Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My First IV

It's not serious, Mom. Just the usual vertigo, but this time the Board of Education found out about it, and they decided I should go to the hospital. The doctor prescribed an antivertigo medicine and an antienemic (nausea inhibiting) medicine, and then sent me down the hall for a drip of an antienemic and some fluids.

It got boring really fast.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tonight, we dine well.

Christmas party in Hakuta, Yasugi City.

That's turkey! (And deviled eggs.)

Monday, November 06, 2006


About a month ago I dreamt that I was walking down a tree-covered path and reading a poem. It was written on a bit of brown paper, and as I made my way to a cabin to meet my friends, I thought about what had inspired the man who wrote it.
When I woke, I found that I could recall the poem perfectly, and I quickly found a pen.

Whistling in the night.
The night was whistling, too.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My First Endoscopy

Everything is perfect. Cheese! (*^_^*)

Thursday, September 28, 2006


A small group of first-year girls at Nita JHS gave me this drawing just now. They made one for most of the teachers, if not all of them.

The poor dears think I'm from Canada, it would seem. I didn't have the heart to correct them.

My likeness is saying, "Hello Ms. Emily," with Emily in Japanese.

I'm just so tickled! They even drew in my braid.

Friday, September 15, 2006


It seems that the roof of my new apartment building has a fair bit of coverage beyond my balcony railing.
This is bad news for my potted plants, but good news for my laundry.

Friday, September 08, 2006

This Is an Update...

This is only an update.

I've just moved apartments. Glutton for punishment I am, but it feels good to finally be in a nice place. Unfortunately, I only got this place cos Orasa had to leave.

My internet will be back up by the end of this month. In the meantime, I can pick up scraps at the Board of Education and school.

P.S. How're the new colors working for all y'all?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Janelle, me, Orasa

at Saty last night, before the fireworks.
Mata, ne.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I was "tagged" over three months ago by Himene, and it's high time I stepped up.

Eight weird/interesting things about myself:

1. I'm really obsessive compulsive about anything that grows on the surface of my body, namely my hair, my skin, and my nails. Especially my nails. The hair on my head is fine, but once in a while I get a hair in my chin, and I can't stop picking at it. Once it's out, I feel much more relaxed. My skin, when I get a sunburn, I love it when it peels; the bigger the sheet of skin I can peel off at once, the better. I also pick at my lips all the time. My nails, I'm always trimming them and trimming the skin around them. Or picking at the skin around them till I grow hangnails. I can't stand any growth on my toenails, and I will pick at them compulsively until I can trim them. I have a higher tolerance for fingernail length, but nothing that allows me to have a manicure. I'll pick at my hangnails and try to tear them out with my teeth, and sometimes they bleed.

That... should count for three things right there. That was a lot. Yeah, sorry to anyone who was eating while they read that.

4. If I step on a sidewalk crack with my right foot, I have to step on another one with my left foot. Have to even things out, you know? Not just sidewalk cracks, but anything I can feel through my shoes.

5. My eyes, my irises, they're like a circle within another circle. It's like I have an outer iris and an inner iris; the inner one is darker, and this has caused people to think my eyes were far more dilated than they really were.

Mmm... I'm running out of stuff....
6. I was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. And I never got a scholarship out of it. :(

7. I'm right-handed, and my right-hand ring finger is longer than my right-hand index finger. This is normal. But... my left-hand ring finger is also slightly longer than my left-hand index finger, and this is unusual. Or supposed to be.

8. I love brussel sprouts.

As for choosing new meme victims... the violence has to stop somewhere.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Turning Over

This is a difficult time of year, because the new JETs are coming in soon, which means the old ones have to leave. You know what I've discovered about myself? I don't much like people when I first meet them. At best they're just all right, but usually I find them somewhat annoying. Very rarely do I like someone immediately. It's worse when I feel I'm forced to interact and be friendly with new people, and especially in the case of first-year JETs, who are like college freshmen. While their enthusiasm is refreshing, it's also draining. So I'm forced by circumstance (the need to communicate in my native language with people who don't find American women intrinsically strange... and sometimes with American men, too) into these friendships with people I might not otherwise have been friends with, for better or for worse. And then when I really get to like someone... they leave.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Believe in Olive Fingers

When these commercials came out at the end of the last decade, I tried to find them online, but couldn't. This site seems to be a new creation.

The Orphanage nearly moved me to tears when I first saw it.

