Tuesday, July 27, 2010

bfg on note-taking

My thighs and other sensitive parts are tingling from the waxing lady. God, it feels so good to go - it hurts like hell but you feel great. This lady, Dorothy at Salon Voce, nine minutes and you are out of there. She is zippity quick and cheep for downtown i.e. recommended.

Am sitting here at Indigo with my fruit passion and mango iced tea staring lovingly at my new business cards out of the corner of my eye. I was complemented by the graphics guy on the colour choice which made me beam with pride. Pathetic to be sure but the worse part - at the salon, I saw Hachiko, the Japanese hairdresser who was kind enough to do my hair yesterday, who gave me loads of advice and who I wished to continue corresponding with. So duh, hand her a business card right? But I couldn't do it... it felt so pretentious and "not me". So there you have it people, one hundred business cards in my name and $55.48 dollars later and I don't use them. Lovely.

One useful piece of advice Hachiko gave me was a travel agency that had great deals on booking tickets to Japan and most of Asia, Voyages Baro Baro. Hachiko-san was able to book a ticket to J for $900 with Air Canada in December. That is just amazing~! Especially for the JETs with significant others staying in Montreal or for my friends and family that want to visit it is nice to know where to go for the best deal. They are located right by the Art Java on University street....

~~ I never posted this so thought to now. So funny reading it while I am in Japan~~

Monday, July 26, 2010

bfg on ladytime

Just watched my last True Blood in Canada. God! I love that show.
(FYI: I am a Team Bill fan but my heart pitter patters for Eric. Yum!)

Speaking of blood, I just realized while taking my pill this evening that ladytime is scheduled for... SATURDAY MORNING for me. That is right - it seems I am cursed with my moon-time every time I take a plane. When I went to Spain three years ago, I slept the whole way on the plane only to wake-up twice to eat and throw-up.

Yes, I am requesting an aisle seat.

Honestly, a big damper on my week knowing this dark cloud is looming ahead. I packed two advils and hopefully it will do... This paired with the fact that my tampons (go OB!) weigh a whole pound makes me resentful. It really pisses me off - like I know dudes can't help it but say can't the airport claim "We don't count menstruating equipment when it comes to weight!" I would really appreciate an airline to do that!

Eric is the one in the middle.
God, I hate vampires but I adore this show...
and Vampire Diaries.
But this also brings me to writing this post in the first place. Someone asked me why I was down and I told them, "I am frustrated because I am getting my period the day I fly out of Canada which sucks not to mention my tampons take up way too much space in my suitcase." And this person was astounded that I told him... the TRUTH. What am I supposed to do? Lie? Are we in the 18th century? You asked, please remember dear.

One big concern for many female JETs is getting the Yakkan Shomei, which is like a passport for your drugs, for Japan. In Japan, usually women have to go see a doctor every three weeks to renew their oral contraceptive prescription - in Canada it can be administered for a year and a pharmacist can give you an extra month or so if they feel it is okay. The YS is really complicated to fill out because it asks for technical details. I had to have my pharmacist help me as they asked for exact ingredients, company and manufacturer information not to mention copies of prescription (I already had one but had to re-get a new one so I could scan it and send it).

Now, a girl  can take a pack of 21 pills or 28 pills. The difference is the seven extra are just sugar pills as day-holders (see the green pills at the bottom of the pack in the pic to your left?); so you don't get out of the annoying habit of having to worry about the function of your ovaries. Fine. In my file, it is written that I don't care - whichever box is in stock I will take, I usually just throw the sugar pills away or feed it to the dog.

My big mistake. I ended up not being specific to my pharmacist that I had to get the exact one on the prescription, Alesse 21, and she gave me twelve boxes of Alesse 28. In Canada, no one cares but I am so worried about what will happen at Narita airport. I really don't want my first month in a foreign country, which has its own challenges, to include me having so many hormonal fluctuations. Getting off the pill is not necessarily easy (or hard, it depends on the woman) but I don't want to risk it.

