Oops: Thank You, Teacher

As I showered just now, I somehow recalled a video meme I recently saw via a friend on Facebook.  I didn’t much like it, and found it a poor use of such a great clip, but I’ve remembered it nonetheless.  The words were along the lines of “when you just barely make your paper deadline”.  The clip was Captain Jack Sparrow gliding perfectly onto the dock, as his ship disappeared under the water, sunk.

For whatever reason, this reminded me of the time in college when I did not make a sort of deadline.

It was my second year, in the Fall semester, and for one of my French classes.  I think I had planned out studying for the test, and things had come up rather last-minute, completely destroying my study plan.  It was probably a combination of that and the usual heart’s tug of ‘Let’s get distracted by everything other than studying.’

So, I found myself cramming desperately the night before and the morning of this test.  I eventually just looked at myself, called it all ridiculous, and checked my teacher’s office hours.  She would be in her office the half hour before class, which was not long from now.  I kept studying, though in a completely different mood.  Either I would get what I was dearly hoping to get, or I’d likely fail the test.  And I could handle either (though I certainly had a preference).

I arrived at her office with an inner nervous, sweaty hands kid residing in my stomach, and a true sense of ease at what I was about to do.

I told her quite openly that I, by full fault of my own, was utterly unprepared to take the test today.  Yes, I could come to class and take it, but it would create a waste of her time in grading it, as it would be filled with various levels of nonsense.  I requested that she allow me to take the test later in the week instead, and asserted that I accepted any removal of points from my grade, should she see it necessary.

And she agreed.  She asked – seeing as how I went to a fabulous school, where teachers actually get to know you as a person, and their care for you shows unfailingly – about whether something specific had happened, if I were all right, or if it were just a standard ‘Oh. My. Gosh. I messed up!” (Yes, I did make it clear that my situation was of the not-so-proud “Oops” category when she initially asked.), and then accepted my request to take the test later.  I believe we agreed upon Friday, so that she still could grade it and give it back with the others on Monday… something like that, anyway.  (I then rushed back home and resumed studying for the next two-ish days.)

I think that experience – although I’m not sure I’ve thought this until now – had a strong impact on how I handled students as a teacher.  I remembered always that students have lives outside of the classroom, and that my class was not always the most important part of life for my students (and not simply by the students’ decision, but by global agreement), which sometimes meant that assignments went forgotten one night.

Essentially, I always expected the best of my students, and I remembered that they were only human.  And, so far as the grading went, if they cared enough to admit their error and to make the request for an extension or redo, as I had done in college, then, so long as the situation were doable, I was willing to accept (or negotiate for acceptable terms).  My students all knew this.  They also knew that I accepted humanness, not laziness, and that I am an expert at distinguishing the two (slash knowing when they’re totally full of it).  🙂

Yeah, I love teaching.  It’s like being a parent, but you get to kick them out whenever they’re driving you nuts.  (I was about to say ‘And the spending money on them and feeding them part,’ but then I remembered that we actually constantly spend money on students, and I almost daily, if not hourly, shared my food with kids.  One student regularly popped into my room throughout the day one year, asking for food.  Good times.  Good times.)

I feel like this went a little tangent-to-tangent (whatever that means), but that’s okay.  So rolls my brain, eh?*  😀

 

*I’m not even Canadian.  I just like the sound of that

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Phone Privacy

Sitting on the floor in front of the heater just now, I watched another teacher rush into the sort of locker room to take a phone call.  I wondered if the call were something private and embarrassing, like a doctor’s visit for a splotch on his bum or something.  And then I remembered that this is Japan, and everyone is always super private about their phone calls, so there was no telling what the call was about… probably just a friend moving dinner to 8 tonight or something benign.

But it had me think of exactly the opposite situation, and how different things are in my own culture.

In college, I tested into the highest level allowed for foreign language my freshman year.  So my first college language class had seniors in it (kind of fun, right?).

One day, waiting in the hallway for the previous class to end, so we could go in for our own class, one of those seniors was sitting across from me.  With casual ease, she calls her doctor’s office, and schedules an appointment for going in to renew her birth control.  No, she did not lower her voice for the call. No, she did not seem the least bit uncomfortable (nor overly confident nor proud).  It was just a regular conversation, and anyone around could hear it.  No biggie.

I remember at first being shocked, and then asking myself, “Well, why should I be shocked?” So I got over that rather quickly (while she was still in the phone, actually), because she can be comfortable with and confident in 1) her own body, 2) her own actions, and 3) her own reasons for using birth control, and have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed if others know.  It’s just who and how she is, which is completely separate from the next person.

