Though I have little time to write and less to sleep and eat, I am having a wonderful time hanging out with Hannah and pretending that I know stuff about Japan. We've had but one day of rest since Sunday and are gearing up for a full next couple of days.
We went to Hiroshima on Saturday night, then to Miyajima the next day. On the island we rode a cable car to the top of Mount Misen, then hiked back down. We followed advice for the "scenic" route down from a local. Turns out "scenic" means "forever long," so we broke up the back-breaking peregrination with some pirate antics. Then I spliced them all together for a quick video. Enjoy. More to follow in the coming week.
A pottery shop near Koyomizu-dera. I took this while I was walking, so good job me.
Each rickshaw company has its own uniform. These are some of my favorites. Who wears short shorts?
The gate to Kiyomizu-dera. It was really bright out and my contacts were bothering me, so my eyes are barely open. This is a theme from that day.
Tourist trap. But someday I will join the legions of Japanese and foreign tourists who feel like getting pulled around by an informative man in tiny pants.
Japanese curry is an art all of its own. It's less soupy than other regional curries and is made to be eaten with rice. Curry rice (or carreigh raissu) is one of my favorite Japanese foods, and is something I eat a lot after a long day, or when it rains. Or if it's cold. Or if I just feel like it. Or if I go to a new restaurant and see it on the menu, because it's one of the few things that I can read because it's not in kanji.
The ever-classy Rubino Hotel, where the ALT seminar was held in August. Very under-the-sea type of decor.
I think this was supposed to be artistic, but I don't get why they couldn't have just left the seats on and turned them around. How about it, Rubino?
A heavenly-inspired diet.
A corner of my neighborhood
Spider-bite bulldog jaw. It looks like I had teeth pulled.
Thank you for helping me purge my wardrobe. In true Japanese fashion you anticipated my wants and needs without a word from me. You're right, I didn't need a lot of the clothes that were in the dryer, though I appreciate that you allowed me my favorite t-shirt. I hope the orphanage to which you will no doubt send the garments you appropriated appreciates your selflessness.
Now that my clothes collection fits comfortably in the storage which I have alloted to such items, I do make the following humble request: Next time you are in need of the dryer and my laundry is in the way, please toss my clothes into the pink basket which I always place in front of the machine. Though I feel the size, color, and position in which I leave the basket make it difficult to overlook, you did manage to miss it when you helped me get rid of my clothes. Well, except for the socks.
In summary, thank you, good citizen, and please keep your mitts off my clothes in the future.
I was back at school for the first time today, so I prepared by leaving some work until this morning and sleeping in.
Let me explain, you Judge Reinholts.
My very first honest-to-goodness day back was at an alternative junior high, to which maybe three or sometimes more or fewer students come at some points. There are three staff members, none of whom speak passable English. The school is on the third floor of the public library (which doesn't even open until nine o'clock a.m.) and has better computers than the city hall. I can do whatever I want.
I had decided on Monday to talk about school life in America. Usually there are three students—a girl who loves the band Janne Da Arc, a boy who plays go, and a tall silent kid who is nigh-mute in public—so I prepared for an intimate setting with awesome handouts and a slick slideshow. Side note: it was surprisingly difficult to find photos on Google Image search of mixed race classrooms. One would think that there are still only two races in America, and all the European descendants live in the MidWest. I waited until the morn to type up a short "fun" quiz about American junior high schools, made myself a nice cereal breakfast, debated taking my laundry out of the washer so that it doesn't turn stanky, and took care of the rabbit. I went to school.
Only the sullen mute kid showed up, but at the suggestion of the head teacher I started anyway. With coercion the boy sat at the table across from me, looking at the handout and slideshow once before putting his head down.
The teachers spoke to him, probably something like this: "Hey, big rude it is. Slideshow in that direction look. Behavior in class what should be?"
I continued, because I'm used to this by now.
The boy lifted his head for a few seconds, then returned to the classic I-don't-give-a-root's-toot-about-your-foreign-gibberish sleeping pose. When the teachers admonished him again he scooted his rolly-chair backward across the small room. He spent the rest of the time fingering the books on the bookshelf in a bored manner. I think he might have been listening to the teachers explain my English to each other in Japanese, and so maybe he learned something by proxy, so I win.
I talked to the teachers, because they were embarrassed about the rudeness and wanted to be polite. I told them about how students eat lunch in the cafeteria, how art is a class and not a club, how "school bus yellow" is a real color. Then we paused to watch a random parade of the high school marching band and costumed students. We went back inside and discussed colleges and universities, during which one of the teachers accidentally revealed that he knows more English than he lets on, by which I deduced that I should not start muttering to myself in anger, which I haven't done yet but you never know.
I went home at 12:20. We ran 20 minutes over lunchtime because bilingual discussions about public and private school systems are time-consuming. After a brief stop to pick up some raisin bread because the grocery was all out of 8-slice bread loaves (6-slice and under is like Texas toast) I made it to my front door to greet my rabbit and make myself a nice egg and a little bit of cheese sandwich. I put it on lettuce both for the aesthetic and to remind myself to eat roughage.
Also, I was already feeding Kuma some anyway, and what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I am the gander in this analogy, and "good" is vegetables.
