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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Tanuki-lyn's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
11:12 am
Citicards makes me laugh
I went on-line to change my email address so that my e-statement would go to a working email address.  Website said "okay."
One missed payment cycle later...
I called in to change my email address on my account so that they would send my e-statement to a working email address. Rep said, "okay."
One more missed payment cycle later...
I called in to re-instate paper statements b/c they continue to send e-statements to a no longer functioning email.  Rep said, "I'll change your email and re-instate paper statements."
One missed payment cycle later....
I call in to change my email address on my account b/c they never sent paper statements or changed my email.  Rep said "okay."
One more missed payment cycle later...
I call in to close my account.  Rep says "I'll send out the final bill with all your charges."
Citicard sends a "final bill."
I pay off the final bill.
I check my account on-line: They posted that "Oops, there's one more charge that we didn't put on the "last" bill, you owe $39 for this."
I pay the last charge they missed on-line.
One month later, I check the website:  I now have a $0.50 balance.
Really?
My account has been closed for over a month, I have a $0.50 balance?  I check my activity, and there is no explanation of the $0.50 charge.
I'm not sure if they're just keeping a balance running so they can charge more late fees b/c hey, I'm probably not going to check my account again, right?
My question is, is there really any use in calling asking them what the hell considering their track record of implementing changes I request on-line or by phone?
I really, really hate citicards.

Current Mood: angry
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
12:04 pm
Man, I loooooove Citicards
I am feeling very happy about closing my Citicards preferred diamond rewards blah blah blah mastercard account.  Actually, I almost want to go out to have a drink to celebrate!
I've changed my email address on-line at the Citicards website, and called in to have it changed twice before in last 12 months (ever since I switched to paper-less statements.  I have a hotmail account on which I signed up for the card, but I've been trying ever since I signed up to change the damn thing). 
Generally these frenzied communications are because I'm paying my Discover bill (which changed my email address IMMEDIATELY on-line and sent confirmation via email *gasp* such a novel concept you Citicard douchebags) and I just think to look at my Citicards statement only to see it is past due.  It doesn't seem to matter if I check my account one month later, or two weeks later since the time of my last Discover payment, the payment due date is as bouncy as a red rubber ball.
SOMEHOW, since Monday, Feb 22, Citicards managed to tack on $140 charge of some sort for being "past due."  Since my account on-line has been converted to a "You are a douche, and this is a mandatory worksheet to work out your delinquency and measures to pay it off, and NO you can't see any meaningful past activity at this time.  Pay off your account and describe in explicit detail how you're going to pay off your balance of $240 every month from now on.  No, you cannot select an option that does not incriminate you further, and yes you have to select an option."  Where is the "You douchebags refuse to change my personal contact information, or send out paper statements so I missed my statements." option?   I can't even see where these charges are from.  I love it, love it love it love it.  I wonder if the new legislation somehow took care of credit card company's negligence in making it easier to get your statement.  They certainly do excel at making anything I do to change my situation pointless (which is namely, just get the f***ing statement notice at an email that I still check since I requested paperless statements over a year ago-oh yeah, I asked to have those re-instated as well until they start sending me my credit statement at my gmail account, that never happened.  F***in' love citicards).
I almost wish I had seen this before I closed my account this week.    I would have loved  to have the representative pass on a piece of my mind.  Oh well, I guess it's not her fault she's stuck working for devils.  Ironically, my credit score is still pretty damn good such that I got approved for a different Mastercard immediately, one with actual cashback bonus, and no annual fee instead of these pretty useless "Thank you" points.  I wonder if Citicard is hiding their futzing with my account (which you would think normally would reduce my credit score a fair amount) because it wasn't on the up and up.  Whatever.  Goodbye Citicard!!!

Current Mood: cynical
Friday, January 8th, 2010
9:51 am
I know I really should move on, I know, I know.

Man, I really don’t want to go through the infatuation phase of a relationship again.  I remember how much I used to love feeling that tingly feeling in my chest and right arm (always the right arm, what is with that?) that made me want to grip it and hold it and swim around in it.  How my brain would get fuzzy, and just looking at the person would engulf my sight with a swirling broth of starry smarminess.

Now I HATE that fuzzy feeling.  I don’t like NOT being able to see someone for who they are because my stupid body chemicals are getting in the way.  I want to jump straight to the love phase. 

Unconditional love means different things to different people, but for me, unconditional love means knowing exactly how a person is, all their tirades, their kind of lame and disgusting quirks, their cute aspects, their rather pathetic aspects, and through it all remain immensely fond of them.  So fond of them, that just looking at them going about their business and in contemplating all their aspects, I want to go over and hold them, and love them and maybe exchange some gesture of affection.  I’d like for that person to feel the same way about me as well.  It’s kind of pathetic how much like an animal I am.  It’s like when the pet you just bought finally starts relaxing around you and comes to you to be petted, or sits in your lap when you’re lonely in spite of itself.  You’re just so happy that you can make your pet feel relaxed and happy, and it’s even eager to see you b/c it likes you so damn much!  I want to skip to that phase of a relationship already.  Problem is, it’s hard to get to know someone without that stupid infatuation phase fudging everything up.  With infatuation I worry about the other person learning how I really am, and getting fed up, or worse yet, bored with me… actually, I can’t even bore myself, so maybe worse, the other person is intimidated by me, and keeps thinking they need something different.  Also, it’s hard to get to know someone really fast… especially if they’re going through the infatuation phase and they’re trying to hide all the nasty stuff that they’re worried you’re not going to like.

I just want unconditional fondness NOW, dammit!

Meanwhile, it’s kind of nice to look in the mirror and see a smear of mucusy dried milk on my shoulder.  I think every parent wants their kid to cuddle with them every once in a while.  Too much and you think your child’s a bit dependent, and weak, but it always seems to be one end of the spectrum or the other. It’s a very rare thing that my child puts her head on my shoulder.  She has to be in an extremely affectionate mood (which happens maybe once a month for approximately 30 seconds), or extremely sick (which means usually there’s something more than dried milk on my shirt). 

For some reason, it’s like some sort of trophy stain-like blood on a rugby player’s jersey, and I feel great satisfaction in putting this shirt in the dirty laundry.  Still, it would be embarrassing to have other people see my marks of achievement (hey, achieving your kids’ affection is huge-this is about the only time you can get it before they hit puberty!), it’s kind of a silly thing to be proud about, but I will be proud about it in private anyway, thank you very much.



Current Mood: yearning
Tuesday, December 29th, 2009
1:23 pm
I love livejournal!!!!
I tried to do the Facebook thing.  I really did.  I think my account is something like... a month old?
And-and, I hate it!
I have no idea how to use the damn thing, it's just not Bree-friendly!
I LOVE being able to change my userpic depending on my post, I LOVE being able to write more than *blip* number of characters for an update, I HAVE an email account already, I don't neeeeed Facebook to give me another, and oh oh oh, I just miss livejournal!!!!

Current Mood: nostalgic
Thursday, August 28th, 2008
10:40 am
On someone's pin at school :)
Some people are like slinkys.... not really useful for anything but they put a smile on your face when you push them down the stairs

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
2:45 pm
Associated Press expects you to pay to license 5-word quotations
Now this is just silly.


Here's another article.   Man, you would think that this would be more widespread that I would have heard about it before this?

Current Mood: bewildered
1:14 pm
Male Human Homosexuality Genetic... kana?
I'm pretty sure this article is free for access to anyone (because it's PLoS ONE!), but if it's not, I can post the whole text somewhere...

I had no idea they were putting so much work into this!

Current Mood: wow
Thursday, June 26th, 2008
9:02 am
Look at me I'm white and ner-
No matter how bitter, cynical, irritated, and ready to take on a horrible day I am in the morning, Weird Al's White & Nerdy always makes me smile:).
I need to stop looking at carp on woot.com

Current Mood: Aaaah!
Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
11:31 pm

Crawr!
Yes, I'm alive.  I'd call all of you people who kept calling so that my phone died, but I need to get to lab early tomorrow, so I hope you read my first post in 9 months and just let me sleeeeeeep.
Ooooh, those poor people in the river<:x.
My mom is crying terrorist plot, but I tell you what, that would be a sight more comforting than it being the case that the city planners are just STUPID, and everything else around this city is most likely falling apart.
Whatever it is, the next car I buy will have MANUAL WINDOWS.  My electric windows don't roll down when it's dry, I can't imagine what they would be like submerged :(.
I hope there weren't any invalid or pregnant people on that bridge.  There's just no WAY they could've gotten out of there okay.
I also hope that the lab floor does not smell like autoclaved ferret tomorrow.
Good night, and I hope you're all doing good!



