Today is all about procrastination.

I put off doing an application for Prefectural Advisor because I “need” work to do next week. I put off washing my dishes by eating so I couldn’t wash them yet. I organized about 600 pages of handouts to put off studying Japanese and writing an article about sakura. And now I’m procrastinating on cleaning my room by writing to you all.

Actually tho, I’ve been a tad productive this week. But I have many writing projects coming up and I’m a bit stalled. Thus, here I am trying to warm the creative embers.

Reading
On Sunday, I bought the Japanese Manga “日本人の知らない日本語.” 知らない日本語
It’s only been 3 days, but already I’m hooked. It’s easy enough for a neophyte like me to read, yet hard enough where my electronic dictionary is glued to my palm. The two best selling points to this book are:

1. They give me something to talk about with my teachers.
“What is this kanji?” “What does this mean?” “Feed me, I’m bored!”

2. I learn as I read.
This manga follows the adventures of a Japanese teacher interacting with foreign lunatics (like me!) and trying to come off smart when answering the deceivingly simple questions they ask. So I learn along with her students and my teachers laugh along with the author. Smiles all around.

Also, her blog is at http://uminonagiko.blog73.fc2.com/

Halfway Food in Japan
I say “halfway” because Japan does have these two foods, but I not in the same way as I have it back home.

First is OATMEAL. Actually, thanks to my lovely mother, I’ve been living off of flavored instant oatmeal packets for breakfast, lunch, and midnight snack for months now. They have oatmeal in Japan, but WHY God, WHY do they put stuff like THIS in it?

OMG, I just noticed that the image source is from Rocking in Hakata! *waves*

The second is BUTTERED POPCORN. They have it here salted and sweetened, but not buttered. What’s up with that Ja-paaaaaaaaaaaaan?

Pants Quickie
When moving around in cold weather, layers are essential. Due to this fact, I have developed a lethargic strategy: wear your pajama pants as a layer. Actually, I owe this idea to my friend D, but it’s pretty ingenious, don’t you think?

You wake up and your pants are already warm! You come home, tired from a long day of jelly bean tasting or whatever it is that you do and one button, zip, and pull later voila! You are ready for relaxing!

However, there are dangers.

For one thing, the little tying thingys are ALWAYS worming themselves out through the tiniest spaces and popping out my front side, clashing light purple against my business black. They do this STEALTHILY. WIthOUT any warning. Furthermore, no one will tell you even if there is something there. Vigilance is a must!

Secondly, if you are tired or rushed, you may forget to pull up the SECOND pair of pants. Like I did today. I pulled up my pajama pants in a hurry and ran out of the bathroom when I encountered a male teacher exiting the teacher’s room. I bowed a little (as is the custom), which forced me to look down and notice the horrible site of the flaps of my pants WIDE open for the world to see.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Luckily, my coat was long enough to cover up most of it and he didn’t notice. I think. I hope.

Beware!

Jubeat Interlude
Jubeat is an arcade game my friends and are nutty about! Totally and seriously. Check it out.

Collective Animal Names
In today’s English conversation class I taught collective names of animals. I’d like to end today’s blog with some of my favorites.

Ape ——–> Shrewdness
Cockroaches -> Intrusion
Crow ——-> Murder
Elk ———> Gang
Hippo ——> Bloat
Jellyfish —-> Smack (My Fav)
Kangaroo –> Troop/Mob
Mouse —–> Mischief
Owl ——-> Parliament
Parrot —–> Company
Peacock —> Pride/Ostentation
Penguin —> Huddle/Colony
Raven —–> Unkindness/Storytelling
Rhino —–> Crash/Herd
Tiger —–> Swift/Ambush
Zebra —> Herd/Zeal/Dazzle

For the first time, I considered the benefits of having a mustache.

That was yesterday. Before then, I thought of mustaches as no more than facial embellishments. My father sported one for most of my life. Back then, I remember thinking how it was definitely the sign of an old man, how it was troublesome to eat with any foods whatsoever, and that I wouldn’t want to kiss a guy with one when I grew up.

My, have things changed.

In today’s life my current boyfriend has one and my dad’s lip is now naked. Also, I no longer think them troublesome. In fact, upon glancing in the mirror yesterday, I yearned for a nice thick one to replace the bright red tuft of skin now on my face. Perhaps if I had one, my lip would’ve been spared chaffing from hundreds of tissues consumed in my monster of a cold.

