Wednesday, May 30, 2012

why hello, Archnemesis (archnemesi?)

I used to call her my babysitter. Micromanaging to the nth degree. This woman is the math teacher at one of my schools. As in NOT the English teacher. As in... I have zero classes with her. Yet, she has me write down my lesson plans for all my classes, explain them to her, and at the end of every day, she CHECKS my lesson plan and signs them. For her own record, of course.

In between classes (during my "free" hour), she stands behind me and tells me what to scan and copy for MY lessons. She then stands over my shoulder until I complete the tasks she assigns me. Are you kidding me?

Right. And then before I leave, she walks me up to the principal to explain that I am leaving for the day. She does this every day and she might as well be holding my hand. Then she walks me down to the entrance (to make sure I don't get lost/torch the school) to see me off.

Does it sound as insane as it is?

So she pretty much gets the "ohmigod, I'm so mad at you" smile every minute of every day that she speaks to me. It's a smile I paste on (after years of teaching) when I'm so frustrated that I could explode. This being said, I'm pretty much a "wear my heart on my sleeve" kinda gal. I don't mean to be, but I'm the easiest person to read. If I'm sad, you know. If I'm happy, you know. You get the picture.

Well, ok. I dealt with all that ish^ for the past two months. And by "dealing with it", I mean venting to John every couple days. But last week was a different story.

To give you some perspective, EVERY. SINGLE. TEACHER comes to this school in athletic gear. I wear business clothes because a) I don't have athletic gear and b)I haven't yet gotten approval. But seriously you guys, the humidity here is intense. "And it's not even that hot yet" Robert reminds me every time I complain. Hey man, when in Rome right? All the other teachers are wearing athletic gear, time to go shoppinggg!!

But first, I asked my babysitter for approval. She said no. I asked four more times, in about six different ways. The answer? "No. I like what you dress. You wear nice. Please" Furreealll? MMmmmmkayyy. That sucks, but ok.

So the next day, I come to school in my suit. Because I wear nice. My babysitter comes up to me (our dialogue is always drawn out and painful since neither of us speak the same language). What our 37 minute conversation came down to is that from 13:00- 15:30, I was to clean and scrub toilets. All the school's toilets. In preparation for tomorrow's Sports Festival.

In. MY. SUIT. Are you  KIDDING ME?!??!?

Teachers came up to me and asked if I had a change of clothes. Nope! So for the next couple hours, I cleaned toilets in my suit. BOOM. ARCHNEMESIS. Alright Babysitter.... you and I? NO LONGER FRIENDS. You have upgraded yourself to Archmenesis.

The silver lining: At the end of the day, she came up to me with a piece of paper that said "Dressing your favorite." I blankly stared at her (and by blankly, I mean glared at her with red furious lazer eyes), sighed and responded "Italian. My favorite dressing is Italian" She spent the next ten minutes repeating the words "Your favorite dressing", but switching the order to see if anything clicked. What I took from the conversation is that I may wear what I want. Dress in my favorite, if you will. Andddd athletic clothes it is for me, from here on out. Suck it, Archnemesis.

I know, I know, such a long venting session. I apologize, but now you're all in the loop. To reward you, here is a video for my female readers (What up, Carly, Jackie, Ashley, Patty and Cece). I wasn't going to post it, but now it's going viral over facebook (seriously, half of my girlfriends have shared this. If you haven't already seen it, get ready to love this dude. And if you have already seen it... let's be honest: You're going to watch it again.
Thanks for sitting through my venting. Have a wonderful [almost] weekend everyone!

4 videos and 1 Archnemesis

That's right.
Archnemesis with a CAPITAL A. Oooooh this girl has no idea what nasty passive aggressive-ness I can serve up. But more on that later.

This past weekend, I experienced my first Sports Day. Sports Day is traditionally celebrated in September but for the elementary schools, it is celebrated in May. These kids have been practicing for the past two weeks and it was so exciting to see them perform. The parents oohed and ahhed like good parents do. I captured some pictures, but let's be honest, videos are more exciting.

Ok, before I post any videos... Here is my official statement: I know I am a terrible videographer. I knowww. But I promise I'll get better. Well, I'll try to get better.

