On the 15th, I attended the MINNA no Salon Christmas party, where we decorated cookies. I was asked to talk about Christmas in America, which I did...in English, because that was what they requested. Of course, most people there couldn't understand English, so I threw in lots of acting to go along with my speech. Then they had me stand at the front of the room and sing Christmas carols along with a CD. The party concluded with a bingo game in which I won a cute Christmas coffee mug.
Classes ended on the 21st, and that evening I attended the year-end faculty party. It was at the same hotel as last year. Sadly, out of the entire lavish buffet, the only things I could eat were the garlic bread, the scalloped potatoes, and the dessert. (I counted myself lucky that they didn't put bacon in the potatoes.) I had this amusing interaction with the teacher next to me:
Teacher: Can I pour you some beer for the toast?
Me: No thank you. [I dislike the taste of beer.]
Teacher: You're vegetarian, right?
Me: ...Yes... <wonders what this has to do with beer>
Later, the principal comes to the table and offers to pour me some beer.
Me: No thank you.
Teacher: She's vegetarian.
...I do not think that word means what he thinks it means...
Anyway, after that, I set about cleaning my apartment for the guests who will be coming to visit. My endeavors, however, kept getting interrupted. Yesterday I was puncturing old aerosol cans (as required) before throwing them away. One of them turned out to be mostly full, and it sprayed fumes everywhere, setting off my carbon monoxide detector (which I didn't even know I had) and forcing me to open the door and air the apartment out (despite the cold). Today, I was just in the middle of vacuuming one of the guest rooms when a pile of light bulbs that I had set aside to be recycled fell on the floor and shattered into a bijillion pieces. Oh joy.
I also took a trip to Kyoto today to go shopping. While I was there, I used the opportunity to attempt to cash a check that had been sent to me earlier. (Banks aren't open on weekends, so it was the only chance I had in months to go to the bank where the check was supposedly payable.) I learned that Japanese banks really don't understand checks.
Me: Here's the check, please give me my money.
Teller: We can't give you cash.
Me: ...Why not?
Teller: The money is at the bank where the check was written. It will take several business days for that money to be transferred here. Therefore, we cannot give you cash now, because we don't have the money here.
Me: You mean I have the check RIGHT HERE IN MY HAND, but you're refusing to give me my money?
Teller: Well, we could deposit the money into your bank account when it arrives here.
Teller: But the fee for doing that will be <names a sum four times the amount that the check is worth>.
Me: That's absurd.
Teller: If you wanted cash, you should have had the person give you cash in the first place instead of making a check.
Oh Japan. There are just no words for your insanity. No words at all.
On the bright side, I'm leaving early in the morning to meet wednesday_10_00, mangaroo, and sara_tanaquil in Tokyo. I'll be spending the week there with them, and then we're all coming back to my place for a few days. I hope they forgive my apartment's remaining clutteredness, but after the incidents above, I just don't have the spirit to clean any more.