A sort of quick one

It’s been a while–I need to go make dinner and get back to figuring out the second half of my Double-Length Class Of Doom (and therefore next week’s lesson plan, since the Midyear Conference and Burns’ Supper will eat up Thurs-Sun) for tomorrow.

Went to two enkais–junior high staffroom on Friday (they went out of their way to make sure I had a full veg menu–still tough to make conversation, but I did my best), and the Ikeda International Society enkai on Saturday (no immediately apparent veg food–bright-red boiled crabs staring at me when I sat down, actually–but they soon changed that), which was a pleasant surprise, and I got to meet more people and discover all these amazing English speakers I had no idea existed, as well as see several of my eikaiwa ladies and marvel at the gorgeous kimono two of them were wearing.

(I also spread the Pirates of Dark Water “gospel” a bit more this weekend. Lindsay liked, though I’m not sure she didn’t say that just to placate my rabid fandom; Nate was really excited to get a chance to see it, and was tempted to air it that night when a bunch of snowball fight team members were crashing at his place, thus doing my “evangelism” work for me (this is the kind of missionary work I wholeheartedly agree with, you see), but I haven’t heard his verdict yet.)

I also got kind of homesick and miserable last night. I guess it’s that downswing that all JETs apparently go through, now that we’re back at work after seeing friends/family and it’s cold and miserable and unfamiliar. It’s not making my under-3-weeks-away recontracting decision any easier to figure out, though.

Got back into my regular routine today, and it was strange to be back, honestly. It was nice to be back at my Monday morning shougakkou, though–but their usual teacher was sick and only made it into school as my taxi was pulling out, so I actually taught the class completely unsupervised. (Mwahahaha!) And I did a decent job at keeping them in line, too–granted, I’d already had two trial runs of this lesson, and it did go well. I was still a bit quiet at my junior high, but it’s just tough to be involved when my Japanese is still suffering a bit from my lack of regular usage in December. (It still startles me sometimes that I’m conducting classes completely in another language.) I’m trying my hardest to be more social, though, and try to get more involved with my junior high kids.

Louise called me tonight, and we talked for at least an hour…she had to battle her way through some snow (she’s in the prefecture next to one of the two they consistently refer to as “one of the hardest-hit by snow”) just to get to her apartment and up the stairs and into her door, only to find that the old laptop her boyfriend gifted her with has now died. Anyway, we’re now considering taking a long weekend in Tokyo next month, so we can hang out, hopefully catch a few classical acts, and take the GRE together.

Okay, and I really do go need to make something now. And figure out what music-related games I can play with my kids tomorrow that’ll make a class revolving around nothing but music fun and engaging. (Why does this school always have to be my guinea pig school? Sheesh…)

The recap, at long last

I should have known I’d have nothing to worry about–the India lesson went off without a hitch. I psyched the kids up by having one person from each team race up to tag the place I named (they nearly ripped the map off the board, they were so into it–I had to ask them to slow down because that map has to make it through five more classes!), and then talked about India by asking them, “What’s Japanese ___ like?” and having them respond, and then telling them the Indian equivalent. They also loved the smattering of Tamil and Hindi words I taught them, and really giggled over a few of them, because they had close Japanese equivalents that gave the words interesting meanings.

It also helps that my two Thursday classes (only one today, though–yay for easing me back into the class routine) are particularly genki and with it and bright. Thursday and Monday are my best kids, I think. Wednesday would be good, but the class is so huge (29 kids); Friday’s the quiet 13-girls-and-3-boys class; Tuesday’s my double-length class of doom.

I also got tons of compliments on my (kind of rumpled) salwar (the new green one, Mom). It wasn’t that great at keeping out the cold, but at least it looked good! I have 3 here with me, and I’ll be alternating them through Wednesday, when I should be done with all my lessons. (Oh–except for the Thursday school that doesn’t start for another 2 weeks. Whoops!)

Anyway, on with the recap now…though you know, it’s really not that climactic. I met my family at Kansai Airport on the 24th, we headed to our hotel (in Izumisano, much closer to the airport than to Osaka), spent a couple of days wandering around and saw Osaka-jo, came back to Ikeda and unwound, went to Kyoto for the new year (absolutely gorgeous–totally my kind of city, if not for having major problems finding anything vegetarian besides McDonald’s, where we ate 3 meals). We didn’t actually celebrate the new year, though; we just hung out in the hotel. And then we came back to Ikeda, where my parents totally redeemed my reputation in the eyes of Gasping Woman at the restaurant across the street, fell in love with the ¥100 store, bought me stuff for my kitchen, reorganized my apartment, and went to my Friday eikaiwa classes.