Current Mood: tired
Sunday, October 29th, 2006
11:39 am
Is there such a thing as Halloween'd out?
Let's face it, you can only do so many get drunk in sleazy costume before you realize Halloween is and always was about the trick-or-treating, and that we are now past the fun part and are henceforth forever doomed to be leeched off of by nefarious 12 year old hoodlums in our neighborhoods.
It's good to be in a secured apartment building.  Minus the 4:30am fire alarms.  (I'm surrounded by idiots... does that mean I fit right in?)

On Friday night I went to the Halloween party hosted by newly arrived from New Mexico (I say that, although honestly, they've already been here two months) MegHAN and her hubby.  MegHAN's in the MCDB&G program (I think the acronym is so long just so that it is easily forgettable) with me, and since she had a lot of alcohol left at her house from her birthday party in September, she wanted a Halloween party to get it drunk up.  That and she has a schnazzy 20's style house, and she really wants to play hostess.
Which is cool because I like to be served.
I think a lot of people were going to parties on Saturday night so not many people showed up (like six-w00+!) and we all had a jolly time watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (Puberteeeeeee-puberty looooooove), and marvelling at the breastage in Van Helsing.  Ah, one can truly enjoy the silliness when one is en masse.
I didn't have time to sew up my Vivi costume (how are these clown pants going to work!??!) so I sold out and bought a geisha wig (you know, like the kind Dave Barry wears on the cover of Dave Barry Does Japan) and wore my autumn furisode.
I wore it well, I was rather proud of myself.  In fact,  with the makeup I might even have passed off for a Japanese person.  Only I didn't realize how even the most Japanophile of Americans can still have no friggin' clue how a kimono looks on a person, or even what a geisha is.  
"What's that thing on your back for?"
"You mean the obi?"
"Yeah, what is that?"
*sigh**Whyyyyy did I spend an hour getting ready for this, a bathrobe would have worked just as well*.
It was just as well that no one showed up because nothing got spilled on the furisode, and actually the only worry I had was when  MegHAN's cat  Ramses (dude, he totally looks like one of those cats you would see on Egyptian tombs!) felt this incessant need to lay on the sleeves and paw at my legs.
Saturday night was spent going to some neuroscience get-together of some of Anusha's classmates.  I refused to cake that greasepaint on again, but fortunately it was a non-costume affair.
Neuroscience geeks are really  geeks.   I've never seen people so excited about what they study.
I mean, the girl to whose apartment we migrated, had a cat named "Neuro,"  and carved neurons and glia into the Jack-o-Lantern while playing a movie called "8 heads in a duffel bag."  The snacks consisted of caramel apples, and a JELL-O brain from which a person could only eat the parts that they themselves studied.  I passed as in order for me to partake, the mass would have to have had some yeast or E. Coli ridden part.  I think the reason that biologists of different disciplines don't hang together so much is that they all use a different vocabulary for acronyums.  Like "MT" to a neuroscience person (medium temporal?) is completely different from "MT" to a developmental biologist, although neuroscience people also study microtubules.

Yeah... I can't even comprehend people who willingly take their work home with them, or name their cats after brain parts.
My pets shall be named Target and Bullseye after my two least favorite teachers.

Hmm... It's almost a shame that the Molecular Biology instructors have traded off because I finally cracked the Harris code (simply not study for tests because it won't do you any good, and everyone averages 50%> regardless so just get loaded the night before)
There's a Cell Structure test on Tuesday.  The first all semester.  We've had countless quizzes and two tests in every other class, but this will be our first gradable test.  Ooooh, we are all so screwed.  There's just too much info to recover and memorize for Tueday.

It's so much easier to look up what movies are coming out next summer, and dream about the day that the Wii is available for pre-order (Don't even talk to me about the Gamestop pre-order, because I wasn't about to get my ass up at the butt crack of dawn to stand in line behind 13 other people just to find out they only had 10 units for their store after the employees took their share of five systems).
I could use some Link loving.  Like everyday.  

I'm pretty damn excited about Pirates 3 (with Captain Jack Sparrow Stitch!), Spiderman 3, and Shrek the Third.
However, I'll settle for draggin Mere with me to see Pan's Labyrinth because I am a fluffy fantasy goober under it all  (well.. fluffy body parts!).  That, and I've heard so much crap from the Spanish chick visiting the lab upstairs about Spain under Franco that I'm almost genuinely interested in the historical aspect.  Almost.  Oh, who the hell am I kidding, I'm just there for the freaky man-eating cicada fairies.

I'd talk more about school, but that's depressing.


On Tuesday I think I will wear the Rilakkuma ears and Kiitori that I won from a machine in Sega World with Angela with one of my Rilakkuma shirts.  Seriously, it's like the world is full of Japanophiles, and even if they don't know the character that you're wearing, if it has Japanese alphabet (because even the most Japanophile of them all can really only read hiragana and maaaaybe katakana) they think you are coolest thing next to Coconut ice cream.
IT'S AN OBI YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!!

I'm tired of being boring.  I think I'm going to go light up my ramen lamp now and dream of better cup noodles.

Farewell.

Current Mood: blah blah blah
Friday, August 4th, 2006
9:18 am
Home sweet pit
Well... I didn't think that I had so much stuff from before I went to Japan, but I find that the amount of things that I wish I would have cleaned out before Japan is considerably greater than the things that I sent home.

I was SO SO CLOSE to seeing Gedo Senki (Tales from EarthSea) in the theater in Japan.   I'm even MORE frustrated that I didn't because it all came down to my friend Rumi deciding that it was more important for me to spend my last hours in Japan looking for a hat for her sister when we were right there, a block away from the Seki movie theater.  We even drove there with her sister to see the movie.  I think her sister was pretty pissed too, when finally she asked Rumi, "Uh... what about the movie?"  Rumi: "Oh, we won't have time now, I have to go pick up my son from daycare!"  Miho, her sister, lives in Nagoya, and the supposed hat that we were going to look for was for her to wear to after-school volunteer activities at some yet undecided elementary or kindergarten.  I'm sure Miho was just going to get a hat in Nagoya anyway since it is the shopping city for all residents in Gifu/Aichi/Toyama areas.  
Rumi apparently had no intention of going to the movie because she felt it was just as good to see it on video.  Never mind that I was all gung-ho about seeing my third Ghibli movie in the theater, never mind that I wouldn't be there for the video release, and didn't have a player to watch it on anyway... grrr... She's just one of those people  who when she thinks she knows what's best, it's like the Catholic Gospel-what you want, or what you think doesn't matter.  I think she was concerned mostly about the price.. but then she had just blown 2000 yen at Sega World earlier which she could have spent on the movie but... hey whatever.  It would have been cool just to keep a personal record of seeing all the Ghibli movies in Japan since Spirited Away but... *sigh* whatever.  GRr GRr GRr.

It was a pretty good flight home.  I changed at San Francisco (Bless you Californians for having the most pleasant airport employees. Curse you to the 7th circle of hell, Chicago!!!), had a three hour layover (I almost went up to the customs agents to have them sift through ALL my bags simply because I had time), and arrived in Denver at about 4pm.

I stayed a day at my brother's house south of downtown Denver to recover from jet-lag a little bit, and to hit the Nature/Science Museum. (That's a sweet little museum there.  I don't recall finding cute, educational stuff like that in Japan, especially for that price!)
Thursday I drove the 9.5 hours  to my home in Dickinson where I proceeded to crash.  Don't ever drive long distances after flying across the world from a two-year stint in a half-way across the world time zone, just don't.  
Today feels like I just flew back from Japan.  There's a lot of cleaning to do here, though, so I should find plenty of things to do to keep myself awake to get my time clock back in order.

I don't know when I'll be able to make it to Minneapolis.  I have to be there before Itasca to drop off some forms of identification for payroll. I might totally whiff that until the day I have to go to Itasca.  We're going to visit family this weekend at my aunt's.  
It hasn't been planned out real well so I don't know whether I'll have a place to sleep even if I do go.

My brother has been working on getting me an apartment in Minneapolis. The one that he's working on getting the application to me for is on 8th street, close to the highway, but opposite the side where the campus is.
That sounds fun.
I wouldn't be able to move in until Sept. 1.  That's not so fun.  I'll be playing refugee until then, and... I just don't know what I'm going to do for the last week of August when they want us there for lab rotation decisions and stuff and I haven't a place to stay.  Thank goodness classes don't start until Sept. 5th.
I really wish I would have just stayed in Japan.

