Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oh wait....I play softball???

In posting about all my adventures and interactions with the new culture, I sort of forgot to write anything about softball. Whoops. 
I'm going to assume that all of you reading these posts know me because of softball......and if not, how in the world do I know you?!? Almost positive that all the people in my life - other than my family, of course (even though they all adamantly follow my career), I have met in someway due to softball. All of my best friends are through softball, both from Valencia and Michigan. Either way, I'd be shocked for a person that knew me and did not know I played softball - it kinda controls my life....

Anyways, my softball world has been rattled and rocked. The Japanese players take diligence and perfection of their craft to a whole new level. I thought I worked hard through high school and college to get to the point that I am. However, it comes absolutely nowhere near the amount of work these girls put into the game. They LOVE practice. When Maki told me that, I immediately thought "Good lord, why??" I mean I like practice. I like improving and learning new things. But Love??? No. If anything, it's a love/hate relationship. 
You see, as a pitcher, my workouts take roughly an hour.....MAX. Then there's pitcher fungos - which we are oh, so good at (joke). If you have never witnessed a pitcher-fungo session, just don't. You will probably not understand why most of us are successful athletes. Then running, since we have to keep up our "endurance." So, that's about 2 hours, maybe, out of practice that we are working. Then........nothing. Practice usually runs about 3-4 hours, depending on how bad/good you did in the previous weekend or if your coach is just in a bad mood (ahemmm...Carol Hutchins). Haha, just kidding Hutch, I loved those 30 foul poles that "weren't punishment" after losing to Michigan State. Just kidding again......please don't make me run. 
Anyone want to take a guess to how long the Japanese teams normally practice? Anyone.......

Well, it ranges slightly. You see there's the "normal practice" that goes from 1:30 to 6:00. Then there are the all-day practices that go from 8:00-6:00. Yes, that is real life. No misprint over here. Although, we do get a lunch break. I already had problems bullshitting and stalling through a 3 hour WHAT IN THE WORLD am I supposed to do for 9 HOURS?!?!?!
I have officially taken my stalling tactics to a new level. Whole new ballgame. This is what a normal practice looks like for me:

Warm-ups - usually takes about an hour. They run what seems like a mile prior to stretching
Sprints - they do reaction drills which I am beyond awful at. They move so quickly and it always involves some thinking - a.k.a. they put up a number on both hands, which you add up, and you have to turn a certain way according to whether it's odd or even. If you're confused, don't worry, I still don't get it either. They also do these reaction things that change every practice. There are signals for various movements such as jumping, spinning in the air, punching, shuffling, squatting, etc. Seems simple? Well they go at such a speed that you are still doing move #5 while the girl is flashing a signal for move #10. Again, don't worry if you're confused, I usually only go through half of the drill before giving up. 
Throwing - aka "Catch Ball" since they can't pronounce "Throwing"
Fungos - I like to call this "Ninja time." They get EVERYTHING. It's a joke. Legitimate joke. The coach hits the ball as hard as he can about 20 feet away from them and they throw their bodies around to get it. For the first few days that I was here, I did not see one backhand. Apparently the coach was "going easy" on them. I took some groundballs and felt like I was in a torture session of dodgeball. 
Hitting - I like to train for my emergency role as an outfielder. I'd like to point out that I have received many compliments of my not being completely uncoordinated. Holllllllllaa
Pitching - again, ultimate stall tactics. I take longer water breaks, do random sets of spins, etc. I throw for a max of an hour. The Japanese pitchers basically throw for 3 hours. How in the world their arms are still attached, I have no idea. 

And by then it's about 10am.....

Just kidding, it's like lunch by then. Then I do random ab workouts and running for the second half. Sometimes I play hide-and-seek from the coaches. They don't know I play though (so I win every time!). I'm used to running for a 20-30 minute period. Well, now I do 3 different sets of 30 minute runs. It's usually because I get bored and feel completely useless. Basically there is no way that I will come back from Japan in the least bit out-of-shape. And if I do, it'll be a scientific anomaly. I constantly ask permission to leave early from practice to go inside to lift and run. I have yet to see the end of practice. Usually, I'm dying, drenched in sweat by the time the girls come in to tell me that practice is done. 