First: The Big Ball Race
These are the second graders. Pretty much the cutest little pumpkins... The object is pretty simple: be the first team to push the GIANT ball around the pole and back. I missed videoing it, but the ball literally rolled over some of the kids. Some kids ran into the ball and were knocked onto their backs. All in all, good fun and laughs all around
Second: "Shake Shake" dance + ball toss
Ok, if you haven't figured it out... I don't know the official name for these games. I'm kinda just making it up. You get the point. So I lied. THESE are the cutest little bumpkins ever. Yep, bumpkins. They did a little dance. It involves shaking. Anddd then they toss their balls into a basket. Super cute, and worth the 30 seconds you're about to spend watching it.

Third: Traditional Okinawa Dance
These are the second graders. About 200 of them. Doing a choreographed dance. Uhhhh yeah, try getting 200  American kids to do the same seven minute dance? Yah right.
Plus, my great grandmother is from Okinawa (where my quarter-Japanese/Okinawan comes from). Figured it was good stuff to post.

Lastly: The Tower
The fifth and sixth graders practiced this every day during my prep. And slowly, over the weeks, I noticed more and more of my students coming in with casts on their arms. This stuff is insane. The parents in America would never let this kind of thing fly. And yeah, if my kid came home with a broken arm, I'd be in the same boat.

Well I've blabbered on enough for one post. Check out the post why hello, Archnemesis for the juicy deets on my new opponent.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Like Big Foot... but tastier

There was rumored to be a glorious lunch. Soup, milk, blah blah... but mainly, a giant chocolate donut. It can't possibly be true, I scoffed. I continued to be somewhat satisfied with my lunch, forever eliminating the possibility of chocolate donut lunch.

And then, last week, it happened. Just like every class before lunch, my stomach growled and moaned at me for fooooooodddddd. For morning greetings, I always shamelessly shout "I'M HUNGRY!!!!" [It always gets some laughs]. Then, I smelled something fried and glorious.

And there she sat...

Seriously. The. MOST. amazing. lunch. EVERRRR
 I'm a believer. I've seen it. I can now tell the world- IT EXISTSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Football and a talking poop

The winds were only gusting at about 22 mph this weekend, so the three of us (mainly Robert) thought it might be an excellent time to go down to the river… and do some dancing

Haha, just kidding. The boys threw the football around. I have years of experience watching football, so like the good cheerleader I am, I sat my little hiney down in the grass and occupied myself with this little beauty. So what if I’m re-reading it for the 23974th time.

 Eventually, they got me to play. My hand eye coordination is absolutely atrocious (why I am a cheerleader, and not an athlete that does anything involving a baseball, golf ball, soccer ball, football… basically any kind of ball. “But it’s all for fun!” They insisted. And fun it was.

 We all took turns acting as defense, quarterback, and receiver. And interestingly enough, we all had different approaches when it came to making plays.
Me (the noob): “Let’s do a lightning bolt run!”
Robert (the goof): “Run in a circle until he gets confused because he’s retarded”
John (the technical one): “Run past me, pass me the ball, I’ll pass it to you, and you RUN! This play is called a lateral”. Or maybe it’s a ladder-all? I’m not really sure.

Despite my best efforts, it was fun. Even if I only caught the ball once… it was a glorious catch.

And because everyone (and by “everyone”, I may or may not just be referring to one singular person) has been oh-so-curious about the previously mentioned “hole in the ground” toilets, I decided to take a picture to share with the world. 

 Nothing like an animated picture of poop to end a blog post on. Happy almost weekend everyone!

Talking poop?!? What the heck???

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

My mother (like most) has worn many hats over the years. She has been a poop-cleaner-uper, a disciplinarian, a nurse, an educator, a confidant, a "what-are-you-thinking-don't-quit" kind of supporter. She allowed me to be furious at her when she forbade me go swimming at midnight with my friends in high school, she let me cry rivers of tears and snot onto her shoulder when the first boy broke my heart, and when the whole world laughed, she never stopped supporting my ridiculous dreams.

She's the kind of mom who doesn't hesitate to confront someone in a crowded Vegas casino when an obese lady blatantly shoved my brother and I. It's become one of those infamous stories... a circle formed as my mom chased down the culprit and screamed "Don't you EVER touch my kids!!!"

She pushes me to be better. When we were little, all she ever cared about was that I did the best I possibly could. It's still something that I hear to this day... "Just do the best you can". She's the kind of mom who would support me if I wanted to run for president. She would be at every speech and every appearance, with pins and buttons. And noise makers. And that ridiculous tongue roll that used to embarrass me in high school.

We don't agree on everything. And the same stubbornness she gave to me sometimes stands in the way of understanding each other, but I hope you know how much you mean to me Mom.

I would not have done the things I've done and been the places I've been if you hadn't pushed me, supported me, and loved me the way you have.