And then it snowed Friday night and we all sort of panicked about whether the trains and buses would run, because they were flying back home the next day. So we woke up at freaking 4:30 AM to catch an early train into Tokushima, and they caught an earlier bus to the airport, in case the bus was at all delayed.

I did cry when they left–it really was nice to have them here for a while. And I felt pretty homesick for the rest of the weekend. I’m okay, though–it’s just tough, knowing that every single one of my close friends was back in Atlanta for the holidays and I was the only one who couldn’t be there. It’s also tough knowing that they can get together a lot more than I’ll get to see them. If I recontract, I’ll go home next December.

And to be honest, that’s all I can really think of. See? Anticlimactic update, but at least it’s done. I’m off to go make dinner and (whoops) change out of the salwar. Maybe I’ll make french toast, since I got my nightly.net Secret Santa gift (you rock, Stephanie! Thank you so much!), inside which was a can of fresh Quebec maple syrup. Rock on!

grrrr

I wrote a really long recap-of-the-last-month post yesterday, only to have Blogger freaking eat it.

I really need to be prepping for my first Indian culture lesson tomorrow–I have so much to do! The huge world map I blew up and pieced together isn’t finished (the piecing together is, as is the outlining of the continents–it got me major brownie points with my bosses and superintendent at the BOE today, woohoo–but I have to figure out which countries I think are important enough to point out, as well as label in major cities, like Chennai and Atlanta, and write the names in katakana for all these things), I have to figure out what I want to say and how I want to say it and maybe find images to attempt to print out before my class (as well as coloring sheets if I finish early–I found Diwali coloring sheets; why couldn’t I have found them in October?), I have to dig out and go through the music CDs I brought with me from India (or maybe I’ll just bring in Shankar/Menuhin and leave it running to give them some mood music)…oh, I have to figure out how to stay warm, since I’m wearing a salwar to work tomorrow!

This is just venting and whining. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, due to the massive stress of the looming recontracting deadline (February 3rd). At least I’m not the only one who’s really undecided–a lot of people are, which is comforting. As I posted on the Tokushima JET forum, the major things on my mind have been recontracting, homesickness, and remembering how to teach–thanks to my being sick during the last two days of class immediately after returning from India, tomorrow will be my first time in an actual classroom in over a month.

This is going to be an expensive week, too–Julie was in Ikeda, so she and Hannah and I went out for dinner, and I have my junior high’s start-of-term enkai (drinking dinner party) on Friday night (the last one was quite expensive, as enkais are wont to be sometimes, but…ugh), as well as an international society new years enkai on Saturday night. I’m actually kind of looking forward to the junior high enkai–I haven’t seen these teachers in over a month. My JTE today, when she called to tell me about it, told me she’s looking forward to seeing me again (she’s picking me up, actually), and I saw my really sweet and constantly cheerful school secretary at the BOE, and we had a pretty friendly exchange.

And yeah, this isn’t a recap…yet. But soon! Maybe tomorrow. If I can plan my Friday eikaiwa classes and the second half of my West Mountain Elementary School class for next week during the day tomorrow (I’m hoping to make my next lesson international music–woo, Irish fiddling), then I’ll write a really fleshed-out entry tomorrow night. And I’ll save a copy in Notepad, to make sure it gets posted this time.

(ooh, the BlogThis! window ate it again. Luckily, I made a copy and am going straight to the source to make sure this goes up this time!)

Hey there

Just checking in to let you know that I’m alive. My family’s here, which means that I’m spending all my time with them and none replying letters or e-mails. I apologize for all the e-mails I haven’t responded to over the past 2-ish months, and all the IM conversations I’ve sort of abandoned–I swear I’ll catch up soon. I have a long weekend coming up before the semester starts, and lots of photos to post and lots of things to write about…maybe I can get started then.

