairy and mayonnaise, the better. A lot of people think sushi is health food, but it's really not when you break it down (Sashimi, the immaculate pure protein, is excepted from this rule). Maki (roll) or nigiri (sitting on top of rice) sushi is really just a little carb bomb that you soak in pure sodium, and since they're bite-sized it's plenty easy to eat them by the truckload. With that in mind, we should strive to make sushi as decadent and fattening as humanly possible.

At my old Vassar haunt, Sushi Village
in Poughkeepsie NY, they had this one memorable sushi roll that my then-boyfriend Mike really loved. He was a cross country runner so he could eat whatever the heck he wanted. This roll was called the "Poughkeepsie Roll" and if I recall correctly it consisted of salmon, jalapeno pepper, fried onion straws, BBQ sauce, and cheese, all slapped on top of a sizeable hunk of rice. The Poughkeepsie Roll was $12.00 or something and each piece (there were six pieces) took at least 2-3 bites to wolf down. Even highly experienced binge eaters such as myself and Mike could hardly handle its rich greasy goodness. That's what sushi should be all about.

Another pointless anecdote...I recall fondly speaking with a Korean exchange student who visited Japan about conveyor belt sushi. The Koreans weren't big on Japanese food because of its relative lack of zazz as compared to Korean cuisine; however teenage boys will be teenage boys, and they got a little competitive when they went to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Osaka. Apparently the winner ate 25 plates (2 pieces per plate - 50 pieces of sushi). That's the spirit, fellas.

What am I trying to say? Well, for one thing I've arranged to meet a friend in Karlsruhe during my Germany trip for the near-sole purpose of chowing down on beautiful Westernized inside-out sushi rolls, hopefully containing cream cheese. I am irrationally excited about it - people ask "why would you go to Germany to eat Japanese food?" - but honestly the only German food that holds any interest is spaetzle and currywurst. Speaking to the "bigger" picture, I'm quite excited to move back home. Ironically, the "Japanese" food is often better there.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Musical Discovery: Welle: Erdball



It seems if I so choose, I can see these guys live in Berlin at K17 on Dec. 30. I think I would like to. People ask me why I'm so infatuated with Germany, and I think Welle: Erdball sum it up nicely by combining elements of nerdy electro beeps and boops (pioneers of 8-bit), EBM/synthpop vibe, and a touch of retro/steampunk for good measure. It helps that their style is fucking fabulous and they create music about computers. One more "I'm such a doofus for not acknowledging the existence of such excellence years ago" to add to the big pile.







Wednesday, November 24, 2010

산해경/Mungunghwa



Something big is happening in Korea now. The North has attacked the South and the world is on alert. I have no idea what's to come - how many will end up dead, how many other nations will end up getting involved, what it means for the future of the Korean Peninsula. I do know that when I read news of the attacks, my heart sank into my stomach.


I was born in Gyeongsangbuk-do in the east of South Korea. My birth certificate just lists the county so it's possible I could hail from a tiny fishing village, or from Daegu which is one of the biggest urban centers in the nation. Anything is possible, and it's the uncertainty of it that makes me a bit sad sometimes.
I'll never know who my biological parents are. I sort of envy "homemade" people who can look at their parents and know with absolute certainty that they have their mother's nose, their father's eyes, and facial bone structure just like Grandpa's. On the other hand, it's nice to know I dodged the bullets of wavy/curly hair and ahem "strong" noses that both my adoptive/real parents have. I don't have to shave my legs, my hair is effortlessly straight and manageable, and I have a symmetrical face with small features. Thank you, blood-mom and blood-dad.


I applied to donate eggs for money in college, and was turned down because of my lack of family history. While it's probably not a bad thing that I didn't go through with the egg donation, it was brought to my attention that I don't know if any of my blood relatives carried hereditary conditions or illnesses that could spring up later. I'm not bipolar or an alcoholic or diabetic and I never get sick. Despite having abused my body for years stuffing it with junk food and wasting 4 years smoking cigarettes, I am proud of my health. Thank you, blood-mom and blood-dad.


"The story" is that my birth mother couldn't take care of me and gave me up so that I would have a better life. She was 40 years old when I was born and I have a feeling she and my birth father were not married and possibly not even together as a couple. Maybe he raped her. Maybe she gave birth and thought I was ugly or something. I don't know. I'll never know. But I do have a pretty darn good life and I'm proud of her for giving me up. I got to grow up with loving parents who planned for my existence and wanted me in their lives. They raised me well and taught me that it's okay to live your entire life with split identities.


People give us shit for being white-washed as if it's our fault, something we did wrong. As if looking Asian but being raised by non-Asians is somehow criminal and inferior to a "real" Asian-American upbringing. Sometimes "real" Koreans look at us and feel pity, like we've been cheated out of our destinies. I feel humble and lowly in a room full of bilingual Korean-Americans as if I am an impostor. It's irrational and it shouldn't be, but it is. Just in my few experiences on flights and layovers in Korea or on Korean airlines, I feel nothing but idiotic talking to Koreans who could be my fucking cousins or something in English, Japanese, even German. I haven't been traveling in Korea because I am terrified of how stupid it feels to be in your birthplace and not be able to understand anyone or speak the language. It's a two hour boat ride away and I've used every excuse in the book not to make the journey. I don't think I'm ready.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A weekend getaway

A few good friends and I took a road trip to Aso-Kuji National Park in the rural mountains of Oita. Perfect clear skies, mountain and volcano views, mini-hikes, and natural hot springs. I won't be forgetting this adventure any time soon.









