6:24am: “Hey, you up yet?”

6:37am: “I said: ARE YOU UP?”

6:42am: “Yo, it’s like totally daylight out there! get up!”

6:45am: “Don’t mind me, I’ll be jumping up and down around the room until you get up.”

6:46am: “Oh, cool, you’re up. Let’s have breakie!”

6:52am: “Hmn, more breakie?”

6:54am: “Wow, that was nice. You should eat more, you look a bit peaky.”

[…]

8:23am: “Get the fuck AWAY FROM ME. You sweaty disgusting mess. I’ll cut you.”

9:07am: “So… you thinking of going soon? ‘Cause we would kinda like the house to ourselves.”

[…]

11:54pm: “You call THAT a time to get home?”

11:55pm: “I don’t give a rat’s arse about your boring day at work. DINNER. NOW.”

11:59pm: “Oh, you’re still here…”

[…]

3:03am: “Hey, you asleep yet?”

3:05am: “HEY!”

[…]

I am stuck in an abusive relationship with two sociopathic cats.

  1. Buying a (simple) wristwatch is surprisingly difficult in the year 2014. Quite like pocket calculators and rotary phones, wristwatches have become the province of obsolete Forbes-reading execs… and people with a test to take. If you are between 25 and 60 and still own a wristwatch, you have a serious hoarding problem. Amazingly, even 100en stores do not sell these any more.
  2. The wristwatch is not really optional for the JLPT. Since I knew I would be short on time anyway, I figured I could wing it without one, and just go through as many questions as fast as I could. As it turns out, not only aren’t there any clock in the exam room, but the proctors make a point not to give any 5-minute warning before the time runs out (it’s in the test instructions). The first you hear of their voice, is to tell you to drop your pencil right this second (under penalty of elimination). This is how one ends up with over a dozen blank answers in their final sheet (where filling at random would have guaranteed at least a couple points).
  3. One can always make oneself feel better by telling oneself that they are not there to get the JLPT through cheap tricks and strategising. I’m still getting a wristwatch for next time.

I know, I already did this title, but bear with me: I only have a limited number of topical literary references.

There might be other ways to get as violent a shock, for less than 100 euros and 90 minutes, than flying straight from the French Riviera to Berlin, but I suspect they would have to involve a taser and a few thousand volts.

Juan-les-Pins has the permanently warm weather, magnificent Van Goghian sunlight and a few breathtaking coastal sights to help temperate its insufferably posh botoxed denizens, whose main occupation involves sitting motionless (on a yacht, in a convertible, at an overpriced beachside café)…

Arm-aber-sexy Berlin just does not give a fuck what you think of its constantly gray weather or the fact that its entire public transportation infrastructure costs less than the cheapest boat in Port Vauban.

Since the beginning of the month, I have been enjoying my hard-earned unemployment (technically: the long-programmed end of my two year post-doc fellowship) by travelling around Europe, visiting friends, family and new locales. I literally cannot remember the last time I had an entire month off (it would have to be at least 5 years ago, before that stint in indentured servitude commonly known as “PhD”) and the only downside is the incredible speed at which it has flown by so far. I must also work very hard at reminding myself that regular life, whether in Europe or Japan, does not usually entail spending days on end lounging by a pool overlooking the lush mountainous French countryside, evenings eating cheese and sausages bought fresh from the village market and a casual hop to the next region/city/country by plane, train or car, every couple days… But it’s nice to know that it’s there, were I to relocate westwards one day.

Featuring: sun, south, mediterranean sea, wine, more wine, wine&cheese, wine&sausage, dessert wine, mountain wine, Paris, Catalunya, Lozère, Côte d’Azur, Berlin, TGV, speed boat, airplane…

Not featuring: awesome clubs, DJing and miscellaneous moments of fleeting debauchery, because don’t we all have enough of that in our lives. Also because (good) Berlin clubs are still awesomely against any mobile-phone use indoors (anyway: if you really need to post a picture of your night out, you obviously aren’t having enough fun when it occurs).

Ukip in Britain, Front National in France, and a similar array of smiling europhobic racists and neo-fascists in Denmark, Austria and Hungary

In most cases (except perhaps the UK, who really just doesn’t get that whole EU thing): because people just can’t be arsed enough to cast a serious vote, or cast a vote at all, at EU elections, and would rather “send a message” to their respective local governments by voting for the looniest candidate with a populist slant they like. Even if that means fucking up one of the only political entity that can truly make a positive mark on their lives in the coming decades.

Way to go, people.