ukulele, poke, and cray-zay

(Those all rhyme, in case you were wondering.)

Tonight, again, I spent some time with friends after school.  I napped briefly in the car, while I waited for them to arrive at our early dinner location.  We had a silly time figuring out how to order our Poke (think of a short “okay” with a p in the front), and chatted and ate and chatted some more, before heading outside to chat and dance and do acrobatic bits (because, why would we not do such things?).  We were all a bit tired, but only ended our time together, because the two of them had to go pack (one is moving apartments tomorrow, and the other is leaving to visit Australia for vacation).

At lunchtime, I had a Spanish-speaking lunch with some students, while I played ukulele alongside one of them.  I dragged kids through knowledge, forcing them to think and do well on their tests – I actually handed some tests back immediately, telling them, “No,”  go fix this stuff.  After school, I played a birthday song for a different student, and gave her a guitar string ring I made in Japan (not because she’s my favorite or anything, but because she always steals my jewelry during class, and hopes I won’t make her give it back.  So, I figured I’d give her something of her own that was sort of mine.  It was fun playing the song and singing for her.  I had forgotten how fulfilling it was, when I’d sung for my dad’s 64th birthday (“When I’m 64” by the Beatles, of course).

Yes, I feel satisfied in my day today.  It was good and fulfilling, an oddly uncommon combination for me in recent years.  I am delighted with this having happened twice this week.  I look forward to the next one and many to come.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

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Satisfaction… at last

Tonight, going to bed, I feel fulfilled.  Typically, I have this feeling of needing to go do something before I can end my day.  I am angsty and somewhat agitated by the late afternoon, and I feel this pull from somewhere inside of me, but I can’t ever quite figure out how to follow it, how to satisfy the desire within.  I notice right now that I almost didn’t even feel a pull to write anything tonight – that’s how satisfied I am with my day.  It was fabulous, and so I can sleep easily, without anything else happening first.  And I love writing, so that’s saying something.

Kids were unintentional rude in classes today, ignoring my pleas for quite voices, so that I could be heard with my pained, achy throat barely able to choke out words.  I let them spend the time with an activity for their own benefit, and most of them ignored it or didn’t care enough about their own education to attempt the activity, which was disappointing.  A few really took it on, and some decided it was time to talk with me about anything and everything in my life, while I showed them how to do some of the work.  It was an odd balance of awesome and disappointing, combined with my throat being slightly consumed by a low-grade fire.

After school, I chatted with a few teachers from my own high school, plus a friend who now teaches there.  That was amazing in and of itself.  Add to it that I met up with a friend for tapioca tea afterward, and my day continues to improve.  We ended up having dinner with the teas, and then she invited me to join a hip-hop class with her.  Neither of us has ever been very good or experienced with hip-hop, but we love dancing, and we both have strong partner dance backgrounds.  I have wanted to do hip-hop classes ever since my best friend and her husband started doing some over in England a few years back, because she is just plain awesome, and it is always a good idea to strive for her level of awesome.  So I got to be cool like my bestie tonight, and turned out to be actually kind of good at the routine, too.  The teacher even came specifically to my friend (not my best friend, but the friend with whom I had gone to the class) and me, and told us that she wanted us to join her team.  (Note: Seeing as we were just discussing before the class how we hadn’t been involved in anything dance since moving back to the US (we both just returned from living in Asia), we are genuinely considering this hip-hop team idea.)

Now, I am home.  I snacked on some leftovers from dinner, chatted briefly with my mom, and have just showered.  I am tired, but in a really good way right now – I am satisfied.  I don’t know how else to word it.  I am just satisfied, which is something, I now see, that I usually am not at the end of the day.  As I said to my teacher friend earlier this afternoon, I need interaction with non-teenagers.  I get so much teenager interaction, and very little of anything else… and I need more than just interaction with teenagers, no matter how wonderful they are or how much we may love one another.  And, tonight, I got that other interaction, plus involvement in something (the hip-hop class) and exercise.  That is a really, really good combination.  Now to see how to keep this up, happening much more often than once every three months.

Post-a-day 2017

‘One Spanish-speaking Boyfriend, please’

I said to myself yesterday that I needed a native-Spanish-speaking boyfriend, or else a native-Spanish-speaking friend, because I need Spanish in my life, and I need to use the language more than I currently do (hardly at all).

