where on earth has March gone?

So things here have been crazy lately (I know I say that all the time, but I'm being serious each and every time)…

I’ve been working full-time for the CEYE, which has been a mixed experience so far. You see, at first I didn’t have enough work and I got a little bored just working on the same thing day in and day out. So I decided it would be a good idea to go to the Toronto office to meet with the boss-lady and get more work. Boy was that ever NOT a good idea…I ended up getting so much work with such tight deadlines that I thought I might die, when I went to T.O. just hoping for some sort of happy medium where I had a bunch of things to do that I could work on in bits and pieces whenever I so chose. That’ll learn me! So I really did try to take everything on, but I ended up breaking under the pressure (I only lasted two days, how sad is that?!) and ended up dropping one of the things on my plate (I still contend that it’s impossible to write a grant proposal that someone would actually fund in less than 5 days, so I think I did the right thing). So now things are good…I have a few things to do, but not too much. My only complaint is that I feel like I’m a student again, what with all the working from home and the library research/paper writing, but there should be enough community development work and direct work with young people that I’ll be happy (I’m helping to facilitate a youth retreat next weekend and I’m dying with excitement!). So, yeah, CEYE and I are friends again. Yay!

In other exciting job-related news, I have my interview with the City this week, FINALLY! I was starting to suffer from “job excitement burn-out” because I’ve been waiting on this job since mid-January, but now that the interview is getting closer I’m starting to get excited again, so that should be helpful in me acing the interview. I want this job more than anything, so please keep your fingers crossed that I get it!! Also, job interview tips would be greatly appreciated.

Ok, I’m so sick of being in front of this computer that I’m going to run away now (to the couch to prepare for my interview, how sad is that?!).

Posse out!


Chaz's birthday, part deux

If you ask me, Chaz’s last birthday was pretty awesome. Not only was there a fantabulous photo scavenger hunt organized in his honour (see previous post), but he and I also spent his whole birthday day just walking around enjoying the sights and sounds of Okayama.

The day started off when I presented Chaz with the best birthday cake ever. I use the term birthday cake rather loosely here, because there was actually very little cake involved. I mean, I really wanted to make Chaz a cake, but given that we had no oven, that ingredients for cakes and treats are disgustingly expensive in Japan, and that I don’t read Japanese (which often makes buying things slightly difficult), I decided that making a cake was just asking a little too much. Lame, I know, but what’s a girl to do? I mean, really. So I decided to get creative and make him a cake out of Pocky, a very popular and delicious snack here in Japan (who knew a cookie stick dipped in chocolate could be so yummy?). To decorate I bought some candles and a little tube of icing from the 100 yen shop…unfortunately the icing didn’t want to come out of the tube, and I couldn’t figure out a way to get the candles to stay on the cake… The result was this little masterpiece…


I took Chaz to one of our favourite little cafés in Okayama for his birthday lunch. There are just so many things that make this place the gem that it is…they grow all of their own veggies, bake all of their baked-goods fresh, use serious amounts of delicious gouda cheese on everything, make killer sandwiches (which is a really big deal in Japan, because they just don’t see to be that into sandwiches there…it’s like they don’t even care and/or try. Except for this place. They both care and try, and I loved them all the more for it)…just everything about the place rules. And while the food was truly too good for words (and cheap too, for Japan!), I think my favourite part of the experience had to have been that dogs lived there. Yes, that’s right, in violation of probably a million and one health codes, there was always a dog wandering around this little café (one was little and oh-so-sweet, the other was quite possibly the biggest dog I have ever seen). No, it didn’t bother me that when I pet them their hair flew around onto all of the food (you can see in one picture that they just leave loaves of bread sitting out unwrapped…good luck finding one of those that comes dog-hair free!)…it was like being at home (back in the days of Diamond, anyway…oh Diamond, I still miss you, boy!). And I kind of liked that they one dog was so big he would just sit at the edge of your table and look you in the eyes while you ate…it entertained me that, if he really wanted to, he could just come over and eat right off my plate. Oh café whatever-your-name-was, how I miss ye.

dear, sweet cafe...

For some strange reason, I really enjoy this picture...

Chaz eating one of the tastiest sandwiches ever!!
Part of the fun of the day was that Chaz had to wear his party yukata whenever we did something birthday-related (like eat lunch, chug beer, etc.)

Do you see how dog hair would get on all that bread? Yummy!!