For fans of my "Back Bend" pitching style......I have some bad news for you....
R.I.P. Back Bend. It has been put to rest for good. And for those of you who didn't like it, screw you, I hope you don't like my new one either....

I've actually changed my style several times over my career, so anyone who may be will be just fine. I promise you. Woooosa. 

As you can imagine, the motion doesn't exactly put an ease on my back. Upon arriving to Japan, my back was already under a bit of duress. I was tired of sounding like an old lady constantly saying "oh, my back!" So, I made the executive decision to change my motion.
Personally, I like my new motion....bit more simple with a little bounce. 

And, for anyone who has asked me this question, or at least thought it..... I have a unique motion because I don't want a normal one.....
I mean, honestly, who wants to copycat another pitcher? (at least who's your age). I used to have some girls come to clinics and say I pitch just like you. I immediately told them don't do it, your back will not survive to my age. In all honesty, I "created" my pitching motion because it gives me momentum to push off the mound. That's all I'm trying to do. Not trying to get a cool picture or create a "signature" look. Just momentum.......sorry it's a boring answer. 

Ok, this post is far too long and not really funny so I'm cutting it off. We have only played scrimmage games so far, so I don't really have any substantial stats or anything to report. Y'all will just have to wait. And when I say y'all, I really mean my mom. Yes, mother I'm calling you out on Blogger in front of all of these people. I love you but I have no updates. You can thank my mom for this post, too, since she is a woman who loves her information, especially about softball (and me, but mostly softball, haha). Love you mama! 
and I love y'all as well!
Sayonara from Japan!

xo Jordan 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

pictures! part trois

These were the stairs that I dubbed the "Death Stairs." That incline was no joke

Here we are prior to the running of the stairs....notice the smiles. 

And our teammates somehow made a game out of running these stairs. I swear they're ninjas. 

.....and AFTER. Dead. 
These are some of the shirts I found at the store. They have the most random English on their shirts. These ones actually made sense. A lot of times they just have random words...

Here's my teammate Tamake....

.....she's kinda sorta a lot shorter than I am...
She's just a little nugget softball player. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oh yes.....

I clearly have been posting too fast because I keep forgetting some of the details!

Just in case you were interested, mullets are still alive and well in Japan. They are around every street corner and on the heads of at like 70% of the softball players.
It is actually an asked for style in major salons.....not a mistake by a clipper-happy hairstylist.

They're here to party, but also stay classy. Business in the front, party in the back.

Basically, if you ever get nostalgic for the 80's, just come to Japan. They will fill your nostalgia with fanny packs and mullets.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Japan: Where Trends Come to Die.

My perception of what Japanese style would be and what it is in reality are two very different things. Of course upon hearing Japan, I thought of Geishas and Harajuka girls (thanks Gwen Stefani...this $h*t is bananas...). I definitely envisioned cartoon-like outfits with over-the-top baby dolls type dresses. What I got was very cute fashion mixed with trends that have long been killed off in the U.S.
If you don't understand what I mean by this, just think to yourself....when's the last time you actually saw a fanny pack in public? Yes, maybe you perhaps still own one that is tucked away in your closet because you just can't let go of its usefulness. But, when's the last point in time that you actually saw a person full on rocking the fanny pack. I can answer that for you......every day in Japan. EVERY DAY. EVERYWHERE.
The more stylish fanny packs have somehow become quasi-backpacks that people strap across they're chests. Fanny packs in disguise. Japanese people are so clever...
Joining the flashback from the 90's with the fanny packs are the neon windbreakers and jackets. College students would go absolutely crazy in some of the stores here, stocking up for the once-a-year, but inevitable, 80's party. Any color you could imagine, it's in neon and on a lightweight windbreaker. Actually, it's on every article of clothing imaginable. Literally. I saw someone walking in a completely neon outfit: hat, sunglasses, shirt, skirt, leggings, and shoes. I'm pretty sure her bike even had neon in it. 
Then there's the jackets. Each team has thicker coats since it's still pretty chilly here. Every single one is straight out of the 80's. Like whoa. Metallic, shiny, plastic jackets. Ours is actually one of the better ones, with minimal shiny exterior. But some of the teams......
Well they look like this..
Bet you thought I was kidding.....
There's the small issue of playing with visors and their hair down ala Michele Smith. Which I find hilarious every time. I get mad when I have a strand of hair in my face while pitching and these girls have a full on bowl-cut shag do whipping back and forth across. 

