Monday, February 28, 2011

spring cleaning

It felt like spring this weekend.  I thought I should do some spring cleaning of my thoughts.

*I went for a run this weekend for the first time in months.  It felt amazing. I thought I`d be fine because of my winter jump rope regimen.  But the next day I did not feel amazing. 

*I started the quest for employment in Georgia yesterday.  I realized, while updating my resume, that I haven`t worked in food service in four years.  And I now have a whole year of grown-up work to put at the top of my "Work Experience" list.  It felt pretty good.  And then I realized that I was updating my resume to apply for a job at a water park in rural Georgia, and I didn`t feel pretty good any more.

*Lent starts soon.  I`m excited about abstaining from Facebook for 40 days.  I`ve started thinking about all the things I will do with those minutes that I spend checking people`s profile pictures. I hope that I can stop thinking about my life in terms of status updates and photo opportunities. 

*We have less than a month to go in Japan. I am at peace.  We are doing pretty good at this whole moving out thing.  We have not totally procrastinated this time.  Perhaps I will get my Grown-up Card in the mail soon.

*I`ve been reading more, but not necessarily good books.  One of my coworkers lent me a book by Jeffrey Deaver called The Bone Collector a while ago.  She lent me another Deaver book yesterday.  It`s rude to turn down something like that in Japan, so I took it home.  The books are basically like reading a TV show instead of watching it.  I just hope my latest short story doesn`t sound like an episode of CSI because of it.

*I am pounding away at another short story.  I now finish about 1 in every 2-3 stories that I start. It isn`t a great statistic, but it`s better than when I used to finish 0 stories.  My goal is to complete the story by the end of this week.  And I rediscovered a story I wrote in college that I`m also revising and hope to submit soon. 

*Thanks to everyone who prayed for my grandma. Her surgery went great, and she didn`t feel any pain.  Her diagnosis is so good that she doesn`t have to get chemo, just some radiation (which is still not fun, but not as awful as chemo). The doctors don`t think that the cancer has spread.  Hurray for answered prayers!

*I am also addicted to the website  It is hilarious.  Especially their series about the Internet Apocalypse.   

So that`s life lately.  I`m so happy that I`ll get to see you soon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

can`t stop the signal

Image from:

I wrote a post a while ago proclaiming my love for the show Firefly.  Like most wonderful things, it died an untimely death, and was cancelled after only one season.  Because Fox hates good TV.

It took a few weeks, but I was finally able to move on with my life.  I accepted the fact that Firefly was over, and there wasn`t any hope for more.

And, suddenly, like an actual firefly popping up in the gray night sky, I saw an article about Firefly on the Google news home page.  That one-and-only season is being shown again on cable TV.  My heart skipped a beat.  Surely, this was good news.  This was a sign that all interest in the show hadn`t been lost. 

A new fan movement has popped up after the show`s star, Nathan Fillion, made an offhand comment in an interview.  He said that if he ever won the California lottery, he would buy the rights to Firefly and produce it himself.  Thus, the "Help Nathan Fillion Buy Firefly" campaign began.  Fans are being asked to pledge money to fund the show in the future.  (No one would donate any actual money until there was confirmation that the show would be made.)

It`s kind of sad that so much money could be promised just to revive a television show when there are so many problems in the world. Earthquakes and disease and famine.  But the adamant Firefly fans, called Browncoats after the rebels in the show, have done plenty for charity, and I have a feeling that more charity work will done by them in the future.  (And I would totally help.)

So, will Firefly ever really return?  It`s a long shot.  In the meantime, we can watch this real-life drama unfold, the tale of the Browncoats who will never let their voices go unheard, who will never let the Alliance--I mean, 20th Century Fox--keep them down.

Monday, February 21, 2011

there and back again

The weather is warming up, and I`m already thinking about Georgia.  In a little over a month, I`ll be back.

I`ve tried not to think about it.  One of my goals in life has always been to be away from Georgia as much as possible.  And now that I`ve been away for a full year, I know that I can go back and not let it bring me down.

Something about the air in Georgia makes me feel suffocated and hopeless.  I will not let that happen to me this time.  I refuse to let another year of my life feel wasted or like I`m just waiting--Georgia has always been my purgatory.  At its worst, it was my hell.  But I won`t let it be that way any more.

Separating myself from my home state has been one of the best decisions of my life.  I can see it from an outsider`s perspective, and I realize that there is culture there.  The same way that Americans don`t realize they have an accent, I never really thought of my home state as having "culture."  At least not  in an exotic, interesting sense.  Being a white American, I feel neutral and generic.  I am a template on which other cultures can stamp themselves and shape me.  But now I realize that I have already been shaped.  Georgia has made me who I am today, the reason that I can speak with a twang so easily. The reason that I love sunshine and warmth and people who say cuss words in every sentence.

