Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bachelorette

You can hate, but I still like The Bachelorette.

You know those people who look at pictures of fat people, put fat people pictures on their fridge so they will think twice about that twinkie?  So they will spend a few minutes on the treadmill?  I'm not one of those people.  I don't want to look at what I don't want to be, I am inspired by looking at what I do want to be.  So one reason I like The Bachelorette is because the bachelorette herself is always HOT and in the best shape of her life, and that inspires me to work out more and harder.  And I like the fashion and make up.  Although, I will never be that tan unless I do some very unhealthy things.  Oh, well.  It's really nice to be free of tanning culture in Japan.  The foreigners who used to care don't care anymore, and the Japanese are always trying to get more pale, so I'm golden.  Ha. 

This season is my favorite of all seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette combined.  That's because Emily is awesome, and a lot like me in her character and convictions.  She's also a lot like me in her straight forward way of talking to people.  She's probably slightly more diplomatic than I am.  As I said before in my post The Bachelor, we don't usually get to listen in on private conversations like this.  We don't get to see how people navigate their private relationships.  I find it very interesting and informative to watch how people conduct their relationships; what they say to each other, what they say behind each others backs.  It's so interesting to see how people learn about each other, to hear the questions they ask, and to determine losers from people of character.  Emily also, like me, has a child.  Maybe the show is silly, but she's a good role model for me.  I have strong convictions and stand up for them, but it's still good for me to see someone else standing up for theirs.  It gives me the extra confidence and strength I sometimes need so that I never settle.

The Bachelorette also films all over the world.  I'd really like to go to Portugal, a gorgeous country with castles, palaces, beaches, and a fascinating history.  A country I never would've thought about if I hadn't seen it on the show.  Last night when I watched they were in Bermuda, and although I'm from Florida, so close to Bermuda and the Bahamas, I've never been to any of the islands.  The furthest I got was Key West when I was in elementary school.  The water looked intoxicatingly beautiful on last night's episode and I'm inspired to get there someday.

There's also the yucky love stuff and conflict.  There are moments of truth on The Bachelorette.  There are, sometimes, real exchanges, passionate debates, and moments of human connection.  Sometimes something happens, and I wish I had somebody to hug and kiss right then.  Often times the events on the show are thought provoking to me, and I wish I had someone to discuss ideas with. 

Yeah, it's a silly reality show, but I like it.

From Japan,


Monday, June 18, 2012

So... you're saying I look like crap?

I'm totally used to being confused.  It happens every day in Japan.  In fact, I think it's going to be shocking when I get to America and I can understand everything again.  It will be sensory overload when I can understand all of the little conversations going on around me.  It will suck to have to sensor my conversation topics because people around me can understand that I'm talking about lascivious things in the family restaurant waiting area. 

Anyway, I was confused this morning.  A teacher I work with called me last night and said that the students would be staying home today because of a typhoon, but that teachers had to attend school.  I'm used to this strange system as well.  But when I got to school today, students were swarming into school and teachers were bustling about.  I went to a fellow English teacher to explain what I was told and to ask if that was still the plan.  She said that 1st period was cancelled, but that the rest of the day would be business as usual. 

And then she held my arm and said, "But you are sick."

"I'm not sick.  Do I look sick?"

"Mmmmmmmmmm, No."

"Ok.  Thank you."

I went back to my desk, where the teacher that had called me to tell me there were no classes was waiting for me to go teach 1st period with her, which I was just told again, was cancelled.  It wasn't.  All this confusion is common ground in Japan, due partly to my foreigner... -ness, and partly to the way business is conducted here.  If I understand correctly, last night close to 800 people called each other in a chain to notify that there was no school today, and then they called again this morning, chain-like, to cancel the cancellation.  I like Japan.  Things are so innocent. 

But, my main concern in all of this is... do I look like crap today?  I've been using my fancy new face cream for two nights and my fancy new Dior eye shadow for two days.  Sure, I'm no morning person and maybe my hair is a little fuzzy, but do I look so bad that people think I'm sick?  I mean, yeah, I'm wearing the T-shirt I slept in, but they don't know that (and I'm only wearing a T-shirt cause someone called me and told me I had no classes).  