That same cold that kept me home for three days and thus, has brought me to writing this blog entry today!

I know it’s been awhile, but i have nothing in particular to report. Thus, I will just write about snippets of my days.

The Moth
A few months ago, my friend Ang introduced me to the interesting podcast The Moth. It is a “not-for-profit storytelling organization” founded in New York. They record the tall-but-still-attention-getting tales told by both super stars and normal people. It’s like talking story with friends, only on stage, with a microphone in your face. They have a free weekly podcast on iTunes.

The particular recording that caught my attention was called “Macolm Gladwell: Perverse and Often Baffling.” He was the author of the bestselling book “Blink.” You can’t hear it for free anymore, but the part of this tall spoke about the competition between Gladwell and his colleague. The contest was to have the words “Perverse and Often Baffling” printed in the newspaper as often as possible.

Now obviously I’m not a literary contemporary, but I like a fun challenge. So for the next month, my goal will be to use the two following terms as much as possible in work, texts, and my blog.

– Clear and present
– Pinata (Since I’m addicted to the game Viva Pinata!)

We’ll see how it goes.

One Day at School
A couple months ago I had a mildly interesting day. It all started with a phone call.
Want to know about it? Let’s examine the chat I had with my boyfriend.

Me: ID unsent phone calls I got
Boy: Ooh, mystery! Did you pick it up?
Me: SO. The first time I answered, “もしもし.” And there was silence, so I hung up. The second time, I said “Hello.”
Boy: Ooh.
Me: And there was a pause and then some guy spoke in Japanese
Boy: Suspense!
Me: And I was sitting across from Taro (Japanese guy). So I handed him the phone and the guy on the other end promptly hung up. That was last week Thursday. No calls since then until today. I was at school, and my phone rang
Boy: Hmmmmmmmm
Me: So I quickly ran into the copy room and picked up and first said, “もしもし”. PAUSE. “Hello?” PAUSE “Hellloooooooooooooooooo?”
*Brief but HEAVY breathing of a man.”
And I’m thinking Nononononononononono. I’m in JAPAN and this is my CELL. This can’t be happening to me.
Boy: Oooooooooh. Creepy.
Me: And I say things like . . .
Boy: I recommend not answering
Me: “なんで?” and “Nandayo” and then hang up. 30 sec later I return to my seat and I’m sitting next to my 63 year old JTE and I ask him to do me a favor and pick it up for me.
Boy: Ooh.
Me: And he does. There is a pause and then the other person hangs up. And at this point I’m still kinda in denial. But then my JTE asks me what’s going on and as I’m recalling the story, I realize WHAT this guy is doing, and so does my JTE. And so he laughed at me.
Boy: Ooh. Maybe you can buy one of those robot voice machines then have fun.
Me: Hahaha
Boy: Or answer like scooby doo
Me: Or my very bad texan accent!
Boy: Nah. Nothing female
Me: Or have my boyfriend do a girl accent that would be awesome. Do YOU think you have what it takes to scare my phone stalker???!
Boy: You should just not pick up unidentified calls
Me: But what if it someone calling from overseas???
Boy: Have them mail first to tell you. Or just pick up and listen, then hang up.
Me: Hahaha. I need to have audio clips on hand all the time. Oh wait. I DO. yay iMovie! I think next time they call, I will imitate a man groaning.

Me: Aside from the heavy caller, I had another first today. Some first-years were doing self introductions and I provided follow up questions. And I asked one girl if her two sisters were older or younger. I spent a good minute miming “older” and “younger” and then she mumbled something to my JTE.
Any guesses why she couldn’t answer me right away?
Boy: Was it because they were twins? Or, no siblings?
Me: BATZ
TRIPLETS!!!! That was the first time I have EVER met a triplet!!! Have YOU met one?
Boy: uh… not this manifestation

Things I Wonder if Other People Do Too

1. Can’t read things in all capitals easily. I blame it on a fear of all things bigger than me; including Godzilla.

2. My ears hurts and nose runs with hot food. Probably due to a clear and present relationship to my throat. (Ok, THAT’s a stretch)

3. Avoidance of certain words due to bad experiences. It’s funny how childhood experiences can stick with you throughout life. No matter how many times I correctly spell them, I can never, in full confidence, write the words “Wednesday” or “Congratulations” on a card or a note. BUT, I can spell the word “pinata.”

