Monday - 28 Apr 2003
Ojii-chan is sick!
The night before I left for Shizuoka, Ojii-chan went to bed early with a cold. When I stepped in the door on Sunday night, I was told that he was in the hostpital. Oh no!
It turns out that an hour after I left Saturday morning, host-dad had found him lying on the floor of his tatami room. Being a hard-ass, Ojii-chan answered "yup" when asked if he was okay. He couldn.t move or talk (he could only say "yup" because the word for that is "un"...doesn.t take that much movement). Poor Ojii-chan!
They called him an ambulance and host-dad went with him while host-mom sent host-brother to soccer and host-sister to Obaa-chan.s (gramma.s). Host-mother then went about cleaning up the house. She said she was glad I wasn.t there. It turns out that Ojii-chan has a kidney infection, so he is still in the hospital. Poor guy. Host-mom says he didn.t say how much he hurt because he didn.t want to get scolded for something. Obaa-chan didn.t go to visit him because they don.t get along and he would get worse if she yelled at him. He.s gonna recover, though. Poor little grampa.
Day 105 (Monday)
I really didn.t want to go to school today because I didn.t do my homework. It wasn.t much because classes are almost over. We.re pretty much killing time. I had to write my script draft for an oral presentation. I got so caught up talking with my host-mother about Ojii-chan that I didn.t do it. I figured maybe she needed to talk and, since I didn.t really want to do it anyway, I just didn.t. I was so tired Monday morning. I.ve got to stop staying up so late. I rushed to school and did my homework really quickly. The teacher said it was good, so...go me.
Shorinji Kempo beat me up today. We were learning "ukemi" (flying rolls). The basically hurl yourself at the ground, flip over, and land standing up with your arms and legs in ready position. I had just figured it out after some mat practice when my sempai (older students) told me, "Ok. Now do it on the floor." Ouch. The mat was more fun, but the floor gave me a sense of accomplishment. I limped all the way to the subway. Swollen should and butt, blistered feet from new sandals. One more wear and they.ll be worn in. I also have had this foot-thing going on since last Monday.s practice. I usually have a little foot pain when I.m dancing, but now something is clicking in my left foot. Uncomfortable. I guess that.s what I get for kicking padding across a room.
Me and my friends are going shopping tomorrow because we have vacation. I.m looking forward to having summer clothing to wear. I.m too hot.
Day 106 (Tuesday)
Japan is right in the middle of Golden Week. There are a whole bunch of holidays in one week, so it.s called Golden Week and everybody vacations and goes out to eat. When Golden Week is over I.m going to the doctor for my foot. Today I played tennis with the host-family and the Sato.s. Then I post-poned plans to go shopping with my friends so that I could baby-sit the host-siblings while host-mother went to visit Ojii-Chan.
I met everyone in Sakae and off we went. It.s hard balancing American taste with Japanese taste. This is why we all go together. If someone falls prey to Japanese style (which is situated at the peak of the 80s), then the others will drag them kicking and screaming from the store. I had to be dragged out quite a few times. I just had to ask myself, would I wear this at home? would I walk beside someone wearing this in the US?
I got a cute mini-skirt. I.m gonna wear it clubbing this weekend. All of the ryuugakusaee (exchange students) are going out together this Friday night. All night party. Cool.
I got home and went to bed. Pretty unimpressive.
Day 107 (Wednesday)
I.m going shopping just as soon as I finish this entry. Then I.m going to take a nap and brainstorm about my thesis. I need to figure out what exactly I want to write about. I know I.ll be focusing on bunraku (it would be a waste of a summer not to), but I should probably narrow it down a little bit more. Right now I.m looking for information on-line, but I cannot access WashU.s journals from here. No worries.
Lately, I.ve been thinking a lot about the similarity of Japanese words. Like, you screw up one syllable, or maybe hold a sound a little bit too long, and you.ve got a completely different word. Case in point:
1. verb: noboru (climb)
verb: noru (ride)
Last week I thought that I was telling Ojii-chan that I wanted to climb Mt. Fuji when in reality I was saying how much I.d like to ride the mountain.
2. word: kami (God, paper, hair)
Sure, the context helps a lot, but sometimes...
And then there.s the word for turtle (kame). Too close to the word for hair if you ask me.
3. verb: sawaru (touch)
verb: suwaru (sit)
At Honen Matsuri--the second fertility festival--I touched the big penis and ran back to my friends thinking that I was shouting "I touched it! I touched it!" when in reality I was saying "I sat on it! I sat on it!" I quickly realized my mistake.
