I captured some audio clips when we went out for karaoke at our Miyoshi-gun sayounara get-together a few weeks ago, and I just uploaded them. Check them out–as always, please don’t direct-link them off another website or anything like that.


  • “Holy Thunderforce” – originally by Rhapsody, now by (Iya) Joe and Jordan, with everyone chiming in at the end
  • “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – by Yes, this time by Chalice and (Kamiyama) Joe, I think
  • “This Is How We Do It” – Montell Jordan, now by Andrew
  • “The Power Of Love” – Celine Dion, this time by me
  • “House of the Rising Sun” – Bob Dylan, this time by Chalice

Enjoy! There’ll be lots more where that came from–I’m so glad my mp3 player has a microphone function on it. I just used it today to record myself reading one of the speeches for the speech contest, and I burned those recordings to a CD so my student can listen and practice, the way we did with minidiscs last year for both our speech girls.


This was actually a really good weekend.

On Friday night, the night after the regional meetup in Mikamo, I’d planned to have another welcome dinner, but everyone was busy except for Brian. Neither of us wanted him to be all by himself, so he caught a train over here, and because of how ridiculously early the last train east left, he just crashed here for the night. It was like a slumber party, with lots of chatting, laughing (lots of that, indeed), showing off photos of our friends and our lives back home, talking about classical music and the shortcomings of Pinchas Zukerman, and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (our latest animation obsession–I haven’t seen an animated series this good and solid and complex in years), Sailormoon, and random stuff on YouTube (he introduced me to French & Saunders, which was hilarious). The next morning, we grabbed brunch at a chintzy but charming cafe-type place I hadn’t been to yet and headed to the Sunrise building to give him a chance to go shopping, and probably ended up making half of Ikeda think I now have a boyfriend in the process (though it really doesn’t take much), before he caught a train back home. It seriously felt like we hadn’t just met each other in person the day before, and I haven’t clicked almost instantaneously with someone like that in quite a while…I really enjoyed having that chance to get to know him.

That afternoon, I gave my friend Em in California a call, and chatted with him, as well as his Japanophile younger brother who asked me The Two Dreaded Questions: “How’s Japan?” and “What city are you in?” (with the unspoken but assumed answer of Tokyo). I’d just been IMing with Em and telling him how much I hate answering those questions, so he burst out laughing in the background. At least his brother had heard of Shikoku, though! We also had our first real thunderstorm that I’ve felt here, and it actually knocked out my internet a couple of times, including knocking out my internet phone and disconnectiong us. It was good talking while we could, though.

That evening and today, I got to hang out with Ashley and give her an impromptu tour of some stuff around Ikeda. She’d spent Friday night and Saturday morning with her supervisor’s family and stayed at their house that night.

I got a call from Julie today, who just got back from two weeks back home in Hawaii yesterday. Mikamo was having some kind of festival today, including a fireworks display, so she was going to go with one of her eikaiwa students. Ashley went as well, and we couldn’t get in touch with anyone else. We had dinner at Prison (technically, Purizun, but yeah), and suddenly heard loud thumps–the entire restaurant emptied outside to watch, and it was brilliant. It was one of the coolest fireworks shows I’ve seen in years–they had the planet-shaped fireworks I remember from shows back in metro Atlanta, and star-shaped ones (one was distorted enough that it looked like a fish!), and some that were so huge they covered half the sky. We were all extremely impressed. We then went and hung out at Julie’s place for a bit afterwards until we had to leave to catch our train, and I think that, as well as hanging out at an izakaya with others, helped us finally unwind a bit and actually talk, instead of just my giving her long-winded answers to her questions about town and life in Japan. We have a lot of really similar views about religion and the world in general, and she’s just really cool.

And now I need to get to sleep, and make my way to my junior high at some point to finally get started on the speech contest coaching for this year. This is going to be a busy week–I’m giving Julie a violin lesson, heading into the city to turn in some paperwork as part of my license-applying process, and English camp kicks off Friday (I really need to get to work on coming up with activities to do)–with Awa Odori in Tokushima following on Sunday, and Awa Odori Ikeda happening Monday through Wednesday! How freaking awesome.

So begins year two

I had probably my strangest eikaiwa experience thus far today, not counting all my encounters with Sleeping Woman (who I haven’t seen since, come to think of it…). Only three students were in attendance in my intermediate class, and so I figured that we could just do free discussion instead of the organized activities I’d planned. Though I don’t remember what we started talking about, somehow the topic made it over to the atomic bombs and WWII (one of my students was a teenager when the bombs fell–he seems so much younger that I never, ever would’ve put him as being in his 70s), and went from there to the possibility of an atomic war and how it had the potential to wipe out 90% of the people on the planet (their figures, not mine–I can’t say I’ve researched it much), and general nuclear stuff such as radiation sickness and nuclear accidents…and then we ended up making a segue over to asteroids and meteors and how a meteor killed the dinosaurs.

We ended by one of the students asking what we would do if we only knew we had a month left to live…and I took that opportunity to totally evade the question (thinking about my mortality makes me really uncomfortable) and then try to end the class on a happy note, by saying that I try not to think about it, and instead, I try to think about the future I want to build for myself, about university and work and eventually starting a family, and focus on the good things.

