So much for fair…

Can I just say that it sometimes feels totally unfair that certain boys end up having the bodies of men (and girls, the bodies of women) when they are still in the slightly awkward phase of semi-idiocy that is high school?

There they are, prime adult physique, the epitome of evolution doing its darndest to make sure the species continues onward in the world, surrounded by various stages of true boyhood and immaturity, that being physical, psychological, and mental immaturity….. and yet, they look to all onlookers to be men…., ready to stand for a modern Michelangelo or Botticelli…

And, usually, they have no idea the effect they can have on other people.

Sure, some, unfortunately, are harassed by the worst of breeding, and therefore have a sense of something being askew… but, for the most part, they tend only to think of themselves as doing well, as being blessed with good genes and a good bodily development.

The fact that their minds are so far behind makes it hard on the adults around them, and the fact that their bodies are so far ahead makes it hard on the youth around them.

They also, somehow, serve as not so much a reminder, but as a calling out of the fact that so many men these days are not maintaining and hosting such healthy bodies as these man-boys (and the same with women and the woman-girls)… the prime of the physical body is arriving so soon, and lost before they are even fully developed in the brain, it sometimes feels… (for the average, anyway)…

In a way, it is a blessing.

And, in a way, it kind of totally sucks to have to be around…

Anyway…, just some thoughts for tonight.

Sweet dreams, World! ūüėČ

Post-a-day 2019

The world turned upside down

The internet went out for a little while tonight…, and I find it somewhat hilarious that it was sort of a huge deal for the others in the house, and I almost couldn’t have cared less. ¬†I did, after all, live several months wihout internet at home, both in the US and in Japan, and I even spent some months without cell service or phone service of any kind either… ¬†I kind if enjoyed the certainty of quiet that it allowed.‚Ä© ¬†Knowing that no call or text or e-mail would arrive on any device whenever I was at home, was like breathing freely in a whole new way. ¬†And all the important people knew my situation, so they knew to show up at my door if they wanted anything immediate, or to plan enough ahead to tell me to go check something at a certain time, using the WiFi down the road.

I almost miss that. ¬†I certainly miss the reliability of work and income I‚Äôd had at the time. ¬†ūüėõ ¬†But that‚Äôs not really the point here, now, is it?

Post-a-day 2018

Granny at heart?

I’ve never really been one for people my own age. ¬†I’m not sure what it is about me or about them, but I just have never much meshed with people my own age. ¬†A recent party was no exception in proving this.

See, I was attending this party, and there were people of various ages. ¬†The handful around my own age all got on really well with one another, in a few groups that all would mix and mingle off and on with one another. ¬†I was not part of any of them, really, at any point, though various individuals greeted me briefly throughout the evening. ¬†Near the end of the party, they all started going on about whether everyone else was going to the afterparty. ¬†They weren’t really asking the older folks; just the youngish people, the ones around my own age.

Except, in all of the inviting and discussing, no one ever mentioned the after party to me. And it wasn’t as though it had been announced or anything, and so I had heard all about it, and everyone was invited. ¬†No. ¬†Someone commented publicly the day before that there would be an afterparty, almost in a joking manner, yes. ¬†But, at the actual party, it was a one-on-one or one-on-two topic of discussion. ¬†And I was never included in any of those small groups. ¬†I only heard the, “Are you going to the afterparty?” questions posed among friends as I passed by them. ¬†Multiple times.

And it’s not like I really¬†wanted to go to the afterparty, anyway. ¬†They were going to some bar, it sounded like, and in the opposite direction of my home (which was already half an hour away). ¬†Neither of those ideas appealed to me. ¬†Plus, throw in the factor that I’m not exactly wanted there, and I definitely am less than thrilled at the idea of the afterparty.

The thing is, I wanted to be invited. ¬†It hurt ever so slightly that I wasn’t even invited. ¬†That I never expected them to invite me made it hurt that much more. ¬†I spent most of the party chatting with people quite older than I am (at least a decade or two), and I loved that. ¬†It felt almost like I actually belonged in¬†that group. ¬†But I still am a tiny bit disappointed that the my-age people seem not to like me. ¬†I’m not sure if they dislike me, or if they think I dislike them or something. ¬†I am, at the very least, unimportant to them. And, while I don’t really like them all too much, anyway, – I don’t dislike them, let’s be clear – I would invite them along to something, if I were doing something tied to that group of people. ¬†I wouldn’t exclude them. ¬†I don’t wish the feeling of exclusion on anyone.