Feel-good moments of the day

Yesterday, I went to the bedding store on the 3rd floor of Sunrise (the tallest building in Ikeda, at 5 stories tall plus a basement–the one with CaDen/Matsuya Denki in the basement, Daily Mart on the ground floor, and the Daiso ¥100 store on the 4th floor) and bought a new futon set so that whichever family member is sleeping in my apartment (as opposed to sleeping in Hannah’s apartment downstairs) has something to sleep on next week, and someone from the store very kindly gave me a ride to my apartment and carried the futons up the stairs for me. Today, I went back to the same store in search of thick bedsheets, because the futons were pretty big (actually, they’re big enough that I don’t think I can fit both sets into my oshiire, much less my kotatsubuton…this should be interesting when the weather gets warm again!).

One of the two saleswomen who waited on me yesterday found me today, and we chatted in a friendly way and joked about my (lack of) space situation as she showed me the comforters. Because there were a ton of them, and I’d nearly dozed off a couple of times while at the office (seriously, according to the thermometer, they’d kept it at 26 degrees Celsius inside (79 degrees Fahrenheit), while it was -1 outside (30 degrees Fahrenheit)), I was in a bit of a daze and wasn’t paying attention to my diction when I tried to tell the saleswoman that it was going to take me some time to decide. I ended up saying, “I’ll stay here for a while and decide, and then I’ll go over there–” *pointing at the area near the counter* “–and we’ll talk.”

She smiled and went to go straighten out some of the sheets on the end of the row instead, and it hit me that I had just said something pretty rude–the equivalent of, “Okay, so you go wait over there, and I’ll summon you when I’m ready.” So I apologized for being rude–she seemed surprised at my apology, but when I explained and said that she must be busy and that I didn’t want to take up so much of her time, she laughed, squeezed my arm endearingly, and then said (in Japanese), “My English isn’t so great, but…” (and then in hesitant English) “Please call me if you need anything.”

When I went to make my purchases, the gentleman who’d driven me to my apartment yesterday was behind the counter, and a minute later she came over as well. He ended up driving me to my apartment again, and on our way out of the store, she grabbed my arm again and invited me to please come back any time I wanted so she had a chance to practice her English with me. I realized that I forgot to get a spare set of sheets for my own set of futons, and the store’s running a promotion where any purchases made through today earn us a chance to win something free tomorrow (or today, rather, now that it’s Friday) from an array of merchandise up on the 5th floor–I’ll be sure to drop by again.

In the evening, I got an IM from Louise asking me if I’d checked out the news. Her town, Inawashiro, had been hit by a blizzard, and the buses and trains weren’t running. Considering that the buses and trains stopped here for just a couple of inches of snow, and considering that they’ve regularly had a couple of feet of snow up there, I don’t want to know exactly what “blizzard” means. Anyway, she was really worried because she was going to catch a train into Koriyama, the biggest city in her precture and a city which wasn’t really affected by the blizzard (huh, I somehow typed “hurricane” without realizing it), and she had to catch a shinkansen from Koriyama to Tokyo to catch her plane back to the US for the holidays. She said that a friend could maybe give her a ride, but she really didn’t know for sure, and taxis were so expensive…but in the end, she opted for a taxi.

And that’s where I came in. She’s learned a little bit of Japanese since coming here, but not nearly enough to converse, so she asked me if I could call her local taxi company and have them send a taxi to her place. I was more than happy to do so. I ended up calling twice–once I said that I was a friend of the Inawashiro English teacher, he immediately asked me if her name was Louise and her address was ___; his immediacy caught me off-guard (he even knew what time her train from Koriyama was, when I hadn’t even explicitly mentioned that she was catching another train from there–just that she wanted to be there by such-and-such time).

It took me a couple of minutes to make him realize that I wanted him to dispatch a taxi for 7:15, and not 7:45. During the first phone call, he kept saying, “Shichiji yonjuugofun” (shichi = 7, ji = hour, yonjuu = 40 (yon = 4, juu = 10), go = 5, fun = minute), and I kept saying, “No, juugofun,” only to have him come back with, “yonjuugofun,” in such a way that I wondered if he’d misheard me. It turned out, though, that he thought I’d misheard him; I finally had to say, “No, she wants her taxi a half-hour before that,” before he got it. He suggested that she walk down to the train station and grab one of the taxis in front, but she couldn’t with all her luggage, and she didn’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out how to explain to the driver that she wanted to stop by her apartment before heading to Koriyama, so I called the taxi company back and actually had one sent over to her place, and we argued over the time again, him insisting that 7:45 would be fine and 7:15 would put her there almost an hour early.