Monday, November 8, 2010

A Parisian life

I made an omelette for Walter for his breakfast yesterday and he was flabbergasted that I can cook. It's not unreasonable; up until just a few months ago I ate out or bought 90% of my meals from convenience stores like a Japanese bachelor.

Now that I'm cooking and packing my own lunches for work, life feels different. I don't make anything too gourmet or complicated since my love of eating is equally rivaled to my disdain for cleaning up. But coming home and seeing the fridge full of vegetables, tofu, eggs and yogurt reminds me that I am far more in control of things than I used to be. My simple concoctions are healthy and I know exactly what goes into them. I try to buy groceries from the nice little old ladies on the corner instead of at the gigantic corporate Wal-Mart clone.

Paris is a famously thin city. Factoring out heavyset tourists, it is rare to see French women bigger than a size 8 in any given street scene. It is normal to buy your groceries in smaller quantities several times a week and to walk everywhere since public transit is good. People complain that the French must be superhuman in order to eat all that bread and croissants and raclette and duck confit without getting fat. A diet book, "French Women Don't Get Fat," became an overnight sensation in obesity-ridden America. A study comparing fullness signifiers was conducted in Chicago and Paris. Chicagoans said they were full when their plates were empty or when their TV shows were done, and Parisians said they were full when their stomachs felt full.

I am working on the last bit. I still have issues with leaving food on a plate since for whatever reason I feel like "wasting food" by throwing it in the garbage is worse than putting it in my body even if I'm already full. But other than that, I think I have almost successfully achieved what some people would call a Parisian life. I walk everywhere: to work, to the train station, to the supermarket. I buy groceries for 2-3 days at a time instead of trying to load up for a whole week in one go. Produce is always fresh, never canned. I cook in single servings because I don't trust myself not to peck at leftovers once one plate is finished.

And I am sincerely worried that I won't be able to maintain this lifestyle when I move back to the U.S. in the summer.

***

The easiest thing ever...

-Spinach (any amount will do - the more the merrier)
-8-12 shiitake mushrooms
-Some sort of cheese - I use individually wrapped Camembert
-Garlic
-Soy sauce

1.) Boil the spinach and sautee the shiitake mushrooms in soy sauce in a pan.
2.) Cut spinach into sections of 2-3 inches.
3.) Cut cheese into tiny cubes.
4.) Throw it all in a bowl and sprinkle garlic on top.
5.) Eat with a fork.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peeling back the layers





Different shoes in each shot, all brand new.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cool!


Today was an incredibly clear day, not a drop of humidity in the air. Made for perfect visibility (as pictured) and beautifully vivid cloud formations that I forgot to photograph. This picture was snapped from my phone as I walked home.

I set a new running record for myself. Perhaps I was fueled by my unsightly peanut butter feeding frenzy when I got home from work, but whatever the cause I was able to maintain a pretty good pace for over an hour without slowing down or walking. That probably means I should be pushing harder, but damn! Only a few months ago I thought it was a physical impossibility to run for longer than five minutes at a time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two stylish Finns

Inspirational. Looking forward to payday. The peacock tights in the second photo are particularly great. Ganked from Hel Looks.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

japanese weekend

Really chill weekend. I went down to Kumamoto to hang out with Walter like I often do. We mostly just ate ice cream and pizza and junk food to counter our futile attempts at healthier living. We also saw a nice little lantern festival downtown. There were thousands of candles lit by Kumamoto Castle and in a park nearby, most of which containing wishes and hopes penned by school age kids. Everything from "world peace" to "more money."



Sinnocular (Walter's band) was scheduled for a regular gig on Sunday at Drum Be Nine club downtown, but the drummer got hit by a car and was unable to perform (he's okay, just a bit banged up). Impromptu unplugged show!


While Sinnocular practiced, I played dressup with the girls. In loose conjunction with the lantern festival, there was a daytime festival by the International Center and one feature was free kimono fittings! Teams of ever so patient little old ladies and eager English speaking young women dressed us and primped us just so we could take pictures of ourselves. Among the hordes of Malays and Indonesians combining kimono with hijab, this Korean-American felt a little conflicted - but mostly just vain and peacocky prancing around in the kimono equivalent of a Big Gay Rainbow.



Drag queens, you're jealous. Happy National Coming Out Day!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Too much nostalgia.

Related to the last entry about cataloguing one's life experiences using playlists and albums and songs: when is nostalgia detrimental to living in reality?