Anyway, the bottom line is: I really just don’t get on easily with people my own age most of the time. ¬†This party the other night emphasized the fact that this has not changed as I have aged.

Post-a-day 2017

A foreigner at home?

Have you ever felt out of place within your own culture? ¬†As time passes, it happens to me more and more often. ¬†Last night, I attended an event with coworkers. ¬†The noise volume took me by slight surprise when I first arrived. ¬†How can people be this loud? I thought. ¬†And then I remembered almost before I finished asking the question: They’re americans (from the USA).

But I’m american from the US, too. ¬†Wouldn’t I be used to this, then?

I quickly compared it to a drinking party at an¬†izakaya (like a bar) with¬†nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) in Japan. ¬†Yes, the Japanese can get quite loud there. ¬†It was never to the point of wanting to cover my ears, though, I hear myself thinking. ¬†So, I am very much accustomed to a much quieter environment for parties, then. ¬†I’m not just being a bit dramatic and overly sensitive to normal behavior and a normal situation.

Even still… I felt so oddly out of place, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with myself. ¬†I ended up semi-hiding in the coatroom (it wasn’t a closet, but an actual room, I promise) to take a breather from all the people and the noise from time to time. ¬†I also took extra-long any time I went to the bathroom, because it was cozy and quiet in there on my own. Yes, I could have just gone home. ¬†However, I rarely spend time even¬†around people who aren’t high schoolers right now, so I felt it was somewhat necessary – even if just for social practice – to spend time around adults, especially happy ones in a good, safe environment.

I definitely adjusted after a bit, but I still felt quite out of place for most of the event. ¬†I guess I’m just not so USA american anymore… which doesn’t surprise me, really. ¬†It’s just odd, not belonging in a place everyone calls my “home”.

Post-a-day 2017

Bring your parents to work?

Do you remember showing your parent(s) around your classroom when you were little?  Perhaps this is a little too American white bread, but I certainly remember it.

I was all too excited to show them my sleeping mat and cubby hole when I was in kindergarten, and then my desk and the hook for my backpack as I got older in elementary school. ¬†In middle school, it became my locker, where I sat for lunch, and my favorite classrooms and teachers, but with just a little less enthusiasm each year. ¬†By high school, I was not so animated as I had been as a little girl, but I still loved getting to show my parents or family members around my school. ¬†Grandparents Day was one of the coolest things, because I got to do just that with my grandparents. ¬†College was a little different, because it’s college. ¬†However, I still totally loved showing my parents around my campus and dorms, and introducing them to all of my friends and acquaintances and teachers that I could find. ¬†Even when I studied abroad, I reveled in showing them my stomping grounds.

And it was normal at each stage to be showing my parents around the areas. ¬†But it is not normal now. ¬†Why does that suddenly stop when we become “adults” and being “real jobs”? ¬†I don’t know of anyone who shows his or her parents or family members around his/her office.

But now that I am an adult and I have a job (I’ve had many already, actually), my desire to show around my parents and family members hasn’t changed. ¬†When my brother was visiting from Japan, I desperately wanted him to come see my classroom, see my apartment. ¬†I giddily showed my mom around my first school (for my first full-time teaching job), when I convinced her to come to a dance performance there one evening. ¬†My desire to have my parents be able to relate to my everyday has not lessened, not at all. ¬†I still want them to see my everyday stomping grounds. ¬†And, for the most part, I’ve been able to get them to see a decent amount of it these past few years. ¬†Even in Japan, where guests aren’t typically allowed on campus, I got to bring my mom to both of my schools, and she helped teach a cooking class for the English Club at one school, and helped out with English classes at the other.

