You are browsing the archive for 2008 November.

Once Bitten

November 30, 2008 in engrish

From a student’s homework: 

My son practice the kendo, that is traditional Japanese sport using a wood sord [sic]. He always come home after practice with crying because he was bitten by his teacher for learning the Japanese samurai’s spirit. 

“For,” is a tricky beast, with about as many grammatical uses as an octopus has legs. For example: I took the train bound for Shiba for the express purpose of visiting my family for New Year’s Eve. I brought a bottle of shochu for my grandfather, who I was named for. I searched for a way to greet him and, for lack of a better term, settled on, “you old drunk.” He cried, “What kind of man do you take me for? For one thing, I haven’t had a drink in hours!” Then he bit me for my impertinence. My foot hurt, but I was ready for repentance for I conceded that I had been a naughty girl. Speaking for myself and the rest of my family, for a man with wooden teeth, my grandfather’s bite packs a punch. 

After some deliberation, my student and I concluded that his son’s kendo teacher defeats him in order to teach him the samurai spirit and doesn’t, in fact, go cannibal on him as punishment for doing something he should have been doing all along. 

 


Just Because

November 26, 2008 in Ex-Patriate Games, I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So

It’s rare for Japanese people to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger but, for some of the older generation, foreigners are outside of Japanese society and therefore not subject to its limits. They also haven’t figured out yet that foreigners are just like any one else who travels to a foreign country; be it for business or pleasure, maybe we just want to read our book. Follows, a transcript of a recent and all-too typical conversation that took place on the train last night between myself, Bob and a random elderly Japanese man. As always, fully italicized sentences have been translated from the Japanese for your reading ease and my ego satisfaction.

Old Man: Do you speak Japanese?

Me: Um, a little. 

Old Man: Where do you come from?

Me: America. 

Old Man: [switching to painstaking but perfect English] What do you want to do in Japan?

Me: I’m not a tourist, I live here. 

Old Man: You live here?

Me: Yeah.

Old Man: Why did you come to Japan?

Me: Just because. 

Old Man: Why did you come to Japan?

Me: Because that’s the way it is, right?

Old Man: “Because that’s the way it is.” [back to English] What you job?

Me: [reluctantly] English teacher.

Old Man: Nova? Geos? 

Me: It’s a secret. 

Bob [in an awesome talk-block maneuver]: Excuse me, can I sit here? 

Old Man: Yes. [to Bob, in English] Where you come from?

Bob: I’m sorry, but I don’t speak English. 

 

The moral of this story is that my Japanese has progressed to the point where I can be cryptic.

Your 168-Word Mini Japanese Culture Lesson

November 25, 2008 in I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So, Mini Japanese Culture Lesson

“The Karate Kid” helped make it cool in America to use the Japanese honorific “san,” but Mr. Miyagi was only telling part of the story. The Japanese will often use honorifics at the end of someone’s name to designate their relation to themselves; “san” is just one such term. “San” is used for someone you don’t know well, peers and always for people above your station. Call a young, beloved girl, “chan,” and call a young, beloved boy, “kun.” 

Uncool:

  • Calling your 50 year-old male boss, “Miyagi-kun”
  • Referring to yourself as “Me-san/kun/chan.” Honorifics are only to be used in the 2nd or 3rd person. Young children will often make this mistake. 
  • Calling a little girl, “kun.” 

Cool:

  • Calling a little boy, “chan.” It’s a little irregular but still considered okay. Famous example: Crayon Shin-chan
  • Calling a female co-worker who is older than you, for example, “Ribu-chan.” Apparently, it’s okay if said Ribu-chan is, I quote, “very cute.” At least they’re not calling her “Ribu-kun” … or late for dinner. 

I’m here all week, folks.

Rice Fever, Rice Fever … We Know How to Do It

November 23, 2008 in I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So, Japanese Mix, Oishii, spazarific, The Children

I’ve got hay fever or cedar fever or rice husk fever, or whatever kind of allergies people in Japan get in the fall, so I’m sneezing often and powerfully. The Friday five year-olds laugh uncontrollably every time I let loose a storm of sneezes, and sassy Miho with the dimpled smirk and side pony is, naturally, the ring leader. 