Otherwise, it felt good to smell the dry smells of home dirt.  Even just sniffing around the backyard of my brother's house was nice.
Portion sizes are nice (no, actually, doggy bags are nice). Free refills are nice.
I was a little bit shocked to realize that the prices at home aren't so different from the prices in Japan. At least for good food, and museum admissions:p.
I forgot aaaalll about tipping.  I feel awkward when waiters come up every five minutes to ask how I'm doing.
I forgot how rude Americans can be when it comes to budding in line, or trying to sneak ahead of you without you noticing.
I forgot how inconsiderate we all are as drivers.  ALTHOUGH, I'm very glad to see that *hesitation* is not a problem that American drivers have (you know, how the Japanese drivers all sweep past the stop sign into the middle of the street, and then hesitate as if they wonder whether they should let the car trying to cross over (who can't because their way is blocked by a stop-sign ignoring car) go ahead first.)

There were so many English books at the bookstore.  None of them I wanted to read though... sweet irony.

I was also amazed at just how crazy this country has become about diet and weight.  I mean it's EVERYWHERE now.  It's kind of funny to think that the next big war will be against obesity.  Never mind work ethic, or healthy marriages and healthy home politics.  Weight is so obviously the root of the problem.  Ooooh, it's going to be a fun stint until I can get out of this country again.

At any rate, I think it was a good time to come home.  I'm already feeling too old for grad school, and I get to hear about it from family members talking about how other members of my graduating class already became medical doctors, or are making 6 digit figures a year doing consulting work directly from their homes (so they moved back to Dickinson to renovate a home into a mansion for $500,000  if there's any place in the country where you can do it for that kind of money, it's here).

People ask me if it feels good to be back.  Haha, not really:D
I really liked living in Japan, and the friends I had there, but it sucked to work there.  Here I'm kind of having to start all over again.
But I'm glad that my best friends here are still within driving distance, and will be closer when I go to school.
I'd like to go back some day, but not until I have what we might call a real job.
It further reduces the chances of running into crazies-at least the "PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH I'M A LONELY HOUSEWIFE" ones.

I'm just going to go send off my insurance forms and weep over the laundry now:D




Current Mood: sadness
Friday, July 21st, 2006
7:37 pm
Oofta
2 days after last nomikai and buri is finally able to keep food down.

I think I kind of expected this to happen, but I wish I would have actually done something about getting my butt OUT of here faster so that when the emails/phonecalls/show up on doorstep, "YOU'RE LEAVING??  WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!!" I would have had time to do something.
As it is, for all you people who know about this blog (probably not a lot considering most of you are Japanese, huh?)
and I haven't been able to say goodbye to you properly or will not be able to before I head down to Minokamo on the 28th, good bye and good luck!

Had the last day of school on Thursday.  Wednesday was the last day of classes.  They scheduled me for ALL of my elective classes that day.  Oh man, they really know how to send me off with a pissed off BANG don't they?
We made Rice Krispie Treats.. minus the Rice Krispies... mostly used some corn flake and choco flakes.  This is incredibly simple, right?  I mean even a baby could do this right?
Yeah... anyway.  One class managed to melt the marshmallows and mix in the cereal without a Japanese translation while the other, larger classes had kids coming up, "OH GOD, the BUTTER'S BURNING!!! AAAAHHH, WHADDER WE SUPPOSED TO DO????" every 30 seconds.  I even had pictures on the board, friggin' photographs of all the steps, and THEN translated it into Japanese for them b/c there were still some kids going, 'Huh? What, are we cooking today?"
No dipsmacks, we're in the cooking room so I can see how long we can hold your hand over an open flame before it starts changing colors.
That might have been a better lesson.
still, the classes ended on a high note b/c A. they're only 45 minutes long (that last five minutes makes alllll the difference), and they got to eat something at the end.
Gah.
The goodbye ceremony at the junior high was pretty sad.
I didn't really feel anything at the elementary school ones, but I still tried very hard to get a quaver in my voice so it sounded like I was about to cry but holding it in like a trooper.  Wouldn't want the poor little buggers to pour out their thanks while I was standing by grinning like an icy-hearted witch... while deep down on the inside, I might have been^_^;;
The Nyuukawa elementary school gave me the best send-off.  Both the small schools, Araki, and Higashi Nyukawa elementary schools gave me boxes of origami (I always feel so bad about that b/c it takes a long time to make that much origami with all the decorations the kids put on it, but I'm gonna throw it away anyway), and speeches about how I should go back and find a husband in the States, and that when I get married, they'll send me tomatoes from Nyukawa (Nyukawa is famous for it's tomatoes... whoo-hoo).
It was funny b/c all these speeches are delivered by the kids in katakana English.  So.. the kids have no idea what they're saying.  Apparently the principal is the one who writes the speech.  So, the kids were kind of confused when I kept bending over hooting and slapping the stage at the front of the gym with every reference to my sad, unmarried state.
The principal would always then, embarrassedly explain to the kids what the speech was about.. and the kids looked at me like... "You're going to the States to get married?"
Idiot Principal.  My teacher says all old Japanese men say that about young women.
The junior high one was much shorter.  The only people who were even mildly sad were the students and the two english teachers.  Everyone else was just bored.
Naturally, after blowing up at the staff members that morning for handing me a bunch of emails in Japanese that have NOTHING to do with me, and acting like I was making their life difficult b/c I wasn't getting on top of these "going home" preparations, I was almost ready to cry in frustration anyway.
But then some of those darn kids started wiping their eyes and glancing over at me during the closing ceremony and I just had to pretend I had a really itchy face.
Finally there was the goodbye ceremony.
First the Principal makes a speech.  He's been kind of an ass these last few days.  "Boy, you look fine today!  I bet you're happy to be going back and LEAVING US." 
"Buri-san has only been with us for a year.  That seems like an awfully short time to spend as and ALT, but whatever.  At any rate she's going home and... we're going to miss her.  I was very surprised at how she always touched the students.  Always touching them, patting them, hitting them... I'd never seen an ALT do that before. It's very strange.  But you all became friends and that's good.  The end."
Then I made a speech, crying of course, feeling like an idiot.  The English teachers laughed at my saying I learned proper english from them which I could then use in the states, the kids gave me their undivided attention and it was good.  Then the school student council president gave a speech.  It was one of the kids who I helped with the speech contest, so that felt good.
Then the other senseis shooed me off to the side so that they could deliver kanji test results, and drill the students about what they can and cannot do during summer vacation (YOU WILL RIDE THE CLUB ACTIVITIES BUS!!!!  You WILL NOT GO HOME WITH YOUR FRIENDS!! Sure, THEIR parents may know where you are, BUT YOUR parents DON'T.  If THEY don't know where you are, they'll contact US, and then WE have to go looking for you.  JUST DON'T STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOUSE, PERIOD!!!).
I don't know why they didn't just do that during the closing ceremony.  Whatever, the only people I really care about cared so that was good.
Thursday evening, then, we had the end of semester, say bye to Buri party.  At the cheapest place I've ever eaten.  Ignoring the kind of insult, I had a lot of fun, b/c old, musty restaurants are fun, and Chinese food is good!
I decided I wasn't going to lose to loud-mouth Nakamura-sensei, and took swig for swig of beer, vodka mixes whatever, and by the 2nd party I was toasted.  I mean, I haven't been that wasted since I was 20 (and that time isn't really fair b/c no one told me that taking 4 tequila shots in 10 minutes was a bad idea).
I can't remember the walk from the 2nd party to my apartment, managing to collect ALL my stuff and bringing it up to the apartment.  Or getting up in the middle of the night to find a cardboard box to puke in.  
However, in the morning, when I get to the bathroom there's a cardboard box i didn't know I had with puke in it next to the pristine bucket that I had also unknowingly set there for that purpose.
The next day I really wanted to one-up Nakamura by showing up on time at school in spite of a really weird hang-over.
It was really weird too!  I didn't have a head-ache, I was fine except for feeling queasy.
I just couldn't keep anything down!  Water, juice, whatever.  
So sometimes at school, my face would turn green, like when putting the puzzle together with the 2nd graders in the library and I'd rush to the bathroom clutching that one porcelain goddess on the 2nd floor.  
I needed to turn in my health card at the BOE and buy my plane ticket so I left school at 12pm.
I was pretty worried about riding the bus b/c I just knew I'd feel sick again. 
Fortunately I found a plastic bag in the teacher's room.
Unfortunately, one of my students, who makes regular trips to the hospital in Takayama was ALSO riding the bus.  
Aaaand, the closest seat was right behind him.
He turns around, gives me this sad puppy dog face, and says, "You're leaving?" *shining eyes*
"Aah... yeah*sheepish smile*)
"You're leaving?"*blink-blink*
"Yes.  The 1st.)
*sorrowful look*
"Yeah well... haha *smile* ganbarou ne!"
He turned around, and just as he did-
the bus went swerving around the mountains, and that horrible discharge of saliva that comes right before everything else does rained down in my mouth.
I tried to swallow it... baaaad idea. 
And so I turned towards the window and quietly heaved into the bag... well as quietly as I could while the bus was stopped at a traffic light.  I didn't have much to puke up, but surprisingly, when you're trying to be as quiet as possible, the heaving starts to sound like hairball, Shrek 2 Puss-N-Boots style, and it's pretty loud. Come to think of it, facing towards the window probably wasn't that great of an idea as I met the eyes of drivers going the other way everytime I came up for breath.  This poor kid in front of me.  At first I thought that maybe he didn't hear me, but as he got off at the bus stop at Kokubunji (normally I get off at Kokoubunji everyday but today I was going to go to the station to get some hangover medicine), and i called over to say goodbye he just looked at me like, 'Eeh..?" which could have been embarassment or "I have a one track mind and I need to pay my fare now" but I'm guessing the former.
I thought I could hold it until the station, but as I thought about it, I realized it was probably better to warf on the bus than in front of everyone at the station.
Maaaaan. 
SO I get off at the station with my plastic bag of puke, and run into a few more ALTs who are in town on business.  Camille is this super sweet girl who just amazes me with her patience and dedication to her students.  I've only seen her like 5 times over the year but I already know I'm going to miss her (AND I WISH SHE WAS TAKING OVER MY SCHOOL!!!).  I wanted to talk to her for a bit, but I also really wanted to throw away my puke bag.  The resident Ken doll and his friend visiting from the States was there as well.  oooh, ho that was awkward.  Finally I bid Camille farewell, she offers to hug me in case she doesn't see me before I go, and i try as hard as possible to keep the bag away from her, and the puke covered cheek turned away.
Aaaaugh.
The conbini had a bunch of people conveniently in front of the garbage bins, and finally I just said, "GET OUT OF MY WAY" because I didn't feel like squeezing the bag past their butts to fit into the bin.
I had the hardest time finding the "vitamin drinks," but fortunately, the vitamin B drink STAYED down, and I went through the rest of the day pretty much without incident.
For some reason, it took 2.5 hours to get my airplane ticket from a travel agency right across from the station (that's a long story there), and the money that is supposed to be paid into my account for it isn't there.
That's another long story.
Now I'm trying to pack all this... origami/letters/souveniry gift stuff into boxes to take home before I head on the train down to Nagoya for a sayonara party that I agreed to last month. Augh.  I wouldn't be doing this except that Woody has decided that he can't stand his apartment and wants to move into mine.  That means he wants me out sooner than I planned, and a lot of the stuff I was planning on leaving for the next guy (school stuff) needs to be put somewhere else.  Why-yet another long story!
Woody has never seen this apartment, and when he sees the size (for some reason he thinks he'll be able to store stuff in here while he cleans his own apartment (HA)) he might change his mind, but that doesn't change him screwing over my life just before I leave NOW.
There are not enough hours in the day.
However, my brother says he's found me a pretty darn good apartment near the campus, and that makes me VERY HAPPY!!!!!
I wuv my bwaduh!!!
Now if only I can find time to do these annoying training videos and safety tests on-line before the Itasca research station.
Garrr...
All right, puke story, finished, my life is complete
I love you nice peoples bye byeeee!!!



