Japanese Health Clinic

My experience today with Japanese health was an interesting one.  I walked to a clinic in my neighborhood late this morning, because I had intense flu symptoms all weekend, and I needed a note to miss work.  I wasn’t feeling so great today anyway, as I had already suspected would be the case last night, but my supervisor from work told me that I just needed to stay home today no matter what, and go to a doctor at some point for the doctor’s note.

Why?  Well, apparently schools have a very specific protocol for people with influenza.  If you have influenza, I was told, the first day you have fever counts as Day 0.  After Day 5, you are allowed to return to school. (So six days total that you must remain absent from school.)  However, you must have at least 48 hours between the time you last had a fever and the time you return to school.  So, while it can be longer, you have a minimum influenza quarantine of sorts of six days, no matter what.

Now, for my job, we have a differentiation between personal/vacation days and sick days.  However, to set your sick days as sick days, you need a doctor’s note.  And, by a doctor’s note, they really just mean the dated receipt that you are given when you pay your 20-ish dollars at the end of your visit to the doctor.  So, I had to go see a doctor today in order not to have to take three days of vacation days for my required absence (read banishment) from school this week.

I found the clinic alright, despite the name having been misspelled in the e-mail to me about the clinic.  Walking in, I noticed that, naturally, nothing was in English.  I had no idea what to do, but saw a small room with benches and people, and a small desk-type area that was not very reception-y.  A lady approached me and handed me one of their white masks*, which I accepted gracefully, as I asked if anyone spoke any English.**  She said that the doctor knew some, and so I wandered into the waiting room behind her.

She asked for my insurance card, which I gave, and then attempted to pronounce my name, which is written quite clearly on the card in Japanese lettering (katakana).  For those who don’t know, you can’t mispronounce this sort of thing, because each ‘letter’ only has one way to be pronounced, no matter how it is combined with other ‘letters’,  Nonetheless, I had to help her read the name aloud for some reason.  Whatever…

So I sat and waited on one of the benches.  One of the ladies came back with some paperwork for me to fill out (yes, in Japanese), and handed me a small thermometer.  I had some hesitation in using it, though I couldn’t quite tell why.  Nonetheless, I eventually stuck it in my mouth, and it proved that my fever had, indeed, resided.

As I waited, more people arrived and did as I had done, minus asking about the English.  I eventually noticed that there was only one thermometer, and that the lady would do one single, quick (with no twist or anything) swipe of the bottom part of it with what looked like an alcohol swab each time after someone new used it.  I solidly decided not to think about it – I already had germs enough in me to manage for this week – , but I made an inner snarky comment of If I wasn’t already infected, I sure will be now before setting it aside.

Eventually, a version of my name was said over this scratchy speaker in the ceiling, and I was summoned to room #1.  I found out after this little bit that my supervisor had already called and mentioned that I was coming, and so perhaps she gave enough details for their concerns, because I found it rather odd how the doctor instantly asked me, ‘So, you might have influenza?’ and then asked only two or three other questions before shoving the swab thing up my nose for the 60% success rate rapid flu diagnostic test.

It was only when the test came out negative a while later, and I responded with a ‘Seriously?’ to the doctor’s confident declaration that I ‘just have a cold’, that the doctor asked my symptoms.  For the previous three-ish days, I had had high fever, intense muscle pain all over my body, a horrendous and throbbing headache (even causing my hearing to be pained), and a sore chest with some coughing, and I hardly could get out of bed for anything other than the bathroom or more water.  Today, however, things were significantly improved, and my fever had finally broken yesterday (so, no more fever today, but still low-level aches and pains of all sorts).

Nonetheless, – and I partially attribute this to a lost-in-translation bit – he prescribed me a different medicine for each of these ailments, to last me for five days.  I went and sat in the waiting area for the third and final time, before being called up to the desk again, paying about $20 US, being given two receipts and my insurance card, and being pointed to the building across the street.

Across the street, I used my Google Translate app to translate a questionnaire about ‘Are you pregnant?”, ‘Do you have any history of severe illness?’, ‘What allergies do you have?’ and the likes (plus one question I never quite figured out about ‘Generic Medicine’ or something), waited a few minutes, and then paid just over $5 US for a baggie full of medicines I didn’t want.  (Really, I just wanted the receipt from my doctor’s visit, and then to go back home and have a green smoothie and some sleep.)  But, hey, at least it all cost me only about $25 US for the visit and the meds.  Could have been much worse than that.