Maybe it’s an American mentality versus a Japanese one–we’re so used to arriving at airports 2 hours in advance for domestic flights and 3 hours in advance for international, while in Japan you only have to be at your gate 30 minutes before domestic departures and 1 hour before international ones. We like to leave plenty of time and don’t mind getting there early with time to spare, and they like to be more precise.

At any rate, though, she has a way to catch her shinkansen. She’s been looking forward to this trip for such a long time, and I do envy her because she’ll most likely be running into a lot of our friends from Georgia Tech who are also home for the holidays (I told her to let me know if they get together, because I definitely want to call and say hi to everyone). I almost wish I’d gone back to Atlanta instead of my family coming here, but while they’re here we’ll be exploring new places without depleting all of my vacation days. But at least I did my part to help her out–and it’s kind of cool that I was able to do it from something like 450 miles away.

When talking to my dad earlier, the subject of money came up, and I told him that people usually carry 3 or 4 man around with them, 1 man being 10,000 yen or roughly $90 USD. I forgot that Dad didn’t know that, so I told him, “No, I don’t drag around 3 or 4 guys with me everywhere,” to which he responded, “Why not?”

I bought a Christmas tree and ornaments and some lights today at the ¥100 store, finally; it’s hard to believe Christmas is just 2 days away! Now I have a tree on which to hang the adorable Santa ornaments that the people at the Hashikura Special Needs School made for us when we went caroling, as well as the three bell ornaments I bought from India.

My family and I will be together in Osaka in 2 days. According to Dad, I don’t think they’ve started packing yet. Better hurry!

I’m alive

I’m back! I just haven’t posted due to exhaustion and illness. The trip was nonstop, without many chances to rest up, but for the most part it was brilliant–I had such a blast there, met new people, got to become closer to some relatives I rarely see…there are a lot of stories I can tell.

To be honest, it was a lot harder for me to return to Japan than I expected it to be. I was pretty miserable the evening I left Hyderabad. I think a big part of it was just being in a familiar culture and around familiar people, and having to return to something that’s still so foreign, despite how much time I’ve spent here. It was my first time seeing family since I got here, and it made me realize how much I do miss my family and friends back home. It definitely didn’t help that my very first contact in Japan upon my return was a woman at customs who was cheery and all smiles with the Japanese man in line ahead of me, but stopped smiling when she saw me and was cold and brusque towards me.

Somehow, though, I had the fortune of chatting for 20 minutes with an American guy who was an 8-year resident of Japan on the 1st floor of Kansai while we were waiting for our buses home (somehow, I thought my flight landed at 12:30 PM, when it actually landed at 6:30 AM–I had 2 hours to kill before the first bus back to Tokushima, which I was able to score a seat on), and then sat with a really friendly English-speaking Thai gentleman on the bus ride to Tokushima (he even gave me his contact info and encouraged me to contact him if I ever came to Thailand), and then dropped by Big Brother’s for lunch (while getting a grin and a familiar, “Heyyy!” from Dave at the taco stand) and chatted with the American chef (not Norman, the guy from Kansas with the facial hair) and Japanese waitress, both of whom were really warm and lifted my spirits a lot.

And then I got pinkeye. Or bacterial conjunctivitis, as it’s technically known.

I’m doing really well now, though…it first cropped up last night. I took today off because I really felt crappy this morning (my eyes combined with the not-so-bad head cold from Sunday which was considerably magnified when I woke up), so I went to the town doctor (the whole staff is really nice, and it’s always an ego-booster to get “nihongo jouzu!”ed by any Japanese people), and even just after leaving the office, before I’d even taken any medication, my eyes felt a lot better (most likely from the doctor turning my eyelids inside out to examine them, which must have aired out the worst of the bacterial gunk). My cold’s not as bad, either (I caught it while in India–the dust situation there is terrible, so be warned if you’re making a trip over there–when taking off from Hyderabad in the evening, the city lights illuminated the really thick pall of dust and particulates hanging over the city, and it was disgusting to see)…I hope I’ll be feeling up to staying at work the full day tomorrow, and that I won’t have to leave early.

I should go venture into the kitchen and pack up my leftover pasta for lunch tomorrow…and I do say “venture” seriously; I can see my breath in there, and I had to de-numb my hands and feet after spending 15-20 minutes preparing dinner. I won’t be spending much time in there this winter, unless I feel like asking for the kerosene heater promised in my contract that I don’t have. (It really warms a room nicely, but the fumes it puts off are so heady…I use my apartment as a relief from the gas-fume-scented teachers’ rooms and classrooms I go to daily during the week.)

