Surprise-san

I met a Japanese person today, and we used Japanese together, and it was spectacular.

When I called to my mom to have her come over at one point, I even used the Japanese version of “Mom” accidentally, I was so engrossed in the Japanese conversation.

It was really good.

Post-a-day 2018

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Another letter from Japan

Another letter I found regarding my early time in Japan.  I’m not so sure that I ever sent this one either.  I think they both were intended as drafts, but time kept passing and more kept happening, making me want to add even more… and so I never sent anything. 😛

………………………………

The short version (A Recount in Which I Cut Out the Complaints)
 
I live in Toride, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo, and have an apartment, with about 2/3 of what I need in it (a significant improvement from a couple days ago).
Figuring out how to sort trash took a week, but I mostly figured it out with the help of a Japanese friend I made.
I have a new phone and new bicycle (new to me, at least).  Both were killer expensive.  It’s a 45-minute ride to my main school, 10 to my secondary school.
We aren’t paid until the 21st each month, so I had to bring a boatload of cash for my apartment and initial expenses (apparently credit cards are only used in half the locations the US and Europe use them.  Also, bank cards have single-transaction price limits, so everyone always asks if I want to split my transaction when I use my card. (Not that I understand it, but someone translated it once, and I recognize the phrasing + body language now.)
I have a futon, which is a lame version of a mattress, but practical for the lifestyle here (supposed to hang it in the sun every week to kill germs on it, which is usually needed, because it’s hella-hot, and most people don’t really use A/C, even if they have it), and mine seems to be okay-ish for being able to sleep.
A new friend, Sammi, and I talk every evening/afternoon/night just to check in on one another, and to help each other out with whatever questions we’ve each developed about how to function living here (she lives on a little island and is the token white girl foreigner).  And also just to chat about whatever.  Calls are always free to receive, but dialing out costs after 5 minutes, so we go back and forth setting a timer, and hanging up and redialing every 4 minutes 45 seconds.
I have almost nothing to do at school, but my school requires me to be here.  My whole curriculum is written up for the year, and I am only an assistant in class… so my job is essentially to be present in class, and help in class.  Not spend August preparing for classes.  A drastic difference from what I used to do as a teacher!  So I spend my day working on Japanese, and finding ways not to fall asleep at my desk.  I’m not always successful.
The sun comes up around 5am.  I wake up with it, despite the curtains and my eye covering.
I’ve made four good friends who are part of my program, and one Japanese friend, who is a friend of a coworker of one of those four US friends.  The — (my program) people are Jon(athan), Katarina, Sam(uel), and Sammi.  Japanese friend is Rie (ree from reed + saying the letter “a”). Distances from me: Jon/Rie 25 minutes, Katarina 40 minutes (Tokyo), Sam 2 hours (on the beach), Sammi no clue (she’s on a far-away island).
I’m kind of sick of sushi, but that’s probably just because it’s all I had from 7/11 for several days while I had to wait for my predecessor to give me things she had for me for my apartment (fridge, dishes, etc.)
Sammi is my shopping buddy – we talk on the phone, and she helps send me pictures of things she was given, so that I can find them in the incomprehensible store (e.g. this is a photo of my dish soap, I think… look for the words…).  We both enjoy the adventure of it.
Speaking of the store, the bicycle parking area looks loads like a car parking lot.  And it’s used, too.
I experience my first earthquake last night.  It was a 4.6, and I was scared out of my whits.  I was on the phone with Sam when it happened.  I said, “Is that… I think that’s an earthquake,” and then couldn’t even talk, as I lost the ability somehow.  I was quite shocked at how I responded – I knew logically that it was a tiny earthquake, nothing to cause concern.  Yet my body and emotions went psycho-freakout on me, and I even cried when it ended 30 seconds later. Sam asked if I was okay when it stopped, and all I could say was just, “Give me a minute,” and then could finally function again after I cried.  Totally weird, but I’m glad I had that emotional support for my first one.*
*There actually was one last Wednesday night – a 5.4, I think – , but I was dead asleep in my hotel room, so didn’t notice it.  So this was my second earthquake, but the first one of which I was aware as it happened.
Okay, I think that encompasses plenty, though definitely not the whole.  Send inquiries my way.  ;P  Love you all!!
Peace
Hannah
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Post-a-day 2018

Breakdown & Breakthrough: All in a day’s work

Today’s stuff was intense and deep and wonderful.  Rather than explain and describe everything, I turn to selections from the Facebook Messenger conversation I had with my cousin.  As a note that you can understand afterward, I have seven large trash bags crammed in my trunk right now, ready to be donated tomorrow, plus a bag of specifics for my cousin.  I went through two bags of trash – and no, I genuinely do not understand what trash is in the bags for the most part, nor from where it all came, seeing as how I was going through clothing only today…  Anyway, there was hesitation and uncertainty at the start, then paralyzing panic, followed by red-eyed determination, and then finally comfortable relaxation and ease.

