Where everybody knows your name

A bit tangential, but wow, the massive GM layoffs at home are even hitting Georgia, and the huge Doraville plant is being closed…it’s been there as long as I can remember, and Doraville and the GM plant kind of go hand in hand. It’s going to be strange returning home and finding it essentially abandoned.

I went to Daily Mart tonight to find plasticware and cups and to stock up on veggies so I can make a big salad for the Thanksgiving potluck the ALTs are having tomorrow (it’s Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan), and while I was there, I saw a bunch of people I know: two students from the beginning eikaiwa class, a student from my intermediate eikaiwa class, one of my speech contest girls (the kendo girl–she always gives me a huge, warm grin and wave whenever she sees me), the music teacher from my junior high, the teacher who “supervises” my class at Horse Street Elementary, and even someone I didn’t immediately recognize (who I saw again at the ¥100 store upstairs).

Actually, yesterday when I was walking home from the bus stop, an older man on a motorcycle and decked out in full biker gear got off a quick, “Smitha, sayounara!” (goodbye!) as he passed–which was really cool, except that I have no idea who he was. And while leaving the train station on my way home Saturday, I passed an elderly couple who also greeted me in a warm and familiar way (which made a high-school-aged guy walking nearby start commenting to his friends in Japanese slang about me (I got, “What the hell was that? Who’s she?” before I passed out of earshot)–heh, silly punk). And on that same topic, earlier that day, I’d been browsing thick down winter jackets at Uniqlo and was looking through the men’s jackets, and a couple of guys (high school or college) walked by and stopped by the jackets, without even really looking at them, and one of them made a comment about me browsing the men’s clothes…never mind that, you know, I’m bigger than the average Japanese woman, and I was taller than them. (Hahaha, dorks.)

I love being able to understand people when they talk about me. It’s just too bad that I don’t have the Japanese ability to be able to dash off spontaneous responses. Despite speaking so much Japanese, even at Daily Mart today, I kept blurting, “hi!” Not even “hello,” and definitely not “konbanwa” (good evening) or “tsukaresama” (thank you for your hard work…heh, Mat, I’m not a tired shark this time!). That was surprising–maybe I’m just tired today. I do need to keep studying, though. My Japanese has gotten a lot better since I got here, but I really need to keep up with it. The JLPT is coming up–I’m not taking it, but I honestly don’t even know what level I should test for. Sankyuu? Definitely not nikyuu, that’s way out of my league…but I had a shot at it once. Maybe I can pull myself up to that level again sometime.

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