Tonight, at dinner, the waiter, who might also be the manager or owner or something, brought over to our table a handsome-looking young man, probably right around my own age, and explained that the guy knows very little English, and, if I would like, would be willing to work with me on improving my Spanish, if I would help him learn English.  And no, I hadn’t told him about yesterday’s declaration.

Isn’t life awesome? 😀

To give a little context, – the waiter was not being crazy or anything, with his suggestion that the helper and I work on language together – I had asked the waiter, after interacting with him a few times in English, if he would speak to us in Spanish from now on.  My mom had studied Spanish in high school, and then briefly in college, and has had plenty of interactions with Spanish in the years since then.  I spent a summer in Spain while in high school, and had just used Spanish all over for a couple years after that.  So, while it could be difficult at times, I figured we could handle it.

The waiter was delighted at the request, and instantly spewed out fast Spanish.  My mom told him almost immediately (in Spanish), “But you have to speak more slowly, because I am a gringa.”  (It’s essentially a term for foreigners.)  We all laughed, and he acquiesced.

As the meal went on, the waiter would pause and chat with us here and there.  He moved here from Mexico when he was 17 or 19 (I forget which), and don’t even know how to say ‘please’ in English.  To help himself learn English, he watched the American movies, and had on the English subtitles, and action I fully approve and support, and which I have done plenty myself.  He also spoke of how strong the Spanish-speaking community is in Houston, and that I need only get involved, and they will turn me into a Latina.  He learned that we are not studying Spanish; that I speak Spanish, but just never use it; that I just lived back from Japan; and that I just have no friends here who speak Spanish.  So it made sense that he brought over the guy later.  And it wasn’t weird.

When we left, a while later, I gave the young guy my number on a napkin.

Post-a-day 2017

Getting ready to time-travel

And so one thing ends, and, with anxiety, something new begins.  Tonight, I complete my life here in Japan, and dream one last dream before I move forward to my next step.  I felt like I was in “What About Bob?” today, taking my mother’s guidance to do whatever needs to be done next – aka baby steps.  I took my baby steps all day long today, and finally got it all finished.  I even accomplished a few things I expected not to be able to do.

One of those things being seeing the guitarist I’d seen a couple weeks ago at the nearby train station, who had greeted me in English one night as I was moving my stuff to my friend’s place.  He greeted me and asked how I was doing tonight, as I was walking in Shibuya, and ended up accompanying me, with my comfortable acquiescence, to the phone shop to disconnect my phone (It was closed.), and then buying me a Japan-only Yuzu frappucino from Starbucks, and sitting with me as I finally watched the Shibuya Crossing from the Starbucks window (It wasn’t actually very impressive, but I think I never really expected it to be, anyway.), at which point, we finally discovered that we had, in fact, seen one another those two or three weeks back.  He was a nice guy, Ryo.

I ended my evening with my last gaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi), on which I spent ¥680 (just over $6 US), and which I didn’t even finish eating.  I’ll miss such affordable sushi, but I’ll survive quite well back in Houston, I do believe.  Green smoothies and colorful veggie-based juices are calling me.

And now, at long last, I shall sleep.  Rest, anyway.  We’ll see if it really is sleep tomorrow morning, when my alarm wakes me just before 5am.  I hope I wake rested well.

Anyway, this is it, I guess.  Tomorrow morning, I say goodbye to Japan, and then I time-travel (departing 11:10am on Saturday, 12 August, and arriving 9:30am on Saturday, 12 August).

Goodnight!

Post-a-day 2017

My Dating Life

A friend of mine suggested I write about dating life in a foreign country.  However, I cannot entirely speak to the subject, because 1) I have not dated anyone here, and 2) I haven’t really dated people back home either.

However…., I do have some interesting dating and dating-ish stories I could share.  So, I’ll do that instead.  🙂

We’ll begin with my first date, as it was, indeed, an odd beginning to an odd history of dating.

 

Date #1

My high school boyfriend and I split up the summer before college, out of being reasonable.  How it happened is a story for another time, though, as it is well worth telling, but just not now.  We remain to this day friends, and so were on good terms as the summer neared its end.  One day, when we were in the same place, John (that’s his name, you see) did something adorably wonderful.  He asked me on a date.  No, I do not remember the exact words he used, however, I remember that he did use explicit words quite similar to, “Would you go out on a date with me?”

