Wednesday, October 25, 2006


So I know I should report about the entirety of the japanese wedding party like a good undercover japanese society reporter, but I'm too lazy. Instead I will reduce it to easily consumable factiods. (coming soon in sour mango flavor!)

Factoid 1: I wore a kimono and Takeshi wore a suit. Kinda ironic. But I'm not gonna complain too hard as I generally will take any excuse I can get to wear something kimono/yukata/ or pretty much anything costume related.

But why did Takeshi wear a suit?!

I will mourn this to the end of my days since that was pretty much the only chance I would have had to see my own dear Mr T. in a man-kimono. He totally has a badass samurai vibe goin' on, it would have looked so good on him. If it were up to me, I would have made him bring a samurai sword to add to the look. ^^ (maybe that's why it wasn't left up to me...)
But anyways, the main reason he didn't wear the man-ono was because of the handler's fee: even if you bring your own outfit, they have to hire a staffer to get you in and out of your duds for pretty much 4 hours of the day.

My handler was a little old lady who, from the time I arrived to the minute before we walked to the hall with the guests, would not stop touching me!! Literally. Every time she stepped back and I thought she was done, she would do a comedical double-take and rush back to fix little detail of the kimono. An obi wrinkle was slightly off-kilter? she was there. An invisible layering arrangement of the three under-kimonos was not perfect? She was there. My fancy geisha up-do had only two full bottles of Aqua-net hairspray applied to it?? She was There!
Even while we were having our professional pictures taken, she was pacing, staring at me from the back corner, hands twitching to correct imaginary imperfections. I still have nightmares where I wake up in the middle of the night and she's back!! (dun-dun-dun...)

Factoid 2: Apparently a Japanese wedding tradition, and I swear I am not making this up, is to have teddy bears made with the height and weight of the bride and groom from when they were born. These teddy bears are supposed to be given to the newly-wed's parents in a touching portion of the ceremony where the bride and groom tearfully say "you took care of us since we were this size. Now we won't be around anymore, so have this keepsake bear to remind you of me!"
Definitely a touching moment. If it were semi-spontaneous, that is, or if both sets of parents had been there, or, if it had been me and T's idea. But the sweet sentimentality was kind of missing as we were told, almost at gunpoint: "Here are your bears. Now give them to us at the ceremony. And think of a touching, tear-jerking speech. Or else!!"
This was coming from Takeshi's mom, who was getting annoyed at our apathy at the whole second ceremony. But in our defense, one wedding is enough. After that, you can't help but get emotionally detatched as a sort of post-wedding shell-shock.
So, we gave the bears to Takeshi's mom and dad during the ceremony. The speech I said had actually been written by Takeshi's mom, because I didn't know what to say. But it turned out good.
But what they don't tell you is those bears are HEAVY! Mine was eight pounds of sand and fluff and beady glass eyes. Picture a kimono-clad american precariously balancing on tabi-sandals bringing an enormous teddy the weight of a bowling-ball across a large hall, and you will have an acurate vision of part of 'touching moment' of the ceremony. I think I may have giggled at some point.
Plus I had a cold, so it was hard to resist the temptation to wipe my nose on "little Kyra".

Aahh, enough about the ceremony. If you get past the stalker-lady and the 2-ton bears, it was supremely lovely. A lot of Takeshi's relatives and friends from my study-abroad days were there, it was a crisp autumn day in the country and the weather was beautiful. Autumn is the best season in Japan, btw, if you're thinking of visiting. Early October is soo nice.

For pictures you can go to my flickr site: But now onto other topics.

Work is getting a little frustrating as the general manager of our project, through no fault of his own, keeps demanding changes to the online shipping system we're creating. The customers keep wanting changes made to the pages, which is understandable. This whole situation kind of reminds me of the time I tried to buy some sweet puma sneakers on sale, but they wouldn't give them to me on sale, as the display I saw had actually been for some other shoes. The pumas had been put on the display by someone too lazy to put them back where they belonged. The store clerk showed me the actual (ugly) shoes on sale, and explained to me sadly, "you know those messy customers."