The two year-olds still love to ask if class is over when it’s just begun and have recently discovered that if they press the tip of my nose with their finger, I say “beep.” As soon as Mia catches sight of me, she will inform me that this clothing item is pink and this is pink and this is also pink. Kazuya has noticed that my plum-colored knee socks match my plum-colored nailpolish and Masa has become addicted to happily sniffing my hands like a dog. 

The Saturday five year-olds giggled throughout the Thanksgiving lesson, demanding that I imitate a turkey again and again. Hunched over our hand-print crafts, inspired by the pumpkin and apple pie flash cards, we discussed other kinds of pie. The idea of chicken pie was appalling to the children but strawberry pie and chocolate pie received thumbs ups. Other kinds of pie: cheese pie, melon pie, cream pie, Ribu pie, unko pie. The last suggestion came from Yuu, the only boy in the class. What would a day of English class be if he didn’t refer to poo at least once? 

The first class of Saturday 8 year-olds think the word “silly” sounds like “oshiri” – backside. Whatever gets them to remember. 

The weather has turned uncomfortably cold so I’ve taken to wearing a black and burgundy velveteen scarf in the classrooms. It has been shyly fondled by no less than 10 young students this week. 

One of my eleven year-olds – a feisty gal named Naoko – leapt up during class to draw a diagram. I let this happen because the class was just review and she and the others had done quite well in the unit. I also let this happen because I was bored. Naoko’s red marker flew across the whiteboard as she explained her illustration; the characters in the textbook, she said, were involved in a sordid tryst full of lies and intrigue (represented by angry scribbled lines). Brenda (represented by “B”) “rub” Dylan (represented by “D”) and Dylan “rub” Kelly (“K”) but Kelly “rub” Steve (“S”). She informed me that the Japanese word for love triangle is “sankakukanke.” “Young Naoko dear*,” I told her. “You watch too many dramas.” 

A higher level adult student described her relationship’s breakup to me using the words “I quit.” 

A low-level student arrived 5 minutes late because she overslept. Her cheeks were stamped with perfectly round, unblended circles of tangerine-colored blush. She looked like an anime character, and I was sure she’d used one of the many brands of puff blush available; nothing else would have made that perfect circle. 

Nakata-san suggested we take another field trip yesterday to a nearby temple, so I could see the stamps they give out but he conceded that we didn’t have enough time. I hope I hid my relief well. 

I have new shoes; they are a cross between oxfords, pumps and Mary Janes. They’re my first pair of beautiful new shoes in over a year; I’m like a satisfied child. I stare at them during class about as often as I glance at my watch. 

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I’ve learned that I can crave things I’ve never had; I’m especially susceptible to food suggesionts lately. I’ve looked for the Danielle Ruschena-recommended Choco Ice in 4 different supermarkets (to no avail) and became obsessed with Coco Ichibanya’s fried oyster curry and my local ramen shop’s yuzu-flavored ramen before I even tried them. Luckily, the latter two dishes did not disappoint. I have no doubt that, when I finally hunt it down, the Choco Ice will make me happy as well. 

The 3-kyuu is in exactly 2 weeks and I have been studying hardcore all month. The messages in the hiragana and kanji soup are becoming clearer, which is fortunate since I have to head to the phone company today and sort out my bills. I moved to Akacho before I began studying so much and apparently botched my tenkyotodoke (mail forwarding form). Thus, I haven’t received any forwarded mail since my move and I’ve certainly received no tacos in its place. If I miss my mail, I don’t pay my bills and I could lose my house … or in my case, my phone service. I discovered that it had been cut off yesterday so now that it’s Sunday, off to the phone company I go. This is actually a good thing; I can practice the conditional and many な, た, て, plain and います verb forms with the salespeople. I’ve never been so excited to fork over money in my entire life. 

Tomorrow Bob, Sean and I will head to the wilderness to walk through abandoned train tracks and admire the fall maple leaves. The Japanese call cherry blossom gazing お花見 – flower viewing – but they call maple leaf gazing 紅葉狩り; red leaf hunting, or cutting. Nakata-san says no one really cuts the branches down but everyone sure does enjoy getting a load of those lovely vermillion trees.

In Which I Alienate Half of My Readers

November 20, 2008 in engrish, Japanese Mix, spazarific

It must be done: the once-a-year Well Woman check up. My doctor – advertised as English-speaking – happens to have a sign in both Japanese and English in the ante room behind a heavy curtain. Automatically, my eyes went to the English first:

Take off your shorts and assume the position.