All these girl concerns... and I read on Facebook and other forums women apologizing for asking for advice and talking about it. Screw that. I am concerned and am frustrated right now and if you are going to ask me in person or continue reading on this post, that was your choice, ne?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

bfg on ldr surviving

I am keeping the title so that something from my efforts of writing this past week prove to be of some use.

I rewrote this post a million times. Well, in my head it was a million times but maybe on blogger it was five or six. Still, every time it either sounded kitch or corny or oh-so-savy, which I am not.

How do you survive a long distance relationship? I have no fucking clue and am a little annoyed at the look people get in their eyes when I say "Yes, I am going to Japan. No, my bf is not coming with me."

One can make the argument I am abandoning him - which is nice but I really don't care. Many other JETs have expressed on forums that their partners were whining that song away on their violin and my advice is to dump their asses. Luckily, this is not the case for moi; Ant encouraged me to apply to JET, was and still is super supportive of the whole thing even after I told him I think I want to stay the full time (3 years).

Now, I have told this to people and this is where my annoyance reaches a level where I want to put on a wife-beater and backhand the person when their look morphs from "How could you do that to him?" to "Oh, he is just getting rid of you so he can chase tail while you are gone! Poor you - so blind." and they shake their head to themselves.

I don't see why someone who encourages their partner in fulfilling their dreams even though it puts strain on the relationship is suddenly labeled as a Duke of Sluts but that is fine, no problem. Just fly away, Insect!

We haven't gone ldr yet - 6 days and counting - so I can't give advice. But what is going on in my head? Well, it will suck that is for sure. It is really nice having someone next to you when you are writing a paper, editing and helping you work out your ideas. Nice to have someone do groceries with and blabbing about one's day. And I like sleeping next to someone at night, it feels safe. Oh, well sucks to be me!

But I, and the bf I can safely say, are looking forward to time apart. You have no idea how happy I am at the fact that I am going somewhere CAT FREE (gates of heaven open as the trumpets sound and light fills the room) and I think he needs a reprive from my hyper ventilation every time the cats do something retarded (which is all the time!) . My salary is going to fast track both of us in getting out of debt and saving some. But most importantly, until this is done on my check list of "Life things to do before I Croak" we can't evolve in our relationship.

Leaving For Ottawa with Famous Suitcase
So, ldring will have its really sucky moments but so do loads of things in life. And it will suck in Japan so that in itself rocks. To moi anyways.

We did have a three-day Ottawa getaway of which I put up some pics here. I thought it was necessary because I am going crazy and I don't want the last memories of me being a woman surrounded by three open Samsonite luggages shaking my fist to the skies while wailing. "Why me? Why me?" as I curse my big feet.

Now lets get something straight. Ottawa - four days MAXIMUM. This is not a city, I don't care if Parliament is there or not. Any place where I can't get a cafe latte after 9pm is not a city, capisci?

But the B&B was spectacular. Take a look:

The food situation was... special. It seemed if you spent good money (like $$$) you got great food but anything less and it was downhill baby. Here is a tidbit from our favourite resto The Urban Pear where they serve only local foods. The bill was $100CDN for two people and I had one glass of wine. We did not have appetizers and you really don't need it  - very filling.

We did get our plates eventually...

In conclusion, happy we got away from dishwashing and obligations to pets to spend some time together. And I am elated that I live in a time of Internets and SKYPE and Google and iTouch with microphones. But in the end, it will be hard but I don't think it will be paralyzing. What will happen will happen for better or for worse and the fun is in finding out I would say, no?

"Women are Persons too!" statues at Parliament
Teepe at Carlton University

In other news, International Driver's Licence is complete thank the lord. The RAMQ still won't let me renew my medicare card -

"Please come back July 31st."
"Yes, but I leave July 31st."
"Oh, well I am sorry Madame there is nothing I can do."
"Is there anyone else I can speak to?"
"No point. The computer won't let us do it."

Am I the only person disturbed by that last remark?

The packing is done. I even put in my running shoes (which weighs almost 2 pounds god damit!). I am over by 2 ounces in one of the suitcases but I will take my chances. And I love my suitcases - I know I have written this before but they are so green and beautiful. AND the most exciting thing is I bought a green, leather meishi (business card) holder that matches them AND THEN I designed my business cards with a hint of green on it. Take a look:   

Japanese Card
English on other side

The Divine is in colour coordination I tell you *sigh of pleasure*. I know that no one will see me with all three at the same time, except for maybe at the airport but its like bra and underwear matching - YOU know and it makes all the difference. 