But messy customers or not, this is like the fortieth time they've pulled this on us, and if they change the page layout, we have to start all of the developing over. ALL of it! Weeks of work goes down the tube! My optomistic coworkers are all like "it's a good learning experience. I'm getting SO FAST at developing the whole program from scratch!!" they say, with crazy glistening eyes. This makes me suspicious and think they are perhaps
1) smoking some sort of crack, or possibly
2) actually work androids that have been placed at my company as part of an experiment by the japanese government. You know those cool robots Japan displayed at the world expo last year were just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyways, by the 28-th or so time the project manager came by, I stopped developing stuff at the crazy pace of my android co-workers, and started "multitasking": ie, finding interesting things to read on the internet while I lazily redo the latest version, waiting for the word to start the whole process yet again.
What? Don't give me that look. Just yesterday, Project-Manager-san came by, looking dangerously close to seppuku-stage. "I am SOO sorry but you might as well stop what you're doing today, because the customers have told me they're going to tell us some big changes tomorrow..." he said, busting out the waterworks. He escaped from us with a bow and an akward "You know those messy customers!"
At that point, even the Androids were even starting to lose it as it WAS the seven-billionth rewrite, but I really didn't mind too much as I had found a great time-killer by then: reading cynical TV-show recaps on a site called "Television without Pity". Just the right balance of detail and good recapping and amusing tangents, plus the vital sarcasm when a show does something lame or cheesy. Another bonus is if you minimize it and put it at the side of the screen so the ads don't show, it just looks like a screen of text and it's hard to tell you're slacking off until you start laughing at something hillarious one of the recappers said. ^^;

My favorite read at the moment is 24: Season 2, recapped by the fabulous "Gustave". Takeshi and I are dangerously addicted to 24. I know it's super old news and it's on like season 6 by this point, but that show is GOOD! ^^ And it's really popular here. Tangent alert, but Keifer Sutherland has even been in several Japanese diet product "Calorie-Mate" commercials where he manages to save Tokyo with help from a skinny J-Pop idol and some "calorie-mate" bars. Apparently there are even multiple "episodes" of these commercials. Tee hee.

Oh man, sorry about this insanely long post. I'll try to keep it short and sweet next time.

Can you tell I'm writing this at work? ^_^;;

Sunday, October 22, 2006

company mad-libs

Well the wedding was quite nice, and it turns out my kimono was pink, not the black I was expecting. As it turns out, my mother-in-law (still weird to say that!!!) was describing her OWN kimono. Silly japanese, you leave out the subjects and objects and it leads to all KINDS of ambiguity.

This is a real problem in the office sometimes, hence my secret belief that those company-sponsored drinking parties are so people can clarify what they actually were talking about earlier that day with the excuse that they aren't being stupid or rude, they're just drunk!

This is very necessary, since at the office; without needing to say anything, it's possible to intimidate and confuse your underlings even MORE in Japanese.

Boss's line:
".So, Yamada-kun, I need [***(person in the room)] to [***(verb)] [****(company-related noun)] [****time]. Make sure it gets done."

It's the underling's job to read the boss's mind and fill in the blanks, like an extremely stressful mad-libs. The boss could be thinking anything from:
"I need [you] to [write that] [annual report for IBM] [ASAP]. Make sure it gets done".
to "I need (Ms Suzuki) to (serve coffee) at the (company party) (next thursday). Make sure it gets done."

..of course at the bar after work the underling comes up with dirtier amusing variations with his coworkers.

Anyways, just when you think you've gradated school and are safe from tests, they come back from the grave to haunt you. It turns out I have to take the JLPT (Japanese test) for my company this December, and the outlook looks grim. "Why?" you may ask. "You live there, speak japanese every day, and read and write company emails. How could you have any lack of confidence?!"
My chinese co-worker Sho-san asked me the same question. "Don't worry, it's a peice of cake! I passed level 1 two years ago, you're taking level 2 which is easier. No problem!"

I scowled at her.
"Sure, if it were only speaking and listening comprehension. But the kanji section's gonna kill me!"
Sho-san smiled and looked a bit embarrased.
"Oh, right. The kanji is easy."
(FOR YOU, Ms chinese lady!)