4. Wipe the drops off after a shower. A technique that was garnered in college in the community shower where speed was a highly valued trait.

5. I know that Japanese is finally seeping into my brain because I can no longer listen to the music and pretend that their words are nonsensical.

6. I wonder why the dog I’ve passed by about 4 times a week for more than 2 years doesn’t know me by now. Amend that. He no longer barks at me! Only at clear and present danger.

Time to go. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

After hours, upon hours of tinkering, toiling, and downright goofing off, I’ve FINALLY finished my first video ever!

I even broke down and MADE a YouTube account JUST for this. (And fought with YouTube for about 1.5 hours)

All of the videos and photos I used were taken using Macbook’s Photo Booth program and put together using iMovie.

I hope the madness is as enjoyable to view as it was to make.

(Comments are appreciated, but no insulting the bear!)

Mr. MacBook was delivered to my door just about 3.5 weeks ago.

Although he is attractive, efficient, easy to handle, has more memory, and is faster than my old computer by leaps and bounds (not ALWAYS a good thing with men), I was not fully in ecstasy upon opening this bad boy up.

It’s me, not him.

No, really.

(Mac-ophiles don’t kill me!)

He’s everything a modern girl cold hope for, but I still need a period of adjustment and time to get all my personal settings back in order.

The first day I brought him to work was spent sort of mourning my old VAIO. Like a bad break-up, even if he did disappoint me more than once, I still had lingering affection. My VAIO gave me many good memories. I think I would have gone crazy in Japan without him. In fact, for the month I DID go without him, I really have no recollection of what I did with my spare time at home. For all I know, I was training to be a ninja and then hypnotized to conceal my true mission. There’s no evidence proving otherwise. Hyah! Oh well.

I do like my Macbook.

First on my agenda was seeing what programs I could no longer install and what spiffy programs I could download for free.

The usual suspects were added: MSN Messenger, Firefox, VLC player, Anki, OpenOffice, Azureus, and Skype.

On recommendation of Mr. Amake, I also downloaded a photo editing program called Gimp (a most unfortunate name for a decent free program). Let’s all get Gimpy!

If there are any other good programs people can recommend, please let me know. Currently, I am looking for something to design publications with (like newsletters or flyers or such). Perhaps no such program exists. In anycase, I’m still getting to know my Macbook. I’m a neophyte to all this Apple-centered culture. I have been assimilated. Resistance was futile!

Thus far, the most surprising Macbook perk I’ve discovered was the ability to stream my internet connection to my Wii & DS! Yay! Mimol, I’m coming to get YOU!!!

Also, if any of you PC’ers out there wants it, I still have a USB port that converts your internet connection into a wireless connection for gaming. I will sell it to you for 2,500 yen.

The last thing I would like to mention is my first mini Mac iMovie. It’s nothing ground breaking, but I’m excited about it. Hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of this week (NO CLASSES = extra time). I don’t want to give to anything away, but I hope you all like bears. ;-)

Quick Shout Out
Thank you for all of the comments on my last post folks! It’s good to know you guys are still out there, chugging along. (^_^)

Random “Philes”
A long time ago, I went on a word hunt for a word that meant a person who loved numbers; specifically statistical figures and facts. I never got a specific answer, but numerophile was close enough.

During that hunt, the following words also caught my fancy:
ailurophile — lover of cats
xenophile–someone who like foreigners
arctophile — someone who loves teddy bears and thus collects them
philodox — someone who is an excessively obsessed with their own thoughts; a lover of their own opinions
paraleipsis — A figure of speech in which one pretends to ignore or omit something by actually mentioning it.
hobophilist — garden gnome collector

Bye Bye
That’s it’s for now. Have a good day!

Hello world. It is I, Mikawika. Do you still remember me?

Or are you of the pragmatic sort and have since migrated off to newer, greener pastures of blogdom.

In either case, I am still here. And still writing nonsense poppycock.

I promise to have more concrete blogs AFTER I get my computer again. Hopefully.

Bye Bye Mr. Computer
My computer died. On Saturday, May 17, it died. Meaning that I can’t functionally operate it, write to you kind people, or even get it to boot up in safe mode.

And for what seemed like a very very very very very long time (a WHOLE 5 days) I debated between getting a VAIO and a Macbook.

