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.


“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!

“I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else” – Pablo Picasso

Monday’s prompt (yes, I know it’s Wednesday) was to update your ‘About’ page. I like my about page, but I did add a few things. You can check it out, but if you know me, then you probably know all that stuff already. It’s nothing new.

In fact, I was super-duper tired when I wrote it and I think it sounds a little mean. I didn’t mean for it to, but I guess my brain didn’t like being forced to think at 10 in the morning. It also could have been the papers I was grading. Grading is the wrong word. Editing, checking, marking…. Writing ‘good job’ at the bottom of every page.

That was only a problem because half the time, the kids didn’t even bother to try. They just wrote out whatever word they wanted to say in Romaji or roman letters. Which meant I had to look up what the English was for them and write it in so they could learn.

And I had to tell one kid Alaska was part of the US and not Canada.

And I had to deal with almost all of the papers being in passive voice, because the kids just “copy-pasted” what the teachers wrote on the chalkboard. So almost all of them started with some version of “There is Machu Pichu in Peru”; just change the underlined parts.

They killed my red pen too…it’s out of ink, and I don’t know where to get more. But it was a cheap pen, so maybe they don’t make refills for them?

My head is not awake right now. I apologize for that.

“Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” — Sacha Guitry

Saturday, the 20th of September, I went to work. Literally. And not figuratively-literally; literally-literally. I woke up at 6:30, ate some breakfast, got dressed, and set out for the train station.

Why you ask? What could have made you go in on a Saturday?

It was my JHS’s Sports Festival. Which is definitely not something we have in America.

It was pretty interesting. All the classes get divided up by year and put into color blocks (teams) so that there is a first-, second-, and third-year class in each color. Then they compete in relays, something called a hurricane, tug-of-war, jump rope (with the whole class) and a couple other things. The relays and tug-of-war weren’t that odd. I mean they passed off the baton like 40 times in the relay, but it was a relay. And they had a three-legged race, but with all 30-something students in a class tied together.

I guess that’s why they’ve been practicing for the past couple weeks, I mean the hurricane especially looked really difficult. There were four people carrying this pole running around in a figure eight, then the rest of the class had to jump over it, and then duck as the pole came back over their heads. Then the next group of four took over. It looked really hard. And there was something else; I have no idea what the name was though. But three people carried a fourth on their arms, like a horse, sorta. And the people on top has a ball they were swinging to knock a cone off a desk…I don’t know what to call it.

All I DO know is that there were kids coming to the nurses station for twisted ankles or scrapes or bruises or ‘others’ after every event. I think that more than anything else would be one of the reasons we don’t have such an event in America. Some kids left for the hospital, I don’t know why. I think one kid got his fingers jammed into the hallow baton, another girl might have knock out some teeth? I’m not sure, her mouth was bleeding. But her mom didn’t seem too worried. She was just like ‘we’re gonna go to the hospital and then come back’. What? You’re coming back….? Okay.

Yes, all the parents were watching. Which was awkward for me, because they were all looking at me. I could almost hear them thinking ‘why is that blonde girl there?’ Meh, I’m a teacher, fool.

But it was fun to watch. It was definitely a new experience. It didn’t look like the kids were having such a great time. I mean, someone had to lose right? The blue team stomped on the other three teams. They won with almost a hundred point lead.

And now I get Monday off. And Tuesday is a holiday. So three day weekend. Randomly at the beginning of the week. But hey, I’m not complaining. And it’s finally fall weather. So you know I’m happy about that.

Time to get some work on my applications done. (That really means writing…I’m gonna be writing. It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at some of my projects. I miss them.)

The daily prompts resume tomorrow (they’re just on the weekdays), so look forward to that! And you can always go back and read some you may have missed. ^^

“Experience is the teacher of all things.” — Julius Caesar

Today’s challenge was to change your theme. I bet you can tell that I did that. I’m not sure if it makes much difference one way or the other. I like the lighter background, to me it seems easier to read. If you think it was the worst mistake a human being has ever committed, let me know. I’ll change it back. I did like the circles….

And again, as that was not a post, i have undertaken the daily prompt. Write for exactly ten minutes. No more, no less; but it can be about anything you want. And seeing as I’ve already started talking about a whole lot of…well nothing, I will continue on with that.

Today I was teaching ES, and I love it! As time goes on, it’s becoming obvious that I love the ES soooooooo much more than the JHS. Although the special needs class in the JHS is kind of the best in the entire school. But, by far, the cutest kid is at the ES. He’s also in the special needs class, but he wears these suspenders to school every day. Oh my goodness, he’s adorable. Easily distracted, but adorable.

Besides the fact that there is no “Scary-sensei” at the ES, the kids just don’t care as much about getting things wrong. And they aren’t worried about taking entrance exams, well not really, so we just play games all day. I mean yes, bingo gets a little old for me, and I am tired of the screaming and yelling that accompanies the kids’ favorite ‘Janken’ game (Rock-Paper-Scissors; although they like to say Rock-Scissors-Paper, which just sounds wrong to me…) because you know they get into that. I have heard Japan called the land of Janken, and there is a very good reason for it.

I mean at the JHS the teachers have to teach them certain grammatical points, and what-not, and the kids need to know it to get into HS but seriously, what happened to  tricking students into learning by making it fun? That’s what I do to the ES kids. Today we learned colors…well they knew all the colors already. What they didn’t know is that I tricked them into learning ‘What color do you like”. I haven’t made them say this without prompting yet, which is probably why they didn’t notice, but next week, when they say it all on their own, hopefully they still won’t realize they learned something! They’ll just know it.

Okay. Time’s up.