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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Japan Journal Five: I Crave Movies Instead of Drugs, and Other Observations

Japan Journals, Part Five! Woot woot. The other parts are all here on my blog, too! Check them put if you're interested.
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 I was explaining to Japanese kids how American high schoolers have to change classrooms for every class, and they found it hilariously baffling. "We have three minuets to go to our locker, get our books, and go to the next classroom." "THREE MINUETS? That's the same time as cup ramen!"
It was hilarious.
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My life is like a game of "How Many People Will Compare me to Ellie from Massan," but it's a fun game, so I'm into it.
The current number is five. The fun part of the same is where they comment that I'm like Ellie, we look alike (no we don't, but whatever), and our names are similar. The less fun part is when they all try to find me a "Massan" by setting me up with random people. Although hey, whatever works,  I guess XD
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This goth Mom is my hero. I freaking love her.
That is all.
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Hey, do you want to go get some soup, and maybe have a baby?” should be everyone's go-to pick-up line, for the rest of time.
Can we just talk about this version of the song, which has the whitey-McWhiterssons singing it, along with a small child in a sombrero? Because, I think that we should.
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Today, I passed some people in the station, and they legitimately stopped what they were doing, turned around, and stared at me. And kept staring. Even when I was, like, 50 feet away. So much for subtlety, guys. They seemed cool, though. I would have talked to them, but I was with my host sister, who frowns upon speaking to strangers. C'mon.
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 I went to English club today, because I was feeling like I wanted to do something different (than Shodou). The students were supposed to discuss a favorite memory (they had been given this assignment last meeting, and had written it down). Apparently, one kid totally forgot that they were supposed to do this, so he went, "My memory is very recent," and then proceeded to tell us the story of how he and his grandfather got into a car accident yesterday and totaled their car (!!!). We were flabbergasted. Then, this exchange occurred:
Courtney (ALT): How old is your Grandfather?
Dude: "88."
Courtney: "Oh my gosh. And he drives?!"
Me: "Is he a good driver?"
Dude: "....Ehhh..."
So, I guess that explains the accident XD Oh, my.
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(A translation of an interaction on today's episode of Massan)
Ellie (speaking Japanese): Good morning!
Woman (running away): I don't speak English!
Ellie: Wait, wait! TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE RICE!
Literally me. Every day. I was wrong, Ellie is my spirit animal.
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Another good conversation, from the same episode:
Ellie was asked which she prefers, Scotland (her home country), or Japan (I get this question a lot).
Ellie: Well, I like Scotland, but I love Japan....I love the beautiful kimono, the delicious food, the way people from Osaka talk [Insert Osaka-ben phrases that I don't understand]...."
YES, ELLIE. YES. WE ARE THE SAME PERSON, IT'S DECIDED.
It's not that I don't like America, it's just that I love absolutely everything about Japan; every single small detail, the accents, the food, the toys, the colours of the seats on the bus, the way the station lights up at night...Everything is special, everything is sacred. And Ellie gets it, although no one else seems to understand.
I honestly relate to this character on a spiritual level (I mean, maybe not the part where she's a Scottish immigrant in the 1920's, married to a Japanese whisky brewer, but you can't always win). Everything she says applies to my situation so well. Oh my word. I'm so lucky that this is airing while I'm in Japan <3
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 So, a lot of people get random food cravings, but I get sudden and bizarre cravings for other things--rarely for food. Crafting, making something, watching a certain movie, listening to a certain song--something like that. Like, for example, earlier this month, I felt this bizarre desire to watch the live action, 2002 Scooby Doo movie. You could say that this was a horrible movie, but that would be insulting Queen SMG, so we won't say that. And, for some unknown reason that involves nostalgia, I actually genuinely love this movie. Ever since it came out, I think I have watched it every year around Halloween time, some years more than once (I can distinctly remember, when I was about nine, watching the movie with my brother in the kitchen. My Dad walked in, saw what we were watching, and groaned, "Oh G-d, not this again." I couldn't find it online, so that craving went unsatisfied. My current two:
"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses: I freaking love this song. This is my Christmas JAM, yo. Unfortunatley, I refuse to let myself listen to any Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, so as to not ruin the sacridity of it or something, so this craving is going unsatisfied.
Sky High: You may or may not remember that, due to my questionable taste in music late at night, "Just What I Needed" has been blaring through my headphones a little bit more that I'd like to admit. That song was in this movie, and since then, I've been thinking of this film. Which, like, I have this weird desire to watch, but I don't actually want to have to sit through it? Not that it's a bad movie, it's pretty adorable. And it has a BANGING soundtrack (that apparently includes someone called Flashlight Brown as an artist. What is this madness). And I went to see it in the theatre way back in 2005, so nostalgia factor (yes, I get nostalgic for 2005, sit down, haters). Whatever, weird craving.  
At least I'm not craving, like, crack or something, but c'mon.
(I can't find a picture of Winston from New Girl talking about crack, so here's this beautiful mashup that I unlawfully lifted from someone's Tumblr):
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English teacher: Erin, can you tell us some names from the Bible?
Oh, honey, I went to religious school. I can tell you ALL of the names from the Bible.
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Japanese kids are the masters of stealth sleeping in class. Like, they can sleep sitting up, looking as if they are looking down at their paper, and holding a pen/pencil. I can't even sleep when I'm lying in bed, for Pete's sakes (insomniaaaaa). These kids are dedicated.
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Every Japanese person be like, "This could be you and [insert random Japanese person's name here], but you playin' "

