Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Best moments of 2015

2015 marked the year where I turned back to Seattle after more than 2 years in Yokohama. I REALLY liked my workplace and co-workers, but there just wasn't any sense of progression in having large groups of students practice English for 50 measly minutes a week. Now that I've had most of a year to reflect, I am still glad I came back. I surely miss my Japanese life for having a salary where I could eat good quality food, the ability to take a train just about everywhere, and the relationships I'd started with friends there. The letdowns can come in another post: this is supposed to be highlights!

One of the coolest experiences was my parents visiting me in Japan. It was so cool to show off my familiarity with the language and culture, and guide them around. Boy did I harrow those two around in order to avoid waiting for the next train. Also, I never realized how many stairs there are in the country!

Spring: Reconnecting with Korea was pretty awesome. I had a half-day layover in Seoul, and met a friend for a couple hours, while enjoying how clean and modern of a city it is. A week after I got back, I went back to work for Kaplan, the school I had taught ESL at for almost 4 years. I've been very fortunate to work pretty much when I want to, and having adult students with life experiences I could talk to was such a contrasted difference to teaching teens in Japan.

Over the summer, I headed east. On that trip, my good friend Wil in Connecticut took me to see a navy base, and in Baltimore, My mom and pop treated me to a top-notch Brazilian buffet. For the second half of the trip, I went to the casino with my mom, and saw my grandfather for the last time. 

Booth babes are like if this girl were selling hotdogs.

The summer also came to a thrilling conclusion with PAX - the Penny Arcade eXpo. I'd been to two Tokyo Gameshows, and even a hands-on Japanese gaming convention called Tokaigi earlier this year. But PAX is just way cooler. Japanese people don't socialize the same way, strangers don't talk. You can have 10,000 people in the Makuhari Messe, and it will still be quiet enough to talk slightly above your normal speaking voice. PAX is also more spread out, and has discussions, lots of tournaments, and is 4 days long. Tokyo Game Show has better booth babes - some politically-correct American decided that you had to be somewhat knowledgable about your product to promote it, essentially ending booth babehood. I liked the distraction, but I also see how using a sexy babe to promote Tetris is kind of silly. 

Somewhere in the summer was news that Final Fantasy VII is getting a remake. A few weeks later,  there was a breathtaking demo of this most beloved games of all time getting a 20-year facelift. I am not sure when it's coming out, and have shelled out $15 to get the PC-cum-PS4 version of the 1997 masterpiece. I am aiming to process the story as a whole on this 6th-or-7th journey through the game.

Halloween this year was probably the most fun I've had on the holiday since I was a kid, when I used to trick-or-treat with my friends. I went out dancing two nights around that holiday, and my girlfriend and I made some new memories. Both nights, I saw live funk and shook my ass, and never even thought about trick-or-treating! I'd been in Japan for the last 3 Halloweens, and it just isn't the same if you don't know anyone.

As the event coordinator at Kaplan, I had some victories in planning and leading an academic activity called the Vocabulary Olympics. It's a series of vocabulary games where classes get mixed up and put into teams to do rounds of challenges like spelling, define-the-word, and put-this-word-in-that-sentence. I also had a fantastic Halloween and Thanksgiving party, which is a feat to coordinate 250 people.

The Star Wars premiere at IMAX was quite awesome. I cheated, and snuck into line to stand with Chad, who'd been waiting for 6 hours at that point. When we were let into the auditorium, our dozen-member group took seats close to some reserved seats. 10 minutes before the show, the manager of the theater thanked us and had the usual under-your-seat prize giveaway. The guest turned out to be Seahawks defense man Michael Bennett, who shook hands on his way to his seat, after grabbing the mic for a minute and getting us riled up about both the Seahawks and The Force Awakens. I really liked the movie, and was thrilled to be such a part of a great moment of nerd history.

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