Today I miss Japan terribly and I can only blame myself for it. Wanderlust has always been part of my life but it’s gotten worse these past few days. My sleep pattern is in shreds, I have trouble focusing on anything and I spend too much time searching for ways to leave. And weather in Poland doesn’t make my life any easier: it’s 17 Celsius below zero at the moment and the temperature is still dropping. No soothing walks for me.
So, to make myself feel better, I spent half of today going through the photos from my visit in Japan last May. Terrible idea! Made me even more miserable. What I would give to be there now…
Especially as I have no idea when I’ll be able to leave Poland for longer than a week and my next trip is to Scotland, not Tokyo. I should be booking my flight ticket to Glasgow, not trying to find some conferences abroad or Japan-based exchange program for academics.
Well, tbh what I really SHOULD be doing is preparing for teaching uni students as the winter break is almost over, but when the Wanderlust hits me that hard it’s difficult to sit in one place for longer than one hour. So my first class might look a bit like that (minus yellow tentacles):
I have a shitload of work to do and have been drinking all kinds of caffeinated drinks for days so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that this combination of work overload and sleep deprivation finally managed to awake my wanderlust. Which means I’m even more miserable because I don’t have time to leave my apartment for more than an hour a day. And that’s just not enough!
Today I finally caved and went for a longer walk (which reminded me so much of my midnight walks in London and Tokyo!). It was either that or going to sleep and I have too much work to even think about sleeping for next 36 hours.
I was rather pleasantly surprised by the weather: there was no icing and temperature was around ten degrees Celsius which is quite hot for December in Poland. I recorded the video below just four days ago:
▲ This is how Polish usually winter looks like. ▼ I’m not gonna complain about it yet, but I hope in about a week or so there’ll be more snow. At least that much:
BTW, anyone recognizes what I was listening to while recording the snow? How about a small hint? 😉
Sooooo….. I know it’s been ages (more than a month!) since I last wrote anything here but I have a very good excuse (it’s more of a reason, actually): I was a crew member at a local (= one of the biggest in Poland) sci-fi/fantasy/anime/gaming con(vention) and that meant combining lots and lots of con-related work (and fun) with my uni studies, academic conference, adult responsibilities (=job), and a language course. And post-US election depression. But that’s not what I want to write about here. Let’s focus on the Con! 🙂
This was not my first time volunteering.
I’m actually a veteran when it comes to big events (mostly music & film festivals). However, this was the biggest con I’d ever volunteered at. I’m pretty sure that there were more crew members here (several hundred) than there were attendees at the last con I worked at. My section (Rapid Response Unit) had 19 or 20 members which was both too many (to get to know and remember) and too few (to do all the things we were asked to do without taking extra shifts). Somehow, we made it work.
We got down a tiny drone that got stuck to the ceiling, about 5 meters above ground. Brought in the TARDIS. Discovered origin of a strange hissing sound in the Kid’s Zone and took care of it. Made thousands of name tags using a ream of paper, one knife and three pairs of scissors. Pasted hundreds of leaflets (some of them in the restrooms, because we were told that everyone should be able to read program while sitting on the toilet). Managed to keep the con clean even after cleaning company turned out to be a total bust. Unloaded and loaded double-stacked pallets with 360 tables in under 3 hours. Carried dozens of odd items. Including two large cakes. Helped exhibitors and merchandise dealers to pack their stuff. Spent lot of time running. Without any complaints about our section. And without complaining.
However, being part of the crew also meant missing pretty much all the panels, talks, small (and not-so-small) events, and shows. There were so many things that I had no idea about and saw only on videos and photos (not even my photos – there was no time for that)! Next year I’m definitely going to (try to) find time for fireshow and some panels (nothing beats a good panel). And bring more money. (Though this might not be the best idea ;)) Who knows, maybe even take some photos!
And this is a (very) short video presenting Saturday part of this con:
Anyway, next year there I’m definitely going to be there. There are 5 cons in Poland in 2017 that I would like to work at: two international Comic Cons, a national Polcon, and two local ones. Hope I’ll find enough time 🙂
It’s so strange to be home. In two days I’m moving out of my small village to a city, so yesterday I built a bonfire. You can’t have these in cities.
