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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Japan Journal Ten: I Startle a Random Dude Who is Making a Campfire, and Other Adventures

Today was the most magical day <3
It's Halloween, which was so much fun. We had a party in shodoubu, and ate lots of candy, and everyone was in good spirits today, and, in general, it was just a fun and fabulous day. But today, I communicated with so many different people, and so naturally--it was wonderful. At school, I was talking to a lot of people, as I normally do, but after school, while I was waiting for my host mother at Lawson, a dude (who I recognized from school, but to whom I had never spoke) was also waiting, and HE made conversation with ME! Which never happens with Japanese boys, in my experience. They avoid me like I have the plague. So, I was hype. My goal is to practice Japanese as much as possible, with as many different people as possible, so this ROCKED.
And, I know what some of you are thinking--OMG, Japanese husband material! Hehe, maybe. But, he was waiting for someone to get out of soccer practice, so that they could walk home together, and I think that it may have been his boyfriend. So, possibly no dice. No big deal, though, we still got to talk, so I was satisfied.
He is the only other person at my school with brown hair, so I asked after it, and interestingly enough, although he is 100% Japanese, he was born blonde! I was really surprised. I thought he may have dyed it, because he is really into doing hair, but he claims that it's natural.
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Babywearing mama in this video! She TURNS DOWN FOR WHAT, man. Babywearing = hands-free = amazing dancing!
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I saw a foreigner at the station today, and we gave each other the mutual not of agnoledgment. It was beautiful.
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"Remember taking you first survey? It was a pretty big deal."
What the crap, Survey Monkey commerical. No, I don't remember taking my first survey. What kind of question is that? Who remembers taking their first survey?
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Today, we were watching TV, and there was a commericial for a special that was airing on the same channel that night.
All this odd stuff was going on; people skydiving, biking around, it was very dusty and desert-y looking, and basically everyone was shirtless. About 30 seconds in, I was like, this is almost definitely about Burning Man.
Me: "I think this is about Burning Man."
Then, a few minuets later, a title announcing that it was, indeed, about Burning Man, came up, and my family was accurately impressed by my knowledge of American culture.
Yeah, I know things.
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I love The Bloggess.
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I helped a little girl who was lost at the store today! She was so cute.
I was at the grocery store, and I heard a little kid wandering around saying "Jiji...Jiji...," so I knew that someone must have been separated from their Grandfather. I went around the corner and found a little girl (she was no older than five) looking kind of forlorn. I thought she might be kind of freaked about by a strange foreigner offering to help her, but the "ZOMG FOREIGNERS" that plagues pretty much all Japanese people doesn't seem to affect kids at all, because when I said, "Hello, can I help you?" she told me right away that she couldn't find her Grandfather and that she needed help. After quite a bit of wandering around (during which we elicited help from a random store employee and my host sister), we found her Grandfather, and she was SO happy. As she left the store, I yelled "bye bye!" to her, and she gave me the biggest smile! Such a cute little kid. And a smart chika, too--she really kept her head in this situation. So, yay for finding Grandpa!
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When my parents are on Skype and want to meet someone, and then I have to carry my laptop somewhere, I always feel a little bit like I'm dragging around iTeacher from Ned's Declassified.
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People keep asking me when I'm going to get a boyfriend, as if I can fire off a date off the top of my head. I'm going to start answering, like
"When are you going to get a boyfriend?"
"November 25, 2015."
Like man, guys, thanks for constantly reminding me of my inability to attract a mate. Let's be real, I'm 18, I don't NEED a boyfriend. Golly gracious.
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I'm going to slap the next person who tried to translate something for me that I already understand. It's driving me insane. Like, today:
Me: "I went to kotobu (koto club) today!"
Host Dad: "Ahh, koto..(in English) Japanese guitar." (Which it definitely isn't, but whatever, I'm willing to overlook that).
Me: "I know. I'M IN THE CLUB."
It's baffling for me when someone translates a word that I just used. Like, I know what it means, I'M THE ONE WHO BROUGHT IT UP. Just because I am foreign doesn't mean that I can't speak Japanese.
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I guess the YouTube commercial campaign is happening here, too, because I just saw a commercial for Max Murai on TV! And I saw one for Bilingirl the other day, as well. Pretty cool.
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Today on Massan, Ellie was like, "Can you get me some lemon and some honey? I need to make myself some cold medicine," and I was like, "ARE YOU ME?" Oh my goodness. We are the same person. Hippie remedies for life.
....This all occurred while I was assuming that she was going to make herself hot lemonade, flavoured with honey instead of sugar, which is what I always make myself when I am sick. And then she pulled out some whiskey and made a hot toddy. For a small child. Which brings up a few questions/comments, including:
1. Apparently, every time I get sick, I make virgin hot toddies to coax myself back to health? So, that's not weird at all.
2. Although Ellie and I are basically the same person, It's not 1920, so I don't feed whisky to small children. Did they even do that in Scottland in the 1920's? Or in Japan? When was it permissible to feed your children hot toddies? Why didn't she make a virgin one? What are you doing, Ellie?
3. I was just like, "Wait, this show is all about the creation of whisky in Japan, and yet, it's set during prohibition?" And then I realized that prohibition wasn't worldwide, obviously. DUH. I'm tired.
But, despite the questionable judgment involved in this scene, it was legit. Ellie is my spirit animal forever.
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Me, about everything in Japan:

