Best Job Ever

Sometimes I can't believe that I am paid to tutor these girls. I almost feel like I should be the one paying them. Not only are they entertaining, but there have been countless times where I was super sad, but after an hour with them I couldn't stop smiling.

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I have been tutoring Kotomi and Ikumi since I arrived in Japan a year and nine months ago. I meet with them once a week, and for a long time all we did was go through these simple English textbooks that their Mother had bought. That was, until the day we completed the last textbook in the highest level that the company made. From then on it was up to me to create my own lessons.

I started making the lessons for the girls under the assumption that because they are better at English than all of my High School students, I could use the same types of lessons on them. Those poor girls! They struggled through four lessons before I realized that, although they were capable of speaking High School level English, their Grade School minds were having a hard time getting through the lessons. I consulted my friends who teach at Grade School, but they said they mostly play games with the kids about colors, or simple vocabulary. These girls are way too smart for that kind of subject matter, so I had to come up with something else. Then I thought about my friend Joshua. He's also a JET, but the lessons that he talks about doing on his blog always humble and inspire me to do more with my kids.

So, lately I've been taking a different approach with the girls. Last week, we drew items in a treasure chest, and listed what they were in English. Then we hid the treasure chests in my apartment and made maps with directions to where they were. The week before that we created super heroes complete with illustrations and profiles of their strengths and weaknesses. Then I drew a picture of a house on fire with a woman and her baby trapped upstairs. I asked the girls how they were going to save them.

Ikumi. . .

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. . . had made Chokkato with his sidekick Chokkoto who could clap and make anything magically appear between his wings. He made a hose to put out the fire and then a ladder to rescue the mother and child.

Kotomi. . .

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(Ordinarily, she isn't cross-eyed, I promise.)

. . . created a team of ball shaped Pen (Pen is short for penguin and is the girls' favorite Japanese character) First, all of the Pen flew at the house with different food items on skewers, and had a BBQ. After the Pen were fully nourished and energized, they stuck to each other and formed a bridge that went from the ground up to the window where the mother and child were trapped. After the mother and child had safely walked down the Pen bridge, the Pen set to work at eating the BBQ'd remains of the house.
(I called it a "yaki-ie" and the girls and I laughed until we were crying.)

These types of lessons have been way more fun for the girls and myself. As a result, we've gotten a lot closer, which leads to us being more comfortable around each other and therefore a lot sillier as well.
I love these girls.

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(Please take note of my finger.)

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Yes, it has been nearly a week. Four trips to the clinic, and more antibiotics than I'd care to count later, and my finger is still messed up. On the second doctor's visit, he really did cut open my finger. Surprisingly, that wasn't the worst part. After cutting open my finger, he proceeded to squeeze and knead it for what felt like forever. He told me to come back in a few days, and when I did, it looked the exact same, only with a hole in it. I'm beginning to think that a white bandage covering my right middle finger is just a permanent part of my "new look", and am starting to accept it. On a more positive side, the finger bandage situation has provided much personal amusement with all the teachers giving me the finger, while saying "What is this?"


The Finger

So, after talking to Greg last night, I decided to see a doctor about my finger. (I consult Greg with all of my medical/ emotional issues for two reasons: one, he's not afraid of putting me in my place, and two, he never sleeps.)

I showed the school nurse, she seemed to know what was wrong, and told me that I needed to go to the clinic. I asked her what they were going to do, and a rough translation of what she said was, "They are going to cut your finger open and stick drugs in it." I nodded and asked her to draw me a map.

The doctor was nice enough. He had me sit down in front of his tray of goodies while he asked a few questions. Then he started swabbing that iron colored liquid all over my finger, and I tried to stay tough while waiting for the worst part to get started. I looked at him with a grimace and a brave smile, and he looked at me like I was crazy. Then he put some greasy stuff all over it and wrapped it up. Only at the end did I realize that he wasn't going to cut my finger.

But, this is what he did do. . .

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and it has to stay that way until Friday.

I feel like a big dork. This thing is bigger than the time a couple of years ago, when they bandaged me up because I really DID cut my finger.

I also have to take drugs, which I never do. My body, like most things in life, generally tends to take care of itself. But it's the doctor's orders, and I don't know enough Japanese to argue with him.

