Yukkuri Countdown JAPAN
Gung Gung is not well
My mom is with her parents in Hawaii. Usually she writes to me with her computer but she must be busy. That's why I heard the news from my dad, who is taking care of home. I don't know if I will get to see my Gung Gung again. I wanted to really. There was a reunion but I guess as far as I knew being in Japan was more important than visiting. I kept saying I would go see my Gung Gung and Popo when I was done with my job in Japan. Just a few months left, short enough I thought. Then when my mom went to take care of Gung Gung earlier this month I looked at my free schedule and thought about taking the opportunity to go to Hawaii but I figured I would be jama with him needing lots of attention and care.
I'm talking like I feel guilty because I do. I had a fine day. I had a fun day. It was a nice day and I didn't really think about my Gung Gung. He even had a heart attack. I went to the gym and took a step class before going shopping for things I don't need in the least. He has cancer. I had a kaitenzushi lunch with Sensei while the other teachers were diligently grading midterm exams and then took an extra two hours with her to enjoy a stroll to the mall where she was sold a 50000yen jacket to wear for her great niece's wedding which she doesn't want to attend.
Supposed to write to my mom but what can I say. You must be tired. There must be hurting. I don't want anyone to suffer. How are you? Hello to Gung Gung. Your granddaughter is thinking about you.
I like aerobics instructors who - what can I call it - woot(?) during class. This guy is like a cowboy, he also likes to clap intermittently and whirl his hand over his head at random times during the routine. It's cool though, it makes me laugh. Oh another thing, he always messes up his words and laughs at himself. Oh and last thing, he uses English phrases like "and one more please!" It's so fun.
Bifun does not work in place of yakisoba noodles.
Took iPod and ran three songs' time. About 16 minutes and 2.6km. It's so easy with music!!!
Rained tonight! Crazy weather. It was really warm and hot in the sun but when I got back from visit school it was doing the liquid sunshine thing. Not so bad though, could even go without umbrella.
Gotta hang up laundry.
Two months left..!?! When the left pocket and I go home we're going to live in Hawaii and wait tables at either 1)a Japanese restaurant 2)California Pizza Kitchen 3)Outback (him) and make lots of money on tips. HA!
Anybody want to buy my things? Everything must go!
Doesn't Feel Like Friday
The gym was so quiet when I got there today. It was eerie. When I left, though, there was a huge long line for the hip hop class. Not just young ladies, mostly older actually. I shouldn've stayed to watch. Ran 20 minutes, 3.something km. It's hot in there, not like running outdoors. Then took a yoga class with a hairy-legged bike-shorts-wearing but yasashii older instructor. I like that class. I still don't think it's very good yoga, though I've never taken yoga before. It's just really too quick to fully stretch and use muscles. The music is pretty bad too.
What matters is that I feel good!
Unsweetened soy milk doesn't feel good! It's fine in macaroni and cheese though. This stuff is salty. When did I become able to eat a whole box in one meal.
Took pictures today while walking from visit school of the first of the water-covered tanbo of the season. I like how it reflects the houses and sky. I don't like how icky it looks up close. Bugs are everywhere, bouncing off my face when I walk and ride my bike.
For English Club, we had two English teachers join the fun, which made it three teachers and one student. Rumi doesn't mind though. We couldn't find The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar in English! We saw two Japanese versions but the English one disappeared, so I asked her to read The Giving Tree (in English). She read it aloud to us while we helped her understand each page. All three of them were unfamiliar with the story and Shel Silverstein, so they were quite into it. At the end, they seemed pretty moved and impressed with the book, including the drawings. Cool, no? I told them about A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends. Maybe they will share with other Japanese people, maybe with students.
Bought some goodies at Muji to share with the left pocket. Sale stuff only. It looks yummy and so Japanese.
Gotta do laundry!
"Shall We kuru-zu?"
How about I work on a cruise ship with international people and live in Hawaii while not working?
There are two See's Candies shops (in the Kanto region, at least) in Japan. "Flown fresh from California" haha.
Should I go back to school so I can be a nutritionist? Then I might be more uptight than I already am.
