sechan19: (anne)
[personal profile] sechan19
After a long and tumultuous flight across North America and the Pacific, I touched down in Narita Airport's Terminal 2 and began the process of getting home. I was seated in the back of the plane, which made take off really interesting because you can truly see the incline of the aircraft as it climbs to its cruising altitude—something I had never paid attention to before—from that position but also resulted in me being last for nearly everything: deplaning, immigration, baggage retrieval, customs. None of those things were problematic, however, and I was treated to an amusing Big-Brother-ish experience at immigration. Apparently, they make your foreign registration card on arrival now (instead of requiring people to go to their Ward Office to receive it), and they use the photographs that you supply in your Visa application—giving the impression that they knew I was coming and were waiting patiently for me.

Customs was a non-issue; I had nothing to declare, and I breezed through the checkpoint with barely a pause. My friend T. was waiting for me in the arrivals lounge. He took command of my largest piece of luggage and waited patiently while I withdrew money, purchased a new prepaid cellphone card, and reactivated my phone account. Then we made for the train station and went back to his place, where I struggled to stay awake for a few more hours to inform people that I'd made it safely before collapsing in exhaustion at 8pm.

The next day it was up and at 'em. My friend K. had set up an appointment for us to view a potentially desirable apartment at 11am, and T. needed to go into his office to do some work.

On the way to the station, which is a brisk twenty-minute walk from T.'s place, we chatted about various subjects before T. asked me to explain a concept he'd heard me mention once before in passing: Mercury Retrograde. Retrogrades are astrological phenomena (yes, I'm into astrology, deal with it) wherein a planet, by virtue of its position relative to the earth, appears to move backward along its orbital plane. When this happens, the planet is said to be retrograde and the elements of daily life that it influences are often stymied. Retrogrades occur at different intervals, depending on the length of the planet in question's revolution around the sun. Mercury goes retrograde 3-4 times a year, and—as it is the planet of communication—conversations, email exchanges, reservations, and so forth are likely to go subtly awry during these periods. For example, if you send an email message during Mercury Retrograde that never gets a reply, it's probably a good idea to send it again.

T. was fascinated by this explanation, his fascination due in no small part to the fact that it was nothing like what he expected it to be. T. thought that Mercury Retrograde was a term used to explain why we (in general, as Americans, I guess) are so fucked up—namely, that we absorbed too much mercury during our childhood (from thermometers or whatever) and that made us into low-functioning emotional idiots of some kind. He liked my explanation better, though, which is nice considering that it's accurate, and has decided to use Mercury Retrograde as his new excuse for everything. Forgot to respond to an email: Mercury was retrograde. Drank too much wine with dinner last night: Mercury was retrograde. Couldn't remember that Obi Wan Kenobi died in the original Star Wars: Mercury was retrograde.

As excuses go, it's not bad. Except for the part where Mercury is not actually retrograde at the moment. But in Japan, as elsewhere, it's best not to sweat the small stuff.

May 2014

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