New(ish) Beginnings

 

Old, torn slacks, new web address

Old, torn slacks, new web address

Hey there and welcome to the first post of the post-new domain name era of my crappy blog/website.  In case you didn’t notice or were otherwise unaware, incrediblylongblogtitle.wordpress.com is no more.  In its place is the much more streamlined, sexy, and exciting stephentetsu.com.  Welcome.

Is it a little conceited of me to name my website after myself?  Of course.

Is it a better potential representation of me and my person brand (don’t laugh)? Yes.

Does it cost me a bit of money?  Yup.

Is it going to go on my business cards?  Yessir-ee.

So what’s going to change now that I’m paying for a website that literally has my name on it?  Not a whole lot.  I’m still the social miscreant that I’ve always been and I’m still the lazy bastard that started this blog.  In other words, expect posts to be as infrequent and as consistently underwhelming as they’ve been from the start.  After all, I’m an adult.

Anyways, feel free to gossip about me and my inability to not spend my money on stupid things like websites or just pass my stuff along to your friends.  Or just ignore me.  Yeah, that’s probably the best option.

 

StephenTetsu.com, where the author hates himself more than you do.

 

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Being a Grown-Up: I guess every birthday is special…

Happy birthday to me.

Happy birthday to me.

So it’s my birthday again.  That happened fast.  It felt like it was only yesterday that I was complaining about it being my birthday (and a particularly cruddy one at that) and waxing poetic on the utter banality of celebrating being born.  But really, it turned out to be a year to the day.

I’ve always felt like the first couple of years of someone’s life shouldn’t be counted in someone’s age.  I mean, the first couple of years, you can’t even take a dump on your own, let alone tie your shoes.  Really, I don’t think we should count that years before someone has to start paying taxes against their age.  In other words, I’m actually five years old.  Someone buy me Power Rangers bedsheets.

Funny things, birthdays.  For the first ten or eleven years, they’re the greatest days ever (even though, for some reason, you always wound up bringing the cupcakes and stuff to share with class to celebrate your own special day, which I’m pretty darn sure is actually some sort of Stalinist brainwashing technique meant to acclimate us to socialized medicine and gulaugs, or maybe I’m just paranoid).  Then, at some unknown point in time, they suddenly turn into the worst days ever.   (“Oh god.  It’s my birthday.  I hope no one notices.  Well, I hope they don’t sing… Crap they’re singing.”)  Maybe birthdays stop losing their importance when they stop becoming massive goallines where you suddenly level up and are granted the ability to drive a car or drink a beer.  That isn’t to say that you can’t go for a joyride when you’re fifteen years and three-hundred-and-sixty-four days old. It just means that, for whatever arbitrary reason, you’re suddenly adult enough to do it without having the cops send you to juvie.  It’s not like you’re anymore mature on your sixteenth birthday than you were the day before.  It just means that some fatass bureaucrat in some cushy office somewhere looked at the calendar and decided that 16th birthdays were the perfect day to give someone the right to text behind the wheel.

You know what else I don’t understand?  The Happy Birthday song.  Who the hell is that for?  If I wanted to hear off-key singing and proclamations of how “dear” I am to someone (A little too North Korea-ey if you ask me), I’d just listen to the latest Taylor Swift album.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate the fact you guys are singing for my benefit but at the very least put in a couple of practice rounds before you’re all making me go deaf.  If you really want me to have a happy birthday, you should all just shut the hell up and leave me alone with my cake.  Amnamnamnamnamnam <–  That’s my flat slob shoving food into his face voice, in case you found that too confusing.

And most of the time, “Make a wish!” comes off sounding more like a threat than a good-natured whatzit.  “Make a wish!” you all say as cheap-ass wax candles melt all over a previously perfectly fine cake.  Make a wish or what?  Are you going to just let the candles burn down to stubs, coating the entire top of the cake with melted wax in some S&M perverts wildest fantasy unless I make a stupid wish?  Are you going to think any less of me if I don’t make a wish but pretend I did?  What if I wished for something stupid?  I mean, solving world hunger is great and all but what kind of eleven year old would wish for something like that?  Find me a kid who says that’s what his wish was and I’ll find you a pair of parents that should probably have their kids taken away from them.  Being a kid means being a selfish asswad and promptly not getting whatever stupid piece of crap it was that you wished for.  I think we should just ban those sorts of wishes.  That way starving Ethiopian children don’t get their hopes up that little Johnny’s wish for world hunger to stop is going to magically make it so Africa isn’t a stinking hellhole anymore.

You’re five years old, kid.  What the hell are you wishing for a cure for AIDS for?  Two-faced lying bastard.