When I called back my supervisor, at her request, to inform her of the results and the rest of my visit, she said she’d talk to the Vice Principle and call me back after a while.  About ten minutes later, she called and informed me that, though the Vice Principle was on a business trip for the day, she, the head of teachers, and the school nurse had all convened and decided that, despite the rapid flu test, I had the flu, and so can not return to school until Thursday at the earliest (and even later, if I am still sick Thursday), and that it would all count as sick days (since I had gone to the doctor today).  She said she would inform my visit school of this, she wished me well, and she told me to call if I needed anything these next few days on my own.  I thanked her, and that was that.

So, I unofficially officially have the flu.


*I must admit, I have a sort of odd phobia against these masks.  I think they remind me of the feeling of being stuck under the blankets too long in bed, making the air super stuffy and hard to breathe, but then add in the factor of their being hooked around your ears, like then pressing the blankets against your mouth, increasing the intense suffocation and decreasing the chance of fresh air entering your mouth or nostrils… and so these masks elicit in me a sort of instant panic whenever I consider actually putting one on my face.

**Okay, I realize I am in Japan.  I am not aiming to disrespect their culture by wanting English here.  I simply do not know enough Japanese to work my way through a medical visit, in which every detail counts, and the slightest misunderstanding could be incredibly troublesome and even dangerous.

Life and Movies and Longing

I’ve been a dreadful sort of sick all weekend, though I’ve been mostly un- or half-conscious through it all, so it’s been somewhat tolerable, I suppose.  Finally, today I was able to watch some filmage, as I have been conscious these past seven-ish hours, and I was finally able to tolerate sound.  As I searched for a movie to watch, I got to wondering about the kind of movie I was wanting to watch.

I noticed that none of the movies coming up on the scroll (Netflix Japan) were really appealing to me, although I have enjoyed several of them in the past.  Why do I not want to watch them now, but I liked them at another time, and likely will want to watch them again in the near future (I have had this happen many times, you see)?  What causes that change in preference to happen?

Mostly, I just wanted to watch Mona Lisa, Smile with Julia Roberts (yet again), and I knew it was because I 1)loved the fashion and lifestyle in the film, and 2)wanted to be like Julia Roberts in the film.  And that’s what had it click.  I realized: I’m looking for the life I want.  Rather than sitting here on the sofa in aches and pains, simultaneously wishing to get well asap and to prolong the illness so that I don’t have to go to work tomorrow, I want to be somewhere else, in some other part of life, even in someone else’s life.  And, since I can’t actually do that, I seek this alternative, improved life via film.

I notice, too, that I sometimes do the same with books.  Now, while I do read the ones that peek over the fence to that desirable and unrealistic life I want (think Shopaholic (the book, not the terrible movie that I turned off in disgust after about five minutes)), I make sure to put in the various classics and highly acclaimed books that have to do with depth and such, as opposed to my girlish ridiculousness and fun, so as to keep a good balance.

Though, as I debated about how to word that second-to-last clause, I thought of books that I have loved over the years.  From Bunnicula to Ender’s Game to Shopaholic to Pride and Prejudice, there was always something I desired and somewhat envied about each of their worlds.  The friendships, the sneaking around, the detective mentality, the genius, the fashion and money, the lifestyle, the travel, the love story, the love… they were all things I would love to have in my own life, in my own world of here and now.  It was never merely a girlish crush on the handsome and strong Native American so in love with the female protagonist (I admit, I truly did love reading those bits of Bis(s) zum Morgengrauen and the whole series.), but often something much greater, much deeper.  I wanted, if not the whole thing, a piece of their lives to come to life within my own life’s story.

And so I think it is with the movies I most love, as well.  Why else would I love my favorite films so much as I do?  I can relate to them for how they are like I am, as well as for how I want to be like they are.

And, to further and complete the thought, when I am sick and alone and longing to be in almost any other part of even my own life, the movie I most want to watch will be the one that best depicts the ideal situation for my life right now.

And, for today, I think that is somewhere with a great beach and the perfect mixture of warm and cool breezes, filled with people who are fun and who love me and whom I love, and where I am already slimmed down from my winter warmth weight.  So bring on some Eliza Thornberry or Just Go With It, yeah?  ;P

Except actually.  🙂


Post-a-day 2017


The train station at 5am

Out of the darkness, a pair of white tennis shoes appear in the corner, illuminated by some magical strip of light.  They are patiently, patiently, ever so patiently waiting.