In other news, I’ve met two of the new ALTs–Brian in Mino (who I e-mailed/chatted with a fair amount), and Ashley downstairs. They’re cool! I’ve only chatted just a little bit with Ashley, but Brian and his boss came by the BOE yesterday and we ended up chatting for about an hour. It felt exactly like how all my many dozens of online-to-offline meetups have felt over the years–and it should, because that’s exactly what it was! We three, Chalice, and Nate met up at Chonmage in Mikamo for dinner last night–Fumi, the really awesome English-speaking owner with dyed hair and fake lashes, was extremely accommodating about my vegetarianism and even went out of her way to make me something not on the menu. Brian and I are hanging out again tonight–it was going to be another regional meetup, but only the two of us are free. I hope I can get a chance to show Ashley around Ikeda, at least–hopefully this weekend (the sooner the better). Her supervisor’s been taking care of her since she arrived, though.

I also achieved a personal triumph these past couple of days: on Wednesday, my JTE faxed me a copy of one of the speeches for our speech contest next month and asked if I could translate it, and after several hours of translation both yesterday and today, I finished it. It took so long because my kanji is crap and I had to hit up my kanji dictionary (I’m so glad I brought that with me), and because the student used some colloquialisms and grammatical forms I wasn’t familiar with, so I had to consult my boss and other BOE staffers several times. (It also took so long because I sit in the hottest corner of our BOE, where the air conditioner doesn’t reach and right in front of a window where the sun comes streaming in, so I spaced out for long periods of time as I fought to kept myself awake.) It’s a very moving story, actually, about a truly inspirational person in this student’s life…but seeing as how all the ALTs in Tokushima are technically competing against each other, I don’t want to reveal my hand just yet. But it feels good to know I can, and could, actually do it.

For some reason everything feels almost renewed. I’m really getting resonances of how I felt last summer, and I’m a senpai, which is a new thing for me, and makes me view everything as if it were all new again, so I know what I need to advise people on and what they have questions about. The cicadas are also out, and chirping (or whatever you want to call it) like crazy–I didn’t realize how much like summer their “rheerheerheerheeeeeeee”ing makes it feel like. The heat’s up and the humidity’s down. We’re indeed in the heart of summer right now.

They’re coming

I had a really sweet Google Chat conversation with a very excited Brian earlier tonight–I haven’t even met the guy yet, but I really like him just based on the e-mails/chats we’ve had, and I can tell this is going to be a really cool year full of really cool first-years, particularly out west. (It’s so weird to realize that I’m now officially a second-year ALT, and a senpai as well.) I’m really looking forward to our regional meet-and-greets on Thursday and Friday, and I’m glad I’ll have senpai backup at both, in the form of Chalice and possibly Nate on Thursday, and Nate on Friday. They’re all coming tomorrow.

I spent tonight running around buying more stuff for the apartment, including some frames to try and put up some photos to make my place look less dungeon-like for when new folks may come by (like Ashley, the new ALT downstairs). I picked up some really beautiful postcards of some paintings a Japanese woman did this weekend, and I have a lot of other small things I could put up as well.

Yesterday was our regional sports day, and I now have a definite tan–including definite tan lines, instead of ambiguously murky regions, on my arms and neck/chest. (When I say “chest,” I mean the v-line that a typical v-neck shirt would make. Get your minds out of the gutter.) Worst of all…I have an off-center watch tan. Those are the worst, aren’t they? My watch keeps slipping so the face is more towards my ring finger and pinky, and the bottom edge of the face is perfectly centered with my middle finger. Great!

Did I also mention that I left my Nalgene bottle on the train on Sunday? That thing is my lifeline–they just don’t drink water here, so to keep myself well-hydrated, having a 1-liter bottle on me at all times comes in quite handy, especially when I can refill it on my lunch breaks on my BOE days. I tried buying bottled water for the sports day, and by mid-day it tasted awful and actually made my throat feel funny. Luckily, I have one at home my parents are going to send (along with a bunch of other stuff, including but not limited to books, food, another pair of capris, and my favorite shirt), and Laura’s very kindly picked another one up for me and is shipping it this week! I’m going to see if anyone turned the lost one in this weekend, though–I’ll most likely be in the city. I’m still not sure if I’m going to the beer garden on Saturday, though…it’s a monumental waste of money for vegetarian non-drinkers, and it isn’t really an optimal setup to meet new people, but I’d like to all the same. At the same time, I’ll be meeting people at English camp starting a week from Friday, too…anyway, we’ll see.

Another reason I want to go to the city, though, besides wanting to show Ashley around the way Lindsay showed me around last year, is because a few friends set goals for themselves to read 50 books this year, and I’ve decided to try as well. I checked out 3 books from the TOPIA library and just finished one today (Koontz’s Shadow Fires–an early work, and definitely not his best, but not a bad read) and am over 100 pages into another (Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land–did I mention TOPIA has a pretty awesome science fiction collection?). If I can finish off all 3 of these (the third being Asimov’s Robot Dreams) and get 3 more for next week, to hopefully finish off by Friday morning when we meet at TOPIA for English camp, that would be really awesome, especially considering that I’m pretty far behind on my goal.

All right…I’m off to go make this place look more liveable, and I have my work cut out for me. Wish me luck!