Well! I had a doozy of a weekend! And it all started with some Facebook posts.
The Best Laid Plans
Last week, I posted on Facebook that I wanted to see Les Miserables. Rochelle, a CIR in Chiba City, said that she was going to see it on the holiday on Monday in Lalaport, a huge mall in northern Chiba. We made plans to see the movie at 1:40. Huzzah! Les Miserables, here I come! I’ve been wanting to see it since I saw The Hobbit!
I made another Facebook post, this time to the Chiba JETs page. Recently, I’ve been really stuck in my writing, which sucks more because one of my resolutions this year is to submit at least one story to somewhere every month. (Made all the more difficult by the fact that Duotropes is closed to the public.)
So I want to start a writing group in Japan! I even have a plan, since regular meet-ups might be difficult. We can do Google Hangouts! I can run them! It’ll be great!
So I posted to the Chiba JETs page, asking if anyone was interested in starting a writing group, for workshopping and open mics. A lot of people responded! I don’t know how serious they are about writing, but it’s worth a shot.
Cameron, the ALT in Sosa, also contacted me separately, saying he was interested in running open mics nights too. I invited him to see Les Miserables with us, and then we planned to talk about open mics afterward.
So my Monday plans were set! The writers group is a possibility! It’s a good weekend to be me!
What Really Happened
And then, yesterday, Monday January 14th, it snowed in Chiba Prefecture, and I saw snow for the first time.
When I woke up early on Monday morning, it was only sprinkling rain in Tomiura. Cameron texted me to say that the weather in his area was bad, so he had to cancel our plans. Oh well, I thought. We can always talk about open mic nights over Skype.
I hopped on a train, and to my surprise, about an hour into the ride, we passed Kisarazu and it was snowing!
Here is a snapshot of my first reaction:
I certainly hadn’t expected it to snow, but then again, I also didn’t check the weather. I wondered if I should jump off and take a train home, but I thought, “Nah forget it, yo homes to Bel Air!”
…Anyway, I was already an hour into the ride, it was only an hour or so more.
A bit later, Rochelle texted me to say that the 1:40 showing was sold out! The next show was at 4:55, and since I was about 10 minutes from Soga (and thus about 20 minutes from Lalaport), I said that we had a whole mall to explore anyway.
When I arrived, Rochelle was there with Rebecca (a different Rebecca that I hadn’t met before). We went to buy our tickets, and then we had lunch and wandered around the mall a bit.
I’ll be honest: I’ve never read Les Miserables, I’ve never seen a movie or a performance, and I’ve never heard the songs. All I know is, I love musicals.
Well, this wasn’t just a musical—it was an opera. And it was beautiful. I loved every moment of it. I couldn’t find a flaw. Some people criticize it for putting the women in the background (which is true) and possibly mediocre singing (which I don’t agree with), but that didn’t ruin it for me. The singing was superb—there was so much emotion in it. I thought everyone did an excellent job.
I’ll stop before this turns into a review of the film. Let’s just leave it at “I loved it.”
Oh, the weather outside is frightful…
Now let’s talk about the snow.
When I arrived at the train station (a 5 minutes walk from Lalaport), it was still pouring frozen rain. It was really beautiful—little fuzzies falling slowly, everything covered in white like that. I mean, I’d seen it in pictures, but it’s really interesting to see it up close. People describe it as a “blanket”—and that’s exactly what it seems like. It’s like someone took some fluffy cotton and draped it over everything. I remember thinking of frosting… and then thinking about how hungry I was.
I walked to Lalaport in the snow, mostly following a small crowd of people, since I didn’t really know where it was. There were signs, but they were rather vague. I was lucky to be wearing the shoes I picked—they had thicker rubber soles than the boots I was going to wear before I saw the rain in Minamiboso. I managed to make it to the mall without getting too wet or falling down. I attribute this feat to my excellent balance and the fact that I’ve gone ice skating ever.
As we walked around the mall, Kim began to text me. She had been in Chiba City for horse riding lessons in the morning, and she was trying to drive home in the afternoon. She texted me that she was stuck in traffic because of the snow—and that she had already seen 4 accidents! It ended up taking her over 5 hours to drive from Chiba City to Tomiura, when it usually takes about 2.
She advised me to check the trains, because they might be delayed—or stopped completely. Rochelle, Rebecca, and I checked the buses and trains, and it looked like they were not going anywhere. We were a little worried about how we were all going to get home, but we figured that it was too late to worry about it now. We were already in Lalaport, we had already bought our tickets for the movie—there was nothing we could do. So we did what that recent internet meme keeps telling everyone to do:
The movie was quite long, so when we got out, the mall was closed (early, due to the snow), and we rushed to the train station. I was afraid I might miss my last train, but as it turns out, the trains weren’t really running anyway. The Uchibo line, the line that I had to take, was delayed by “strong winds,” so I couldn’t count on that train to get me home. As for the buses, Rochelle and I called one company, and the train station attendents called another company, and all of the buses weren’t running.
So I was stranded. Stranded in Chiba City. Because of the snow.
This is where a cliffhanger would be,
if this blog were a holiday special on TV.
Rochelle invited me to stay with her for the night. The train station attendents said that it would be sunny in the morning, so the trains should be running normally. I would just have to catch a train in the morning.