Look how big he is! How awesome is that?!
He just sat there and watched her eat her whole meal like that...it was too great!

beer number 2...

Because you can buy booze everywhere in Japan (convenience stores, grocery stores, vending machines) and drink in public, I thought it would be fun to make Charles chug birthday beer regularly throughout the day. Here Chaz is enjoying beer number 2 after lunch. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of beer number 1 (just a video)…that happened on the way to the café.

beer number 3...


I felt a little bad about the half-assed “birthday cake” I “made” Chaz for his birthday, so I felt like I needed to make it up to him with MORE POCKY! But not just any Pocky. No, Pocky DECORER (it’s French, don’tcha know!). Why Pocky DECORER, you ask? Well, because, according to the package, Pocky DECORER is "like a decoration cake on a stick." That’s pretty appropriate for a birthday, don’t you think? Well I thought so too.

The thing with Pocky DECORER is that it has the best TV commercials ever (and anyone who talked to me while I was in Japan knows that I spent entirely way too much time watching TV, and I adored every single second of it). In the commercials, two gaijin, a man and a woman, have a sword fight with the Pocky in a field. Wackiness, of course, ensues. My favourite part of the commercial is the ending: one stabs the other in the nose with the Pocky and then they both have a good laugh. It was so much cheese that I just could not get enough. Oh the things they make people do in order to move products/entertain in Japan. Hats off to you, my friends, hats off to you! Anyway, as you can imagine, we simply couldn’t eat this Pocky without first re-enacting the commercial. And, of course, to be as outrageous as possible we did it on the street not too far from the store where we bought the Pocky. Us? Make a scene and draw attention to ourselves? Never!

the face off

the attack!!

the death blow

I just couldn't keep myself from looking at the camera, apparently...

the hearty laugh

the product shot

outtake #1

This was our first attempt, but apparently we didn’t hold out long enough (it felt like forever when we were just standing there posed like that and people were looking at us like we were insane…imagine that!!).

outtake #2

At times we just couldn’t keep it together. Right before this picture was taken a man walked by and gave us funny looks, so we kind of lost it (you really have to understand that people just don’t do things like this in Japan…standing out is bad, very bad, and having a Pocky Fight on the street, well, that’s just CRAZY!). I’m sure many, many people told stories of the crazy gaijin to their friends, families, and coworkers that day!

random photos...

After lunch we walked around all day and took some photos. Here are a few of my favourites...

Reading magazines in convenience stores is a big thing in Japan…Charles even tells me it’s a subculture with its own name and everything. Seriously, every time you walk by a convenience store there are guaranteed to be people just standing there reading magazines. I always wondered if these people actually ever bought any magazines…

I got used to the crazy fashion for the most part, but this outfit was simply too much. I was sad that we couldn’t get a better picture of this little number, but boy oh boy was it busy—even for Japan!

This man made me insane with happiness. Here is his back. May it also make you insane with happiness.

Yes, for 40 bucks you can step back into the 80s with your very own pair of Reebok Pumps (high-tops, of course!). Pump it up, yo!

birthday beer number 4...and, who am i kidding, probably 5...

For supper we went to Chaz’s favourite yakitori (meat on a stick) restaurant and sweet corn was it good! The meat was cooked just perfectly and flavoured so deliciously (which, by the way, is a great way to flavour something—deliciously, that is)…this is one of the only restaurants I visited in Japan that I think my father would have enjoyed. Unfortunately we didn’t get any shots of the food (but, really, if you just picture meat on a stick you’ll be ok), but here is Chaz with birthday beer number 4…or maybe 5…or 6 perhaps?? Who can be sure?

Finally, we ended the day of fun with some karaoke for two. We liked this particular place because if you arrived after 8pm you could either pay by the half hour, or just pay a flat rate and stay as long as you wanted until close (which was, like, 6am or something like that). We arrived at about 7:55 pm and, because it’s Japan, we actually had to sit down in the lobby and wait until after 8pm if we wanted to get the deal. There’s no pretending and/or messing around in Japan. If they say after 8, they mean after 8 and not one second earlier. Dear, sweet Japan *kisses*

So, yeah, that was pretty much Chaz’s birthday. Do I know how to plan a fun birthday, or do I know how to plan a fun birthday?!


There are some great signs out and about in Japan, just waiting to be discovered. Most of my favourites in Okayama were found in the Red Light District (yeah, shocking, I know!). Here's a little taste of what's out there...

XXX continued