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I could be Sue Heck for Halloween, but then everyone would think that I didn't dress up.
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People at the store always ask me if I want my purchase to be registered as one purchase (like, credit card), and I'm like, "It's a bag of granola. How are you going to split that up?" Next time, I just want to be like, "Yes, I would like it credited as 10 purchases, please. I realize that it costs 3.45. Make it happen. Be creative."
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Yesterday, a girl at school was swooning over the accent that I use while speaking English (like, my normal American accent).
That's right. Someone was swooning over MY accent. OH, HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED.
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Ethics is my absolute favorite class, partially because of the interesting subject material, but mostly because of the speed at which the teacher speaks (it's perfect--I can write down almost all of what he is saying). So, I get really hype when Ethics is coming up, but then, because Japanese scheduling makes exactly zero sense, 85% of the time, we aren't actually having ethics, even though it's on the schedule. I'm like the girl who get all TGIF on Tuesday, except for I get all TGIEthics, and then it's math. Like, legit, this happened today:
Yuti: "I am SO tired!"
Me: "Me, too, but its Ethics next, so yaaay~"
Yuti: "It's not Ethics, it's math."
Me: "But, I thought Ethics and math switched today?"
Yuti: "Yeah, math switched out for Ethics, but Ethics didn't switch with Math. So, we have Math Twice today, and no Ethics."
*CUE DEFEATED MARCH BACK TO DESK*
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My favourite campfire thing that this random old dude spontaneously makes in his backyard on the weekends was back up again, so I went to check it out (AKA, stand at a safe distance so that it is clear that I am not trespassing on this dude's property, and then space out while staring at the fire and thinking about how perfect my Japanese life is), as I am wont to do. But, once I got over there, I realized that there was a random hot dude tending the fire (I hadn't seem him, as he was kneeling), and I was like, "ABORT MISSION, ABORT MISSION," and things were a little bit uncomfortable. I vaguely nodded and greeted him and was like, "hey, campfires are pretty cool" before walking off awkwardly.  But, an enjoyable memory, all the same.
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So, this girl at my school has hardcore resting angry face. Which is a shame, because she's basically the nicest person ever. But at first, I was nervous to talk to her, because I thought she was going to be, like, a super angry/unfriendly person. Biut then it turns out that she's unathletic, and super friendly, so we've bonded now. Yay for ignoring first impressons!
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How am I still getting emails from National Honor Society? I definitely graduated.
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Loving me some Book of Mormon.
.....Why do I enjoy this?
I think we all know why I love this.
(Spoiler alert: It might have something to do with an obsession with irony and satire, and a strong questioning spirit).
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I was doing pretty well re: not listening to Christmas music, but then my classmates were singing Christmas carols, and I broke down and sang with them. It was so much fun! "All I Want for Christmas is You," and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (they taught me how to sing it in Japanese!). It was pretty legit stuff.
And now I'm back to not breaking my regime, and listening to The Book of Mormon, so s'all good :P
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Tumblr Wisdom:
In every painting I've ever seen of Ben Franklin, he looks like someone just stole his parking space.
Google it. Just do it
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I just asked my host Grandmother if she could pass on a message to my host Mom, and she looked at me kind of blankly and responded, "I'm drinking alcohol," so I guess that's a no.
She wrote down the message for me (which is that I needed to meet someone at the station at a certain time today), and said that she would give it to my host Mum. I went downstairs and my host Mum was like, "What?! This is the first that I've heard of it!" I brought the note to her and my host Grandmother. My host Grandmother stared at it for a second before saying, "I don't even remember writing that."
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""Yo it’s your boy! You already know who it is!"
Every rapper that is not your boy and who you do not know at all.