Then there's the monster. CROCS. Good lord and baby jesus they are EVERYWHERE. Literally. I asked Maki (our translator) if they were popular and she said "Oh, yes. Everyone owns at least one pair."....
Let me break that down for you. That's approximately 128 MILLION crocs on one strip of land. Croc-invasion. Realistically, I can see why they're so popular since they wear slippers around the house. They even have certain slippers for going outside - like to get the mail or chase the dog (yes, you better change your slippers before running outside), and they take their slippers completely off when in their bedroom or a formal dining room. So, crocs, thanks to their lovely design, allow owners to easily slip them on and off. Now, here's my feelings towards crocs.....


Ok....glad I got that out. It's been weighing on me heavily. Oh, and if you own those little decoration things, you're actually making it worse. There's no dressing up something that cannot possibly become any more attractive. Even saw a pair of gold glitter crocs. Nearly died upon viewing. 

Crocs, fanny packs, neon windbreakers, those gaucho/loose/MC Hammer pants, trucker hats (Ashton Kutcher, what up?!). They are all still alive and well across the World. Hopefully skinny jeans for guys and Lady Gaga fashion are the next on the chopping block. I'm sure Japan could pull off both styles with flying colors. 
til then...I'll be rockin the post-millenium wardrobe...

xoxo Jordan 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Almost forgot....

How they say "Good Morning" here, is pronounced Ohio.

Clearly, I am not going to say Ohio by itself every morning. So, when I do say it...I sneak in a "Beat" right before.

Waking up every day saying BEAT OHIO......yeh, you could say I'm a Michigan Wolverine :)

Lost in Translation

Basically the only problem that I've run into after living in Japan for 20 days has been the language. This would be a real issue, while my bike riding and sense of direction are just misdemeanors. This is not exactly a shocking problem, although I do keep feeling like I'm just going to wake up one day and somehow know the language (hey, it could happen!). The language barrier hasn't been that much of a hinderance since our translator literally goes everywhere we do - other than our adventurous times. She even runs out on to the field with the coach and trainer for us. I have yet to get frustrated in the least bit - mostly because it takes a lot to get me frustrated and because the girls are all extremely helpful and would definitely win a game of charades. They should enter a National competition; and if there isn't one, there should be. 
While the language does provide some roadblocks and miscommunications, it also has provided much of my entertainment thus far. Hearing the girls pronounce words has provided some of my daily giggling sessions. If you haven't ever heard a Japanese person speak, you should know that they have a huge difficulty in pronouncing the letters R and L. Any word with both those letters, especially back to back, renders the word so completely different that it cannot be understood. My name, for instance is no longer Jordan Taylor, but rather "Jo-dan Tayro." The girls are all extremely eager to learn anything American and are seemingly fascinated by the language. We had a teaching session a couple days back where we literally sat at the table for an hour trying to teach them how to pronounce words. After awhile I got tired (teaching is not my forte), and pulled out the word Supercalifragilisticexpealialadocious. And of course, they love Disney in Japan and I forget that little fact. One of the girls immediately yelled "Mary Poppins!"
These are some of my favorite words for them to pronounce:

Ritz.....pronounced Witz
Allergies.....algaes/cannot understand at all

Clearly, I laugh at anything, so other people might not find this funny. But I find it hilarious. Every time.