“Gulp” is right.

Strangers in the Light?

November 17, 2008 in Ex-Patriate Games, spazarific

You start to recognize people, and it’s not just because their faces are so relatively similar to yours that they seem oddly familiar. The foreigner community is thriving but small enough that the same handfuls of big-nosed, English-speaking people turn up at your bars and restaurants. Japanese cultural events are also a foreigner trap; of course we want to learn ikebana, what do you think we’re doing here? Later, names will pop out at you in the English-language magazines: I know that name. Do I work with him or did I just read a column he wrote in last month’s issue? It’s sometimes comforting to see the somewhat familiar faces on the train and sometimes unsettling: I’ve seen him somewhere. Does that mean I have to talk to him? Sometimes you can’t remember for sure and are forced to do the gaijin nod, a subtle head bob to greet another foreigner, even though you’d completely ignore them if you were back home and you looked like everyone else. Hopefully you’ve actually met the person in the book store, because otherwise that gaijin nod to a total stranger would have been kind of lame. 

You’ll usually know someone in common. You’ll probably have been to the same festivals. You’ll wonder why your neighbor claims to have never been to a certain bar when their photo is clearly up on the bar’s wall. You notice the photo during the bar owner’s birthday party, an affair so large it is held in two bars on the same floor. There are plates of crackers, real cheese and strawberries and your eyes light up because you know how much real cheese and fruit cost. 

There’s a man in the corner whose accent betrays his New York origins. You could talk about Gray’s Papaya, the buzz about Senator Clinton potentially being appointed Secretary of State, how great the Japanese train system is compared to the MTA and how very excited you’re getting about your trip back home next month. But there’s no chemistry; the conversation dies once you disclose your former neighborhoods. He’s just your basic boring schmoe, the kind you used to avoid back home, and you’ll probably have to dodge eye contact on the train platform next week.

Your 35-Word Mini Japanese Culture Lesson

November 11, 2008 in Mini Japanese Culture Lesson

To mime crying, the Japanese flatten their hands horizontally and raise them to just below their eyes, fingertips pointed towards their nose, as though to catch falling tears. It’s partner manipulation at its stylized best.

Me は Me; Round 二

November 10, 2008 in Ex-Patriate Games, I'm Learning Japanese ... I Really Think So, Japanese Mix, My Funny Irish Friend, Oishii, spazarific

I’ve been tagged again, this time by Danielle, at Narrative Disorder. Creepy predatory children: 343,523; Bloggers: 2. The gap is narrowing.

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:

  1. Sleepwalking through the first semester of my Freshman year at NYU in New York City. The lifelong dream had been achieved and suddenly, I had no idea what to do with myself.
  2. Spending Sunday afternoons at Cafe Borgia in the West Village with a mug of hot cocoa and my notebook. By November I’d probably started wearing a scarf; my first, as I’d never needed one growing up in Florida.
  3. Attempting to rally my new roommates, Momo Peach and Wilcox, in a plot to oust Branflake, the outrageously spoiled brat who lived with us in Hayden Hall. There was nothing sinister about the scheme; Branflake really, really wanted to go. We knew this because she cried over the phone to her mother daily that our breathing was “too loud” and we were “probably stealing [her] clothes.” We just wanted to help her achieve happiness.
  4. Wearing black from head-to-toe on a daily basis. Yes, I was that girl for a time. But it had nothing to do with living in New York.
  5. Beginning to realize that the man I’d been secretly “in love” with for the past year was actually kind of a cowardly jerk. See number 4.

5 Things on My To-Do List Today:

  1. Enjoy the vegetables of my labor. Sean woke up this morning claiming to be on the verge of death, poisoned by a sickness so evil it could only be cured by homemade vegetable soup. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded to me so I made up a large, delicious pot, chock full of zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, tomatoes and green beans, with hints of cumin, bay leaves and paprika for spice. Just perfect for a crisp 秋 day. Too bad Sean thought homemade soup took as long to brew on a stove as it did to microwave out of a can; he won’t get to eat any until he comes home from teaching karate.
  2. Walk to the park and admire the changing leaves.
  3. Curl up on the mammoth cobalt blue “leather” couch and make greater headway into my bookclub’s November selection.
  4. Study Japanese … that 3-kyuu isn’t going to pass itself.
  5. Do some laundry. I believe I mentioned that today is a day off?