Upward, dark jeans, black jacket, a bag… once invisible in their angled darkness, they solemnly allow their existence to be known with a quiet and easy surprise attack.

A man.  Looking at nothing, waiting for something that will come no time soon, he stands still with the time, innerly… something…, outwardly stoical against the near-bitter cold.

This I see as I grumble home in my near hallucinations of aches and pains at 5am.

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What a day…(!)

Sometimes, it is reeeeeaaallly helpful having a brother with distinctions, who is in the same time zone.  Because sometimes you just might feel like you’re suddenly going to explode from terrible-feeling emotions, and the only remedy around is a chat with your brother… which happens to be the perfect remedy, after all.  🙂
Thanks, bro.
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A glimpse of Japanese culture

Tonight, I stopped in at an udon restaurant that is a similar style to Luby’s (pick up a tray, grab side dishes as you will, and order the main hot dish fresh when you get to that section, pay at the end of the sliding bar line) for dinner.  I initially hesitate, figuring out what I want to eat. As I decide upon something, I realize that I don’t know how to say what I want, because the first half of the name is written in kanji.  If it had been reversed, with hiragana first and kanji second, I could have faked my way through.  However, how does one start a word/name with only the end of it?

So, I figured I’d just stumble through verbally, and eventually get someone to lean over the counter a bit to see which picture I was indicating.  As I arrive at the ordering section, and attempt to do just as I had planned, explaining that I can’t read Japanese, but I want this one, please, the man in line behind me does me a solid, and reads aloud the name of the dish for me.

Now he totally didn’t need to do this, as the restaurant worker easily leaned forward to see the  picture anyway, but he, for whatever reason – and I word it this way, because this has not often been my experience here, having people be oh-so-willing to help out the foreign girl – decided to help me.  Therefore, despite my terror of getting caught in a language mess of trying to explain and risking not getting my way, I told the lady at the register to put mine and the man’s meals together.  She seemed a bit caught off guard, but accepted my request, likely assuming that I was actually here with the guy after all.

I paid, accepted my change, thanked the cashier, thanked the man once again as he walked up next to me in line once again, and walked off to my seat around the corner.

A minute later, I went to get some tea from the water and hot green tea dispenser, and saw the man there getting water for himself.  When he saw me, he did the Japanese “Oh!”, though a bit subdued, and thanked me in a very fumbly sort of way (I imagine he isn’t quite accustomed to such a scenario, based on his general appearance and fumbliness.), opting to use the version of thank you that literally means “excuse me”, and bowing as best he could holding his tray and water.  I told him that it was nothing, and thanked him again for the help.

Still sitting at my seat a while later, watching a small spider tiddle across the countertop, I notice the man coming over to me, and I look up at him.  He thanks me again (and again in a very fumbly way), looking a bit embarrassed, and bows a couple more times (which I return with a smile and bow) before leaving the restaurant.

It was quite simple, but I found so much culture in the situation, I wanted to share it.  Plus, this older guy was, in a grandpa sort of way, so cute, I wanted the memory to live on somehow in others.

So, thank you, again, old man.  Really, I appreciated your help, and gave you your meal easily and with delight – it was almost an honor for me to have provided you this token of my gratitude.  Thanks.  🙂
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Shower Power

I need to have either a personal assistant of sorts or a recording device in the bathroom for myself.  Practically every single day, when in the shower, I have loads of fabulous ideas (and not just about writing, but about various parts of life).  And, by the time I turn off the water, – and yes, this is even if it is the shortest shower ever – I have forgotten almost all of it.  Then, whatever meager bits remain in the front regions of my memory at that point decide to taunt me after I rush to paper or a computer to jot them down.  So, almost every night, I have this fabulous and effortless brainstorming activity which produces innumerable magnificent ideas, all of which I promptly forget.

The feeling of loss is real, in an odd way.  And yet, it is somehow utterly ridiculous, as well.  Just plain laughable.  I mean, who has their best ideas in the shower, anyway?

Then again, who doesn’t?