(Are you happy now, Greg? I went to the doctor AND I'm taking drugs. I don't even know who I am anymore.)


a quickie

One last thing before I go. . .

My cousin Derek and Mikey visited a while ago. It was amazing. They were fantastic house guests, and I think I had just as much, if not more, fun as they did showing them around Japan.

Here is a photo taken by Derek
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If you want to see more photos and/or read Derek's stories, you should read his blog
(Be prepared to do a little scrolling to see said photos/ stories. Derek is a much more responsible blogger than I am, and updates his more regularly)
Actually, you should read it anyways, because Derek is awesome.

not getting any younger. . .

Busy, busy, busy. . .

As usual, there is much catching up to be done between you, I, and the internet. I wonder how many people have given up along the way, and no longer read this thing. If you gave up, I can't blame you, I've practically given up myself. . . Look at me, almost two months behind on my story telling?! I should be ashamed of myself.

*NOTE: I am grumpy because my finger feels like it's going to explode. There is something really wrong with it, but I don't know what. I am afraid of going to the doctor, so I'm hoping that my finger will miraculously heal itself before it either falls off or ruptures.

On to happier things. . .

My birthday was awesome.

This is Tez, my Chinese-Australian brother in Japan, and I.
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He was amazing, and set up a little dinner get together with some of my favorite people.

Before dinner, Tez, Chris and I met up at a coffee shop that we go to from time to time to shoot the breeze and catch up from time to time. The people who work there are fantastic. For some reason, they get really excited whenever I go in (it could have been the buttons I gave them when I first started going there). They remember my name AND what I like to drink, now that's good service.
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When Tez and I were walking by outside, Shin the manager ran outside and started singing Happy Birthday to me, and up until that point, totally made my day. Then we went in, ordered our drinks and sat down to wait for Chris.

Every single person working came over to wish me a happy birthday in English and Japanese. As you might imagine, I got really choked up.


After Chris had arrived and we had finished drinking our coffees, Shin came over and gave me this:
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He said it was from the staff of the cafe, and I turned around and they were all standing together, smiling. Naturally, I freaked out, jumped up, and started bowing ridiculously.

Dinner was fun too.
We went to an Indian restaurant that I love, mostly because the guys that run it are awesome, and smile really big whenever I come in. They do not, however, smile really big for the camera.
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Here is Chris looking metal, because he likes it, and his girlfriend Ayako looking lovely, because she is.
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My Japanese teachers are rad.
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Will tried to get fresh with Suzuki Sensei, but neither she nor Sakuma Sensei seemed all that amused by it.
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This is another Suzuki Sensei, who is very easily amused.
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Jocelyn and I heart Prem
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Mark wins the prize for traveling the farthest on a week night just to join us for my birthday dinner.

Two hours from Kasukabe to Kumagaya.
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Markus and Mitsuko win the prize for cutest couple.
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Markus and Jeff were down the pot-pou-rri.
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Older, but not wiser.
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Here are some more photos that I don't have anything "witty" to say about.
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That's all for now. Stay tuned for pictures from Hokkaido and if you are lucky and I am not, one of my soon to be ruptured finger.

A Sad Day in Japan

I'm in denial.

Sometime today, between the hours of 10:00 am (When I went to take my trash out) and 5:30 pm (When I left for the gym) someone, stole one of my bikes.

I was home all day today, making crafts while listening to music and/or podcasts. I keep my bikes parked outside the front door of my apartment, so whomever stole it did so while I was at home, KNOWING that I was at home. I have two bikes, one that came with my apartment, and another that I bought for when people come stay with me. Both of the bikes are pretty crappy. The bike thief took the less crappy of the two, although the other was unlocked, with the key in it.

I just don't understand, and the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. This is putting a kink in my whole "there are more good people in the world than bad ones" theory. I am the same person, living in the same neighborhood, who left both of her sliding glass doors wide open for the entire fall season. I leave my door unlocked when I go down the block to do my laundry, or when I make a run to the vegetable stand around the corner. Tonight I double checked to make sure my bike was locked up, and then I bolted my front door shut. It makes me really sad to feel like I need to do those things for reasons beyond the fact that if I don't, and for some reason my mother finds out, she'll get upset.