Saturday, December 30, 2006

a new post with a new Blogger. fancy.
this is an e-mail i just wrote to a friend and thought it summarized well my current mood and state of affairs. hope he doesn't mind that i copy it here. i promise to write in more detail about my New Year's experiences.

sitting here in my apartment with the AC blowing hot air, it feels nice and cozy, but also a bit lonely. it's the night of the 30th, New Years right around the corner and i'm on vacation, but am restless. for what, i know not.
had dinner by myself and maybe that's what got the lonely mood started. i actually don't mind eating alone. had a good book with me and it was fine, but towards the end of the meal, looking around at all the families and couples, it kind of nagged at me that i was alone.

tomorrow one of my bosses and his family will pick me up and take me for a drive, and lunch, and maybe bowling. should be nice and fun, but am dreading the night because i have a feeling that they'll just drop me off in the early evening and there i'll be, by myself on the night of New Year's Eve, all alone at midnight. that'll be a first. maybe it'll be a good experience..something to write home about. it's just like any other night, after all...sun goes down, clock strikes twelve...happens all the time. but it's not. it's new year's. a holiday that i always spend surrounded by those i love. last year i was in India and it was with mostly strangers, but a few close friends, and that was good, not the best, but good.

alone? i really dread it. got myself a bottle of wine, but can't get too drunk, because the fun starts the next morning. for the Japanese the morning of the 1st is when the New Year celebrations really start. I'm being picked up again and taken to my boss' house for a breakfast that will turn into lunch and then perhaps dinner. should be really good, actually. am looking forward to it. i haven't been to many Okinawans' homes, especially on an important holiday like that. on the 2nd, my supervisor will pick me and we'll drive down to the southern part of Okinawa with his wife and dog to visit an important shrine where Okinawans go during New Year's holiday to pray for the coming year. am really happy that the bosses i have are as nice and thoughtful as they are. they knew i'd be staying over the break and planned all these outings for me. they want to share their culture and show me their lives. am really grateful to them.
and i'll still have through the 8th to enjoy the vacation. nice.

so... the point is.. :)
Happy New Year!!!

miss you..

love you


Friday, December 15, 2006


it's officially the "samui" season in Okinawa. さむい means "cold" and as some of my adult students have told me recently, there are only two seasons in Okinawa, winter and summer. I've translated that into, "samui" and "atsui" seasons. So now it is officially ok to walk around and say "samui, desu, ne" to everyone in the school.

yesterday i was so frustrated and angry with a certain co-worker that i thought my fists were going to involuntarily punch something while in class. i even seriously considered switching to elementary school position next year (if i stay that is), and if you don't know, that means serious business...i'm not a fan of little kids in large numbers. well, that's not true. but it's quite a change and to consider it means that i was pushed to a very dark place. what did my wonderful co-worker do, you ask?
well. just be his usual self, really, just 10x worse for some reason on that particular day in that particular class. anyways. i spoke up. said my piece about what i found frustrating, yet again, but as politely as possible. we'll see how long that sticks.

had a Block Gift Exchange party on Wednesday at a pasta place in Nago. Most of the block were able to attend and it was great. We played "white elephant" for gift exchange, and funnily enough i ended up with my own present because Ben M. decided to steal a wonderful stirfrying pan from me and grabbed a gift from pile in exchange. was mine. no worries, though. i wanted the cute pig looking chip clip i bought, and i shared the gummy bears at the table.

1st graders are singing a song with me in class. My first attempt at singing with students. Going well so far. We started with a song in their textbook, Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye". It's easy enough and uses words they know, so they're getting into it. Hopefully most of them will sing in two or three more lessons. We're only doing it during the beginning of class. Good times. Ms. Kitty told me that she does it at her school months ago and i've wanted to try it since then. I suggested and he actually agreed to try. So am gonna try and push for it to be a regular thing. 1st graders are genki enough to get into it if we do it every lesson.

English Club girls showed off their pics from 3rd grade school trip to Kyushu. They went to 3 cities in 4 days, including an amusement park, a national museum, and a trip to the Aso volcano. Japanese style bus touring. Fantastic.
We also wrote Christmas Cards to their new penpals in Wisconsin. There was one card that i had to veto, however, because on front, in classic Engrish style it said, "Hey Ho!! Merry Christmas. Wishing you good time with family, lover, and friends."
Didn't think it would convey the correct spirit to the 8th grade catholic school students. ha ha

Speaking of Christmas. It's all over Okinawa. There are decorated trees everywhere. Houses are lighted up, stores are filled with new, Christmassy merchandise, and ALTs are having Christmas parties and holiday lessons.
I'm not, but no one's asked, and also, there doesn't seem to be a good time for it in any of my classes. Might do a new bulletin about it and New Year's for next week.