Anyway, I then found myself on the path of openness and confidence, no matter the topic (and I’m still working on different areas of that for myself).  So I find it odd that people are on the exact opposite path here.  No, I can’t let anyone know anything about any part of my life!

But then, everyone talks worse than our teenage gossip whenever they are told something.  Nonetheless, why would anyone need to care, if we’re all comfortable in who we are?
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Rainbows of life

Some days, I think we just have to experience a rainbow of emotions. Perhaps it is to remind us that, despite our struggles and troubles, everything is alright, because we are still here – feeling, breathing, thinking, living -, alive and well, and able to get through it all, whatever it happens to be.  We always think of the beauty of rainbows as something that we experience from a distance. However, we cannot do this with our personal rainbows of life, because we are right in the middle of the rainbow, exuding our colors outward so far as we can reach, enlightening, empowering, and bringing bliss to all those within range.

Something like that, anyway… I really like the image of being in the middle of our own rainbows, thus being unable to see it in all its glory.  🙂
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It’s just not Christmas

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without family and friends with whom to be jolly.  Even when the weather is all chilly slash freezing (literally), it just feels like a cold front. And, watching Christmas films just feels out of season when watching them solo… not like it’s Christmastime.

I guess I never fully realized how much Christmas is a shared event. It has never felt so non-Christmas-y, than it has here, in a world where Christ has no role, general jollity, candy canes, and mistletoe are nonexistent, and family and friends are far away.
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ABBA in life

The musical delight ABBA holds a truly special place in my heart.  For whatever reason, I have a few very strong memories connected to their music.

My Junior year of high school, while at a dance event (west coast swing, a partner dance), “Dancing Queen” comes on.  My good friend and I rush out onto the floor, as we both love the song, and it is the first time we’ve heard it played at any kind of dance event or social.  We both crack up at the line referencing the dancing queen’s being 17, as 1) he has just turned 17, 2) he is semi-secretly gay (putting him in a certain category of queens), and 3) he is dancing and is darn good at it.  Neither of us had anticipated the line to fit so perfectly until we heard it while on the dance floor.  I was overflowing with joy and delight during that dance.

Senior year of high school, I quote the lyrics of “Thank you for the Music” in a letter (possibly for a retreat) to my eventual boyfriend.  A huge portion of our friendship/relationship was filled with the beautiful music he created almost constantly, and it brought true bliss to my life in a way nothing else could.  (Not that other things can’t bring true bliss, just that that particular kind of bliss was its own kind.)

Studying abroad in Vienna in college, I come home late one night to my shared dorm room, where my roommate is already in bed, sleeping (from what I can tell, anyway).  I sit down at my desk to do a few things on my computer (probably check Facebook and e-mails and whatnot), and notice that my roommate is listening to music rather loudly (seeing as I can hear it and all).  “Oh cool,” I think, “She likes ABBA, too.”  I wonder for a bit, how on Earth she can sleep with the music playing so loudly in her ears.  When I am finally about to go to sleep, half-ish an hour or so later, I notice that the music doesn’t seem to be louder near her bed, but quieter.  I follow the sound, and discover that my iPod has been blasting the first artist on the list for that past 45-ish minutes.  It was difficult not to laugh, though I had really enjoyed listening to the music, even if it wasn’t my roommates choice after all.

So, what beautiful, strong memory will occur next with ABBA, I wonder?  🙂

 

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Stress made me write

Today was so stressful, I considered balling up on the floor of the shower, and not going back into real life… for a while, anyway.  Instead, I cried for a minute, was struck by inspiration, and stood up and showered.

When I was all dried off, and had irrigated my ears, I sat down and started writing my book.  🙂  From one terrifying thing to the next!

 

Peace  😀

 

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Beautiful Bodies

The beauty of the human body never ceases to amaze me.  The soft, homey curves, combined with the strict, angled, edged lines… I am regularly in awe at the beauty of it all.

My mother was in a drawing class at the community college a decade or so ago, and they did sketching of live models.  I remember being in love with the charcoal-style outlines of these nude individuals.  I couldn’t tell if I wanted to be so talented as my mother, and be able to draw these beautiful bodies, or if I wanted to be so confident and free as the lady who easily sat for 45 minutes in a room full of people (and remember that these people were practically investigating her body from all angles), wearing nothing.  Truly, I think I wanted to be both.

And I still do.

In college, I almost got the nerve to ask about modeling for the art classes we had on campus.  I even asked someone about it, and found out that those who modeled were even paid.  For whatever reason, though, I never pursued it.  I think I might have been quaking with fright on the insides, merely at the consideration of speaking to the art professor about my potential desire to model.