VAIO: Good, brand-name PC
Mac: Good, brand-name computer

VAIO: Comes in very colorful fancy designs, and RED
Mac: Comes only in white and black.

VAIO: Compatible with more programs (and FREE bootleg software)
Mac: More third-party program friendly; almost impossible to get FREE bootleg software.

VAIO: More susceptible to viruses.
Mac: A white fortress that only has about 10% of the nasty virus army out to get it.

VAIO: Expensive, but cheaper than the Mac.
Mac: Expensive

VAIO: Did I mention it comes in Red?
Mac: Everyone and their momma has one. (kind of a bad thing)

So I ordered my new baby last Sunday. It should be getting in sometime next week.

New Toys
I have two new toys!

One is a Nikon D60 which a digital SLR camera. I gotta read the manual.

The other is a Nintendo Wii! A 1-year anniversary gift from my boyfriend. =) I spent the following days flying off cliffs in Mario Kart and composing Mii’s that look like international leaders because the only pictures of famous people I have in my apartment are in my issues of The Economist. I have to say that I think my Sarkozy looks pretty good.

Photos of everything mentioned above are pending delivery of computer goods.

Today’s School Thoughts
There was a baby snake in one of boy’s brooms today. They had no qualms about using their hand to open up the straws and look for it. I stood by shivering and saying that it was terrible, but I kept returning for one more look. There is a fine line between curiosity and being scared.

I slept funny, so my neck hurts.

On Monday, my students will be making Loco Moco. But the recipe my teacher found called for ketchup plus worchteshire sauce! A good steak sauce, yes. A Loco Moco sauce? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww.

There was a boy student today who said his “heart is ouch.” I asked, “Why? Did your girlfriend break up with you?” He looked at me blankly. “Did your girlfriend and you (I made a heart with my hands) break up? (I ripped the heart apart),” I said in a louder voice, as if that would help comprehension of English. And he followed up later by saying “You are a cute girl” and “Put me at ease please.” He’s an imp, but with good taste.

The bell rang, so I should go. I am lucky they didn’t have this webiste on thier list of blocked websites . . . I wonder if this will get me in trouble. . .

I’ve been watching loads of CNBC & MSNBC stuff thees past few days. The following is a list of things I’ve randomly thought or learned over that time. I’ve also thrown in things from a few other websites.

Erin Burnett
She is the co-host of Squawk on the Street and the host of Street Signs on CNBC. I recently saw a few clips with her in it and I think she is a cute, strong, smart woman and I like her a lot. Also, in a business where many strive to speak “standard American English” (as is taught in Japan), she has still managed to keep her (East Coast) accent.

Horation Alger, Jr.
Mentioned in passing during a discussion about the presidential race. He was a famous author of dime novels in America during the mid and early 1800’s (shortly after the Civil War). I read that his novels rivaled that of Mark Twain during his time (I don’t know how accurate that is). Some of his books are available online. I couldn’t help but smile. He first became famous from his series entitled “Ragged Dick.”

Plastics
It’s become and ubiquitous and indispensible part of our modern day life. Yet, what is the price we are paying for this convenience?

For example, drinking from plastic bottles for more than one use may be slowly poisoning our bodies.
Video: Are plastic bottles safe?

And then there is the debate about how environmentally friendly it is and how it is disposed of. It takes about 1,000 years to degrade. Also, it is “believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans.”

Yet, another scientific community is presenting “hope” that carbon dioxide (the most prevalent greenhouse gas) from smokestacks can be extracted and turned into a type of plastic. One that can be used to make CDs, DVDs, and . . . . plastic bottles.

Lung-less Frog!
Like a super hero! Breathes through it’s skin, so it can live underwater in super cold conditions and flatten itself to great lengths.

Maid Cafe Too Immature? Try a MOM Cafe
Japan has taken a new step in a long history of odd sexual norms.
Blog entries that comment on this development:
Asian Offbeat!!
Tofugu

Ok, done for now!

Thoughts on Being a Slight Toolwritten in March
Just the night before, I had been smiling at our end of the year enkai, or party. Usually, I’m all for the tradition of grabbing a tall beer bottle and socializing by pouring drinks, but last night I took it easy since I was recovering from a cold. Instead, I simply sat and ATE everything on my plate.

