Payday & Potluck

I decided to attempt to use the time delay feature on my rice maker for the first time. I wanted to serve my curry chicken over rice, but knew I wouldn’t have time to wait for it to cook after getting home from work. At the church potluck, I had assumed there would be a big pot of rice to go with the dishes, but that ended up not being the case. My dish was ok without rice but would be much better with. I pressed a button until my screen read 10; I hoped that this meant that the rice maker would come on 10 hours later, at 5:30. Only time would tell!

The bus pulled away at 8:03 for the second time in a row, I was convinced that someone would be losing their job over this fiasco! I wondered if the bus snafu would be featured that night on the news. Once I was at work, I spun down the large cultures of the slow growing bacteria for another try at purifying histone H4. The complexes that had hopefully been forming overnight were also due for a spin in the centrifuge, followed by an enzyme treatment. I was still waiting to receive the materials needed to make a different kind of column, called a size-exclusion column, in order to purify these complexes away from the proteins that did not associate. I spent the morning back in my noisy alcove, breaking open the latest batch of cells. While these cells were taking yet another spin in the centrifuge, I had lunch. Rather than getting another hot lunch that I had already tried before, I opted for a set of sushi rolls, along with inari sushi, little bags made out of deep fried tofu which were filled with rice. I also had some udon noodles topped with beef as well as grapefruit juice to drink. By 12:30, I was back on the 8th floor, sonicating my cells once again.

I had to cut this particular session short, though, since I was supposed to meet with a student at 1 pm. One of the medical doctors in our group, a cardiologist, wanted me to meet with one of his students each week so that I could learn what they are doing and, (more importantly, I suspected) so they could practice presenting their research in English. I talked with this particular student for about 40 minutes, and then returned to my alcove.

When I had finished with the cells and had them safely stirring in the cold room, the secretary stopped by with my first paycheck stub. Now that I had more than 1000 yen in the bank, it was time that I found out how to withdraw it. I asked Kiyoe if she would show me how to use the cash station, since I wasn’t convinced that it would be in English. After all, I hadn’t seen any English on the one I had used to pay the rent the first time. We went to the main entrance of the hospital, where my bank had a cash station. Sure enough, I did not see any English on the screen! We went through the process of which buttons I should press, with me taking careful notes. However, after I had pressed the last button, nothing happened! The screen then went to a new view, this time it had a button to press for English. I went through the whole process again, using the English buttons as I tried to withdraw 10,000 yen. The final screen said some English words that I did understand- “Insufficient Funds”.

Kiyoe was a little suspicious. I had opened the account at the bank because the university said it was too late to deposit the money at the Post Office, she wondered if they had indeed been able to deposit it there anyway but had failed to tell me. My check stub made no mention of where the money had been deposited. We walked down the hall to the Post Office and I used the machine there. This machine was even easier than the bank’s- it had a button for English right from the start and then proceeded to speak to me in English during my transaction. I tried withdrawing 10,000 yen again, knowing that I had only opened the account with 1,000 in it. Sure enough, the machine dispensed the cash and gave me a receipt with my account balance, which was exactly 9,000 yen less than what my pay stub read.

The materials that I needed to make my size-exclusion column were waiting for me when I returned, but Kiyoe had to hunt for a while to find the glass tube I would use as well as a plastic piece I needed in order to pour the material into the tube. As I read the instructions, it was going to be at least 3 hours of preparation time, not to mention the actual experiment, to get this column going. Since it was after 4 pm already, I decided to wait and to pour the column later. My sample could wait in the cold room until I was able to assemble the column.

I left on the 5:55 bus so I could get home and finish preparing my dish for the “Konnichi wa” potluck. As I walked into the house, I thought that I smelled rice cooking. My rice maker had come through for me after all! I spread the rice out on a large platter and covered it with the chicken, which I had warmed in the microwave, then I set out for my class. The platter proved to be quite heavy, I was hoping that my dish went over well- if only to ensure that it would be much lighter on the walk home.

There was quite a spread assembled that evening! About 15 of us gathered for the class: six foreigners and the rest Japanese. In addition to myself, being the lone American once again, there was a British man, a man from China, a Taiwanese girl, and a lady, along with her young daughter, who were from Korea. We all sat around a big table, with the food in the middle. In addition to the Japanese food (gyoza, sushi, shrimp in a red sauce, minced chicken, eggplant salad, etc.) there was also Korean kimchi and gim bahp (the Korean version of sushi rolls), as well as my Indian dish, of course. Once again it received rave reviews, especially from the women, who couldn’t believe that a man could actually cook. Five of the women even took their picture with me, and I promised to write down the recipe and share it with them. I now had the reputation in Japan of being a marvelous cook, and would have to live up to high expectations if we had future potlucks. There was so much food; everyone got a small bento box of leftovers to take home. The lady that was one of my teachers the first time I had come to class fixed a box for me. Since it was completely empty, my platter was much lighter on the way back home.

When I got home, I decided to do some of the household chores early instead of waiting until Saturday or Sunday. I did a load of laundry and washed all the dishes, finally going to bed sometime after 11.

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