Monday, December 3, 2012

The Onion Terminator; or, Stuff I Refuse to Eat

So today I ate a bad cashew. There are few things in life more HORRIBLE than eating a bad cashew. And I realize that there are a lot of bad tastes in the world, but what makes a bad cashew so terrible is that you look down at the cashew and you think, "Oh, cashew, you are going to taste like heaven and unicorn sparkles," and then you lovingly bite into it and it's like, "RAAAAAAAAAWRGH DEATH", and your mouth is filled with the taste of despair, and you're like, "NO CASHEW NO. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?”

It was not a very good start to my day, but it made me think about the foods that I would rank above even bad cashews in horribleness, and I thought I should probably blog soon anyway, so after a month of no updating, you get a post about gross food. Sorry. Admittedly, some of these foods might not be gross to you, but I do apologize for not having anything more interesting to say. I am working on a post about The Avengers, but the fact is that I have too many feelings about that movie to be able to write coherently through my tears of awe, so that will have to wait until I have managed to calm down about it. Which might be six months from now. Or never. But anyway, you get a food post.

I would just like to say that I am excluding weird Japanese food like cod sperm and rotten soybeans and stuff, because let’s be real, no one is going to be surprised that I don’t like those, and I also doubt my ability as a writer to describe how terrible those foods are. So we’ll move on.

The first food on my list is the most deceptive food on the planet. In case some of you have never smelled a cucumber, they smell like pure ice water from a spring in Greenland that has been hand poured for you by a freaking elf prince or something (they have those in Greenland right? I don’t actually know anything about Greenland. Hold on, I am checking Wikipedia.).They smell amazing. It’s like sticking your nose into a crisp, winter morning. (Okay, you guys. I always think that Greenland is totally in with the whole Sweden/Denmark/Norway Viking culture with elves and stuff, but apparently they’re more like Inuits? So there are probably no elves in Greenland, which totally ruins my earlier metaphor. Boooooo.)

But let me tell you something about cucumbers, my friends. They are terrible. I guess they do kind of taste like water, if by water you mean the sludge dredged up from the bottom of the Mississippi. Seriously, every time I smell a cucumber, I’m like, “Aww, you smell really nice! I bet THIS is the right time for me to start liking cucumbers!” BUT THERE IS NO RIGHT TIME. I am ALWAYS fooled.  I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that I am regularly outsmarted by what is essentially a very watery zucchini.

Food number two is the most obnoxious food in the world. Peppers are like that kid on the playground that would steal your cookies at lunchtime and then lick them so you couldn’t get them back. They’re always there, lurking in the background, and it’s not like you can just get rid of them, because their very presence contaminates everything. Pizza Hut accidentally put mushrooms on your pizza? No problem! Just pick them off! Corn? (Corn is a thing on pizza here, by the way. I don’t know why Japan thought this was a good idea.) No big deal! Just dig under the cheese and scoop the kernels off! Someone accidentally put peppers on your pizza? THROW THA TPIZZA AWAY. There is no other option, because the HORRIBLE PEPPER JUICES have already dripped everywhere, and now no matter what you do everything those peppers touched is going to TASTE LIKE PEPPERS. I could probably feed a family of Ukrainian orphans with the sheer amount of food that I have been forced to reject because of FREAKING PEPPERS. I could probably spend the rest of this blog just talking about peppers. I won’t, BUT I COULD.

(Sorry, I am still on Wikipedia. Did you know that Greenland has a 100% literacy rate? I sure didn’t. Good job, Greenland.)

Now we move on to the main point of this article:


Dear readers, I hate onions with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. My battle with them began when I was three years old. I told my aunts and uncles and mom and dad that when I was four, I would start liking onions. On my fourth birthday, my mother made me a plate of onions. I bit into one, put my fork down, and said, “Well, maybe I’ll wait until I am five.”

But by the age of four, I was onto onions, and their awful little game. You see, onions creep into everything. Unlike peppers, which are usually red or orange or yellow or otherwise helpfully colorful and therefore easy to spot, onions are clear and often finely chopped, so you can’t see them until they’re already in your mouth, and by then, it’s too late. You can taste them, lurking around in that dumpling or mixed in with that meatball. They’ve been waiting for you, you see, in the darkness of the cooking pot, patient and insidious.

To combat this, I have developed an “onion sense” to protect myself. I now have the ability to look at a plate of food and correctly guess which items contain onions. My eyes have fine-tuned themselves to see the tell-tale glisten of the wicked onion hiding behind a noodle or a potato. Should this first line of defense somehow fail, I also have the ability to taste the tiniest particle of onion in any food on the first bite. And I do mean that. If there is a single piece of onion in something, I will find it. I am an onion finding and destroying machine. Like the Terminator, but for onions. And without the accent. And much smaller muscles.