Now, all I do is think every so often how I want to be in an art class, so that I eventually can make such beautiful art as my mother used to make, and then share it with the world…. and also gaze at it myself.  As of right now, I have several other things that come up more often as things I want to pursue, so I think I actually will pursue those… however, on second thought (more like thousandth thought),  I’ll make another go at finding one of these drawing classes (I recently asked around about it, and it got me nowhere, so I was a bit disheartened after that.  I think I’m about ready to do some new asking of new people who might be able to help, though.)

 

Well, that was productive.  I’ll be sure to share about my art exhibit, whenever it happens down the road!  Hehe  😀

 

 

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Dreaming of being Muslim

Have you ever wanted to be a different religion than you currently are?  I don’t mean like converting.  I mean it in the sense of having a different life; perhaps even literally being born into a different family and culture, such that your whole belief system is completely different from what it is now.  Well, anyway, I have (which, I suppose, was already rather obvious, seeing as I’ve brought it up and all…).

Growing up, and even still nowadays, I found myself occasionally longing to be a member of a culture similar to that of Islam’s culture.  I realize there are many concerns that have arisen in recent history regarding the religion.  However, that is not the point here.  The point is their beautiful dedication to their religion.

Whenever I pass the Prayer & Meditation Room in hospitals and comparable establishments, known to be filled with people of varying cultures and belief systems, I usually double back and go inside the room.  When inside, I see the prayer books, and sometimes even the mats for prayer and the compass-perfect layout of the room (for those who pray in a certain direction), and I feel a sort of longing.  From something deep inside, I feel an attachment to these strong religious practices.

Praying so many times a day, at certain times of day, using specific prayers and motions…, you really have to plan ahead in your day.  We have a soccer tournament today, so we’ll take a break between these games and these games… do you have the mats?  Just a normal Saturday, right?  Your religion ends up on the forefront of your mind from the moment you wake up, to the last prayer before sleep.  (Plus, with the Hijab for a woman, it is even more prevalent in one’s day. (Actually, I regularly wear a head covering for yoga, and sometimes even just life, and I wish it were more accepted, such that I could really wear one whenever I wanted.))

Perhaps it is simply that the practicers of Islam seem to have such extreme dedication, that it is as though they ‘have it all together’ or something.   That I experience their dedication as a sort of clarity and true love in their lives…, and I want that clarity and love in my life, too.  Perhaps it is that it just seems so special to me, their religious practices, and I therefore want to be part of the something special.  I think it is just that I find beauty in it all – the practice, the dedication, the thought-out-ness of implementing it in life -, and I want that beauty.  I want beauty to abound in my life, and this is just one other way that I could bring beauty into my life…

I know there is so much more I could say, and so many better ways in which I could say what I’ve already said (although it is all writing, as opposed to actual speaking), but I think that up there gives a somewhat accurate portrayal of my thoughts and sentiment on the matter… somewhat.  ;P

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“Cheer up, Charlie”

Today I continued with my breakdown, in search of what is in the way for my having a breakthrough.

I sat on the stairwell as a sort of escape, and a fabulous English-speaker found me and chatted me up for the whole first period… I managed to find some things behind a lot of my stress, and it allowed me to let go of a Lot of my struggles; I even made jokes about how ridiculous I was seeing things, and I meant them with a happy, goofy, joking heart.  I mean, I totally cried my eyes out, as well, but the conversation created this beautiful clearing for me, and the person talking with me was just incredible at accepting me where I was, and letting me be however I needed to be.

At the end of it, she said, somewhat singsong-y, “Cheer up.” I added, “Charlie…” to finish the tune it sounded like she was carrying, and ended up laughing and crying a bit more.

I went and found the song, and listened to it before I had to do anything else, and it became my personal heart song around the whole situation (I kind of made up that term, but it seems to give the right experience). I plan to listen to it every day that I find myself stressed about my job again.

So, these are good things, of course.  However, the thing I most want to share is what happened this afternoon.

I went ahead and sent the YouTube link to that person from the stairwell (I had her e-mail as of or conversation, you see), so that she could hear the song (since she had never seen the film (only the Johnny Depp “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”)). This was during the morning.  Around two or three p.m., she comes by my desk and tells me with a smile, ‘I received the song you sent to me, and I just listened to it in the bathroom. It is quite nice. Thank you for sending it to me.’

‘In the BATHroom? Just now? Really??’

Chuckling quietly, ‘Yes… it was the only place that is out of the way, so it would not bother anyone.’