Japan Journal Nine: Taiyaki is the Work of the Gods, and Other Observations

When I find myself in times of trouble
My Australian comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
"Just roll with it...the Aussie way, just turn around and say, "I am giving no f**ks today."
Wide advice courtesy of Sarah.
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Today, I went to talk to YuTi after school, and she said, "I have to go, Sam and Dean are waiting."
This is why we get along so well. Because she is me.
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My class schedule makes absolutely no sense. Like, I have a list of what classes occur at which times, but, not only are the times different every day even when we DO follow the schedule, we randomly don't follow the schedule like 60% of the time. I'm just like, "Go home, Japan scheduling. You are drunk."
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I had a seminar about college today, and the teacher was legit. He was an old Japanese dude with a long beard and a ponytail. My new favourite person.
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Today, I walked into geography (which is held in a different classroom), and there was only one kid in there, as I had arrived early. The kid in question was just looking out the window and whistling. He seemed rather startled by the fact that I had come into the room, as if he wasn't in a shared classroom in which geography was going to start in two minuets. Sorry for disrupting your moment, bro.
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Remember when I used to call Kristian by her full name all of the time, for some unknown and baffling reason? Because she probably does.
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So, apparently I'm a part of some book club thing, and me and some girls in my class were supposed to meet with the librarian to discuss preparations for the club. I admitted to Mayurin (one of the other girls) that I hadn't read the book at all, and she was like, "Dude, neither did I," so we went into the meeting and just nodded and smiled, as did the other girl. The other girl is very studious, so I was certain that she was on top of things and had read the book. Nope, she didn't, apparently she's just a boss faker. We all just faked it till we made it, to be honest.
....Maybe I should actually read the book before the book club..I want to do so, but I am just so TIREDDD, and busy...mreh.
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I am laughing so hard at this. I don't even know why.
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Apparently, they said "Hershey" on yesterday's episode of Supernatural, and Yu-Ti was hype. "You live near Hershey!" I do indeed.
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Happy Halloween from Japan!
I'll be dressing up as Hazel Grace (which I do all of the time, anyway), and listening to this song. Quite the celebration, indeed.
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When I was eight years old, my Mom gave me five dollars to buy myself lunch, and I chose to go hungry and bought a book instead. I think that probably tells you all that you need to know about me. 
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Yesterday, I pulled out my pencil box to write something, and one of the ichinensei at my school was like, "Man, pencils, that brings me back," as if she didn't use pencils like two years ago. You're not old enough to be nostalgic about pencils, what is this.
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The sound of the wind rustling tree leaves, of a campfire burning in the silent dusk, of announcements in the classroom, of the streets of merchants welcoming me to their shops, of the clamour and bustle and life of Japan--all thrill and excite me, all leave me feeling full and content.
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Winter taiyaki taste like what would happen if all of the gods came down from Mount Olympus and said, "Let's make Erin very happy today." I went to the station with Risa and had pumpkin cream and cheese taiyaki, and by George, they tasted like a party in my mouth. Oh my goodness. So wonderful.
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All I have written as a prompt is "Chad Michael Murrey."
Goodness knows with what my brain randomly came up in the middle of English class. I've got nothing.
...Was he in Freaky Friday? Was it about that? Probably. That, or Gilmore Girls. Or "A Cinderella Story." Man, he was really popular circa 2005.
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I heard this song on the radio at the convenience store, and man, it brought back some repressed memories, for sure.
I was like, "...How do I know this..? Why is the familiar to me?" I don't think that I had heard it since I was in sixth or seventh grade...man, memories. I could sing almost the entire thing, too? It was surprising how fast it came back to me. It was a cool moment, for sure.
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A guy at a store complimented my Japanese today! It made me very happy. I'm guessing he doesn't see foreigners very often, because he seemed really excited about me being able to speak Japanese.
Also, my Japanese wasn't great at that particular moment; I hadn't eaten at all that day, due to various factors, and it was almost three in the afternoon, so I was on "speak only as much as is absolutely necessary until you can cram some food in your mouth" mode. But hey, thanks, man. It made my day.

