July 2000 - July 2003 I left Japan July 25th, 2003.
My mother and I spent 2 weeks in Peru, and now
I am in Ohio researching schools to complete an ESL degree
and looking at job options in Hiroshima, too.
July 18, 2003
Today started around 5:30 in the morning when I started preparing for one of the last trash days I'll be here for. (Monday: non-burnable, Tuesday and Friday: burnable, Thursday: cans) I'm happy that my apartment now has a lot less for me to worry about now before I leave in 6 days.
Today was the last day of school as well. I had my last 2 classes (including auctions using "Wendy dollars"), my second and last farewell speech to give onstage in front of the whole school (in Japanese, mostly), and cleaning!!
I'm looking forward to seeing you all soon!!
Back to cleaning...
July 14, 2003
Presently eating a frozen pizza that is roughly the size of a saucer, taking a break from apartment cleaning. I sent a box home by seamail today, and unfortunately my calculations were correct...The cheapest way to send a box home is pretty darn expensive for a relatively light package...oh well.
I'm going to miss this nice apartment and a bilingual TV.
I had the majority of my last classes today. They went really quick, and it felt like we didn't really do anything. (We played English Jeopardy, hangman, a Q&A game, and had auctions for the 7th and 8th graders.)
I have a total of 6 more classes in Japan. ...6.
Well, back to cleaning, I guess.
July 8, 2003
Out back lots of baby cucumbers are growing, and I already ate one big cucumber!! Many mini tomatoes and salad lettuce as well, but the big tomatoes will probably still be green when I leave, and the melon and pumpkins have yet to start growing...I hope they do by October.
Tonight was the going-away party thrown by my Eikaiwa (English Conversation Group). It was a wonderful dinner, and I'm going to miss all of their smiling faces dearly!!
July 1, 2003
A couple weeks ago I went to Okayama Prefecture to stay at an "International Villa" with my friend's English conversation group. They did a heck of a lot of driving to get to this waterfall, which was absolutely gorgeous!! (But we couldn't get very close to it.) Along the path to the waterfall were many "wild" red-faced monkeys. You could almost reach out and pet them, they were so close. But I didn't. I did try to take some pictures of them, but none of them turned out very well...sorry.
June 30, 2003
Hiroshi took me to one of the karate tournaments he regularly attends with his students. It was very interesting, ...for the first 4 hours. We arrived around 8:00, and the tournament started at 9:00. I was expecting it to finish around noon, but there was no break for lunch, and we left around 3:00, very hungry. But, Hiroshi took me out to lunch and we went to the 1990 Asian Games's soccer stadium, which was very close to the tournament.
I'm a godmother!!
Megumi had this Catholic ceremony in an international church in the heart of Hiroshima. And I am one of her 3 (or 4?) godmothers now. No, I am not Catholic, or religious for that matter, but Megumi, her mother Elisa, and I are very close.
I'm happy to be a part of their lives.
June 24, 2003
My neighbor, Nathan, adds a picture every day to this site
Eeek. It's almost exactly a month till I return to the U.S. I have to start sending boxes back home, and cancelling bills. Tonight is karaoke night on Etajima with a friend of mine. I'm not sure what we'll be singing yet because she likes jazz and I like pop. Should be fun, though. Saturday morning I am helping Etajima kiddies make Nathan's special recipes: doughnuts, scones, and nann. We're actually going to make nann tacos...I think they will taste great, and I'll finally get to have "Mexican" food!!! Right now I'm stuffed from school lunch. A shredded cabbage-topped burger and creamy oyster soup. After 3 years of cabbage-decorated food, I'm still not a big fan of it. I will video interview a man from Bangladesh on Sunday, I hope, in order to show my students who are studying Bangladesh in their English textbooks. Wish me luck!
PLANT UPDATE: I've had a mini salad consisting of my grown tomatoes and lettuce! No hint of the pumpkins and cucumbers yet, but lots of flowers on those plants.
