I must say that one of the great things about traveling alone is being able to improvise your own schedule without fear of holding anyone up, being held up by anyone, being dragged somewhere you don’t want to go, or dragging someone where they don’t want to go. I woke up at a reasonably early hour this morning and spent an hour perusing the audition links Rob Cooper was kind enough to forward me. I watched the Chloe‘s, Scott’s (aka Nash‘), and Tamara’s, and weighed in on my favorites. For what it’s worth. The final decision rests in Brad and Robert’s infinitely capable hands. Tonight or tomorrow, I’ll check out the Eli’s and Stasiak’s. As for Dr. Rush, I believe they already have someone in mind…
I should also make special mention of my unexpectedly vigorous work-out. I usually opt for a treadmill run, anywhere between a speed-walking 4.5 to a full-out-sprint 9 as a means of getting my heart rate up. So, today, I was just completing a minute at level 9 when I pressed the arrow key to drop my speed – only the machine malfunctioned and, instead of dropping my speed, it actually increased it to a full 10. Assuming I had pressed the wrong key, I tried again – which raised my speed to a breakneck 12.5! I’ve never run so fast in my life. I’m talking serial-killer-is-chasing-you fast! I had to hit the WALK key, manually enter my preferred speed, then confirm my choice before the machine finally dropped me down a much-appreciated 3.0 snail’s pace. Yes, I was almost killed. But on the bright side, I really worked up a good sweat.
Hey, this morning I bore witness to my very first traffic accident, albeit a minor one, when a dinky mini-van knocked over a vespa and sent its rider sprawling. The reactions (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) of both parties reflected a cultural and social mindset most unlike its Western counterpart. Instead of threats or insults, no words were exchanged. The driver of the vespa calmly picked himself up, righted his vehicle, and threw the driver of the mini-van a look that suggested his feelings had been hurt and he was sorely disappointed in the way things had turned out. The driver of the minivan, meanwhile, bowed his head in shame, almost shrinking down behind his dashboard and observed a moment of self-reflection before putting his vehicle in drive and motoring off.
So, yesterday, I had the opportunity to practice my Japanese. Today, it was French as I met up with two lovely Parisian travelers in Shinjuku. Benedicte and Claire are actually visiting from Singapore which has served as their home away from home for several months now. We connected online, then met up this afternoon at Shinjuku Station’s Eye of Shinjuku wall piece. The colored glass object d’art is one of many eye-catching works in this, the city’s bawdy district. Anyway, after spending the morning walking around snapping shots of bizarrely beautiful architecture, I met up with the ladies from France. Benedicte has a wonderful sense of humor. When she asked me what I did, I told her that I was a producer on a science fiction series: Stargate: Atlantis. She knew Atlantis, but admitted she’d never watched an episode. I suggested that after meeting me, that would change as she would no doubt check out the show now. No, she informed me, deadpan – Probably not. Claire was very quiet at first but opened up considerably when we started discussing food. She practiced her English; I practiced my French.
We went to the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building and checked out the view, then caught a cab to the Park Hyatt (MY home away from home on my last visit here two years ago) and enjoyed a plethora of wonderful desserts at the Girandole café. The girls found my love of pastries endlessly amusing. Apparently, in France, it’s not a particularly manly obsession. We talked travel, they invited me to visit them in Singapore, and Benedicte told me about her visit to Norway where grass grows on the tops of houses and people have to mow their roofs (? – Or, at least that’s what I was able to gather from her rapidfire French). Then, it was off a nearby museum for them, back to the hotel for me in preparation for my dinner at Ryugin.
On my way in to the hotel, I stopped by a convenience store and picked up what appeared to be a tube of toothpaste. To be perfectly honest, even after using the stuff, I can’t say with all certainty that I haven’t been brushing my teeth with peppermint foot ointment.