Teachers pay around $50 to attend these mandatory events without the pretense of eating their money’s worth. Most teachers abandon their table after about 10 minutes, leaving nearly whole meals in their wake. Though this is bad in the grand scheme of things, it’s a blessing for me: I ate THREE desserts the size of halved, large oranges.

At one point I gained an entourage. Or did they gain me?

The math teacher, who understands simple English well, taught me a phrase:
Yokuni hakarae douzo
よきにはからえ どうぞ

It’s supposed to be a phrase an important figure, like the Shogun, would say to a subordinate. Something akin to “take it easy” or “be free.”

So, the Math Teacher, English Instructor, and Music Man started touting me around to different tables, looking for “kind” people on which to test my newly learned phrase.

Basically, I was the foreigner taught a “new trick,” one that a Japanese person could not pull-off in the same way. I felt a bit like a tool.

And for a brief moment I considered stopping in my tracks, refusing any further talk, and sitting down. But, I realized that they were all warm-hearted people and just meant to have fun. And, it was a convenient way to socialize with me with only speaking a limited amount of English. Thus, my “road show” was launched and successfully toured around 3 tables.

Japanese Learned on My First Day Back
Recently my family came to visit Japan for nearly three weeks. Although I had a lot of fun, I was going a little crazy from being the guide and not having my own space at times. Yet, when I said good-bye to them, I cried on the train for about 10 minutes. I was surprised. I had NEVER cried when saying good-bye to my family before.

I surprised myself again in school. One of my English teachers asked how my family’s visit went. I said it went well, but that they were leaving tonight. She replied that I must be lonely. And then I started to tear up and cry a little. I couldn’t believe it. REALLY, I’m not that much of a cry baby! Even worse, my teacher started to cry too! She taught me:
もらい泣き
morainaki

Literally giving tears/crying. They were her sympathy tears for me.

I only came to school to take a photo. After that I was free until the party at 5:30 pm. To kill time, I spent a 1.5 hour chunk talking to some of the 弓道(kyudo, Japanese archery) boys. They tried to teach me the difference between:
恋(koi) vs. 愛(ai)

The explanation was mostly in Japanese and simple English, so I didn’t understand it fully, but 恋(koi) is “puppy” or dirty love, I think. Not true love. 愛(ai) is “pure love.” According to them, one experiences 恋 sometime between birth and 17 years of age. 愛 is experienced sometime between 18 and 30 or 40 years old.

I was laughing because they kept saying 恋 is “dirty.” DIRTY DIRTY!

Really though, if someone knows the difference, please tell me.

Marriage Race
It started with a compliment.

“______(my name) is very beautiful.”

My head turned instantly as I strived to find and speak to this obviously intelligent student before cleaning time ended.

“Why thank you,” I said naively.

“____ isn’t very pretty,” he replied.

“Um, do you mean ‘Isn’t ___ very pretty?” I was still hoping for another ego booster. Silly me.

“____ is a VERY LONELY girl!”

“What?!“ Now I was just mortified. “What do you mean?”

Student: “結婚した。(married) You’re not?”
Me: “Noooooooooooooooooooo. まだ、まだ。I’m still young.”
Student:“Don’t you . . . want to?”
(He asked so innocently I couldn’t be mad, but still, NEVER ask a single girl this question. NEVER. Anyone with questions can watch “Bridget Jone’s Diary)
Me: “Later, I’m still young.”
Student: “日本人 (Japanese person) ok?”
Me: “Yes, I guess so.”
Student:“ ____ 先生、どう? (How about ___ teacher.)”
(To his credit, ___ teacher is the only young, male, English teacher at my school. He chose well.)
Me: “NO. Nonononono.”
Student:“Why?”
Me: “Just because. He’s ok, but no.”
Student:“Why?”
Me: “Soooooo, how old do you want to be when you get married?” (distraction tactic)
Student:*thinks for a bit* “Twenty . . . eight.”
Me: “That’s about MY age! How old are you?”
Student:“Sixteen.”
Me: “Well, you have 12 years to beat me. Gambatte!”

Since then, this boy is known as “Lonely Boy.” The last time I saw him, he said that we are lonely “together” in a “lonely” race. Unfortunately, I have a feeling he’s going to beat me to the altar. Lol. =)

I have more to write, but unfortunately it is 2:17 am and I have a long day tomorrow. I will probably post Part 2 tomorrow. Peace out!

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