I read a news article about a little kids' school in NJ that teaches five year olds to be uptight, I mean teaches them that eating healthy is important to have a healthy body. It's just kinda not good that it sounds like they brainwash them with images of the food pyramid and ideas like you should eat lots of apples and pretzels for healthy snacks.
Jack Johnson is from Hawaii, I didn't know. That's cool.
Goodnight. Tomorrow's a hot one!
Finally Turning Japanese
Ran 1km on treadmill. Did the yoga class but was disappointed. My back hurts. The instructor for the "original" yoga on Monday is better. It may be a non-challenging class but at least I get some relaxation out of it. She has good pace.
Today at school I looked around the library and was amused to find in English Jane Eyre, The Tale of Genji, Japanese Children's Folktales, a fat Danielle Steele novel, Soseki's I am a Cat, The Neverending Story, The Iliad.. it's huge. The library also has The Giving Tree but I found that earlier because it's near the entrance.
Check out Yoshimoto[edit: Yoshitomo] Nara's artwork. He's lived in Germany and apparently he lectured at UCLA while I was there. Now he lives in Tokyo.
Only recently did I look at a book about Miffy and Dick Bruna. Now I think much more of Miffy. I used to think she was just another Japanese character. She's 50 years old this year.
Anyway, today rained a teeny bit. It's been cold for this time of year. I've been cold. It's not nice. Spring is by far the best season in this part of Japan, so where is the sun and warmth! Sensei said she heard on the news last night that next month will also be colder than usual temperature-wise. What does that mean if it's muggy and rainy? Cold rain? Noooo! Maybe there will be no typhoons this year. Haha.
A student remembered "What's up!" and used it today, only it was like three seconds after I had passed her and said hello, so I didn't understand what she was saying at first. Still she and her friends were excited.
Today I ate two onigiri I got last night for half off. Sake-wakame or salmon seaweed and tori-gomoku or chicken mixed rice. The second one tasted like the brown rice I used to like from Happi House. I don't know what makes it taste like that.
This is one of the times during the year when students have to come to their homeroom teachers and have individual conferences. It's weird, the teachers ask them about their schedules after school, from what time they leave school, to going to juku, to when they get home, eat, relax, bathe, to how much they study, and what time they go to bed. They ask if they like such and such subjects, and the students are very honest about what they don't like. It's funny how teachers can ask these details but they don't really know the students' names.
Gwen Stefani is nuts. This Harajuku Girls song is barf! What is hair-a-zhew-coo anyway. I only like her songs about relationships.
Woke up happy!
Sun was bright.
At school I had a couple not bad classes. First group had eight volunteers! Second group had two, so I had those two pick more to come up to the front. It's funny how sometimes the mention of a prize persuades the first volunteers to go for it. I often hear urge their classmates, Hey let's get a prize! Anyway, I keep in mind Sensei's advice and just have fun. If nobody answers me I gotta talk to them one by one even if it's not as fun.
When I saw the roses I left on my desk overnight I was surprised at how big they opened up. They smell so nice. I wish I could capture the smells with the pictures.
I took the opportunity to go buy some bread during 2nd period with Sensei. She was hungry but I just thought I'd check it out not alone for once and get a snack for the afternoon. The I always say konnichiwa to the bread ladies because I have to pass them to get into the cafeteria, but they were especially chatty when Sensei started remarking how good certain breads were and something about choosing. The bread ladies are just there to sell the stuff but they like to point out when one is tezukuri or handmade, like the little French bread sandwiches I like.
Sensei said she would like to eat outside in the square but she's hazukashii because students are outside running on the field all the time. I told her not to be. I like to sit out there too, it's really sunny and there are plenty of empty benches under the trees during class time. So today she did.
Exercising really takes care of my appetite. I used to want to eat constantly at work, sitting at my desk with not much to do. Now I don't ever feel extremely hungry, even when it's time to get lunch before the students attack the cafeteria. Still, I got omurice today. I couldn't eat it all at once, just about half. Isn't that neat?
Took picture with last year's three members of ESS club. They were gonna do peace signs but I suggested thumbs up because it's not so typically Japanese. Don't you think?