Anyway, good night! More later…maybe; my time in India doesn’t really fit into a journal focusing specifically on Japan, but I’m sure I can pull something relevant to mention here.

India ho!

(I like to say that using Thundercats-esque inflections. But anyway.)

So, barring a few last-minute things, I’m completely packed. I just have to finish cleaning my kitchen, and I still am not sure whether it’s a good idea to pack my (breakable) gifts or if I should bring them as a separate carry-on…at any rate, I have until Tuesday morning to decide.

I’m pretty proud of myself, honestly–I actually packed nearly everything into a carry-on-sized suitcase, and I’ve fit that one inside a medium-sized suitcase, to prep for bringing home a ton of stuff. If it does end up being over 50 pounds (India’s current weight limit per piece of luggage), I can just distribute stuff between the two suitcases. It’s just the gifts I’m concerned about–but if all goes according to plan, I’m catching a 4:17 express train into Tokushima City, arriving around 5:40, so I can go to TOPIA to drop off my orphanage gifts (the Tokushima ALTs have an annual orphanage gift-giving event and visitation; unfortunately, the visitation’s next Saturday, so I can’t attend), and I can put the gifts for India into the bag the orphanage gifts will be in.

Things that haven’t turned up, though I’m sure they will:

  • the US-to-India plug converter (2 rectangular prongs to 2 circular ones instead) my dad gave me before leaving for Japan
  • my 128MB digital camera memory stick (I didn’t lose it–it’s just buried under something somewhere, I’m sure)
  • my black notebook I write everything in (I’m thinking it’s at my desk at the kouminkan, but I’m not going to get to drop by to pick it up)
  • my printouts of Mom’s and my itineraries, though I can easily print those out at school (and if not, I’ll have enough time to scribble them down as soon as I get home)

This evening, I ran all over town doing last-minute errands–buying a new toothbrush holder and a blank VHS tape so I can record The West Wing and Desperate Housewives this week and next week, picking up an early dinner, comparing memory stick prices between Camera Baba and Matsuya Denki (Matsuya won out), and returning the videos I’d rented yesterday to accompany my packing–it was raining. Thundering, even–the first thunderstorm I’ve experienced since coming to Japan. It was just a mild one, though–no more than 6 or 7 thunderclaps, so totally a hiccup compared to Atlanta’s thunderstorms–but they still suck.

Anyway, it was cold and wet and my jeans were soaked to the knee and my hands were freezing inside my gloves…and as I passed near streetlamps, I looked up and wondered why the rain seemed to be falling a bit more slowly than usual. And then it hit me…

It was snowing.

The weather didn’t even seem cold enough to have been in the 30s, yet it was a definite rain/snow mix. Without even realizing it, I stopped grumbling/whining/moping and started grinning–I’m sure the novelty will wear off after the new year, once the weather really starts to get frigid, but I absolutely love the snow. It seems to dull the sharp edge of the cold and make it fresh and wondrous instead, somehow.

Right now, the wind is really howling outside. I wonder if any snow will have stuck, or if it was too slushy?

Okay, I’m going to go wash some dishes and then head to sleep…the last time I packed for an international voyage, I got three hours of sleep (then again, that was packing to actually move to Japan, and I was panicking more than I ever had in my life–granted, I think 3 hours of sleep is sort of the average, from the other ALTs I’ve talked to). Five hours isn’t so bad–it just really stinks that I have a full day of work before all my traveling begins.

Anyway, take care, guys! And if you leave before I get back (Hannah, for example–I’m not going to see her for over a month, because she leaves the day before I get back for her 3 weeks of vacation), happy holidays and travel safe, and I’ll see you next year!

VICTORY

The mystery of the undelivered chest of drawers has been solved! And it wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it’d be. I was building myself up to be properly annoyed that they hadn’t delivered it Monday/Tuesday when they promised, and also to just sort of put my head down and barrel forward through all the arguing that I was sure would follow.

It turns out, though, that it was all indeed miscommunication, but not the kind I’d suspected/feared: actually, the extra ¥3000 I paid, thinking that was the delivery charge, was because I was buying the pre-assembled floor model. (I’d have to assemble it myself otherwise.) I misunderstood the woman who was explaining this stuff to me because when people use honorifics it’s almost like they’re speaking a completely different language; there’s so much extra stuff that gets in between the intended meaning and the translation of the phrase. The cost to deliver it was an extremely exorbitant ¥550–$4.60–so I gladly paid it.

