Thursday, July 10, 2014


I'm IN TOKYO. Like, right now. How is that even what I don't know <----incoherent gibbering

I've already been here for nine days and we're flying out tomorrow, so today is my last full day in Tokyo and it's very sad.

As sad as this Stitch at the Shibuya Disney store who seems to have eaten a non-degistable bear? Sadder.
Because I only have one more day, this is going to be a super short post, and I'll post more later.

My flight from Vancouver to Tokyo was in the teeniest, tiniest Japan Airways seat, and I spent the entire 10 hours trying to stretch my legs into the aisle without getting them chopped off by the drink carts. THE AGONY. The Japanese people next to me had plenty of space and were sitting on their knees and putting their feet up on the backs of the seats in front of them like they were at home on a sofa, and I was maaaashed and it hurrrrteeeeed. They were probably like "Why is that big monkey person not fitting in his seat and constantly moving around" YEAH WELL SORRY.

At Narita I was picked up by a car and a snazzy person in a black suit, and my mom flew in from Dubai late that evening, and we met at the hotel, and the next day our adventures began.

Stefan, adventuring.
Here are bunches of random pictures and observations before I run off.

- People in Tokyo are so nice. I'm sure that's a generalization and there are mean people, too, but I haven't met any of them and when walking around a city of 14 million people I feel like that's a fairly massive accomplishment. The general atmosphere when you talk to someone is utmost politeness and helpfulness, and if you look suitably lost and forlorn there's a good chance someone will stop and ask you your troubles.

I did a signing at Kinokuniya Bookstore one of the days, and everyone there was THE NICEST, so shout-out to them, and thanks again so much for having me! Mona, the lady right next to me, is the foreign book buyer there and patiently answered all of my questions about Japanese culture and was generally awesome. Thanks, Mona!! :)

The man to my left is the bookstore boss. He gave me a guide to Tokyo as a gift.
Also, this picture was taken toward the end of the signing, and we sold all
the copies of The Peculiar they had, so thank you everyone for coming!
- Japan is way more modern that most countries in a lot of ways, but flip phones and fax machines are still things here.

- Grape flavored sweets. Everywhere. I love it. That fake, chemical, nasty, awful grape flavor is one of my favorite things ever, but in Tokyo grape things here actually taste like grape. Iz crazy.

Healthy choices.
- Umbrellas. All the time. Rain or shine.

Ew, sunshine, get it off.
- Slurping is allowed. If you don't slurp your soup, it means you don't like it very much.

Me learning to drink soup properly. I couldn't bring myself to slurp, but LOOK AT THOSE EXPERTLY HELD CHOPSTICKS.
- Most of Tokyo seems to be a giant shopping mall. Seriously so many shopping malls. And Gucci stores. Probably one Gucci store per capita, because who wants to share a Gucci store.

- It seems very bright all the time, even when it's cloudy. I think it's because of all the glass from the skyscrapers reflecting the light. If you go to Tokyo, take sunglasses.

- There are little cars:

And big gravestones:

- Tokyo's not really one city. It's six or seven cities that are really, really close together and connected by a super efficient subway system, and all the mini-cities we've been to have similiar lights and sounds, but really different atmospheres.

- There are more restaurants in Tokyo than any other city in the world, and the food is amazinnnnng. I'm going to do a whole post about the food, and I apologize in advance if that is uninteresting to you.

I really need to go now, ahhh. By time I post again I'll probably be in Dubai, and apparently it's over 40 degrees centigrade there (100F) which means if I went outside I would instantly fall to the ground and burn and claw my way back to safety. In other words, I will have lots of time to write blog posts, and reviiiiise. I've been revising busily on DMP and deleting vast swaths like "AHAHAHA" and then crying because my editor and agent had to read that garbage. More soon! Bye! :)

Vermilion-lacquered bridge at the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vancouver Nonsense

So, I'm in Tokyo right now and I LOVE IT SO MUCH, but I'm posting this Vancouver post now because I thought I should be a safe distance from Canadian immigrations when I do.

Just kidding. But seriously.

I took my little puddle-jumper flight from Oregon to Vancouver, and all was well, and then I got to immigration at Vancouver airport. . .


The customs lady asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Canada, and I was like, "Just going to look around the city a bit," and she was like:

"You look around ze city? What is zis tomfoolery."
And then she scrawled red all over my card and handed me off to immigration police.

Um, excuse you? What part of that was suspicious. It's called tourism. You go to a random city, you look around it, and then you leave. I even showed her my connecting flight info to Tokyo so she wouldn't think I was going to run away to the badlands and put down roots and become an illegal Canadian bush-tracker or whatever people do there.

Clearly I looked like I was all about becoming a Canadian bush-tracker, though, because I was herded into this icky back room and was told to wait in line with about twenty other people who all looked very confused or frightened or drug-smuggler-y.