At one point, after probably five (of the eventual 8) bags had been moved to the trunk, I opened up my guitar.  I had to cut off the plastic ties that were still around the case from having brought it here on the airplane.  I tuned it up from the extremely loose state in which the strings had been for months, played a song, and then just played around for a few minutes.  All-in-all, it wasn’t even 15 minutes spent with the guitar, but it was blissful, and I was filled with delight by the end of it.  It may seem like little, but having done this specifically speaks volumes about how effective today was – I hadn’t even considered pulling out the guitar until today.  The guitar is enjoyment and relaxation and fun.  Those haven’t really been an option in my life lately.

Anyway, find the selections here, below, and have a wonderful day.  🙂

………………………………………………………..

Hannah Any chance you read my weblog from last night?
I feel stuck
Cousin i have not
Hannah And I’d like your opinion
Cousin I will add that to my list of goals for today
Hannah I guess, essentially, I have planned to do my clothes today, KonMari style
But I feel like I can’t relate to joy sparking feeling
It’s like, because I have so much stuff, it all just stresses me out a little bit
And I feel kind of guilty at having it all in the first place
Maybe not guilt, but something… almost like shame
Cousin I went ahead and read the what you wrote
I hear you. I feel that way every time I move. Which is a lot of times.
Hannah Ha
Cousin I wonder what that ‘shame’ feeling is attached to. Is it a ‘supposed to’?
I’m not ‘supposed to’ have this much stuff?
Hannah Perhaps
I think so
Like that I was wasteful in getting things I don’t love in the first place
Cousin that was a different kind of joy at the time though
Hannah It’s currently just a big sense of stress
No specifics to it
Cousin specifically talking about the clothes right now. it sounds like you’re not being able to relate to confront them on a one on one level because you’re dealing with them as a whole emotionally.
Hannah Like I mentioned, my main issue right now is that I can’t get that spark joy feeling
Yeah, I think so
Cousin And you know there is no benefit to bringing the baggage of what you “should or should not” have done with any of these things.
That baggage is just more clutter
Even if the purchases you made turned out not to bring a usefulness and sustaining joy, there was at least a small amount of freedom and joy in obtaining them when you did. Otherwise you wouldn’t have done it.
That is all past now. You have grown. You have learned. You did good. Gold starts all around.
Now we get the excitement of meeting this new phase in your life. You get to make all these creative choices again with things you already own.
Like editing the draft of a novel.
And you don’t have to worry about making the wrong decision. Because your life si so abundant.
You may never find those plates from college. That sucks.
But. You didn’t know those plates would bring you joy before you found them.
ANd that may happen again with new plates.
Hannah Yeah
M– has always said that ‘If it isn’t a definite YES!, then it’s definitely a no’
[…]
Cousin The ‘definite yes’ thing can be useful, but it can also be a lot of pressure to put on yourself
[…]
Cousin especially because of where you are in your life.
It’s easier to know ‘definite yes’ when you’ve been living with the same stuff in the same place for several years
it’s harder when you’re in flux
there is an episode of gilmore girls actually that deals with that in the last season.
Hannah Ha
Hannah Remember that time I got rid of the multiple black trash bags of clothes?
At the two-Story apartment
Cousin yes
Hannah I did this activity then
It was just the clothes I had at that apartment, but still
It worked great
And I was so happy with it all
Now I finally have everything in one place
I want to do the activity again
I think I’m getting overwhelmed with the fact that there’s just so much sh*t everywhere in my room, in the house, and in my life
And I’m somewhat scared of what life will be when I let go of it all
Slash terrified
Cousin well, I know what you need then
some Tina Turner
Your montage moment is waiting for you whenever you are ready to have it
(and it’s okay not to be ready yet. You can also be scared of it and choose to be a cat instead until you’re ready.)

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Hannah I just put the second item into the give-away bag, and I’ve started deep crying
It’s like I can see what’s going on for me, but I can’t seem to do anything about it
Because it isn’t just letting go – it is intentionally clearing the space
So much of what I have is out of necessity
That’s why I got a lot of it
Also, not really knowing who I want to be right now makes this tough
My current lifestyle leans toward making me feel useless in life
Cousin That’s why I was serious about my last suggestions. You’ve done your logic homework. This is body primal stuff.
Hannah It’s terrifying to let go of the safety that I’ve known
A lot of my clothes are representative of the safety I’ve had in my life
Mostly financially, but also mentally and all
Cousin Absolutely. This actually reminds me a little bit of when you shaved your head
Hannah Really?
I had no struggle with making that move
Haha
Cousin Conversations we had after the fact I mean
About how you had to find different ways to express your femininity
Hannah About having to deal with people seeing me so differently, and having to examine how I wanted to present myself?
Yeah
Cousin Exactly
Hannah It’s like I’m scared to show a grown-up, feminine me here
In Japan, I was okay with it
Cousin New slate, new rules
Hannah There were multiple occasions where I just stared st myself, ‘cause I envied the woman I was in that moment and outfit and everything
And here, I feel like I’m allowed to be a kid and/or tomboy
Only
Cousin Another identity to contend with
Hannah
Cousin Grl, YES
This is very much an Artist’s Way date
Hannah Haha
[…]