The use of English is very popular here. It's kind of like the use of French in the U.S. It's all over clothing. And it's always the weirdest words/phrases/grouping of words. I was at a thrift store that we found and could not stop laughing at some of the shirts. I'll have to go back and take some pictures so I'll remember them.

One of the most entertaining of translation issues - or at least I hope it is - was the restaurant we ate at yesterday. BOOBY'S ENGLISH PUB. I can only assume that it was supposed to be named Bobby's since I can't recall the last time I ever saw a restaurant named Booby's where the food was the only thing that was half-off. 

Obviously, I took several pictures. The restaurant was a little slice of home. Typical sports bar that was still decorated from St. Patrick's Day. Was a little depressed that we didn't go on the holiday, though. Probably could've been a good time. P.s. the Japanese have no idea what St. Patrick's Day is. And when I tried to explain it, I couldn't really do it justice/didn't really know at all what the holiday was actually meant for. So I just told them people get really drunk throughout the day dressed like leprechauns. Needless to say, my teammates think y'all are really weird.....

All-American meal of Hamburger, fries, and a beer. Heavenly. 
Thanking my luck of my not wearing a low-cut shirt and becoming a cliche.....
 The runner-up in my opinion of translation issues has to do with our uniforms...
On the first day we had to try on the uniforms to make sure they fit correctly, blah, blah, blah. 
So, they were excited about these new uniforms that they just ordered because they were kind of girly and had pink on them. It was day 2 and they already knew I would love these newbies. We tried them on, weren't really paying attention to the details of the uniform but just to the cut and how they fit, etc. 
It wasn't until we took them off and handed them over that we noticed a slight misspelling...

Again, the Japanese have an issue with the letters R and L. And they seemed to have switched them on the giant print. Our mascot is Bright Pegasus. On our new BLIGHT Pegasus. The girls who understood us immediately went pale. The manager is still swearing up and down that it's not a misprint, but that's just how the font is. You can decide for yourself....
Off to some games for the week! Only 3 more weeks til season!!

xoxo Jordan 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Height problem

If I hit my head on my door one more time......I might develop a concussion. 


Ok, that's all. Just had to get that out. 
Dear Japan, build higher things. 

xo Jordan

More Pictures!!!

I of course have to have a piece of home with me in Japan. I brought along
some of my favorite pictures with some of my favorite people!

This would be a picture from the Mexican restaurant.
As you can see, it wasn't exactly an exclusive Mexican menu...
Going to admit that I LOVE the clothes over here.
However, bent over mannequins..........reallllllllly??? I thought the Forever 21 ones were provocative.....
My sweet new shoes thanks to the team. Of course, they're all pink.
Not even an option....



Why yes, our mascot is a Pegasus.....
This is our Bright Pegasus mascot!!! He's so cute....

Weird being number 7. Feel like a lineman on the football team. But apparently 7 is a very lucky number over here. So I got double the luck :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Japanese Mexican Food

Yes it exists. I know that was everyone's first thought upon reading the title. After almost two weeks in Japanland, we decided we wanted a small taste of home. Honestly, the random squid and fried fish in every meal is starting to get old. So, our translator somehow found this Mexican restaurant in Nagoya that was fairly close to our dorms. HEAVEN. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Japanese Breakfast

Food. Already covered the fact that I've been eating traditional Japanese food. Most of which, is pretty good. But.....the food situation here has only proven to get weirder. Wiggins and I are apparently the only Americans who have played for Denso, who have actually tried the Japanese food. I was shocked!! Everyone told me upon coming here that I was going to lose a bunch of weight and was going to be living off of nothing. In my head, I pictured my meals to be a bowl of rice and water. And zero coffee within the country (this, obviously, was my biggest concern). Needless to say I was not expecting anything eatable. I was expecting an entire raw fish, head and all to be slapped down in front of me.
Little did I know, the other Americans only ate peanut butter sandwiches and water. PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES! And these aren't just any sandwiches. I had one on the first day and that was enough for me. They're like the Smuckers no crust sandwiches that are enclosed all the way around - yall know what I'm talking about - but the peanut butter itself is not really peanut butter. I'm a PB&J me some peanut butter. This, however, is more like peanut flavored marshmallow. Like whipped peanut butter. No, thank you. I'll take the raw fish and weird vegetables instead - ok maybe not the raw fish.
Speaking of raw fish........
Breakfast here is a bit different. You might be scared by that connection: raw fish and breakfast, and you should be. Because here in Japan those two are very much connected...

