We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. — Anais Nin

I’m not gonna lie. This is definitely a problem of mine. Being a writer never helps. I’m constantly wrapped up in daydreams, some less realistic than others. And I am always wondering, ‘what if?’ And so, for the fourth time, I’ve moved halfway across the planet.

Yup! Back in Japan. Back to blogging. I’ll be better (again I say this. I will TRY this time.)

But this time I live in the country. I’ve never lived in the country! I’m a city girl, through and through. I know you know. Even if you wouldn’t say it to me, we both know you know.

And now I live in city about the size of my suburb, surrounded by Strawberry fields and a ring of mountains in the distance. It’s not helping with the daydreams.

Fortunately, I’m so…what’s the best way to say this….confident, yet mildly terrified and stressed out about driving, that I’ve been super aware of what I’m doing in the car. (Yes, I have a car. It’s rental, it’s tiny, like shorter than I am, and it’s boxy and I kind of hate it, but love it too.) And I have to have a car, not because its the country. There is a train; compared to Yokohama, it’s a pathetic little thing, with trains every 20/25 minutes and only two directions to go in. But as we have already established, I am a city girl, and Yokohama spoiled me. Anywho, I NEED a car because I have 10, TEN, 1-0 schools. TEN!!! Wait, one more time, 10!!!!!!!!!!

Yup! Three elementary schools, 6 kindergartens, and a nursery school. Yeah….yup. I don’t know how to get to most of them. But that’s what GPS is for. (I do know how to get to the ES I go to almost every day. So as far as that goes, I’m good.) But two of the ES are straight up in the mountains. Like, they don’t think my little-motorcycle-engine car will make it up the road if it snows. (I learned to drive in snow…I’m not too worried about snow, but if there is ice, I’m not sure the car is heavy enough to keep it from sliding down the mountain.)

But because it’s in the mountains, there are cows! Yeah i know that doesn’t make sense. It’s Japan, what do you want? COWS! And this farm/kids education place/? that makes really, reeeeeeeeeally good ice cream. It’s really good! I will try to stop there like every week when I go to that school.

(I’m only half kidding.)

Other than that….classes haven’t started yet. So, I dunno? People seem cool so far. And the kids all seem pretty nice. I don’t have the preteens this time, thank god. I’m planning on making posters all day tomorrow. Prolly about the months. Cause English really had a field day with naming months. Japanese did the smart thing and used numbers; first month, second month, etc.  To the kids, it probably seems like English just smashed random letters together, stood back, and said ‘that’ll do’. So I’ll be thinking up some way to make it easier to remember…if there is one?

Mmm. Yeah. I’ll post again soon.

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“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” — J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Goodbye Japan; Hello Scotland!!!! 

It’s only my second day here. And I’m still getting used to the whole time zone change thing. I’ve mostly been walking around the city, or to use the scientific term – getting lost. Streets do not have a nice straight way about them here. 

A few things are the same as Japan. I still, unfortunately, feel a bunch of people starting at me. Only now, instead of knowing the reason – being a blonde pale person, relatively tall – I have no idea what they’re lookin at. Am I obviously American? Probably…although living in Japan should have softened that, right? Am I doing something that’s weird? No idea… 

I mean I’m not wearing the apparent skinny pant uniform that almost everyone else is…but how boring would that be? (And I do mean almost everyone) But is that really a reason to stare at me? I wouldn’t think so. 

I was rocking sunglasses yesterday. But I love sunglasses. And even a little light can blind me. I am loving the clouds though. I missed that in Japan. With all its stupid sun. Cleveland has gorgeous gray days all the time. Apparently so does Scotland. 

Maybe by fall I’ll be able to blend in more. 

Another problem that I’m having is this unconcious, almost, habit of planning what I’m going to say. Even though it’s in English, and I know English. It’s a leftover from Japan.  Planning my japanese sentences just made everything go a bit more smoothly. And I find myself doing that here. But in English. Oops?

Walking is my friend too. Even though I have no cell coverage so can’t get a map and end up with very little idea of where I am. Buses and trains and taxis scare me a little. Because I don’t know how money works. In Japan at least, I had it. I could do money. Not always in Japanese, but I knew what and how much etc. Pounds though? No clue. I had a mini panic when I realized that there’s a difference between Bank of England and Bank of Scotland issued notes. And again with these 1 pound coins. Like 100 yen coins. What’s wrong with 1 dollar bills? Apparently that’s not a common thing. 

I think Australia also prefers the coin variety. And pence….? Money’s hard. 

But I’ll get it sorted. I can do this – I have to do this. I’ll need to be able to do this in September. So there’s that. 