You know what birthdays are to me?  An excuse to be a fat bastard.  Let me preface this by saying that I have generally stopped drinking for my New Year’s Resolution, which means that I merely a fat bastard and not a fat drunk one, which would just be excessive.

Since I have to work Saturdays (Thanks, Obama!), most of my pigging out had to take place on Friday.  And, since I am a loser who doesn’t like to socialize, most of my pigging out took place alone  in dark, secluded spaces with me crying to myself and shaking uncontrollably like one of those “Vietnam vets” you see at Pier 39 who you’re pretty sure are half-tempted to buttrape you the second you turn the other way.  Okay, that may have been a bit of a fabrication at the end there but I digress.  I did eat alone though and with my earphones in because I live to eat in an isolated realm of flavor because I’m one of those douchey foodsnobs who thinks they’re better than everyone else.

Because I was coming off of a six day work week and because I am a night owl to the Nth degree (thank you American sports), my orgy of gluttony got off to a late start, with me leaving my apartment bright and early at 3 PM, after which I proceeded to Mito Station (pretty much the one happening spot in my entire city) and its Ramen Road, one of my main haunts mainly due to the fact that it is home to pretty much my favorite bite of food on the planet at this current moment: A bowl of tsukemen from Tsukemen TETSU, a branch of the mighty Tsukemen Tetsu based in Tokyo, one of the apparent originators of tsukemen (in which the noodles are served separately to be dipped into the ultra-flavorful condensed pork/fish broth).  Served with thick cut char-shu, bamboo, and the stunning ball of flavor and cholesterol that is an ajitama (seasoned soft-boiled egg), were it not for the fact that I would be dead after a week, I would eat here for every meal of every day if I could.

You know you want it.

You know you want it.

After that, I promptly got on a train and rode because what the hell else was I supposed to do with myself at 4 PM on a Friday?  After a good thirty minute ride on a train populated almost exclusively by noisy high school kids and old dudes who are probably rapists, I wound up in the town of Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture’s northern hub and, who would’ve guessed this, the home of the large Hitachi Corporation.  Sure I got there late but the sun was still up and a nice breeze was rolling in off the water (might be important to note that Hitachi is only 100 or so kilometers from Fukushima) and so I walked around and generally just looked like someone casing the city for a crime spree.  But hey, at least I took this picture.

Conspicuously positioned houses.

Precariously positioned houses by the same Pacific Ocean responsible for 3/11.

I didn’t eat in Hitachi because I was too scared to go into a store (and every single place seemed to be closed down).    And so it was back onto the train, this time packed to the gills with sweaty salarymen, weird people, and old dudes that were already blacked out drunk at six in the evening, getting their nasty unbrushed teeth breath all up in my grill all the way back to Mito.  Uncomfortable doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I got back to Mito and ate a bunch more crap that ranged between good and okay (but really everything pales when compared to the tsukemen object of my desires) but this post is getting really wordy and my writing muscles are getting tired and I’m rapidly approaching a brain strain and I may have had a bit too much birthday whiskey.  Needless to say, I lack any self-control and pretty much have to gorge myself at any given opportunity.  So really, who’s a year old now?  I still eat everything in sight like Baby Pacman.

 

This restaurant was literally abandoned.  I might have actually been served by ghosts.

This restaurant was literally abandoned. I might have actually been served by ghosts.

No birthday is complete without something that will take ten years off your life.

No birthday is complete without something that will take ten years off your life.

Being a grown-up: Slow and steady wins the race… or something.

Hi there.  It’s been a while.  How’s everyone been doing?

Oh really?  That’s pretty cool.  I’ve been good.  Going to work and not getting enough sleep, the usual grind, y’know.

What’s that?  You don’t know because you’re still putzing around in (university/high school/ unemployed) or busy raising a family?  Well that’s just fine and dandy.

***

So I’m coming up on the six month mark of the whole living and working in Japan thing and I think I’ve settled into what I guess people could call a generally adult life.  I wake up everyday at a certain set point in time (except for that one day that I slept through all twenty alarms and showed up to work half an hour late) and generally go to sleep before the sun rises (though since the sun seems to rise at three in the morning here, that’s not always the case).  I go to work, do my job, take long poops, spend far too much time on the internet and not enough time doing anything productive, I eat (a lot), then I sleep.  In other words, for better or worse, I am finally an adult (if waking up at 10 in the morning and going to sleep at 2 AM counts).

