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 person.....at 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......
Until next time, sayonara from Japan!