They’re delivering it after 2 PM tomorrow, when I’ll be back at the BOE, and I know they’ll let me duck out to go help haul it up the stairs, since they feel guilty (or at least my boss does) for dragging their heels on getting me the leftover furniture from Dave’s old place.

There was a problem with one word: “kumitate,” which sounded vaguely familiar but which I just had no clue about. Finally, though, they gave me enough words (in Japanese and English) that hinted at the meaning that it clicked: building/construction. I was able to jump in and say, “Oh, so this cost is because I didn’t make the chest?” (tsukurimasen deshita–I’m sure there are better words out there, but “tsukuru” is one of those universal sorts of things, introduced in our cooking lesson in Japanese class, but also used to mean “build” and “put together”) to which they exclaimed, “Yes!” and we all started cheering together.

One of the clerks and I guess a delivery-type guy actually gave me a ride back to my apartment so that I could show them where it was, because they couldn’t find it on the book of Ikeda maps they pulled out. It was a really nice gesture on their part. I’ll definitely be looking forward to their call. I’m glad we can do it during the day (at least, I hope so), so I don’t have to worry about making sure to make the same train as the others traveling down to Iya, where we’re crashing so we can go caroling at all our junior highs, starting in the Iya Valley, and working our way north (coming to Ikeda for lunch–I really hope we eat at La Tavola, the awesome Italian place with a chef who actually studied in Italy) and east.

Some other good stories lately:

So every few days, they play these town-wide announcements over the loudspeakers. I can’t stand these things, because the woman drags her words out in this really annoying tone of voice and has these excruciating pauses after every few words. It’s also loud enough to drown out whatever I have on in here, since the speaker’s not too far from my building. Well, an announcement came on while I was walking home from Daily Mart the other day; I was taking a road that puts me past several houses that have dogs. As the announcement came on, every single dog started to howl. It was all I could do to not crack up, but I was grinning for the rest of the walk home.

And today, at White Background Elementary (it ended up being my last class for the term, but I didn’t realize it until after class ended; I’d told the principal I’d have to take the next 2 weeks off due to my India trip, but I hadn’t told the teachers–which reminds me, for any of you doing eikaiwa/adult conversation classes, tell your students if you have to miss class, but don’t forget to tell the people who actually coordinate the classes, too! Whoops.–anyway, they also ended up canceling the class during the week before winter holidays begin, too), I was sitting around for 20 minutes, killing time till I had to go catch my bus, and I started chatting with a teacher. She asked me what I thought of the students, and I told her I was having fun in the class, and their English was pretty good. She then told me, in a mix of Japanese and broken but very understandable English, that the students thought I was “very kindness.” It was a sweet gesture on her part to go out of her way to tell me that, and it made my afternoon a little sweeter.

Oh, and I was an idiot and bought a bunch of fresh vegetables last weekend, even though I should have known I wouldn’t use them all within the week (I’m leaving Monday afternoon for Osaka). Well, my stomach acted up overnight Monday/Tuesday, so I was going pretty easy on it all day yesterday, and ended up coming up with the perfect way to use up a bunch of veggies at once: vegetable soup. I may make it for myself every night this week–good, filling, and it empties my fridge!

A bad thing: I ripped out a hem in the bottom of my awesome swishy olive green slacks today, and I was thinking that instead of messing with sewing for the first time in many years, I could just get my mom to do it next week. (I’ll probably attempt it myself, though, and only bring it to her if I really screw it up…I have a sewing kit for a reason, right?) I really need to start packing–I’m going to be in Hyderabad this time next week!

Multimedia

I should be asleep, but I finally got around to uploading all the video clips I’ve captured (no matter how mundane)–you can check them all out here.

A quick rundown:

1. taken from the bus from the Keio Plaza Hotel (location of Tokyo Orientation) to Haneda Airport. I was sitting next to a cool guy named Robb (who graduated from UGA!) who was going to Kagawa-ken, I believe; the Kagawa and Tokushima Group A folks were sharing a bus.

2. you can’t see anything (oops), but you can hear the Awa Odori music…this was the weekend we broke up into the groups we’d be in the following weekend at the Kamiita English Camp, and my group came across an Awa Odori ren (dance group–not just a Pirates of Dark Water reference ;P) rehearsing, and they invited us to join in. No, I didn’t curse at the end. (My battery was dying, though.)