We traveled to Kumano, a city up in the mountains a bit, this weekend for some scrimmage games. The hotel we stayed at was a traditional Japanese hotel (I'll cover that in a later post). So everything, and I mean EVERYTHING was completely traditional. Including breakfast. I woke up our first morning in our hotel - bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 530 (for those of you who don't know me, I'm not a morning person. At all. Zero. Nilch. None. Not for me). I stumbled to the team breakfast. Somehow folded myself up into a small of enough position to fit under their miniature tables. The hotel had "American" style breakfast for the two of us. At this point, I had no idea what the Japanese style breakfast was and didn't really feel like finding out, at least not at 6am. I LOVE breakfast. That is one meal I will not mess with. No way. I soon discovered that I will refrain from any attempt at trying their traditional style of breakfast.....
About 15 minutes into the breakfast. I was starting to actually gain consciousness and awareness of my surroundings. And thats when I saw it........Five little sardine heads staring directly at me frying on small heater in front of me. After almost choking on my orange juice I started asking everyone around me, WHY?!? "Thats normal" is the answer I received. Fish and rice. That is the Japanese traditional breakfast. They basically have dinner but in the morning. The next morning, they had sushimi, or raw fish.
I instantly had flashbacks of waking up to my younger brother eating egg rolls and left over Panda Express at 7am one morning. I'm thinking he would fit in here......

This would be the breakfast they had the next morning. Those square kind of things next to the oranges are fish skins. Yup.....
So, as adventurous as I said I was going to be, eating little fishes at 6am will not be on the adventures list. I'll leave that to the Japanese to take care of. I'll stick to my eggs, sausage, and toast. Speaking of, can anyone from Michigan ship me some Benny's please?!?! I'll love you forever and ever and ever! Just kidding........but seriously, someone make that happen. I ❤ Benny's!!!

xoxo Jordan

Friday, March 9, 2012

Some things never change....

So, I've been in Japan for a week now. Feels MUCH longer. I'm really enjoying my time here, but really hope these next 13 weeks don't drag like this last one.
For those of you who were concerned (aka almost everyone who read the previous blog), I did ride my bike again. This time I rode by myself through the town that I'm living in. Before you say to yourself, "what the *%&$ is this girl thinking?!?"..........I WAS FINE. Did a few practice runs....... aka rode a mile up and down the alley way to get my footing. And I was good to go.....well kind of.

Problem #1 of my bike riding skills were somewhat conquered. Problem #2 that I soon encountered on my excursion of bike riding: my lack of sense of direction. I'm the kind of girl that gets lost in her hometown; the type of girl who manages to get so lost that my GPS cannot direct me to my location. I get lost everywhere I go. EVERYWHERE. At this point, I'm convinced that my GPS system in my car is actually trying to kill me. You may laugh but when your navigation system leads you into the heart of both Compton, CA and Detroit, MI, come talk to me. And when your navigation system only tells you to get off the freeway 0.2 miles before you're supposed to, forcing you to cut across 4 lanes of traffic, then you'll know......
I've missed too many turns and gotten lost too many times, so I'm convinced that the GPS system sees me as a problem and is trying to eliminate that said problem. It's only a theory, but I'm 90% sure at this point.
So, anyways, here I was pedaling along down the streets - quite nicely and balanced I might add ;)  - and I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going (among being directionally-challenged, I also tend to be a bit spacey). I was looking at all the shops and businesses along the road and trying not to make eye contact with the people walking past - everyone kept staring at me. Probably due to the fact that I'm a giant compared to them and probably look very strange riding this bike with my long legs and I'm a random American venturing off by myself. Anyways,  there I was pedaling along this yellow colored pathway. I felt a bit like Dorothy along the yellow-brick road but as long as I had some sort of consistent path, I figured I'd be able to find my way back easily. Negative. The town that I'm staying in is a fairly big town in which Denso, the company I'm playing for, takes up much of the town. All of the building looks EXACTLY the same. And that colored pathway? Well, its everywhere too. It was only at the point that the yellow brick turned into green that I thought maybe it was time to figure out where I was. I found myself on about 20 minutes away from my house and not a clue as to where I was. I turned around and attempted to find my way back. Probably would've been the smart thing to just stay on a straight path, but I felt adventurous and made turns. Obviously, not a good idea. On my way back I did a few turn-down-a-street-and-turn-right-back-arounds. People walking on the street probably thought I was crazy seeing me turn down a road and saying "Nope not that one" and reappearing on the main road again.