Everything is stone here. Where are the wood buildings? But it’s cool. Very UK-like. I do just want my central-heated wood house though. I’ll see you soon (one week). 

And my doggie! So many dogs here. Beautiful fluffy things. But I want my Kuma. My great big dumb beastie. Oh and my family and friends. I want to see them too. Of course, I want to see them. My dog just better be there too. At least for the first week or so. 

But I’ll write more later. I’m off to look for Nessie tomorrow, and the at least one more day trip to various castles (castles!) around the country. AND most important – my new school. I’m super excited about that. 

I did learn how to put a kilt on – like the full kilt thing. Not just the skirt-ish part. So I can do that now. If I had one. Maybe I can figure out some terrible kimono/kilt monster hybrid. 

Till later. 6 more days till Cleveland!

“…rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln

Just a note. This is a super old post. I don’t know why it didn’t get uploaded. 

How wonderfully perfect and amazing is that quote? Yes, it is only half of the quote; the first part is something like should we be sad cause rose bushes have thorns. But that’s boring because it’s just so….true?

But: REJOICE! Rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. I don’t think people use the word rejoice enough. This is my new philosophy. And for every question someone asks me that I don’t want to answer: rejoice! For thorn bushes have roses. (Maybe throw a little confetti) then run away. For every lull in a conversation: rejoice! For every tense conversation I do not want to be a part of any more:..rejoice! 

For every morning I spend sitting in a government building waiting for my ticket number to be called so that I can hand in a piece of paper and then….go sit and wait some more: rejoice! For thorn bushes have roses, and what a wonderful idea that is. What an amazing combination of words and letters. What a great thing the english language is. How awe inspiring are those that have a solid grasp on it, the true wordsmiths. 

Rejoice! What a great word! For thorn bushes have roses! What an uplifting idea. Isn’t that a smile that flickered across your face? Isn’t that amazing? How great! How beautiful! 

Oh and p.s. I think I’m going crazy waiting in this dumb government building. I am just so very bored. 

“Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand.” — E. B. White

I feel like this is the best advice to possibly give any ALT. Because wether you are good or bad, upbeat or monotone, none of it really matters. I have found that regardless of how I want the class to go, the class usually has a mind of its own on such matters.
And a lot of it has to do with the attempt at making them magically learn a language instantly.
Which is not my fault. Nor is it entirely the Japanese teachers fault (usually; I do keep a special place reserved for Scary-sensei, and his unique hands/eyes/brain off approach to teaching – Only when I’m around).
I blame the BOE and the textbooks. The lovely textbooks, which have brought us such great phrases to teach as:
But I prefer the Eagles. Their music is more beautiful.
I learned that making fireworks is hard. But if I make them, I can have fun and give pleasure to others.
You can see flowers and animals with vegetables and other foods.

And more exciting awkward phrases that while technically might make sense, I have never (and hope to never again) uttered in my life. Blech.
I think being in Japan (read that, teaching this terrible terrible english book’s phrases) is starting to effect how I speak. Awkward, weirdly polite or formal phrase want to burst out of my mouth, while my brain is registering the words as completely ridiculous. But what can I do?! I try my best to imply that if you said this to someone in, for example, America they’d stare at you in horror and amusement! If you said while showing someone a photo album, “please look at them and share my memories”, you would soon find them backing away slowly in fear. At least, that’s what I try to imply. But maybe this is just me? Maybe it is merely my sense of Ohioan, Northern-cities Shift English with a touch of mumbling and a bit too much reading thrown in?
But I think that the kids respond in a less-than-enthusiastic way sometimes for this very reason. They too realize that this book is trying to teach them some weird-(dare I say)-Japanese-filtered English and they want nothing to do with it.
I did get a chance to teach them “meet up” and “hang out” this week though. But I couldn’t quite explain why meet up was meet up and not just meet. It involved a lot of pointing at the ceiling and confused looks. I suppose Google would tell me if I cared to ask. But I don’t much care to find out. It is what it is. As for hang out, they spent most of the time trying to say it like me, dropping ‘g’ sounds and ‘t’ sounds all over the place. Oops.

“It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” —J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I know! It’s been a long time. Again. And again, I have no excuse. I’ve been busy. With work, hanging out, worrying, fretting, planning, wishing, and maybe a little thinking, just to round things out.

But still I should have found the time. It is finally winter break! No school for two weeks! Which is great! Because for the past two weeks I have been doing nothing but JHS. And it kind of was super annoying. And sucky. Until last Friday, when EVERYBODY decided I was like, super popular, and they should talk to me….which was great. Except I had plans. And not with them.

