This is an aside before I even begin the post–but I discovered today that I share my birthday (August 29) with Yon-sama, the name given affectionately by Japanese women to the insanely popular South Korean actor Bae Yong-Joon. I almost blurted out, “Oh my god!” (and not in an excited way) at the BOE when I came across it in a backissue of Teamwork Tokushima. Great…Yon-sama and Michael Jackson. Who’s next? (At least I also share my birthday with Dante Basco, the voice of Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. That’s kind of cool. There’s also John Locke, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Slobodan Milosevic, Ingrid Bergman, and Robin Leach (of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” fame)…and, according to IMDb, quite a few p.orn stars, too. Lovely!
Anyway, I took this afternoon off and went into the city to go the unten menkyo center to hand over the necessary documents to set me up to take the driver’s test. A 75-minute train ride and a 25-minute bus ride later, I was there with time to spare before my appointment time.
I had my translation of my US license, my US passport and driver’s license, and my alien registration card. There were some issues because they were confused about how long I’d been a US citizen and asked if I still had my license from India (ha! A 2-year-old behind the wheel…), and then they needed me to point out the stamps in my passport from my trip to Italy with my family in 2003 to show them that I didn’t leave the country in between, proving that I’d been in the US for at least 3 months. Once that was straightened out, they ran me through a questionnaire–they even asked me the name of the driver’s school I went to in Georgia and how much roughly it cost me (though they understood that it was long enough ago that I just had no idea–I barely remembered the name of the school).
Then, after joking with two of the officials who actually turned out to be really friendly and very familiar with the ALTs (they remembered Chalice from when she took her test last week, and they even knew the name of the JET Programme–I guess they’ve seen it on our documents and Japanese visas over the years), the first guy pulled out a map of the course and went over it in extreme detail. He even suggested ways I should turn the car to make the most extreme turns. But he laid out every single area very thoroughly–bear left here, put on your blinker and check behind you here, turn here, slow here, look both ways here, everything. The only thing I’m truly concerned about is the tight turn–I “lied” and told them I’d driven a few times in the past year in Japan, when I actually never have, but I also added that I drove daily in Atlanta and even practiced a lot when I went home a month ago. He also let me know that we’ll go around the course once in the car (which they provide–a Toyota Prius, automatic transmission), and then I’ll start my test, and then he gave me the sheet, which I jotted down copious notes on afterwards.
He also pointed out, on my way out, that I had to wear real shoes–no “surippa.” I was wearing a pair of my Old Navy flip-flops (which have really saved me this summer). I have to call in 7 to 10 days to set up my test, and I need to come back and do my eye test as well. I was watching some other people do it, though, and it’s an extremely quick process.
All in all, a very not nerve-wracking process–very easy, smooth, and actually almost fun. Afterwards, I caught a bus back to the city–it was 3:15 at this point–and finally had lunch (I’d had a late and light breakfast, and then a snack between arriving in Tokushima and catching my city bus) at Masala, where I discovered that the friendly guy’s name (he even greeted me with, “How are you? Hisashiburi desu ne!“) is Arjun, he’s from New Delhi, he speaks Hindi and has been in Japan for 3 years, and he was very surprised by my age and my marital status.
I then did some shopping, wandered around and killed time, inquired about tickets for The Marriage of Figaro next month, and caught a train home…I actually fell asleep within a couple of minutes of sitting down. It was the strangest thing–this fatigue came out of nowhere and hit me really hard. When I forced myself onto my feet when we arrived in Ikeda, I felt exhausted, sluggish, and parched–I was really dehydrated (oh, that’s another thing–Tokushima Station doesn’t have my lost Nalgene bottle…but Laura’s is on its way!), but I guess my blood sugar had crashed or something as well. It was just a strange sensation. I put on Muse’s newest album, though, which woke me up (I love you, Supermassive Black Hole) and got me through some mandatory grocery shopping and my walk home.
Anyway, I’m back now, catching up on the day’s events. I picked up some couscous at Sogo, so maybe I’ll make myself something light but filling as a late dinner. It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve cooked–yesterday I gave Julie a violin lesson and we made Kraft macaroni at her place (and then met up with Brian and had dessert at MiniStop), and I did make something for myself the night before (I think?), but this week feels so strange and disjointed that I’m just not at all sure what’s going on. We’ll be provided with food from Friday through Sunday, though, while we’re away at English camp/new ALT orientation. And speaking of which–with the exception of Group C, all the first-years are here! I feel so weird that I’ve only met two of them this past week, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re so far away from everything. I’ll be meeting everyone this weekend, though, and I’m really looking forward to it.