Japan Journal Eight: I Get Free Babywearing Gear, and Other Magical Moments

Me: "My brother is a Junior in high school."
Everyone: "Oh, so you're the same age?"
NO, I'm just abroad studying as a Junior, because I am a weirdo. I'm too old for grades now. I don't even know. Don't try to understand it.
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Guess who got herself some free suck pads that came with a magazine? THIS GIRL. Disney-themed! I am pretty hype. I wonder if I can dye them aqua....
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I went into a store today and only came out with one thing that wasn't on my list.
Do I get some kind of award? I think I deserve one, honestly. A medal would be ideal.
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So, YouTube recommended a video for me that was titled "What Should You Do With your Life?"
Well, excuse you, YouTube. I clearly have my life together.
Just kidding. In reality, I'm just like


And YouTube is like

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When people are asking me a question and I'm confused:

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We had a new teacher in Shodou, and she was BUTCHERING the kanji readings of everyone's names while she took attendance. And of course, my entire class was snickering when she mispronounced people's names, yet another reminder that kids are alike the world over, as we did the same thing in high school.
There was a girl in my class with a kind of complicated first name, and when we had a sub who was taking attendance, the girl in question would just have this "God help us all" expression on her face, because she knew someone was about to kill her name. And we all laughed, every time, because we are horrible people.
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I'm about to go shopping; will I keep the crud-buying to a minimum? WAIT AND FIND OUT.
I probably won't.Yesterday, I bought erasable hilighters, and you can't tell me that's not magical. Random crap is worth every penny, yo.
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I'm eating the mother of all Halloween cookies right now. It takes like magic, and fulfilled dreams. And a little bit like diabetes, but I'm willing to overlook that. Thanks God for Haloween in Japan, which is basically just a time to eat baked goods.
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Someone: *Says something that I don't understand*
Me: *Nods because I'm tired and I don't feel like spending the next ten minuets trying to figure out what they're saying* (Sometimes moving on is just the best option)
Them: "Do you understand?"
Me (in an overly confident voice?): "Yeah!"
Them: "Oh, awesome, can you tell me how to say it in English?"
CRAP.
Then I'm just like, "No, I lied, I don't understand at all," and then it's uncomfortable.
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It's 11:30 at night, and I was just down trying to converse with my host family, and things got awkward and vaguely offensive really fast.
Everyone was drunk except for me, so that may have played a part in what happened, and I was insanely tired, so following conversation was kind of a chore, but man. 
At some point, my host Grandmother called me a Goddess, apparently, unless I heard the word incorrectly, so that was weird. I'm not sure how much alcohol she's imbibed, but I assume it was quite a bit if I suddenly became Goddess material.
A lot was said about me working hard to learn Japanese, and to become good at Japanese, but it was said in a way that left me feeling like I'm really crappy and I don't try hard enough, which is kind of hard to explain. Earlier, my adviser came and visited the house, and she said that she had just visited an Australian boy who has been here since March, and will be here for a total of ten months. She bragged about his Japanese skills a little bit and stuff, and I was like, "An Australian who speaks Japanese? And he wants to be a translator? My ovaries just exploded." BUT then, for some reason, I guess my host family decided it would be fun to bring up the fact that I really could be better at Japanese if I stayed for ten months, and that I ought to have stayed for ten months, which was mega frustrating, because I tried SO HARD to be able to come here for ten months, and I want with all of my soul to stay for longer, and they don't know how many tears, and how much effort, I put into trying to stay for longer. So, the whole thing was ridiculous, and made me feel extremely upset. And it wasn't helped by the fact that, although I clearly understood the Japanese, my family kept randomly translating words into English ( "I am here for three months," I said. "Yeah, only three months," said my host mother. "THREE," my host grandmother translated into English, which is baffling, as I had JUST SAID IT in Japanese). I am definitely overreacting, but man, it sucked a lot. 