Current Mood: tired
Wednesday, July 12th, 2006
9:53 am
As I wait for the benzoyl peroxide to burn a hole in my back...
Okay, it's 12am, and I should looking on-line at apartments in Minneapolis.  I should be taking those lab safety tests on-line.  I should be writing emails to all these people whom I'm supposed to write emails to before I go to grad school....
But instead I've just gotten back from hanging out with a friend, and enjoying my last few moments of freedom in Japan before I return to the "everyone is miserable, and mean, and rude, and I just don't want to go back," world of America.
Yes, I have been so warped by living in the backwood conservative area of Japan that I too believe that anywhere other than Japan is just dangerous and full of angry, scary people.
Well... actually, that's probably true isn't it...

Things have been going just swimmingly for the last month and a half.  I've been getting all the fawning adoration I was missing when the teachers in Nyukawa were indirectly making my life a living hell.  And with people actually evaluating my class, and performance, I'm getting some sympathy from the part-time teachers who realize I'm being f***ed with elective class (because they join in on them sometimes), and it's just messed up all the responsibility that's being piled on my shoulders as a teacher for elementary schools and these dang elective classes despite not having a license.
HA!  
Still, the teachers and parents could be a little less vindictive about how I'm (insinuated) abandoning my students come the end of July.  Sure the kids don't learn schmuck in class, never talk to me in English, and give me about as much respect as a mentally disabled cat, but hey, they like me.  Even emotionally challenged, come from a broken home Arisa!
Well, POOP on THAT.
They should know better than to think that I'm gonna just do an about-face and sign up for another year.  Too bad you suckahs weren't nice to me in February!
I think the full-weight of having a Japanese illiterate foreigner amongst them once again hampering their lives and jobs is starting to become realized in their closed off brains.
He might know Japanese... but even if he does, he's still a greenhorn in the world of Japan, much less Japanese schools and they'll have their hands full.
Actually... considering just how little they've done to make my life easier... I'm feeling pretty bad for the next guy.
Right so.  Anyway, I'm enjoying all the sweet little moments that I never had a chance to when I was running around with my head cut off trying to keep up with all the elementary school lesson plans and materials for the week.
Like today, I went into the copy room during cleaning time to cut some construction paper, and all the kids who were "teacher's room cleaning duty" subtley meandered into the copy room to "clean", and closed the door so they could putz, and talk about things like, "Hey, Buri-sensei... I have your socks."  (I'm supposed to have an extra pair of shoes for the teacher's room besides the obligatory indoor shoes, and separate gym shoes, but I walk around in my socks... b/c sheesh, what a pain changing between each class period, I'm not Mr. Rogers)  Buri thinking:  Oh no... are you calling me a guy!? Are these manly socks?!?!  If this is your idea of a "bonding thing," it's totally not!!!

Other sweet things have been the letters I've made the elective classes write b/c I'm just too tired and too drained of ideas for the last two remaining classes.  I'm gonna make you read some of them, because they're pretty... cute... well... strange...blar
Well.. most were the "WHAT?  You're LEAVING?  I never heard about this!" variety or the "I love Buri!  She gives me many stickers.  I never forget you!" type, but some were "I want to do "meet (meat) revolution!""

Ryusuke's letter (keep in mind that I often wrap my arms around students' necks and give them noogies.  Because they're little poopheads sometimes, and I just need constant confirmation that I'm still stronger than the 15-year-olds who are at least a foot taller than me.  Also, I give them stickers for writing these letters so there's a lot of gomasuri (sucking up) going on here)

Buri is the strongest of all the world.

Buri is stronger tham me.

Bree was from Amreica.

Plase kind me.

You are player professional wrestling (how could he spell 'professional' right, but not 'please'?!?)

But you can speak English.

It's nice!!

I liked you.  It's the past.   

Today is very nice day.

but begun to rain.  

Buri is very nice.  I'm a happy human.

Buri is the best in all the world.

Buri will can helps many human.

Buri is intersting.

Thank you, Buri, and Good Bye.

From  Ryusuke

Here is a letter from Oomae.  I like Oomae's last name because it's like omae (the rude form of "you") so when I'm ticked off, and he happens to be a member of the offending party, I can say "OMAEEEE" like it's dirty form of "you" but it's really just his name:D
He's also a very, very strange boy.  I don't think he likes girls.  I'm pretty sure he likes guys (although it's still considered bad to be gay in Japan so I'm sure I'll never know while I'm there), and talks about how cool Johnny Depp is.  I fully concur, but at the same time, I think... dude, why are we talking about how sexy Johnny Depp is?

Buri is cute.
Buri is stronger than I.
Buri is taller than my grand mother.
I have never visited America.
Buri, Please kind me...
Buri is kind.
Buri can kind me.
Buri, more teachesEnglish us.
English is useful.
Teach, Thank you.
I'm hugry now.
Something give me.
Do you like music?
I like music.
I take a English test 93.
I like English.
If I go to America, Please call me.
I want to go to America.
I want to do "The meetre volution."
Why don't you join us?

The "meet revolution" is actually "meat revolution."  I had to ask him later b/c I had NO idea what he wrote about.  I said, "Do you like meat?"  "Ooooh, yesss!"
"Uuh... can you eat a lot of meat here?" "Oooh, noooo.  That's why we must meat revolution!  We can eat much meat in America!!"
"uh-huh....."
........