Yokatta! I'm so glad I found them!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hide and Seek

I just found out from New Cheeky Supervisor (have I given him a nickname yet? He's my new supervisor, effective this last April, and he's cheekier than Cheeky Supervisor, but doesn't steal my candy)... anyway, he just told me that Okuizumo has found an ALT for the new elementary position. I don't know how I feel about that. I was a little relieved when Trevor wasn't able to take the position, cos I know he wants to recontract again next year, and that would mean I wouldn't be able to switch to an elementary position in Okuizumo (if I wanted to) when I finish my third year here. (But that's the only reason I was relieved, Trev, I swear!) Also, my current schedule has me visiting elementary schools around town every Monday—pending invitation from those schools, of course, which is why I have nothing to do today—and while they're exhausting, I really like seeing the kids.

So for at least one year I won't be visiting the elementary schools. And if New Girl (I'm sorry, New Girl, if the temporary nickname sounds cold and informal; I just didn't know if you'd want me posting your real name on my blog just yet)... if New Girl wants to recontract, then I'd have to find an open elementary position in another town, if I decide to stay a fourth year.

New Girl is from Auckland, and I've seen her photo, so I know I won't be the only white chick in town anymore. Don't know how I feel about that, either, but it's probably a good thing.
She'll be a first-year. This is unusual, because elementary-only positions, as a rule, are open only to ALTs who have already completed two or three years in junior or senior high school positions. Maybe she already speaks Japanese? I wasn't able to get a thorough look at her information, though I caught a glance at her e-mail addresses. Pointing to one of them, I asked NCS if it was okay for me to contact her. No! No, no, not yet. Not yet. Why on earth not? I don't know, but maybe later this week I'll be able to. Weird.

But he didn't say anything about posting almost everything I know on my blog. :)
So New Girl, find me! Google "Okuizumo" and follow the seventh link!
'Course the sixth link is interesting, too. Ooo...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The hills are alive...

Some weeks ago Toothpaste Maniac showed me a flier for a concert her friend would be singing in. It was a choir concert, and they'd be performing some Renaissance pieces. At one time in the past, this choir was selected to receive an hour of instruction from a particular famous choir director. I was mildly amused. "Ooo, a whole hour!"

A couple of days later it clicked, and I e-mailed TM to ask when and where the concert would be held. Unfortunately, I'd already made a commitment for that day and time in another town, so I wouldn't have been able to attend. I was hoping to hear them, hear how they sound, find out what kind of music they tend to perform (is Renaissance indicative of the norm, or is it an exception?).

Last week, after finding out she wouldn't be attending the concert either, I asked TM if she'd be able to do me a favor. "Could you ask your friend if that choir is looking for new members?"
She shook her head as though she didn't have the answer. "I don't know."
"I know. You'll have to ask your friend. That's why it's a favor. Onegaishimasu (please)," I bowed.
She said she would, so I added, "I sing soprano... but most choirs don't need more sopranos." And then I felt awkward, so I thanked her again and ran off. Which wasn't so strange a reaction as it might otherwise have been, since I was running around the track field after school, and she was keeping time for some students in the track & field club.

An hour later I asked her if she knew what kind of music the choir usually performs. She said she didn't know, then paused. "Most of the choir members are music teachers, or they've sung in choirs for a long time, and they're very good."
"Mmm.... I don't read music so well."
"They can."
Well, this was good news and bad news. Good, cos this sounds like the kind of choir I want to join. Bad, cos this sounds like the kind of choir that might not want me to join. But in case TM thought I'd lost interest, I took a chance and bragged a bit.
"The city of Syracuse has an orchestra, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. They have a choir that sings with them at concerts, and I sang in that choir for a year."

Soooo... yeah. I hope it works out.

A Valuable Lesson

If you tried recently to reach my blog and were greeted with a 404: Page not found, or by a list of Japanese websites and little else, that's because I accidentally deleted my blog on Monday afternoon.

Oh, the humiliation! But more than that, I'd lost two and a half years of public journal in under 2.5 seconds. In a panic, I wrote to Blogger support. It took a few days, but they were able to restore everything, and even return to me my original URL, which had been snagged by a spammer in the interim.

So now the next time I need to change some blog settings from my computer at the Board of Education, I'll remember this:

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Today I visited Ai Kindergarten. Last year there were only 12 students. I visited the school several times, and it took a while for the kids to warm up to me. This year there are maybe 20, and they're all "supah genki" and warmed up to me during my first visit two weeks ago. They're great, I love them. They ask me crazy questions like if I'm going back to America tonight, and how to say 'butt' and 'poo' in English (I said "bottom" for the first, and one of the teachers interrupted before I could answer the second). They're also nuts. It's really theraputic to be able to speak English fluently. As long as I keep my tone cheerful, I can say whatever I want, and the kids are none the wiser:
"I'm pretending I don't know that you're asking me to push you on the swings, cos I've already been pushing you for the last five minutes. I'm going to go over here, okay?"
"And your face is buried in my butt. How 'bout we stop doing that.
"I'm a jungle gym!"
"You guys are insane."