To be honest, I don’t feel like moving. I feel like staying cooped up inside, (finally) catching up on the latest SnK chapters, watching some bookmarked anime series, and missing Japan. But that’s just post-trip depression that I get every time I return from my travels. So I’m gonna allow myself half a day of uninterrupted fun (= watching Tiger & Bunny with my cat) and after that I’ll return to the land of the living 🙂
I don’t have any popcorn but I do have dark chocolate-covered coffee beans. Hello, pure energy!
[This is a post I started writing yesterday but forgot to publish.]
Working through the night is tough but I think it’s better than working till 4 am, going to sleep, and returning to work at 9 am (and that’s what I did). But it seems that wrapping yourself in a futon helps a lot!
I already know that with two deadlines today (5 pm and 8 pm) I won’t be going anywhere, but my futon still makes it better. How I’ve managed to live so long without one is beyond me.
So today was a konbini bento day. I bought (and ate) my very first konbini bento!
I went to a supermarket somewhere around 3 pm because I read that that this is when there are “bento special offers” (apparently, bento boxes are prepared twice a day: for lunch – 12 to 1 pm – and for dinner – 6 to 8 pm – and there are special offers for them around 2/3 pm and 9 pm).
Anyway, the one that I bought was really good (yay!), but (of course) there were many parts of it that I did not recognize (even after eating them). And I had some trouble heating it up. Do you heat up something that’s meant to be eaten cold (or at room temperature)? Or maybe eat everything cold? After some careful deliberation, I decided that I want my bento hot, removed some parts that seemed like “eat-me-cold”, and microwaved the rest for 1 minute. Everything tasted good, so I guess this was the best course of action 🙂
Hello, World! The way you’ve been shaking lately, you should probably try and relax a bit.
But seriously, the ground’s been shaking since an early morning today, with two magnitude 3 and 4 quakes at 05:24 am and 08:35 am and lots of aftershocks. Strong enough to keep me awake from 5 to 10 (not because I was afraid but because every tremor would wake me up – it was like sleeping on a waterbed), so now I’m so sleepy! I wonder if September’s always like that here (and by like that I mean with daily quakes).
Anyway, yesterday was interesting! Ever heard about the Japan Rail Pass? It is this awesome ticket-thingy that you can order only if you are not Japanese and when you are still abroad. I usually use this website because it’s cheaper than buying it in Poland. I have no idea why. So I got mine in July:
… and yesterday I went to one of the main JR Pass exchange offices in Tokyo to, well, exchange the order for my pass. I chose Tokyo Station JR Pass exchange office because it was close to my route to Nakano. Going to Tokyo Station was a piece of cake. Finding the office – not so much. I got lost at least three times, asked some foreigners checking their JR Passes for help (unfortunately, they exchanged theirs at Narita, but good luck we’re sure it’s here somewhere), and finally used my final weapon: finding main entrance. It worked – office is next to the central north gate 🙂
I have to say that JR personnel is not only very nice but also knowledgeable. And they speak English very well! Exchanging my order for the pass took me less than five minutes. I was also given simple and easy-to-follow directions to the nearest currency exchange office with good US dollar exchange rates (they had terrible PLN exchange rates, thank goodness I did not bring any Polish currency!).
JR Pass (front)
JR Pass (back)
One more very important thing about the JR Pass: if you have it, you can use all Shinkansen (fast trains) (except Nozomi and Mizuho lines), local and express JR lines (similar to subway lines), lots of various JR buses, monorail to Haneda Airport, and JR line to Narita Airport – for free. As you can see, I’m a fan 😉
So after I got my JR Pass I went to Nakano Broadway. It’s a shopping mall of sorts, with lots of small shops for different subcultures.
This was my second time here, so I wasn’t that overwhelmed anymore and this time I bought some stuff I’m really happy about 🙂
As I wrote in my previous post, I took the wrong train home and spent lot of time riding the subway. Well, it happens to the best of us 😉 But thanks to that I met a new neighbor (girl from Colorado) who reads Japanese a bit, she helped me find butter at the konbini.
I also got (and ate) delicious soba – used it as an opportunity to practice my chopsticks skills (you know, practice makes perfect…) 🙂