Miss America: Jaywalking

This is a Miss America post. These posts occur weekly, monthly, bimonthly or perhaps never again–depending on my ability to adjust to life away from the star spangled banner.

Jaywalking is a broad term. Although I genuinely don’t care about the legality of jaywalking, I usually use the term to describe crossing the street when there is no crosswalk or crossing the street when the pedestrian light is red.

The whole idea of jaywalking is quite new to me. In North Carolina, I live in the country. If there were no tractors or trucks coming in either direction, I could walk or skip across the road as I pleased. In fact, I probably could have drawn hopscotch on the road and had a grand time. After about 18 years of this lifestyle, I transitioned to the college town of Chapel Hill—otherwise known as the southern part of heaven. In heaven, there were certainly a lot more cars and hopscotch was no longer an option, however, crossing the road hardly required the go-ahead from a light. Even if there was a pedestrian light, the color of said light was irrelevant. Just look left, right, left, then go on your merry way.

But, in Japan, it seems that jaywalking is neither common nor acceptable. Whether in Tokyo (where doing so would probably be the last thing you ever did do) or in the lonely streets of the “inaka,” Japanese for country (where you could lie in the middle of the road à la “The Notebook”), people always wait for the pedestrian light to turn green. Even on the loneliest lane and the most deserted drive, people still wait. And, wait and wait.

For my first few months in Japan, I would bolt across the road shamelessly without even realizing my faux pas. Most likely, I was running to catch a train, or had some other seemingly legitimate excuse. But, one day, I realized that there is no excuse. While walking to school, a typically kind old man yelled, “あか!” Although his tone of complete and utter annoyance would have been enough, I also miraculously understood that “aka” means “red” in English, and thus, I had better wait.

On occasion, when I literally can’t stand waiting for all the imaginary cars to pass, I cross the intersection and leave my Japanese comrades in the dust. However, the resulting feeling of guilt overwhelms my moral compass and leaves me regretting my decision. I know patience is a virtue, but I do miss walking across a good ol’ American road on my own accord.

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Miss America: Diet Coke

This is a Miss America post. These posts occur weekly, monthly, bimonthly or perhaps never again–depending on my ability to adjust to life away from the star spangled banner.

The sound of popping the tab on a can of cool, crisp and delightfully fizzy Diet Coke is absolutely magical. I realize it is shameful to admit, but I used to drink this diet drink on the reg (the reg side of addiction). It was astonishingly flexible. A can of Diet Coke could substitute as a morning coffee or an afternoon pick-me-up. It could play a key role in an all-nighter or act as a girls’ night mixer. It was the MVP of all sodas. It had no calories and no sugar and had only mild negative side effects such as bone loss and tooth decay.

Fortunately for my bones and teeth, when I arrived to Japan, I immediately stopped drinking Diet Coke. We are talking cold turkey. No nicotine patches or inadvertent binges were necessary because I had no choice in the matter. In the realm of Coca-Cola drinks, Japanese convenience and grocery stores offer two options—Coca-Cola and Coke Zero. Diet Coke fans everywhere are fully aware that its regular counterpart has sugary shortcomings. Further, a competition between Diet Coke and Coke Zero is actually no competition at all. Coke Zero scores zero points.

Therefore, rather than sipping a light beverage in the afternoon, I now fall asleep on my desk. On the occasional girls’ night out, I no longer need a mixer. I drink my drinks straight. Life without Diet Coke has simply become a dull, caffeine-lacking monotony.

Kidding. To all the above. In reality, it didn’t take long for me to get accustomed to drinking coffee or tea in place of Diet Coke. Even though both of these substitutes can also be harmful, I am sure my conquered addiction to Diet Coke is a good thing. Although, if by some miracle of the Coca-Cola polar bears, an iced can of Diet Coke were offered to me, I am not sure that I could resist.

Miss America: Dryers

This is the first Miss America post. These post will occur weekly, monthly, bimonthly or perhaps never again–depending on my ability to adjust to life away from the star spangled banner.

I cannot think of a more appropriate first Miss America posts than one that deals with a good ol’ energy-consuming machine better known as a dryer. In my former life, dryers almost always accompanied washing machines. The two were best buddies—like salt and pepper or cheese and wine. However, in Japan, this is not the case. Dryers and washing machines are not friends at all. In fact, they are enemies.

Usually this uncomfortable relationship between the two greatest-machines-ever-invented doesn’t bother me at all. After I arrived to Japan, I soon discovered all the nifty hanging devices that one can buy at the 100-yen store (Japanese dollar store). They were absolutely brilliant. They also came in a rainbow-array of colors that would bring joy to the colorblind. With the help of these hooks and clips, one can literally hang three loads of laundry on four porch hooks. Exactly my thoughts–hanging clothes is fun. Even in early February, when my clothes turned to ice prior to drying—I was hardly fazed. It was a natural part of their life cycle: clean, dirty, wet, iced, damp, dry, clean, dirty, wet, iced, damp, dry…

But, today, I reached the breaking point. Last night, I—trying to be a diligent homebody—did two loads of laundry. Then, I hung them on the fancy plastic neon hangers. This morning it poured. For a good five hours, it was a real-life Japanese monsoon. My clothes were soaked before I even left for work. But, having wet clothes is certainly not a worse case scenario (happens all the time). By noon, the winds had come to play. For four hours, the wind blew construction tarps off the school and flags off the flagpoles. You can’t even imagine what the wind did to my clothes.

Fortunately, when I arrived home they were all still there. Some had fallen off their hangers and were dangling by a thread on the railing. But, as far as I can tell, no articles actually fell to the ground or flew away. At work, I had genuine fears that my favorite bra had flown to Osaka. I suppose clothes aren’t as aerodynamic as I had imagined. But, I still imagine how fabulous it would be to have a real dryer. I tell you, it’s the little things in life–or in this case the big machines!

Miss America: Explanation

The other day I was thinking (occasionally this does happen) and came to the conclusion that perhaps I should write not only about my debonair daily life and my jovial weekend gallivants, but also about the less-than-ideal aspects of my Japanese life. I have decided to title these posts, Miss America. Not because I want world peace (which I suppose I do—so, crown me), but because these posts will most likely come from my sparkly tiara-of-an idea of what life should be—no matter where I am living.

Here I am doing my American thing. Not exactly a “Miss America” type-of-thing, but close enough.

It has taken eight months for this idea to even cross my mind. So, clearly, most aspects of my life are quite enjoyable. But, this will give me a chance to vent about the little things I miss from home and remind y’all not to take them for granted. I will be the first to admit, these posts will make me sound like a diva/princess/beauty queen, but I hope both you and I can see the humor in each situation. The posts may happen once a week or once a month—depending on how frequently I have these moments of weakness. First up: dryers.