I took the bus to work this morning.

I had allowed myself the indulgence of a hot fudge sundae from McDonald's. More hot fudge than sundae, really. Apparently these employees of the evil McD had enough of their souls left to make my confection the way I liked it. The gentle drizzle that had cooled me on my way to the bus stop had increased to a light, but steady pour.

I stood next to the edge of the dirty, ragged roof that stood over the drooping benches of the bus stop, contentedly munching on my sundae, when a police SUV pulled swiftly to the curb.

Two officers stepped out. The driver went to the back of the SUV, where a number of carry-on style suitcases where stored. The second stepped to and opened the back seat passenger door, where there sat a middle aged black woman.

She was dressed plainly, and her face showed the wear of cares and pains that would have crushed most others.

She stepped regally from the back of the SUV, as serene and proud as any Queen from history or fiction. She strode, not merely stepped, over the grimy sidewalk, around the broken remains of a pint of Aristocrat vodka, and into the dingy shelter of the bus stop. She sat down on the bench. Back straight. Shoulders squared. Eyes proud.

The officers remained respectfully silent, as did I. Suddenly holding something as crude as a hot fudge sundae from McDonald's made me feel like a small, unruly child. I went and tossed it meekly into a trashcan. The officers brought her bags, setting them deferentially next to her. Once they had brought her the last of them, they nodded respectfully and moved back towards their SUV. She responded with the barest perceptible declining of her head.

But not her eyes. Never her eyes.

The bus came a few minutes later. I had spent that time wondering what had brought this lady into this place. A dirty, wet bus stop next to a dirtier McDonalds in an even dirtier city. You don't get dropped off at a bus stop with nothing but your bags by the police for fun, after all.

Had she deigned to acknowledge the presence of the bus when it came, I would have carried her bags for her, but she didn't. Instead, she stood as I got on the bus, and for some reason that I will ever know, moved her bags from the shelter onto the wet sidewalk.

I looked back as the bus pulled away. She was standing proudly, surveying the street, her eyes filled with steely determination.

Defying the rain.

I just read something here that really stopped me.

So many people here on E2 complain about prose, saying that this is a factual archive and creative expression has little or nothing to do with it. And yet, I have always found that the pieces here that have really made me stop, think, laugh or cry are certainly not factual nodes, carefully researched and lovingly pipelinked, but rather those very prose pieces. As useful as the information is, it's hard to be moved by a concise description of a cheese cutter. Please don't get me wrong - I love reading the more factual side of E2 and find it an invaluable research tool for everything from university assignments to idle curiosity. But I also love the prose to be found here as well. Some of the most beautiful writing I've ever seen (certainly on the internet) is to be found within these unassuming walls.

And so I at least feel that those that complain about prose should give this material a second glance or three. The piece referenced at the top (An ease of form by winton) is one of those that I feel earns prose a place here.

Wherever you hang your ten gallon hat/touque, that's your home (Part 1 of 5)

An Introduction
With the wife off visiting relatives and some free time from work looming, I've decided to delve into an exercise in serial daylogging. Over the next two weeks, I will sumbit five daylogs (including this one) that will detail my experiences with uprooting myself and immigrating to another country. This series will not catalogue things like passports, visas, work permits and formal citizenship (as much of this has been discussed in other places). Instead, this project will delve into the intangible longings for home, and the newfound curiosities that counterbalance them.

In late-June/early-July 2001, I packed my worldly possessions into a horse trailer, crossed into the U.S., married my wife (an natural-born American citizen) and set up shop in a strange and foreign land. Since that summer, I have been compiling lists of what I do and do not like about my new home, and what I miss most and least about Winnipeg (and, in a broader sense, Canada as a whole). The following four writeups in the series will break down these lists.

While these daylogs will be available to Everythingians in general, they're more for me. Although I've been working on these lists steadily since my arrival in North Texas, they've never been put to paper or transcribed in full. I intend this to be a cathartic process. Whether or not you enjoy it, is up to you. (Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass.)

But why now, after almost three years? One reason is that the initial regret of what has been left behind has faded, giving me a clearer perspective on the pros and cons of moving. The solitude my wife and I experienced upon arriving in a strange city has been ground away by new friendships and associations. But there is another reason. One of my best friends is planning a similar move, leaving Winnipeg behind for a job in the Pacific Northwest. Once completed, I intend these writeups to be a guide providing her with an inkling of what to expect. While the new locales may be vastly different, and in three years her completed lists probably won't resemble mine as much, the base emotions are the same. And it helps knowing someone's been there before.