It is boiled peanuts and watermelon and Cool Whip.  It is Tybee Island and cookouts and smuggling fireworks from South Carolina.  It is moonshine and Baptists and cotton fields.  It isn`t always pretty, but it is my culture.

I will spend the next year of my life in Georgia, sort of in transit.  I know that it is a temporary thing.  I will work on getting into grad school, but that will not be all that I do.  I have decided to make this next year as productive and joyous as it can be.  I will run a half-marathon.  I will volunteer.  I will hopefully work a job that doesn`t suck (but I`m more than willing to work a shitty job).  I will write and conduct interviews and research for my memoir.  I will see cousins and aunts that I haven`t seen in years.  I will write and write and write and submit my stories for publication. 

I will be in Georgia, and I will live. I`m done with waiting.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

sentences of the day

These sentences were written by some of my second graders, who are learning passive voice. 

"Moneys are caught by me."

"Vagitable is eaten by me every day."

"World is made by plants."

Passive voice sucks.  I wish that we didn`t have to teach them that at all.  I try to explain that we only use it when we are talking about general things or when we want to take the heat off ourselves, as in the President saying, "Mistakes were made" instead of "I made mistakes."  But the students have a limited vocabulary, which means that we have to use passive voice to make ridiculous sentences like the ones seen above.  I screwed up and told one of the English teachers that "in the world" is okay to say instead of "around the world" so the students are also learning to say things like "Japanese sushi is eaten in the world."  I think it`s correct, but damn, it`s awkward.

I`ve realized that English is an incredibly weird language.  I have new respect for people trying to learn it in all its strange melted-togetherness.  It may as well not have rules, since the rules of grammar and spelling are constantly broken. It is an anarchistic language, especially in the age of Internet speech.  I almost didn`t correct the sentence "Moneys are caught by me."

I hope that no one thinks I`m an awful person for laughing at some of the things my students write. I`m not making fun of them or the Japanese.  I just have to laugh at how silly some of it sounds (come on, "vagitable" is gold).  It is especially difficult for Japanese people to learn English, I think, because they are bombarded by katakana

I will miss this job in some ways, but I can tell that it`s time to move on.  I`m ready to be back in a place where I can read every sign that I encounter and talk to the majority of people I see.  Not that all of the sentences I hear will make much more sense than "Vagitable is eaten by me every day."

Monday, February 14, 2011

lent in the time of Facebook

I`ve decided to try an experiment.  I`m going to give up Facebook for Lent this year.  I`ve never done Lent, but it always seemed like a good idea, even for non-religious people.  Forty days of abstaining from something that isn`t good for you, or something that you have a dependency on.  I like having goals to accomplish and deadlines to guide me.  So I`m really going to do it. 

Back in November, I wanted to limit my Internet time to 30 minutes a day.  I failed miserably. I think a large part of my failure is due to the fact that I live far away from my homeland.  Once I`m back in the U.S., where I can call my family easily and read labels at the grocery store by myself, I`m hoping that I won`t need to be online as much. 

Most people give up things like chocolate or booze for Lent; something that they physically consume. But I have to tell you, sometimes I feel like Facebook is consuming me.  I`ve found myself obsessing over things that really don`t matter whatsoever--like how I look in pictures or how much more popular the pretty girls from high school still are compared to me.  Facebook makes life weirder and sometimes harder.   It gives us the ability to shape how other people view our lives.

I`ve spent the last couple of years trying to convince myself that life is not a competition, and having Facebook--which is basically just millions of people vying for each other`s attention and approval--is setting me way back.  It`s hard not to feel a sense of competition when people are posting professional engagement/maternity/wedding/travel pictures every other day.  It`s hard to be bombarded by statuses about how amazing life is for some people, how happy and content they always are. 

When life is good, Facebook is even better.  When life isn`t so good, or even just boring, Facebook reflects that. 

No matter how good my life is, with Facebook, it seems that someone else`s life is always better. 
I`m not ready to give it up forever just yet--and I definitely can`t give up the Internet--but I think taking 40 days off Facebook would do me some good.  Lent starts March 9.  I think I can survive living in the real world for that long (as long as I have email).

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I've been trying to experience as much of Japan as I can before we take off in March. Last weekend, some friends invited us to go to Kiso Valley, a famous spot in Nagano Ken that's only about an hour away.  Here are some photos that I got from Subari.  Our camera didn't have a memory card in it that day (doh!).

Subari says that these are old samurai hotels.

This was supposed to be a cool picture of us with an ice sculpture.  Instead, it is a testament to how  unphotogenic we really are.

We walked along Naraijuku, a street famous for its Edo-period buildings.
We ate in this nice restaurant, which was built over 150 years ago.

It was a really lovely day.  We ate oyaki, went into shops selling famous Kiso wood crafts, and soaked up the Japanese-ness of it all.

A little over a month left in Japan.  I will miss it so very much.