Archive for August, 2015
My parent’s grilled steak tonight for dinner. I didn’t eat steak often when I lived in Canada, but eating a big, beefy steak in Japan would be a luxury beyond my teaching salary.
Yesterday I spent the day watching TV at my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie, so I decided to get out of the house and drive to Winnipeg for shopping, a movie, and wings with the regular wing group.
After buying some clothes, I treated myself to sushi lunch at Sushi train. I have been back for over a week, and I was craving sushi. I was also interested in how Canadian sushi would compare after eating really amazing sushi in Japan for the past few years. The taste was pretty good, but the presentation was nowhere near Japanese standards.
Today’s movie was “40 Year old Virgin” which was hilarious. One of the most memorable scenes involved actor Steve Carrell actually getting his chest waxed, screaming in pain, and shouting obscenities. I am not a hairy person at all, but I still cringed! Ouch!
The last time I returned to Canada, I wrote about going out for wings and karaoke with the regular group. Amy, one of the regulars, was upset that I didn’t mention her by name in my blog post. I tried to explain to Amy that I rarely use names in my blog, but Amy was upset anyway. So Amy, here is your name in my blog. Amy Amy Amy Amy.
(2015 Update) Amy!
Today I took the day off and hung out at my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie. I decided to plant myself in front of the TV for a few hours.
There aren’t a lot of TV channels in Japan, so it was a culture shock to have hundreds of choices on my parents’ overloaded cable package. Even though there were lots of channels to choose from, most of them just show the same shows all day.
You don’t realize how little you will miss TV until you don’t watch it regularly.
After waking up in the dirty, dirty fraternity house, I got cleaned up and went for brunch with some friends. We went to Perkins, which was a regular eating experience during my university days. Perkins was popular with students because it was close to campus and some popular campus bars, and it was open all night.
Going back as an employed adult during the day is far less enjoyable. The food wasn’t great, but the visit with my friends was.
After brunch I spent some time visiting my sick sister, and then returned to my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie.
The main reason for my trip home to Canada was to spend time with my sick sister and help out my parents. However, since I am not sure when I will be home next, it’s nice to get to see people while I am here. Since my sister is doing a bit better, I decided to take the day for myself. Tracking down everyone individually was too difficult, so I told the fraternity guys that I was just going to spend most of the day at the Delta Upsilon House.
During the day, people came and went, and I got to visit and have a few beers. At one point, one of the guys suggested we go for some… um… exotic entertainment. I agreed, and we all piled into the car and went to the old reliable exotic entertainment venue.
Occasionally when I need to entertain myself, I attempt to pay with Japanese yen at businesses in Canada. This usually gets some fun reactions, and is a good conversation starter. I decided that I would attempt to do the same thing at the dancers. Usually during or after a dancer’s set, customers show their appreciation by leaving tips on the stage. I decided to put down a 1000 yen bill on the stage at the end of the set.
The dancer was picking up all of the tips when she came across my 1000 yen note. She picked it up, looked at it, and said “hey, this is a 1000 yen note, that’s like ten bucks!”. She told us that she dances a few times a year at a similar entertainment venue in Roppongi. My friends told her that I was teaching English in Japan. She told me she loved Japan, invited me to see her perform the next time she was in Tokyo, thanked me for the tip, and walked away. That was not the reaction I was expecting at all. My friends laughed their asses off.
Out of all of the dancers in Winnipeg Canada, I attempted my Japanese yen prank on the one that also works in Roppongi. What are the odds?
After another overpriced drink, we picked up BBQ supplies, returned to the fraternity house, and proceeded to eat way too much grilled meat. It was a fun day.
Today I tried to be a helpful brother. I took my sister to her doctor’s appointment, giving my parents a nice break. I hung around in Winnipeg in the afternoon, and even managed to do some clothes shopping. I hate clothes shopping, but it was overdue!
With my sister doing better, I was able to spend some time with friends. I went out to my first Premier Championship Wrestling (PCW) show in two years.
When I was a student, my friends and I went regularly to the weekly show at a bar near campus. Local pro wrestling is hit and miss, but some of the wrestlers are very talented and might just have a future in the business (if they can get out of Winnipeg). The crowd was smaller than it used to be, but I still saw a lot of familiar faces.
One of the familiar faces was The Ex, who came up to ask how my sister was doing. We hadn’t really talked since my last return to Winnipeg, and weren’t on the best terms. Because we have a lot of mutual friends, I sent her an email before I left Japan explaining the situation with my sister, and letting her know that I would try to get to a wrestling show. The intent was to avoid any awkwardness with our friends and where they were going to sit. To my surprise, she showed up at the hospital with flowers for my sister the next day, which was a very nice gesture. Our relationship may have ended badly, but The Ex was a good person and legitimately cared for the well being of my sister.