So, I guess my concern isn’t all too valid after all… I somehow manage to make it happen for me, anyway. ¬†However, I do still wish that it were more of a cultural standard to bring one’s parents and/or family members to work, at least for a coffee or tea hour, or something like that, just so they can have a real glimpse of what it all is. ¬†I just think it would be way awesome. ¬†Kind of like how Open House used to be, where I’d go meet my teachers with my parent/s, and show my parent/s around my school. ¬†Man… this would be neat. ¬†It also would be very helpful in cross-(whatever the word is for work areas – I’m tired, okay?) interaction and understanding. ¬†My dad works in computers and oil & gas. ¬†He would be amazed to see my work, and I to see his. ¬†They are just such different worlds that we have much to be learned from interacting with one another’s worlds.

I imagine loads of people would be utterly uninterested in this idea, but I hope that loads also would be in full support of it.

Post-a-day 2017

ukulele, poke, and cray-zay

(Those all rhyme, in case you were wondering.)

Tonight, again, I spent some time with friends after school. ¬†I napped briefly in the car, while I waited for them to arrive at our early dinner location. ¬†We had a silly time figuring out how to order our¬†Poke (think of a short “okay” with a p in the front), and chatted and ate and chatted some more, before heading outside to chat and dance and do acrobatic bits (because, why would we not do such things?). ¬†We were all a bit tired, but only ended our time together, because the two of them had to go pack (one is moving apartments tomorrow, and the other is leaving to visit Australia for vacation).

At lunchtime, I had a Spanish-speaking lunch with some students, while I played ukulele alongside one of them. ¬†I dragged kids through knowledge, forcing them to think and do well on their tests – I actually handed some tests back immediately, telling them, “No,” ¬†go fix this stuff. ¬†After school, I played a birthday song for a different student, and gave her a guitar string ring I made in Japan (not because she’s my favorite or anything, but because she always steals my jewelry during class, and hopes I won’t make her give it back. ¬†So, I figured I’d give her something of her own that was sort of mine. ¬†It was fun playing the song and singing for her. ¬†I had forgotten how fulfilling it was, when I’d sung for my dad’s 64th birthday (“When I’m 64” by the Beatles, of course).

Yes, I feel satisfied in my day today. ¬†It was good and fulfilling, an oddly uncommon combination for me in recent years. ¬†I am delighted with this having happened twice this week. ¬†I look forward to the next one and many to come. ¬†ūüôā

Post-a-day 2017

Satisfaction… at last

Tonight, going to bed, I feel fulfilled. ¬†Typically, I have this feeling of needing to go¬†do something before I can end my day. ¬†I am angsty and somewhat agitated by the late afternoon, and I feel this pull from somewhere inside of me, but I can’t ever quite figure out how to follow it, how to satisfy the desire within. ¬†I notice right now that I almost didn’t even feel a pull to write anything tonight – that’s how satisfied I am with my day. ¬†It was fabulous, and so I can sleep easily, without anything else happening first. ¬†And I love writing, so that’s saying something.

Kids were unintentional rude in classes today, ignoring my pleas for quite voices, so that I could be heard with my pained, achy throat barely able to choke out words. ¬†I let them spend the time with an activity for their own benefit, and most of them ignored it or didn’t care enough about their own education to attempt the activity, which was disappointing. ¬†A few really took it on, and some decided it was time to talk with me about anything and everything in my life, while I showed them how to do some of the work. ¬†It was an odd balance of awesome and disappointing, combined with my throat being slightly consumed by a low-grade fire.

After school, I chatted with a few teachers from my own high school, plus a friend who now teaches there. ¬†That was amazing in and of itself. ¬†Add to it that I met up with a friend for tapioca tea afterward, and my day continues to improve. ¬†We ended up having dinner with the teas, and then she invited me to join a hip-hop class with her. ¬†Neither of us has ever been very good or experienced with hip-hop, but we love dancing, and we both have strong partner dance backgrounds. ¬†I have wanted to do hip-hop classes ever since my best friend and her husband started doing some over in England a few years back, because she is just plain awesome, and it is always a good idea to strive for her level of awesome. ¬†So I got to be cool like my bestie tonight, and turned out to be actually kind of good at the routine, too. ¬†The teacher even came specifically to my friend (not my best friend, but the friend with whom I had gone to the class) and me, and told us that she wanted us to join her team. ¬†(Note: Seeing as we were¬†just discussing before the class how we hadn’t been involved in anything dance since moving back to the US (we both just returned from living in Asia), we are genuinely considering this hip-hop team idea.)