There are a few kids that I really like in the 8th grade class.  One of them is Masastupid.  I used to think he was just a smart, nice guy, but he started turning into a smart aleck, so I changed his name to Masastupid.  Eventually he remembered what "stupid meant."  It was just fighting like cats and dogs after that.  I think one day in particular brought the battle to a full front:
Me:  Hey, Masastupid!
Masa: What?
Me:  What's that scratch on your cheek?  Did you get in a fight?
Masa:  What?  No-It's from my cat.
Me:  What, were you trying to kiss your cat?
Masa:  No, baka!  You're friggin' ugly!
Me:  Yeah, I bet you were trying to make out with your cat.
Masa:  Shut up!  No animal would want to touch you!
Me:  Yeah, but I'm not trying to kiss them!

It's been full-out war ever since.
I think he still likes me:p

His letter went:

Dear Buri,

How are you do?
I'm fine.
I went to school.  Where were you?
I'm not stupid.
My dream is make much money.
What are you dream?
                         Sincerely,
   
                        Masatsugu

His friend Tatsuki (who has also started picking on me recently.... grrrr on him!) wrote basically the same letter.
The next week Tatsuki stole some of Masastupid's post-it notes and gave me notes that said:

Hey Buri,
What's up?
Masatsugu is very very good!
Masatsugu

Hey Buri,
What's up?
Masatsugu is very very big!!!!!
Masatsugu

......
Ew.
EWWWW...
Geez, ew-what's wrong with my kids?!!?!
Today's post-it notes said:

You're stupid!
Baka da!
(Baka in Japanese hiragana)
(Baka in kanji)
*arrow pointing up*KANJI

Hey Buri,
Masatsugu is very cut!
Tatsuki

Hey, at least Tatsuki's taking credit for the notes now.
It's nice to see their taking the initiative in the notes now.

I think this post is long enough, and I'm sure you've all had your fill of sugary, somewhat sick:p, crap about my kids... aaaaand, it's Enako tomorrow so I'd better take a shower and hit the sack or it'll be REAL fun.

I'll catch all you people on the flip side!

wuv wuv

Current Mood: sleepy
Friday, June 16th, 2006
5:26 am
So many novels so little time<:3
Buri has gone on a b-day spending frenzy, and trying to buy up all the novels she's always wanted to read in the short span she has before she leaves.  It's TERRIBLE!!!!  Full Metal Panic has spoiled me forever.  I used to be happy with just the succinct, and visually gratifying comics, but NOOOO, I need the gratuitous detail afforded by the novels!!! (Oh yeah, tell me what Sousuke's thinking, tell me, ooh yeah!)((obviously, the comic and anime never show what sousuke is thinking... ^_^;;).  The worst part is, all these lovey-dovey anime have started this year, and Buri  is a SUCKER for lovey dovey fairy-tale fiction.  She can't get enough of it.  It is very, very sad. (::shame::)
So now Buri must try and see whether she can read Saiunkoku Monogatari and Nishi no Yoki Majo well enough to make getting the entire novel series worthwhile.  I gotta say that Saiunkoku doesn't twist my strings like Nishi Yoki, but maaaaaaan, Ryuuki is voiced by Tomokazu Seki (FMP!: Sousuke, Escaflowne: Van, Anyotheranime: most likely gay or bi-sexual character) in the anime which is worth just hearing his voice in my head x-p... (try to imagine drool).  I just wish they'd FINISH the darn series so I can have them ALL by the time I leave 0: )
Unfortunately, I think Full Metal Panic will need another year to wrap up... Sousuke's only just found out about his resurrected pal, AL.  Pooie... I just know Kaname's gonna pull a whole, "Ugh, I can't stand you.  You've killed too many people.  You're dirty and stupid." when Sousuke finally finds her, and  I'm gonna be all, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!! I'll take you Sousuke!! It's okay!  You don't like blue-haired women anyway!!"
Gah... Buri needs to come back to the real world, and find some nice Calculus books to cry over.  Yes, that will take care of these nasty little fan-girl emotions!

In other news...
It's finally happened, the "treat Buri like a princess because she's going away" creepiness has started.
Sometimes people can be real buggers, you know?
Like... of course I'm mildly touched that now my co-workers are coming out of the closet and saying nice things to me, in front of other people none the less, but it's like... it's too late man.  The ship has sailed with my "HELL NO, I'm NOT re-contracting!" papers on it!
Gaaaaah.  And you know they'd never be doing it if I weren't leaving!!
At first it started with the somewhat anal-retentive English teacher asking out of the blue with this somewhat pained look on his face, "When are you going home anyway?" (in Japanese nonetheless!!  Holy flaming cow poop Batman!)
I said I didn't know, and then he actually said, "I'm going to miss you... it's too bad you're going... I guess I'm just gonna have to go visit you in America!"  
Buri: "Haha... aaah... sure, bring the whole school, we'll do a real American homestay, for once not in CANADA!!"
Him:  "Yeah.. finally get to go to America... say.. do you have a lot of nimotsu? (luggage) if you need some help, just let me know... I'll.. help you..."
 Buri's creeped out factor spikes.
Well, gee, since you all kind of laid me on the doorstep to my apartment to wither and die when I first arrived in this shallow niche of a hell-hole, chances are pretty good that I'm probably not going to need to much help getting the hell OUT.  Much less you handling my stuff is the last headache I need to deal with right now v_v;;.
It didn't end there, oh no, TODAY the guy said, "I think Buri-san is cute!" in the 8th grade English class today (it fit in, but don't ask me HOW, I was too busy giving him daggers).  Needless to say, I just puked on the inside, in the nicest way possible, and bluffed out by saying to the kids near me in a stage whisper, "Now if only my parents would say something like that to me." YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK!!!
To double the freakiness, the other more laidback English teacher wrote "Buri is cute." on the blackboard, which freaked me out too, but fortunately caused the whole 7th grade class to snicker and call me "Mr. Buri is hage (bald)," so I didn't need to go on a killing spree.  Two teachers saying the same thing in one day, something is definitely up.  
TOO BAD SUCKAHS!!! The deadline for "being nice to Buri so that she won't go back home and leave you without a manzai partner" is ALREADY PAST!!!  I betcha the next person can't speak Japanese, and can't partner up on your Japanese humor.  Lord knows, I don't want to hear about it.  No one in the teacher's room is getting my email, that is for dead certain.
The other weird thing this week was getting a souvenir from the 6th grade class trip to Kyoto from "occassionally (meaning always) has a katana up his butt" Katano-sensei from Enako.  
I could have sworn this guy hated my guts, I mean the guy brings up the war, and bombing Japan and crap ALL THE TIME when he drives me to the school, so I was just like, "Fine, I'm not Canadian, go dig yourself a hole you imperialist jerk."
THEN, all of the sudden, I get a cell-phone strap of a miniature medicine box that samurai used to carry around on their belts, and even explained the family crest and everything to me.  CRAZY.  I was so touched, it was WEIRD.
At any rate... I don't know what that means.  Now that I've said that, I just know he's going to be an ass next Tuesday when I have to go back there again.  WHY ARE THINGS SO COMPLICATED?!?!
Other people are finally talking to me, like young, trying to act all tough like an old teacher Takenaka-gym-teacher, and all of a sudden people are coming out and saying how taihen my life must be.
Like, the bus is taihen all of a sudden!  WTH??  Before it was like, "Must be niiiice to take the bus, not to have to worry about a car," and now it's like, "Ooooh, taking the bus is so taihen!  Why don't I give you a ride in my car?  I'm leaving in ten minutes!"
Uh... nah... I prefer the company of the bus driver to you.  "Sorry, I already have the bus tickets... thanks anyway!"
Right.
So.
Man, there was so much I was going to write about, like the English speech contest a few weeks back... what was the name of that beagle again, Gori?  "There was one time, Gori ran away!  We searched everywhere for her!  Then!  We found her at a Chinese restaurant!  She was fat like a sausage!!"  BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!  "Then I remembered!  Beagles are GREEEEEDY!!!!!" 
Whoever taught that kid that word deserves a medal.
Those were good times.
BUT I was lazy and forgot all about it.
Well, Buri has emails to procrastinate on, and new ways of breaking junior high boys hearts to formulate soo.. actually, she's just gonna get all giddy and read ahead to the last page of her books:p.
I love you guys, you always put up with my chit:D
Jaa ne, bye byeeee!!

Current Mood: huh?
Thursday, June 1st, 2006
8:58 am
Watashi no toshi wo katte ni kimeruna!!!!

