Hey everybody, I made it back to Japan safely (though exhausted). I want to start by saying thank you again to everybody who took care of me during my trip. Since I don't live in the US anymore, coming back is actually a little bit difficult. No car, no cell phone, and no residence makes meeting up kind of hard.
And on the subject of the difficulty of returning to the US, let me share a little story with you. So I just got off the plane (after a 19 hour journey), and was on my way out the door at customs when a TSA officer walked up to me and said "Hello, sir. Where are you coming from?" "Japan." I replied, sleepily. "How long were you there?" "Um, six months." Suddenly the officer got a devilish grin. "You've been in Japan for six months with only a backpack?" He said, but I got the feeling that he was already preparing the standard line "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me." I blurted out "I'm only back for a week for the wedding..." The devilish grin evaporated. "Oh, you live in Japan. Have a nice day." I staggered out the doors of immigration, met my family and demanded burritos asap. Burritos were soon provided.
Well we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa, then headed down to good old Davis. In Davis I met up with Drake, Ralph and Diego, and we all headed to a party on top of the Physics building roof, where I met up with Ken, Bryn, Kyle, Rachel, Kari, Hope, and many others. There was tons of great food, and I had a fantastic time.
You know it is a good sign if you haven't seen friends in a year, you show up one day and it is like you never left. Well, fortunately that is the feeling that I got from everybody this trip. I also had no idea that so many people have been keeping up with my blog. Hearing some of the things you guys had to say about this blog was really encouraging for me. Thank you so much. Here is some of the awesome food.
Well, after the party I went home with Ralph and Diego and hung out at Ralph's house. When everybody but me went to sleep around 4am, I walked back to Kira's house and crashed on the couch until 7am, when everybody started getting ready to go to Kira's graduation.
UC Davis Commencement is so boring that it would have put me to sleep even if I hadn't been exhausted from being in front of a class for 5 hours every day the previous week, lethargic from traveling over 19 hours to be there, sleepy from only getting 3 hours of sleep and jet lagged. Good thing I brought a pillow.
Kira graduated. Every day brings a new surprise, doesn't it. After she walked across the stage and got the piece of paper that said her diploma would be mailed to her in a couple of months, I went to Drake's party. There I met his dad for the first time (Drake has been trying to get the two of us together for about 5 years now).
You might ask, "Did you have reverse culture shock?" Well, only one thing really shocked me. The size of the portions in America. I ordered a side salad at Pluto's and I just about couldn't finish it! Look at this table of food! These would feed a party of 25-30 in Japan. In the US, this was for a party of 15-20! Amazing. And that burrito I mentioned before? It nearly broke me when I ate it. To go from Japanese portions to American portions is a big shock. Japanese portions usually leave you saying "Aw, if only there were jut a little more..." and American portions leave you saying "Ahh! Ohh! I can't believe I ate the whole thing! I feel like I just ate a delicious rubber boot..."
Anyway, enough on food. That night I hung out with Ralph some more. We went to Slide Hill Park, and I did what I always wanted to do. And it was scary. I wouldn't do it again.
The next day I met up with Rachel and had another burrito. This time, I couldn't finish it. That evening Rick and Sean came down, took me to dinner, then ice cream. Then we met up with Ralph, went to Rick's house in Colma, and played Guitar Hero late into the night.
The next day Ralph, Sean and I went down to Davis. Sean went off to wherever it is that he goes, while Ralph and I caught the train down to San Jose. Our train was substantially delayed by the fact that the train in front of us hit a person, who they referred to as "a trespasser". We got to SJ, met up with Diego, ate at his favorite sports bar and went to his house (which was REALLY CLEAN, a fact which made me very proud of him). Again we chatted until chatting could not keep us conscious, went to bed and woke up. The next day I had breakfast with Diego, then went to Berkley to visit briefly with Olivia. She bought me Indian food, and I learned that she is planning of coming to Japan to teach as well! Best of luck, Olivia! Let me know how else I can help. Then I BARTed over to San Francisco and met up with Kerrie and Mary. Had ice cream at the regular place that starts with a G. Had Mexican food in the Castro (not exactly renowned for it's Mexican food, but they had a bathroom). Then drove up to the top of twin peaks, which I have never been to.
And got a group photo.
We spent the next 2 and a half hours looking all over San Francisco for a public restroom. We finally found one in this Chevron station. I just realized one major downside of converting the country to electric cars, which is one of my current goals. Gas stations will go out of business. And then where would we pee?
That night I stayed with Oriana and Josh and tried to impress on Oriana how much I loved the sweater that she knitted for me (I wore it every day of the trip). The next morning Josh took me to the airport.
I have another interesting TSA story. While standing in line for the security checkpoint, a guy tried to cut in line about 6 people in front of me. When a TSA employee told him to go to the back of the line, he pretended not to hear. Without even giving a warning, the TSA employee called security, who came, handcuffed the man who was now pleading to go to the back of the line, pushed him up against the departure screen and patted him down. TSA hauled him away. As if seeing someone get arrested for cutting in line wasn't enough, one minute later got to listen to the speech of the guy explaining the procedure for getting through the security checkpoint. What happened to the guy that was there 3 years ago, who cracked jokes and made light fun of the whole process. The new guy seemed to be an ex-Marine, very impressed with himself, and was not funny: "All liquids must be in a 1 quart bag. Amounts over 3 ounces are not allowed. This Aloe skin cream is over three ounces. Try taking it through. See what happens." Very unprofessional. No, juvenile.
Anyway, amazingly I got to Hawaii without being arrested. Here is uncle mowing the lawn, in preparation for his daughter's wedding.
The BBQ two days before the wedding.
The engaged couple, living in a temporary fish bowl.
The rehearsal dinner. Delicious.
So mostly by this point I was so exhausted that I spent a lot of the time sleeping. As a result, there are no good stories until the day of the wedding itself. Lisa, the bride, seemed quite nervous, so Kira took control of the situation and became Lisa's personal assistant. Ryan, Rebbeca and I, meanwhile, went to get the cake.
And I carried the cake all the way from Kona to the house. That is the story.
Beautiful day for a wedding.
Lots of hard work paid off.
Very nice set-up.
Here is Lisa in her wedding dress, having her picture taken.
It as a little bright, as you can see, but everybody is having a good time.
Jim and Lisa walking down the aisle.
And they are married.
And the paperwork makes it official.
So we began the celebration. Here is the cake.
The newly weds.
And the flower toss. This got a little violent.
And that is the short version of how Lisa got married. Congratulations again, Lisa and Bobby, and allow me to share with you some of the things I learned this trip: 1) Great friends stay great. 2) Americans eat a lot. 3) Don't mess with the TSA! I'm convinced they have gulags somewhere is Montana.