5 Snacks I Like:

  1. Ebisen. They’re basically shrimp-flavored styrofoam but so help me, I love ‘em.
  2. Tohato potato rings
  3. Calbee potato sticks
  4. O’Zack plain potato chips; really, the Japanese do amazing things with potatoes.
  5. Claussen pickles.

5 Things I Would Do if I Were a Millionaire:

  1. Keep it on the down-low; the last thing I’d need was for my friends and family to stop taking me seriously because I could no longer understand their “real world concerns.” Nor would I relish the thought of being viewed as a walking ATM. Seriously, I’m not a fan of excess amounts of money. If I can support myself and have something left over for a vacation or a rainy day, I’m a happy camper.
  2. Buy an apartment in New York City (I’m not a monk).
  3. Travel and stay in hotels that had hot water. ‘Cause that’d be a switch.
  4. Buy another mugen edamame keychain; Sean broke mine.
  5. Buy Sean a mugen edamame keychain of his own.

5 Places I’ve Lived:

  1. Boston, Massachusetts. Applesauce, strained peas, carrot puree.
  2. Bumblefork, Florida. U-peel-’um shrimp, garlic crabs, clam chowder, gator tail, and mudbugs.
  3. New York City, New York. Gray’s Papaya hot dogs, Crumbs cupcakes, Yonah Schimmel’s knishes, Lombardi’s pizza, Dojo’s challah french toast.
  4. Guatemala City, Guatemala. Frijoles, tamales, paches, chuchitos, jocon, pan frances.
  5. Osaka Prefecture, Japan. Kaiten sushi, nabe, curry rice, takoyaki, yakiniku, yakitori, everything yaki.

5 Jobs I Have Had:

  1. Underage lounge pianist. I took great pleasure in dressing up for the occasion each weekend and was too naive to realize that the traveling businessmen who offered to buy me “drinks” meant “alcohol from the bar” to get me drunk. I ended each evening’s set with an ecstatic rendition of “New York, New York.” Regulars noticed and asked, “Are you from New York?” Because I was 16, I’d reply: “I will be.”
  2. Transcriptionist for Closed Captioning. Our biggest clients were the DIY network and the Playboy Channel. Always educational and in the case of the latter, sometimes inspirational.
  3. Editorial Assistant at TV Guide. My magazine career started and ended there … at least temporarily.
  4. Cosmetic critic. You want to know about a cosmetic brand? Ask me. I know.
  5. Theater critic. You want to know about theater? Don’t ask me. I don’t know.

5 People I Tag:

  1. Greta
  2. Momo
  3. Guns
  4. Kathy
  5. Kimberly

The Graveyard of Empty Beer Cans

November 8, 2008 in My Funny Irish Friend, spazarific

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Here, beneath my laptop, is the Graveyard of Empty Beer Cans. It is where young beers come to die. Of course I didn’t drink them; do I look Irish to you? They are a present from Sean, abandoned over the course of days as a gleeful protest against my habit of leaving lipsticks and finished water bottles in the area. But that is an entirely different story.

Pomp and Circumstance

November 7, 2008 in Ex-Patriate Games, My Funny Irish Friend, Oishii, spazarific

The original title of this post was going to be “Back to Life, Back to Reality.” It was supposed to be a reference to the post-election withdrawal I’m sure every American has been experiencing since the moment it was announced that there would once again be young children in the White House. Recent events have shifted the focus of this entry somewhat but I suppose the overall message is the same: the smoke has cleared and the enormous task of repairing the country has begun. In the meantime, life has gone back to normal. I no longer have an excuse to put off studying for the JLPT, or even put off doing the dishes, for that matter. My head is flooded with plans for my winter trip back home, as well as the Southeast Asian tour I’ll take once I finish my contract. And then I’m trying to decide what my future will hold after I leave Japan. It’s a lot to think about.

But then, my head wanders. It’s only been 2 days, after all. I’m still awash with pride and hope. I’m still beaming to think of a President Elect who has vowed to listen to every voice, “especially when we don’t agree.” And I’m also the owner of a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. It’s chilling in my sparsely stocked refrigerator.