I certainly don’t feel any different than I did when I was in college.   Or really, high school for that matter.  Sure my hair’s a little thinner and I may be wearing different sized pants than before but I still feel like I did when I was in high school, overdramatic romanticism and unrealistic expectations included.  And yet, here I am, typing this up as I sit on the fifth floor of a non-descript office building but a few minutes away from the scenic (perhaps an overstatement) expanses of Mito Station, closing out a workday that I was supposed to have off (my colleague called in sick but that’s another story altogether).

Meanwhile, many of my friends are still grinding through college, though, let’s be fair, the hardest part of the college grind is largely the result of procrastination and binge drinking.  I mean, university was a freaking piece of cake.  I don’t know if I’m a genius or something (most likely not) but I got reasonably good grades throughout all four years of my university experience despite (a) not doing most (okay, all) of the assigned reading, (b) only studying the night before an exam, and (c) finishing the vast majority of my tepid, bloated, self-aggrandizing academic papers a whopping thirty minutes before the due date.  I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything (I hear Marilyn Manson had some of his ribs removed so he could), but just imagine how good my grades would have been if I gave two craps about them.

I mean, the typical college student’s day probably goes like this:

Noon: Wake up.

1 PM: Go to class (or in many cases, ignore your alarm clock and sleep off that hangover)

4 PM: Hang out in the quad

5 PM: Go to happy hour.  Get drunk.

6 PM: Ditch that discussion group meeting you reaaallly don’t like.

7 PM: Hangout with your friends.  Get drunk/high/arrested.

2 AM: Get home.

3 AM: Realize you have a paper due in the morning.  Freak the hell out.

And yet, half of the posts I see on my Facebook feed from my college friends are of the “FML” and “I’m so screwed” variety.  I don’t know man, maybe if you spent a couple more hours checking upcoming deadlines and a few less hours practicing for your Frat’s Beer Pong tournament, you wouldn’t be forced to pull three consecutive all-nighters and sacrifice a goat to an ancient Mayan god in order to pass your bullshit “Transexual Black Jewish Lesbians in Chinese History” class.  (No offense to those of you specializing in Black Jewish Lesbians and their huge role in defeating the Mongol hordes.)  If you guys think life is going to somehow get easier once you get your diploma, you’re in for a shock.

Paying all your bills on time and remembering to wear pants to work everyday.  Now that’s a real struggle.

College days.  So much overeating.  Not enough sleep.

College days. So much overeating. Not enough sleep.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, some of my friends have already gotten to the whole “settle down and raise a family and get that house with the whit picket fence” stage of life.  Sure, this was pretty much how things went in all of society pre-1950 but settling down, getting married, and having kids all in your early-twenties just seems crazy to me.  You can’t even legally rent a car at the airport for God’s sake!  Six years ago, you were the dude drawing in the back of books in the school library.  Now, you’re working really damn hard to pay off your mortgage and leverage your 401K.  Damn dude.  Adulthood must have hit you like a goddamn freight train.

I can’t even imagine having a kid right now.  I mean, I already have a hard enough time wiping my own ass, let alone that of a small cretin unable to clean-up after itself.  And where the hell would it even sleep?  I barely have enough room in my apartment for myself.  Shoving a wife and kid (or two) in there would probably result in a complete and total meltdown.

And the whole keeping track of your finances thing. What the hell?  I am by no means a big spender but I can’t even imagine keeping track of my own budget.  Asking me to watch my wallet for the sake of myself and two others would be like asking Hitler to imagine planning a Bar Mitzvah.  Jiminy Christmas.

And the giving birth thing?  Jeebus, ladies.  How do you do it?  The closest I’ve ever come to giving birth was that time I ate three burritos in one day and, after that, I couldn’t walk for a week.  Much respect.

Young married people, I respect the hell out of you, but what the friggin’ hell?

***

Being an adult means having too much chest hair.

Being an adult means having too much chest hair.

Now that I’ve successfully offended everyone, it’s time to talk about myself for a bit.

My twenty-third birthday is coming up in two days, which is really what kinda spurred this whole rant/thing on.  Where am I on the whole “College lazy person to upstanding adult” scale?  Somewhere in the middle or maybe not on the damn thing at all.

I’m twenty-two, completely un-relationshipped (That’s totally a word, right?), living a couple thousand miles away from most of my friends, really bad at doing my laundry, and spend most of my free time watching film of Sacramento Kings games or weird Japanese TV (I’m pretty sure most of the people running the entertainment industry over here are on some pretty hardcore crap), and shouting at people who have different opinions than me on the internet.

Sounds pretty immature right?

