Accents

It takes the smallest of things sometimes to shoot us into a mood or an attitude.

This time, it was an accent that shook me down.

This evening, the comedy station was playing, and an Australian comedian spoke for a couple minutes or so.

Only halfway through his couple hundred seconds, I was pulled helplessly and hopelessly into a desperate desire to be around a specific friend of mine, who is Australian.

I have multiple Australians in my friend store, one could say, but this one in particular shot to the top of my mind, wrenching my stomachs into an empty ache of longing just to hang out with and chat nonsense with this particular friend.

Crazy sometimes how these things happen, isn’t it?

Post-a-day 2019

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Miniature adventures on trains

It’s 22:11, and I’ve just sat down on my train home for the night… about an hour after originally planned, and a good distance from where I had intended to board the train.  I am covered in sweat (my own, thankfully), and am still breathing a bit heavily.  “That was certainly a fun little adventure,” goes through my mind, and I smile.  It really was.

About an hour ago, I was on the Yamanote line, heading up to Nippori to catch my train home from there.  A group of four Australian life guards boarded the train, and stood in front of me.  Something about them caught my attention immediately, and had me turn off my audiobook, though I couldn’t have said what.  Eventually, I took out my earphones, too, – it really is a great way to spy on a conversation, wearing earphones with no sound actually being produced by them – and listened a bit more closely to their conversation, because they seemed to be going somewhere quite far, and also seemed a bit unsure of how exactly to get there.

Two of them ended up sitting next to me after my precious neighbors exited the train.  The girl who sat down next to me directed at me a strong, “Howdy!” as she sat, thus beginning our conversation.*

We chatted, and it was fun, and their month-long exchange program sounds quite cool.  However, not the point.  I checked with the fabulous Google Maps to see what time their last train home was.  They were going to Onjuku, which is Really far from Tokyo, and the trains headed for it are seldom and end early.  Sure enough, they were cutting it amazingly close.  Plus, that had totally gone in the wrong direction on the Yamanote line.  If they had gone the opposite direction on this loop line, they’d have been to Tokyo station in plenty of time.  But then we wouldn’t have met, I guess.

My stop came and went, despite their entreaties that I just leave them to chance.  No way, I thought.  I’ve been in your place before – I am so not abandoning you to a likely failure to get home for the night.  You’ll all be welcome to stay with me if you miss your train.

They were going to have 7 minutes to catch their train, which was not one of the standard lines.  I realized quickly that they had little idea as to how to find their specific train (and Tokyo station kind of really sucks with its signage and help on finding the right track for trains – my train isn’t even listen as a line that goes through the station in most places, even though it totally does and it doesn’t change names or anything), so I rushed out with them to help find the line (of which I had never heard).

We scrambled down the steps – I had warned them that it wasn’t a small station, even though it wasn’t the largest – and started searching at the platforms for the train line name (I had given them what name to search: Wakashio.).

After 2-3 minutes, someone found a sign.  I checked it, and it was the right line.  We started running toward the extension area of the station, and found a sign declaring the line 400m in that same direction.

I hesitated then, deciding if I needed to go with them.  When I remembered that I want to help them out if they miss the train, I started running, too, empty suitcase in hand (It makes sense, I promise.). The suitcase slowed me down a good bit, and I had a late start, so I was well behind them.  The staircases just kept going downward, and then there’d be a walkway followed by yet another staircase and walkway.  At last, I found the track, saw the sign still showing the 22:01 train, and guessed that they had to be down there already.  I rushed down, and looked back and forth.  I couldn’t see anyone aside from the train guy standing on the platform.

As I looked around the windows, trying to find them, to make sure they hadn’t made a wrong turn somewhere, and totally lost the track, the train worker checked with me if I needed to be on the train.  I told him that it was all right, I was just checking for my friends.

Gosh, I hope they’re on this train, I thought, as the doors began to close. I just wish I could see them to be sure.  A man came sprinting off the steps, and the doors slid back open quickly to admit him.  No one else was around.  They have to be on this train.

My heart felt like a quarter of it was in my stomach as the train pulled away… and then I saw it.  Male gaijin hair blowing in the air vent, while a pair of male gaijin arms stretched in exhaustion next to him.  That’s they. Those are their shirts, their hair, that guy’s arms.  If the two guys made it, the two girls must be with them.

I still lingered a few minutes near the tracks, just to be sure, but I was rather certain: They made their train.  After seven stops and an hour twenty, they’d all be safely to their beach town again, able to go to their own beds for the night.

Phew!

