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YOU know the saying hindsight is 20/20?…Well for me yesterday hindsight could have been 0/20.  Why is this you ask?

So two days ago I thought I would try something new in terms of contact solution.  I normally buy my contact solution from on base, so I was a little confused as to where the contact solution actually was in the Japanese drug store.  I found one of the ladies who worked in the store and asked her where I could find stuff to clean my contacts.  She walked me over to the section and showed me the area and pulled off a box from the shelf.  I pointed to the product that I normally get, which looked like the Japanese equivalent to what I bought on base, Optifree and Renu, and asked her “Onagi desuka?” (Is this the same?) She nodded and said yes, so I grabbed the box and took it to the counter.  

I was mystefied by the special case, which had two place holders for the contacts, but attributed it to some Japanese thing.  I followed the picture directions on the side (since everthing was in Japanese)  and went to bed.

The next morning I went downstairs to put on my contacts.  I took the contacts out and put one in my eye, so far so good.  I took the other one and noticed it was kind of dry so I took the bottle and filled it with what I thought was contact solution. 

It. was. not.

A second later my eye felt like this happened to it. I basically shouted the only name that could help anyone in that kind of situation, “Jeeeeessuuuuuuuuuus!” And proceeded to rinse my eye out with water. 

I had like 15 minutes until I needed to go to work so I grabbed my glasses and left the house. At school my eyes were red and raw, so after about 3 hours of this, I did something you are not supposed to do, I googled my symptoms. Actually though it was a really good thing I did, because I found the American equivalent of the product online and apparently TONS of other people had done what I had and with worse results so I felt less stupid since at least since the box I had, had only instructions that were completely in Japanese, even the inside paper was only in kanji.  (Also, I had assumed that the lady at the pharmacy was telling me the truth about this product being the same as the others I had pointed at when I had asked her about the product.)  One of the other people who this had happened to wrote this about the product, “Clear Care is currently running a national (international?) scam in which they cleverly package and sell eyeball-searing acids as contact lens solution. Sure, it looks like harmlessly sterile saline solution; and yes, it’s sold right next to safe and similarly packaged products; oh, and did I mention it’s helpfully sold in travel sizes at a dollar less than other brands? Hell, who wouldn’t buy it! (Especially if you were on vacation, in a hurry to grab something at the supermarket, and blissfully unaware of the danger that lurks within.)”

So I asked my supervisor if I could go to the eye doctor after reading online about these people who almost had lost part of their vision due to this product.  Of course its Japan, so I had to teach two classes first before they allowed me to leave (part of me is simmering that I could have lost my vision due to the fact that I had two classes to teach because clearly according to my school, my job is more important than my eyesight).  Since they wouldn’t let me leave I had to wait until 3pm because the eye doctor closes between 11am to 3pm and is not in on Thursday.  So they allowed me to use an hour of my vacation time (I didn’t even get to use my sick leave for this–even though I have 30 days of sick leave left for this year…I will never understand this system). 

Anyway, after 5 hours of pain and painkillers, and fretting over my eye vision, I was allowed to go to the hospital an hour before work was over. Because I had an eye infection the week before, the hospital staff thought I was there to get that checked out, but I was like umm, no I accidentally put this product in my eye and held it up.  One of the nurses had a shocked look on her face and was like, “Can you seeeeee?” 

I was like, oh great, that is always a good sign, the nurse is asking me if I can still see out of my eye.  She rushed me to the examination room and I skipped a bunch of people, but I still had to wait.  So finally, about 2 hours later, I see the eye doctor.  There were about 6 nurses in the room, because I think they were all curious to see what happened to the foreigner who put contact cleaner in her eye.  The doctor examined my eye and put some medicine in it and then goes, “Almost no damage.”

I was like, Praise the Lord Jesus! Thank you GOD, I have no permanent damage.

And then the doctor goes, “Why did you put this in your eye?”

Then I was incredulous and kind of annoyed, like what the heck he did expect me to say, “Ummm, I was bored and wanted to experience what the first circle of hell would feel like in my eyeball.”

Of course NOT. I told him what happened at the store, about how I asked the lady in the store if it was the same as contact solution by pointing at the other bottles and she was said yes–and how I can’t read kanji…I mean how was I supposed to know–I had never even heard of this product’s name before.

The nurse goes, “We were all surprised you put this in your eye.”

I was like…………. “You were surprised??  I was surprised! Ohmygaaaaash! ”

Then they washed my eye out with this special cleaner thing, the only way I can describe what that was like is like, you know when you are in a carwash and there is water going over the windshield…well it was like that but on my eye.  It was…an experience. 

So then they wanted to teach me how to use this eye cleaner thing, and I was like ummm what! I do not ever want to see this product ever again, and one of the ladies was hestitant, and I was like OMGEE– THROW IT AWAY.    Only I didn’t say that in Japanese, because I didn’t want to offend her. 

 Anyway, the doctor gave me two eye drop medicines to use for the next two weeks and I have learned my lesson…before you ever buy any products in Japan for your eye make sure you use a translator or you are an expert at reading kanji.


JUST when I thought I had seen it all, this week’s weather brought my first sighting of snowphooning.  What is “snowphooning” you ask?  It is basically a mixture of snow and typhoon winds.  Whenever someone complains to me about how the winter here that has lasted 6 months, my most repeated response to this is, (well firstly its “Duh” but secondly it’s) “I have no expectations anymore for the weather here in the Blue Forest.”  This place does whatever it wants, and to be frank, I believe with all my heart that the Blue Forest has simply forgotten how to become spring.  I honestly think it just doesn’t know how to do change anymore.  In fact, my bet is that we will go straight to summer.