I'm gonna go to the bathroom and assess the situation.  I'm gonna get some coffee. 

On the upside, I taught a class yesterday with a substitute JTE (Japanese Teacher of English).  Highly respected by the students, he is a very nice man who takes his job very seriously.  And, he's like 7-feet tall.  So, I was happy when we were walking back to the staff room after class and he paid me a compliment.  He said that there was a very good atmosphere in my classroom.  It meant a lot to me coming from him. 

In truth, I do resent the great deal of time I am expected to sit at my desk with so few classes to prepare for and so few tasks to complete.  But, when it comes to the work I do have, I want to do it well, and when it comes to being in the classroom, I intend to do and I think I do a great job.  I have learned the customs and attitudes in the classrooms at my school, and I have optimized my tactics for engaging the students and ensuring they learn as much as they can in the little time I have with them.  I not only want them to speak, I want to leave them with a lasting impression of foreigners and of English, so that they have a will of their own to keep learning, and to pay attention to learning opportunities when they encounter them in the world.  I'm a crap office worker, but I'm a really good ALT.

So, despite the chocolate stain I just noticed on the T-shirt that I wore to bed and am wearing to work, I taught a kick ass class this morning.  We laughed, we learned, and my clothes and my fuzzy hair didn't matter. 

You have a good day.  Yeah, YOU.

From Japan,


Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Want to Live in the Country

I want to live in the country. 

Sometime during college, I think, I decided I wanted a cow.  And some chickens would be cool, too.  A goat.  Lots of cats running around.  Two horses, to keep each other company.  Dogs, I guess, if someone else wants to entertain them.  And I guess then I need another cow.  Cows need friends, too.

I had no context for these animals.  I have always loved animals and I just knew that I'd like to live around them and take care of them, be friends with them, learn from them...

Then, separately, I think, I decided that I wanted to grow some of my own food.  This happened because I feel the alienation that occurs from never experiencing where my food comes from.  I have never grown anything.  I have never killed anything.  I have never been part of the process.  I think that's wrong, and I want to grow at least some of my own food.  I want to connect to the Earth.  I want to rid myself of the disconnect I feel because I don't know how to take care of myself without a grocery store nearby.

I'm a tree hugger.  I have literally hugged trees.  I would do it more often if I weren't shy of passersby.  I believe in the power of nature.  On the other side of the card, I feel the danger of metal and wires.  I would like to get rid of my cell phone.  Once, the company took my phone for a week to fix some things, and I felt relieved to be without it.  In Gainesville I went more than a year without a cellphone and liked the experience.  I feel better when I spend time outside, in nature.  Studies show that people suffer less depression and have better focus when they spend time around trees, even showing higher test scores and productivity if they just have trees outside their windows.  I want less metal and plastic, more trees and water.

The city is what people complain it is; dirty, noisy, people are rude... dangerous, although there are dangers in any setting...

Knox loves movies.  He asks to watch movies almost every morning.  I give in on weekend mornings the most because I know when a picture is rolling he's absolutely glued to it and I can sleep longer.  I don't want him watching movies, I want him exploring, reading, playing.  I want him developing by the power of nature, not being numbed by the power of TV. 

There's a place in Summerville, Tennessee, called The Farm.  I heard about it from a book I read when I was pregnant, written by Ina May Gaskin, the most famous midwife in the world and a very well respected woman for her publications, perspectives, and teachings on the topics of pregnancy and birth.  Her home base is The Farm, an intentional Community.  When I found out about it, I felt strongly that I wanted to live there, for a few years at least.  I don't know if that'll ever happen, but the place is cool.  This Vanity Fair article is old, but still relevant enough to give a good idea of what The Farm is about. 

About The Farm:

It embodies everything I want; to get away from "normal" (crazy) society, to be around people with the cajones and the passion to do something about the shit state of things, to use advancements in technology and thoughts to live better lives and help people (not to just make more money), to be engaged with the world in a peaceful, positive way...

Anyway, I have to think about what I want to do when I get back to America.  I don't want the "same-old."  It doesn't work.  The people doing that aren't happy or thriving.  I've got more thinking to do.

