Coming to America

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My parents wanted me home for Chrimmus again this year. Not an easy feat considering I had classes until the 23rd of December. It’s not cheap to fly near Chrimmus, and definitely not cheap to fly the day before.

The 23rd is a Holiday in Japan and so I decided to skip class and fly back the 22nd. That I wouldn’t have to pay $2000 for a plane ticket. I bought late and so besides the high price, there were no direct flights out of the Kansai area. I had to fly to Tokyo first and then catch a connecting flight to San Francisco. This assured that I would be up for a good 30 hours straight, since I can never sleep on planes. I then had to rent a car and drive (something I’d one done once in the past 2 and a half years) the 2 hours to my parent’s place in Sacramento. I may not be able to sleep on planes trains or buses, but get me behind the wheel of a car and I’m fighting to keep my eyes open.

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In order to try and help me to sleep on the plane, I decided to pull an all nighter the last night in Japan. My girlfriend came over to help me out. IMG_1557-01It was pretty noble of her, considering she had worked the previous day until 10pm, and had to go to work the next day from 10am. She didn’t look happy in the morning. She spent most of the night going through the gifts I bought for my friends in the states, and writing Merry Christmas messages to them. She’s never actually met any of them, and doesn’t exactly speak English, so it was entertaining enough. Until I realized that all the gifts I bought were now technically from her. She is a crafty one indeed. We had breakfast in the morning in Kyoto and she went to work, and I went home to grab my stuff and head for the airport. I checked online and found a shuttle bus nearby and wouldn’t you know it, I fell asleep on the bus. And then at the airport waiting for my flight. And then on the 45 minute flight to Tokyo. And then at Narita airport waiting for my next flight. These little 20 minute power-naps were long enough to make me unable to sleep on the big 10 hour flight, but short enough that I totally didn’t feel rested at all. At least they had fine movies like You, Me, and Dupree to pass the time.

Next to me sat a couple of very young kids. I asked their mother, who was sitting behind me, if she wanted to switch seats. She said no, she was fine. Smart move, lady. There were a lot of kids on the flight, and their parents had all requested special nutritious kids meals for them. Not the kids sitting next to me. I might as well call them “my kids” as thats what everyone else probably thought. It probably didn’t help that one of them passed out for 7 hours with his head dug firmly into my kidneys. When the stewardess brought out the first meal, I couldn’t understand why she kept asking me if the food was really okay. Apparently she wanted to know if I thought it was okay for the kids. Yeah why not, kids gotta eat something I guess. Mom didn’t seem to mind.

We landed, I managed to grab my bags and sail through customs. It was 11am, but my body was telling me I should have been asleep 32 hours ago, then woken up 24 hours ago, then gone back to sleep 8 hours ago. So by that logic, I should be just about waking up now. Perfect. Time to go rent a car and head for Sacramento.

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Chevy Impala. I could have done worse. It’s a big heavy car, so it makes me feel safe. Especially when I pull onto the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic. In kind of a nice surprise, I made it home without killing myself or anyone else. My parents looked about the same, but they completely redid the house.

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I IMG_1761-01don’t have any before pictures for comparison, which sort of makes it pointless to post them at all. Just imagine exactly not-that, and you’ll have a good idea of what it used to be like. Besides my mom worked hard ordering everything (EVERYTHING) online so this is her time to shine. Though seeing my hip room full of DVDs and guitars and posters stolen from bus stops turned into a guest room with pillows and lace and green walls was a little more than I could take. At least the room had 900 channels of digital cable now. After taking in the new setup, I asked where I was supposed to sleep, and then crashed for 14 hours. My parents sort of go overboard on food whenever I come home, an this time they had outdone themselves. In addition to the pizza rolls, microwave burritos, and Jimmie Dean sausages, they bought a turkey, a ham, and a roast because they weren’t sure what I wanted to eat for crimbo dinner. At 4am, I felt a deep hunger only to be satisfied by one man. Jimmie Dean. At 4am, Jimmie Dean came through. 60 Seconds on high, 400 calories per bite. Take THAT Japan.

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At 4:05am with nothing to do, I logged online to see if anyone in Japan was online, and whatdya know, my friend Dave in San Francisco was awake and online. He told me to come out to the bay, an hours drive at least. I asked him what there was to do in San Francisco at 5am. 24 Hour Indian Food.
Fucking Score.

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The bay area chain Naan n Curry’s O’Farrell and Mason restaurant is open 24 hours. Lamb tikka masala at 5am finally made me feel like I was back in America.

After eating we were at a loss of what to do. There happened to be a 24 hour Starbucks around the corner, and since Dave had worked at a Starbucks downtown he knew the secret handshake to get us free coffee. I gave Dave his gifts (from Mina) and he put them together (remote control model car) while we waited for the sun to come out.

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Dave managed to get his car put together IMG_1658-01 and now the sun was just about out so we headed to the wharf near Fort Mason. We didn’t have anything in mind really, but there was nothing else to do. IMG_1671There were only a few people jogging and a couple people fishing. Dave tried out the car and for only 1000 yen, it’s quite a quick little thing. Dave felt the urge to beat the cold by partaking in the cities new initiative of all but ignoring marijuana. I don’t indulge in that particular vice, but took the opportunity to take photographs to further perpetuate the myth in Japan that all Americans are gun toting pot heads. There really was nothing else to do at the wharf. Dave raced his car around the seagull shit. I took pictures of a skunk. The Chinese fisherman wondered aloud what the hell we were doing. I wondered the same. It wasn’t so much interesting as it was very very cold. So we left.

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After the wharf, we called up (woke up) another friend and headed to Haight Ashbury. Dave to look for a gift for his girlfriend, and me to find more myths to perpetuate about we Muricans. I found one. America is covered with graffiti.
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And that was about it for my first 24 hours in America. If you’ve got a sharp eye, in this next picture you might be able to spot the next myth about America I plan to spread throughout Asia.

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~ by foomfoom on December 23, 2006.

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