I was delighted. And still am. 😀
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Breakdown in Town

Today I did a sort of volunteering, and I had a total breakdown for myself.  (Yes, tears and all!)  😀

As I noticed my irritation at being skipped over for helping with certain things, I wondered why I cared – it’s not like any of this takes master brain power, or special Hannah skills in the first place, so why am I annoyed at being asked to do this task versus that task?  I eventually got to the source of my irritation:  I was asked to do this task, because it doesn’t required any Japanese knowledge or use.  I was not asked to do other tasks, because the assigners believed me incapable of accomplishing them (due to my level of Japanese).

It was a three-part annoyance initially.
1) They aren’t letting me to something, because they think me incapable.
2) They didn’t even check if I were capable of the tasks, but just assumed me incapable.
3) I actually was incredibly capable of those particular tasks, and had even done them before, when my Japanese was a much lower level than it is now.

Now, these are all things that could cause some real annoyance, right?  Right.

However, I looked further than that.  I am here, making a difference, and that’s my purpose of being here.  So why am I getting annoyed at this whole thing?  What’s behind those three concerns?  Well, I didn’t know at first.

As part of the thing at which I was helping, one of the conversations was about complaints we have in life, and what we get out of those complaints, as well as what we miss out on because of our having retained the complaints.

The area which stuck out to me instantly (and which I did not want to address, of course) was my job.  Almost immediately from the start of this one-year-contract job, I disliked it.  And, here I am, four moths later, still hating it.  Even though there are plenty of things I love about it, I still have this utter dislike of my job.  It’s boring.  It’s a waste of my time.  I’m better than this.  They’re doing it all wrong – it would makes Loads more sense to do it This way instead.  They’re stupid – they just need to listen to me and let me do it.  Why do I have to do it This way?… This way sucks! And, most of all, Why do I have to be here in such a crap situation?

So, seeing this constant, repeating complaints about my job, I looked at what I got out of the complaining.  More than anything else, I get to be right, and I get to avoid responsibility.  I get to be right that my job sucks and, obviously, everyone telling me what to do or how to do things is totally wrong, as well as that I shouldn’t be here and am better than all of this boring nonsense that a Monkey could do.  I get to avoid the responsibility of finding a job I love, and putting forth the effort required for such a task, allowing me to be a victim of the situation of my job, as opposed to the fact that I was lazy, and just went one of the easier routes in finding an international job.  This sucks, and it’s totally not my fault at all.  That was about it.

And, what did I miss out on by being right and by avoiding responsibility in finding a great job?  Relationships with the people around me each day.  Sleep (from staying up, hating having to go to work the next morning, and so putting it off as long as possible).  Fun at work.  Joy in my day-to-day.  Sharing my love and wisdom with the world.  Being happy, and spreading my usually-infectious happiness all around me.  Being calm and relaxed (because I was so stressed all the time with the annoyance of “My job sucks.”).  Loving life.  Being me*.

So, what did this have to do with my annoyance in the volunteering?  Well, with all of my complaints around my work, I had been so focused on proving to who knows who that everything is just wrong about my job, that I had sacrificed not only getting to know the country around me, but also really studying, using, and learning Japanese.  So, essentially, I was pissed off, because I had kept myself from learning more Japanese, which had caused the problem of the people here today thinking I didn’t know enough Japanese to help with certain fun tasks.  Wow.

 

Now, I cried tears of fury when I finally saw that.  Total breakdown, right?  Right.  So, I declared that, in terms of the Japanese learning and studying, I would write out the list of phrases and such that I normally would learn (when learning a new language) before going to bed tonight, and that I would have them translated correctly to Japanese by 6p.m. Wednesday.  A first step in creating my advancement in the study of the Japanese language.  And I’m actually really excited now, thinking about all the fun and silly and crazy things I’ll get to go do, now that I’m actually taking on learning Japanese (and by “actually taking on learning Japanese”, I mean learning it Really, ridiculously well).

I’m still not willing to give up everything on the work complaints, and I’m not so sure why…, but I’m going to look into that this week.  There’s something still in the way for me in letting that all go.  I’m okay letting go of most of it, but something deep down is holding tight to a wadded handful of complaints. (Haha, how ridiculous does this sound?  Ridiculous to me, and yet I still won’t let it all go!  Craziness, Hannah.  Craziness.)  😀  How about we plan that I get over it by Tuesday of next week, 12 noon?  Sounds good.  I can get my final hours and days of being angry at my job, and hopefully see how utterly ridiculous it, and just let it go and have a breakthrough where I create something new and fabulous (and beneficial, of course!) in its stead.  I’ve had a breakdown, so now it is time for a breakthrough!  Okay, go!  😀  Yess!  😀

 

*I, because I do care about grammar.

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