And then I waited. And these immigration people are the slowest everrrrr. Partly because of the people they had to talk to. Here is a selection of the exchanges I eavesdropped on for your reading pleasure:

Exchange 1

Customs Lady: "You have meat in your suitcase. Like, nasty raw meat in vacuum packaging. This is illegal."

Meatpacking Lady: "Oh."

Exchange 2

Customs Dude: "So, you'll be able to go to your sister's wedding. . . "

Everyone eavesdropping:


". . . and then someone will be there to arrest you."

Exchange 3

Customs Lady: "Sooooo, you don't actually HAVE a visa, and your application for studying here was denied, but you came anyway?"

Taiwanese girls: *nod excitedly*

Customs Lady: "D'you understand why this is a problem?"

Taiwanese girls: *nod excitedly*

Customs Lady: "We're going to have to send you home."

Taiwanese girls: *nod excitedly*

Exchange 4

Customs Lady: "How much money do you make each year."

Lady-with-Big-Hair: "Excuse me? What is this about?"

Customs Lady: "Are you going to answer the question, ma'am? Answer the question! I'm allowed to ask you whatever I want. Answer the questionnnnn!!!"

(Uh, maybe don't let the immense power of being a tourist checker at the Vancouver airport go to your head.)

Exchange 5

Customs Dude: "Why are you in Canada?"

Lady: "Ummmmm. Uhhhh. Hahahaha!"

Customs Dude: "But why?"

Lady: "Oh, you know, hahahaha, giggle."

Customs Dude: "You are making me very angry. See these confused and/or drug-smuggler-y people in that line? You're making them angry, too."

Lady: "I know, yeah, sorry, sorry, what was the question?"

CD: "Whyyyyyy are you herrrrrrreeeeeeeee?"

Lady: "Ohhhhh, hahaha, lolololol."

CD: "Ok, I'm leaving until you can give me a straight answer."

Lady: "K lulz."

Everyone in line: "NO PLEASE COME BACK!"

CD: *returns half an hour later* "Are you ready to talk to me?"

Lady: "Yes. I'm going to Yellowstone National Park. On a bus."

(Why could you not have said this half an hour ago? It is a mystery.)

CD: "Yellowstone, huh? Are you traveling alone? Is someone picking you up outside the airport?"

Lady: "Yeah. His name's John."

CD: "John who?"

Lady: "Actually Bob."

CD: "What?"

Lady: "I'm being picked up by Bob."

CD: "Bob who?"

Lady: "Ummmmm, uhhh, just Bob- "


Lady: "La-di-da." *fiddles with phone*

*repeat ad nauseam for another half hour*

CD: "Ok, you can go." *stamps passport*

Lady: "Huzzah!"

And then it was ten other people's turn.

I had a book with me, and it was a really trashy crime thriller that I subsequently actually trashed, and the immigration police people were like, "What is that kid doing READING BOOKS IN SCARY ROOM FULL OF POLICE OFFICERS THIS IS AGAINST THE RULES OF INTIMIDATION" because everyone else was nervously twiddling their thumbs.

I was terrified, too, because what if I were actually a criminal and just never realized? but books are very comforting, even trashy crime thrillers, and I highly recommend having one with you for emergencies.

Eventually it was my turn and they asked me all the same questions Miss Suspicious asked at the customs desk, and then they went and phoned someone.

CD: "Ok, follow me."

Me: I will die now. They take me to be executed on grounds of visiting Vancouver without a particularly pressing reason.

Customs Dude took me to a door that said exit.

Me: "Are you kidding?"

CD: "I am not. Bye."

And then I left, and I hated all of their guts for about ten minutes while I found a taxi.

So much gut-hating going on.
Because seriously what was up with thaaaaat? The only other people in that room were obviously foreign ones, which is something called racial profiling if I'm not mistaken, and I'm wondering if maybe she pulled me out because I said I lived in Switzerland; but the thing is I speak fairly regular bubblegum American, and my passport is a standard US one, and so WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

Whatever. It was an experience. And I thought it was interesting to see how people only follow laws if a) it's convenient for them and doesn't interfere with their plans, or b) the penalties are suitably scary. Also, c) if they're actually aware of the laws, which is not a given because some people make up laws like it's THEIR JOB, resulting in quite a lot of laws that no one has any clue even exist.

So meatpacking lady was probably like "Uh, hello, I want nasty vacuum packed meat in my suitcase, so off I go," and she did, and I have no doubt that many, many people run through security with all sorts of junk, and customs pick out the stereotypes and act like it proves a point when really it just proves that people are human and prone to doing whatever suits them.

So. I hope they were super disappointed that I was just a silly book-reading tourist and it wasn't an elaborate cover up for my sinister Swiss ways.

I escaped the airport and the rest was great, and I really don't want to imply that I think less of Canada for this experience, because everyone I met *outside* of the airport was really polite and friendly and all-round-jolly-good. Vancouver was nice, and there were cruise-ships, and my hotel had curtains that open and close via button-pushing, so I was well-entertained.

Tokyo in a different post. Byeee! :)