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Being an exchange student in kind of like going to language boot camp. Except, instead of only getting pain (and physical fitness or something else that I dislike), you get the most amazing time ever, and huge strides in your language skills. So, it's basically the most amazing thing ever. If you are contemplating it at all, go. You will not regret it.
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I just began noticing how much Japanese I am learning here, and it makes me so happy. Today, I noticed myself thinking in Japanese a few times, which was awesome. And I can completely understand spoken conversations (or, I can at least get the gist of what's going on, which is enough to participate, so YAY), and can understand a good amount of what teachers are saying when they are giving instructions. And I can understand TV!! AHH! All things with which I have been having trouble, all things I had no idea how to do before I came, all achieved in Japan, through natural conversation and immersion. LOVE. And I still have more time--I cannot WAIT to see what happens then. I am so happy.
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I wrote "Full House?" in one of my notebooks, as something about which I wanted to journal. What? I can't even remember. I need to get a better cue/memory system or something. FULL HOUSE. WHAT EVEN.
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I made friends with some boys at school today, which was cool, because they usually don't talk to me. And I participated in group conversations, which is hard for me sometimes, because it's all at a fast pace. Improvement! Yay.
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   I just skyped with my homeboy and made plans to go to Tokyo! So excited. It was the kind of conversation that leaves me feeling crazy happy afterwards, and included gems such as this:
M: It was the biggest typhoon of the century, I heard.
Me: Yeah, I heard that, as well.
M: You brought that, didn't you?
Me: Yup.
I have magical foreigner powers.

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"But people still like you. All the oldsters, everybody at the factory...."
"Right, yeah. But they like me as they remember me, not as I am now."
--- An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
Yes, John Green, yes. I relate to this on a spiritual level.
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Before kids in my class answer a teacher's question, they will completely unsubtly ask the kid next to them what the answer is. I have no idea why this surprised me, but it was really unexpected. We would have been scolded BIG TIME for doing this in America, so that's interesting.
Rock on with your bad selves, Japanese kids.
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One of the girls in my class brought some tums-esque medicine to school, and it smelled very strongly of wint-o-green mint flavor. All of the other kids were complaining that it smelled, when one girl who has been gone returned to the room. Everyone shoved it in her face and tried to make her smell it, and I can't even.
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