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Ho Ho Ho Boy!

December 24, 2009

It’s Christmas Eve. And I celebrated by making one of the worst meals I’ve ever eaten – alone. Heh, that sounds terrible. The meal wouldn’t have been so bad, except I tried to reuse really old vegetable oil to cook some tempura and now my room smells like burned, rancid oil. Ah well, these things happen. I also had some warmed-up leftover rice and some pickles and, as far as those things go, it wasn’t too bad.

I watched a movie during dinner called Love Feast. It has nothing to do with eating. At all. I hadn’t even planned to watch it. Someone had recommended I watch the movie “Love, Actually” so I went to the store to pick it up but I accidentally picked up the one right next to it. It was actually pretty good. It even took place in Portland so I was able to see a few places I recognized.

Well, after that was over, I thought I’d take a little walk. Except for all the ambulances screaming by, it seems unusually quiet tonight. When I got down to the river for my normal evening walk route, I remembered that I wanted to find out where those lights are that resemble a big tree off in the distance. So, I walked to one end of my normal route and then found another path along the opposite side of the river that took me in the direction I wanted to go. I walked down the dark, muddy path next to the river, and fog began to settle in around me. Something rustled in the tall grass next to me. Suddenly, there was a loud unearthly scream from the nearby bushes. A kappa? Was I going to be dragged to my doom on Christmas Eve? It was just a heron. A little later, I heard a couple of loud splashes as something crashed into the water next to me. It was just a couple of ducks coming in for a hard landing.

I got to the lights just as they shut them off for the night (about 10PM). It looks like the lights are set up at the big factory behind the Miyakonojo Onsen (bath house). That factory is apparently a brewery. I found a lot of places tonight I’d like to explore more in the daytime.

I paused by a convenience store to send a text message with my phone and as I was standing there a car drove up next to me, the driver opened the door, leaned back towards me and screamed something at me in a language that I don’t understand before slamming the door and racing off.

I decided to walk back along a different path and I passed through a neighborhood of fairly fancy houses. It was interesting to see the way that all the houses were way above the street, and the garages were built into the side of the wall next to the road, with the yards on top and then the houses behind that. That’s kind of an awkward way to describe it. I’ll take a picture sometime.

I was poking around in this neighborhood, getting lost in a bunch of dead-end streets, when a man and woman came running up to me out of the darkness.

“Excuse me,” the woman said. “Do you live here?”

“No, I’m sorry. I’m not from around here.”

“Do you know this area?”

“I’m afraid I’m just as lost as you are.” And so they scuttled off in the other direction into the empty streets to look for guidance.

I wandered back along this new road and came out someplace where I totally wasn’t expecting to end up. I wandered back by the soy sauce factory and table tennis center and got home just a moment ago. By the time I post this, it will be Christmas morning here. There sure are a lot of beautiful things in this world. Walking around tonight, even in all this darkness, I felt really glad to be here to experience all of this.

When I got back to my building, there was a young couple waiting to go up in the elevator. We exchanged pleasantries and then the girl looked at me and said, “Oh! Hi!”

Well, it seemed like she knew me from somewhere, so I replied, “Hi! Long time no see!” (But I really had no idea who she was.)

The conversation proceeded hesitatingly as we all rode the elevator up together and tried to figure out who we all were. I don’t think I actually knew this person.

Earlier today I had a similar experience at work when a girl came up to me in the hall and thanked me for all my help yesterday. Huh? Wait a second, yesterday was a national holiday, the emperor’s birthday. I didn’t do anything yesterday, or even the day before, and I have no idea who this person is. I’m either really bad at remembering people, or there’s someone out there pretending to be me!

Yep, it’s midnight. Merry Christmas!

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