3. a panning shot of the Arasowaren (foreigner ren), hanging out at Well City in Tokushima, before heading out to do some actual Awa Odori dancing.

4. a shot of a receding ren of kids, really close to my apartment here in Ikeda. I don’t really know why I captured this–I think I was hoping it’d turn out better.

5-8. Awa Odori in Ikeda! 5 is of the women’s dance (especially hard to do in those shoes), 6 and 7 are of the lantern dance (I love the way they twirl the lanterns), and 8 is some of the drummers. The way Awa Odori works is that a bunch of different rens come together to dance in designated areas at designated times. Each ren has a “ringleader” at the front (holding something that designates that group), the dancers (usually of several styles), and the musicians in the back, and there can be dozens of them. We ended up joining in with the teachers’ ren, though there was also one for the town hall, which we were actually invited to dance with (but didn’t).

9-10. me being a dork and taking footage of everything flying by as I was riding a shinkansen (bullet train) from Koriyama (Fukushima-ken) to Sendai. Compared to Shikoku’s trains, this was just stunning.

11-12. A couple of shots of The Ugly Men performing “Hotel California” by The Eagles (and an unsuccessful pan of the bar–too dark to pick anything up but silhouettes). The dude in the back actually hit the guitar at the solo dead-on! I would’ve captured the whole song but I didn’t have enough battery juice or memory stick space for it.

Argh, I did it again!

Whoops, I didn’t mean to title that last post with the name of the journal…properly edited now.

(Haha, and I did it again with this post–“Gmail – Inbox” is not an apt title.)

I got an e-mail from Kanno-sensei, one of my Japanese professors at Tech! I should have responded in Japanese, but I’m not quite up to par for that yet. I’m pretty sure she comes to Japan yearly, either with LBAT or to see her family…maybe I can go see her for a long weekend if she comes this summer. She’s such a wonderful lady, and I miss dropping by her office to chat–maybe now I can use more fluent-sounding Japanese than I ever could while I was in school.

The open mic night went pretty well–just 4 acts, but while we got started an hour late and mine was by far the shortest (15 minutes, tops), the program went for 2 solid hours, and a lot of people showed up. My music did indeed require the most sobriety to listen to, and more people came in after my act, so the bar got a little noisier, so there was something to be said for going first. It was a blast, though, and I’m already trying to come up with a playlist for the next one, so I can be prepared. I may collab with Jeff in Naruto on some bluegrass music, which would really rock.

I ended up crashing at Will and Yuri’s place in Sadamitsu and caught a train home yesterday morning, but I was stuck in that post-slumber-party sluggish mode, so I went to lie down and rest off my headache around 6:30, and fell asleep for 3 hours. I woke up, looked at the clock, thought, “Screw it, I’m just going to sleep,” and I did…I woke up at 4 AM and fell asleep again at 6, but yeah, a really, really full night’s sleep. It’s left me feeling really refreshed–it’s amazing how work and everything just really take it out of you.

I’ve done some cleaning today, but not nearly enough yet…I have a lot of groceries and supplies to pick up, and I have to start packing because I LEAVE FOR INDIA IN JUST OVER A WEEK! I already know I’m taking 2 suitcases–the smaller one being my carry-on, and I’ll have my shoulder bag inside it–because I’m going to be bringing home way too much stuff for my one suitcase to handle. (Wow, check out this weather forecast…it’ll be so weird going from the chilly weather here to more tropical climes and then back again. Almost 80 degrees there!)

I had a really awkward bit of miscommunication with the people at the local home store, where I’d bought my chest of drawers from…they’d called Wednesday, but I missed their call so I called back on Thursday, and it turns out they could only deliver the chest the following Monday or Tuesday. Since I’d given them my cell number, I told them I’d come in after work to talk to them about it. Well, I came in…and they already had the chest downstairs, ready to load into my car–except for the obvious problem of my not having a car. They misinterpreted my “I’ll come in after work to talk to you about it” as “I’ll come in after work to pick it up.” Seeing the friendly smile on the cashier’s face suddenly vanish is making me feel awfully guity…at any rate, they’re still delivering it early this week as planned. I can’t wait–it’ll clear up so much clutter!

I have no inspiration whatsoever for this week’s double-length Tuesday class. This class is already ahead of all the other ones…all I can think of is to play games with them for the full 80-90 minutes. Hellooo, Teamwork Tokushima…