My mom sent me the earlier English counterpart of Motto Nou wo Kitaeru Otona DS Training (Challenge your Brain More Training for Adults on Nintendo DS).  It's intended to exercise your brain so that you can always keep the optimum age of 20 years old for your brain.   Thankfully it's a LOT easier than the Motto Nou wo Kitaeru yatsu, so that I can feel good about myself every time I turn it on:p.  
However, now that it's June, the Brain Age DS training game has calculated my 20 year old brain to be - 6 of my real age.  Grrr, don't make me 26 before my it actually <i>is</i> my birthday!!
Today for cleaning time, the school played  a new soundtrack.  Usually they play some flakey xylaphone arrangement of Disney-esque songs, perfect for any kindergarten elevator, but today it was something else.  Something that kind of sits at the back of your brain, but gnawingly keeps your mind from wandering in a rather annoying way, so that even if you have nothing to think about, you're going to be concentrating on nothing whether you like it or not.  Then I realized that this was the <i>exact same soundtrack</i> that we used to listen to in elementary school when our class had to go to confession at the church across the street.  I'm sure it would have been creepier had I actually been made to go to confession, but as it was, I was Lutheran so the Catholics didn't make me go sit with the priest.  I just had to sit there for 1.5 hours trying desperately not to concentrate on nothing... I could almost hum that melody in my sleep... if there only were one.  Gaaah.  You know, it's like an arrangement of fake, organ music, but it's kind of just a lot of slow moving chords.  Wow.  I mean... it's <i>kind of</i> nolstalgic, but if someone asked whether I'd want a copy of the CD, I'd probably throw a smoke bomb in their face and go hide in the corner in a fetal position.
How the heck did a copy of that get all the way to Japan!?!  The copyright must have expired and it got put on a "suggested remixes for cleaning time" list, or something.

Yeah so... something weird everyday.

Another day of listening to kids' speeches.  They've actually improved since the last time I've heard them, so even though they're still not going to win, I'm pretty darn impressed that they actually improved!
It was good, and it was extra good that there were dishes for me to dry when I got to the junior high b/c nothing is quite so relaxing as work where you can see the immediate results.  I wish all the people around here would let me do their dishes *pout*.

I managed to be on time for one of the last buses, but one of the 1st grade elementary school teachers drove by in her car, (she lives a few streets behind me) and picked me up to go home.  I always feel somewhat in awe for 1st grade teachers b/c they manage to be so upbeat in spite of looking like the living dead all the time.  I mean, seriously, I don't think I'd make it if I had to be around those kids everyday.  I think the conversation kind of turned towards my job and what I do after school, and it naturally turned to how crap school life is now after the town merger.  I like this teacher because she's not persistent and annoying like Furukawa City sensei, but just kind of that easy-going 1st grade teacher attitude so when I hear her echoing my complaints, (a person who won't even complain about being stuck with 1st graders for the second year in a row!) it's kind of amusing for me.

"Buri-san ha, Enako shou ha itsu ikun desu ka?" (How often do you go to Enako elementary?)
"Mm... shigatsu kara, ikkagetsu ikkai gurai, tabun" (About twice a month since April.)
"Higashi shou ni mo ikun da yo ne."  (You go to Higashi too, huh?)
"Yeah... Higashi sou, Araki shou.. muuuuu, iya ya!!" (Yeah, Higashi elem, Araki elem, man, I'm sick of it!"
"Sou ne, ippai na gakkou ni ikanakucha, taihen da neee"  (Yeah...  it's tough to go to so many schools.)
"Sore zenbu kyouikuiinkai no sei da!" (It's all the Board of Education's fault!)
"Hahaha, Sou neee, kyouikuiinkai no ijiwaru neee"  (Yeah, the BOE sure is a bully isn't it?)

Gradually the conversation turned to why the board of education sucked, and of course that would mean badmouthing the superintendent b/c he's a complete ass.  I was complaining about how dick it was to talk about how "I know you all are tired, and being pushed to your limits, but you need to work HARDER," at the last all city teacher's conference, and she was talking about how it was much more 'raku' before the merger, "kimochi ha ne" (it was less stressful for them).  

I found out that the superintendent has been there for nearly 10 years now.  I was like, CRAP!  He needs to QUIT QUIT QUIT!!
"Haha, sou neeeeee"
Our parting words were,
"Jaa, arigatou ne!  Waza waza okuttekurete" (Well, thank you for going out of your way to take me home!")
"Iiiie" (Not at all!)
"Jaa, shinpai shinaide!  Watashi ha nantoka kyouikuchou wo ansatsusuru houhou ka yamesaseru houhou wo kangaetemiru node ganbarimasu!" (Okay, well, don't worry!  I'll think of some way to assassinate or make the superintendent quit, so.. I'll give it my best!"
"*laughs* Hai, ganbattekudasai!"  (Yes, Please DO!)
Katou-sensei kicks @$$.

I indulged in a CRAPLOAD of anime today (I had the Minnesota State MCDB&G website up just for kicks in the event I was so inclined to bother looking at research or figuring out how to accept admission... bleeeeh, never happened), and caught up on Yakitate, Princess Princess and... oh I can't remember.

It was great b/c the one-hour special for Yakitate! Japan took place in Gero, the tourist trap about an hour south, famous for its hotsprings but boasting little else (which is why everybody hits it as a sidetrip to Takayama when touring the country).  It was kind of weird b/c they even animated the Hida WideView express train true to life!  Creeeeeeepyyyyyyyy.
That was cool.  Even if it wasn't based in Takayama:p.

Then, because I sometimes get a little tired of how Katie (another ALT who lives in Takayama city) squeals over her favorite character from Bleach (because.. I don't really like Bleach and... well.. I don't really care about that character either...<: \), it was almost gratifying to have the same voice actor (who plays one of the "hime"s in Princess Princess) voice act a part where he has to convince a stalking step-sister that his friend doesn't go for girls by talking all sexy and going homo on his friend.   I was like, "HAHA, take THAT Hitsugaiya!"
Heeheehee, I so eviillll.  

I had some tea thinking that Dawn would be calling me to go out after her kitsuke (I actually feel a little sorry for her b/c I never spend time with her... but then again, she is probably just with her young bf now anyway, baaaah) but she didn't and now I'm wired, and it's too bad b/c I can't go out tomorrow too b/c of yakiniku outing with the teachers at school.
OH WELL!

I guess I'll go bed and stare at the ceiling for another hour.  Whoo-hoo!

I love you nice people's bye byeeee!!!



Current Mood: doop dee doop dee dooooo!
Friday, May 12th, 2006
7:10 am
What else is there to do
...when you don't want to be reminded of your job?
GO SHOPPING!
WAaaaaaII!!
Shimamura has new pajama sets, but I couldn't decide between the blah but cute blue Snoopy set, the green froggy one that makes my eyes look bloodshot, and the Lilo and Stitch one.. which is Lilo & Stitch, what else need I say?
I got the usual TimTams at Valor (OH SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE AT LAST I'VE FOUND THEEEEEE!!!! TRA LA-LAAAAAAA......)
and RELAKKUMA SHIRTS, YAAAAAY!!!!

I LOVE RELAKKUMA! Well.. I guess San-X spells it Relaxuma.
Introduction to the Characters

Maybe they already have him in the States? Relakkuma is a bear that loves to relax. Well.. I don't really understand, but... Relakkuma is a bear.. in a bear suit. I guess that's why all the character goods have him/it with a zipper down it's back. One day it shows up at the author's (Kaoru-san's) place. And... it just likes to relax and lay around. It's quite taken with her yellow beads-filled pillow. The yellow bird that Kaoru-san keeps as a pet is always angry at Relakkuma for being a lazy bum. The bird likes to clean things, and experiences great joy in collecting spare change it finds while cleaning. I have stickers (that I refuse to give out anymore:p) that have the garbage-bucket-toting-bird throwing crumpled-up-pieces-of-paper at the drooling-in-his-sleep bear, and other cute phenomena. SQUEE.
For some reason, a white bear similar to Relakkuma showed up. It's a little pain in the butt and mischievious causing Relakkuma consternation. But it's cute when it sleeps:D!

I got a shirt that has Relakkuma doing Zazen saying "Bonyari" or "stupid" while the yellow bird looks on "...", and also a shirt with Relakkuma spread out on the floor saying "Biba! Daradara." and the bird is sitting nearby going, "What are you talking about?!"
(I'm guessing that Relakkuma is saying "Viva! Dara dara!" Dara dara isn't really a word, it's like an onomatopeia for... uh... being lazy and kind of laying around the house. It sounds like darui doesn't it! I like Relakkuma's other favorite word, "Goron." or "Roll over on one's side.")
I also really want the one that has Relakkuma reclining and saying "Aren't you two getting along well?" to the white bear who is smiling while clutching the struggling bird in a choker hold. It's very cute. But it's another 980yen so I'll just wait until I can't take it anymore and have to buy it:D.

