Things I Do Here That I Didn’t Do There

In Japan:

  • Ride a bike around town
  • Speak Japanese in public; study it on the train
  • Eat aloe yogurt and sausage rolls for breakfast; tempura udon soup for lunch; a negitoro onigiri for snack; nikkujaga for dinner
  • Buy, at the grocery store, dashi, mirin, sake, konbu, and ebisen
  • Field frequent molestation attempts at the tiny hands of children
  • Take off my shoes when entering a room or a home
  • Suck green tea through my pores
  • Drink beer on the train, in front of temples, on the street
  • Wear a size 22 shoe
  • Wake to the sounds of the grilled sweet potato vendor.  焼き...いも...焼き...いも。。。
  • Go to sleep as my friends back home were waking up

In Ireland:

  • Rely on a double-decker bus to get around town
  • Respond to “Are you all right, there?” with “I’m grand, thanks”
  • Eat Flahavan’s porridge for breakfast; a Hanley’s Cornish pastie for lunch; Jaffa Cakes for a snack; baked Irish salmon for dinner.
  • Buy, at the butcher shop, lamb chops and bright orange Irish salmon fillets
  • Wear a size 3 shoe
  • Drink black tea like it was going out of style
  • Dodge fat black conkers on the sidewalk
  • Play with my one-eyed feline friend, Patch
  • Spend my days in the birthplace of Oscar Wilde; expecting genius to rub off
  • Wake to the sounds of birds; say goodnight to the swans on the Grand Canal on a walk home from the pub

In Italy:

  • Drive myself around; a big hearty vaffanculo to Italian drivers
  • Speak Italian all day long; swear in English in fits of road rage
  • Eat a cornetto for breakfast; pappardelle con burro e parmigiano for lunch; supplì for a snack; fiori di zucca fritte and prosciutto for dinner
  • Buy, at the grocery store, wine, parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto, anchovy fillets, cavolo romano, cornetti
  • Wake to the sounds of a screaming toddler and packs of angry stray dogs
  • Walk alongside the beach; gaze at the mountains; fill empty passata bottles with shells
  • Kiss on both cheeks to say hello
  • Write my novel at a caffe
  • Wear a size 35 shoe
  • Take the train to Rome once a week
  • Lie about my living situation to avoid small town gossip and creeps
  • Drink wine without hangovers; a mystery
  • Walk past Roman ruins on my way home

Things I do no matter where I am:

  • Say hello to cats and dogs. All cats and dogs.
  • Sing in the shower. Every morning.
  • Get hard at the thought of Duran Duran, Archie comics, monkeys, karaoke, a cosmetics department, a bottle of perfume, my next meal.
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving. Every year. Turkey or no.
  • Write in English. Every day.

31 Replies to “Things I Do Here That I Didn’t Do There”

  1. What a fun post 🙂 I like saying hello to cats and dogs too… and birds.

    1. “Why, hello, Puss. How are you today?” *meow*

  2. I am surprised Japan didn’t including eating Pigeon! Great idea for a post.

    Take care, Si

    1. Thanks, Simon! I should have included “eating organ meat” under the Japan section; no pigeons, but should I ever make it to Egypt, they’re the first thing on my list!

  3. Oh man, it took me 3 years to finally come to terms with the grilled sweet potato vendor. It used to drive me crazy on mornings when I had a hangover… but by the end I used to get as excited as if it was the ice cream truck.
    Never felt that way about the campaign vans blaring out “vote for me” messages, though.

  4. Things I would do if I lived in Italy:

    -Buy an extremely brightly colored Invicta backpack.
    -Drive around Rome in a motorino like Nanni Moretti.
    -Go to Venice when there’s Acqua Alta yet this time with giant rain boots.
    -Gain a ton of weight.

    1. You want an Invicta backpack? It can be arranged.

      1. Great post. I was told that the no-hangover phenomenon can be explained by the lack of sulfates in Italian wines.

        (I can still hear the sweet potato vendor song in my head.)

        1. Me, too, Matt. Me, too.

  5. This was a very bright idea for a post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each section. The pictures to help visualize the story you told- divine.

    1. Thank you, mija.

  6. I especially love the changes in food, shoe size, and transportation between each country. Here in Bishkek I eat boiled mutton with noodles, I have wide feet, and I get around in beat-up shared vans that have the insides completely torn out and cost the equivalent of about 17 cents.

    1. In Japan, I wore a “large” for anything I wore below the waist. I weigh 95 pounds. Playa say whaaaaat???

  7. Enjoyed this post and notified a few friends !


    1. Thanks, Mike! I appreciate it.

  8. Great stuff, I can relate to how habits change dramatically when moving between countries.

    1. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s the real life or if it’s just fantasy.

  9. Thanks but that may not be necessary as movements in that direction will soon be underway…

    Another thing I’d do: always make sure I had some Pocket Coffees handy for that mid-afternoon lull.

  10. Love this. And that is all.

    1. Thank you, Mara! 😀

  11. What a fun post, especially the food part 🙂

    1. My thoughts are never far from food… *slurp*

  12. Oh, I really love this idea. It gives such a great snapshot of each place. Love it!

    1. Thank you, Megan! It’s all about the food….

  13. I stumbled upon your blog while trying to make a plan to unchain myself from my desk. I read at least a year and half worth of your very enjoyable words today. I feel a tad inspired. Perhaps smitten. Smitten? Screw it. I’m sticking with the word. Damn Valentine’s Day commercials…

    Anyway. Thank you. I look forward to reading more from you.

    1. My word! That is very flattering. Thank you – I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog!

      1. You’re very welcome! I’m captivated enough that I even started following you on Twitter. It’s not cyber-stalking. It’s electronically admiring a gifted word slinger.

  14. I love this post! I only say hello to dogs, never to cats. Not a cat person…

  15. I stumbled across this because of the cats and dogs thing. I often find when I get home that I have more photos of the local cats and dogs than of the actual local people. Perhaps I’m too shy to talk to the real people? Or sometimes the cats and dogs are just in less of a hurry. Great post!

  16. It’s really hard to “unchain” yourself from the desk (as some of the previous bloggers said). However, once you find a small (but enought) source of income you can do it.It just requires discipline and desire

  17. Love it! It is so beautiful to watch with amazement the amount of talent bursting forth from you! We are so happy for you — reading your works makes us even happier.

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