Saturday, January 30, 2010


Whew, I made it! Only a few more hours for me to write an entry for this week and stick to that resolution...

So, I managed to get sick again. One of the English teachers at O. Junior High told me her throat was sore last week, this Monday I felt the tickle in my throat, and by Wednesday I had a full blown frog in my throat. Demon-frog maybe, from the way I sound... Weird part is, that's really all that's wrong. Sometimes I get bad headaches or feel exhausted, but I think that's just a normal part of life now. So I haven't missed any work or anything, which is kinda fun because EVERYONE has been commenting on the way I sound. The students, the English teachers, the other teachers...even shy O-Sensei who literally runs in the other direction whenever I attempt to say "hi" to him.

Hoping this goes away soon, since I'll be rotating to B. Junior High on Monday. They haven't seen me for a couple months, and sounding like a creature from the abyss isn't really the impression I want to make.

We had the obligatory work new year's party last night with the Board of Education. This is a typical yearly work party, called a "shinnenkai" in Japanese. You pay a bunch of money, eat lots of food, and drink a lot. Usually people get quite drunk at these things, and it's okay because the slate is wiped clean at work come Monday. It really kind of is "what happens at the enkai, stays at the enkai." (Enkai is the general term for these work parties.) Anyway, I wasn't drinking much since I didn't think that would help my throat. I didn't really even want to go to the party to begin with, but by the end I was glad I went. One of the highlights was teaching some of our BOE co-workers how to do strange hand things (like where you twist your palms together and wiggle your middle fingers, or when you make it look like you've pulled the tip of your thumb off...I'm not sure that makes sense. I don't really know how to explain what I'm talking about...), which then devolved into making animals noises. One of our more intoxicated co-workers tried to mimic all the sounds we AETs made (since of course as trained English-speaking monkeys, we were the ones leading the animal-noise cavalry). When he tried to do the elephant noise he puffed his cheeks out and...I don't know. It was just hilarious. And then he showed us a picture of his son on his cell phone, and took his own glasses off his face and put them up to his son's face on the phone screen to show how much they looked alike... Haha, it was good times. And then when we left, one of our supervisors told us to be safe on the way home so that we wouldn't "get touched by boys." Direct quote.

Ah, yes. Life in Japan. And those are the most recent adventures in the past week of my life. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Second week in a row!

Of sticking to my resolution, that is. Woot!

Not much of note today, except that it was unseasonably warm. Like, I rode-my-bike-home-with-only-a-cardigan-as-protection-from-the-elements unseasonably warm. It felt like spring was here! It's not (unless global warming has a fun surprise for us), which will make it that much more depressing when it gets cold again...

Still, I got the spring crazies when I was riding my bike home with Ash and Fig today. Since spring in Phoenix was never really a drastic change of season, I didn't experience the spring crazies until I got to New York. I remember the first spring at Colgate was really very bizarre! That day when the snow was melted and the sun was out, I would go outside in a skirt expecting it to be warm...but it wasn't. Silly Arizonan! But when spring actually was in the air, and it was warm enough to take blankets outside and read in the tepid outdoors (it was getting close to warm, but it wasn't quite there yet)...I don't know how to describe it. Just this sort of happy-for-no-reason feeling, like "Yay, life is good! I can go outside! Everything rocks!" And that is what I call the spring crazies. That's what the warm weather made me do today. After our AET library visit (with a record low of only 2 kid attendees...doing the hokey pokey with that few people is really a bit awkward) the three of us AETs were riding downtown to do a bit of grocery shopping. While going high-speed downhill on my Jessica Fletcher bike I hit a particularly nasty bump and my water bottle and snacks went rocketing up out of the basket into the great blue yonder (or green yonder, since they ended up in a bush). Thanks to the spring crazies, I had to stop my bike and laugh like a maniac while I gathered my belongings.

Oh spring, where art thou?! I'm excited for the cherry blossoms. Alas, I forget it's still January. But great things to look forward to! Friends from home visiting, parents visiting, a ski trip to Nagano, an onsen trip with the recently-arrived Santi, the beginning of the final season of Lost on February is good. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Well hello again!

Yeah, I suck. I was all excited about this great blog challenge thing, and then I more or less stopped writing entries only a month into the darn thing. Since then, I have turned 23, spent my first Christmas away from family and old friends (but with new ones instead!), and rang in 2010 Japan-style. Which is way different from America-style, by the way! Maybe more on that in a later entry.

And seeing as it's a new year (Year of the Tiger! My year, y'all!), I figured I should make some of those resolutions that are invariably doomed to fail. I won't bore you with the complete litany...just the one that is related to this! Instead of my original goal of 3 entries a week back when I started this thing, I'm going to for one. I know, way to aim high, right? :-) I'm thinking baby steps is the way to go this time, though... Maybe shorter entries, more often. If anyone even reads this?! Um, ha ha...

Back to work after a week-ish of break was tough. I didn't think it would be as tough as it was! The cold weather probably doesn't help. And yeah, it doesn't really snow in Kyotanabe, yada yada yada, but it is COLD. This humidity stuff sucks! (And if it did snow here, I would be having words with someone about riding my bike to work in it. I have enough issues when it rains. Or even when it's sunny! The bike and I are not really friends.) But today! Just one amusing tale from my day at work. So I'm back at the middle school where people are very nice, but we get a ton of work. I often end up staying late, which I know isn't a big deal in most people's jobs, but I get irritated...riding a bike home for half an hour in the dark is not my favorite thing. They'll tell you Japan is sooooo safe, but I'm not quite convinced... Anyway, today in class I was playing a Jeopardy-style review game with my 8th graders. One of the questions in the trivia category was to name four countries where English is spoken. This might surprise you (or then again maybe not), but this was TOUGH for them! They could get America, but it was what came after that that troubled me.

One Kid: America. Australia. China. ((thinks some more))
Me: ((blinks)) Um, no. In China, they speak Chinese. Good try though.
Kid: Oh, that's right...

Another Kid: America. Australia. Igirisu. (<--- Japanese for "England")
Me: But what is "igirisu" in English?
Kid: You mean that's not English?!
Me: ((headdesk))

Yet Another Kid: America. Mexic---
Me: NO!!!

After awhile I just got a little slap-happy and was able to laugh at the lack of geographical/linguistic knowledge and take it in stride... See, when my elementary school kids do stuff like this, it's okay! It's cute! They're in second grade! But 8th and 9th graders? A little more worrisome. Times like this it really hits me that Japan is still a pretty insular country, despite globalization and all these people like me they bring in for internationalization.

On a more "WIN!" note, though, in a dialogue-making activity with the 9th graders today I included "yep" as slang for "yes" on their word list. I didn't really draw that much attention to it, but most of the kids decided to try to use it in the dialogues they presented to me!!! Small victories people, small victories. :)