You are browsing the archive for 2007 January.


January 23, 2007 in engrish, Japanese Mix, My Funny Irish Friend

British Steve (one of my fellow teachers and friends here) says all of his schwa sounds as “oooh.”

“Say ‘lover’, Steve!” urges American Mike, his roommate.

“Loooova,” Steve will say gorgeously.

“I don’t have an accent. I don’t know what you guys are talking abOAT.” says Alan from Ottawa. “But that letter you keep trying to say is called ‘zed.’” The Aussies, Irishman, Brit and other Canadians agree. My fellow Americans and I remain content in the knowledge that our school teaches American English so we don’t have to get used to anything funny.

“Aubergine” is what they call an “eggplant” in the UK. They also call zucchini “courgettes.” We discovered the other day that Aussies call peppers “capsicums.”

Manx Lloyd shuffles his papers and can’t find what he’s looking for: “Oh, sod it!” he growls.

Later, Bob – my fellow New Yorker -and I were laughed at when we discussed it being “Tuesday.”

“It’s not ‘Tuesday!’” said the speakers of proper English. “It’s ‘Chewsday.’ You Americans all say it with a ‘T…’!”

They complained while riding the escalator in Kyoto station the other night. “I’m starting ta say t’ings like ‘look at that bunch of t’ings over there’.” said my usually unintelligible Irish neighbor, Sean. “I’d usually say ‘look at those loads of t’ings,’ you know what I mean, like?” I immediately knew what he was talking about; earlier, I had caught Aussie Mike saying “Dude.”

And today, as I was trying to find my lesson plan in my cluttered folder, I became frustrated and said, in complete seriousness, “Oh, where is that bloody lesson plan?”

“Did you just say ‘bloody’?” Manx Lloyd asked me.

“Yes,” I said reluctantly, because I’ve always found it really obnoxious when Americans try to use UK slang (even if, in my defense, I did it completely on accident).

“Marvelous!” said Lloyd.

twinkle toes

January 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

You take off your shoes when you enter a home or a carpeted room, and this goes for classrooms as well; I teach children in my stocking feet. Today, after one of my kids’ classes, Lloyd (one of the academy’s Native staff members) said to me, “It was interesting watching you teach. I even noticed that you did the entire lesson standing on your tip toes …”

“Oh, yes….” I said. “I do that.”


January 23, 2007 in Japanese Mix, Looking, My Funny Irish Friend, Oishii, spazarific

So very much to write but with no internet in my apartment (still) it feels impossible to cram all the things i want to say in little tiny bites.

Sometimes I write it all out in my head and figure that when I come to the internet cafe it will all just pour out …

… and other times i think – well, i will write it all longhand so that when i get to the internet cafe i can just type it down quickly!

But then I get home from work – usually an intense 7 hour day – and just want to sleep. or work on my homework/readings/lesson plans. Or do the laundry. Or vacuum up the insane amounts of hair that slither to the floor in my tiny tiny apartment.

Here’s a brief overview of how things have been:

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January 17, 2007 in I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So

Stupid kanji …


January 14, 2007 in I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So, Japanese Mix, My Funny Irish Friend, spazarific

The internet cafe is not free. There is, apparently, a sign above the computers that says something like “Free internet when you buy 1 drink! 1 hour maximum” but, of course, this, I couldn’t read. My new neighbors, Bob and Sean, translated it for me when they bounced over to said cafe, ready to get some free internet. I met them in the hallway of our apartment building as Bob – who I actually met first in the group interview back in August – opened his door to greet the FedEx man while I was ambling down to head out in search of a new winter coat. It won’t do, will it, to show up to my new job in a tattered black trench I’ve had since I bought it back in 2001 on Canal Street?

“Hello, again!” I said to Bob. Sean, who lives next door, heard us talking through the building’s paper thin walls and popped his Irish head out of his pink door. I was reminded of the Sesame Street set – a somewhat comforting thought.

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watashi wa gaijin desu

January 9, 2007 in I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So, Japanese Mix

Yatta for a free internet cafe just about 10 minutes from my apartment in Sakiio!!! Free is dangerous, though, because for the past 48 sans-intanetto hours i crossed a continent and an enormous ocean while nursing a raging head cold, got settled into my teeny, tiny apato, strolled down the main street in search of the Sakiio ward office in order to get my foreigner card (a no go seeing as I couldn:t find the place), had my “Japan is horribly expensive!!” terrors completely assuaged after looking into dozens of stores – in particular, the 99 Yen store near me and found pretty much anything I could ever want. When I finish here (hopefully finding the address for the Sakiio ward office) I hope to head to any of the cute restaurants I saw and get myself some nice udon soup.


January 7, 2007 in Uncategorized

2.5 hours to go before I leave for Newark.

5 hours to go until I leave for Detroit.

9 hours to go until I leave Detroit for Japan.

14 hours plus 14 hours before I land in Japan.

Pretty much packed – I’m trying to figure out how to fit my notebooks into my suitcases. They might end up just cushioning my lap top.

In my carry on bags – Japanese books, journal, ipod (a gift from my brother), ear plugs, laptop, a Japanese novel from Diego and Jenny, my camera, a neck pillow, and my cosmetics bag, plus my change of clothes from casual to work-appropriate. If I am going to be meeting work officials when I get to Japan, I’d rather not look like a hood rat.

I am incredibly congested. Nose dripping every few seconds and head throbbing. I left my going away party at around 3.

Sleeping is a bad idea. Perhaps i ought to dig into my suitcase and pull out some of the many medicines I bought for the trip and have myself some theraflu. Or I ought to write Jean and Frank a note/email thanking them for their hospitality.