There's a first year student, the one who has visited Australia twice, who speaks English so well. She likes to talk and she's just not afraid of anything. She was waiting for the teacher who sits next to me and she kept talking and talking. It's great. She started going to Nova during Spring vacation because she enjoys speaking English so much. I asked if her family speaks English and she said no. She's just got a knack for it, I guess.
Tonight I jogged 1.5km on the treadmill while waiting for the first lesson in the studio room. It was an aerobics class and it wasn't beginner but it wasn't advanced. It had some tricky steps and the instructor wasn't really good at breaking things down. It wasn't only me not understanding Japanese, other people weren't keeping up and the lady in front of me (I was last row) kept turning back and saying, Can't see at all, huh! She was kinda annoyed I think. She had trouble with the steps too. It was too crowded. I bumped with the lady next to me who at times wasn't getting it either, we laughed and said gomennasai. Right after that class was a popular one, I mean you have to get in line for a number an hour before the class starts. I thought it was gonna be like crunches and strength stuff but people right away started setting up step platforms and getting different weights out. The lady who couldn't see was waiting next to me and again mentioned how she couldn't see during the last class. I set up my step next to her and she helped me set up the weights, starting me with the smallest, 1.25kg. I thanked her. That class started with squats and other weird stick-out-you-butt stuff. It didn't feel that good. I liked when we lay on our backs and did bench presses at different speeds to music. Then we did more weird stick-out-your-butt stuff which was kinda fun because we got to lift the weight bar above us like we were buff but it kinda didn't feel good because we were bending forward and straightening up to use our back muscles. Sounds bad to me. I was glad when that class was over. Now I'm pooped.
Ate some half-off bamboo and hijiki and kara-age(!) with my rice. Ate too fast I couldn't swallow. Filled up fast too. Tired... but happy!
Too Much Info... but I don't want it in my head
Woke up early enough to have time to speed over to market through narrow scary side-of-road path. That's so ghetto, when will they fix that for non-car people. I've decided to go to newer market in the opposite direction from now on anyway. Neither of them have non-fat milk though.
Grabbed "American Cherry" containers for nice teacher taking me to tea and for host. Grabbed three mini croissants for 100yen and had time to eat one for breakfast.
Cold misty morning transformed into bright warm wonderful day.
Rode in car to neighboring city, saw beautiful rose garden and ate yummy goodies with nice Japanese people, including kids and a doggie.
Received my own personal hoard of nice teacher's famous homemade cheesecake and chocolate cake! Lucky!
(listening to good old KCRW. Can I work for them when I go home? Remind myself to check out Nikka Costa...)
I liked the Black Tea rose the best. It's huge and has a unique warm deep woodsy yet fresh coral brick color. I've never seen it before. Haha, actually, it's kinda like red rock. Creamy red rock. Took home four roses, none Black Tea, learned supposedly how to take care of them...although they don't seem too happy right now. I put them in water up to their necks for half an hour, then cut the tip while it was underwater, then poured out some of the water. Kept getting poked by thorny thorns. ow! I don't blame them for not liking the water. There's floaty stuff in it. I didn't buy drinking liquid later at the market because I had already spent all the money in my wallet and I didn't have room in my bike basket. Sad, huh.
Went out to eat and check out gym and go shopping (the looking and the bringing home vegetables kind).
Picked up magazine outside lobby, spontaneously asked a staff dude a question and got drawn in while he was trying to show me because I didn't understand all in words. Thought I was waiting for him to come back and take me on a tour but he never came back so another dude said he'd go annai shimasu. While on tour I caught sight of friend and she kindly agreed to help me sign up so that I could get the entrance fee nixed and we both got point cards and chances to get free gifts. Nice guy talked me through all these surveys and sign up sheets using easier Japanese. I can start tomorrow! Then he said I needed shoes for inside-use only. Darn.
Went shoe-shopping. On way, tried the Red Curry at Asian Cup Stand. Tasted good but why so oily and fatty meat! Green curry was better.
I saw the little citrus beaded coinpurse I like for 525yen. Also saw pretty yukata for 3900-6900yen or so, and bows for 2100yen and pretty geta for under 2000yen.