I also paid 195 yen for this beauty on the right. It might seem exorbitant, but it was actually an excellent price for one peach. Plus, it was totally worth it when I realized that I hadn't eaten a peach since April or before, probably because I could either eat peaches or pay my rent, but not both.
Lest you think that I was goofing off the entire time, know that Google Image Search is blocked at work. Tomorrow I will be at Shotoku Chugakko and will be faking my way through an informative and exciting lecture on summer camp. Despite my vast collection of pictures of children whose names I have long forgotten, I still needed good shots of archery, cabins, and other such campy goodness. I searched those puppies up and down, set the windows so that I could download the pictures without an internet connection, and headed back to work.
Laminating, friends, is not a job for the faint of heart. The magnanimous Kim-Chi helped me cut and laminate my pictures, and it took TWO HOURS. We were there 45 minutes after it was time for us to get our tails home. Those brats had best be grateful tomorrow, because by now I've had enough practice to laminate their faces.
I had little time to do anything chez moi before I went to a pre-scheduled dinner with Margaret. We had a good time, though some of our interactions made me wonder if my brand of deadpan humor is growing superfluously effective. Hey, Margaret, sometimes I say funny things with a poker face. Can you not read it? Do you read my blog? Doubtful. If you ever read this, I expect a comment. Poker face.
After a nice yakisoba dinner with a tea float (surprisingly tasty) I went to calligraphy and had a dandy time (not the Oscar Wilde kind, mind you). There is little to say in that regard, save for that I was complimented on not looking like a slob. What can I say, I hadn't had opportunity to change from my work clothes. One of the students from the Tuesday class joined the Wednesday group specifically to listen to us speak English. She'll soon be attending the University of Arizona and want the practice. Hello, new friend. You may only want me for my English, but I'll win you over with endearing weirdness yet.
On that note, I'd like to add that it feels odd to explain to Japanese people, "I'm not considered normal in my own country. Most people don't sing and dance in the streets." It feels odd to have the other foreigners in the room voice agreement, and then I have to figure out whether or not condescension is involved. The Japanese folk all nod thoughtfully, and I wonder if they consider my dance moves representative of the nation, which would be odd. I alleviate the oddness by reminding myself that "normal" people stay stateside, and may never see Japan and would probably be very impatient with a Japanese tourist whose English is okay but not great.
After calligraphy I bought some more groceries to make myself feel better about buying two packs of overpriced Oreos, talked to a friend who works at the English school (located in the grocery/department store) then tried to pay an overdue bill at the convenience store. It didn't work. Then I made two advance payments on my student loans online, so I feel better.
Here's what has kept me entertained for the last two days:
Lots of Oreos. The time of summer when it's too hot to eat anything may be over, but I still consider Oreos and milk a meal. It's like my junior year in college when I was a little/really sad about living on my own because it felt a little like I had been rejected and I hated my education major (Math for Teachers should not be that hard) and everyone was busy on my birthday and so the dinner at which I had my first margarita felt really rushed and then I got my purse stolen two nights later even though the police caught the guy and I was all worried about going to France and occasionally I would accidentally lock myself out of my room when I went to take a shower. So I ate nothing but Hot Tamales and cafeteria food (lunch only) for a month or two, so my teeth always felt like sweaters and I flossed like a maniac and was superfraid of cavities. It's like that, but without the mild depression.
The Guild, which is a web series by Felicia Day (of Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog fame) about gamers. Knowing a few gamers myself, this show is quietly hilarious. Start with Season 1.
Animals Who Need Big Kisses blog, which is Jack Handey-ish in its idiosyncratic humor. Why do grasshoppers need big kisses? Find out for yourselves, you sloths. Then again, sloths have been deemed worthy of big kisses, too.
Hey, everyone, when does good TV start again in the U.S? I need to know when exactly I'll have to fork out dough to get an extra hard drive to hold the episodes, because I gotta spend money on sumthin.
Final note: a guy from New Brunswick told me that he could tell I was from the MidWest even before I proclaimed Oklahoman nativity. Not pleased, but pretending to be amused, I said, "Really? My parents would be ashamed of me. How could you tell?" The dude said it was the way I pronounced my short a and o. Oklahowmuh. Where'r you fruhm. And so on.
I have admitted to a small trace of an accent before—fer instead of for, truncating my -ing verbs—but have only once had someone tell me my regional dialect was obvious. Hey, Margaret, when you blamed a new country accent on association with me and the two other Oklahomans in town I got really mad, but didn't say anything to you because I didn't know if I just couldn't hear it when I talked. Well, you were right about my accent, even though you said you didn't know exactly what it was or what you had picked up. Or should I type, AYuxceint. It's one thing to admit to fer when told, "You don't sound like an Oklahoman," but an entire other colored horse (p.c? Think not) to be informed of speech patterns of which I was unaware.
I've thought it over and decided that I sound continental enough to pass for Ohioan, unless they have funny accents that I didn't know about. Where, indeed, is the neutral accent? What ever happened to that snooty, almost-British New England Old Money accent, and why is it no longer the paragon of proper diction? Don't worry, Mom and Dad, I'll watch my a and o sounds.