It occasionally occurs to me that everything I get excited about falls into one of only two categories: remembering something epic from the rose-coloured days of yore and getting emotional about how great it was, or anticipating some major event in the future such as major weight loss or a vacation and counting down the days. What's so unbearable about the present that daily life revolves entirely around time traveling to better times? Everyone says it's better to have goals and aspirations so that you don't stagnate entirely and flounder aimlessly through life, which I can't disagree with, but I do wonder sometimes.

I suppose these are the things you think about when you live your life on autopilot from weekend to weekend. I'd like "LIVING IN JAPAN" to become magical again, please.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Music fanaticism.



I love music. I obsess over my "currently listening to" like a teenager. I play the violin whenever inspiration beats laziness. I am going to play creative nu-metal covers at an upcoming gig. I take karaoke ever so slightly too seriously and get mad when people ruin the vibe of the song in question. I would actually commit murder to see Kraftwerk perform in a live setting. Perhaps most importantly, I may never outgrow the adolescent tactic of using songs to define moments and emotions in my life.

Everyone has different methods of cataloguing their highs, lows and middle grounds. I just happen to rely primarily on the dates on digital photos to keep accurate timelines, and on songs and bands that feature prominently in remembering.

The Horrible First Heartbreak was "Cut Here" by The Cure.

My First Scandalous Affair was "Beating Heart Baby" by Head Automatica.

The Great Pants-Peeing Psilocybin Adventure of Boxing Day 2008 was "Electric Feel" by MGMT.

Stupid Bout of Really Awful Depression in Japan was "In der Palästra" by Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows.

etc forever.

My mother doesn't give a rat's tail about music. While she is familiar enough with relevant songs so as to narrowly avoid the "pop culturally autistic" moniker, she has no interest in music as a form of entertainment on a daily basis. There is never, ever music playing at my parents' house. Music is just something dad does when he's driving solo. I had to find the joy in enjoying and obsessing over and loving music independently of my family, though I give them lots of credit for encouraging me to pick up violin.

On the "fandom" end of things, it all started with Limp Bizkit. Arguably the worst band ever to become even marginally popular. I fell in love with Wes Borland, but I would have let Fred Durst take me to bed if he'd asked. I obsessively read fan websites about Wes Borland - the best was "Obsessy With Wessy," hosted on Angelfire - memorized his favorite food, color, shoe size, all this stupid bullshit. I actually think I cried once or twice thinking about how frustrating it was that we might never meet and he would certainly not fall in love with me. I was just an overweight teenager with acne, had no boobs to flash at concerts like some of the other female fans did, but I loved him with all my heart and then some. With this unstoppable love came a fervent fanatic addiction to Limp Bizkit as a musical entity. I owned every album up through "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water" (which was obviously bought the day it was released) and I memorized the chugtastic guitar riffs, lead AND backing vocals, and the ins and outs of every song. I went to the bathroom six times before the opening act came on the one time I scored arena tickets to see them (I remember the date - it was December 11, 2000). This went on for some time.

Ten years later I look back on how silly it was to be so obsessed with Limp Bizkit and feel jealous of my younger self! If I were that passionate about anything, at this age I could conquer the world.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shrinkage



Wicked! Down from a US 10 to a US 6.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SPACE WORLD

Not a bad use of a national holiday.  Roller coasters, fair food and no lines because Space World is a sad bubble economy theme park!  Photo courtesy of Chris Harber.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why can't I quit you?

I'm going to Germany again. This will be my fourth time in less than three years, and I have not lived on the western half of the Eurasian landmass for any of those three years. I'll be there over the New Year holiday in Frankfurt and Berlin. As if that weren't awesome enough, I will be accompanied with three of my best friends from Japan, who all happen to be English and therefore already nearby for Christmastime. To say I'm excited would be an insincerely understated lie.

It's funny how any given place represents different things for everyone. For a friend who will be joining me in my travels, Germany is synonymous with uptight boring people who wear socks and sandals. For plenty of Americans, the first things that come to mind are Nazis, shit porn and Oktoberfest. For me, it is (incorrectly) a futuristic haven of minimal techno producers with cool names, power plants, Kraftwerk, and kinky shit. I studied the language rather casually and by this point speak extravagantly poorly - just well enough to survive, file a police report, and say "tee hee" to cute strangers.

Obviously it is just a country, with all sorts of variations in language, dress, geography and politics. In my short but sweet times there I've watched the sun rise over Berlin on New Year's morning after in the company of a druid, danced the night away at a pro-Israel/USA communist squat, and I've also been yelled at by a cranky middle aged woman on a train for having my feet on my own seat.


It's these mundane occurrences that become "unforgettable experiences" and define how we think of X locale, and this update exists solely for my own purposes. I'm including a few photos from the prior three trips that I find particularly nostalgia-inducing or representative. Enjoy!



A chilly pond by Ravensbrück concentration camp memorial site: Brandenburg, March 2008


Revelers at Icon, first "real" clubbing experience in my lifetime: Berlin, March 2008


TV tower in Alexanderplatz on a snowy New Year's Day: Berlin, January 2009


Summer flowers on top of a mountain: Baden-Baden, August 2009


Maren, a notably excellent Couchsurfing "coffee or a drink" host who introduced me to some lovely people: Munich, August 2009