A couple nights ago Lt. Dan was supposed to have a pizza making party, which I had been looking forward to not because of the pizza, but actually I really just wanted human interaction.  If I don’t have human interaction I start doing strange things like putting lipstick on my cat, which is what I ended up doing.  I took it off of course soon after, I certainly don’t want PETA coming after me.  Normally, I traipse around town with  Princess No. 2, (although our traipsing doesn’t usually last very long since we can basically walk through town in a matter of ten minutes) but since she  is on a magical journey right now to the land of Pyramids, I am arone at present.  So Lt. Dan cancelled because no one could make it, actually I think no one wanted to come, except me, so in the end it didn’t happen.  I will not miss not having people around. 

It is genuinely sad that I only really have one friend in town.  No way, you say, Blue Forest Princess, you are so funny, and cool and charming!  You must have tons of friends! Well, let me tell you, while yes,  those things are true, we seem to be the only young people in our town of 10,000.  Everyone else is a grandma, parent or child. Once when we were at Princess No.2’s house ,her doorbell rang and we both looked at each other and were like, ummm Who could THAT be? Everyone we know is in this room (me and her).  

Since pizza got cancelled, I emailed Wants-to-be-a-Redhead in the next town over, to see if she wanted to do dinner.  She replied in the positive and so we went out to an izakaya where I accidentally ordered deep-fried cartilage as my first item.  I didn’t realize they had changed the menu at first and just pointed to what I thought was karaage. Well, it wasn’t.  I mean I still ate around it, because the Chinese side of me didn’t want to waste it, but honestly how many people do you know when they hear about cartilage, go, “Mmmmm, cartilaaaaage…” and then drool?

Another thing I will not miss is how in the Blue Forest people go through your garbage.  I am not even kidding about this. I have no idea why or how this became socially acceptable, but I actually had a lady come to my door when I first got here to tell me that I couldn’t put plastic bottles in my trash.  I know she was trying to be kind, but why the heck was she going through my garbage?  The only people who go through people’s garbages in Freeland are psycho stalkers and homeless people looking for something to eat.  This situation also happened to Princess No. 2.  A neighbor called her work to tell on her that she wasn’t putting her PET bottles in the right garbage.  Instead of asking her neighbor why they were rummaging through their employee’s garbage, they gave Princess No. 2 a lecture.   I think people do not have enough things to do in my town, clearly if they have spare time to go through people’s refuse.

I will also not miss having so much free time at work.  At the moment there are no classes to teach and all the students are on spring break so I really wish I could read a novel at my desk.  It is so not fair how all the old men in my office are allowed to nod off (not to mention SNORE) at their desks, but if I read a book I will probably get frowned upon.  Such a double standard.  I am not going to miss this unfairness. 

Now, in Freeland, you could just make your own work, however that is not necessarily the case here, there are just too many cultural complications asking for work here or trying to create work for yourself to do, which I will not get into at present because it would take too long.  But the need to be productive is overtaking my soul.  Yesterday, I spent the day helping Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick with her essay for school.    

Here is what that conversation looked like:

Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick: sooo do you think the thesis i have now is better?
me: I think it doesn’t matter as long as you can support your argument with sound reasoning and good examples
Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick : okay…im so bad  im watching inception…im suppose to be writing a paper
and im watching a movie lol
me: isn’t your  paper on Time Management and Personal Responsibility…ironic
Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick: I KNOW LOL..I’m going for a run.  Will you be on later to help me edit?


Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick : you there?
me: yeeees
Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick : okay i am going to send you something that i wrote
 i rewrote everything…not even sure what my thesis is.. lol
me: hahaha

After this amazing conversation, she sent me about 10 sentences.  None of it made any sense, so I helped her organize her previous ideas.  She was kind of freaking out though anyway:

Glamorous-Vietnamese-Chick : just sent it… this is my 4th rough draft and every time I have to change it!!!!!!!!
Im so done with this
me: okay im gonna walk you through just relax and clear your brain out for a few minutes
Glamourous-Vietnamese-Chick :i wish i can  i dont have the time  i have to work in 8 hours!!! and I have class right after work
me: 8 hours is plenty of time to write a paper
 Glamourous-Vietnamese-Chick :I have 8 hours before I have to work a 9 hour day and then have class for 5 hours after that
  youre telling me that I cant sleep???
 me: its just a rough draft right lol you need to calm down
 Glamourous-Vietnamese-Chick :im so (censored). UGHHH!!!!!

This whole conversation was actually very nostalgic, since 10 years ago, when we were in college together this is exactly how our conversations were then as well.

Anyhow, back to the other things….SO. I will not miss being stared at every single place I go, like I am a freaking celebrity…I miss anonymity.  I seriously do.  I just want to walk into a store and not have someone crane their neck to watch me pass by and end up tripping, falling…or running into a wall.  Seriously, I am hazardous to the health of people here.

On a more positive note, I will most certainly miss the good friends I have made while I am here and also the sushi.  Okay, one of my pet peeves is when Americans act like sushi snobs or when people loudly declare in a Japanese restaurant in America, “Omgee-the sushi in JAPAN is so much better!” 

While I have discovered that however this is the truth, Japanese sushi IS much better, somebody please, oh please, intervene and slap me in the face, if I ever become one of those  people. This also, sorry for its randomness, but since we have already gone down the rabbit trail, this kind of pretentiousness reminds me of New York Times writer’s bombastic use of the word ‘vitriolic’.  They seem to be obsessed with this word, its in almost every article you read these days, like, UGH, come one, seriously people find another pretentious word to use. I’m sure you can find one- you people are supposed to be word gurus!  There has got to be a Dickens among you somewhere.

By the way did I mention I am leaving(?), but I think you figured that out already you smart person you.