Freshman year of college. I called at least once a week in tears. She never gave up on me

The naming of "Hungry Man"
I don't know how she does it... We (my brother, dad, and I) constantly tease her, call her names, and make fun of her. But through it all, she is always able to laugh at herself and make yet another hilarious joke.
The most recent picture of us: Vegas February 2012

 Thank you for everything Mom. I love you, Happy Mother's Day.

On top of that, my parent's just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mundane adventures in Japan

Not surprising, my Japanese-English dictionary has been the best purchase everrrrr.

Every day is an adventure in a land where you don't speak the language. Not being able to communicate transforms every day tasks like dropping off dry cleaning or picking up mail into fun,exciting, sometimes awkward stories.

Here are said stories...

Aimed with my Gaijin card, beloved dictionary, and "pick-up-your-mail-from-the-post-office" slip, I went to the post office to pick up mystery mail. Maybe a package from home? Even better... my bank card awaited my rescue. Couldn't be that hard, I figured...

After going to the wrong post office, I made it to the correct post office only to be told something super confusing in Japanese. I asked "Yukkuri itte kudasai" (slowly please) and instead heard this: "somethingsomethingsomething... ATM". AH! ATM! Ok, that I know! Weird, I guess I put the slip in the ATM? But whatever, they are super advanced here.

After standing at the ATM for about 7 minutes, jamming buttons and trying to put the paper in random places (all the while looking like a first class idiot), I finally see a window with the post office logo. Turns out "somethingsomethingsomething..." was "Next to the..." Right. My Japanese has GOT to get better.

Another fun task was taking clothes to the dry cleaners. This time, I was armed with my partner in crime as we fumbled awkwardly together through the translation attempts. I frantically flipped through my dictionary looking for words as John gestured to his suit jacket using Jap-lish. The final result? The dry cleaning ladies CALLED THEIR ENGLISH SPEAKING FRIEND TO TRANSLATE. Lol. It was ridiculous customer service (and I also think they were closed). PLUS, the fee was minimal and done within 24 hours. Incredible. To show our gratitude, we brought goodie bags the next day...

 Thanks to Mom and Donna Paez for loading us up with tons of American goodies (it has been incredibly hard not to eat them... We may or may not have sneaked a bag of cookies for ourselves). She loved the adorable flower lollipops!!!

Until next time Minions...
All of us computering

Monday, May 7, 2012

We went to Harajuku.

Apparently I say that with a Texan accent. My mom rolled on the floor when I (very nasally) told her that "We went to Harajuku". Where did you go?!? Where are you from, Texas?!? From across the world, the woman has a better Japanese accent than I do.

I'm fitting in real well here. I made the kids laugh trying to pronounce their names. I started to dread calling on the kids because I knew I was going to butcher their names.

But last week was Golden Week. Oh sweet sweet Golden Week. Monday OFF. Work Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh hello FOUR DAY WEEKEND. Unfortunately... John spent the first half being sick, I spent the second half being a miserable lump on the floor. I will NOT waste Golden Week! Yesterday, I sucked it up and we ventured to Tokyo to see Harajuku to see more Japanese amazingess.

3487 points to my Aunt Trudes for my first piece of mail!!
Ai-chan made us okonomiyaki!!
Final product: delicious amazingness
Waiting for the boys. Surprise surprise
All of us on the train. The "impossible" picture
Caught in the act
At the gate of Meiji Jingu

Of course I needed a shot of a sakura themed sake barrel
Paying respect before entering the shrine


For more money, you can write your prayers on cool wooden tablets
Robert, that purse is very becoming on you
The boys sharing a handle on the train. Both are super excited about holding hands
Craziness on Harajuku Street
The infamous restaurant... "Jon-oh-san... like the restaurant"
Let's play I spy...
Anyone see the billboard with 12 year old boys that says "Sexy Zone"?!?
  Ok, so this next picture is of the busiest intersection in the world. Fureal. 2.5 MILLION people in one day. It was also super exciting that while we were crossing this street, a thunderstorm was a-coming. Girls screamed with the thunder, which set off round and rounds of more high-pitched screams. I may or may not have joined in the screaming.
Shibuya, Tokyo. Seriously insane
John didn't get a seat with us :(
The rest of Team Pokemon on the way back to Han-no.
Now Golden Week is over and we're all kind of bummed. But great news is that PAY DAY is finally coming. We can finally go to Tokyo and BUY STUFF. It's been all window shopping and longing for stuff from this point, but next week (fingers crossed everything works out), I can actually get stuff.