Went to shoe stores. One had the saddest athletic section for women. What's wrong with them. The sports store had better selection. Splurged and got the expensive but super cool looking wide ones for my flat feet. It was the last pair so I asked about a discount. I pointed out that they were kinda not clean... and it worked! I had to think about it still, though, so when I finally took the box up to the cashier the lady there wasn't about to give me any discount, "Sorry, the price is the price," but then I saw the guy who said I'd get a discount and he came over and was all genki and nice but the lady just turned away and did stuff on the computer.
(I just caught myself talking to myself while looking at the food in my fridge. It's scary, it really is! hearing myself, not the food.)
Looked around 100yen shop. Bought some scary eyelashes from cosmetics section to try. 105yen beats 1400yen! Can't call them silly till I play with them once.
From the shoe purchase I got a bunch of tickets to fill out and place in drawings for my choice of things from the mall! There were meals, outfits, items, toys... lots to choose from but I put all my tickets in the drawing for a spree at the 100yen shop. I bet I win! I had to write my address so many times today. Lots of practice!
In all I looked at clothes, belts, denim jackets, shirts for work, bags, shoes, earrings, watches, perfumes, cosmetics... but after the shoes and all I barely had 1000yen so I tried to head to the market. There I got "low-fat" 1.5%milk, 38yen sad little spinach, sirloin steak, onions, bottle of tea for tomorrow, 298yen sushi/udon bento for dinner, 99yen salad for part of lunch tomorrow...
It's not so bad. It's quite nice.
I feel girly.
I like Iwasaki Chihiro's paintings.
Deep Thoughts by foodpocket
Fried stuff ain't so great, like soggy oily tempura crumbs on the top of my udon!
I craved fish tonight, negi-toro don to be exact. Alas I didn't go for it.
I bought steak tonight! More on that when I talk about shopping.
I am happy. I feel very free, determined, excited about what I've got ahead of me. I get waves of fear in the pit of my stomach, no, more like waves of sadness that crash at which point it's like bursts of fear. I get distracted though, and they're gone.
It feels like my brain's been re-awoken from use. Speaking Japanese, reading, comprehending, functioning. Howcome, sometimes, when you have to accomplishing a feat you just wish someone or anyone was at your side so you wouldn't have to be alone; howcome, other times, it's more embarrassing to take a chance when there is someone with you? Silly question, I already see it. It's just that I was in both of those situations today.
It kinda sucks eating alone. Don't wanna listen to gloomy music and don't wanna turn on the TV cuz I've got stuff I wanna do and not get hypnotized as tatami-potato for longer than necessary. I'm not so food-obsessed though. I mean that in a good way. Not to mention I can try things I wouldn't subject others to.
Still, I've tried many things sometimes because of others, and for that I am thankful. Before I came to Japan, I either disliked or rarely ate meat, ginger, fish, kinoko, konnyaku, green tea, eggplant, bell pepper, curry, coconut, Indian food, ...that's all I can think of right now. There's probably more.
Things easy to get reasonably priced in Japan but not at home: yukata, geta, Japanese fabrics, Japanese cucumber, custom-hemmed pants, flat-eyed lash curlers(I'm guessing; never looked at home), double-eyelid cosmetics (again guessing), pretty delicate detailed stationery, neat little Japanese bonsai decoration pieces, cute character bento boxes and accessories, nice expensive looking Japanese kitchenware... I must come back to this list when I go shopping before going home.
I'm still the hungry caterpillar. I guess I can't make any promises until I've made my way to butterfly.
(I had Rumi translate that book to me on Friday for English Club. We found it in Japanese... then after she finished turning the Japanese into English "so that I could understand" we found the English version! I'll have her read it to me next time.)
Time to be buying ticket for plane back home soon.
It's been darn cold the last couple days.
Yesterday I got my own library card for school.
New teacher who sits next to me says the funniest things like only referring to her spouse, "my bad husband... I don't care about him, he can do whatever he likes, and I do what I like. But... I make food for him and...sometimes I chat with him and sometimes I tease him ...so that he can be healthy. If he is healthy, then I can be happy; I am free to do what I want. That's right, if I have my house, I must have him. If I lived alone in my house, it would not be safe. So, I must have him for protection. I wish he was well, then he could be guard! This is necessary! He is almost like an animal, like...dog! In the house, he is only...an accessory." and "When I was younger I had desire, I was full of desire, to do anything. But now... I just give up, everything. It takes much energy, anger. So I just enjoy... I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy TV...I like to watch baseball games, and variety shows...and I enjoy studying English..!"