(Greenland’s coat of arms is a bear. Like…just a bear. On a blue background. I am beginning to think that the world has underestimated Greenland. I mean, a country would have to be pretty bad-a in order to feel like, “You know what? Screw all of you. We’re just going to be a bear.”)

And I realize that all of the above foods are super good for you, and part of beloved cuisine all over the world, whatever. Blah blah blah. But I am telling you now that if you ever attempt to fool me into eating any of these, you will fail, and then I will punch you in the face. Or mail you to Greenland and let those bad-a people sort you out. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events : The Beeginning

Dear friends, I have recently been the victim of some unfortunate, and deeply improbable incidents. I feel like there is something going on here beyond my control. I must have finally managed to offend the cosmos, because some things have happened to me lately that should not happen, ever, let alone to the same person. (Sidenote: I apologize for not talking about something more relevant, but it is what it is. I am working on a post about The Avengers, but the fact is that I have too many feelings about that movie to be able to write coherently through my tears of awe, so that will have to wait until I have managed to calm down about the glory that is Chris Evans in a skintight American flag. Which might be six months from now. Or never. But anyway, you get a post, at least.)

I was walking home from work a few days ago, traipsing happily along in the sunlight, when I happened to pass by a lovely tree. If my life were a play, this is how I imagine the script would look.

Outside, summer in Japan.

A Tree
An Evil Thing

[Kimberly enters stage right, looking very happy about the glorious weather.]

KIMBERLY: Why hello, tree! Isn’t it beautiful outside! I sure love nature in the summer, don’t you, tree?

[Unbeknownst to Kimberly, An Evil Thing wakes inside the tree. The skies darken.]

 KIMBERLY: Oh, tree. I love you. Let’s be best friends.

[Kimberly reaches up, still innocent and optimistic, and touches the tree lovingly.]

AN EVIL THING: Attack, attack, attack!]

KIMBERLY: Eeeeeeek! [Helpless flailing commences.]

TREE: [Stands by and does nothing, like a douchebag.]


Friends, I was stung by a bee. But not just any bee. The cleverest bee of them all. This bee had a plan, and it executed said plan with the kind of ruthless savagery one would never expect from a creature with a brain the size of a quarter-grain of rice. (Sidenote: I have no idea how big a bee brain is.. I tried Google, but didn’t find anything. Whatever, I’m not a scientist, and this is not a science blog. Get off my back.)

This bee flew into the tiny space between my sunglasses and my eye, where I couldn’t swat at it, and stung me. Right next to my eye. I proceeded to do this odd, stumbling dance while clawing at my face right in the middle of the street. (Sidenote: I did do this right in front of a building owned by the Japanese mafia, so I guess on the plus side, I have probably put them off kidnapping me and selling me to some shady brothel in Tokyo. I imagine the conversation of any watching mafia members going like this: “Oh, look, there’s one, she looks pretty---oh. Wow, um.... you know what, let’s just leave her where she is.”)

I finally managed to tear my sunglasses off and swat at the bee, but I missed, so I am sure he made it back to the colony in time to die a devious little hero surrounded by his horrible little friends and gross little family. He was probably like the bee version of Achilles, or something, and there are little bee pots with pictures of him painted on the side and naked statues in marble.

I ran home as quickly as I could, trying to remember what my mother had taught me about what to do when a bee stings you. I remembered it was mud, and I didn’t have any mud conveniently lying around, but I did have the next best thing: an Aztec clay face mask. I slathered that stuff on, and then sat on my couch to wait for the pain to subside. It did, eventually, but I am still quite shocked about the sheer improbability of it all.

Also, the tree and I no longer hang out.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I am happy about spring. I am not happy about spring bicycle riding.

There were some things I avoided learning as a child. I think my sense of self-preservation kicked in early, or something, because I carefully avoided anything I thought had the potential to break my face. For example, to this day, I cannot do a cartwheel. I am also really bad at climbing trees, which does not bode well for me if I am ever chased by a bear (Or a zombie horde. Can zombies climb trees? Because that would be terrible.)

But since moving to Japan I have discovered that the same sense of self-preservation that ensured my advancement to adulthood has also crippled me in one, specific, diabolically evil arena.

Bike riding.

Screw bike riding. I would like to know who the JERKFACE was who looked at a couple of wheels and thought, “You know what would be cool? If I stuck a twisted metal frame above those wheels, threw a person on it, and shoved them onto a road. Oh, and also, they have to pedal until their heart explodes from exertion and the stress of almost being hit by thousands of cars. Wouldn’t that be cool?” (After some googling, it appears that there is some debate about who invented the bicycle, but apparently, one of the bicycle’s developers was a German named Karl Drais von Sauerbronn. A GERMAN. Now it all makes sense. Schadenfreude, and all that.)