Now looking forward to summer vacation...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Throwback: August 21, 2009

This may be old for some of you. Before this blog, I used to send out email "updates" to my friends and family. This one was sent out while my life was going through some huge changes. I found it recently and decided to share it with you! Being that I'm disgustingly sick right now (and therefore kinddaaa lazy), I thought this might be a good week to share...

It has been quite the summer. This summer brought a hailstorm of changes for many of my best friends, and of course, my family members. My little brother left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (commonly referred to as ‘MCRD’) for short. It was the weirdest feeling, watching him walk out the front door to be greeted by another Marine. It was the first time that I can remember in which my brother left me at home instead of the other way around. I missed him within minutes. He was my ally and secret supporter when we had disagreements with our parents. We would bond over $0.99 hot fudge sundaes from McDonald’s and lament over the fact that our parents do not understand us and we couldn’t wait to get out. The big day finally came, and he couldn’t have been more excited. Josh counted down the days to boot camp, and the nervousness didn’t seem to kick in until the morning of. We all got up at 2 am to see Josh off. Armed with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few sheets of important paperwork, my brother has started the journey to become a Marine. I’ve heard a lot of different things from different people—that he will come back a man, that he is going to be forever changed from his experience in boot camp, he is going to mature physically and emotionally… but secretly, I hope he doesn’t change too much. I miss the little dweb of a brother who used to annoy the crap outta me when I was trying to be too cool in high school. I still hope he’s the guy who would come check on me after a fight with my parents. He’d hear me sniffling in my room and sheepishly poke his head around the corner and ask if I was ok. He’d stay in my room and talk about pointless, dorky things only him and I found amusing until things didn’t seem so bad. I hope that much doesn’t change about him. When the world seemed to be falling all around me, my brother became the one to come comfort me, instead of the other way around. That’s the funny thing about sibling… they’re a built in annoyance and friend at the same time. But when you need them most they always seem to step up. 

One of my best friends got married this summer. I was honored and lucky enough to be part of the wedding.  I’ve known this girl since her freshman year of high school—back in the day when we used to fantasize about our wedding days. When it actually came, it was so surreal… like a very weird dream. To watch my best friend with her husband, to see her in her new identity as a WIFE was still mind-blowing to me. It was intoxicating to see her so happy and in love. It had been a while since I had been to a wedding and this was the first one that really hit home for me. Being able to witness and see their shared happiness and joy brought back all those ridiculous, girly, romantic ideals. I cried watching her sing a song to her new husband. It was such a happy, surreal day full of so much love. Ah, I love weddings. 

Another one of my best friends is starting to follow his dreams to become a firefighter. He starts the fire academy on Monday in which he will undergo intense physical and mental schooling. It was quite a feat to even be accepted into the academy as fire fighting has become a very competitive field. As budget cuts are happening all over the state, the firefighters are making their training more and more cutthroat. It’s always very interesting to see where life will take us, especially for us unemployed post-graduates. 

As for me, well I write this to you all as I sit on a plane to Hawaii. My internship starts on Monday, where my dreams are slowly starting to come true. I have no idea what is going to happen in four months or where I will be, but for now I will be on Oahu with an internship that pays nothing as I work 40 hours a week doing whatever the trainers might need. My dad jokes that I will be cleaning up dolphin crap- literally. We shall see, but as long as I get to work with dolphins I really don’t care. I know I say that now, and next week, you all might be receiving an email full of complaints about how all I do is clean out cigarette butts from the ashtrays. The one guaranteed thing I know is that once a week, I get to spend the entire day on the lagoon with a real dolphin trainer.
I am so incredibly excited that this is actually happening. I half cannot believe that I still held onto this childhood dream and now am on my way to Hawaii to work with dolphins. Even if it is just for four months and this dream ends in January, I am so lucky to have even gotten the chance to do this.  The other part of me feels so incredibly scared. I have no real plan—except to learn and work hard. A one way ticket to Hawaii and no definite return date??!?? Ok, that’s nothing to freak out about. Maybe in four months, I will be in Bermuda. Or settling down permanently in Hawaii. Or maybe back in the mainland somewhere. I have no idea where this internship will take me—and the unknown is thrilling, yet terrifying at the same time.

Weird to see how much life has changed... for all of us. So many drastic changes have happened over the past three years... it'll be interesting to see where the next three years will take me and what I'll be doing then. Alright, I'm sneezing all over the computer so I think I'll leave it at that.

Next time, minions!