So after about 10 wrong turns (I wish I was exaggerating) I finally found the right one. How? I recognized a restaurant I saw that I wanted to eat at later. Moral of the story? It was because I was hungry that I found my back. If I was a super skinny girl, I would've been lost forever, roaming the streets of Nagoya.

So, some things never change. Except, I'm thinking that getting lost in Japan is a little bit more of an inconvenience. Only a little bit....

til next time......xoxo Jordan 

Picha Picha

So here are some random pictures that I've taken over the course of my week here in Japan. Enjoy!

This is what we have for lunch, usually. This one was pretty good: there was fried chicken. But, there was also a tiny fish chillin in the vegetables. I passed on the fish. 

Here's the view from our hotel in Kumano. Were up in the mountains and it is absolutely gorgeous. Like Lake Tahoe but way better. 

They have little vending machines EVERYWHERE. My coffee addiction is kept alive and well. BOSS is the brand of coffee and I laugh every time I purchase a Boss Coffee. Tell me you can't imagine a Japanese commercial for this.....

This is Kumano Stadium. Apparently our league games draw an average of about 2500 people. The stadium definitely was large enough. USA needs to step their game up. 
Oh and they had the weirdest lights. They looked like fans. 

I made it in just in time for Cherry Blossom season! I love love love these trees. So pretty! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bikes and Chicken Livers

Coming into my experience of temporarily living in another country, I promised myself two things: 

Be more adventurous
Live life to the fullest - Carpe Diem to the MAX

Anyone who's met me knows that I'm not exactly an adventurous least not compared to my friends (who are all crazy). I'm fairly reserved and don't really branch out or do anything too adventurous. Today, that changed. We went to a restaurant (we as in Megan Wiggins and Makiko, our translator) that was kind of like a barbecue. The girls and Makiko ordered some food for us that they thought we might like. By the end of the dinner, its safe to say I had eaten more parts of a chicken than I knew were edible. I would list what parts I ate but the list of the parts that I didn't would be shorter (and I don't want anyone to be grossed out or think I'm a crazy person). Shockingly, everything was really good. Like....REALLY good. This is coming from a girl that just tried sushi for the first time last year. And I got the fried stuff. 
So basically shrimp tempura --> chicken liver. Bonus points for Jordan! 

Many of the restaurants require customers to sit on the floor. Seeing as my 6'1 frame barely fits under normal tables, this whole sitting on the floor thing didn't quite work out. My legs had to be twisted into positions that required flexibility beyond my ability. Needless to say, it was a struggle to get up from the table. 