Hannah With quick folding, most of it went into my dresser, and the rest in one laundry basket!
Hannah I also started noticing differences in feelings as I was folding them up. It were as though, now that I have so much less, I could see suddenly all these individual emotions that were difficult to see before. Before, it was a simple ‘good feeling’ versus ‘not good feeling’ with each item. Now that all the ‘not good feeling’ items are out of the picture, I’m seeing what the different subcategories, if you will, of ‘good feeling’ are.

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P.S.  Sonntag means Sunday.  It’s German.  😉

Post-a-day 2018

Nerd-ing

I am years into having a smartphone, and my most visited webpages remain almost exactly the same as when I started using one.  They are translation websites and dictionary websites.  Originally, it was wordreference.com and dictionary.com.  Wordreference.com was an easy one, because I had already done the research for my preferred translator for French, Spanish, and German.  But, after some research into different dictionary websites, I found that I preferred merriam-webster.com over dictionary.com.  So, today, my most visited webpages are wordreference.com and merriam-webster.com. (I would add in Google Translate, because of my constant use with Japanese on it for kanji translations and photo translations, but I had to download the app almost immediately, when I moved to Japan, so that I could use it almost constantly to understand things around me.  Therefore, it isn’t a website I’m visiting, but an application I am using.)

I’m just a word and language nerd.  It’s like that day at work, earlier this year, when I spent an hour looking up information on certain punctuation marks – I am a word nerd, and there is ample evidence to support the claim.

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Post-a-day 2017

Table Troubles

We spent a good chunk of today at or around the international airport, but it was actually a really good day.  One of the best parts was the delightful misunderstanding at lunchtime.

Now, to understand the significance of part of it, you must first know what happened yesterday.  My mom, my stepdad, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I went to lunch at a restaurant in The Galleria.  My mom and stepdad went in first, while we kids went to look at a Lamborghini just outside the doors.  When we filed into the restaurant, we saw them heading up the stairs, and followed.  They told us up top that the waitress downstairs had told them to pick a seat anywhere, and had specifically mentioned that whether upstairs or downstairs was of no importance – it was open seating.

However, a waitress was rather snotty with us when we mentioned this upstairs, after asking kindly if a certain table could be wiped down before we sat down at it.  She declared that we needed to check in with the hostess (but would not help us find the hostess, even when we asked kindly) and that there was a wait time, and we could not pick our own seats.

About two minutes after finding the hostess, we were seated at the table we had originally found (and then requested).  And the guy setting the table was unfathomably slow, leaving us all standing, watching, as he finished setting the flatware.  (Not sure why anyone was bringing us to a table that wasn’t ready yet, but it just made us laugh at how ridiculous it all was.)

We were quite nice to everyone, keeping always in mind the fact that it was a holiday and that we were grateful for their being there.  A good handful of the people at this place seemed just ready to throw things at people for the simple defiant act of existing.  Nonetheless, we got our table and, eventually, food and all, and it was a good time all-in-all.

Now, fast forward to today, lunchtime.  We found a Mexican place that was near the airport – and I mean Mexican, not Tex-Mex, and not non-Mexicans who claim to have Mexican food and whatnots – and was open.  My stepdad went in first, while we all parked the car.  My mom, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I all walked in in a row as another family was leaving, excusing ourselves in Spanish as we bumped paths and all (I meant it, when I called it a Mexican place.).  As I walked in behind my mom, I saw my stepdad standing next to a table just two over from the door.  He said that the lady told him that we could sit there, but he was going to the bathroom now.

So, we all slide into the booth and begin discussing whether there might be bleach in the cleaner (because the table was still damp from being cleaned and smelled a bit of bleach, but my mom had on black long-sleeves, and so wanted to be cautious about touching the table, if there were bleach in the cleaner), when a lady comes to our table and, in English, apologizes, but this table is already for another family.  Could we please wait just a minute over here?

I turned to my mom, and asked her what their deal was with tables right now, and she could hardly fathom it herself, giving a genuine I have no idea.  So, we stand up, the boyfriend telling the lady in Spanish not to worry and that we were completely okay.  We wait to the side for perhaps 45 seconds.  Then, the lady tells us that, okay, you can sit in this booth (the one just next to where we had sat down, and that was almost exactly the same).  So, we sit, and comment how it is drier that the other table was.  I sniff the table, and my stepsister fusses at me not to do so, but I explain that I was merely smelling for bleach, and she laughs.