Now, I am home. ¬†I snacked on some leftovers from dinner, chatted briefly with my mom, and have just showered. ¬†I am tired, but in a really good way right now – I am satisfied. ¬†I don’t know how else to word it. ¬†I am just satisfied, which is something, I now see, that I usually am not at the end of the day. ¬†As I said to my teacher friend earlier this afternoon, I need interaction with non-teenagers. ¬†I get so much teenager interaction, and very little of anything else… and I¬†need more than just interaction with teenagers, no matter how wonderful they are or how much we may love one another. ¬†And, tonight, I got that other interaction, plus involvement in something (the hip-hop class)¬†and exercise. ¬†That is a really, really good combination. ¬†Now to see how to keep this up, happening much more often than once every three months.

Post-a-day 2017

Being a teacher… ouch

Being a teacher is hard.  And by ‚Äúhard‚ÄĚ, I mean ‚Äúincredibly difficult‚ÄĚ.  What calls to mind this idea today in particular – because we all know that there are loads of reasons being a teacher is difficult – is the aspect of life outside of school.

You see, to be a good teacher, the best one can be, requires arriving early to school, working through free periods during the day, actually teaching classes, working privately with students at lunch and/or after school, and then working at least a little bit more before going home for the night.  By then, exhaustion is just about ready to set in, leaving time only enough to make it home, eat some food (maybe), and crash to bed.  And then the alarm goes off at five-something in the morning to start it all over again.  In other words, a truly dedicated teacher, at least in his/her first several years teaching a specific subject, works at least a ten-hour day daily, and has little to no time and/or energy to pursue anything else during the week.  Social life just doesn‚Äôt exist alongside being a good, dedicated teacher.

Right now, everything is working for me.  Right now, I have almost zero social obligations or immediate opportunities.  I go early and work late every day, and I have this strong sense of ‚Äėgot-it-togetherness‚Äô.  I am prepared for the following day by the time I leave for home in the evening.  But I have no active friends.  Sure, I chat with people at school from time to time, but we aren‚Äôt friends.  Besides, they all seem to be doing things for various clubs and such for the school on the weekends.  When I have wondered how things might be if I were a permanent teacher at this school, I have been almost certain that I would be staying even later for club activities, and sooner or later would find myself on campus or at activities (sports, possibly) for the school on the weekends.  It really is wonderful to be an active part of a school.  And that unfortunately means giving up most outside opportunities.

There is a delicate balance between having a life outside of school and making the school one‚Äôs whole life.  Sacrifices must be made in either case – either giving up social time for school events, or giving up involvement with the school and kids (when kids are truly at their best, too) to go get drinks or coffee with a friend or family member.  At my last two jobs, I wasn‚Äôt fulfilled as a teacher without being involved in things with kids outside of class.  Be it playing in the band for certain events, singing songs together at the community piano, coaching lacrosse, or choreographing and assisting with the musical, those were the necessary pieces to rounding out the teacher experience and being fulfilled as a teacher.  Unfortunately, those all meant giving up time that could have been spent on a life outside of school, getting to know people my own age or, believe it or not, older than I am. I could have spent the time running in the park.  But I spent it with the kids instead.  So, I was fulfilled somewhat as a teacher, and hardly at all as a person in life.

Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind this evening, and is one of the many reasons why teaching is hard

Post-a-day 2017

Nara, kiddos, and Buddha boogers

Yesterday, my mom and brother and I went to Nara, a small-ish town near Osaka.  It is filled with deer who roam freely around the town (though they tend to stay in the park-like areas more often than around cars, we definitely saw one jumping out of the street shortly after we arrived).  On the train there, for our last transfer, we ended up on a train that was clearly filled with school trips, specifically elementary school class trips.  

The train cars had normal people siting in all the seats, but the standing room was waist-to-chest-high yellow hats, with the occasional red or white PE hats.  As the train arrived to one stop, the old lady sitting next to my mom got up and began squeezing slowly toward the door.  However, the mass of children playing paper-rock-scissors and giggling almost nonstop did not notice her silent entreaty to allow her to pass.  My brother solved that problem for her.