But I can't get by without a little Japanese:
"Itai!" ("Ouch!" This one's really useful.)
"Dame!" ("No good!" A common reproof, like, "Don't do that.")
"Yada, yo!" ("I don't want to!" I get this from the kids all the time.)
"[Japanese word]? Wakaranai. Gomen, ne." ("I don't understand [Japanese word]. Sorry 'bout that.")

Today I had a short break in the morning, and I took the opportunity to call Mom while it was still Sunday in New York. The kids were all outside, so I snuck into the large play room to talk to her. It wasn't long before five-year old Minami found me. She was like, You're speaking English? I said, "It's my mom." Oh, cool. Are you a big sister? she asked me. Yes, I'm a big sister. After a little while, she was like, Why are you speaking English? Why aren't you speaking Japanese? I said, "My mother doesn't understand Japanese." She made the cutest little scowl and stamped her foot. Mom was absolutely tickled. "'Why doesn't your mother speak Japanese?' I love kindergarteners; they're so concrete at that age." A few minutes later, two of Minami's friends joined her, and she filled them in. "Emily-sensei's talking to her mom. Emily is a big sister." So they were all intrigued, and I passed the phone to one of them. "Say 'Konnichiwa,'" I said. With a bit of prompting, she did. Then we passed the phone around between the three of them, and they all had a turn saying "Konnichiwa," and hearing Mom say "Konnichiwa" back to them. Then all the kids came running into the big play room, and Sayuri, one of the teachers, escorted me to the balcony where I could talk in peace.

After lunch, I told Sayuri that the three girls had talked to my mom. "Which girls?" When I pointed them out, she told me to write about it in their report books to their parents. The teachers exchange notes with the parents through a notebook each student has. Whenever I visit, I write a short note in English (Sayuri proofs it to make sure it's simple enough) to explain what I did that day. So today it was, "Today [student] learned animal names. We played an animal game." And for the three girls, I added, "[Minami] talked to my mother in New York on the phone. [Minami] said, 「こんにちは!」 My mother enjoyed it very much. ^_^ "

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I've gone an entire month without writing anything!
Well, that's not entirely true. A couple of weeks ago, I started another post, but got bored and moved on to something else—this makes three unfinished posts I need to publish. I'll see what I can do today while I'm at the Board of Education. No school visits scheduled for the day, so if I don't get distracted by something else on the internet, I just might post something of substance up here.

But in the meantime, I am well.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Trouble with Blogging

The trouble with blogging, at least for me, is that I'm usually far from my computer when something happens or I remember something that seems blogworthy. And then a few hours (or days) later, when I find myself both within proximity of an available internet-connected computer and with enough time to write something, either I can't remember what I was going to write, or I decide (often rightfully so) that it really wasn't interesting enough to publish.

But now I have both motive and opportunity, so let's go.

I rented a car for the first time when I went home for spring break. That was fun. A toast to being older than 24! The car was expensive, not extortionate. Also, a toast to unlimited mileage: I drove that car from Poughkeepsie to Syracuse, to Niagara Falls, to Syracuse, to Delaware, to Syracuse, and back to Poughkeepsie. I was really nervous at first about driving on the right again, since the vast majority of my driving experience has been in Japan, but it wasn't as hard to become reacclimated to driving on the right as it was getting used to driving on the left in the first place. And not hard at all when I returned to Japan and had to drive on the left again, except for the couple of times I threw the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal.

I had three Sundays to split between two churches, and in retrospect I should've spent more time at the church where I knew more people. The only reason why I go to Poughkeepsie at all is to see Mom and Kreg and the cats, but I can't really see any of them while I'm at church. Mom and Kreg are busy working, running around; I can't have them to myself. And the cats, well, they just don't feel they're being fed at that church. ("We need milk and solid food," Bapes told me while I was there, "and those communion wafers aren't cutting it.") There are plenty of familiar faces at Faith, but for the most part, that's all they are: familiar faces. In contrast, I only spent one Sunday at Rez, and that wasn't enough time to catch up with anyone, really. It didn't help that I forgot to set my clock ahead and missed Sunday School. D'oh.

I met up with some of my students in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I knew that they'd be traveling to Canada during spring break, and I found out from James "The Canadian Guy in My Town" that they'd be eating lunch at the Planet Hollywood at 1:30pm the day after they arrived, so I drove out there with Uncle Jonathan (who was bored as a Thruway tollbooth attendant in Pembroke), and surprised them. Well, James knew I was coming, but the students didn't. That was cool. They all ordered nearly identical burgers, and then had to figure out how to fit them into their mouths; they've probably never seen a burger larger than a BigMac.
And since Toothpaste Maniac had written to me, expressing her jealousy of the book she'd lent me who was enjoying herself in America while TM had to work, I brought the book with me and took a photo (well, several, to get the shot right) in front of Horseshoe Falls.

