Thursday, February 26, 2009

my lipstick now has a sheet

Right, so who knew that even my accessories
could have exciting lives in Japan?
Yesterday as I ran to the bus stop (for the record, I was actually early, I just felt like running!) my lipgloss fell out of my pocket. I realized it after I was on the bus, and saw it lying there dejectedly on the sidewalk as the bus passed the scene of the crime. Ah, well, I thought. It'll most likely be there when I get back in the afternoon.
Not so.
25 minutes later I got to school, and as I was getting my first pot of green tea, one of the teachers came over and halting asked
if I'd...if I'd...if I'd...lost....something. Lipstick?
People always warn not to do anything "illegal" here, since someone is always watching and knows who you are. Thank goodness it was only (legally acquired!) lipstick!
It turns out that someone had picked it up and turned it in to the police box across the street. Somehow they knew where I worked and the police called my school office to say they had the lipstick. The teacher called them back to say that yes, the lipstick was mine.
Great. I can just go there to pick it up on my way home.
No. Of course I can't, because, as they like to make things as complicated as possible here, my poor little lipstick had to be brought to the big police office 'to be processed' (how could I make this stuff up???). So after school, I went to the bus station (by the way, I'm on the bus because it's been raining, I'm sick & I need new bike brakes) to find out which bus to take to the police station. The ladies in the bus office know me now, since I often come to visit the station "boss" because he likes to practice his English with me. WELL. Instead of just telling me which bus to take, he drives me to the police station so I can spring my poor little lipstick. I'm not telling lies when I had to give a full description of the lipstick and fill out a whole report about my lost lipstick (technically lipgloss) - the picture here is of the officer inputting my report.
FINALLY, I was able to take my lipstick, and the bus station boss man drove me home. At least he got a good laugh out of it, too.
I should probably make him some cookies.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Japanese Mardi Gras

At the end of the Mardi Gras party people looked fat and happy, so I guess it was a success :)
Since I grew up in such a Christian environment, I just assumed that everybody knew about "Fat Tuesday", Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter, etc... Well, apparently they don't! It was pretty interesting explaining some traditions - such as the concept of abstinence/fasting, putting ashes on your forehead...and eating a King Cake.
Don't let the people in New Orleans know what I tried to pass off as a "King Cake"!

I know what a KC is supposed to look like, but what I ended up serving was a far cry from what they've got down in Lousiana. I just didn't have time (or the warmth) to bake something that required yeast, so I thought I could just buy one of those pre-made angel food cakes they always have at my grocery store. Well, almost always, apparently...So much for that. So I grabbed the ONLY cake mix box that they had (they're not so big on baking here, I guess). Even though it was chocolate, I was sure that I could make it look more festive with using purple/gold/green icing. Then I remembered that purple icing doesn't exist. The pre-made icing is only available in pink, white, and brown (I swear I'm not making this up!). The food coloring is only available in red, yellow, and green. Thinking I had the green already, I just bought these grape-flavored "Pure" brand sour gummy things to stand in for the purple.
Then, for whatever reason, the cake didn't really rise, and so when I inserted the plastic baby Jesus, it kind of stuck up and broke that side of the cake! (yes, I AM laughing as I think about all this). ANYWAY, we still had fun decorating it, and the person who ended up finding the baby made a really beautiful Mardi Gras queen!
The chocolate cookies and coconut milk ice cream we made last night were popular as well...and after writing down their "Lenten Promise" on the little board on my fridge, my friends entertained each other with sporadic dancing, card games, and watching Seinfeld in Japanese - so all in all, I think we did a good job living it up for "Fat Tuesday" in Japan!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

I'm once again trying to do my part to help promote grassroots internationalization...I'm hosting a "Fat Tuesday" party tonight. Should be really interesting since it's really difficult finding beads and a King Cake (New Orleans would faint at what I'm calling a "King Cake"!)...and I can't seem to find PURPLE anything for that matter. Huh. The things we take for granted in our home countries. This whole party thing started because my friend, as soon as heard that I had an ice cream maker, wouldn't let me rest till we had an ice cream party. Well, just so happens I'm off today (have to work on Saturday), and it's FAT Tuesday. So, by having a "party" I can make homemade chocolate chip cookies & ice cream and won't be able to eat ALL of it!
Alright - I'm off to go find the rest of the ingredients for some jambalaya and mochi fried ice cream...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the wait is over...

Drum roll, please....

I passed the JLPT*!


*The Japanese Language Proficiency Test has 4 levels, Level 1 being the best.

I never took Level 4, but decided to "challenge"

Level 3, 三級, さんきゅう

"sankyuu" last December.

Apparently... miracles DO happen!

Thanks for the prayers! (^,^)/

Thursday, February 12, 2009

getting dressed...

Yesterday was National Foundation Day and (woohoo!) a day off from school. Some of the school ladies wanted to play dress up, though, and spent the morning dressing me in different kimono and hakama (they're like pants) and doing my hair. It was their first time dressing a foreigner, and they seemed to have a lot of fun! I felt like I was in a commercial as I stood outside the shop here as they snapped photos.

This red kimono is for very special occasions. And thank goodness. Underneath it were several other layers - including - believe or not - a lot of padding above my derriere and on my chest in an attempt to make me more "flat". Ha! Thank goodness I only had to stand there and was about all I could do in that get up!

I thought it was nice that they chose to dress me properly in FSU colors, too :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

YES we CAN (and did!)!

Well, although I thought I was going to DIE running in the school marathon today (my first race ever), I MIRACULOUSLY not only FINISHED, but I also wasn't last! In fact, I placed 1st among the female teachers who ran!
To be fair, though, I was also the only female teacher to run, but...details, details.

Here I am with some of the ichinensei girls (~10th graders) after our race. When we were finished running, we cheered the boys on as they ran their race.
(look - I'm even vertical and not some shade of green!)

Towards the end of the boys' race, I got the ninensei here to do an impromptu "Yes, we can!" cheer. It took a few tries, but I finally got a pic with the girls in the back jumping up yelling "can!"

I never thought I could take up running, and I'm by no means good at it, BUT it amazes me what one can accomplish by just continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

It was really nice to have people cheering me on along the way, too :) Thanks!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Here are some photos from my visit to the States at Christmas. It was so nice to see everyone! As you can see, I really enjoyed myself!

Monday, February 02, 2009

January 26 was the Chinese New Year, and each year Nagasaki City puts on a Lantern Festival to celebrate.

I've seen and taken many photos of this before, but this time I was especially interested in the paintings on fabric (silk?), since they closely resemble the style of painting I currently study. Their ethereal quality makes them hard to resist. They're in such contrast to all the crashing color and vibrant noise that is so typical of a night at the festival.

I (heart) OBAMA

Who doesn't??? But just to be clear - I'm talking Obama City on Tachibana Bay in Nagasaki Prefecture, of course! As I've often mentioned in previous posts, Kyushu (the region in which I live in Japan) is well-known for its abundant onsens, or hot springs. Last Friday night some of the other ALTs and I went down to Obama city (about a half hour drive from Isahaya) for a hot bath at a rooftop onsen. And, in the winter, in the RAIN, that was a crazy idea.

Well, actually, once I was bathed and IN the hot tub, on the roof, looking out over the city and shore, it was worth it.

And, as shy you think Japanese people are, they certainly are not shy about jumping on the Obama bandwagon and using our political happenings to try to drum up business.

Although I'm happy that US-Japan relations seem - at least for the moment - more positive than not, I must admit, that as I walked around town seeing all those I (heart) OBAMA banners triumphantly waving in the wind, it was a comical sight to see our new president smiling and waving at everyone from a bathtub.