Asian-English teatime with the bff sister

This evening, by a wonderful unfolding of events, I ended up having tea with my best friend’s little sister.  As my best friend’s little sister, she holds a sweet spot in my heart.  What’s more, the fact that she’s the first person I’ve seen go from little kid, singing nursery-rhyme-type songs, to a mature young adult (and soon full-blown adult), makes that spot even sweeter.

As we sat in the tapioca teahouse, drinking our warm (Taiwanese style, I think – at least, that’s what a friend of mine saw constantly while in Taiwan, and which we haven’t seen much elsewhere) bubble tea, our attention somehow turned to the menu on the wall.  Naturally, we hadn’t thought anything special of it when we actually were looking at the menu to order earlier on, but it was suddenly relevant to our conversation, so our attention turned to it.  She is studying Mandarin this year (since August), and I’ve just moved here from Japan.  So, we have some common ground on understanding Chinese characters.  (For those who don’t know, Japanese kind of stole the characters from Chinese, and adapted them a bit, so loads of them look exactly or almost exactly the same and have the same or very similar meanings.)

We joyfully pointed out that “ice” was on the end of each name in the ‘Snowy Drink’ category, and that “little” was next to one other character on the “Snacks” sections – likely ‘little meal’ or ‘little food’.  Something like that.  And then we discussed how we were scouring the menu, picking out little pieces that we understood.  It was like a fun little puzzle that we were putting together, piece by piece… one that we know will take months, even years, but the timing of which doesn’t seem to bother us in the slightest.  We’re just excited that we’re able to make the little sense of it all that we already can.  And we aren’t even using the same language to do it, technically, making it simultaneously that much sillier and that much more awesome.

So, we got to enjoy one another’s company and be nerdy language-lovers together, while sipping warm asian versions of English tea (Earl Grey) on a cold, cold night (for Houston, anyway).  Blessings abound when open our minds and schedules to them, it seems.  And I am grateful for this one in particular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

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Singing, Showering, and liking you better…

Today, I sent a message to my best friend that read, “For some reason, I regularly think about messaging you when I go to the bathroom”

Her response was prompt and simple.  “Lol,” followed by, “You like me so much better when youre naked”

“Duh,” was my casual response.

You see, the whole thing started back in college.  Freshman year, I was Skype-ing with Christine one day, probably early morning.  I had gone into the common room to chat with her, but, since we were in an all-girls dormitory, and it was too early for visitors to be around, I wasn’t fully dressed (probably just a t-shirt and underwear).  When we started the call, she let me know that a friend of hers was with her, and that it was a guy (because it was already afternoon in Cambridge, England, so it was normal to be hanging out with people already there). So, I had to go put on some more clothing before we turned on the camera.  (At least, I think that was the case… she might have just checked to make sure I was properly clothed, because I regularly would be not fully clothed.  Either way, the next part did happen.)  When I commented about this, the guy friend of hers made a comment about liking someone so much better naked (I forget if it was about Christine liking me, or what, but it was totally silly, and seemed such an odd comment.)  We both were lacking in understanding at first, but he explained that there was an actual song (by Ida Maria), and that that was the line the girl used in it.  (See, it made sense and wasn’t actually weird at all.)

The chorus goes like this:

But I won’t mind
If you take me home
Come on, take me home
I won’t mind
if you take off all your clothes
Come on, take them off
‘Cause I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked
I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked

We found it hilarious.  We found the actual song and music video, and fell in a sort of this is silly and utterly ridiculous, but I still love it kind of love with the song.

I shared it with my hallway neighbor, who played guitar, and we tried playing it a bit on the guitar.  I eventually played it for Christine one day on Skype.  My greatest, proudest achievement with the song, however, was the time I snuck into the bathrooms (they were shared, and had loads of stalls and multiple showers) one day, just after Jessie, the neighbor, had gone in to shower.  Once I knew she was actually in the shower, showering, I walked into the showering area (mind you, not into her stall, just in the showering section of the bathroom), and began playing the song on guitar, and singing it to her.  I could hear her snorting, gurgling, guffawing laugher emitting from the shower stall as I sang and played.  It was spectacular for the both of us.  I shared the story with my best friend, too, and she loved it.*

So, the song has always held a special little place in our hearts, minds, and lives, all three of us.  Everyone else probably just thinks we’re crazy, whenever they overhear us mentioning or quoting or singing it.  😛

Here’s a link to the music video.