Instead I want to blow my nose and mull over my sinus headache.

It’s like when i went to college - I couldn’t see anything ahead. I knew I was moving to New York City and that I would live with girls named Branny, Peaches and Wilcox. I didn’t know what I would study. I didn’t know who I would meet. I didn’t know what my neighborhood would look like. I saw a void, a void I had been aiming towards since I was 13. This new void has been in the works since I realized I needed a new start about a year ago but nothing still seems real. It probably won’t seem real until I get off of the plane in my new slacks, button down and blazer.

I’m going to live in a neighborhood called Abeno, near a train station. I’m going to live in apartment #444. I will teach English to the Japanese. That is all I know.


January 4, 2007 in Uncategorized

Until the beginning of 2006, I had nightmares regularly. Some time around January of said year, they rather inexplicably ceased. For one who used to dread sleeping because of the night terrors that would come, this has been an extremely welcome change. Every once in a while, however, a new one will come. My anxiety dream from the other night:

I left my apartment building and returned to find that it had been gutted by fire. I realized with a start that Heifer had been inside and for the rest of the dream, I tried to find her. I never did.

Pretty self-explanatory, I’d think.



January 4, 2007 in Uncategorized

With T-minus 3 days to go until I move to Japan, I have begun to notice a shift in my attitude. Though moving abroad is something I’ve been planning for close to 8 months, it hadn’t sunk in through my interview, job negotiations, and preliminary preparations for my visa. It still hadn’t begun to sink in through the early stages of my packing and japanese study. It still hasn’t sunk in that I am moving to Japan – but it has begun to sink in that in 3 days, I will no longer be here. And I have begun to feel the onset of anxiety or panic.

It strikes early in the morning, when I first open my eyes. The physical stigma of my 4-year night job has slowly begun easing away and I am able to wake in the a.m. these days so for a good hour I stay in bed, fretting silently. Then I wake and the panic eases away as I power through my errands of the day and feel excited about the move. In searching for a coat to replace the falling-apart-at-the-seams black trench I’ve worn since 2003, I am especially eager to move to a land where small sizes are readily available. While I try to stick to eating all Western foods I still crave sushi and noodles and feel comforted that soon I shall have all I could ever want. I browse pictures, I line up my new belongings and old belongings in my lovely new periwinkle blue “spinner” suitcase and feel a satisfaction as I carefully cull the decorations I choose to bring with me to my Japanese apartment.

To my surprise, I have managed to get most of my errands done.

Thursday 12/28

  • deposit funds (the loose dollars I have been storing in a jar for years)
  • add acct. to paypal (to allow my transcription clients to pay me while I am abroad)
  • bring shoes/clothes to be fixed/altered
  • call Dell re: new external disk drive
  • donate to the Salvation Army
  • see “Dreamgirls” with Evan :)
  • study Japanese

Friday 12/29

  • send evite for parties
  • pay utilities
  • shop for coat/work clothes/travel hairdryer
  • buy new wireless card
  • deposit funds
  • study Japanese

Saturday 12/30

  • deposit funds
  • study Japanese
  • shop for coat
  • pack
  • throw out junk

New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day – shot!

Tuesday 1/2

  • pick up shoes
  • pick up clothes
  • deposit funds/inquire re: traveler’s checks
  • meet Art @ 2, plan Going Away party – great success!!!
  • throw out junk
  • get watch fixed
  • get glasses fixed
  • donate to Salvation Army
  • email Tony re: tapes
  • buy combination lock for trunk
  • buy Lady Speedsticks
  • shop for groceries for House Cooling Party
  • buy Max Factor 2000 Calories Aqua Lash mascaras

1/3 Wednesday

  • clean out underneath the bed
  • pay dermatologist
  • deposit funds
  • mail package to Lindsay
  • shop for groceries for House Cooling Party
  • lunch at Johnny’s Cafe in Greenpoint
  • throw out junk

and to come:

1/4 Thursday

  • exchange money to yen, buy traveler’s checks/submit change of address to bank
  • mail change of address form to post office
  • pay overdue fee at NYPL
  • return too-small Christmas present dress to Banana Republic
  • “Dreamgirls” matinee with Sam? (I LOVED IT THAT MUCH!)
  • rearrange overflowing suitcases
  • throw out junk
  • dinner with Erma
  • final night at Marie’s Crisis with Sam, Fred and maybe Evan

1/5 Friday

  • lunch with Koko
  • bring coins to coinstar to get cash/deposit cash
  • call Global TESOL to update them on my situation and thank them for their help!
  • clean up/set up for House Cooling party
  • House Cooling party at 8!

1/6 Saturday

  • laundry
  • rearranging suitcase/final packing
  • final Salvation Army trip
  • last ditch coat shopping?
  • Sayonara, Amerika! party at Tracy J’s

1/7 Sunday

  • flight to Detroit from Newark at 9:10 a.m.
  • flight from Detroit to Japan at 1:05 p.m.

So desu nee.


January 4, 2007 in Uncategorized

pluses to having a Heifer-free home for a year:

  1. no more cat hair on my clothes
  2. no more incessant yowling at all hours of the night
  3. no more stepping on her toys
  4. no more stinky fish breath in my face
  5. no more having to buy cat food every two days
  6. no more stepping on slimy and chunky cat vomit
  7. no more having to clean up said slimy and chunky cat vomit
  8. no more having to lug heavy boxes of cat litter home
  9. no more having to clean up bits of carpet she uprooted with her claws
  10. no more being gnawed at by sharp, pointy teeth when one was just giving her a loving pat

seriously. what a pain in the neck. Heifer who?