I was actually really intrigued by the entire meishi business and encourage you to read up on it by following the hyperlink. At Orientation, we were advised that it was a complex system of rules but since we are gaijin our only concern was to bow, not write on the business cards at all and to try and put them away once you have parted ways. I read up on it and the proper etiquette is fascinating. I wonder if they have meishi police or something. But more importantly, I wonder how they teach the following generation these rules. Like, is there a parent who actually says "Now Utako, hold the bottom ends of the card. No, no FACING the other person so they can read. Yes, good. A little lower... perfect."? One of the things I am excited about finding out.

At my good-bye dinners several people have wondered aloud whether I will survive in a society so regulated which I find funny because they think there are not the same social rules that set the parameters for our own lives. Perhaps we may not bow to the teacher every morning or hand over business cards the same way but there is so much I know I even take for granted, that I associate as normal and yet haven't pinpointed. It happens to me sometimes here in Canada - when I eat at a friends house who is non-Italian/European... it amazes me. Or the fact that people eat turkey at Christmas - this is something I find so disturbingly foreign to me, and I am not even religious! But it bothers me I can tell you that for free. Not in a way where I am mad but in my head I think, "OMG! I am so happy I will never, ever do that at my table in my life. EVER!" It says something about me to be sure: my intense distaste for bird, the memory of my now-dead Nonnina telling me that we can only eat fish on the Eve because it is a respect to the animals that sacrificed their home for Christ, how I prefer having several choices of meats and veggies versus a more narrow menu (this is something Italians and Asians have in common). But these are ideas I have which I never would have realized had I not been faced with ... "Other than". I like Others - very exciting. And this is exactly why I am going to Japan. Not to find myself since I am me and that phrase is just retarded and overused. Am going to break down the more academic, 2-dimentional idea I have of "Japanese" that I have assumed in my intellect which I think can only be done by facing the beast.

Not to mention to eat copious amounts of sushi, swoon at the Japanese boys because there is no harm in looking, and teach!
God, I am jealous of myself!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

bfg on pets

It is 1am and I should be in bed but was doing some last minute things for Ottawa, like charging the batteries of my devices, etc.  and while uploading my pics, I came across this which I had to share with you: Sasha, the bf's dog, in my luggage.

No, that was not for Ottawa - I was repacking today for Japan and unfortunately it did not go so well. The omiyage are just too heavy considering the amount. I don't know what to do but will figure it out I guess.

As mentioned below, have been trying to convince the bf to come stay in Japan for a significant amount of time... a summer between 1st and 2nd year and a year free with moi while I am on my third year. He can write that famous novel swimming in his head and then I can just live in Japan for 5 months out of the year for the rest of my life.

Crazy? I know I may not even WANT to stay but this is a convo I thought best for now  in person and not in the future over SKYPE.

One of my big hurdles is going to be having him keep the dog at the 'rents for the time awat. At least my competition is small cute heehee.

But joking aside, pets in Japan is a huge deal. It will cost us at least 2 K to fly Sasha over. At Narita airport, Ant would have to pay for a hotel for 2 weeks just to go and feed and clean the cage 2x per day. And than, she needs to get hyper tested, shots, etc. A special collar given to her with all this info (mostly when her last rabies shot was) ... and even if we did ALL THAT, which I would, in my craziness in love moment would consider buying into, we would have to move out of my apartment. Most apartments do not allow pets to live inside and it has been explained to me that Sasha outside is not an option.

But she is pretty cute. I am going to miss her a lot, even though she annoys me at night when she walks around and I wake up. It is really nice when I open the door and come home to see Sasha wagging her tail and kissing me "Hello!". Sometimes she even tells me about her day. This is one smart dog and has always made for good company...

Who knows! Maybe I can bribe the landlord?!

bfg and 14days

Yeah, can you believe it? two weeks to go and I am gone.