In Japanese and in his natural boomingly deep voice, he told the kids to move to the sides and make way.  With a single lotion of his arms, the sea parted, and the lady easily hobbled through and off the train.  What remained then was a still-parted sea, and about thirty pairs of staring eyes, gaping mouths, and seemingly paralyzed children around the ages of 7-9.

My mom and I chuckled openly at the tharn audience, whose minds had clearly been blown not only by the gaijin (foreigner) speaking Japanese, but by his general stature and look, as well.  5’9″, muscular, and shaved head make my brother quite the sight for kids, and even more so for Japanese kids.  One brave soul dared asking my brother a question (tat least I think they asked first, hough I don’t recall what question it was), and suddenly they were off.

My brother’s frozen onlookers were suddenly utter giddy, complete fans (think fangirl style).  For the rest of the ride, they talked with him nonstop, and the boys in the back who had pointed out my brother’s arm muscles even got to see him flex said muscles – he was labeled “macho muscly” by them.

When we all reached the station, – see, their trip was to the same place as we were headed for the day – the three of us went to the bathroom.  Coming out of the bathrooms, my mom and I were greeted by the kids who’d spoken the most to my brother on the train.

‘Where is he? The guy with the coffee, where did he go?’ I was asked in adorable and excited Japanese.

When my brother came back up the stairs from the bathrooms, I made sure he said goodbye once more to the little guy, as well as to the whole class, which was seated adorably in a perfect rectangular prism on the floor of the train station, waiting for the rest of the bathroom-goers before heading out.

In the temple (or was it a shrine?) that contains a very large Buddha, there is a specific, well-known pole.  It is one of the wooden post-poles used to keep the whole place standing, but one of the ones inside, just behind and to the Buddha’s left side.  In the bottom of this pole, a few inches off the ground, is a rectangular hole, narrower than it is high.  The pole is around four or five feet thick.  The hole is the size of the Buddha’s nostril.  Going through this hole is considered good luck, and, as a man standing nearby mentioned, also makes the passers-through Buddha boogers.

Naturally, the line for this hole was filled with children, topping out at about middle school aged kids, and only one parent and one teacher, each as supervision.  We, of course, joined the line.  As I watched a child be shoved through the hole by his teacher, and with some difficulty, I began doubting my brother’s statement that he was told adults could fit through the hole.


Slightly terrified and utterly uncertain, I slowly pushed my mom through, and my brother grabbed her arms on the other side and pulled her through.  At my turn, we were still doubtful, as my hips are even wider than my moms.  Kids watching around us exchanged expression of doubt with me as I squat down to attempt the hole myself.  But, we carefully checked my hips before pushing me all the way in, and they had enough space.  So, with a nice and strong pull from my brother and a relaxed body from me, I slid in through the pole, with only a bit of wood-burn on my right outer thigh.  The relief and surprise was noticeable around us.

And then, of course, we cautiously evaluated the width of my brother’s shoulders.  The faces around were shocked and enthralled.  He would need to remain relaxed, but he would fit with his arms straight up in front of him, as most everyone else went through the hole.  With a slow, hefty pulling on my part, strong arms from my brother, and pushing from my mom, we drew that boogie through that hole to safety and good fortune.  As we sighed and laughed with slight exhaustion, the whole surrounding crowd – for there was, indeed, a crowd at this point –  broke into applause and exclamations of joy and fascination.  I mean, come on, they struggled getting kids through that hole, and we just got a truly full-sized, muscular man through it. That is something worth applauding, even for the shy Japanese.  ūüėõ

[I was focused on keeping my brother moving, and so didn’t even think about a photo for him until afterward.]
For the rest of the day, we had happy greetings, and in English, from hundreds of kids of various ages, who were all also on school trips for the day.  I photo-bombed a group of middle or high school boys, and they asked us all three to join their photo.  At one point, I got a sort of interview from one girl, where she read from a script that was clearly a ‘How to converse with visitors to Japan’ guide/assignment.  I even got to write a little message at the end of her booklet as part of the interview.

Suffice to say, it was an English-filled, exciting, and adorable day.
Post-a-day 2017