 

*This reminds me… I sang to a friend of mine in Japan while she showered one night.  We were chatting on the phone, just hanging out one night, after we’d both gotten internet, and so didn’t have to hang up after every five minutes anymore, and she really needed to shower, but we weren’t ready to end our conversation/hanging out.  So, she set the phone to the side on speakerphone, and I sang to her while she showered.  I had been humming and singing quietly already anyway, so what was the difference if I just did it a little louder, right?  It was spectacular, of course.  Then a night or few later, when I mentioned to another friend that this had happened, he complained that I didn’t sing for him and that that certainly wasn’t fair.  And so I sang to him over the phone… and he fell asleep.  😛  Spectacular in a different sort of way, I guess, but still spectacular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

 

Snow in Houston, Texas (and t-rex Christmas cards)

Last night, it snowed here.  In Houston, Texas.  It happened yet again.  What miracles lie before us?  It began after I went to sleep, and didn’t begin to stick until after I woke up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night.  So, I woke up to snow covering everything that wasn’t concrete this morning.  Which, when you think about it, is kind of the best kind of snow – you don’t have to shovel or worry about tire chains or anything, but you get to have beautiful snow everywhere around you.

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The hit of the morning was arriving to school.  My mom drove me in, because we were going to a Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas market) together after school, and the market was too far away for me to drive home first and then go, and it didn’t make sense for us to drive two cars out there.  She was staying for a bit, because we had Mass at school for the Immaculate Conception, and this was a chance for her to see the school a little bit.  Pulling into the parking lot (vacant of teachers, because we were so early), we discovered a sort of snowball fight happening in the picnic table area next to the lot.  We didn’t have much snow on the ground, but the kids were making some snowballs out of it, and throwing them around at one another.  It was adorable.

Naturally, my mom declared that I had to make a snowball, as we were leaving the car.  I grabbed an already-made snowball from the ground, which had lost only a bit after originally falling there, and showed it to her.  As she eyed me up while she finished off her own snowball, I realized that she intended to throw hers at me.

And so the fight began.

My mom and I, shuffling around a parking lot and a small grassy area with snow about it, picking up and throwing odd snowballs at one another, practically screeching with delight.  When I was turned away, a snowball hit her square in the back of the head.  No one was too near us, though, so it had come a long way.  And these were a little tough for regular snowballs, so it definitely hurt her a bit in the moment (stung, perhaps, is the appropriate word here).  It didn’t ruin out fun, of course, but merely added to the silliness of the whole affair – one of my students had attacked my mother with a snowball*.  No part of that declaration makes sense for living here, in Houston, Texas.  😛

In class, before Mass, kids lined up at the windows to stare at the snow in the courtyard below and on the roofs within view.  This was only the second time in their lives that it has snowed here, so their fascination with it was completely understandable, and utterly adorable.

Today had some magic, that’s for sure.

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*I found out later that the student who hit my mom actually was a student of mine.  He asked me ‘who that teacher was, walking with me earlier,’ and, when I asked for clarification, he described the morning snowball affair.  “That was my mom.”  In shock, he declared that he thought it was a teacher and asked me to tell my mom that he was sorry for what he did to her.  (My mom and I laughed at the thought that he apologized for having hit my mom, but that is seems to be the case that he willingly would hit a teacher in the head with a hard snowball, without question.)

P.S.  My task today was to “[d]raw a Christmas card”.  So, I drew one on the roof of my mom’s car tonight as we were leaving the Christkindlmarkt.  Frost had begun to reappear all over the place.

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Post-a-day 2017

The Lingering Effects of Culture?

I have noticed two behaviors of mine that linger still (and consistently), despite my having been in the USA and out of Japan for almost four months.  They are 1) constantly looking right first before crossing the road, naturally walking to the left, and casually beginning on the left side of the road when riding my bike; and 2) silence.

