Through the sleepless nights, and every endless day. I’d wanna hear you say, I remember you.
Yokohama, Japan Japanese mosquitos are a unique breed. They strike like ninjas in the night. You won’t know they’ve attacked until they have flown away to safety. Their bite is painless. You could watch them land on you, and go in for the kill, and still feel nothing. But don’t let that small nicety fool you; their bites swell like nothing you’ve seen before, and can blemish your skin for months after the cunt has likely laid her eggs and died. They are beasts. They are monsters. And they cannot be stopped! And their buzzing! Their incessant buzzing keeps me from any semblance of sleep I might be awarded in the night. The neon lights in my apartment fry my brain as I desperately attempt to hunt the vile succubus and hurl an exercise ball at her for a much more dramatic splat. The pitcher in me never misses, but the problem is tracking down the Blood Queen’s hiding place. This is a process that can sometimes take all night, and definitely not something you want to be doing the night before your 6AM departure to yet another Asia League game in Yokohama…
All the way to Yokohama I could think about only one thing – STARBUCKS! Asia brings out the coffee drinker in me, and, trust me, I’ve never been known to drink it at home – ever! But, boy, do I drink it here! I suppose it was inevitable that I would need to find a Rockstar replacement eventually, even though you can actually get Rockstars here. Unfortunately, they are the size of a Redbull, and are only available in the original flavour, though, so I’m not such a fan!
Anyway, I had a game plan in my head all visualized for when I pulled up to the Skate Center for the second time this month. I knew exactly how many blocks away the Starbucks was, and how to get there. I went on foot, despite the pissing rain that had accompanied me on my entire drive down, which by the way, was a full on flood by the time the Free Blades/High1 game let out! I felt a strange sense of deja vu as I wandered past the big city buildings of Yokohama to the sanctity of my Gingerbread Latte, and it occurred to me that I could have been in Philadelphia or Chicago, and wouldn’t have even noticed the difference. I gasped when I realized that I actually had a pre-game routine again, and it felt pretty good, actually. I think my relationship with the Asia League just went to the next level!
A couple hits of caffeine later, and the puck was ready to drop in the Shin Yokohama Skate Center. High1 was Halla’s opposition at my first ever Asia League game last season in Korea, so I was greatly looking forward to seeing some good looking Korean men again! It’s true what they say – you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone! Of course, the downside of that was that the presence of the Koreans threw me right back into Korean-mode, which is something I’ve been struggling with for the last 5 and a half months. I think the reason I have a more difficult time picking up Japanese is because my natural response is to want to speak Korean, and in that split second that my brain needs to throw out the Korean word and try to remember the Japanese word, I lose all confidence in my delivery! Ahhh Shibal!! Oops… there I go again.
I also found myself reflecting on the two lives that I have led in both countries, and their differences. The two countries are like night and day, and my personal experiences in them equally polarized. I definitely had a lot more “fun” in Korea, but I was also miserable. In Japan I lead a very wholesome and mundane life, and yet I am contented – the car probably has something to do with that. Although I consider Japan a much more global country, Korea is definitely much more Americanized. At the game they even put their hand over their heart for their national anthem just like the Americans. I will say, though, that I wish I still lived in a country that didn’t make peanut butter an endangered commodity – for when the mood strikes, you know! And I wish my cab fares were still only $2!!!
The layout at the rink was different this time! The glass seats were gone (shucks!) and so was half the crowd. I guess they needed more seats to accommodate the “special event” crowd two weeks before. I was banished off to the side in the High1 end zone where I met a family of crazy New York Rangers fans. And get this, of all the players to get on the back of their jersey they picked Psycho Lady Hockey favourite, Sean Avery! Yes, Sean Avery!
It was kind of an interesting story about that jersey, too! It was purchased directly from the NYR mothership at Madison Square Garden during the couple’s honeymoon! Hmm NHL-themed honeymoon?!? Doesn’t sound like a bad idea. The little guy’s jersey was obviously purchased at another time, as a “web order” so I was told. I don’t know what it is about a Rangers jersey, but they make every kid look absolutely adorable, and that goes for Kitchener, too! I spent most of the second and third period helping him use the noise-maker-fan-thing they gave out at the game, “Wow! Sugoi! Good job!” Then he gave me some cookies.
Well, the Free Blades finally won a game in my presence, which meant that I wasn’t horribly shamed in my new Tohoku jersey! Reebok was sponsoring the event, and they had a booth set up and a ridiculous sale going! The jerseys were going for 3,900 yen reduced from 12,000!! I may have purchased more than one… Guess what you’re getting for Christmas, Uncle Rob!?
After the game the post game traditions took effect. I ran into the 7-Eleven next to the rink to take out cash in case the parking was even more ridiculous than it was two weeks before. Then I had my usual death ride back through Tokyo and the Roppongi district on a Saturday night to look forward to. By the time I reached Tokyo the storm had taken on typhoon like qualities. Broken umbrellas lay helpless all over the streets and sidewalks. During this treacherous commute through the big city, The Wombat’s Tokyo came on my iPod. I always love it when my music syncs up with my life.
Again, after I knew I had survived the concrete jungle that is Tokyo, I celebrated with the traditional Big and Hot in the back of the KFC parking lot. Relax, it’s not what you think (though I wish it was!!!!). It’s just some silly sandwich that I’m not even sure if I like all that much, but by the time my stomach has declared that it won’t wait for dinner any longer, the KFC is the first thing that shows up on my side of Route 6! It’s like clockwork!
By the time I made it home, it wasn’t all that late, but I was dying for sleep. As a former hockey road trip junky and insomniac, sleep has become something I’ve learned to appreciate. However, living next to a train station, near an air force base, and in a country where decent sized earthquakes hit by the hour, sleep is not something that can be taken for granted. Of course, by the time I turned the lights out, and my weary head hit the pillow, a blood-thirsty whore began buzzing in my ear. She is now a menacing red smear on my wall, which I have decided to leave there to send a message to the others.
Countdown to the NHL Comeback: 24 days!