And it's the weekend so that I don't have to think about my job until Monday. Doh! What am I doing now!
How do I still keep from blowing my co-workers heads off at school? At least I have this nice mythical Kagamigahara English lesson book to translate into English now. I'd seen it once before when I was in Minokamo, and I wanted to borrow it from the elementary school once, but they were being stingy. Essentially it's the format that all the schools down south follow (and actually, whether the ALTs up north know it or not, it's the same kind of format as what some of their teachers have handed them for demonstration classes).
It's not perfect. The English is far too difficult for elementary school kids (hell, even for junior high kids) Kagamigahara is sister cities with some American or Canadian city, has private ALTs shipped in, and have English courses several times a week as well as a short English program on TV in the morning. It's NUTS (but as a teacher transferred to Minokamo from there once told me, it's HELL b/c the ALTs do nothing, and the teachers have to teach everything (HEY! THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE HOW IT WORKS FOR ME!!!!)), and a lot of the exercises done in Minokamo mimic this book.
It's actually set up really nicely. The lessons build up off of one another, and if you simplify the English some, it reinforces the same basic sentences.
Rather than give them my own lesson plans, I'd rather just give my successor a translation of this book. That way, they can have the home-room teacher look at the Japanese workbook and work with a corresponding English page. Maybe I'll add some ideas for slightly more fun games, but... yeah, that's all I really want to do.
Basically it makes it look like I'm working hard. Which I am doing all the time, really, only usually working hard means having to stare at a lesson plan "suggestion sheet" made up by the teachers and futilely trying to figure out how to make materials and a viable class with it before the week is out. I love my job. Have I mentioned that yet?
Oh, I SO do.

Current Mood: ::prance::prance::
6:22 am
rant rant rant rant RAAAAAAANT!
Okay, I haven't updated in a long time, but I'm gonna set off with a rant anyway>:.
If ONE more person over the age of 30 makes a comment about the "Assassin Game" I play for an introduction to slang greetings, I'm going to tap their wrist three times and wait for something REALLY BAD to happen to them.
The science teacher today decided that it was a good time to tell me that she felt the "Assassin Game" was inappropriate, and violent, and that I should stop using it. She sat in for one of my optional classes to "learn some English." I played the Assassin Game as a warm-up.
The "Assassin Game" is a very simple device, much like that "winking game" that has been around since the Betty Crocker, Leave it to Beaver age. Everyone greets one another with a handshake. An Assassin is chosen who, when s(he) gives a handshake, also taps the other person wrist with their index finger three times. The 'victim' is officially "assassinated," but must have two more conversations before dying a melodramatic death. Everyone else's job is to find out who the Assassin is before they are done in, or time runs out. This is a very popular game. The kids love figuring out whodunnit. Whenever I say, "Well, we have extra time.. you want to just quit early?" The kids say, "NO! Let's play the ASSASSIN GAME!"
It's a great game. Not my idea. Totally stole it from another ALT during some JET seminar.
AT ANY RATE. I've had the 5th grade teacher at Higashi elementary school give me crap because the game involves "killing" people, and the children have such active imaginations that it frightens them. I guess you could infer that based on the shrieks that the girls give when they have to give someone a handshake.. but then you'd have to assume that they felt they're lives were in danger playing a game of tag too.. except they're much louder then.
I mean for chrissakes, when *I* was a kid, WE played a version of the "Assassin Game" and it was COOL! Assassins are friggin' cool! James Bond! Golgo 13! It's not like the kids DON'T know what an assassin is! Hell, Nijo castle didn't have nightingale floors for the aesthetics, the kids learn about this stuff in 4th grade! Ninjas are the RAGE now in anime and comics! EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT THEY DO!!!!
Big growly ARGH.
So, yeah, the game is explained using the word "kill." It's violent.
I so want to beat these teachers who tell me, "Differences in culture are just so hard to understand, I don't blame you for making this kind of mistake." (parenthesis, "you violent, bloodthirsty American.") in that patronizing voice b/c they assume that I'm a gun-toting, let's shoot'em up American. OF COURSE I AM! AUCH, WHY DIDN'T I SEE THIS SOONER?!!? IT EXPLAINS SO MUCH ABOUT MY PSYCHOLOGY!! (So THAT'S why I want to shoot myself and my co-workers everyday! Aahaaa...) Right. They know the kids love Hagane no Renkin Jutsushi (Full Metal Alchemist) and BLEACH but they have no idea what these shows are about. They're even considered CHILDISH by the 12 year old crowd. It's insane. I guess technically they don't use words like "kill" in Hagaren, it's more like "explode from the inside." I guess, I don't know which would give me more gruesome nightmares. Heck, that girl/dog mutant could have survived that "implosion", and all that red stuff up and down the alley was just spray paint... it's just coincidental that character didn't show up for the rest of the series. Damn, they're right, this wrist-tapping KILLING GAME is just too violent.
I'm glad that none of the higher ups give me shit. I don't think they want to b/c I think they realize that if they frustrate me any more or tell me to change my methods, I'll either A. leave, which they remind me daily they're upset that I'm even thinking about or B. become a stuffy prick like those female teachers and the kids won't open up to me as much.
This was after a little embarrassing interlude where the principal came over and told me he appreciated the way I teach b/c it's intuitive and fast. That teacher just had to bring this up right after he finished talking to me. GRRR.


BLARGH!
Right, so it's been a peachy day. Hell, the English teacher I'm usually stuck "team-teaching" with had his class watched today by the Principle, Vice Principle and two people from the Board of Education. I really wish at these times that teachers wouldn't try so hard to pull off a fake class. You know, the kind where they put on silly wigs, and costume pieces, break out a lot of toys they never use, and try to make the class look like it's actually fun sometimes... oh yeah, and "try to make it look like the ALT does some work in the class."
He had me making doubles of the vocabulary flashcards that we use in 'higher level 9th grade English' class because his brilliant idea was to have the 9 person class split into two, he take one side for flashcard flippin' and I take the other. He still made them repeat after him in the beginning for the pronounciation. Well, you know.. it is what I am hired for, but.. aw screw it (THREE MORE MONTHS! THREE MORE MONTHS!) Right so...
We do have two sets of $400 flashcards. Only, he wasn't going to use both in one class b/c it would make it look like the other set was never used by the lower level class (it isn't, but that's not the point).
SO, he comes up to me 15 minutes before lunch is served, "Bree, come here." in that "I need you to make 50 copies of all of these worksheets for class in the next five minutes." voice. (Did I mention my other job is copy witch? Oh. It is. I get blamed when those aren't done in time too.)
"I need you to make doubles of these flashcards so you can take your side for vocabulary practice."
I was like, "Aw, give me a f***in' bre-fine. I'll just type them up and print them out."
He was hanging my shoulder the whole time making sure that they looked EXACTLY like the professional flashcards despite the face that they were still just on A4 sized pieces of paper instead of like.. I don't know.. A3 folded in half.
THEN, b/c he was rushing me, I didn't have time to space the words so in cutting the papers some of the kanji tops were cut off.
"Buri, sore ha DAME desu yo! Kore ga zen zen tsukaenai yo! Yarinaoshite!" (Bree, that's BAD! These are absolutely unusable! Do it over!)
I was like, "Screw you, I'm taping these other ones together for you, it'll have to do, because there's no time!"
He kind of saw reason after that, seeing as he told me an hour before class would start... that hour being lunch hour.. so he printed off the new ones himself, and ever so kindly put the sheets together so I could tape them into 'front-back flashcards' easier.
Sigh.
During class the "guests" came in while he was having the students repeat after him.
It would just be SWEET IRONY if one of the BOE people said to him, "Why don't you have the native speaker do the pronunciation practice?"
At any rate, when we split into two groups, the entire class was muddled because we never split for vocab practice. It's just stupid. But that's besides the point.
I was having a great time though, because I was teaching the kids the REAL pronunciation (like "text" instead of "Tekisto"), and keeping them on their toes, and the kids were having fun. Dear Lord, they were having FUN!
The guests left in the middle of this practice so the moment they left, the English teacher stopped it and had the class come together again to... repeat after him again.
Man, there are days I could shoot myself.

Current Mood: grumpy
Thursday, April 13th, 2006
9:06 am
No.... friggin.... way....
I'm off collecting all these old animated GIF spoofs and stumble across the implausible weirdness of a musical version...

www.lotr.com

still... the production footage looks pretty darn cool!

Current Mood: wha-?!
Friday, March 24th, 2006
5:58 pm
Buuuuuu...

Okay.

