Boy, do I have a lot to talk about. Too much actually! This entry might be longer than all of the others put together!
That is, if I don’t do something to stop all the TL;DR. (“Too Long; Didn’t Read.”)
So I’ve decided that I’m going to try writing about everything that happened in November in drabbles—that is, 100 word stories. Each anecdote should be no more, and no less, than 100 words.
I think this is a good way to get away from Nanowrimo! It’s still a writing challenge, but it is much less of a writing challenge than November. I gotta be honest, I’m a little “writered out.” I’m just really tired. I’m going to try to go to sleep earlier in December. We’ll see how that works out.
Without further ado: My life since October.
I. Uekusa Speech Contest—October 27th
At 7:00 AM, Kyoto-sensei drove us to Chiba City. When we arrived at the school gym, a Japanese woman noticed my sweatshirt and mentioned that she had studied abroad at UCSC, so for a minute, we raved about how much we love UCSC.
When one of the girls began to speak with a British accent, I realized that Uekusa was a much higher level than Awa. My students didn’t really have a chance. They did their best, though, and at halftime, everyone played charades for candy.
On the way home, Kyoto-sensei bought everyone burgers, and I bought everyone ice cream.
II. Ebony’s Halloween Party—October 27th
Melissa came over before the party. She put on great makeup, including fake bullet holes, and I dressed like Edward Elric.
I drove us to Ebony’s house, where we drank, played King’s Cup, and arm-wrestled. For once, I didn’t have to drink the King’s Cup. Someone confessed to us in the Five Fingers round that they were a virgin. We all toasted him.
I slept over at Ebony’s house, and in the morning, the girls who had stayed went to Bingo Burger. We discussed going to an onsen, but Melissa has tattoos on her feet, so we decided not to.
III. Halloween Karaoke—October 31st
Some of the women from the Tateyama dinner invited the ALTs to karaoke for Halloween. I wore a bat headband I found in my apartment, and Ebony brought some headbands for everyone else.
I’m getting used to karaoke. I’m singing more. It’s actually fun. Ebony’s Japanese friend, who is in a band, sang a Stacy Oricco song, and I was the only other one who knew it, so I helped her. I also tried out a Jason Mraz song for the first time, and it went pretty well. I’m also getting better at singing the Evangelion theme song in Japanese.
IV. In which I watch anime in October & see a cute guy working at the video store
In October, I watched Evangelion. A lot of people say “don’t pretend you understand the ending.” Honestly, I’m not pretending; the ending is weird, but I get it.
I went to Tsutaya to rent the movie DVDs, but I didn’t have a Tsutaya card yet. They called an English-speaking employee over to help me, and he was very cute. He told me that the DVDs didn’t have English on them, and I told him that I wanted to try to watch it. When I returned them, he was there again.
“Did you understand the story?” he asked.
An interesting question.
V. Enkai—November 2nd
The two student teachers were leaving Tomiura, so Kawana-sensei threw them an Enkai. I was the only English speaker—and the only woman—to attend. They apologized for the sausage fest, but it was a good chance for me to listen to—and speak—Japanese.
Before dinner, the student teachers and I were left alone in the restaurant. One of them mentioned that they bought their electronic dictionary in 2003, in middle school, which struck me as odd. When I asked how old they were, they said 22, and we had a laugh about how we were the same age.
VI. Block 8 Meeting—November 6th
Chiba Prefecture is split into 8 “blocks” of cities, making the prefecture easier to manage. Block 8 got together for our first ever meeting (the blocks are new), and talked about concerns and gave each other advice. I got a lot out of it—both in a community-building sense and in figuring out problems that I’m having at my school (underuse of my abilities, communicating with students).
After the meeting, we went to Gyukaku and had dinner. It was nice to get to know everybody, and we have plans to meet up for events in the future!
Eight is Great!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR WRITER
I just wanted to insert a notice that I wrote that last section in one go, and it ended up being EXACTLY 100 words when I finished. SKILLS.
You may now return to your scheduled broadcasting.
VII. 2012 Presidential Election & Japan—November 6th & 7th
For the record: Japan would have voted for Obama.
My JTEs asked me to explain the election, so I posted printouts of the electoral map. Kim translated it into Japanese for me, so the students would actually understand.
I wasn’t very nervous about the election. That is, until Kamada-sensei began to badger me about it throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. She was a woman obsessed. She put me on edge, and by noon on Wednesday (Tuesday in America), I was ready to throw up.
Thank God it was over quickly. I knew by the time Colorado was revealed that Obama won.
VIII. In which I read a disturbing news article
In the Daily Yomiuri, an English newspaper in Japan, there was an article about a man who was accused of murdering and raping a woman.
Except that’s not how they put it. He was accused of murder and “having sex” with the victim.
100 words cannot adequately express my rage. “Rape” and “sex” are NOT the same thing.
I discussed this with a friend, and he said that there are probably cultural differences that affect the way rape is addressed in public—though that doesn’t make it okay.
I don’t fucking care. Rape is rape. Call it what it is.
IX. Bingo Burger & the Mitsui Outlet Park—November 11th
Sikiru went to the new mall five times, and he was dying to show it to us. After we grabbed lunch at Bingo Burger, we headed to the mall.
I expected real stores, that real people can shop at, but it was mostly designer stores like Coach and Armani. Jeff, who abhors anything excessive, stayed outside, while I opted to go in and express my displeasure by glaring at price tags.
I got excited about one store, because it had Burt’s Bees and Spongebob Macaroni & Cheese. Everyone else got excited about Starbucks, which didn’t even have Pumpkin Frapuccinos. Lame.