While we had been a couple, we had often laughed at the fact that we had never been on a single date.  Every time we were arranging something that would have ended up as a date, we found ourselves desperately longing to invite so-and-so to come, because he/she would just LOVE it, or something like that.  It wasn’t that we didn’t want to be alone together.  It was merely that we love our friends and we are generous.  Also, a good amount of the time, my mom would be with us for things.  She often would be planning something really neat, and I would be going with her, and one of us would think of how John might enjoy the activity, too, and then either pick him up or have him meet us somewhere to join in the activity.  A lot of people found it odd that my boyfriend and I (and often my friends, too) did so much with my mom, but it was just way fun for all of us.  That being said, most John’s and my one-on-one time was spent standing outside his house as I was about to drive home at night, and never on actually going out to do anything (i.e. dates).

So, he asked me on a date.  The plan was to go out to dinner at this great vegetarian Indian restaurant near my house, and then to go to see a musical together downtown.  John was driving (and not I for once).  When he came to get me for dinner, it was sprinkling beautifully, and we somehow ended up going swimming (or at least playing in the backyard in the rain) instead, and my mom went and picked up food for us.  The three of us then had dinner at my house together.  At the musical, the two seats that John had purchased (with the help of his father) turned out to be across the wheelchair section from one another, leaving a gap of about a meter between our two seats.  I squat on the ground next to his seat for a bit, and then I think we eventually moved to a couple of other empty seats, so we actually could sit side-by-side.  It was a fabulously tragic date, which we both absolutely loved, because it was so terrible on paper, but so delightful in experience.

And that was date #1.

 

Date #2

A few years ago, I attended something called VIRTUS Training.  It is essentially a seminar for people who will be working at schools, for them to learn about identifying child sexual abuse.  In other words, it was a seminar on child sexual abuse.  It was at this wonderful seminar that I met my second date – or so I believe it was my second date, anyway.  He was sitting near me in the training, and I think wasn’t even in my discussion group.  However, we exchanged various faces at different things throughout the evening, and ended up in conversation afterward.  After probably a good half hour of talking outside afterward, he very beautifully expressed that he had enjoyed talking with me very much, and would I like to continue talking over dinner some time soon?  I agreed, and I gave him my number in order to arrange the dinner at another time.

For the dinner, he told me that he was “old fashioned”, and so was it alright that he pick me up for the date?  I originally agreed happily.  However, my sister told me it was a terrible idea, and got me all nervous, because I didn’t really know this guy, and what if it went horribly?  (It went wonderfully, but still, she got me nervous nonetheless.)  But my worries proved pointless, because, as I had just purchased my new car the day of our date, I had to take it for my family to see (and test drive, of course), which put me behind schedule for our date.  Since that was the case, I just met him at a restaurant midway between where I was in town and where he lived, so he didn’t have to wait so long nor have to drive all the way to my house (which was quite far for him).

I eventually ran into him again while I was still working at Starbucks, but it was quite busy at the time, and so we really didn’t get to chat (though I totally wanted to do so).  I had not saved his number, and so couldn’t call or message him again after that.  (Sometimes, you just don’t plan on getting a new phone before you’ve saved a number, ya know?)

And that is what came of date #2, when I met a guy at a child sexual abuse seminar.

 

Date #3

My third date, in my opinion, is the best of the three – yes, there have only been three – and also the most uncertain.  It is uncertain, because I simply hadn’t known that it was a date, and I’m still not certain as to whether it was a date.  You may judge for yourself as to whether it was a date or not.  😉

In France, there is a wonderful carpooling website, which helps anyone travel almost anywhere normal in France (and even to nearby destinations in neighboring countries).  I used it constantly for travel while I studied in Toulouse, and therefore used it again when I went to visit a couple summers ago.  It was in this carpooling from Paris to Toulouse that I met this party boy.

We didn’t talk much on the drive (I slept mostly, and he talked with the other passengers.), but we did a bit near the end, and he asked for my Facebook.  I felt no aversion to the guy, although I knew that we led very different lifestyles, his being a party boy and my being…. well, just not.  I like dancing and music and all, but not the drinking like crazy part.  He had even offered me a section of his sandwich on the ride.  because, I know you, so, of course, we’d share your sandwich.  😛  I liked the guy, despite our obvious differences.  He was just really open and friendly and honest.

And, as a bonus, quite handsome.  Think tall, dark and fancy hair, tanned skin, and quite fit.  Yes, he could carry me quite easily in his arms.  (I have no idea why that is something I notice about guys – whether they could carry me or not.  I just always notice it.)