My stepdad eventually returns, someone comes and takes our drinks orders (in Spanish, of course), and then the original lady comes to take our drink orders.  I notice passively that no one ever sat at the table next to ours.  We tell her that someone already had done so, but we are ready to make our food orders, however (all in Spanish, of course).  Then, before taking our food order, as she looks at all of us, she says something surprising.

Apparently, since she spoke to my stepdad in Spanish originally, it was a non-compute that the rest of us would be the family with him.  Though the boyfriend is from Mexico, he has blue eyes.  I am dirty blonde and blue-eyed, and my mom is sort of a brown-haired, brown-eyed, older version of me.  My stepsister just kind of blended in with us, since we were the majority look of our little group.  So, we were the foreigners, so to speak, and clearly weren’t the family of the original guy who’d asked for the table a few minutes ago.  She didn’t explain all of that, of course.  We deduced that.  But she did say (in Spanish) that she had thought that we did not belong to the gentleman to whom she had given the table, and so she told us that the table was taken by someone else.  But, upon seeing that that same gentleman was at the new table, she realized her mistake.  So, she apologized for it a few times, and we all enjoyed a good laugh at the whole thing.

No one ever ended up sitting at the table behind us, until the last few minutes that we were there, when a single man sat down to wait for someone or something briefly (so it seemed).

So, those were our adventures with table miscommunications this week.

Post-a-day 2017

Time for Multilingual Christmas Stuff

My task for today (from my tea advent calendar) was to listen to a Christmas song in every language I speak.  Seeing as how it was likely to be difficult to find a song other than “Jingle Bells” (which is definitely not one of my favorites on repeat) in a bunch of different languages, and taking into account that it could get quite boring, listening to the same song over and over again, I chose to interpret the assignment as being any Christmas song for any of the languages (i.e. different songs for each language, as opposed to the same one in each language).  These are the songs I picked.

 

German:  Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
(It was originally written in German.  I love the version by John Denver and the Muppets on their joint Christmas album.)

French: Minuit Chrétiens
(One of my favorite Christmas songs, and it was originally in French.  This isn’t my favorite version, but it’s still nice.)

Japanese: All I Want for Christmas is You Japanese cover 
(Clearly not originally Japanese, but I like it anyway, so I listened to it.  I loved the ridiculous Christmas music I would hear in the shops while living in Japan, but I can’t remember any of it.  This one does justice to some of the better covers I heard, though.)  😀

English: Mary, did you know? 
I first remember hearing this song at Mass at my aunt’s Church in a small town in Texas. A boy around my age sang the song during Mass, I believe during the meditation time following Communion (when everyone goes up to the front and takes some bread and wine).  I thought it was magical, hearing this twangy-accented high schooler sing his heart out with these words and notes.  This version reminds me of a grown-up version of that first one I remember hearing.

Italian: Tu Scendi Dalle Stele
(Originally written in Italian.  I love this guy.)

Spanish: Los Peces en el Rio
(I’d never heard this one, but I love it.  It is originally in Spanish, and also quite popular as a Christmas song in Spanish-speaking cultures.)*

 

Seeing as I don’t speak any others fluently or conversationally, I didn’t do them – this took some time and consideration as it was!  But it was totally good.  Just made me want to listen to loads more in each of the languages, really.  Also, I totally forgot about English and Spanish songs until after I thought I was already finished with this task.  Whoops.  😛

 

*If you want some awesome, quality, unoffensive music in Spanish, check out this song.  Be prepared to be a little shocked when you see the artists performing, and how strongly it contrasts to the sound of the music.  It rocks.  Try listening to it without seeing the video for a minute or two.  Enjoy!

Post-a-day 2017

Japanese Animal Crackers

Because this small interaction with some of my Japan people was awesome, I thought I’d share it.

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Person 1:

Person 2: Cuuute. Where’s that from? 

Person 3: Kawaii

Person 1:


Person 1: Animal crackers!

Person 4: M. Duck. We’re one step closer to learning the duck’s first name.

Person 4: Any bets on what it is?

Person 1: Haha, I thought the same thing

Hannah: Mallard duck

Person 4, simultaneously: Common sense says something nature-themed like Marigold, but I’m voting Marzipan

Person 4: Shh, no one asked for rationality.

Hannah: Okay, then. Obviously, it’s Msteven Duck

Hannah: The M is silent

Person 4: That’s the spirit

Hannah: Don’t you mean “mspirit”?

Hannah: :P.

Person 4: Hahah

Person 4: Touché

Sticker from Person 1: Punked?!

Later, from Person 1, again: Some of these are oddly specific, while some are not


……………….

I really do love Japan’s odd relationship with English.

Post-a-day 2017