The first has been improving significantly, and is almost never present when I am driving a car (though those two-lane, small town style, empty roads do make me think twice before I pull out onto them).  It is mostly just my bicycle riding and walking that is still in the habit of Japan’s side.  Seeing as how I am aware of the road-crossing issue every time I approach a road, I feel confident that things will be fine there – even if I must continue constantly checking both directions over and over again, because I don’t trust myself as to from which way the cars actually will be coming on which side.  The second is a bit different.

I wonder if the silence is something about which I need to worry.  I feel like it is no big deal, however, when I look at it from an outside, USA perspective, I seem almost oppressed in the action.  The silence comes in the regular everyday passing of people at work.  I often only smile and nod when we make eye contact, and I regularly say little-to-nothing in group conversations.  Partly, I have no interest in discussing the present topic with the present company most of the time.  However, I wonder if part of that is because I am not accustomed to discussing things with people like I once was.

My distress tied to living in Japan significantly affected my desire and will to learn Japanese.  Therefore, I really didn’t put forth almost any effort in the language beyond the absolute necessary, until I was on the rise from all of the depression, only a few months before my departure.  This means that I was not able to participate in most conversation around me.  Yes, I could understand a good amount of it, and often all of it (though, occasionally almost nothing), but I usually was unable to respond.  It was my first experience with what I previously had only heard other people say they did, and the development of which I couldn’t understand: understanding a language, but not speaking it.

So, I grew incredibly accustomed to speaking very little and to listening a lot.  And this was not a conscious decision, necessarily, though I had intended to observe for the sake of learning all about the culture and language.  My goal was to learn, not to separate and somewhat exclude myself.  Transferring the same behavior over here to the USA, my native country, has the behavior occur quite differently.  As mentioned, I seem somewhat oppressed, like something is preventing me from speaking.  All I notice is a lack of desire to say anything most of the time.  But I also don’t even consider whether I want to speak or not – I just don’t speak…  So, I am wondering about this, whether there is something more there, something in the way for me, preventing me from full self-expression.

 

Post-a-day 2017

A thank-you note

I sent a message to a friend of mine the other night, after reminiscing on how beautiful it was, having him be in my life in Japan.  He is still a quality friend now, despite our being worlds apart.  Open forum was the standard for our time spent together, and life was discussed earnestly and with invested interest in stepping forward with fulfillment and joy.  We supported one another in a way I have not really known before it.  Our lives intertwined just enough to be able to relate to one another, but without conflict or jealousy.  We became friends out of circumstances, but I couldn’t imagine a better friend to have been in his place this past year and a half.

 

These were our messages:

“I want you to know that I am extremely grateful for your friendship. I still regularly recall memories that remind me of how much of a blessing it was last year, having you in my life. Costco holds a warm spot in my life now, and it cracks me up that, of all places, Costco would have a warm spot. 😛 It was like things could feel normal for an evening, in the midst of the craziness that is figuring out life.”

“That was such a nice message to receive in the morning as I got out of the shower! Thanks for the message. I feel the same way about the friendship and how helpful it was and is while figuring out life!
It is funny how such an “ordinary” place like Costco can morph into something else like that”

Yes. Yes, it really is.

Post-a-day 2017

Missing…

I miss my bed in Japan. My bedroom, especially, is one thing I miss most these days. It was a haven for me. No matter what kind of chaos or boredom lurked in my life, every night, my bedroom awaited me in calm, open, and empty space… in beauty. I shut my doors, and was safe in my retreat from everything else. Only love and blessings were ever allowed into my bedroom. I wasn’t even allowed to walk in it if I hadn’t recently showered. Clean clothes, my ukulele and ukulele music, my nighttime books, and water and tissues were just about all that ever went in there, aside from a clean me and my bed.

My bedroom now is slightly larger, but filled with boxes and stuff… a sentimentality to which I am not so sure I still want to cling. I think I am afraid that I will forget the memories, if I get rid of the objects. I do not, for the most part, want the objects, but the memories and the ways I felt. Without the objects, what will remind me?

Post-a-day 2017