I never even wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle. My parents made me. I still remember watching my dad take off the training wheels on my bike (which until this point was adorable and had FOUR wheels), and thinking, “This is the day I die.” And it only became worse when he insisted I climb onto it and start pedaling.

I think the day parents teach their children to ride a bicycle is the day they tell their children the biggest lie they will ever tell. Telling them that broccoli tastes good? Not so bad. The tooth fairy? Pretty forgivable. “I’ll be right behind you, and I won’t let go?” FALSE. My dad totally let go. And the moment I realized that, my early-onset self-preservation kicked in, and I flipped out. I was crying, and screaming, and our neighbors were coming out onto their porches and looking out their windows because they literally thought I was being brutally murdered on the sidewalk.

At one point, one of my parents, and I can’t remember if it was my mother or my father, said, “You’re embarrassing me.” And I thought, I HOPE I AM. YOU ARE TRYING TO KILL ME. (Sidenote: This scene was repeated when my father tried to teach me how to drive a car when I was twelve. I am pretty sure I was the only twelve year old to ever utter the words, “No, Dad, don’t make me drive!” To be fair, though, Dad tried to teach me how to drive on the edge of a cliff, so.)

I think the last time I rode a bike for any reason other than utter necessity was when I was fourteen. After that, my bike went into the garage, and I pretty much never used it ever after that. I went through high school and university happily bike free, and I thought I had, at last, escaped.

And then I moved to Japan. This, in and of itself, would not have been enough motivation to get me on a bike again. But I have friends here. Friends who, for whatever reason, cannot see the bicycle for what it truly is. They think it’s great, and they don’t understand why I have to be forcibly dragged out of my house when they decide we should all go for a ride. Well, aside from the aforementioned danger and terror, I have three reasons for this.

REASON ONE: Bicycles are self-esteem destroyers. Oh, you think you’re young and spry and hip? Get on a bicycle and that is no longer true. Suddenly all your years of exercising are completely worthless, because this machine of terror has turned you into a noodle-legged old woman. And your sweat probably smells like weakness.

My friends Stacy and Tori (incidentally, the same friends who repeatedly force me to ride my bike) have thighs of steel. I have thighs of slightly melty aluminum. This makes for a problem when we go riding together. For instance, Tori and I take a dance class together, and one time (just one time,) she decided we should take our bikes. I lost sight of Tori within about five minutes. This is significant because the road to our class is STRAIGHT. It’s not like she was around a corner, or cutting through an alley, or something. She was literally so far ahead of me I could not see her. (Actually, this one turned out okay, because once she was no longer around to watch me fail at riding a bike, I was free to dismount said bike and walk most of the way to class. Which I did.)

REASON TWO: You can’t do anything else while riding a bike but ride the bike. Oh, you want to talk with friends and sip cocoa and window shop? NOPE. You are on a bicycle.

It occurs to me every time I ride a bicycle that I must look like some subspecies of gorilla, because I am hunched over the handlebars, staring intently at the path in front of me, willing any slippery rocks or old ladies or cats to stay out of my way, completely white-knuckled. There is no window shopping or exploring to be had, because if I don’t want to DIE, I have to pay attention. I also cannot participate in conversation because a) I am really out of breath, and b) probably several blocks behind everyone else. Drinking or eating anything is right out. Essentially, everything enjoyable about going places is impossible to do while on a bicycle. Seriously, who invented this thing?!   

REASON THREE: No protection from the elements. Oh, it’s raining/snowing/hailing? TOO BAD. You can’t hold an umbrella. This happened a matter of days ago, and it was terrible.

Long story short, we rode our bicycles to a department store (I was perpetually four blocks behind—melty aluminum thighs), went shopping, and exited the store to find that the sky had opened wide and was dumping snowflakes the size of ferrets onto the streets. We were forced to ride twenty minutes back to our apartments in the blizzard. Being completely blinded by snow, there were a few moments (mostly after I nearly ran down an old man, swerved, and nearly impaled myself on a fencepost) when I thought I was going to die. On a bicycle, which is not a heroic death  at all.

So there it is. My lifelong struggle with the bicycle. Personally, I have had enough of this bicycle business. I think it’s high time modern science got with it and built me a hoverboard. I’m waiting, modern science. I’m waiting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This was originally a post about the birds I saw the other day, but now it isn't, so sorry, bird enthusiasts.