But, Liv! you cry. You only drink happoshu and chu hi. You liken spending large amounts of cash to the pain of childbirth. What are you, of all people, doing with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot chilling in your sparsely stocked refrigerator?

Well, you can all relax. Change is coming but it’s not starting with my spending habits; you’re all getting 630 yen mugen edamame keychains for Christmas. I bought one for myself the other day and, trust me, you’ll love it. Obviously, the Veuve Clicquot was a gift and I think you can guess that it came from Nakata-san; my ultra opinionated, ultra wealthy private student. If I wasn’t quite a hostess before, I think it’s safe to say that my transformation is now complete.

I must admit, I’ve been enjoying classes with Nakata-san lately, if mainly because the Presidential Election has given us a lot to talk about. And, obviously, because he just gave me a 7000 yen bottle of champagne.

For fun, Nakata-san’s thoughts on John McCain:

“Too old! Grandpa. He should not drive. Boring!

Nakata-san’s thoughts on Sarah Palin:

“Hah! She can see Russia!”

Nakata-san’s thoughts on what I should tell misbehaving students:

“Shaddap, you son of a bitch!”

Last week, before our lesson came to a close, I said: “By next week, everything will be different … or exactly the same. You will know by my face.”

Of course, Nakata-san didn’t need to wait to see my face before he heard the results. When I walked into the classroom today, he stood and offered his hand.

“Congratulations,” he said. “You have President Obama!”

“Thank you,” I said happily. He was only the most recent person in an ever-growing line of non-American acquaintances who’d already extended their congratulations but it still felt good.

He gave me the usual pick from his conbini bag of teas and sodas and when we’d both settled at the table, we began to discuss Obama’s election night speech.

“One of the things I love,” I said, “is that he’ll be a President who I feel represents so many different kinds of Americans. He’s the child of immigrants and is multi-cultural. He grew up on food stamps but he had huge aspirations and managed to make them happen. He’s religious but he’s also open-minded enough to allow for freedom of thought. He’s passionate, he’s eloquent and, yes, while of course I would feel better if he had more executive experience, he’s been grooming himself for this job his entire adult life.”

“And he is not 70!” cackled Nakata-san.

“To tell you the truth,” I said, “his age was never the issue for me. I liked McCain before this election. What he suffered in Vietnam was unreal and I think he ran good campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Even though I’ve never agreed with him politically, I can see why people in his party respected him. But he completely transformed in this election; he ran a ruthless campaign based on fear and manipulative division. It was Bush all over again. There was fake America and there was real America. There were Christians and there were non-Christians. There were socialists and there were terrorists.”

“McCarthy!” bellowed Nakata-san.

“Exactly!” I cried. “It was so disappointing; he’d seemed to have so much more character than that. Compare that to Obama’s campaign, which was about hope and unity. What he said about being a President even for people who didn’t vote for him …”

I felt my eyes well with tears. Nakata-san caught my emotion and laughed understandingly.

“Anyway,” I said, composing myself. “I’m just so happy.”

“The world is happy, too,” he said.

We’d been talking American politics for over an hour and I felt a bit embarrassed by my brief descent into girliness, so I changed the topic to Fall. The Japanese are crazy for the Four Seasons and Fall brings a lot of exciting things to the table. Exquisitely tiny red maple leaves, steaming tureens of nabe, silvery sanma and smoky chestnuts, to name just a few.

“Also, matake,” volunteered Nakata-san.

“Matake?” I asked.

“You don’t know matake?” he said. “It’s a mushroom. Very, very expensive. I eat maybe two times a season. You don’t know?”

“I don’t think I know it.” I admitted.

“We have some time?” he said, glancing at the clock to see how much of the 2 and a half hour lesson remained. “We can go see.”

Nakata-san often asks the staff to use their internet connection so he can show me something online; just another one of his wealthy businessman perks. Imagine my surprise when he informed the staff that we would be heading out to the nearby K’ntetsu Department Store. Until now I hadn’t thought “permission to take teachers on field trips during school hours” was included in the definition of “special student” but the staff was nodding cheerfully, offering to hold my green tea bottle while I was out.