The Daylogs
Part 1: An Introduction -- March 13, 2004
Part 2: What I miss most about Winnipeg -- March 18, 2004

I'm getting this albatross off my neck.

When I first wrote this write-up, I simply wanted to express an idea for purely intellectual reasons. I didn't even say that I thought it was right, or that I believed it. I just wanted to say that it was something to think about. That idea got naught but down-votes, so I'll recant. To any who may have been offended, I apologize.

Originally this write-up suggested that maybe that conservative Christian ideas might actually support gay marriage, as extramarital sex is considered to be a sin. I'm not trying to convince anyone, nor am I convinced that this is even right. I was just presenting an idea. This got a great number of down-votes, suggesting that maybe this wasn't an idea worth bringing up. The only trouble is, taking it back got even more down-votes. Please, unless you really love this idea, just don't comment. I'm sure I've heard everything negative there is to say about it.

Hokkaido, Japan
from the foreign female perspective
Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

It took several minutes of searching before Aaron and I could find a seat at breakfast in a banquet hall built for maybe 500 people. It was that crowded. However, once again, I was able to ignore the multitudes of people due to the delicious array of delicacies provided by the hotel. My favorite was tiny rice dumplings in a anko soup, and some tropical fruit cocktail. Fruit is a treat here because it’s so expensive, so it was good to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C again.

I’d asked the hotel reception dude how to get to the station when we checked in, so with map in hand, Aaron and I set off with our ever-heavier suitcases to see a bit of the city before boarding our 10:25am train back to Tokyo.

We passed a ridiculous shrine on the way. Noboribetsu is famous for 地獄谷 (Jikokudani, Hell Valley), which means there are statues of demons and devils on every corner. Some are cute, some are scary, others are absurd. This shrine housed a massive cartoonish man statue, which, on a timed schedule, would mechanically change his face into a green or red devil while people prayed. In other words, it’s a massive tourist trap, just like the entire town. I was really distressed by the development in the vicinity, as it was painfully obvious that the area existed for the sole purpose of tourism. The huge hotels, dozens of souvenir shops, quaint statues, bars. It wasn’t real. I could only imagine what the Valley was like before the developers discovered its money-making potential and decided to exploit it.

Aaron and I hopped on a bus to the 登別, which turned out to be a little pricey. We were shocked when we arrived, however. Outside the Valley, the town of Noboribetsu is incredibly run down and tiny.

As we were staring at the station in disbelief, we even saw several freight trains pass through on the JR. Freight trains!! You’d never see that in the city.

We still had about an hour before our train was to arrive, so Aaron and I took up the inadequate handles of our luggage and set off towards a pretty building we could see in the distance. The building turned out the be some Marine Park, which was closed until later in the day. So we continued to walk, until we came upon a sleepy little fishing port stuffed full of dirty boats and old men in rubber boots. We must have looked ridiculous pulling suitcases and wearing street clothes, but we marched right in with the intent of seeing the ocean. On the way, we were confronted by flocks of seagulls the size of small cats. They were easily three times the size of normal Lake Michigan seagulls, like dirty white cats with wings and cruel beaks. Thankfully none of the attacked, and Aaron and I made it to a winding dirt path that took us up on top of a sea wall.

It was funny to look at our luggage sitting in the middle of nowhere. The poor suitcases had been through so much and played such a steady, reliable, and important roll in our vacation.

We headed back to the station after taking a million pictures of the little red lighthouse and the water, thinking fondly of Holland and the State Park. Soon enough we were on the train, nine hours stretching out into the future.

The ride back was a bit irritating. For 6 of the 9 hours, we were next to two different mother/daughter combos, both of which included an incredibly obnoxiously talkative little girl. The mothers did absolutely nothing to stifle their children’s volume, nor did they stop them from staring and pointing at the foreigners. One little girl stood by Aaron’s chair for 15 solid minutes, staring at him with wide eyes and open mouth. Any kid in the States would get reprimanded for such rude behavior, but not here.

But we finally made it back to Tokyo, and it was good to be home.

That concludes the Last Day of kaytay’s Hokkaido Adventure. Thanks for reading.

Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

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