Thanx to Shelley, am wearing Hanukkah socks today, on the 1st day of the holiday. She sent them to me last year for New Year's present. They're great; blue with golden stars of David, minoras and dreidels. Used them today to explain to Akino what Hanukkah was during lunch. So, Happy Hanukkah!
and if you never knew but always wondered what this holiday is, here's a a wiki link
Also, it is quite a testament to how overbearing the Christmas/Hanukkah season is when a non-practicing Jew is wishing you a Happy Hanukkah.

Here's a question for ALTs that might be reading this. Do you brush your teeth at school when all the teachers do? My teachers brush their teeth in the office, next to their desks, by the kitchen sink, while walking around teacher's office, while talking to each other, while reading a newspaper. I haven't brushed my teeth at school yet and don't see myself doing it. I do, sometimes, feel a bit of pressure to conform and bring a school toothbrush and paste and join the "clean teeth army". When that feeling comes over me, i pour myself a cup of coffee and grab a cookie or candy from the kitchen. But seriously. Do you brush?
I just sort of feel odd seeing people brush their teeth in front of me. It's been a year and a half and i still feel odd about it. but maybe that's just me.

in the news:
we have a new UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon from South Korea. Goodluck to him, but here's another question. How much power does UN have when it deals with issues unfavorable to the White House? right.

A 2-day Holocaust conference just finished in Iran. The conference was called by the Iranian president to shed light on the historical facts of Holocaust. Experts from different countries flew in to discuss the thick web of lies Jews have been spinning for 60 years about the extermination of 6 million of their people. I wonder if they discussed whether gassing of Catholics, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally and physically disabled, and political prisoners also took place. Or are Jews also responsible falsifying those deaths?

and to link the two stories, here's a link from


Friday, December 08, 2006

i'm going to try something different for this post, only because my mind has been a bit scatterbrain this week and nothing seems to be going on.
so i'll make up questions and answer them. maybe that'll focus me.

How are you feeling right now? Hmm. Can we start with an easier one please?

Ok. What have you got planned tonight? Right on. I can do this one. Tonight is the bookclub meeting for "Perfume." A fascinating novel by a German author, Patrick Suskind. It's a story of a murderer with an extraordinarily heightened sense of smell and no moral sense to speak of. It takes place during the 19th century in France. It's beautiful and gory and haunting and stunning. So i'm looking forward to a good discussion because i quite enjoyed it, but can imagine that some people might not have as much.

What sparked your interest this week? BBC stories about young people and their beliefs, values, ideas, ambitions, apprehensions. It's been a great series for reading and listening on the radio, but wish i had more time to devote to it. BBC sponsored a school-to-school link up in several countries. They also conducted surveys of young people in several countries, asking them the same questions. It was interesting to find out that around 70% of those under 18 believe that people should be able to migrate freely around the world. Just shows how differently they are growing up from me and anyone older than me. Their world, from birth to now has always been globalized. Connections between countries across the world is nothing to them, just as it is not new that one can speak to a person via internet for free in different parts of the globe. So, of course, why should there be borders if we're already functioning on so many levels without them? Them growing up and taking charge should be quite interesting.
btw. here's a link to the photo vote connected to the stories on BBC this week. Under 13 photo contest

How's the weather? Well. It's lovely, actually, thanx for asking. Sunny with a slight wind. The wind is not warm, of course, but the sun helps. It rained on and off this week, though, with yesterday bringing the heaviest downpour. Am worried about mold again.

What have you been involved in this week? Well...because 3rd graders went on a school trip to Kyushu this week and 2nd graders had a standardized test to take on Thursday, i only taught 1st graders this week, so it's been a bit slow. On Wednesday, though, the 1st graders went hiking up a "mountain" and i went with them. It was a beautiful, sunny day. A bit windy, but gorgeous, otherwise. 29 lively 7th graders, their two homeroom teachers, myself, and the principal were guided on a trail through Ogimi "mountains" by 6 or 7 expert naturalists from the village. It was great! And i keep putting mountain in qouatation marks, 'cause they kept calling it "yama" but they are just really tall hills. beautiful tall hills. the hike was great. it's good to know a trail that i can now show others. it took us 4 hours but that included stopping every once in a while for explanations from guides, brief water rests, and lunch. And of course, kids walk slowly, especially when there is a plethora of bugs, and weird plants around. So i'm sure adults can walk it in under 2 hours. See new photos in the December album.

What are you looking forward to this weekend? Started reading the 7th and final book in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Am looking forward to more of it. But it'll be sad when i finish and there won't be another volume to look forward to.

Who's your favorite sister? Hmm... that's a tough one. You mean, i gotta pick from my own, or someone else's?
Your own, of course. Ahh. k. well. How about the one who posts a comment on my blog first?
Ok. That'll work. Any more questions?

Nah. I think it's time you went home. It's Friday! Go get the oil changed, and make a reservation for the Block Gift Exchange Party next week, and drive to Chatan and enjoy company of good, literate folk. Oh. Ok. If you insist. ;)