Work's over at the BoE, and it's time to clean up. Since the Blogger interface on this computer is all in Japanese, I'm gonna hit one of the buttons below this field, and it's either going to save this post or publish it. Which one will it be?

Saturday, March 25, 2006


When I flew over Japan, grey fields filled in the valleys of the green mountains, and I could be sure that there were many, many people below me.

When I flew over the Yukon, the winding rivers and oxbow lakes ran through the white mountains, the snow, in the pale purple-orange sunrise, everything was snow, and I wondered if there were a soul out there.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Today I arm-wrestled my JTE. In class. We taught comparative sentences. "Who is stronger, Ms. Chipmunk or Emily?"
And we went at it. For real. A classroom full of 14-year olds watching, our personal pride was at stake. We were well matched; it took almost a minute of precious class time before the victor emerged, but boy did those kids learn a valuable lesson:
"Ms. Chipmunk is stronger than Emily."
"Ms. Chipmunk is stronger than Emily," they repeated.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Contemplate the infinite while doing a No. 2

And from today's Daily Yomiuri:
"In your toilet we'd like you to feel the vastness of the universe and realize that men and the Earth exist as part of the universe."

I actually own one of these. I got it five months ago from the little science museum on Mt. Sanbe. If I were sure I could get some more, I might start taking orders, but I still have unfulfilled Hello Kitty TP orders to mail yet. (>_<)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Breaker switch

For the last few weeks, the souji (cleaning time) music at Yokota JHS has been a CD of string quartet arrangements of Beatles songs. I got really tired of this music really fast. I mean, the Beatles are fine, and string quartets are fine, but this combination is like the worst of both worlds. I can't rock to it, and I can't relax to it either cos the lyrics keep playing in my head (and, when I don't know the lyrics, I find it distracting to know that there should be lyrics and to wonder what they are). It's too "pop-y" and in general doesn't feel right.

So after souji a couple of days ago, I said to Toothpaste Maniac, "If I make a CD of English music, do you think they'll play it during souji in—" Here I cut myself off from saying "instead of that terrible music they're playing now." I knew she liked the Beatles and that she'd find this bastardization as distasteful as I, but the breaker threw in my tongue, and I stopped short of making any comment about the current souji music.
TM said the music was chosen in advance and played for several weeks at a time. "There is music for souji, music for going home, music for the beginning of homeroom," she said referring to the various songs they play throughout the day. (Beginning of homeroom is Elton John's "Your Song;" don't ask me why.) "But they will change it again in April."
I repressed another urge to comment on the muzak, and instead asked, "Who chose this music?"
"I did!" she sang.
"Oh!" I said, trying hard to make my look of surprise melt into a look of mild pleasure.

I'm glad to know I haven't lost all sense of propriety.

I have a couple of old posts-in-process that I haven't gotten around to putting up. I'll get those out of the way, and then I have something to get off my chest.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I heart Guthrie, OK

Was doing a bit of research tonight on Guthrie, Oklahoma on when I came across this gem:
Guthrie, is also known as the bed and breakfast capitol of the U.S.A. and I believe it !! There are many to choose from , old victorian homes renovated, just like the one I am in now writing this to you.
I don't know enough about Guthrie, Oklahoma to feel justified in editing this myself, but I'd sure appreciate it if someone else would.

Friday, February 03, 2006


My beautiful *sniff* electronic dictionary!

Kawaisou.... *bawl*

Friday, January 27, 2006

A sprinkling of news.

I'm really coming to like the new "web clips" that Gmail's been using lately instead of the traditional Google ads. I almost never clicked on the ads, but more and more I find myself intrigued by the web clips' headlines. Like today, I found this:
Mexico scraps plan to give maps to migrants

Like, wow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gary the Bird: in memoriam

Gary the Bird died on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 from unknown causes. He is survived by Susan the Bird.

Gary was always the noisy one. When I came home and turned on the lights that day, I was a little surprised I hadn't heard from him; usually the sound of the front door sets him off. I set down my bags and turned toward the cage, where I saw them sitting together at the back of the cage. Except Gary wasn't sitting, he was lying down with his eyes half open, and Susan was huddled up behind him, just like she stayed close to him a year ago when he hurt his wing and I thought he was going to die then.

TM suggested I take him to the top of one of the mountains in town and bury him there. I thought it was a little silly then, but now I wish I had.

It's taken her a while, but Susan's gotten a little chirpy again. She liked the Vaughan Williams I played last night. I tried to find her a mirror, but the pet sections of the home supply stores I've been to don't have any. One of them sold a strange plastic parakeet bobble head—just the head—but that was just too depressing for words. I mean, it was purple; even if Susan wouldn't have known the difference, I would have. And probably even Susan wouldn't have been fooled. So I just play music sometimes. We both like that.