And it has started - as per usual - I am not sleeping well even when I do sleep. I am too excited, nervous, apprehensive, anxious and scared all at the same time. So much going on inside: emotions vying with each other that I am not sure how I even feel. It makes it hard to concentrate and so the reading for the thesis has suffered. Poor me.

I am starting to worry about money, about having enough in Japan to have some fun but also save enough so I am out of debt in 4 months (god, just writing that seems surreal) and paying the crazy grad school tuition fees.

I am anxious to meet my supervisor and students, to get to know them and teach them and LEARN from them.

I am so scared that I will walk into an apartment filled with cockroaches and tar. Scared that for some reason all the shops will be closed on the day I arrive in Shizuoka so I won't be able to buy a bed...

I am nervous about my Japanese - like about to projectile vomit nervous. I have been preparing my intro speech to the school and just saying, "私の名前 は ヴァネッサです。” brings on nausea. Will I sound like a five year old? Is my accent okay? Is the angle of my bow right? It is not Japan - I am often overcome with sicky feelings when I have to meet new people. It is so funny when people tell me I am so outgoing I will "make friends easily". Actually, it is really hard for me and I kinda hate doing it but force myself to just because I don't like my stomach controlling me.

Leaving Ant, the bf, is proving to be difficult. At night, I realize lying in bed that he won't be there for reassurance after a bad dream. Nor will we be there to keep each other warm at night. The idea that an entire year will pass before seeing him is scary - thank goodness for SKYPE - but at the same time I am looking forward to reasserting my independence. I just hope I don't burn down the apartment from a cooking accident while proving this to myself.

And already, the idea of just staying a year is looking impossible. How can I do all the things I want to do in Japan (Okinawa caves, Hiroshima, Sapporo, the Pacific Islands, etc.) AND save 1/2 my salary AND finish my thesis AND be a kick-ass teacher? I am trying to convince the bf to join me for a year (or some significant amount of time) should this happen but that seems unlikely - he just ain't nomadic and the pets are proving to be competition ;0. Anyways, a bridge to cross when we get there.

BUT this weekend we are going away to ... Ottawa. Now I know what you are thinking but think of it: what money we save in transport we spent on a really nice B&B with a king size bed and a tub. Yuppers - the best gift to oneself because for three days and two nights there will be no pets, no obligations, no dishes to wash - just us enjoying each others company and visiting loads of museums and bookstores. I think it is something we (well at least I) need - a pause from my psycho to-do list and repacking obsessive compulsiveness to calm down and enjoy the moment.

Talk to you when I get back! I promise pictures :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

bfg on signs

A quick post -

I am attaching an awesome stencil Tania, the MTL coordinator, made for us Atlantic JETs but is just so helpful to anyone going to Japan. The Kanji below are for common signs you would see in Japan.

Start Memorizing!

Friday, July 9, 2010

bfg on ladies night

Well, I made it home safely. Yes - even after half a bottle of cheep sparkling wine and five too many vodka &ice teas (whose counting?) I am home in pjs getting ready to watch another episode of Supernatural.

This evening I had supper with Gabs and Catherine, the SciFy chicks I went to Worldcon with last August.  Always a pleasure to be in the company of those two and it amazes me that though I have known them since CEGEP only this year have we really gotten close.

The three of us are swamped; one being preggers and the other completing a degree with both supporting themselves. But since I was leaving they made the time to have a little get together, us three, to chat and catch up before I leave for what at this very moment feels like too long a time.

There is something so magical about goodbyes like this. None of us know how long I will be gone, none of us know if, considering how we are evolving into different "life roles" now, we will really be able to have more drinking/eating/blabing nights. So when I hugged each one of them it was so... so precious. It is sad and yet beautiful this moment that I hold them with uncertainty of not only when we would next meet but HOW we would.

And as I sit here, I miss them both so much already. Gabs and Catherine are so, so special to me. Over the course of this year I have shared lunches and author talks with them being able to switch from talking about my day at work to how struck I was by the latest G.G. Kay book. These two ladies are so dazzling because they aren't bored when I outline the plot to Wheel of Time Book #13... again. In fact, they often rebuttal with a synopsis on Jasper Fforde's writing style or a look at the dedicated and honourary Sci Fi shelf in the living room. Gabs and C are as passionate about books as I am  - so its no wonder we all squealed when I told them about the books adventures planned for August 4th in Tokyo.