I was going to meet a friend after work, at five thirty, because it was her last day before break and I won’t see her at work until the 13th. She doesn’t have to stay until five (lucky her!!!) so we were just going to meet at the station to get dinner. Instead, when five finally finally came around, after 6 hours!!!! Of sitting at my desk, everyone started talking to me. Which they have never done.
I learned a couple things. One I look 28 to Japanese people. This kinda hurt my feelings. I don’t think I look 28. Two, almost all the teachers are around 28/29 not a big surprise, but I didn’t know. Three, they can speak a good amount of english, and all are super eavesdrop-y. And four, they gave me all kinds of cake and chocolate to make up for english ability or lake thereof. And a placemat, because he didn’t need it.
So after 30 minutes when I finally got away, suuuuuuuper late and with no way to tell my friend that, I got to the station and saw the head teacher from my ES! Who proceeded to tell me all about the dinner with the teachers on this monday. Which I couldn’t go to, and I wanted to. Kinda.
Japanese drinking parties, while kind of mandatory, are intimidating. And have a whole culture just to themselves which I am not super familiar with. But all the teachers are super nice and awesome.

Oh well it was an adventure. I finally found my friends, almost 45 minutes late. We went to this all you can eat restaurant, which are called Vikings in Japanese, like バイキング! Baikingu! No idea why. I though she was saying biking and was like, uhhhh a what restaurant? Then I thought it was a chain called Viking. Nope. All you can eat. But over dinner we looked at bad/wrong/mistranslated tattoos in Japanese and that was pretty awesome. And funny.

More to follow from sun and beaches. Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. Joy and all that jazz!

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you”, that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

Well, here at least it is Thanksgiving. It’s still another couple hours/a day for you, but it’s already starting to get dark here. I can believe how much I miss daylight savings time. In the summer the sun NOT coming up at 4 is nice. And in the winter the sun NOT setting at 4 is nice. All of both of those things are nice. It’s so disheartening to see the sun start setting and know that there is another hour before I can go home. So not fun.

But this is not a complaining post! That was the last one. It’s very rant-y.

This is a thank you very, very much post.

To my family, my big, beautiful, colorful, crazy, ridiculous, awesome, magnificent, smart, wonderful, and open-hearted family – each and every single one of you – thank you. For being whom you are, for all the get-togethers, and dinners, brunches and vacations, parties and presents and holidays, for being family, with or without the blood to prove it; for all of that and more, thank you! I love all of you so, so much!

To my friends, my amazing, worldly, adventurous, creative, gorgeous, awe-inducing, trend-setting, kind-of-fantastic friends – thank you! Thank you for everything! For being whom you are, for dealing with my crazy-self, for shopping, and conversations, for TV marathons, and actual exercising, for phone calls and texts that go on for days! Thank you! You are more than any one deserves, and better than I could’ve asked for! I love you guy too, so much!

To everyone else – thank you! Thank you for everything, for reading this, for being here. Thank you!

To everyone that supports me and helped me to be the person I am now, though you may not be reading this, or even know it’s here, thank you.

So take a drink for me today, spare a second for a thought, send some love out into the world and eat some good food. Have a wonderful thanksgiving, and remember this quote, for me:

“God gifted you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’” — William A. Ward.

p.s. Today is 8800 days of Sam! Little ol’ me 8,800 days old. Just a random fact to make your Thanksgiving a little more math-y.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I did not love to read. One does not love breathing.” — Harper Lee

I know that it’s been a while. And I have been told to update. I thought I mentioned that it was going to be NaNoWriMo, but that is no excuse. So as it is Thanksgiving for me now, I will put up as many posts as I can. Even though A and B are not mutually exclusive, but I have three hours of sitting and waiting to get through.

I heard it snowed stateside! I wish it would snow here, not just for the obvious and eternal ‘maybe-I-don’t-have-to-go-to-school’ reason, but also because then it wouldn’t be cold enough to rain. It’s not fun trying to decide what to wear in 40 degree rain. Nor is it fun to wake up and walk to school at 7 in 40 degree rain. Nothing is fun in 40 degree rain, except sitting inside under a blanket and pretending you’re asleep.

And on my four-day weekend this week, I did just that. On Saturday, because I could, and what else does one do with their Saturday morning? Stuff, Errands, Chores? No. I should have been writing. I always should be writing, or finishing applications, but you don’t need to tell me that. I know! I know! It’s getting done. Slowly, surely, it’s getting done.

What else is new? I have hiccoughs right now and it’s driving me crazy. And I know it’s because both my brain and my body agree that I should take a nap, but somehow I don’t think the school would appreciate that. Plus it’s like they’ve never heard of insulation. The walls are so thin, or made mostly of glass, and the BOE announced this week that the heaters should not be turned on until December. Because it’s not like there’s the flu going around or anything, and I know that’s not how germs work, but I’m sticking to it.

