Monday, January 21, 2008

Ice and castles, games and lasagna

Too much blog writing this month me thinks. In theory it should be a short entry but you know my passion for rambling ☺ not to mention how many filler stories I can pull out involving exploits with my crazy kids. I suppose this “week’s” adventure begins Thursday. That card game John (onisan / older brother) taught, 99, makes for an excellent English game/lesson and many people are surprisingly rusty when it comes to numbers. In fact a couple of my classes consisted of just playing that card game with the one rule modification of “when you play a card, you have to say what number you’re at; In English” ☺ All too fast and easily they go to saying it in Japanese or they get bored with the slow pace of figuring out the numbers and not quite understanding such a new game, giving up before 99 when the game gets more crazy-go-nuts. For the most part I think it went really well, even if ½ the students figured the game out after I left and played it later with their friends… the non-English version of it ☺

Haha ah well, it will make playing it in the future easier should I pull out a quick deck of cards and tell them to run with it. My New Zealand tutor group didn’t want to learn actually, they just wanted to play 99 ☺ I did incredibly poorly, losing out incredibly fast and when I was out of the game they figured we should stop playing and get on with the lesson. Unfortunately all the shenanigans of such an entertaining (and sometimes loud) game got us kicked out of the library! We were sent to a much colder room where the focus quickly shifted from “hurry and get this done” to “hurry so we can go to Tony’s and see his kitten” (rough translation smoothed out immensely for your reading comfort of course) (pictured: ice sculptures and Matsumoto castle)

Of course right after my last blog when I was neenering (is that a word?) all the Saskatchewanians (watch my English fail) cold snow ice ground tomorrow, obtain! So that night it snowed and now my town is covered in what seems to be a more permanent snow/ice fall. Karma eh? So we quickly froze on the slow walk (I walk too fast so when I’m in a group it just appears to be slow, Moon-Ju said many people in Regina/Canada walk really fast) and got to my house. Otaku kind of freaked out at first from the 4 strangers that quickly encircled her saying “kawaii” and reaching to pet; she clawed me up in one desperate attempt to escape.

All was good in a little bit and before I knew it the focus changed from my kitty Otaku to the PS3, Wii and pile of games that were sitting in my room. We tried Wii sports tennis but the room proved too small for 4 people swinging their arms, I need to reorganize the place maybe, especially considering how much some of the furniture gets used… but bowling was a success. I think they tried to teach me some cuss words for when I do bad but unfortunately for them I heard those cuss words a million times already in anime ☺ After an hour or two it was time to go and catch their train home.

Otaku, who was scared at first, cried when they left but it was a good time. At the very least it was a good push for me to clean my house having people over again; it is far too easy to sit in my heated room and keep warm when outside that room I have to routinely change Otaku’s water dish because it has frozen over. Currently that’s what I blame my lack of new oven use on as simply cooking supper can be a frozen-foot ordeal in matter of minutes followed by a rush to the warm room to stick my feet in front of the heater for a while; I’ll bake more in the spring maybe.

Friday was nice and relaxing with a couple classes during the day and a couple of movies at night. Kubota stopped by and gave me a much-needed kick in the rear with the Japanese (tell me about your day in Japanese). I then realized I haven’t really done anything with it since I left for Korea. That was really nice of him, you be surprised how much a little push can get you moving in the right direction. I didn’t really have to clean that night, as my house was mostly clean already from Thursday for the upcoming Video Game party that I threw for Saturday…

It was nice having people come over and play video games again, and with my new oven I had ingredients for making some lasagna! We were excited, but it seems many JETs are on diets or vegetarians or things of that nature so the desire for vegetarian lasagna was expressed. There is lots of pressure here if you’re a girl to lose weight, especially if you have (oh noes!) curves! How dreaded… most foods that you buy have the number of calories right on the front label to help you better count. But anyways I like food so who am I to argue? I had never made lasagna before and I was feeling pretty good at that point; so another JET, Charity, volunteered to cook it up.

It was great and all, until it came time to plug in my oven at my house for the first time. We knocked out the entire house’s power so many times until we found a happy medium for the oven to not hate us. That pretty much killed the video game party and I somehow overlooked not having any playing cards at my house (they were all at school for the 99 game) Luckily I had that monopoly board game otherwise there might have been a mutiny and we went around the house unplugging everything we saw. Finally fate smiled upon us and stopped knocking out the power; we were reduced to my new oven, 1 light in the kitchen on and one light in my heated room on the lowest setting, all use those low voltage bulbs. That’s is my house’s limit, but at least I can use the oven right? ;)

During the 20 minutes of cooking or so the house’s temperature kept dropping but luckily the body heat made up for it. A trip to the bathroom involved me shining a flashlight through the window (distorted glass; you can’t see anything you pervs :P) for people who had an appointment in said vicinity of business. I need to buy some lights as well so I can have a disco ball party; the glow sticks I brought out were a nice touch though.