She's so entertaining. She likes to sketch diagrams as she explains her cooking steps to me somehow in very vague detail. She made me eat maybe 1/4 of her takenoko and marinated chicken (one piece of each) today at lunch by putting it on my sushi tray to try. It was good. I kept saying No, that's your lunch-- but she leaned in and whispered like she often does, "To tell the truth, I will be leaving as soon as possible" because on Tues and Thurs she's only supposed to work in the morning. She often stays into the afternoon to work on lesson material and such. I like when she's there, actually.
"You should just tease the students... not teach, tease."
Today I came back to my desk from an especially frustrating group of students and I guess I was really obviously distressed when she asked, "By the way, are you okay today" and I managed to pour out my gripes to her while she listened and was perfectly understanding and supportive so that I instantly felt much better. That's what lead to her "just enjoy" advice, I think.
"I'm going to try to improve my manners."
First day back at base school after "GW". TT. These days, depending on the class and the teacher, I get so frustrated no matter how much I try to prepare and tell myself to be patient. One class was dead silent. It bothers me because they all know the answer to what I'm talking about but not one will make a sound. Of course I could pick out a student but that is no fun. All the teacher has to do is say a few encouraging or simply rump-spurring words in Japanese and the class would keep going but so many times I'm tired of talking for nothing and I look over and I'm on my own because the teacher is just watching the students. No sense of urgency. Sometimes I wonder if nobody else is uncomfortable with sitting and waiting for time to run out.
I was reading a Japan Times newspaper at my desk. Some students came to ask me something because nobody else was around. The first one points and gasps and looks at her friends. I turned to the front to show them It's the Japan Times. "It's all in English!" She'd never seen an English newspaper before, seriously. "I can't read it!" but as soon as she said that she gasped and pointed again at a word, "I can read it! LONDON!"
Later on after I guided her to the desk she was looking for she exclaimed how good my English pronunciation was...
In another TT class I had some great volunteers. Granted, unlike the other classes who made sure to take their notes up to the front of the class with them to read from, these volunteers didn't care what they were volunteering for and went up unprepared; granted, the girl who started it has spent time abroad in Australia, nevertheless it's impressive how those good sports made up their own dialogues on the spot in front of the class.
I got a slight bleach smudge on my sweater sleeve.
I got a nice card from Maki. She was a third year last year and I helped her writing and preparing for interviews for college. She's at Sophia University now at Faculty of Comparitive Culture, where she says "there are students from international schools and people like me that have lived in other countries and some that have never been out of Japan and some native English speakers." Maki lived in Indiana during elementary school and she basically sounds like a native speaker of English. She wrote in her essay that she wanted to work for the UN. When I saw The Interpreter, I thought of Maki.
Speaking of graduated students, Hiroko is now at Tokyo Foreign Language University(?), Toko is at JCU(?), a private school, and Moe who studied abroad for a year in New Zealand right before graduating is now studying Spanish at university. I helped them with writing. Hiroko improved a lot and surprised me with her fluency. I hope she continues using her English writing skills.
I had kitsune udon at school for lunch today. It's not as good as visit school udon!
Time for goodnight.
Weezer Make Believe
i have many doubts about my motives i have many fears about my greed i have always hurt the one that i love so ill turn and look the other way
how is your heart little darlin i didnt mean to get so mad let me just hold you closely how did things get so bad i know how to pick on you you push me over the edge we cause so much agony we cant seem to move ahead this is such a pity we should give our love to each other not this hate that destroys us what kind of future will we have will we ever find peace
i tried my best i gave my all sometimes my best wasn't good enough for you sometimes i let you go sometimes i hurt you so i know that i can be the meanest person in the world so I apologize to u and to anyone else that i hurt too I may not be a perfect soul but i can learn self control so pardon me my friend i never thought that anyone was more important than the plans I made. but now I feel the shame. there's no one else to blame for all the broken hearts scattered on the field of war so I apologize to u and anyone else that i hurt too I may not be a perfect soul but i can learn self control so pardon me my friend
im going to try to improve my manners everyone, yes everyone is my friend
"Beverly Hills, that's where I want to be"
New Weezer is out. You can hear it end-to-end at Weezer's space.
