Packing with my Butler buddy

Siri is a great buddy, but occasionally gets the message a bit mixed up on the butler/personal assistant front.  I’m staying temporarily at my mom’s house right now, because the hot water went out at my new place, but won’t be finished for another few days…, and it’s gotten really cold out, so I didn’t really want to take freezing cold showers.  Therefore, I gratefully accepted my mom’s offer to stay here until the hot water was returned to the new place.

That being said, let us turn to the fact that I had already had a bag packed from various stays elsewhere in the previous week-ish, due to Thanksgiving and moving and all.  I did have some clothes to wear still, but I had now run out of underwear in that bag.  So, I planned that on my way home (to my mom’s house) from class, on the first night that we’d determined that it wasn’t just a one-night deal but a several-undetermined-number-of-nights deal with the no hot water, I would stop at my new place to dig up (almost literally, since I’d done a terrible packing job and nothing was unpacked yet, really, and most of everything was pushed together in a currently un-useful fashion in this one room) whatever I would need for the now-extended stay.  I could borrow socks from my mom, and I already knew that a bra was in my dirty clothes there (so I could just wash that), and I had clothes and could borrow clothes.  So, all I really needed was underwear, when it came to clothing.  And then I needed to bring my laptop for the various things I would need to do on it this week.

Naturally, I was brainstorming all of this while driving to class, and so couldn’t write anything down.  But I knew I would forget if I didn’t have a reminder after class somehow.  And so, I asked Siri to remind me.  And I cracked up when I happened to glance at a stoplight at what she was writing.

 

I didn’t need to correct it, because it was clear to me, anyway, what the reminder meant.  Plus, I enjoyed laughing at it, and knew I would enjoy it as a reminder later on.   And, sure enough, I was right – I loved it later.  More than that, even, was how much I enjoyed getting to mark as completed the odd task.

This is not the first time I’ve had an odd accidental reminder, and not even the first in the past week.  Add to that the actual odd reminders that I ask Siri to give me (and on a somewhat regular basis).  We now have some really odd data to be going back to Apple for stats and improvement… I regularly wonder what the people who see these Siri conversations think when they see how absurd people are with her at times.  And I always enjoy the thought that my silliness and absurdity, both accidental and natural, just might bring some utter joy and delight to their lives here and there.  It definitely does to my own life, anyway. 😛

Post-a-day 2018

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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

The Lingering Effects of Culture?

I have noticed two behaviors of mine that linger still (and consistently), despite my having been in the USA and out of Japan for almost four months.  They are 1) constantly looking right first before crossing the road, naturally walking to the left, and casually beginning on the left side of the road when riding my bike; and 2) silence.

The first has been improving significantly, and is almost never present when I am driving a car (though those two-lane, small town style, empty roads do make me think twice before I pull out onto them).  It is mostly just my bicycle riding and walking that is still in the habit of Japan’s side.  Seeing as how I am aware of the road-crossing issue every time I approach a road, I feel confident that things will be fine there – even if I must continue constantly checking both directions over and over again, because I don’t trust myself as to from which way the cars actually will be coming on which side.  The second is a bit different.

I wonder if the silence is something about which I need to worry.  I feel like it is no big deal, however, when I look at it from an outside, USA perspective, I seem almost oppressed in the action.  The silence comes in the regular everyday passing of people at work.  I often only smile and nod when we make eye contact, and I regularly say little-to-nothing in group conversations.  Partly, I have no interest in discussing the present topic with the present company most of the time.  However, I wonder if part of that is because I am not accustomed to discussing things with people like I once was.

My distress tied to living in Japan significantly affected my desire and will to learn Japanese.  Therefore, I really didn’t put forth almost any effort in the language beyond the absolute necessary, until I was on the rise from all of the depression, only a few months before my departure.  This means that I was not able to participate in most conversation around me.  Yes, I could understand a good amount of it, and often all of it (though, occasionally almost nothing), but I usually was unable to respond.  It was my first experience with what I previously had only heard other people say they did, and the development of which I couldn’t understand: understanding a language, but not speaking it.

So, I grew incredibly accustomed to speaking very little and to listening a lot.  And this was not a conscious decision, necessarily, though I had intended to observe for the sake of learning all about the culture and language.  My goal was to learn, not to separate and somewhat exclude myself.  Transferring the same behavior over here to the USA, my native country, has the behavior occur quite differently.  As mentioned, I seem somewhat oppressed, like something is preventing me from speaking.  All I notice is a lack of desire to say anything most of the time.  But I also don’t even consider whether I want to speak or not – I just don’t speak…  So, I am wondering about this, whether there is something more there, something in the way for me, preventing me from full self-expression.

 

Post-a-day 2017

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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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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