So, it.s been brought to my attention that I don.t really talk about classes anymore. This is true. For a while there wasn.t a whole lot happening. Today we had teacher and class evaluations. It felt good to be telling them what was annoying and what helped, but I know that they will do very little to change things. That.s the way the world works.
Good stuff? I.ve learned so much so quickly.
Bad stuff? Busy work, pointless essays, tests that have little to do with what we.ve learned.
It.s not so very different from life at WashU. You love some things and hate others. All in all I.m happy that I came to Nanzan and I don.t regret my decision. The program has some bugs, but that.s life.
I forgot to mention that my internship was given to me by the wonderful people of WashU. My sensei.s are so cool.
Got an e-mail from one advisor the other day. It had a link to a newspaper website with an article about another advisor (I told you I had a lot of advisors). I knew that this woman was cool, but I was totally unprepared for how cool. Now, I.m just in awe.
Plus, I love how my advisors back each other up. *warm fuzzies*
Day 108 (Thursday)
The foot hurt terribly yesterday, so I gave in to my host mother.s offer to go to a doctor. She said we would go while host brother was at tennis practice. Well, I thought she meant "we," but apparently she meant "I." That.s the problem with Japanese sentence structure. It doesn.t require a subject, so "I" could be "we" could be "him" could be "them." Anyways...whatever she meant, she pulled up to the clinic and kicked my butt out of the car.
I found my way into the clinic and spelled out what I needed in broken Japanese. The nurse replied in faster-than-a-speeding-bullet Japanese. Oy. I finally figured out what was going on and dilled out some forms. Then they had someone help me with a more specific form. It was pretty challenging because I don.t know any medicals words. Just "ouch."
I went to see a nurse who spoke in easily-understood polite Japanese. I was relieved. She looked at my foot and said things were so crowded because of Golden Week that I would have to come back the following Tuesday. I said okay and left. I went for a walk (yeah, I know my foot hurt, but I wasn.t going particularly fast and I wasn.t supposed to be picked up for a while) and called host-mom to tell her I was done. She said she was standing in the clinic.s waiting room. Go figure.
When I got back she was talking to the nurses and they made me go through the exam part again. Off with the shoe, again. Then we left. No big deal but horribly intimidating.
While I was in the waiting room some guy next to me kept practicing his golf swing. Hospital people are weird.
Tonight I.m going to a pub to meet some exchange students from Nagoya University. I.m not drinking. I.ll just get soda or something.
Tomorrow I think I.m going to an amusement park with the host family. Unless Ojii-chan gets out of the hospital today. Then I.m going to that all-night club party-thing. It.s not really all-night. The club closes at 3:30am, but the trains stop at 1am so once you.re out, you.re out.
So, I went to the pub in Fushimi and had a pretty good time hanging out with the Nagoya University Exchange students and one random guy from France. It was fun getting out to talk to English speakers. My one ENGAGED friends kept hitting on and being hit on by this guy from Britain, but her fiance had given her the go-ahead to have a good time. Now THAT.s a relationship.
Everything was really expensive at the pub: The Elephant.s Ear (Home of the $9.00 beer). Me and my friends left around 10:30 to go and find a convenient store (they were in the mood for some cheap liquor and I was in the mood for a walk). Strangely enough, though convenient store spring up like weeds in Japan, there was not even 1 between us and the next subway stop over (in Sakae...for those of you who might know)
Day 109 (Friday)
We amusement park was canceled because the family felt guilty about having that much fun while Ojii-chan was in the hospital. Not a problem. They said that they.ve already bought tickets so we will just make time to go later. Ojii-chan is feeling much better, by the way.
Tonight was the all night nicht-club thing. I was so nervous getting ready. I wasn.t in the mood to try and ride the line between Japanese and American fashions, so I wore the ubiquitous club outfit: cute little black top and short little jean skirt. About 20 exchange students from Nanzan met at 9:30 in Sakae Station and walked there together. Four of us were wearing the same easy-out club outfit.
We gotto the club (The ID Bar) and paid our money. $20 bucks for women, $25 for men (girls also 4 free drink coupons. sorry guys.). We put our stuff in a locker and I discovered a yummy drink called a Banana Cow. Then we all danced a bunch. Pretty standard, right?