I was originally just taking it because my company wanted it on my resume to look good, so I wasn't too concerned about it. But Takeshi noticed my lack of studying, and gave me a doubtful look. "You think you're gonna pass?" He said with a little scornful chuckle.

"I still have three months. I'm pretty close to passing level, I'll be alright." So Takeshi got this evil look in his eyes like I did when I made him sign non-fishing contract, and proposed a bet. "Okay, little miss confident. How about this. If you pass it, I'll give you 10,000 yen (100 dollars). But if you happen to fail, you gotta give ME 10,000 yen." Being the fool I am, I agreed to the bet. I even shook on it.

It is now a little over one month left, and I haven't improved much at all. Even with the $100 carrot dangling in front of me and the $100 whip painfully urging me on, I am still far away from passing level.

Will she make it?!?! Who knows? I sure wont because the darn test results won't come back until MARCH. I guess since they only have them once per year the test people can take their sweet time to grade them. Until then I will be thinking of what to spend my $100 on.

...( How do you say "counting your chickens before the eggs are hatched" in Japanese?)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

not another wedding... >_<;;

Ugh, I have a cold.

This is not good because Sunday, ie 10/8/2006, is the date of the Japanese wedding reception. As if I haven't had enough wedding stuff to last me a lifetime... ^_^;; But this time I will be wearing a kimono.

It's black. Takeshi's mom is lending it to me. At first I wondered if this was how she would express her true feelings about me.. having me wear a very somber color for the wedding to her eldest son. But no, apparently this is a rather normal color for formal occasions. It's not 100% black, it will have some white flowers and other decorations at the bottom. She only wore it once for her own wedding, so she wants me to wear it, which is very sweet and sentimental. But Takeshi is wearing a suit!! I'm so sad, I really wanted him to wear a man's kimono, but it was just not in the cards. I'm afraid we will look terribly mismatched.^^;;

I'm still not sure what to expect. It's going to be really far away (in a place called Karuizawa) which is convenient for Takeshi's grandparents... and...
no, just for them, really. None of our friends want to come because it's far and it's during a three-day weekend! (Granted, it's closer than hawaii but with none of the tropical benefits).

Anyways, I'm supposed to sing a song to entertain the guests, but I'm not quite sure how it's going to work out when I'm wearing a very tight kimono and will have a cold. I have this sinking feeling that takeshi's relatives are going to talk about me as follows:

"Have you heard the news about Takeshi?"
"Yes, he got married, didn't he. Did you meet his wife?"
"Oh, she's the... gaijin that can't sing, right?"
"Yes, that's her. Pity, pity." *clucks and shakes head*

>_<;; If you don't hear from me for awhile, it's probably safe to assume I died of embarrasment.

Oops, almost forgot about the Game Show!

Basically in a nutshell, it was very crowded. Even more so than E3. Imagine a bunch of nerds from around the world gathering at critical mass... it would have been hell, if it weren't for the awesome shows and displays, especially by Namco, Sony, Square-Enix, Sony and Konami. The booths were over the top eyecandy. A lot of companies even put on dancing-girl shows every hour or so, to the delight of the afore-mentioned nerds.

And to lure people to the the booths, companies hired hordes of booth babes: girls dressed up like characters or wearing a company "uniform". (If my company uniform were a bikini top, miniskirt and six inch heels, I think I would have to ask for a raise!).

I didn't get to try too many things, but I wore a costume for the first time in a couple of years (if you don't count the wedding dress). Actually I just wore a school-girl one which was really easy to pull off, except I had to "borrow" some black socks and a tie from Takeshi, who was very incredulous about the whole thing.
Direct quote:
*Takeshi: "I STILL can't believe you used my SOCKs. You're gonna get ATHLETES foot or something."*
Note for the concerned: My feet remain athletes-foot free.

In other news, Laura Chao was featured in a magazine as a hot rocket-scientist! Check out the link! tee hee. I like the leia buns.

Also, Spencer and Amber are going to start a company! They'll be developing content for cell phones, and want a little help reading the market. Lend them a hand and fill out this questionaire!

Anyways, if I survive this weekend, I'll post some pictures from the japanese wedding reception soon, so check back soon.
Hope you're all doing well!