The wrestling show was pretty good. PCW was nice enough to bring back their wrestling trivia contest just for my return. I was the reigning wrestling trivia champion, and won a few drinks for myself and my friends. Also, we were once again the loudest section in the building. It was a fun evening!
(2015 Update) The most successful wrestler to graduate from PCW is Kenny Omega, who currently wrestles for New Japan Pro Wrestling among other promotions. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing Kenny wrestle, do yourself a favour and go to YouTube now!
One of my favourite Kenny moments online is his “Champion of Anywhere” match, where he challenges Winnipeg wrestling mainstay Mike Angels to a match at Angels’ cabin. Awesomeness ensues.
Today my sister finally got released from the hospital! They had to remove some staples from her surgery first (yuck). My parents and I took her home, and got her set up in her apartment. We gave it a quick cleaning, picked up some groceries, and took care of the stupid cat that hid under the bed the whole time.
Jetlag is really messing with my sleep. My schedule is all over the place! Flying back from Japan seems to be harder on my system than going to Japan.
Today I went to visit my sister in the hospital. She was recovering quickly from her surgery, and got a day pass out of the hospital. We went to her apartment, and I got to see her new cat. Well, I got to see the cat under the bed, because it is terrified of men and always hides when one is around. Getting a rescue cat is great, but this one needed a therapist.
We had a nice visit and hung out for a bit, but having a lung that is not working 100% makes you tired quickly. After dropping her off at the hospital again, I went over to the fraternity house in time for Summerslam 2005. The main event was Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan. Michaels oversold everything Hogan threw, flopping around like a fish out of water. It was still a lot of fun to hang out with the guys and watch the show.
After a long, sweaty, uncomfortable journey from Numazu to Narita Airport followed by a turbulent flight, I was happy to be back in Canada. I landed in Vancouver and was greeted by a great view of the Canadian Rockies.
Returning to Canada after being away for 2 years comes with an element of culture shock. The first thing I noticed was the baggage handlers. At Narita airport, the baggage handlers were dressed very professionally in their uniforms, looking like an efficient, hardworking team. In Vancouver, the man driving the baggage cart was wearing cargo shorts, wraparound 80’s sunglasses, and drove with one foot up on the dash.
I switched to the domestic terminal and had a quick flight to Winnipeg. I landed just before 7:00pm on August 20, a full 15 minutes before I had left Tokyo. Traveling across multiple time zones is weird.
My parents met me at the airport, loaded me into the car, and took me to the Health Sciences Center, the hospital that had been my sister’s home for the past 3 weeks. Usually visiting hours end at 8:00pm, but my parents told the staff that I was coming home from Japan to see my sister, and they were happy to make an accommodation for us.
My parents live in nearby Portage la Prairie, which is about an hour west of Winnipeg. They came into Winnipeg earlier in the day to visit my sister, and then stuck around waiting to pick me up from the airport. We wanted to surprise my sister, so my parents decided to tell her that they had stayed in Winnipeg after the morning visit to do some shopping, and wanted to stop by the hospital one more time on the way home. I would wait outside the hospital room, then come in to surprise my sister.
I waited outside the room as my parents entered. My sister was surprised to see them again, and also happy to see a friendly face that wasn’t a doctor or a nurse. 3 weeks in the hospital is a long time!
After about a minute, I casually walked into the room and said hi, trying to act like it was completely normal for me to be there. My sister stared for a minute without saying anything, trying to process the fact that her brother who had moved to Japan was standing in front of her. Finally she asked me “are you really here, or am I dreaming?”. I assured her that I was actually there, and that I had come back to visit her. After another minute of staring and trying unsuccessfully to form sentences, she told me that she was really happy to see me.
We visited for about an hour or so, and I explained that I was in town for at least a few weeks to help out. Before I left I had to promise that I would still be in Canada the next day. On the way out of the ward, I was greeted by most of the nurses who had known that I was coming to visit. I was upset that my sister was in the hospital, but I was smiling the whole way out knowing that I helped make her day better.
My parents had agreed to help me with the price of my (very expensive) plane ticket. On the way out the the hospital my parents stated that my sister’s reaction to seeing me was totally worth the cost of the ticket.
I am very fortunate that I had the money and time to get back and see my sister. I am grateful to my parents and the NOVA head office staff who were able to accommodate my short notice request to leave the country. I was also very happy to be home.