Eventually the oven was done and we could turn lights/heaters/music back on and eat the tasty lasagna. I even made chip dip with what little sour cream I lucked out in finding and it was a nice taste of home. It was expensive but worth it, maybe $10 for the dip ingredients and $7 for the bag of ruffled chips; funny how you gain new appreciation for small comforts when they are gone; I miss Kraft Dinner :’(. Oh and the soup mix for the dip came in these weird hard cubes. I had to put on shoes and stomp them to turn them to powder for the dip, as they hurt my callus-free pretty-boy feet. Oooh my soft tootsies! (pictured: John, Jake, Me, Russ. Ignore that I used cheap plates and it slopped on my pants)

And now for the stupidest thing that I did that night which innocently made that easily the most expensive party I have ever thrown. I had my mug of refreshment nonchalantly resting beside my chair in a perfect lazy-man, only-have-to-move-my-forearm position for easy replenishment when I quickly made a text message / email on my phone to Jake and company who were enroot. After the message I put my phone down in my perfect lazy-man way so I could get back to the video game at hand when it coincidentally got completely submerged in its pool of impeding death. What rotten luck, that’s what it was. The mug could barely fit the phone and it happened to be full enough to drown the sucker. My phone hung on for a little bit, but coughed and sputtered its last. It is quite depressing, will go to the dealer later and hopefully not be out $500…

But enough on that, the party was fun and it was clearly too cold to crash at my house so everyone went home maybe before midnight. Sunday saw a slow start to the day but Neal (JET in Ina, went to TGS’07 with me) gave me a needed kick to the butt to get out and see a once-in-a-year deal in Matsumoto, ice sculptures at the castle. I took $40 thinking it would be plenty for a day out, especially if you’re not doing anything expensive like walking around and sightseeing but Japan proved me wrong yet again. Anyways you don’t need to hear how quickly expenses pile up in Japan from me again, I’ve done that enough.

We went out to Matsumoto and saw an igloo! Neal never saw one before (he’s from South Africa) and later on we braved the line up to get inside to see a crappy steel mesh and carpentry enforced igloo. Feeling ripped off we quickly vacated said sham. I told Neal I will make him a proper igloo when we have enough snow with my elite skills earned during winter survival course in elementary. I remember that time vividly because I still think it is stupid to take time to rip down your igloo the next day and carefully replace each snowflake to the place you found them as to not “disturb the local eco-system” or something. I mean if anyone takes the time to build a proper igloo you can guess they are in trouble.

I still remember arguing intensively with the teacher until I backed them down into a corner: “life or death, you have to keep moving, do you still spend the last 3 of your 5 hours alive replacing snow to where you found it, or trying to find help?” And again like with another debate I had with a teacher who very aggressively pushed her …view on us students (it was like grade 3 too!), they finally agreed to my bleak, last-ditch, scenario tied to all kinds of inane (inane, not insane) conditions to buy my silence. But, Matt advised me against telling the later story and he is probably right, I even deleted what her view was because people still get upset at it even being mentioned and go out and murder doctors. That was right around the time I realized to get good marks in English class you have to agree with the teacher; there was no room for debate or freethinking. (Yes, I still did poorly on my essay that had to support her …view. So the teacher had the last laugh)

Wow that was a mess, went from seeing an igloo to talking about …something completely unrelated in like 5 seconds, funny how you can remember bitter memories from the past. So yes, after the igloo we took our time gawking at all the different ice sculptures they had set up. It was especially pretty with Matsumoto castle in the background. I guess the sculptors were up all night working on these beautiful pieces. It was kind of a warm day too, some of the ice was visibly weakening but we still enjoyed them for what they were.

Afterwards we went on a tour of the castle itself and it was really neat. I believe this is one of the top 5 or so castles to see in Japan, maybe because it didn’t suffer through massive reconstruction or anything like that during certain periods of turmoil in the not-too-distant past. There were many floors with steep stairs and many sniper/archery holes built into the walls everywhere. The whole thing was made out of very nice wood.

Neal and I walked around looking for the foreign food store in town and we made off with some foreign delicacies like Root Beer and pickles ☺ It was a lot of walking though and we were both pretty tired. We were hoping earlier to watch a movie at a theater (been a while for me) but I think the scenario on the train went something like this:

Me: (yawning violently) “oh man, what time is it?”
Neal: (checks phone [mine was broken]) “it’s 5:30”
Me: “Whaaaaaaaaa?” (it had been dark for a while, felt like 8 or 9)
Neal: (yawns)
Me: “If you were a vampire, who would you bite first? I call dibs on that guy there” (pointing)
That guy there: “nan de kore wa??? Ahhhh itai!” (gets blood sucked)

That last part may, or may not, be true but I was so tired I hardly remember. So ya, we never made it to the movie and went home. I spent the night eating non-garlic related food with Otaku. Today has been pretty good, most memorable part was when some students came in and I tried making small talk with them (as I do with each batch that cycles through here.) Somehow asking about if they had a coat for the snow they were saying some Japanese I didn’t understand. They said “gunman” or something and I thought they said “gundam” (popular anime). Well one thing led to another and I was showing them a big-mech anime that I happened to be watching last night while relaxing. They watched a couple seconds in confusion (nad de…? /what the…?) and soon one student looked me in the eye and said in perfect English: “are you Otaku?” (again Otaku is like geek / nerd)

Hahaha so classy, I escaped humiliation though by showing them my Otaku at home, one picture happened to have her beside my Nintendo Wii. I tried telling the students it is my kitty who plays games and watches anime and I only join her ;) haha. “Crazy cat” ;).

It snowed again today big time. It is so beautiful around town with the snow in the mountains and in the funky trees. Some students built an igloo! It was so cool, I made sure to grab pictures. But ya, looks like I didn’t have to pull out filler stories and I still wrote over a 2000 word essay, that’s enough for today. Maybe I should get back to that studying Japanese business.

"We all learn by the honorable path of horrible mistakes" -unknown



Anonymous said...

If I was in a life or death situation you bet I would take the time to carefully put the snow back in its rightful place.

Its funny you mention that on your blog as I still remember that to this day.

Good times.

Tnoy said...

You remember that too? haha that's awesome, good to know I scarred other people's childhoods too ;)

Did you argue with me or did you agree? I has been a while and I can't quite remember (10 years?)