Sure, I have a job and, sure, I do everything I can to fulfill my responsibilities and duties to the best of my underwhelming ability.  BUT I also don’t have much of a plan for the future (scratch that, I just thought of a cool design for a Moonbase) and put far too much effort into doing trivial fun stuff that I really shouldn’t be devoting so much of my precious time to.  So, hey, maybe I’m a bit of a deadender at this current juncture of my life, but you know what?   That’s just fine.

I used to spend most of the time I now spend reading people’s dumb NBA trade ideas (“Let’s trade Demarcus Cousins for Bismack Biyombo!”) and tasting terrible popsicles (Beef stew? Suprisingly tasty.  Spaghetti? Potentially rancid.) on worrying about the future.  I mean, I spent a lot of time worrying.  Too much time.  Sure that worrying and constant fear led to a hell of a lot of creativity and some of the best writing of my life but it also led to depression, anxiety, and a whopper of a mental breakdown that forced my mom to fly all the way across the ocean to retrieve me.

So, hey, enough of the worrying.  Let’s just enjoy the present and worry about what’s around the corner when it sneaks up and sucker punches us in the balls.  Until then, these morons on the internet aren’t going to ridicule themselves.

Being an adult means baking your chocolate candy.

Being an adult means baking your chocolate candy.

Sakura Season

It's spring.  That means it's flower time.  Everyone party!

It’s spring. That means it’s flower time. Everyone party!

It’s April 2014, the weather is finally starting to take a turn for the better, spring break has come and gone for those people fortunate enough to get one at all.  April means spring.  And here in Japan, spring means sakura.

For those not in the know or those who are otherwise uninitiated in the art of contemplating the falling cherry blossoms with a great degree of self-importance and pretension, sakura is the Japanese term for “cherry blossoms”, a type of plant/tree/thing that is apparently different from plain old cherries in that sakura trees don’t actually bear any fruit (Thanks Obama), are probably a bitch to clean up what with their falling petals and all, and look dead for most of the year save a one week (or sometimes less than that) period in which their flowers blossom and millions of Japanese people flock to parks and groves in droves, eager to ring in the tidings of warm weather with copious amounts of booze, food, and shenanigans.  It’s like college, only with old, beaten-down businessmen and cold, neglected housewives instead of frat bros and skanks in tubetops and heels.

I would would be lying if I said that I didn’t appreciate the cherry blossoms or the warmer weather but I would also be lying if I said I appreciated it as much as I appreciate the internet or a shirt that isn’t either too big or too small.

The thing about sakura season in Japan is that it pretty much is three months of build up, followed by three days of peak blossom season, followed by weeks of fallen blossom petals blowing everywhere and generally causing a big mess and allergies for a lot of Japan’s more nebbish, hypochondriac population (“My nose is runny, I have hay fever!”).

Over the years, sakura and hanami have come to be associated with the passage of time, more specifically, graduation, which, unlike America, usually happens right around March and April.  As a result, most of the nation’s pop culture pretty much stops what it’s doing and shifts course into full blown sakura-mania, complete with daily sakura forecasts, sakura-themed TV specials, and more sakura songs than you ever thought could be possible.  It’s like Christmas is in America, except in this case you don’t get any presents and there are (more) drunk people in the train station (than usual) singing old folk tunes to themselves.

IMG_2752

So sure, the sakura blossoms maybe pretty to look at but overall they may be a bit of a pain in the ass.  Plus, once you get over the fact that you no longer need to wear arctic expedition gear to work everyday, everything else is just peachy (or maybe in this case cherry-y?).

Or maybe I’m just a cynical, hardened bastard…  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

 

IMG_2790

 

 

 

I Think I’m Turning JapaNEWS 3.31.14 Edition

Hiho there folks!  Sorry for the recent lack of updates.  I was in Tokyo for most of last week for work stuff and then, when I got back, I was sicker than a slug.  Couple that with the insanely beautiful weather right now and it’s really any wonder that I’m writing something at all!

Anyways, since I am doing my best to keep the JapaNEWS as a weekly-ish show, I pumped out a March 31st edition of the thing, no matter how unprepared or sick I was.

 

On this week’s/ last week’s show, I discuss:

A dude is released from Japanese Death Row after 40 years.

A Fukushima cleanup worker dies but not from what you think.

The Japanese tax hike and its fallout.

And finally, the big Tokyo Youtube Hanami thing happening on the 5th.  Also promoted here

 

As always, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them either here or on the youtube channel OR on twitter (@STEPHEN_TETSU).

 

And with that, expect this week’s installment to drop in a few days.

-STEPHEN

PS Sorry for the total lack of updates.  I have been really busy with work and sicker than fish.  I promise to be better going forward and if I’m not, you can shoot me.