Mom's coming in at around 5pm, then I'm trucking her off to Kyoto after some airport/luggage shipment/BREESBRAINFALLINGOUTOFHERHEADANDEXPLODINGSQUIRTINGJUICES!!!! action. That should be interesting. I'm hoping the ryokan still has my reservation or this will get really interesting.
Should be back from Kyoto on Monday night. After that it's anything goes in Takayama until Thursday.
I think I want to take her to Hiroshima Thurs/Fri, and keep it a secret from the folks at school so I can still beg pretty pretty please to let me tag along for at least a few days of the 3rd grade field trip.
Some cool news is that my pretty darn cool Principal (well.. except when he's sulking over how the Americans haven't apologized for their crappy ref during the Japan-U.S. face-off during the World Classic), although it's very sad he's leaving because he's so artsy and laid back, is getting transferred to the Board of Education where maaaaaaybe (cross fingers, haven't heard all the details yet) he could replace Satan! If Satan comes to my school instead, I will probably shoot myself, but I guess in the long run, it's okay, because even if Satan was there to keep me from taking vacation or leaving school early, I wouldn't have any more opportunities to take vacation anyway.
Although I just went and drank lots of expensive sake and beer at a goodbye party for the teachers who are leaving last night, there's another one on Wednesday night, and I also have to be at school that day for the 'official' farewell-ceremony. That means a whole friggin' day of leaving my mom to her own devices, and allowing full access to my apartment and all manner of secrets that lie beneath its tatami mats. I don't really want to know those secrets either, much less have them crawling all over my kitchen table when I get back, but maybe she'll be good and not lift the tatami mats.... sigh.
I fortunately managed to squirm out of being at school on Monday so I can ship her off to the airport. It's the day the new teachers are coming in, and there's another spendy drinking party that night where I will go as a stipulation for missing school that day. It's funny because we all meet the teachers about THREE times before they take office (no, really, in Japan that makes sense!), so it really shouldn't matter that I, as a part-timer, have to be there for each and every FRIGGILY TIME!!
BUT, I'll just drink with 'absolute strangers' and meet them with the rest of the school on the 7th of April. I really really hope there isn't another party that night. I never would have thought spring vacation would be running so much money, and I'm not even leaving the country^_^;;.

Current Mood: I'm tired already!?!!?
Saturday, March 18th, 2006
7:20 am
Just another day
I spent most of today glued to the computer screen reading everything and anything about University of Kansas, University of Michigan, and University of Minnesota... well, everything except for the actual programs at all of them. That would require far too much brain juice, and frankly, who likes dehydrated brain? First I started out with a thorough picking through of www.studentreviews.com, then onto the housing departments at each school, safest and most dangerous cities in the U.S. (right after "best places to live," and "best dating cities" :p), and then fishing/skiing/snowboarding information (right, so that ruled out kansas).
I had been reading so much about all these places in English that as I tugged on my sneakers to go out and buy milk, I felt like I was coming out of an apartment in America, and it all felt so REAL. I really felt like everything was normal again. Until I took two steps out of my apartment building towards the corner grocer and felt approximately 5 drivers' eyes boring into the back of my skull. Then the feelings of "I'm just a piddley little foreigner who knows nothing, and whose HORRIBLE country purposely picked out a nasty little minor league umpire to make a bad call in the U.S.-Japan World Classic Baseball game last Saturday." Ah, Japan. I love and yet hate how things seem so fake and fairy-tale like for someone who doesn't have a real job, or a real life like me.

So... yeah... so, now that Japan edged out the U.S. to go onto the semi-finals, I will continue to get the cold shoulder from most of the teachers at work. It's funny because I hadn't even heard about the World Classic until Monday when the school nurse was bitching about America. I was like, "What now??" I thought we had long gotten past the whole "bombed the hell out of Japan" thing at the enkai that last Friday. She or the Principal (who is also very vocal about how horrible America is) wouldn't tell me. I was like... riiiiight. Eventually I learned that there was a thing going on called World Classic from the teachers watching the games on TV during noon break. I also learned why they were pissed at ALL Americans because of a questionable call during the first U.S.-Japan game (and you KNOW all Americans are evil because even though the one umpire called it "safe" the minor league dude called it "out". The dick cancels out all good people in my horrible home nation. ), and it cost the Japanese the game. I guess. I don't really care. I like to watch baseball. I don't really give a poop who wins. That's just what you do when you're a Twins fan:p.
I have a great deal more respect for the principal at Enako elementary school, however. There are always at least 5 teachers at each school who are deeply and emotionally invested in the World Classic. The Japanese were playing Korea last Thursday, and I wasn't getting trucked home until the game was over. It was the bottom of the 9th inning, and the teachers were gnawing their knuckles over Korea's one point lead. They started asking me who I was rooting for, and I was like, "the Japanese, I guess." "Oh, so you want Japan to win?" and I'm like, "I really don't care who wins." The Enako principal, (who meanwhile, was clutching the stovepipe and doing little spins of anguish everytime the Japanese hitter swung a strike. His face was almost as painful to watch as Ichiro's) was like, "That's right! It doesn't really matter. I agree with you." giving me a nice little wise nod. I was like, "Respect."
The Japanese lost that game, and I almost felt bad, but then the teachers started badmouthing the whole country again the next day at junior high, loudly and irritatingly when the U.S. lost their match with Mexico and Japan went on to the semi-finals. I honestly wouldn't give a damn about the game, even if the U.S. had moved on, but with neither the principle and school nurse returning my morning greetings, and bow/greeting at the end of the day, I hope the Koreans kick the Japanese' butts so hard they have to take off their shirts to sh**.

*ahem*
That said, this week has been very lax and easy. No more elementary school days until next month.
The graduate school thing is still difficult. I just got accepted to University of Kansas, and right after that, a Japanese professor from there wrote me a nice email:
".....I have heard that you had a phone interview
with our graduate student committee and I thought that I may contact
you since I am a newly hired Japanese in here. I thought I may be
able to help you to keep your japanese communication skill if you
decide to join our school.
My research aria is related to Cancer biology, more basically
regulation of cell division cycle. You may find the information about
my research in Department's homepage, so I will not explain detail in
here. Since you are interested in MCDB, I think my research aria will
meet to your interest.
Also, if you interested in conversation in Japanese, I can certainly
help you for this issue too. (I like to talk to person. A little bit
different from ordinary Japanese, I think.)"
He then gave me his cell phone number. I was like... "Awwwwww {:3."

Here's what each university has got going for them:

University of Kansas: Japanese professor who wants to keep my Japanese up. Graduate teaching assistantship worth $21,000 recommendation for a $4,000 signing bonus recurring for three years. Has the cheapest standard of living.

University of Michigan: Top-notch research program with $24,000 stipend (only have to teach for 2 semesters), and possibility to get an additional $5,000 per year if I win a fellowship award within my first year. (I really doubt I could do it, but it's always a possibility).

University of Minnesota: Friends, and family live there, I know where some of the things are that I find interesting and fun, and said friends and family could help me find a decent place to live so that I not shacking out in a closet like I was the first time I came back from Japan. Also, the stipend is a little better at least $23,000 per year.

What I don't like about each place:
University of Kansas: Teaching assistantship? Are there no stipends for research?? Teaching all the time would suck. Also faculty are relatively young. Kansas summers are out of my comfort zone.

University of Michigan: Most of the faculty only work with model organisms, which is good because they're easy to understand, but I'm little weirded out about because what hasn't been published about all the major model organims (model organisms: budding yeast, C. elegans worms, fruit flies, mice)? Ann Arbor is also the most expensive out of all the places to live. I've seen cheap places to live on-line, and the current international grad students assure me that I wouldn't have any problem getting by, but I also hear there are a lot of spoiled rich kids there, and its bad enough just being around the materialistic Japanese and ALTs here! I wonder whether I really want to work as hard as I have a feeling that this program demands. Also, reading undergraduates whine about how all their classes are taught by TA's, it makes me wonder just how much work would I have to put in for teaching?!!? I'm also a little worried about starting out fresh again. This getting settled in a new place every year thing is getting old fast.

University of Minnesota: The faculty are old, and a lot of the research is kind of boring to me. My friends and family live there, but I also feel like I want to have something new, and not go back to the same "I feel like I'm being sucked in, and will never be able to leave this wormhole" that I had before I went to Japan. They also require that you attend a 2 week 'bonding session' slash research hub in Itasca state park in August cutting away any time I wanted to take to get over reverse-culture shock. Jerks.

I don't know what to dooooooooo. We'll see, we'll see, we'll see. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to return anybody's email because that would involve thinking about it, and I definitely don't want to have to make a decision by the end of next week.
Also don't want to eat anymore of this Christmas chocolate *BLECH!!!* Man, I gotta find something healthy to eat one of these days. Yuck yuck yuck.

Current Mood: a little antsy
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