Then, there was the adventure of the bike. Again, if you know me, you know I'm tall, somewhat uncoordinated, and clumsy, at best. Those of you who don't me are probably thinking, "well she's kind of looks athletic pitching." It's a trick, I promise you. I'm athletic at one thing only and that is pitching. All you have to do is watch me attempt to walk on ice on the streets of Michigan and know that I possess more unathletic qualities than you would think possible for a successful athlete. 
So, the town that we are in is somewhat small, where riding bikes is probably more efficient than riding in cars. The thought that I would be awful at riding a bike NEVER crossed my mind as I agreed to ride to the market about two miles away from our dorms. Then, I got on the bike. Thank goodness the previous pitcher before me (Eileen Canney) ordered an American sized bike, so that wasn't a problem. Upon mounting the bike, I immediately fell over. Take two: fell off the seat. Take three: I finally got on but didn't know how to begin pedaling. The old saying of "Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget," I can assure you is false. I vividly remember riding my bike around my town, EVERY DAY. I couldn't make it down the street some years later. That saying was clearly only proven true by someone who didn't go on a hiatus of bike riding. So, after I finally somehow got my balance (kind of) on the bike and a few practice runs were made up and down our alley, we were off.....on the street....with cars. Mistake 1, 2, and 3. The ride up to the market was fairly uneventful, other than my basic trying to not crash into the open irrigation ditches along the side of the road. We somehow made it to the market without any major problems, other than my clear inability to ride in a straight line or faster than 2 mph. Wiggins said she had motion sickness watching my bike riding, if that gives you a clear idea of just how bad I am. 
We spent some time at the market; got some ingredients for Wiggins' guacamole (introducing it to the team soon!). I got some fake cherry blossoms as decoration for my room, along with some Japanese snacks. We then put our bags in our baskets and set off again. Clearly, I had a false confidence in my bike riding skills since I hadn't crashed on the first ride. This would lead to not one, but two near death experiences. I started going a little faster than the ride there (aka someone could jog my pace), and found myself an inch away from a mini van and my death. Literally, an inch. ZERO EXAGGERATION. I pulled into a parking lot and after I stopped hyperventilating, I was ready to get back on the road. Bad decision. It was only a couple hundred feet later that I made a turn and ran straight into a pole. Not a skinny lamppost, but a huge billboard pole. At full speed. I somehow wrapped myself and the bike around this pole, with my recently purchased belongings were scattered nearby. Luckily, I didn't really hurt myself, or the bike. And we were down the street from our dorms so I didn't have to ride too much further. After quickly trying to collect everything (which I only learned later that I lost a grapefruit to the pole accident), I pedaled my way down the alley to a laughing Wiggins and our very confused translator. Makiko thought we had gotten lost because we disappeared around the LAST CORNER. 

Obviously, I'm going to need to practice. A lot. Or stick to cars. We'll see. I'll clearly have a lot of near-death experiences here in Japan if the pattern continues. 

This was prior to the death experiences. Notice the smile, rather than look of terror and fear. Did I mention it had been raining the whole day? That makes it more difficult right? So, that can be the reason why I was so bad......
Probably not. 

Until next time, sayonara from Japan! 

xoxo Jordan 

New beginnings!

So, I promised many people in my life that I would start a blog in order to keep everyone up to date on my life and experiences. It is also quite practical (at least for me) so I don't have to tell all the people in my life the details of everything that I'm doing. Instead, I can say "just go check my blog." SO MUCH EASIER! Of course, I will give anyone and everyone personal descriptions, if they would like them  :) 

You'll have to bear with me on the writing aspect of everything. I've always loved writing, but I'm afraid I'm much more of an artistic soul than literary. I promise good pictures, though! 