July has been a month of realizing all the crap that has been in my life which I am happy to leave behind. But right now as I write this up, there is a oh-so-strong realization of the very many things I love here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

bfg on the Japan War Chest

It is a Sunday morning and the shops only open at noon. Tempted as I am to curl up in the Reading Chair and drown myself in the latest Jordan book, it seems right to flesh out a few concerns I have and catch you all up on the latest news which all has to do with the big question: What to bring with me to Japan?

Now, I could ship things ahead and if I were going to snowy Hokkaido I would (winter jackets, etc.) but the charges are significant and I would rather just bring it with me in my suitcase and pay the airline fees. Since my trip is overseas, I am allowed two large suitcases that weigh no more than 23kg, one carry on at no more than 4.5 kg and one purse. JET has a travel agent who handles all our flight arrangements in Vancouver and it looks like we will all be flying Air Canada. Atlantic JETs unfortunately have to stop over in Toronto but this means I may get to sit next to Ashley, the TO pen pal, so a total upside. I think only TO and Vancouver JETs get a direct flight...

With these restriction... what to bring? This blog is called Big Female Giant and it was ALMOST called Big Fat Female Giant but my love of Dahl won out in the end.

It is not that I am Fat, though in Japan I will probably be called Cow by my students, but I am far from being small being a size 10 in most things (sizes always vary depending on the store. That is why I love American brands) which translate to Size "I don't Exist" in Japan. Sigh. Dreams of Tokyo Shopping Spree wisked away...

Its not just my pant size though ... I have big feet (and there is no sexual innuendo in that comment given I am female!). A size 10 usually fits me here in Canada but I also have wide feet... God! I am really laying out all the negatives here - its just to say, I need to bring everything I could possibly need for  a year (or more) in Japan for all occasions. Even though I am dieting and rejoined the gym (spinning classes!) I can't change this simple fact.

Now maybe you think, "Oh! What a whiner, 100 pound of stuff to bring and she is complaining?"

Yeah, dam right I am!

Take the shoes; I need to bring shoes for walking, running shoes, shoes for going to school, shoes for inside school, flip flops for the washroom at school (since the washroom slippers will be for people with significantly smaller feet. Oh, you didn't know? In Japan, you change footwear in the washroom), rain boots, shoes for going out and casual/going out shoes that are comfortable enough for walking around in but also fine for last minute going out. That is, speaking plainly, a shit load of shoes.

Now in Montreal, if I need a pair of shoes, I go out buy a cheep pair and they last the season and to the Salvation Army they go. But because I need things that are durable, not knowing how long I intend to stay for, the cost shoots up. In some ways, I am happy about this because its forcing me to invest in my footwear and buy better quality shoes. But the money! and the WEIGHT of it is scary. I only bought four pairs of new shoes but as of now I am bringing with me 8 pairs. PLUS, I am still debating on whether or not to bring hiking boots or not. I am trying to gage weather it is safe for me to climb Mount Fuji with my running shoes because hiking boots means another 120$ and that much more weight. Plus PLUS, they are f-ugly; no person wears hiking boots with clothing on and you think to yourself "That is attractive". I am Italian! I want pretty things.

The clothing has been more of a concern on the budget side than the weight side. During Orientation, there were several suggestions as to what to wear/bring to Japan, and most of them concerned women's clothing: has to have a sleeve - thick straps are not allowed, has to be below the knee (who wears skirts below the knee? Honestly, at the knee is easy to find but below the knee I found one and it was too atrocious to even consider purchasing), have to wear nylons (I bought 30 pairs this weekend and need to find 10 more) even if it is deathly humid, must wear shirts that cover your mid-drift and no cleavage. And this was just about the clothing!

Now, each school is different but you don't know until you get there which is too late. So it is best to side on caution especially in my situation where restocking on clothes is not an option. Your predecessor can give you some advice but they all seem to say, "Be hyper conservative at first and then look around you and match the other teacher's style." Another example of modern Japanese homogeneity.