June 6, 2003
Today I joined the Etajima teachers in getting a health check. Today has consisted of an annoying man calling my keitai (cell) in the morning, and then being poked and prodded for awhile. I've been thinking very slowly today, so I didn't understand hardly anything they said to me. I did catch "This will be cold"...striking fear into my heart...I found out later I was getting a heart check. Ah, well. It's over now!! Yea!!! It is beautiful weather today, as well. I hope to go outside and enjoy it soon.
PLANT UPDATE: My cucumber and pumpkin plants are flowering now, and I have a couple of red tomatoes as well!!!
June 6, 2003
Today is a pretty nice day at school. The 9th graders (sannensei--3rd graders) are learning "have been", so I said "I have been a fan of U2 for a long time", showed them a poster, and asked them where U2 might be from. Then the lucky students got to watch a few minutes of a U2 concert on video. (I wish all my lessons were this fun.) There were a couple questions after the video...like "How old are they?" :)
PLANT UPDATE: I have mini green tomatoes!!!
June 1st, 2003
It's June. June, as in no-more-procrastinating-time-to-cancel-everything-in-my-life. *sigh* Everything from phone bills to pottery lessons. Not quite giving up my lunch break guitar lessons yet. (I know 3 chords so far.) ...I'm not looking forward to missing anything. Ah well, a new step in my life.
Today while teaching for the first and last time on a Saturday, typhoon #4 passed straight through Hiroshima, but all we saw was light rain. This is what I saw tonight.
Scanning the typhoon cloud-filled sky, as I would in Ohio during tornado weather. Breathing in the unique, tangibly alive and exciting weather.
The daily check--"What day is it?" ...and "Which school am I at tomorrow?" (Thank god I only have 2 to worry about.)
Pulling something out from my bag o' goodies to keep me occupied on the ferryride into Hiroshima. It is a rare opportunity to meet my friend Shah--a Ford CEO exec., or soon to be, anyway. We're meeting at the Irish pub downtown. I will probably be about 10 minutes late, though I've left 2 hours before out arranged meeting time...as is the life living in "inaka" (the countryside.) I wonder if there is some island in Japan called "Inakashima"...? Probably not.
PLANT UPDATE: These are a couple of my lettuce plants.
I learned tonight from Mr. Nakamoto that my carrot plants
are actually tomato plants.
Hmm...I wonder how that happened.
May 26, 2003
Tomorrow I have my busiest day of the week--4 classes, back-to-back. The 8th graders are learning English to use at airport Immigrations, so I will show them my passport tomorrow. I can hear the raindroplets falling off the iron shingles of my neighbor's house as I type this, and I need to get to bed soon...
PLANT UPDATE: The Japanese pumpkin plants are incredible!
They all seem to want to live, and are starting to overshadow
the cucumber plants. I am starting to see little green tomatos as well!
May 14, 2003
www.kidsmc.com and www.epals.com are great places to find pen pals from all over the world, if you're a kid! Kidsmc.com has a place kids can share computer-drawn pictures. Check it out.
PLANT UPDATE: Lots and lots of pumpkin plants. I put my tomato plants in the ground, hoping they'll do better...? I'm enjoying gardening a lot, but I think maybe I should give as many away as possible before my replacement comes in July...I'm like a little kid all excited to have a puppy and then it has a litter of 90 that need to be given away...I hope I will be able to eat some tomatoes, etc. before I leave.
It's getting really complex to call home now. The long distance number changed. I now have to dial 0033-010-1-(area code)-(phone-home). *sigh*
I went to Aya's house the night before Mother's Day. It was really nice and relaxing. Her parents were thrilled that they could (almost) chat with me this time. Aya and I happily snuggled under blankets after dinner to watch Star Wars: Episode 1 on TV. We switched back and forth between English and Japanese and decided in the end that the English version was more intersting. However, Jar Jar Binks' Japanese is really cute!!!
Homemade Vietnamese dinner. Thai lunch. Mmm....