On the plus side, you can find every size and type of hand warmer you could dream up in seven-eleven. Like small or large, or stick on or for your toes. So if it gets too bad I’ll just layer those on under my suit. Well this has been fun and rant-y.

I wish you could find turkey here. Or anything other than fried chicken or ham. That’s what I really want right now is turkey and stuffing. And just thinking of all the pies and cookies and mashed potatoes and green beans. Man, I miss thanksgiving food. I don’t miss the food-coma that come after it, or black Friday adds. And cyber Monday. I can’t think of anything dumber.

But that means it’s Christmas time! Officially. There is nothing in between that you can throw at me and say: “it’s too early! What about __________?!” After tomorrow, Christmas songs will no longer lurk among the random radio stations and muted shopping store music. They will be blasted unapologetically from rooftops and anything that could remotely hid a speaker. TV stations will begin pushing their Countdown to Christmas events like crack cocaine and no one can stop it! Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Rudolph, and three ghosts of Christmas will gang up and take over, like some sort of evil Christmas affiliated Avengers team. Elevators will play the Nutcracker suite, and candy canes will sprout like weeds everywhere you go! It’ll be weeks until you can even hope to get the scent of evergreen out of your nostrils. And the increasingly popular measurement that we all live our lives by, the Starbucks peppermint latte, needs no longer hid behind the red and white snowflake cups! It’ll be everywhere; you thought the pumpkin spice latte needed to take a break? The pumpkin spice latte is the peppermint lattes unpopular kid brother! I love Christmas.

Unfortunately, Christmas in Japan means a bucket of KFC and some vaguely log shaped cake. Blech. I don’t know how that came about, but it makes me very sad. And the Starbucks here? They’ve been taking liberties with their menu. First – they didn’t even have the pumpkin spice, and now? They’ve replaced the peppermint latte with the snow maple toffee latte. Which, I will admit isn’t that bad, and hashtag-first-world-problems all you want, I still want some peppermint latte on the few occasions I can make it out to a Starbucks around here. (Though seriously if you hashtag at me, we won’t be friends anymore, because outside of twitter, it’s dumb, and even on twitter, it’s still dumb. Twitter is dumb.)

Back to Christmas in Japan…KFC is gross. I think everyone can agree with me one that. It’s just not good. But you have to order like weeks in advance to get a bucket of chicken on Christmas here. It’s so weird. So weird. And Santa? He doesn’t come in through the chimney, mostly because they don’t have chimneys here, but he also doesn’t leave presents under the tree. Though they do have those little fake, plastic-y, sad-looking trees in the stores here. So I guess Santa breaks in through the window and flies around on stolen tooth-fairy wings (which is another thing they probably don’t do here. I dunno) and then magically sneaks a present into your bed. I’m not sure, and I’ve in no way checked anything I just wrote, but I think that’s probably what it is. Definitely, maybe. (Which is a pretty good movie, also.)

And snowmen! Snowmen here are only two snowballs! Two! I drew one on the board the other day, and everyone laughed because there were three sections. Personally, a snowman with only two sections looks a little ridiculous to me, but that’s probably cultural. Most likely. I wish I knew why that was though. Like, who decided how snowmen would look?

If you’re interested in some new Christmas songs to listen too, instead of the same old versions of the same songs, I’ve come upon some really good ones recently. Straight No Chaser, an a capella group has some pretty funny versions of songs. There’s the 12 Days of Christmas version of their, that I’ve probably made you listen to. It’s along the lines of other 12 Days of Christmas-like songs. But it mixes in different carols and popular Christmas music – it’s good, let’s just say that. Then there is the Christmas Can-can song, which is hilarious and awesome. And the Nutcracker song, equally hilarious. Check out all three. But then realize that there is nothing wrong with Alvin and the chipmunks, and listen to that album too. Do we still have it on a record, like a vinyl record? I think we might…do that instead. That’s better, somehow.

Then go caroling and get a peppermint latte because I am STILL NOT OVER THAT!

Then send me a picture, so I can show it to a barista here while crying and maybe they’ll make me one out of pity.

Just kidding about the picture part. But really, Happy Thanksgiving to all! And to all a good night!

Oh and then totally check out the Thrilling Adventure Hour, especially the episode in which they rewrite T’was The Night Before Christmas poem for their (dark knight) batman/aquaman character – Phillip Fathom. Because (1) TAH in general is hilarious, (2) it’s written by two guys named Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, seriously, like really, that’s their names, and (3) the best way to pull through a food coma is to laugh all those calories off! Remember the average American will gain 7 pounds this holiday season! Do you seriously need any more of a reason? Ooo. Rhymes.