Things about living alone that are awesome:

Taking really long showers
Sitting around in my underwear
Dancing badly to Jay-Z (I’m a little ashamed of this one, to be honest, but there it is).
Rapping along badly to Jay-Z (No shame here, I’m improving)

Things that suck about living alone:


Dear readers, I live in the set of a horror movie, and I genuinely mean that. My apartment building has been specifically designed to play to my one, true phobia, which is the walking dead. Lumbering bundles of rotting flesh with an insatiable hunger for human flesh? NO THANK YOU. I’ll stay over here.

The problem being that I cannot simply “stay over here”, because I live in a place that is going to be a zombie heaven when the apocalypse hits (which I predict will happen if Rick Santorum becomes president, but in that case I guess I won’t mind the world ending so much). My apartment is pretty Japanese-style, which is usually lovely, but which is a terrible fortress against the undead.

For one thing, my apartment has no locking doors. Well, the front door locks, but is one, measly locked front door going to keep out the zombie hordes? No, it’s not. And once the zombies bust that down, I am out of luck, because the rest of my doors slide open, and do not do anything even remotely like locking. And some of them are made of paper, so even if they did lock, it wouldn’t matter, because they’re PAPER. The zombies could just spit on them repeatedly and they would come down. The zombies could get at me with nothing but their spit and that is really not secure.

For another thing, the vast majority of my entire apartment building is composed of nothing but dark, spooky corners, which are usually roughly the size of an average zombie. Sometimes I wonder if the architect was a zombie sympathizer (that traitor), and he built in extra corners just to give his rotting co-conspirators a place to hide. In order to reach my apartment, I have to walk/run frantically past approximately a hundred of these corners and up a flight of stairs.

In addition, the lights in the stairwell flicker the way lights flicker in the movies right before the serial killer leaps from the shadows and decapitates the promiscuous teenager. It sounds like I am making that up, but sadly, that is actually completely accurate

So my arrival home every night goes something like this:

Approach building.
Stand at edge of light from streetlamps and gaze into darkness
Select chipper Japanese sugar pop music on iPod
Optional: Cry.

Walk purposefully to the building’s front door
Inspect initial giant scary corner. If zombie-free, proceed.
Go up first set of stairs.
Press back to the wall and hit stairwell light switch.
Wait for lights to stop flickering horribly.
Pause music and listen for approaching footsteps from the apartments above. (SIDENOTE: I once did not do this, and therefore didn’t hear one of my neighbors coming down from the third floor, and we sort of met as he came around the corner, and I screamed like I was dying, and he screamed like you’d expect someone to scream when a crazy foreigner is backed up against the wall looking at you like she’s not sure whether to flee for her life or kill you in self-defense. And then we had this moment where I was like, “…you scared me?” And he said something I didn’t quite understand, but which I guess meant, “I’m moving,” and left, and that is why I am not friends with any of my neighbors.)




Finish running
Slam door shut
Lock door (it’s your only defense).
Disregard electricity bill
(SIDENOTE: That last bit is particularly true, by the way. I compared my electricity bill with one of my friends, and mine was…well, it was higher. And it’s all because of zombies. Those evil jerks are costing me money and the apocalypse hasn’t even started yet.)

Well, just be aware, zombies. I have a drawer full of dollar-store butter knives, and I am not afraid to use them.

The end.

Monday, December 26, 2011

This post is not funny. Sorry.

A while ago, I went to the park around Hirosaki Castle, and I took some pictures. Enjoy!

 I want to live in this garden. 

Santa wears a lot of mascara...

I work at a special needs school every once and a while, and the last time I was there, they had me dress up as Santa Clause and sing songs with the kids. One of the other teachers made a sleigh on wheels himself, and dressed up like Rudolph to pull me around. It was awesome.

So basically this is what I would look like if I inexplicably became an old man, but retained my love of eye makeup.

This story has a terrible twist ending, just so you know.

Here in good old Japan, it's customary for everything from schools to sports teams to have an end-of-the-year party called a "bonenkai". Basically, everyone drinks a lot and eats a lot and nobody talks about what happened there the next day.

My school had an awesome bonenkai. The food was amazing, we played a drawing game (which my team inexplicably won, even though my rendition of Pikachu kind of looked like a fish), and had a jolly good time.

Until a member of the school board had a heart attack just as we were getting ready to do some synchronized cheering (which is a thing in Japan) and eat cake.

So instead of cake, we got paramedics. And then the party was super tragic, so everyone just kind of wandered sadly away into the snowy night.

The end.

P.S. I don't know what happened to that old gentleman. I assume he is alright, since I probably would have heard someone mention it if he wasn't. I am going to pretend he retired and moved to the Bahamas to pursue a life of fishing and not having heart attacks at parties.