This wardrobe thing has been on my mind for some weeks now and I was finally sick of it. I am sick of getting ready for Japan - I want to enjoy Montreal and my friends. My July schedule is quickly filling up with ice cream dates and dinners with friends so I told the bf that the first weekend of July, I want the major parts of my wardrobe shopping to be done.

Now, I budgeted $1000 for clothes and $700 for shoes (the shoes is because I needed good walking shoes and really good rain boots). I only spent $350 on the shoes which makes me very happy but the clothes - holy moses! It was a lot.

I should say I think what surprised me were the small items that I didn't factor in as a cost. Luggage for example: it didn't hit me that I didn't have a suitcase. And when it came time to thinking about it I was pretty certain I could use my mom's or dad's. But then it hit me! Its not for a month but a year - no way I could take their stuff for that long (or more) given that my dad is a pilot and my mom has to travel with my brother at least once a year for his sports. So I actually had to pay for a suitcase - it was a very adult moment let me tell you. I love her though: she is green and has for wheels and just yells out "Samsonite"! But that was $200 I had not budgeted for.

Another unexpected but necessary purchase: a big purse to carry my laptop in. Since I am writing a thesis there, I will probably lug Jingu around showing off her Macness to the world. In Spain, I would go to bars at night until closing typing and drinking away; it was awesome. But I had a laptop bag and walking home at 2 am... it didn't feel safe. So I ended up splurging at Rudsak $250 and got myself an awesome leather bag that fits all my electronics nicely and a few magazines etc. Perfect for the plane ride as I want my electronics on me and for the late night walks with the laptop. I won't feel like my bag is screaming out "Rob Me!" (Actually, I also bought the matching wallet which WAS a splurge but I LOVE that thing so much  and people stop me at the cash saying my wallet is a manifestation of awesomeness. So there!)

That is $450 of un-budgeted cash I had to fork over. Now, I could have bought the $60 suitcase - that is true. But I am the daughter of a pilot and spent many the hour waiting for my dad to land in the "gates" area of then-Mirabel airport. The number of people with cheep suitcases that were DESTROYED beyond repair... not fun. And remember, this BFG can't replenish. I needed to spend the money to be secure that my stuff will arrive there on time. The fact that I get to walk around in my little green four-wheeled Samsonite carry-on in Tokyo is just an added bonus.

MOVING! Again, it cost me just $100 but I thought it would be more on the free side. $40 for gas, $40 for the "Thank-you" meal and little tidbits like rope, etc. all add up.

I think you get my point... I tried/am trying so hard to budget, forecast and play out a strategy but there are things that just bite you in the ass.

Okay so back to clothes... Suits. That was something that kept popping up. You should wear a suit when you meet the mayor, wear a suit at the town festival if you are asked to make a speech, wear a suit on your first day of class when you introduce yourself to the whole school, of course wear a suit for newspaper interviews. Suit, suit, suit. I have one suit which I bought for my JET interview and that alone, on a 70% sale, cost me $140 CDN (Mexx) excluding the nylons (which were $20). I found 2 suits at Tristan which are gorgeous, conservative but fashionable and the two together total $534.33 CDN and this is with a 50% discount! Dudes! I almost fainted when the woman told me the price. I asked her to put it on hold and spent yesterday running around desperately for alternatives. I found blouses (at Jacob Outlet for 15$!) but all the suits either did not fit me, made me look like I bought something at Croteaux or were significantly more expensive. So today I am going to head over to Tristan and buy the two. That is half of my budget on clothes gone mostly because I never had the experience of shopping for a good suit. The good news is I look dam good in them and in the end, especially because I want to be a CEGEP teacher and do not intend to go to school in jogging pants as some profs do, its an investment in my long-term wardrobe. AND my fear of being photographed twice in the same outfit, which is very Italian of me but is an honest, sincere fear can be appeased.