From Japan,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Productive TV Visiting

I've got this kinda antsy feeling.  I think to myself, "What do I want to be doing?"  And I answer myself, "Something productive."  I'm studying Japanese.  That's productive.  But I still have the antsy feeling. 

What would I really like to be doing then?


Dancing.  I'd like to be in LA at Edge taking a contemporary jazz class.  Or ballet.  I'd cry if I took tap.  It's too sad to be rusty at my greatest talent.

Weight lifting.  I'd like to be at the Gainesville Health and Fitness Center doing a session with Alan.  It's hard to stay fit, but when I'm successful, I feel REALLY good.

Learning.  I'd like to be enrolled, somewhere, and going to learn Japanese for an hour everyday, like I did at UF, but at the time I didn't appreciate it or take it seriously.  I was drowning, and I had no practical application for the language, and I never dreamed I would even visit Japan.  Christina saved me.  But I didn't really learn.  I grabbed on with all my might, which is what it took for me to keep a tenuous grasp on the information.  After the tests I collapsed, and it slipped away.  But, it probably stuck with me more than I know.  The mind is a funny thing.


Game of Thrones is AWESOME.  How did it take me so long to figure this out?  I don't know, but now I'm on episode 10 of season 1 and I love it!!  And somehow I have figured out how to watch 10 hours of TV in the past week and still get everything done, and even more than usual, maybe.  Things happen fast in Game of Thrones.  On a lot of shows, they drag out one scenario for the whole season and you get the payoff after like 12 episodes.  Not on Game of Thrones.  It's like episode 3 and I'm like, they're not gonna kill THAT guy already, and then BAM:  That guy has no head!  Episode 10 and there have already been 3 different kings!  BAM!!

I also love So You Think You Can Dance, but my Internet is painfully slow and I don't have those downloaded, so I'm not caught up. 

I saw Black Swan last week.  I fall out of the moment with dance movies because they don't usually use actual dancers as the actors, and I cringe at their technique.  With Black Swan, Natalie Portman did a really good job, but Mila Kunis gave everything away with her hands.  Professional ballerinas do not spread their fingers like that.  Eww.

Knox is beautiful and perfect and gorgeous and heart breakingly adorable.  He slept extra long this morning and I was eating breakfast when he woke up.  I watched him start to wiggle around.  How can it be so wonderful just to watch someone wiggle their toes?  He stirred more and then jumped up on his knees and looked all over the bed for me.  I heard him make a little grunt when he decided I wasn't there.  He looked upset.  But then he looked up and saw me watching him from the table and he smiled.  His face is full of light.  I ran in there and hugged him and kissed him and tickled him. 

My mom is coming to visit.  I'm really excited.  She is ridiculously excited.  Of course she is!!  She's coming to Japan!  She's going to see her daughter for the first time in two years!!  She's going to see her grandson for the first time in two years!!!  He was only 1 year and 4 months when we left, and now he is 3 years old!  It's gonna be awesome.  We're staying 2 nights in Tokyo, then taking the train to Osaka.  We might be able to take in a castle before we embark on an overnight ferry ride to Beppu.  Then we will have 12 days in the greater Oita area before we head to Fukuoka and she returns to Florida.  I don't have a lot of confidence in my ability to navigate Tokyo and Osaka, but I'll do my best, and either way it's gonna be great.  I'm really excited to see Japan through new eyes.  I'm excited to see what she thinks is weird, cause I've gotten used to it all.  In Oita I want to do the regular stuff like Monkey Mountain and Umi Tamago Aquarium.  I also want to go to Suginoi Hotel to swim.  She will LOVE that.  I would like to go stay in the cabins at Zeai Camp Ground, but I don't know if I can manage to book that... Maybe I'll get some help.  I think we will go to Usuki to see the castle, and hopefully Mike will be able to hang out, and maybe even take us to the big staircases in the water.  I've never seen the stone Buddhas.  Maybe we will do that.  Me and my mom like to just go on a drive down the coast.  Every turn will be an adventure for her, which will be fun for me.  And of course it'll be great just to be together for the first time in too long.

Is good?  Is good.

From Japan,