**PLANT UPDATE** I have more little plants than I know what to do with. My tomato, carrot, and lettuce plants are growing at a snail's pace, if that quickly. I gave a few cucumber plants away, and I'll be giving a few more away this weekend. I don't think I'll be able to give away my American pumpkin plants. Not many people here want to grow pumpkins that aren't edible. "Yeah, these are really neat pumpkins. They're ORANGE on the OUTSIDE and they grow tall instead of wide, and, um...oh, by the way, you can't eat them." A blank, incredulous look has been the usual reply. ALL of the pumpkin seeds sprouted at home and in the school's garden. Maybe Nathan would like some for the elementary schools...?
May 8, 2003
My mother and I are in the process of planning our trip to Peru. Except that we're both pretty stressed out about the details, I think we're doing pretty good. We're going to visit Trujillo (in northern Peru) with my friend's family, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and do some other sightseeing as well.
Last Thursday at Kirikushi JHS, some students and I decorated eggs after school. It was a lot of fun. The students made very nice eggs using only crayons, canned blueberry juice, and tumeric (a curry spice) in water. I'm sorry, I can't show you the pictures because I forgot my camera.
Saturday was a local cucumber festival. I paid 400 yen (about $3.50) for all-you-can-pick cucumbers from one of the many greenhouses in Kirikushi. Yagi-san and I weren't early, so most of the big cucumbers were gone. We also were a little shocked to see the tiny bag they gave us to fill. Most people got around that small problem by packing in cucumbers up and out of the bags, so that the poor little bags almost broke!
On Monday, Hiroshi and I went to Hiroshima's annual Flower Festival. The events were centered around a 4-hr-long parade. There were about a hundred stalls to buy food at, play games, or get your back re-aligned! My students enjoyed seeing concerts of famous singers on the stages along the parade route. I liked the dances of people from Hawaii and Thailand as well as the impromto partying and singing by Okinawans all day long.
**PLANT UPDATE** There has been lots of rain recently, and both my American and Japanese pumpkin seedlings are growing like crazy!! I have about 30 cucumber seedlings growing pretty well now, and a few tentative carrot and tomato plants as well. I hope the watermelon seeds sprout soon...
May 1, 2003
2 months left. I'm not ready to leave yet! So many little errands to do and people to spend time with before I go... Today were my last 3 egg hunts at school, and I'm going to finish decorating/dying eggs with the students after school in a few minutes. Since Easter is not celebrated in Japan, there are no egg dyes or fun plastic sleeves to use. I searched the internet for some natural (edible) dyes, so today we've used canned blueberry juice (any mother knows that stuff is pretty stainable) and Tumeric, a yellow spice.
**PLANT UPDATE** Rain uprooted my tomato plant, but I re-planted it, and I think it's doing okay now. 20-30 cucumber seedlings and just as many Japanese pumpkins are doing really well, but my carrots have given up on the rocky soil, I think. At Etajima JHS, a couple teachers helped me plant some American pumpkins, so hopefully they will have Jack-O-Lanterns in October!
Apr. 24, 2003
Today was so humid today that water accummulated on the floors and stairways of the school. Opening the windows of the classroom was little help after we played an English game at the blackboard with flyswatters.
**PLANT UPDATE** a deluge of rain poured on my well-watered seedlings. I'm afraid to see if they've all washed away...
Apr. 23, 2003
Today was pretty slow. I finished grading the mountain of student English diaries, lesson planned with English teachers, and learned that there are more than 20 McDonald's in India!!! (But they sell 100% vegetarian products.) Which makes me angry...when you ask for a "veggie burger" at most fast food places in the U.S., you used to get a bun with lettuce and tomato inside.
Is it still like that?
**PLANT UPDATE** Little lettuce sprouts are popping up. Cucumber sprouts are struggling to sunlight as well. The carrot and tomato seeds don't seem to like the rocky soil in Etajima. So...I bought a tomato plant (for only 98 yen!) (about 80 cents)
This is Nathan's website, full of interesting pictures and thoughts about the area we live in: Hiroshima. Check it out!