Since we had gotten off the train at Rochelle’s station, it wasn’t too difficult to get to her apartment. We walked a block in the snow, took a bus, and dropped by her apartment to get dry. My shoes were soaked through, so I borrowed some socks. My poor little toesies were so cold!
We got some ramen at a restaurant nearby, and then we watched a few episodes of the Cardcaptor Sakura anime. Haha! Nostalgia~
The whole time, Rochelle was worried that my first experience with snow was turning bad. I was stranded away from home, I had work the next morning, and my poor feet were cold and wet. Like people in cold places everywhere, I was experiencing all the inconveniences of snow right away.
And I was ecstatic.
Someone once mentioned that people from warm places, like California, tend to complain less about things like snow because it’s a novelty to them. (OH LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS OMG IT’S SO COLD THAT’S CRAZY I’M FEELING COLD FOR THE FIRST TIME. …It’s like we’re aliens experiencing Earth for the first time. Like in 3rd Rock From the Sun.)
Meanwhile, people from cold places tend to complain more about snow because they grew up with it and have all the bad associations with it.
The whole time, I was just so excited. I was thinking, “Well, this is inconvenient…” and then: “Wow! Now I know what people are talking about when they complain about the snow!” and “Now I know how it feels to be stranded by bad weather, just like in all those Christmas movies about people stuck in airports!” and “I feel connected to the human race at last! Now maybe I can finally blend in and be one of them!”
…Okay, maybe not that last one. >_> *shifty eyes*
I was feeling pretty positive about it. It kind of sucked that I was probably going to be late for work the next day, but there was nothing I could really do about it. I would just apologize profusely when I finally got back to work. I felt bad for the kids and my JTEs. I was supposed to run a game on Wednesday for the first years, but what if my absence today threw off the schedule? (Other than that, though, I honestly didn’t worry too much. They don’t really need me…. :( And they have plenty of classes that I’m not in otherwise.)
I messaged Enoguchi to tell him about my predicament, and he called my school for me. Apparently, Sam was in the same boat—only he was stuck in Tokyo! I did feel really bad about missing work, but… there was nothing I could do about it.
All in all, I actually think I had a pretty good time. xD I was feeling pretty positive.
And besides, Les Miserables was worth it.
Back to School
In the morning, I woke up and took a bus with Rochelle to Chiba Station. (She had to go to work, so she got off at an earlier stop.) I asked a train attendent about the Uchibo line, and he said it was running, so I jumped on a train. I made it back to Tomiura at noon and messaged Enoguchi to tell him I was back.
When I finally got to school, it was 1:00, and I had to walk because frankly, I didn’t really want to drive if the roads were going to be icy. (They weren’t, really.) I saw Koucho-sensei in the genkan, so I apologized right away, and he said it was fine. Kamada-sensei was in the staff room, so she caught me up. Apparently some of the other teachers had the same problem, and the students on the table tennis team were also stranded away from home. The students had to stay in a hotel overnight, so they weren’t able to come to school in the morning today. Luckily, everyone made it safely to Tomiura eventually.
Man, snow really turns the world upside down!
Some More Upsides
Do you wanna hear the good news first, or the bad news?
Well, I’m feeling optimistic, so let’s focus on the good news for as long as we can.
Because I walked to school, after school, I ended walking home the same time as the students. They all seemed very surprised—some asked me where I was going and where my car was. Haha! Mostly, they all looked confused and walked away from me without a word.
But you know who I love? So much?
Harukazu. That kid, man… He’s the greatest.
He lives near me, so we ended up walking together most of the way home. And he talked to me the entire time, in English. It was the greatest thing. We talked about pizza, ramen, and our siblings. It was great. He’s such an awesome kid.
So, the snow was inconvenient. I was late for work—I missed two classes!—and my feet got really cold.
But like I said earlier, I was really positive about it.
However, as I was on the train home, I realized something. The worst—absolute worst—part of being stranded by the snow is…
I frickin’ missed recycling day!
…No, seriously! You don’t know how frustrating that is! My recycling bin is totally full, and now I have to wait another two weeks to empty it! It’s ridiculous! I’m so mad! ARGH.
Okay, but in all seriousness, there is another downside.
Today, my new computer was delivered to my house.
A full 45 minutes before I came home.
Sorry, my forehead decided it was its turn to type.
All things considered, I had a fun-filled, action-packed snow adventure. Especially the part when Bruce Lee burst into my train, covered in snow, and started to fight a ninja (somehow not covered in snow at all). That was pretty exciting, too.
I took some pictures of the snow, too! Rochelle and I saw a snowman on the way to her apartment, and I made a snow butterfly with my feet. Because lying down in the snow to make a snow angel might have been a little too much for me.
So, snow: It’s a thing that happens.
Cast of Characters
Rebecca as… a 1st year ALT in Kashiwa! That’s my hometown Torrance’s sister city!
Rochelle as… a 1st year CIR in Chiba City. We met at Tokyo Orientation, but we haven’t hung out since then, so this was a cool opportunity to see her again.
genkan: the entryway of most buildings, where you take off your shoes before you enter.
Lalaport: a huge mall in Funabashi, a city north of Chiba City. It has a movie theater, and is pretty famous. A lot of my students go to Lalaport pretty often, if their diaries are any indication.