Every floor had a different style of music. Me and my friend Allison got ambushed on the basement 80.s music floor (with music that was really from the 70.s) by these two Japanese guys. One spoke in a British accent and called himself a "rocker by profession." Yeah, they were really funny. We finally excused ourselves to run upstairs. Then we went to the hip-hop floor. Big mistake. This is the most popular floor, so people were jammed together. I started dancing with this guys who promptly tried to molest me. So I ran away through the crowd, but he didn.t get the hint ad followed me. I found my friend and she started freak-dancing with me until he left. Allison is my hero. We went to the 4th floor to get away from the perverts. Few people were up there...the lockers there had these cartoon drawings of sexual positions. Interesting...it was a vocabulary lesson.
This Brazilian guy comes over and starts telling Ally how his friend thinks she.s hot. The friend and another come over. It was so funny, he was dressed like a wannabe rapper. We all started talking and they were nice, so we went downstairs to talk and have a drink. She was getting hit on by rapper-man and I was having a good time with hot Brazilian guy. Some Nanzan friends joined us and then hot Brazilian guy went to buy everyone drinks and I held down the fort at the table. I realized that alone was not the best thing to be, but only too late. Another Brazilian guy walks over to the table...unfortunately, he was a dork. Worse, he was a dork from my neighborhood. He kept trying to get me to dance with him...I kept politely refusing.
My one friend came back to the table to tell me that hotty said that he really liked me. Which was good.
Everyone returned to the table and my brain was screaming, "NO! Don.t let hot Brazilian guy see you talking to Dork-man!" But it was too late. I didn.t want Dork-man to feel like a dork (that.s not fair to him), so I talked to them both. Then rapper-man and dork-man said we should all dance. I tried to say know but they kept pressing so I got up. I thought we were all going to go, but Ally stayed behind with hotty. I was not happy. I had to dance with dork-man. Rapper-man was fun. Then the club closed at 3:30am and I ran to find my friends.
Ally was given hotty.s number. Dangit. She also got rapper-man.s HUGE fake-diamond ring. So funny.
All of us walked to Royal Host, one of the few 24-hour restaurants and sat around for 2 hours waiting for the first subway. In the meantime I called Ally a bunch of names. The bitter ran out when daylight came...she was such a good sport. I took the 5:30 subway and the 6:30 train...I had to wait for the trains to start because they start later. I got home at, like, 7am and let myself in with Ojii-chan.s key (my key to freedom!...well, until he gets home from the hospital). I guess this is technically tomorrow.s news.
Day 110 (Saturday)
So I slept till 11am, and left for Okazaki to see my Language Lab teacher do a traditional tea ceremony. Since she was nice enough to invite me, I decided that I should go, even if my brain stayed at home. It took 2 hours to get there from my house. A beautiful day. When I got to Okazaki Koen (Park) I went to the tea house but they said that she wasn.t there today. I was a little confused. BUt I looked around the park and had a good, slightly-delerious time). I toured Okazaki castle...I think that.s where Tokugawa Ieyasu was born...or some guy like that. Then I went home and took a nap...deleriously.
Day 110 (Sunday)
I went to Onomiya Tower with my family today. More later...I have to meet some people for lunch, work on my thesis bibliography (I would be doing that now but the Library of Congress web-site is down...not my fault), and call people about my internship. Boo.
Okay, so at long last I.m back. First we went with the Sato.s to see wistaria bloom. Wistaria is this string of purple, light pink, or white flowers. They were hanging from the ceilings of covered walkways. It was so pretty. Then we saw all of these animals carved out of wood. That wasn.t as interesting. Then we went back to the wistaria and watched some turtles swimming with koi (Japanese carp). Cool.
Next we went to Onomiya Tower. That.s a really big tower surrounded by beautiful parks. Then there.s a little tower surrounded by a maze of hedges. We all got lost in the hedges. It was such a HOT day, but the park was really nice.
When I got back to my house I had ice cream with the family and then ran to meet my friend in Ueda to borrow her laptop so I could get my frickin. homework off my mind. I got there and shopped with her for a little while. Then I got on the subway with her laptop. Have I mentioned what a great friend she is? My hero. more later...test now. dang it.
My friend sent me an email when I reached my transfer station. It said that she had forgotten her bike key and was wondering where I was at. When I emailed her, she said that she was already halfway home, dragging her bike and groceries with her. Later she told me that an old man came biking past her and started lecturing her on not stealing bikes. Hee hee hee.
So I didn.t mention that I ran for the subway (yes, I am now one of those people who run for the subway) and nearly broke off my foot. Something clicked in my foot and I thought I was going to die. I hobbled home.