All lit up

No, not in that way. I finally have more lights for the pad. I bought another Muji aluminum ring light for the guest bedroom. It is bright! (I think my upstairs neighbors must be playing Wii Fit or Tai-bo. I didn’t think anyone else lived here but I guess I’m wrong. A lot of thumping.). Most lights now are fluorescent lights – I’m trying really hard to get warm lights. Still, the warm lights are a little too bright and a little too cool. I mention “color temperature” to colleagues and they look at me as if I’m speaking Japanese.

Today was more of the same. But a good more of the same. The weather was amazing. Is this really rainy season? Relatively low humidity, nice temperatures, and good day for walking. And walking I did. I feel like the walking lady in my hometown, except I’m not eating ketchup out of a McDonald’s ketchup packet. The Lafayette folks will get my reference – all others just trust me. The morning took me to Tokyu Hands, Muji, and Franc Franc. Conveniently located in one building about 10 minutes from my house. Cool.

Tokyu Hands resulted in a new pot (smallest version – cause I’m cooking so much (NOT!)) and two notebooks for work because we’re too cheap over here to get real supplies. At Franc Franc I got some silk flowers and a vase. No real flowers for me at this point, but I needed something to dress up the place. Muji was supposed to result in the fourth placemat that was missing from the other store. But, darn it all, it was missing at this Muji. So I bought a light. I came home and installed the lamp and ate lunch.

I’ve learned not to put off purchases because styles change quickly here and things become unavailable. As a result, the afternoon was planned so that I could go to the third Muji in two days. I timed it poorly from a train point of view, so I decided to walk to Nagoya Station. About a 20 – 30 minute walk. I’m glad I did because I discovered a funky store my colleague told me about. If I ever need to host a party, I know where to get my supplies! I also stopped at an electronics store … I want to hook up my TV and Airport Express to some speakers. I’m having a hard time finding reasonably priced systems that I would consider using. Sigh.

At Muji 3 for the weekend I found one (and one only) of the placemats I wanted. Phew. To celebrate I bought some throw pillows, coffee / tea mugs, and some nice chopsticks. SOMEONE STOP ME!!!!!

From a consumption point of view, I’m still looking at bicycles (around $200), speakers for the living room, and some dining room light. Will I be done then?

The good news is that I played professional photographer tonight and took some photos of my apartment. I used the highest tech equipment and software I have to photograph my apartment. Aperture and Photoshop help color correct, and the original images are high resolution RAW images. But in the end, it is low res web stuff, so why bother?

I’m pretty excited about how the pictures turned out. I think you get a good idea of the space. Remember that this is with a wide angle lens (28 mm on a 35 mm format camera) so it looks like I have more space than I do.

Here’s looking out of my bedroom towards the living room / dining room with the kitchen in the back. I can literally move walls which I did to get this picture.

My living room with some furnishing, looking to the dining room

Here’s from the hallway looking at the dining room towards the living room. Fancy, huh? Actually pretty cold but I like it!

A view of the dining room

And here’s my office / sauna. I think I need another computer or two. Not enough power getting consumed.

A high view of the office

And finally my bedroom. Check out the space between my bed and the wall. See why I didn’t bother with a dresser? If you have any questions, let me know.

A close view of my bedroom

Last Monday night I had a bit of an Ugly American episode. It turns out that I paid 18880 yen (about $180) for a monthly train pass to the wrong final destination. I thought it was right, but we take this little spur train that we never pay for and so I thought that the main train station was adequate for my pass. Turns out it isn’t. So I had to turn in my old pass and they deducted a TON from it, and then they reissued at full price (and a few more days) plus extra for the spur train distance. Say what? I just wanted to pay the difference for the new station but it doesn’t work that way. I told them I thought they had poor customer service. I should have kept my mouth shut but I was frustrated. I went on a long walk after.

Monday I get my alien registration card and try to open a bank account. Wish me luck!

Starting to get to the details

I had a Saturday off! Thursday my boss told me to take Saturday off. Can I argue with that? This time I quickly said, “OK” and took today off. Well, I mean, it IS the weekend after all. I got to catch up with a few people in the morning and then sleep a little bit more. It was so nice to sleep in. Having a two day weekend is kind of like what a three day weekend feels like. I still have all day tomorrow!

First of all, I wasn’t anywhere near the 7.0 earthquake in northern Japan. Don’t worry about me there.

The couch arrived with no complications. It is bigger in the apartment than it was in the store. It is fine – no problem there. It is rather modern. Low and square. It fits the apartment. Some might find the apartment a little cold but I like it. Just need to get some black and white photos on the wall to dress it up a little bit.

As for my monitor and printing … I can happily say that my 23 inch Apple monitor is so darn close to the color test card that I really don’t need to update the color profile. Yeah! We’ll see how the black and white come out but I suspect they should be good.

Today was spent looking for more things I think I need in the apartment. First and foremost on the list were toiletries. I needed shampoo, toothpaste, and shaving cream. I have determined that I have very extreme brand loyalty. If I find something I like I just don’t deviate. At all. I brought two brand new tubs of Sebastian Molding Mud with me so I wouldn’t run out. Unfortunately L’Occitane in Japan does not sell shaving cream. Arm and Hammer do not seem to be present in the dental market here. And you can forget the usual shampoo. I think I shopped for about 1 hour in a specialty store just trying to find the things that I buy without even a thought in the US. Try to find deodorant in Japan. I don’t think I have!