I’ve really got to do something about this one… really.  😛


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Singapore at a glance

Things I noticed almost immediately about Singapore:

  • The toilets try to attack me (the sensor goes off at the slightest movement to either side, and the power of the water is impressive)
  • Toilet seats I crossed were mostly old and cracked-like all along the edges
  • There was always soap in the bathrooms
  • Fruit is fresh and local and almost never above about one US dollar
  • The technology is noticeable, as is the advanced architecture (literally almost everywhere)
  • Even the old places are beautiful and creative
  • I can’t always understand the accent, despite the fact that English is the language being spoken most of the time (official language since around the 60s, I believe)
  • Taxis are affordable (like actually)
  • The rain is a nice refresher in the afternoon (January, anyway), making life seem magical with the cool yet warm rain
  • People look content with life (as opposed to the stressed look of so many here)
  • People are happy in general
  • Street art is beautiful and passion-filled
  • Architecture might as well be considered street art, with its intense personality and shock factor as you turn the corner
  • You can walk all over
  • Public transit is good and completely affordable
  • There is a huge mix of cultures, with no noticeable dominating population – they’re just Singaporean now, although there are so many ancestral countries represented  (I get that I did not word that quite correctly, but I like how it sounds, so I’m leaving it as-is)
  • Bring an umbrella and tissues everywhere, and you will be safe from any concern
  • I want to be there more often  🙂


P.S.  I didn’t notice this one until it was pointed out to me, but I agree with it:

  • It is clean.  Except for the odd bathroom that some owner doesn’t manage too well (like that wretched bathroom at the restaurant in Little India), everywhere I went was clean.  The streets were all clean.  And I think I didn’t notice, because it was just so natural for me to have streets that way.


Post-a-day 2017

And Unexpected Story From… Somewhere

Tonight, for whatever reason (aside from the part where one thought links loosely to the next, those tiny threads of ideas drawing you quickly along the ever-unexpected path with them, until you eventually find yourself miles from the original thought, wondering how on Earth you got there), I was reminded of something I wrote a while back.  As I mentioned to my friend when I sent it to her, it is rather messy, and it just kind of came out of me.  One day, the words were just in my head, as though urging me to write them down, and so I did really quickly… It was almost like an ‘I have to do it now’ experience.

I have various theories as to how the story came to me, as well as to why my mind wanted me to write it down on paper (yes, the original is with paper and pen, not computer), but I find them unnecessary to include here, as none of them was present when I actually had the story pouring out of me that odd morning (odd, due to this near-overwhelming necessity to write this story, which had never quite happened to me in such a way until that day).

Anyway, it is sad – dreadfully sad to me, anyway – and it is terrible, and it is a miniature story that asked me to write it down, and somehow got back into my head tonight to get me to share it with the world (well, whatever portion of it will cross this weblog posting, at least).  Enjoy… or whatever… you know…


“No,” declared Jessica, exasperated, “I’m not going to call him.”

Yet, even as she spoke, she knew deep down that she would be with him again.  So she wouldn’t call him…, but she’d said nothing about texting.  Or his calling her.

Soon enough, perhaps in a matter of hours, she’d be with him again.  And then, in a matter of minutes, she’d be lying there alone, feeling gross, almost wanting to hurl.  Or else hurl something… he wouldn’t hold her, no matter how she wished it.  He never did…  But, for a few moments, she would feel the pressure of him resting on her chest, and it almost would feel as though it were intentional, as though there were someone – right here and now – who wanted to be with her, who cared for her, who loved her.

Though she knew it wasn’t so.

“This is so messed up,” she would say to him…  And she would mean it.

And yet she couldn’t stop herself.

He was in need, and she could help.  Besides, she had been curious in the first place.  Now she knew.  Perhaps that was a good thing.  If nothing else.  And an icy feeling told her there was nothing else good about it all.

Jessica wouldn’t see how he only appeared to be in need – she was too trusting of him and his word; she had looked up to him for too long to question what he expressed to her.  And so, in her time of extreme need for love, she would leave the love of her friends to go to him, and be robbed of what little she still had, knowingly sacrificing her own happiness and love to help, to serve, to please another.


Post-a-day 2017

Round Something

I don’t really want to write tonight, because I’m incredibly tired and somewhat nervous.  I fly out much earlier than I had remembered, and so my bedtime is hours overdue at this point.  Also, my easy and cheap train ride to the airport has turned into a necessary cab ride.  Fortunately this country is actually rather awesome, so the can ride is quite affordable.
I just always get nervous about flying for various reasons, so here I am, once again, nervous.  Add my exhaustion and mental avoidance of thinking about how sad I actually am about leaving here, and you’ve got a good package of not wanting to type up something fancy on my phone.  😛
Post-a-day 2017