And so I at last went up to catch my own train home, chuckling at how, for once, I was not the one having to rush to catch my last train home.  Someone lives farther than I do this time.  This last time.

I’m not sure if I would have been so tickled by this whole thing had it been any other day.  But tonight is my last night in my apartment, my last night in my little Ibaraki town.  I couldn’t decide earlier if I were going to stay at my place tonight or my friend’s (down in Tokyo).  Helping these guys was an easy decision.  So I get to stay one last night in my apartment, and say a good goodbye in the morning.

I can do this.
*Note: The Howdy, it turned out, was a ‘just ’cause’ greeting, and they were genuinely surprised to find that I am actually from Texas, where Howdy is actually a normal thing.

Post-a-day 2017

Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarves…?

I like to knit.  Crocheting is nice, too, but I tend to knit much more often.  I think I prefer the patterning of knitting to that of crocheting.  Crocheting to me is like hipster headbands, baby blankets, and huge afghans.  Whereas knitting is more anything clothing, and even various accessories, too (think bags and such).  So, while I do both, I tend to knit more than crochet.

That being said, the thing I knit the most is scarves.  Why?  Because they are simple and rather quick, and it is utterly satisfying to have something materialize before my eyes so quickly, and with what feels like such little (and typically meditative) effort.  It’s always a sort of medicine for me, I think, making scarves.  I often just make them, simply because I’ve come across a yarn that I particularly like and can see being a fabulous scarf.  I find someone to whom I can give it eventually, usually… sometimes, anyway.

I do tend to make a lot of scarves as gifts in this manner, though.  Sometimes I actually go to the store when there’s a sale, and I bring a list of people for whom I want to make scarves this year, and I pick out yarns for each of their scarves.  I almost always get a few extras for unexpected add-ons to the list later on.

I had done just this recently, and was doing some volunteering for the International Weightlifting Federation’s World Championship, when several of the weightlifters and coaches saw my scarf-making.  They would pass by me on their way to a meal, and comment on the fact that I was knitting at my station.  (My response to the inquiries were that I was simply working on Christmas presents.  Which I was.)  When they were later leaving from their meal, they would be shocked and would comment on the great progress I had made in the scarf – it typically took me a single shift to make a full scarf (if that long).  And, eventually, some of these people either asked or hinted (and I, of course, offered) for me to make a scarf for them.

So, that week sent my scarves around the world to France, either Guatemala or Ecuador (I honestly don’t remember which – I just remember that they team had lots of yellow on their warm-ups, I always spoke to the girl in Spanish, and they were from somewhere down south of Texas), and Italy.  Now, I have scarves currently residing in Japan from this year’s Christmas presents, and future Canadian, Jamaican, and Australian residents.

For whatever reason, this incredibly excites me.  Not only do I travel the world in little bits, but so does my art!  😀

Who knew scarves could travel so far and wide?

 

Post-a-day 2017

Heart-ing Accents

I love accents.

Tonight, walking home from an incredible sprint to the train station, which was through the ridiculously cold weather (causing my throat, all the way down into my chest, to burn most of the way back home), in order for a friend to catch the last train home for the night, I called up a different friend of mine, just to check in and say a ten-minute “Hello.”

Now, I don’t have many acquaintances who are Australian, and I see and speak with them rather rarely.  So, whenever I talk with this particular friend, who, naturally, is Australian, I am delighted with the mini surprises the accent provides me in conversation.  I am accustomed to the British and Canadian and US English accents, and even the New Zealander accent.  But that Australian one just drives me so goofy (Yes, I realize that is not a standard phrase, but let’s roll with it, shall we?  Yes, let’s.), I get a rush of joy and giggles when it pops out, differentiating itself from the other accents to which I am accustomed.

I’m not sure how this love for accents developed, but I have a hunch it was in our societal view of foreign accents.  For some reason, it is always the foreigner who is exotic and desirable above all others in a TV show or movie, or even book.  Sure, they are different from our everyday, but they are just like loads of other people in their own home countries.  (You know, this really doesn’t make much sense, where I have this heading…)  So, yes, they are different and thereby exotic when they are here, and not when they are back in their home countries.  But why must they be so portrayed as desirable, sexy?  How did that get decided, I wonder?  Just a wondering, I have…

Anyway, the point of all of this was that my friend has an Australian accent, which is a new thing for me (my first full-time Australian friend, you see), and it always surprises me when things end up being pronounced a different way than I had subconsciously expected, and it makes me smile and giggle with delight every time.  So, thank you, God, for the cuteness and wonderfulness of various accents in our world.  🙂

 

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