I got a little seat for my shower / tub. Very Japanese. On the weekends I can take a leisurely shower sitting as if I’m at an onsen. It is really quite effective. If I did that on weekdays I’d never make the train. I also got a humidity gauge and thermometer for my office. It gets hot in here and so I’m trying to determine if I should turn on the AC. I bought lots of little things to help organize the office (mail sorter, coin boxes, bookends, …) I added coffee mugs and some placemats and coasters to the kitchen. And I finally bought another light! It is very simple. An aluminum ring with a white globe. Muji of course. I’ll buy one more light for the guest room. I need to decide what to get. Hopefully tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Well, I’m out of energy. Maybe more tomorrow.

Now what do I do?

Hmmm, what do I do now? You’ll be happy to know that I am actually doing laundry as we speak. Yes, the journal writing during laundry sessions have commenced. It makes sense actually. You are a little trapped doing laundry, so if I’m just sitting at home I should do something to occupy my time. That is cleaning (next), writing, reading, studying, or surfing the web.

My place is becoming more like my place every minute. Certainly it isn’t finished, but it has reached a livable condition. So now what do I do? Every minute up to now seems to have been consumed with either work (still really busy) or apartment stuff. I still have the apartment stuff but it is significantly less urgent than before.

My couch arrives today – so that means I’m done with the current big ticket items. I don’t really have any near term plans for more. I still have more things to do like lights and trash cans. Trash cans? What is so complicated about trash? Nagoya is ゴミばか or crazy about trash. Here’s a little link. I have to separate everything and put it in a specially colored plastic bag. Then I put it in the special trash area of our building. In our “mail corner” there are all sorts of notes about how everyone is doing their trash incorrectly. The foreigners will get blamed but I’m trying my best. I’ve gotten rid of most my packing material but I still have lots of cardboard!

I’m a bit paralyzed by light purchases. It is a commitment thing. Once they are in, you don’t really change them. Somehow a light is more difficult than a couch!

I’m looking forward to more days where I can just hang out and wonder, “Hmmm, what should I do now.” Clearly I still have life support activities (grocery store, laundry, cleaning) that require my time but that happens anywhere. It just seems that here it takes about 10 times longer because I can’t really read anything. I’m going to go to the big supermarket near Nagoya Station today. At least that’s the plan. Since I bought a monthly train pass that includes Nagoya Station on my route, I can go there using my pass. The pass was expensive (about $180 for one month between my apartment and work – the equivalent of 19.2 days) and it isn’t really that economical. But since I have been working Saturdays and since my route includes Nagoya Station it could pay off in the end.

Today I hope to get laundry done, get to the grocery store, maybe buy a trash can or two, ponder lights, get my couch delivered, organize, and finally get the pictures off of my new camera and in to my computer. Maybe I’ll go to dinner with colleagues as well. That’s a full day!

I think I like it …

I am now officially checked out of the hotel. That’s a good thing too because apparently my work credit card just max’d out. Hmmm. I sure wish I could figure out how to get my expense reports to be approved. But that’s a different story. And not that interesting.

The important and cool thing is that I slept at the apartment for the first time last night. It is a comfortable place. Yesterday afternoon I did a little shopping but didn’t really buy that much. I was just trying to figure out how to satisfy the requirements of my place. No dresser, for example. And I still need lights.

Today I got together with a colleague and he helped me a lot and I got some more things for the pad. He’s going to be here for at least 18 months so I was showing some of the stores I went to so he’d have some ideas what was out there. Still everything was on foot. Today I bought some stackable plastic drawers in place of a dresser, a laundry basket, a broom, a clock for the bathroom (does it have a battery- probably not), and clothes hangers. That doesn’t sound like much in the end, does it? Well it seemed monumental. Oh I got a couple of mouse pads and an Ethernet jumper for my Airport Express (called AirMac Express for some reason here).

Hey, that’s right! I forgot about internet. It is up and running. One of my big debates was whether or not to use my in house LAN and whatever internet access I was provided or for the fiber service. My apartment internet is just fine, thank you very much at 15.4 kpbs downlink.

Today, after a short rest, I continued my adventures. It was time for a haircut. That is never an easy experience. How do you explain in Japanese what you want? Luckily one of the guys spoke some English and between his English and Japanese we were able to get figure out what I wanted. Sort of. All my haircuts in Japan are intricately executed trims. My hair always seems as long as when I went in. So when I go in next month I’ll have to try to have them take a little more off!

On my way home, I went to the grocery store. I had to call Tomo in order to learn the Japanese word for spinach(hourensou – ホウレンソウ) which was amusing to the staff. I stumbled accidently into another western type grocery and found some Maple and Brown Sugar Quaker Instance Oats. Yippee!! That is a kind of convenient quicky breakfast when necessary. One of the problems with urban living is that it is difficult to find a “real” grocery store. I’m not sure I can survive on Dean and DeLuca and 7/11.

In general, I’m pretty happy with the location of my place. It seems very convenient. My streets are not crowded with people, but in about 15 minutes I am in the heart of the shopping area of the city. Today I even found Banana Republic (don’t feel too good for me because nothing will fit).

It is already 8:45 pm and I still have to do my dishes, make some dinner, do some work emails, hang a light, try to clean, and watch LOST on iTunes. I don’t think I’ll get it all done but I’m having fun. It beats sitting in the hotel room. More to come. My couch arrives Saturday so my apartment will be primarily furnished. The only things left will be accessories and such to make it a little more livable. You know, accessories like a kitchen knife, pots, pans.