I think my laryngitis is going away, but I'm not risking talking too much today. I think I said 7 sentences. How many sentences do you say in one day? Hmm...
I did some gardening today. I have carrot, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and hopefully pumpkin seeds all sprouting soon. Wish me luck! Mother nature is on my side this time...it is raining a few days this week.
Apr. 18, 2003
Guess who has laryngitis? :)
After yelling over students to be heard in class on Monday, my voice took a nosedive. I kept trying to speak in classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but after going to the doctor on Wednesday, I was told not to speak AT ALL for a few days. So far, I've done pretty good...all day long, no speaking about 98% of the time. Even if I did try to talk, I can't. The doctor also has me gargling and gave me some pills (which I hope are not placebos this time.)
It's been kind of fun not speaking, and I get to teach some sign language to the students, but I'm looking forward to being able to communicate in English or Japanese again! Not being able to talk made me realize exactly how much talking I do everyday, and how many students I daily communicate with. (They were giving me quizzical looks today...I see them thinking: 'Why is she mouthing "hello"?'
Living in Japan, I have an international outlook on the war in Iraq, which hopefully will be ending soon. I watch news on a weekly basis from many countries around the world. Not that I can understand French or Korean or German, but I get the general gist of what information they are relaying from voice inflection, video footage, and comparing it to the English news I previously watched on the same day. The English news I am able to see is quite varied as well. Headline News, part of ABC news, BBC (U.K.), and Japanese news translated almost instaneously on a special channel.
I like to gain the U.S. perspective about the Iraqi war from the news, but if possible, please don't send me any more forwards about the war. I agree with Bush's reasons for going to war, but I don't agree with the way he did and the timing of it. Perhaps time will change my point of view, but please don't bash any countries or countries' leaders in e-mails to me. I'd rather just hear from you and what's going on in your life! Thanks:)
Apr. 3, 2003
It's sakura (cherry blossem) time! Today is a very nice day for hanami (enjoying being around sakura trees.) I might have lunch outside under a pink tree or two. :) This weekend I hope it's good weather for having picnic hanami with Hiroshi and Aya. We'd like to meet in Iwakuni to see the sakura. In Iwakuni, as everywhere in Hiroshima now, there are lots of pink sakura trees all in bloom; however, in Iwakuni there is a large traditional-style Japanese bridge and a nice little river to picnic by as well. Perhaps in a few days the sakura petals will start to fall like rain and blanket the ground.
Last night the whale Star Trek movie (my favorite of the Star Trek movies) was on TV on the bilingual channel. It was incredibly cool to get to watch it here! Some nice laughs, though I should have taped it to watch it at a more sensible hour... English shows/movies are usually on very late.
Mar. 29, 2003
It was a beautiful day today, and I spent most of it inside, unfortunately. I was cleaning my apartment and preparing for moving in a few months. I took a break to have ramen with another English teacher, and then back to cleaning!
2 weekends ago Hiroshi and I went to the Tulip Festival in Huistenboche, Japan. It is an amusement park based on a Holland town. Huistenboche ("house-ten-bohs") is near Sasebo and Nagasaki, Japan on Kyushu Island. (Kyushu is a really big island...perhaps the size of Georgia.)
Anyhow, there are rides and shows at Huistenboche similar to Universal Studios or Disneyland, but it's mostly just a place to get away from it all and enjoy Dutch culture while relaxing along a canal or sampling some cheeses! (Yum!)
We had front row seats for a Chinese acrobat performance which including a girl on a unicycle 4 times as high as a normal one catching bowls on her head that she threw in the air with her foot! The picture shows her throwing 2 bowls at once.
Also, when walking around the park, we saw a marching band performance. The front of the band dancers' shirts said "Todelo."