Turned out that his apartment was literally the next street over from the AirBnB where I ended up staying.  Via texting, he asked if I wanted to get a bite to eat with him one night.  Yes, of course.  (I’d be eating alone otherwise, and he had been great company already.)  ‘Do you want to meet me somewhere, or should I pick you up on my scooter?’  Scooter, please.  (One of my dreams in life has been to ride a scooter with a cute guy in Europe, thanks to MaryKate and Ashley.)

So, he picked me up on his scooter, and drove me to a cool restaurant in a part of town I’ve always loved.  We sat outside, and it was fabulous.  I had him order for me whatever he thought was best to have.  I’m usually more of the raw vegan diet type, but I roll with the culture these days, so I graciously accepted a delicious and innerly-pink steak.  We chatted and had a great time, and when he went in to pay, I followed a bit behind, and asked what I owed.  He, a bit surprised, said that I owed nothing, as he was paying for everything.  It was my turn to be surprised, but I did not even consider that this was a date – perhaps he’s just really nice to the foreigner girl visiting his hometown.

And so, we went and got some beers from a store, and he showed me around his huge, old-fashioned apartment, which he shared with this rich guy with a really nice car, as he put it (I don’t remember what the car was, but it was legitimately a very expensive car.).  We hung out and talked, and it was totally great.  When I finally reached home, and told him that I was home safely, he sent me a message that had me suddenly see the evening in a slightly – meaning entirely – different light.  It was in a light and friendly way, and even with a wink smiley face, so it was not meant to be nasty or inappropriate.  However, he said that ‘he would have preferred that I had stayed there.’  Oh, my…  At last I came to the sudden idea that this might actually have been a date.  I then got super excited that I was not only on my third date ver (Whoohoo!), but on a date with a gorgeous French guy, and IN French.  How cool is that?!  Way cool.  Seriously.  It was awesome.  Dreams fulfilled that I hadn’t even dreamed up yet.

And that was date #3.  I think, anyway.  😛

 

Those have been my three official-ish dates (I’m still not sure about that third one).  They were each wonderful in their own ways, and I find none of them to be too standard (slash at all standard).  I loved each and every one, and I look forward to raising the bar each time to more ridiculous scenarios surrounding my dating life.  (I need to share about my coffee dates and the likes, too.  Those have been fun, for sure, and very international.)

I’m super tired now, so I’m going to sleep.  However, I plan to continue with the coffee dating and other date-related things that weren’t actually dates.  🙂

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

 

Cowboy Church

Just as I was going to bed on Sunday night, I ended up on the phone with my mom.  She was on her way to Cowboy Church, the Church services offered for all the cowboys who are in town to participate in the rodeo (though it is open to all, of course), and so, even though it was long past my bedtime, it being near midnight my time, I asked her to call me back once she had arrived and settled in at the service.

I rushed to finish my bedtime routine, reading and all, and had just finished everything when my phone was buzzing with the FaceTime call from Church.  Therefore, I found myself attending Church for the first time from the comfort of my own bed.  But it gets better.

The passage on which the pastor focused mainly was the one from Luke 10 where Jesus ends up at the home of Martha and Mary, and Mary sits and listens to and dotes on Jesus, while her sister, Martha, is preparing the meal.  (Martha eventually comments to Jesus about the situation, and asks him to tell Mary that she needs to help Martha, and not just sit around, and then Jesus talks about how Mary has actually picked the better and more important of the two options, and all that jazz.)

You know how there’s always the discussion over Shakespeare’s works, whether they are too old-fashioned to be fully understood to people today, and would do best being re-done in a way that people can actually relate to the various situations and circumstances, as people had been able to do in Shakespeare’s time?  Now, typically, we think of the biblical figures as following a certain type of diet, based on historical information on the region, as well as various notes within the Bible itself.  However, seeing as this was Cowboy Church, the pastor definitely took it upon himself to speak to his audience, and to make the story more relatable for his listeners.

How, you ask, did he do that?  Well, Martha wasn’t cooking seeds in the oil, making bread, or anything like that.  She was in the kitchen chopping tomatoes for the salsa, cooking and slicing the meat, heating the tortillas… in short, she was making fajitas for Jesus.

