Thursday, December 4, 2008


So... I’ve been here for 2 full months now... it feels longer because it’s been so packed with newness, etc. Well, it’s been a good two months. To be cliché, it’s been a good two months. And of course, I’m still adjusting to some things. So, here are a few:

- sorting my trash. Here, you sort all your trash between burnable garbage, plastics, and recyclables (glass and aluminum), put them in different specially marked bags that you buy at the supermarket, and then set them out to be picked up on the designated days of each. The guys tell me just try a little, but everyone mixes. Just don’t leave anything in your garbage with your address on it, or they’ll come pounding on your door to yell at you. Seriously.

- driving. I actually drove a car for the first time last weekend! Ah! Not only do they drive on the wrong :) side of the road, but I hadn’t driven anything in 2 months, and my car back home was a manual. :/ So I was kinda nervous. But then I started getting used to it. Not as bad as I thought it could be... of course, right hand turns is the worst. And I think I freaked out the people riding with me because I was turning when some people and a dog were crossing the road. I’ve been riding my bike everywhere, though, and I think that’s helped me get used to the right side of the road...

- karasu, crows. They are creepy. They are everywhere. They get in the garbage. They’re smart. They make the creepiest noises ever. I shudder when I walk nearby.

- cockroaches. I caught one and kept in a jar and named it Bob. I taught him English and then indoctrinated him with my no-cockroaches-in-the-house propaganda. I just let him loose last Friday to go forth and spread these new mind-opening ideas of liberation. I also made it clear that rebels will squeezed in a kleenax and flushed into the watery abyss. So, we’ll see how it goes.

- Nihongo. Japanese language. I study. And watch TV. And try to talk with people. Of course opportunities to try to talk and to read surround me. It takes me like two whole minutes just to try to ask, What did you do today? But I’m trying. And I am getting better. I can read a little, too. It’s SUCH a great feeling to be able to read. Oh my word. It’s quite a peculiar sensation to be having class with my 5th grade student and asking him, Oh what it this? And him answering, Oh, it’s.... See? It’s written write here. And then I just say, Oh, I see. I can’t read. So much relief in being able to read.

- boy bands. You thought the 5-piece dancing-singing boy bands died with Nsync and the Backstreet Boys when we were in high school, but you were wrong. And it scares me that I might actually like them. A little ok? I’m not obsessed ok? Really. Ok? Arashi is my favorite :) But I like Tohoshinki, too... and they have a lot more talent.

- speaking s. l. o. w. l. y. It’s pretty tiring. But it’s not so bad. I’m not complaining.. I’m just still trying to get used to it, that’s all.

- defining words without a vocabulary. Or a big one. Defining words like ‘interesting’ without using any word above a.. maybe second grade reading level is a little difficult. Of course, direct translation is sometimes advantageous, but in the case of 'interesting,' the Japanese word for it and 'fun' are the same, so it's still confusing. Or my favorite so far is trying to explain the difference between ‘hope’ and ‘wish.’ Uh-huh. I dare you to try. Remember to use small words.

- taking care of myself. If I don’t cook, there is no food. If I don’t shop, there is no food. If I don’t clean, I get dust bunnies in my shoes. I picked up a Japanese cookbook in Nagoya awhile ago… I’m going to try to cook something as soon as I figure what daishi powder looks like in the store. I cooked the most AMAZING breakfast for myself this morning... I fried an apple and scrambled some eggs. The apple was from the apple orchard we went to a couple of weeks ago. It was SO good. I know it’s super simple, but I was proud.

- coins. In America, we usually reserve coins for vending machines and the penny jar, which sits on our shelf until we know some kid doing Jar Wars for a charity and then we give it to him. Here, coins are a staple that comes in the equivalents of as much as one and five dollars, plus all the other little coins. So, I’m getting used to paying for my lunch and stuff in coins. My wallet is usually full of coins.

- trains. I love them. When I’m out with my student Mika-san and the shinkansen, bullet train goes by... I turn five for a couple of seconds. Taking the train can be a little nerve-wracking. I haven’t tried taking it by myself yet. I went to Nagoya—big city about the size of Chicago about an hour north of us—last Saturday (and went to the castle there.. fabulous!) with a student, and we took the train so I could get used to it. I think I’m getting the hang of it… it’s so nice going with someone who knows Japanese though :/ But I want to try to take it by myself this winter break.

- Attention! Gaijin-wa o-hashi-o sukate tabete imasu! Foreigner eating with chopsticks! You’d think some people want to yell this every time you pick up a pair. Often, the first time you take a bite, it’s to the proclamations of Sugoii, ne! Awesome, huh! It only just started to bug me, I’m sure I’ll get used to it...

- shy boys. I don’t understand it yet. I can’t say all the boys are shy. But most of the ones I have met are. It’s just really different from back home.

Well that’s a start :) Most everything is different here somehow... It’s good though! For the most part. Of course I miss some things about home. And Christmas is making me a little sad. It's pretty much all commercial here.

The picture at the top is from a nearby city called Gamagori. There is a long bridge that connects the land to an island called takeshima (literally bamboo island.. though I'm told there isn't actually any bamboo on it...), which is completely a shrine. Women who want to have a baby pray here. Also, it's a popular date sopt, but the legend is that dating couples that go there that eventually get married, will end up having divorces! We saw many couples :) I wanted to jump in front of them and yell No! Go back now while you have a chance! :)
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