I thought "Nah...it can't be Toledo, Ohio...Maybe they're from Toledo, Spain...?" (Okay that didn't seem very likely either.) I checked with Information, and yes, I had seen Toledo University's marching band perform in Japan!
Mar. 29, 2003
The panorama at the top of this page is a view of Sasebo, Japan. It's near Nagasaki, and it's also where my grandfather Baldwin went after World War II.
Mar. 19, 2003
It's still chilly where I'm at in Japan...about 10 degrees today. (50-some-odd degrees ferenheit) This past Saturday the big International Club's storytelling in Japanese event went really well. We got in the newspaper (thanks to Nathan's connections) :) and many people said it was a great event and want to come next year, too, including some of Etajima JHS graduates!
Happy late St. Pat's Day to everyone!
Mar. 4, 2003
I'm back on placebos. *sigh*
I caught a cold on Saturday and thought maybe by the time I could barely speak this morning before my last lesson with the graduating class that I should go to the doctor to get some drugs that worked. (The over-the-counter variety weren't doing very much.) I wish I could just go out and buy a decongestant. (Hmmm...I'll have to learn the kanji (chinese characters) for that this week with my tutor.)
I think perhaps my cold is gone...no thanks to any drugs I took. Enough said.
Tomorrow is the Etajima International Club's (Bi-Annual?) Japanese story contest for foreigners living in Japan. People from China, Senegal, France, Canada, the U.S. will be participating in the event, telling humerous stories in Japanese to compete for glorious pastry prizes! My "To do" list for today is to: finish lesson preparation for Monday & responding to English diary entries, meet with Nathan about final touches for tomorrow's event, call the participants one last time about their introduction information and any last questions they might have, hang up a poster for the event, call Megumi (she and I will be "Zabuton Ladies" at tomorrow's event), meet Megumi at the port & eat dinner with her, and ...oh yeah, clean my apartment a bit before she arrives!
Tomorrow night after the party with another International Club from Shikoku (a BIG island to the south), I might head into Hiroshima, as Hiroshi wants to go to a Agematsu Mika concert (She plays a Spanish harp-like instrument, and he loves her) on Sunday in Setoda, an island far, far away. (About a 2-ish? hour drive.) I wasn't really expecting a relaxing weekend, but I think I'll be happy to come back to work on Monday when the craziness will end. Maybe. :)
10 Uses of English on Products in Japan
1. 10 sugarfree powerful gums
2. Let's Fishing!
3. Come and play in Bon Bon's happy little world. (bag)
4. ion supply drink (Pocari Sweat soft drink)
5. No Reason (Coca-Cola)
6. Youme Town (Wal-Mart-like store)
7. Food, For ages 0-100 (salad dressing)
8. 30% Volume Up (popcorn)
9. MA-MA Pasta's exceptional quality is attributed to the use of
specially selected durum semolina, and other techniques
nurtured over the many years. (spaghetti)
10. MARBLES Lovely -- a taste beyond description (stationary)
Mar. 2, 2003
Today Hiroshi and I went to a Dolls Day festival in Otake. Otake is a town close to Hiroshima. All people who came to the festival were welcome to make a little river float out of straw. The float also included flowers and an origami emperor and empress, all of which are symbols of Dolls Day or gHinamatsurih in Japanese. Hinamatsuri is a girlsf holiday in Japan. Many families take a set of exquisite dolls out of storage for once-a-year display, similar to taking all the ornaments out of boxes for displaying the Christmas tree. For today's festival, there was beautiful spring-like weather for floating our dolls down the river.
Still planning for the International Club's event next month. The 5 contestants are from France, Senegal, China, the U.S., and Canada. They will be competing by telling humorous stories in Japanese. We might also have an additional contestant from either China or Peru.
Megumi (my friend's daughter) and I will be hostesses (much like Vanna White) for the contest, though we'll be dressed in kimono. Megumi (soon to be a middle schooler) is psyched to wear her yukata (summer kimono) for the event. Of course, I'm looking forward to wearing a kimono, too.