The K’ntetsu market was perhaps 3 minutes away on foot but, for me, since I wasn’t entirely relaxed about this special field trip, they were 240 seconds that felt endless. I chattered nervously, asking as many questions about matake as I could think of. Facts: matake are emblematic of fall, have a distinctive odor, and are so expensive to grow in Japan that department stores will usually sell American-farmed varieties. Nakata-san’s wife grills them. No oil. Just some soy sauce and vinegar.

Department store gourmet markets are vibrant places, stocked full of unaffordable delicacies that are displayed like candies in an extremely appealing variety of booths. When we arrived, the market was humming with activity as usual. Crabs are in season, and long lines of housewives snaked past the seafood counters, fisting spiky orange crab legs.  I followed Nakata-san’s giant figure as he weaved between tempura and shabu shabu counters, dodging baskets of 13,000 yen melons. The matake were giant, cradled 2 to a styrofoam pack, each pair priced at 3500 yen. He passed me a package so that I could smell their characteristic odor and I inhaled, taking in what smelled to me like a pleasant mix of mushrooms and red wine. He pointed out the kanji to show me that the “take” of mushroom was different from the “take” of bamboo. As we turned to head back to school, I finally started to relax. Back through the Christmas cake displays and okonomiyaki griddles, back through the rows of sales staff bleating, “Irrasshaimasse!” at each shopper who passed through the doors.

The exit happened to be in the alcohol section, which was when Nakata-san asked if I liked champagne. Well, sure, I did.

“I would like to buy you a bottle of champagne to celebrate Barack Obama,” he said.

It was, to say the least, a surprising announcement. Of course, my immediate reaction should have been delight; how thoughtful! As it is, I’ve always felt strangely embarrassed whenever someone wants to give me a gift. Mild embarrassment is reserved for close friends and family; what I experienced at Nakata-san’s announcement was a full-fledged mortification coupled with uncertainty. Curiously, I never experience any sort of embarrassment when young children want to give me snacks. Call it a glitch. As for Nakata-san, he was a student; was it even appropriate to accept extravagant gifts? But he was a “special” student; if I didn’t accept the gift, would it reflect badly on me or the school? And, wait; Nakata-san is Japanese. If I refused would it be a grievous cultural slight as well as a bad business move? Clearly, I had to accept, even if my face had gone scarlet to match my blouse and I could smell my Lady Speedstick. 5 times. I’d politely pretend to refuse 5 times and … oh man, he was going for the Veuve Clicquot.

When we arrived back at school, Nakata-san excused himself to take a bathroom break and the secretaries swarmed me.

“Did he buy you a present?” they asked.

“Yes!” I yelped, finally exhaling the breath I’d been holding ever since he uttered the word “champagne.” “He bought me this …” I shyly lifted the yellow bag.

“Sugoi!!” applauded the secretaries. “It is okay. You can accept. Nakata-san is special student. It is good.”

All right. So, business-wise, I’d made the right choice. I realized I was shaking as well as sweating, but once I was sure the gift was school-sanctioned, I allowed myself to take some pleasure in what was an extremely generous gift. Veuve Clicquot! How about that? Finally, my hostessing was paying off. I’ve never had it before … and what better occasion than to toast President Elect Obama?

Sean is unimpressed; and perhaps a little angry.

“Who does he think he is, like?” he demanded when I told him the story. “What’s he trying to do, buying you a 7000 yen bottle of champagne? He can’t just do whatever the hell he wants. I don’t care if he has money.”

I began to feel my color rise again, as it did in the department store.

“He was just being nice,” I said. “It’s about America getting respect from the outside world at last. I don’t think he meant anything nasty by it. Let’s invite Bob over tomorrow night and enjoy it, the three of us.”

“I still don’t like it,” muttered Sean.

When he puts it like that, I’m not sure if I do, either. But, ultimately, I don’t see it that way. Nakata-san is rich; a 7000 yen bottle of Veuve Clicquot is nothing to him. The bottle was a present to celebrate the election of Barack Obama and the end of the disastrous Bush administration. While it may take years to repair the economy – if he can at all – I can’t help but feel as if the act of electing a man like Obama has already begun to improve the rest of the world’s view of America. Case in point: no one ever, ever congratulated me on our collective good sense when Bush was elected. It’s been two days since Obama’s election made history and already I have a string of handshakes and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to show for it.

I am full of hope that in time, we will all be able to say that we have benefited from the Obama presidency.