After that image, all I could see was a Jesus eating fajitas next to a jar of Pace Picante, while wearing a tunic, a cowboy hat, and boots; and then riding off on a horse, while swinging a lasso in the air.  Or perhaps I just kept flipping back and forth between a sort of Chuck Norris and a Jesus image.  Not sure – it’s a difficult thing to imagine, Jesus eating tacos and fajitas.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Cowboy Church, and for various reasons.  i also had several firsts in that attendance.  It was, of course, my first time at Cowboy Church, and I was thrilled to be in attendance.  It was my first time to attend Church while in my bed and PJs.  it was my first time imagining Jesus easting fajitas and salsa.  And, perhaps the oddest of them all, it was my first time spending the entire service using my phone.  It was a way cool sort of bedtime story slash activity.  So glad to have such an awesome mom.  Thanks, Mom!

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

 

“Chocolate”

Okay, here’s an anecdote from the wonderful dinner we had tonight (despite the fact that there were people smoking off and on in the restaurant).

My brother, his girlfriend, and I all had dinner with my brother’s private student tonight.  He’s this older Japanese guy, perhaps in his fifties, who is quite fun and silly, and who loves his family and my brother.  At one point in the night, we ended up on the subject of the pronunciation of English words in the Japanese style (Katakana English, as we like to call it), and specifically the struggle for Japanese people to say the word “chocolate” like a native English speaker.

My brother’s student was determined to pronounce chocolate like a native, and so we kept having to say it ourselves, and then analyze and critique the student’s pronunciation.  Most of the time, there was some special vowel added to the middle of the word, because Japanese doesn’t have consonants side-by-side (only “ts”, “ch”, and guttural stops written as a double consonant [e.g. “tt”, “kk”, etc.]).  So, instead of the native’s “choc-lette”, it tended to come out as “cho-koe-lay-toe” or “cho-ku-ray-toe” (They also don’t have R’s or L’s in Japanese.).

Back and forth, back and forth we went, my saying “chocolate,” followed by my brother’s student saying “chocolate,” the two pronunciations forever being different from one another.  But the student and my brother’s girlfriend, being Japanese speakers and non-native English speakers, couldn’t quite hear the differences.  Whereas my brother and I heard the difference every time, resulting in a good amount of laughter and face-making (You know how you make a face when something isn’t quite right?  That.).

The student even called over two of the waitresses at one point, explaining the situation to them, and asking them to listen to me and him saying each of our versions.  ‘Did the pronunciations sound the same to them?’ he wanted to know.  Yes, they did.  However, when I then said both versions myself, they heard a difference.  So, having lost that bit of the battle, he had them try to pronounce chocolate like native English speakers.  No, they couldn’t quite get it right, that middle “cl/kl” sound being the constant culprit in the matter.  This, of course, created and even greater flow of laughter in our corner of the restaurant.

There is a Japanese comedian who goes around to places (I’ve only seen and heard of ones in the US, but he might go elsewhere, too), asking for different things, but using Japanese English and odd translations.  For example, he walked around New York asking for a “boat-plane” or “sky mamma”.  He was, naturally, looking for a naval aircraft carrier.  The Japanese characters individually mean “sky”空 and “mother”母, and it is, of course, a sort of boat with airplanes.  The whole purpose of his show, of course, is to be silly in interacting with the Americans who have no idea what he is asking.  Having talked about this show earlier in the night, I eventually wondered what might happen if this guy were to try ordering the Japanese version of “chocolate” in, say, a coffee shop or restaurant.

My brother and I did our darndest in listening, but we couldn’t hear the words as people who didn’t know what was being said.  That is, we understand and are accustomed to Japanese English, and so couldn’t figure out how it would sound to people who don’t understand Japanese English.  So, we decided to send a voice message to my mom, recorded by my brother’s private student.

“White chocolate, dark chocolate, bitter chocolate…. please!”

(rather, “Waiito chocorayto, dahku chocorayto, beetah chocorayto… pureezu!”)

Naturally, my mother had no idea, no matter how she tried, what on Earth was being said.  Then, when we went for some other variations, – that is, his attempts at pronouncing it as a Native English speaker – she thought he might have been saying something about a certain kind of energy used in Reiki.

As one can ascertain from that, his “native” pronunciation has some room for improvement.  He declared that his homework was to practice only pronouncing “chocolate” all week.  He even has a voice memo of me saying, “Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate,” on his phone for reference.  We’ll see if he ever manages that native-sounding “choc-lette”.

Now, for anyone concerned about the fact that, ‘Well, chocolate does have an O in the middle,’ recall that that is not the point.  They are not saying the word differently out of righteousness for the fact that the O is there and therefore must be pronounced, but out of the fact that the “cl/kl” sound is just somewhat impossible for Japanese folks.  It makes for some pretty funny-sounding words in English, if you ask me.  😛

 

Post-a-day 2017