When I first heard it I thought it wasn't good; just like how I felt when I first listened to Pinkerton! In one night, though, I'm liking it a lot. It feels familiar and simple but very modern and hodgepodge. nooks and crannies.
With the other half of the chicken breast that the left pocket didn't use, I finally decided to try Julia's recipe for Korean-Style Spicy Chicken because I pretty much had all the ingredients.
I didn't marinate at all though, maybe a couple of minutes of mixing counts. I used a whole white onion, two cloves of garlic and about a dinner-spoonful each of soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegared red pepper paste that came with the meal on Korean Air, and sugar. It was YUMMY! though I used more oil and sugar than necessary for the amount I was cooking. Still... YUMMY!! Thank you Julia!
Oh yeah, I also threw in some chunks of negi (leek) so that's the green in the picture.
Prima Taste brand Mee Rebus
(just add my own noodles and egg and tofu...!)
I smell like OFF! with DEET.
Ran to the river tonight. Mypace.
The left pocket is making one and a half chicken breasts with black bean sauce from packet.
Last night I made Mee Rebus from box using yakisoba noodles and had the other huge serving at visit school for lunch today. Japanese teachers saw it and asked if it was kare (Japanese curry), if it was so-su aji (in Japanese, sauce is a specific flavor)... It's kind of like when I showed students at base school an American Denny's menu and they pointed at the picture of the green key lime pie, Ah! Matcha!
Why do I smell like Off! I should smell like Envy by Gucci. It reminds me of an old Victoria's Secret lotion I used but they discontinued. What was it called, I forget.
While running I caught nasty whiffs of that smell that apparently comes from some kind of plant during this season. There's also one area that I go by that always smells like Easter. It's not so unpleasant; it's like the vinegar dye for Easter eggs. I'll never know why it smells that way, though.
Not at night, but during the light hours that I had to walk around in to get to and from school, there were little gnats everywhere. They kept landing on me, on my pants and sleeves and in between my jacket and shirt collars. I had to shake them off but some would get smashed in, bleh. More than one ran into my face and I think I smeared one on my lip/chin trying to flick it off, bleh! My face was clear at one point but when I got home and looked in the mirror there was a little black mangled thing with a wing sticking out right there on my face in my grin crease. eew. I hope I didn't inhale any. I'm lucky they aren't out by the time I run because I'm really sucking in air then.
I got bird-pooped on today too on the way to school. Noticed a little brown worm on my knuckle and freaked and tried to brush it off but I killed it--no, I just smeared the nasty bird poop that it was. Oh well, it's just bird poop. I was almost to the school and I washed my hands before it got messy. Lucky it wasn't anywhere else...
New softer toilet paper at visit school. Last I knew, they used this rrrrrough stuff that was more like paper towels, those brown recycled paper kinds they use for art class. I always wondered if the quality of TP at my schools was to match the quality of students. Base school has really smooth delicate toilet paper. Visit school had butt tissue fit for prisoners... in my opinion. Now, however, visit school has nice fluffy, even perforated TP. The students are getting better...
Why do the bad looking boys (scary, orange hair, shaved and shaped eyebrows, make-up, etc.) who sit in the back like to have rolls of TP on their desks?
I smell food!
No Golden Week Cheese Crust
Today is Hut no Hi (Hut Day) at Pizza Hut. We tried pan crust this time instead of cheese-filled. It's yummy too.
Time to hang laundry.
Golden Week French Toast
Ran today. Went further than usual, to the river, but not along it like last year. Will work up to that.
Cleaned up a bit today. That's good. It's really good when you sleep on a futon on the floor, as in Japan.
The left pocket made me french toast for breakfast! YUM! It was his first try, too. Bravo!
Seize the food, for Japan is time-service only! In other words, this blog is to preserve, share, and make the most of my six months left living in Japan. Yes, I am obsessed with food. Cheap food!