Monday, December 17, 2007

There is a cute little girl living with me

If you want to listen to an amazing song, it’s called “still alive” and it is played at the end of the game “portal”. It’s so happy and upbeat even though it’s the end boss singing about the inhumane experiments it conducts. ☺ Anyways, busy as always. Monday ended with Matt, Jake, Junko and her friend and I going for Ramen and then playing some video games at my place after until late. I was lucky to have my blog ready as I only had 5 minutes to post it before I had to run off. I was up a little late considering I was teaching at the Ina Yogou (handicapped school) for the first time the next day.

I am and always was nervous around people of disabilities, maybe mainly because I don’t know what is politically correct. Before saying handicapped was ok, but now it seems you have to say ‘special’ instead. Even saying that now makes me all squirmy as the last thing I ever want to do is offend someone, I catch some flak for being too polite sometimes but maybe that’s the Canadian side of me coming out. The movie “Canadian Bacon” comes to mind where all the Canadians are apologizing profusely even though they are being rudely shoved to the ground. So yes, the day was an interesting and enjoyable one. I met many wonderful people and brought many smiles to teachers and students alike. Many of my classes were me talking about myself or Canada and showing photos on the projector of last year’s Christmas at uncle Arthur’s place and Mom’s birthday last March when we had a roast chicken.

It’s fun explaining how we don’t eat horse in North America or how Santa asks you if you’ve been naughty when you’re sitting on his knee or how my family loves to eat their roast chicken with cranberry sauce even though I don’t like it. One teacher was so interested in seeing pictures of gravy being made (and hearing how it was my favourite part) I need to get the recipe for her and email it. Other time was spend with the students at lunch where I felt like a surgeon; everyone had to wear a facemask, bandana and apron after profusely scrubbing their hands with an abundance of soap and water. We also played some “badminton” in the playroom. I used quotations around badminton as we basically just had racquets and birdies, but it was still enjoyable. One student drew and coloured a picture for me of Jack Skeleton, another student gave me some Dragon Ball Z manga. (manga = Japanese comic book) There was a music class too where I sang “O Canada” to everyone alone and then lead them in “if you’re happy and you know it” and “Jingle bells”. We sung a number of Christmas songs that day.

It was a great experience and one everyone should have I believe. I remember when Melissa (my imoto; younger sister) worked with some special children and how that positively affected her. I like to believe I am more humble now but at any rate I look forward to future visits, the next being in February. Coming home Tuesday I went straight from the train station to the Japanese lesson’s Christmas party. I helped make Gyoza (same as Chinese Jyoze; Chinese pirogies) I didn’t do very well, but that and teaching about our Ukrainian pirogies inspired me to make some of my own. At any rate we had an amazing meal (theme of the week) and I even won a prize from a game we all played later. One of my students is from the Philippines and her Japanese is so well she now volunteers in giving the Japanese lessons as well. Her mom was kind enough to give me a ride home, which was much appreciated; as I was so exhausted I was practically passing out.

Wednesday and I’m off to Ina again for the 3rd day in a row. The 3rd years here are now spending their last semester cramming hard for their university exams and the upcoming Nation wide exam that pits the students against each other, maybe similar to SATs in the US, but I don’t know much about either. That night we had a going away party for Neal as he leaves to go back home to South Africa for almost a month. We went to a Co-Cos restaurant and had another good meal. I’m not a big fan of how small many meal portions are in Japan; I had 3 courses, doughnuts, milkshake and a beer that night and then I was full, eating out adds up fast on the wallet.

Maybe the best part of the night was me getting a picture with a large stuffed Doraemon doll as Co-cos maybe owns the mascot, he was everywhere. Also we had good conversations and wished Neal well as he stressed out and goes broke getting Christmas presents for his “large Indian family” to make up for being gone a year and a half, I will most likely be in the same situation next Christmas if I stay another year.

Thursday I was bombarded with 4 classes (almost 5!) and a tutoring session after school again. The students surprise me all the time with their abilities as most of the time I don’t know what to expect. I’m just lucky they try so hard I suppose and hope these really will help them when they go to New Zealand. The most enjoyable part is just the conversation we have at the end of the lesson, this time however they hijacked my cell phone and send me emails. Not to mention they have my blog website now (hello Aya, Ikumi, and Emi if you’re reading this :P) And yes, I still bug them about building snowmen which isn’t much of a stretch anymore, the ground is cold enough for the snow to not melt right away even though the equinox is this week apparently so in theory things should start warming up.