Traveling from Los Angeles to my destination in Japan wasn't as smooth of a trip as I would have hoped for. I was supposed to take off at 11:30 am. So, naturally, for LAX, I had to get there 2.5 hours ahead of time. And also naturally, there was absolutely no line at security. It was only when I arrived at my gate that I learned my flight had been pushed back to 3:30. Spending 6+ hours at the airport isn't exactly my idea of fun. Thankfully, I somehow managed to be at the same gate as the most attractive, collective group of men I had ever seen in my life. I found out they played rugby and were traveling to Hawaii. I asked if I could go with, but then remembered I signed a contract (that can be nullified right???). Along with the live and in-person GQ cover sitting across from me, there was a Starbucks and Baja Fresh directly next to my gate. I had the best of California: coffee, Mexican food, and good looking men. Those 6 hours suddenly seemed completely alright with me. Did I mention the men were all wearing suits? Yeh.......
Finally after the best 6 hour wait possible in an airport, we boarded the plane, and that long wait seemed instantly worth it. I had never been on an international plane before, so I didn't know what to expect from Business Class. I assumed it was just more leg room - which I was PUMPED about (these long legs do not do crammed space). What I got instead, was heaven. Individual TVs and leg room would've been enough for me. But, here's what I actually got: a fully reclining chair equipped with a foot rest, a cubby for my shoes, in which was a pair of slippers and a toiletry kit (seriously???), not just a blanket, but a full comforter-type blanket (no scratchy felt stuff), a fluffy pillow, eye mask, a three-course meal, champagne when I sat down, hot nuts, and hot towels randomly through the flight. Oh and my favorite, I was called "Miss Taylor" the entire flight. Ummm.......people do this on the regular?!?! No wonder people love flying First Class all the time. I now understand. And I won't go back. Actually, yeh I will. That is WAY too expensive. But for International flights, you can bet your bottom I will be in the front of the plane in the Business Class section. 12 hours in those little freaking way. I was definitely out of place, however. When the lady first handed me the hot towel, I had no idea what to do with it. I was about to pat my forehead before I saw the 11 year-old girl next to me wiping her hands. I decided to watch this teeny bopper for the rest of the flight and use her as a role model. But she would soon prove to be a bad role model for me - I was eating one of their fancy appetizers and looked at how this girl was eating hers (still have no idea what it was). But she opened up the pastry-type dish and just ate the inside. When I copied her, I had set down my silverware for 2 seconds before the stewardess came back and looked at my massacred dish, assumed I was done, and whisked it away before I could utter the words "but I didn't eat it, yet!" That was the only dish that actually looked somewhat filling. Fancy food = pint size dishes. 
I spent the rest of the flight playing with buttons and reclining my seat all the way just because I could. Soon, I fell asleep and somehow kept waking up just in time for the meals. I would've watched the personal TVs if I could've figured out how to turn on the damn thing. Sleep was good enough for me, though. 
Before I knew it, we had landed in Tokyo. Of course, it was 3 hours after my connecting flight had already taken off. Wifi was nonexistent (at least any versions that I could actually read the Log In page) so there was no way to contact anyone who was supposed to pick me up. Luckily, they stayed up to date after I told them I was delayed in Los Angeles. So, I had to go to a hotel for the night. I was secretly hoping for one of those tube hotels in which you basically sleep in a large cubby hole. Not because I wanted to sleep in it, but because it would make for way better of a story and I would actually get to see what it looks like. I barely fit into the MRI machines without having a panic attack, I couldn't imagine sleeping in a tunnel. But, alas, I was put into a hotel that seemed to be stuck in the 1950s and smelled much like what I would imagine a crazy cat lady's house would smell like. I had a 5:00 am wake up call and I was off and back to the airport. Luckily, many of the workers spoke some English so it wasn't too difficult to navigate my way around the huge airport. 

The rest of the day was uneventful. I met our translator, Makiko and all the girls on the team including the other American, Megan Wiggins. Everyone is extremely nice and all the girls try to speak English as much as possible (being limited to about 2 sentences). Makiko has already proven to be a necessity when trying to communicate anything with the girls. Lost in translation doesn't quite describe it. But into day 2, I've already learned all the girls names and some of the basic phrases. The only issue I've been having is remembering all the rules they have for everything. Their culture is extremely regimented compared to Americans. I kinda love it! They give thanks for every little thing. Americans, I feel, often forget how blessed we are just to be alive and healthy, let alone fortunate enough to be thriving in any aspect of their lives. The Japanese constantly give thanks and their respect to everything and everyone around them. I can only hope to leave my experience here with a little piece of their respect that they have for life and everything around them. 

Ok, my hands are officially cramping. They're not in the endurance condition they were during my college and 3-papers-a-week days! That's all for now from Japan! (Hope it wasn't too painful :))

xoxo Jordan