X. Rejected—November 12th
I hadn’t eaten with the third years yet, and I thought it was time I try to communicate with them. A student named Reina teases me a lot, and my predecessor says that she wants to be friends with me, and teasing is the only way she knows how to communicate that.
So after class, I asked her if she wanted to eat lunch together. She gave the face she makes at me—like I’m gross or something.
“No, no,” she said.
I laughed and didn’t take it personally. Except I was on my period, so I kinda felt rejected.
XI. Dinner with Kamada-sensei at Kumfa—November 15th
Kamada-sensei really likes cocktails, and she thinks I like them, too. She also seems to like to force cocktails on me, because in Kyoto, she tried to make me order a 1100¥ cocktail.
When we went out to dinner on November 15th, she picked me up at my house and we went to Kumfa, where she again forced me to get a cocktail. Fortunately, Kumfa is THE BEST PLACE EVER and had REAL mojitos.
I told her about White Russians, and as we walked out, she asked our server about them, and he said they could make it.
XII. Accepted!—November 16th
Reina rejected me, but I thought I’d give it one more shot. This time, I asked Mirano. She was a speech contest student, and I got along with her dad over anime, and she seemed to be interested enough in English to be interested in me.
“Mirano, do you want to eat lunch together on Monday?” I asked.
She looked confused, and then she beamed at me. “What? Really?”
She looked close to bursting. She nodded, excited. “Okay!”
So I ate lunch with her class—Reina’s class—and they were SO LOUD. Mostly because of Kaito. That kid…
XIII. Funny Story, Bro—November 20th
During lunch one day, I was writing kanji on the chalkboard with some first years. One student suddenly spoke up.
“Sensei, sensei,” he said. “Mite.” (“Look.”)
I looked over and saw that he had written “SEX” on the board. I looked from the word to him and said, flatly, “Yomenai.” (“I can’t read that.”)
His face fell from the smug smile it had been wearing. “Yomenai? Romaji yomenai?” (“You can’t read Romanized letters?”)
He looked like he didn’t believe me, but he was disappointed, and another student erased it.
YOU AREN’T GETTING AWAY WITH ANY OF THAT NONSENSE, STUDENT-SAN.
XIV. Elementary School Thanksgiving Lessons
One day, the students had tests all day. The day after, they went over the answers. So for two days, I was bored. You may remember this from Facebook.
I took Melissa’s advice and made hand turkeys!
For Elementary School, the students made hand turkeys and played a game I call “Pin the Turkey on the Farm.” Blind-folded students had to tape their turkeys in safe hiding places (Mexico, Japan, trees, Obama, hay bales) on a poster, lest their turkeys be eaten.
The students loved the game—they cheered for or led their peers astray—and their turkeys were brilliant.
XV. Bazaar—November 23rd
Friday was a national holiday, but Tomiura held a bazaar instead. For weeks, people brought in donations, and on Friday, we set up shop in the gymnasium.
Kawana-sensei teased me mercilessly the entire time we worked at the cash register. He wanted me to say “Irashaimase” (“Welcome”), exactly right.
We stood there for three hours, but Kawana-sensei and a student managed to have fun. Kawana-sensei really wanted a nabe pot, but staff and student volunteers couldn’t take anything until afterwards. Every time someone approached it, they hissed, No, no!
They never heard, and Kawana-sensei ended up getting his nabe pot.
XVI. Only a gaijin would make this mistake—November 28th
I wanted to send money to the U.S., so I went to the ATM to pull out 40,000¥ (for bills) before I transferred it. Usually, I press 4 万, because万means “10,000.”
Instead, I pressed 40万.
That’s right. Instead of $400, I pulled $4000 out of the ATM.
Since I was going to the bank to make the first transfer anyway, I asked them for help with the re-deposit. The bank teller didn’t understand at first. Maybe it was my poor Japanese. Maybe it just didn’t compute until I showed him the cash.
Only a foreigner…
XVII. Thanksgiving Event—November 28th
Every month, Kim has to throw a salon so Japanese people can hang out with the local ALTs. This month, we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—complete with a turkey ham, Sam’s homemade stuffing, Melissa’s homemade candied yams, mashed potatoes cranberry sauce, and sushi.
What? Yes, someone brought sushi. To a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Such is Japan.
The spread was lovely—we even had pumpkin pie, which Ebony and I raved about. Kim and I argued whether it should be eaten hot or cold—everyone agreed with me that hot pumpkin pie is superior.
I love Thanksgiving food. ‘Twas awesome.
That’s all, folks!
So that wraps up November! I have a few more posts to make about it, including the Kyoto Trip! I also had a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day, so I will make a post about that as soon as I can stop crying when I try to edit it. (Don’t worry, it’s not that bad—I’m just having a hard time, because it’s the holidays.)
Thanks for reading! I hope the drabbles were entertaining. Let me know if you catch any mistakes please!
Cast of Characters
Kyoto-sensei as… the vice principal of Tomiura JHS.
Mirano as… a 3rd year student.
Reina as… a 3rd year student.
Sikiru as… the Block 8 coordinator.
Bazaar: a flea market.
Bingo Burger: a roadside burger joint next to Miyoshi’s michi no eki (road stop). The man that owns it went to California to learn how to make burgers, and they are DELICIOUS. Melissa thinks they aren’t as good as real American burgers, but I just have to say that it’s great that they are a beef patty, two buns, and legit hamburger toppings. When Japanese people say “hamburger” they often mean “meatloaf.”
Gaijin: the Japanese word for “foreigner.” The longer version is “gaikokujin”—koku just means “country.”
Gyukaku: a yakiniku (barbecued meat) restaurant.
Thanksgiving food: the best holiday food EVER. Hands down.