I've been all over the place for the last few weeks, so I don't know where to start. I would start at the beginning, but linear thoughts are so overrated... Today is the big nyushi day or the entrance exam day. There are over 350 middle schoolers (the same age as American students who have just finished the 9th grade) here to take the entry test. Being a fairly high-level school, the test should be challenging and only about 280 of them will pass. The thing that stinks about the current construction at Nishiko (my school) is that I can't walk to the window and get a good look at my potential students this year. Today I had to show up early and I'm not allowed to leave.

Last night I went to the same English speaking doctor I visited this Summer when I was having really bad allergies. He's nice and he and his daughter who works there speak really good English. However, this summer, when I had a real problem, it seemed like I was expected to have diagnosed myself and then tell him what medicine I wanted. It was frustrating because this wasn't a normal allergy. My throat was swelling up inside. Luckily I got a recommendation from a nice Thai lady I met at the International Friendship Festival where I was volunteering. I went to the recommended internist who actually turned out to be the father of one of my students. He was nice, but all of the transactions were strictly in Japanese. The doctor didn't have a problem, but the receptionist made this "oh, crap" face when she saw me coming to the counter, and it didn't get much better even when I explained what I wanted and why I was there. The doctor ended up prescribing me four different kinds of medicines and steroids. Problem solved.

Anyway, last night, after waiting forever (I didn't make an appointment), I got in to see the doctor. I was there on a mission. I wanted to get anti-anxiety meds for the plane plus something for potential stomach problems during the Thailand trip. I had read in some online forums that benzos are handed out like candy here. So I went in with that in mind. I told the nurse who checked my blood pressure and then the doctor that I couldn't sleep lately. Upon hearing this the doctor decided that he wanted to practice his English conversation. "There are 3 kinds of sleeping problems. You sleep and wake up. You can't sleep at all. Or you can't sleep deeply. Which problem do you have?"

"Uh, I can't sleep at all. I just can't stop thinking about things."

That's technically not a lie. Sometimes that happens.

"Oh. Me too. At first I would listen to music. And when that stopped working, I started listening to foreign lanugage study cd's. How about this?"

Seeing where he was trying to direct this conversation, I said, "I live in Japan and study Japanese all the time, that's just another thing to think about. By the way, my friend recommended this medicine to me..." Then I got my paper out with the names of different drugs written on it. Seeing what I wanted, he said, "Ooooh, that's not bad at all. There are 3 doses, 2mg, 5mg and 10mg. Let's start you on 2 weeks of 5mg." Alright. Then I asked for some of the tummy meds. When we finished I paid my $10 and then went to get the meds with his daughter. That's what's great about visiting the doctor in Japan. The pharmacy is built in. We went to another floor for me to pick up the drugs. The woman brought the pills over and explained them and asked the girl to translate, but I understood. The stomach medicine seems fun. She said that they should only be taken when your diareah gets really bad. Then only take one pill at a time until it stops and then immediately stop taking the medicine.

I asked my hairdresser what I should drink when I go to Thailand. Apparently when she went a few years ago all she drank was beer (she was there on a three day visit) and she was fine. I don't think I could do that for a week.