So this weekend I hit the shops. I wish I enjoyed shopping but I hate changing rooms. Another tall moment: taking off a dress and then burning your hand on the hanging spot lights that are NOT helpful to tall people and then slamming your head into the mirror because your head was caught in the dress but the burn shocked you and you jumped away without looking. Yes, I have battle wounds friends.

What did I end up buying? Well! As you can see, I am in love with my new rain jacket. At Orientation it was highly recommended, almost enforced, that you bring rain pants as well but dear Reader, I tried them on but I could no do it. They are so ugly, so FAUX PAS I knew I would never, ever wear them even if it rained. Antonio encouraged me to buy them but it felt from the moment I saw those absolutely ugly things on the rack that I would not wear them. But I did buy a rain coat on recommendation from a classmate Caitlin to check out Mountain Equipment Co-op. Was it worth it! I left with my sexy blue rain coat which I got on Liquidation for $95, black jogging pants which I would wear on a rainy day while biking to school ($57), and the greatest pull-over ever ($35, black). I am now a proud member of this awesome co-op which cost me $5 for lifetime membership.

Jacob Outlet at Marche Centrale was profitable though it took me so long and the changing rooms were so horrible. But I walked out of there with 4 solid coloured blouses after 2 hours of roughing it with the walls there. Still, considering I was able to find them at $15/20 a piece it compares well with the $50ish price tag I have been seeing at MEXX and Tristan (including their discounts). I can't help but feel like they increase the price for the sales so the discount is the original price. It seems absurd that anyone, no matter the quality, would pay a simple, standard blouse more than $40 at regular price. But that is just me.

Bra shopping was... an experience. I had a really helpful girl at the Vie En Rose but the selection wasn't great. I really wanted a skin coloured bra for the blouses and dresses etc. and finally purchased one at full price for $35 CDN. The women taught me loads - did you know that you can see the bra line when you buy the heart shaped cup because of the position of the straps? That is what I was complaining to the girl about who then had me check out the more V shaped bras and it did make a difference. She said that some woman what the line to show but I think that is ridonk! Most annoying was I tried on other bras on sale in black, light blue, polka dots and none fit. They all said 36B on them but holy shit! one was too small, one the cup had a dent, one the magnet snap put me off, and one was so padded I felt like someone had surgically added another ligament to my body. The best part of this was asking the bf how I looked. "Fine", he would answer... to each one. After pestering him, Ant seemed to think there wasn't much of a difference between the bras with clothes on... Sigh. Yes - a challenging weekend you see!

I totally splurged at Tommy Hilfiger on this thin sweater that just cries out GEEK! Its navy blue with white and purple diamonds on the front - total nerdness. I also bought a navy blue Tommy dress on sale for $35. Again, an outlet at Marche Central its worth borrowing a car for a trip there. Right now, 30-40%  off the last marked down price.

I didn't do so well on the dress front. Everything was too short or too cleavagy or too expensive (I hate being poor). Anyone have recommendations? Usually, I am able to stock up at the Tristan Entrepot but unfortunatly I looked frumpy in everything.

All to say - the War Chest for Japan is close to being complete. Tomorrow I am planning a sister day with the younger sibling Alisha where she will finally get her life long wish of going to American Apparel while I purchase BOGs and struggle into more bras.

This blog post is but the prelude. Only once I am in Japan can I attest to the fact that in retrospect I really needed 7 suits but not so many shoes, or that hiking Mount Fuji with BOGS is awesome, or that going to school with beige nylons is a big nono but nude colour is fine. All these things I can only know when I get there but I need these posts and this blog to remember these thoughts as they happen and not as I remember so that in the end a more accurate, and hopefully helpful to future JETs, assessment can be made.

On a final note, I think a part of my anxiety is not being a part of the majority any longer, of going to a place where I am truly, really an alien. At a friends house the other night, her boyfriend was speaking on the anxiety Anglophones in Quebec have when it comes to them being a minority linguistically. But not only will I be speaking foreign, I will be eating foreign and shopping foreign and thinking foreign. The anxiety of going to a new place alone is enough stress without having to worry whether or not Japanese tampons do absorb enough. I think its a subconscious realization that sinks in slowly the moment you go start prepping for departure. It sure as hell make me appreciate what I have that much more.