This month was awesome, and painful, like a microcosm of life.
I decided, this being a short month and my gaining a few kilos over the winter, to take the month off alcohol. I don't know if that sounds like an amazing feat to you or note, but i do so enjoy drinking socially, that I for one was curious as to how hard it would be. The first test, Feb. 6th, my friends George and Jemma had a party to celebrate their getting married. The party was a mandatory 2500 yen for all-you-can-drink, and I drank two glasses of orange juice and some of the worst iced coffee of my life! But because I still had a blast and thanks to being there I got invited to play poker the following day with just the kiwis. Funny enough, I left that party early because I had already made plans for poker that night, too, at my friend Simon's house. I lost 3000 yen there, but if you subtract how much I'd usually spend on drinking while playing poker, I was guess it would have normally been a 4000 yen night.
The next day I woke up and went out to Hachihonmatsu (near/in Higashihiroshima) and played poker with those guys. It didn't even dawn on me until about 3 hours in that other than myself, everyone there was from New Zealand. I don't know if these specific Kiwis represent your average dude on the streets of NZ, but these guys know how to live. Lots of laughter, no one being overly serious or imposing, and humble. George ended up winning everything (it got to be a pretty big pot, too) but he didn't even say "I won" when the girls came back from their day out. I have yet to meet a Kiwi I didn't like.
The next weekend Sachi and I took 5 days off to see our friends in Fukuoka and then go sight-seeing around Kagoshima. We ate tons of great food, especially kurobuto, or black-pig pork, which is the Kobe-beef of "the other white meat". We also visited Sakurajima, home of one the most active volcanoes on Earth, constantly spewing ash, and Furusato Onsen, a Shinto shrine with pools of sea water heated by the volcano. On the way home we stayed the night with our friends in Fukuoka, ate Fukuoka's specialty, Tonkotsu ramen, for lunch and nabe for dinner while their two adorable little boys raised hell around us, and the next day stopped in Shimonoseki on the drive home for fugu-burgers, which is exactly what it sounds like. Delicious, poison blow-fish meat batter-fried and served in a bun with tartar sauce, and shredded cabbage. SO GOOD! Of course, all this great food meant my not-drinking only SLOWED my burgeoning gut. By the last night of the trip I weighed 69 kilos, up 3 from the beginning of the year!
That's why this month has also been all about getting back into jogging. I only managed to get out there 4 (I may go tomorrow, making it 5) times this month, but I've discovered that by tuning out I actually run much further than i thought before, so each time I've gone, I've jogged 4 miles, plus a 5 minute cool-down while I walk home and stretch. I really wanted to keep this up every day, but rain and bad health got in the way! Here's what happened:
Tuesday, my first day back from the Kagoshima trip, I got to go on board a 75,000 TON cruise ship making a round-the-world voyage, and interpret for the English Captain and Japanese government types. That was the biggest cruise ship to ever dock in Hiroshima Port and the first of several similar interpreting jobs for me this year, but next week's ship is less than half the size (although that's still massive). The weather had gotten unusually warm that week, and I mistakenly thought my suit jacket would be enough, but on the coast a super cold wind was blowing and that equaled over-exposure #1 for the day. When I got home I changed into warm-ish jogging clothes and went running in the freezing cold night - over-exposure #2. Then my buddy Kazu came over to give me a haircut. That was fun, but i sat in my cold bathtub wearing only my underclothes, and followed it up with a hot, hot shower. Three strikes, I'm out.
After the shower, I immediately broke a fever of 38.2 degrees (100.7F), and had violent chills where I thought my body was convulsing. Thank god I had my hot carpet on and I sandwiched myself between that and my futon, and after abuot a half hour, I felt well enuogh to crawl under my covers and go to bed. The next day I stayed home from work, went to the doctor, and had a blood and flu test. The flu test was negative, but the doctor told me, (and I think this translation captures the exact attitude and style in which he said it) "What else could it be?" Either way, the medication was both Tamiflu AND antibiotics, so whatever it was, it went away, but not before keeping me home from work, alone, for another 2 days. Again, this sucked, but I DID finally watch Slumdog Millionaire and I loved it! (Oh, everyone loved it? Okay.)
This week I managed to get back out there jogging, but by Thursday my legs were dead and last night it rained all day long. But I DID excercise! My buddy Dan came way out from his island to show me a 2nd floor, indoor skateboarding bowl/restaurant! It's called Fury Pool, and it's right by Diamond City. We spent the 500 yen to use it for an hour, and I must have ate shit about 5 or 6 times, meaning my right side hurts ALL OVER now, and I fucked up my wrist, but it was so worth it to get back on a board and dropping into bowls. What a rush! This year I plan to be back on my skate board MUCH MORE. Wish me life!