That night I had my first night off in a week! Yay, time to do some grocery shopping and some of that laundry that has piled up on the floor after overflowing the washing machine! It finally dried on Sunday (it’s hard to dry clothes now that it’s so cold outside) I’m thinking I need to find a nearby Laundromat, maybe tonight, as the washing machine is full again already. I tried out the Bluetooth microphone that I got and made my first real long overdue call back home since coming here 4.5 months ago. It is hard to co-ordinate, as I need to stay up really late to call to not wake people up or wake up early which is something I don’t do.

So I was tired Friday again and made it out alive again somehow, just to go home and rush to a party that night about an hours drive away. There were many people and a lot of mingling done (good meal again), but maybe the most entertaining of the night was the fire show that happened outside. One of the guests, Edwards, brought his own apparatus that he used to practice with daily for a long time. The photos turned out amazingly. There was something about the exposure taking too long and you got really cool streaks of light for photos. It was really interesting to just watch him swirl them around (video on youtube) as the expression on his face was so relaxed and blissful. The humming noise they made as they moved around were something else as well, very hypnotic. I got to try for a little bit but not long as I was mostly taking photos. I guess how it works is you soak Kevlar as wicks and they don’t get damaged from fire. Pretty neat stuff, stops fire and bullets at the same time.

There was a meteor shower that night as well but it was kind of cloudy and I didn’t see much. The house was pretty full of people sleeping on the floor; I ended up under the kitchen table for the night ☺

I skipped out on the caroling as I wanted to go home and relax but alas I got a call from Erica’s co-worker about some kittens they were trying to give away. So I roughed out yet another hour of driving trying to find the place while fighting to stay awake and long story short I have a cute little girl living in my house now ☺ I am going to name her “otaku” (Japanese word for enthusiast/maniac. What my students call me as it usually pertains to people who play too many video games and watch too much anime). She is so cute. I had time to buy her some presents and toys, take some pictures and then I had to rush off to Ina again for Brett’s birthday party.

I got there and I realized I was still wearing the clothes I was teaching in Friday, slept in that night, and played with a cat that day with. I chose to drive though to make sure I didn’t drink (Japan has zero tolerance for drinking and driving). There was great food and people and lots of mingling was done at Hiroko’s (name of the owner, is fluent and very friendly)

I went home and slept in for once, it was much appreciated. My poor kitty was lonely all night though as she was crying and overly affectionate when I found her in the morning. I can tell she will need a lot of attention, at least until she grows up some more. We played for a little bit but I had to go back to Ina yet again, this time my co-works Ono Sensei invited me over for lunch with her family. Talk about amazing food. I had a wonderful time and we visited for hours. They had been to America for a year or so and were fluent so we had a great time. This was maybe the first time I was invited over to a Japanese house like that and it was another reason I didn’t want to drink much Saturday, although it was very generously refilled in my cup that Sunday.

We ate “nabe” I guess you could call it. You have a broth and a heater in the middle of the table and then you put your ingredients inside when you are ready to have it cooked. We cooked tofu, cabbage, chicken legs, soba and other goodies; it was amazing. Also, I need to buy some sesame seed dressing; that was pretty tasty. I went home and played video games while otaku slept on my lap instead of getting stuff done as I’m always complaining I have no time for that. It was a good evening; Mario Galaxy is a lot of fun.

My cell phone got hijacked again by students first thing this morning so again, hello Nanako and Saki if you’re reading this. ☺ We are going to have our English club Christmas part on Wednesday most likely which is good as I felt I never had much time to prepare anything, I would like to make some of that rice crispy cake again.

Well that was the week crammed into a very tight nutshell, way too much happened and I feel more than overwhelmed. They say I’ll only get busier but I don’t see how that is humanly possible, I have to be careful not to fall into “this needs to get done” mind frame. I sat down Sunday and thought “alright now I have time to quickly beat this game so I can play the next one!” and instantly saw my fault for that. Entertainment isn’t meant to be completed as fast as possible; for then it becomes work. I made sure to clear my head of worries like the carpet that needed vacuuming under my feet or the Japanese learning that has been horribly neglected and just enjoy myself. It has definitely has taken me out of my comfort zone being busy like this and I’m looking forward to the challenges that await me.

"The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want." - Ben Stein


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