I don't really know how the goddess part of the conversation started up, but whatever. It doesn't really make up for the other, more frustrating parts, most of which I'm not going to describe here, because I don't want to remember that they have happened. 
I love Japan. So, so much <3 And my host family is pretty fabulous. But man, this was not a great moment.
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I think that you might need this today.
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I got to help my host Grandmother at the farm today! It was so wonderful. Usually, if I ask her if I can help, she says no, but I think that Hosoya Sensei said something yesterday about how the rules of JFIE say that I am so be helpful, because she allowed me to do so! It was really enjoyable--we chatted while we picked vegetables, and it all felt very natural and awesome. 
Also, I picked up some more pretty leaves to press--I'm excited to see how these will turn out. I think it will be really cool to have them when I go back, something natural and tangible with which to remember my first trip to Japan.
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Japanese people wear Crocs without a hint of irony. It amuses me greatly. Like, today I saw a scene-style couple at a restaurant, and the dude was sitting there, defying societal standards and sticking it to the man, in his Mickey Mouse Crocs. Good for you guys, rock on with your bad selves.
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I totally ship Lards/Sadie (from Steven Universe).
Last night, I watched "Island Adventure" and was like, "OMG, MY OTP IS CANON," and then I realized that I was shipping characters on a children's cartoon.
Like, so this is what it's come to.
Seriously, though, Steven Universe is legit. All of the representation, and the different body types, and the gobs of strong female characters, and the fact that many of the secondary characters are also female, and the fact that it's quite possibly the ONLY children's show currently airing that isn't aimed at a particular gender (TV is for everyone--woot woot!), and also the fact that it's the first Cartoon Network show headed by a female animator (Rebecca Sugar); I basically love it. It's like a feminist's dream show. 
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Wise Tumblr words:
I'm alive, but only ironically.
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Today, I had to fill out a survey about my athletic activity (LOL), which was pretty fun.
At one point, there was a bank of sports, and I was supposed to choose the owns in which I participate, which is hysterical, because I do nothing at all. So, I checked swimming because it was the only thing I had done at all recently (if by recently, you mean three months ago), and was instantly reminded of this:
*Someone compliments Spencer's muscularness*
Specer: "Well, you know, I swim."
Carly: "Since when do you swim?"
Spencer: "I swam once."
Literally me.
Also, I was trying to find video of this, but instead I found this gem:
 Carly: Come on! You don't really want Spencer!
Spencer: I'm a mess!
Carly: Such a mess!
Sam: He has no job!
Spencer: Who would hire me?
Freddie: He doesn't hang out with anyone his own age!
Spencer: I've never been popular!
Carly: He drinks milk in the shower!
Spencer: All naked and wet!
Carly: Oh, and he hasn't had a steady girlfriend since high school!
Spencer: Ok, well maybe not a steady girlfriend per se---!
Sam: And look at his flat butt!
Spencer: TOO FAR! [grabs her fishstick and throws it into the air]
Spencer, honest to goodness.

..I think I AM Spencer.
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Again with the sport survey, I was just like.....
......Is fangirling a sport?

Destroying the patriarchy is my cardio, what now?
Yeah, I had nothing.
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 Then it asked if I do any sports clubs outside of school, and I was just like, "What do you think?"
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It got worse. It was like, "How many hours per day do you spend online?"
...And I was like, "I don't want to talk about it."
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I wrote hark at some point today in place of Hank.
"Hank the Herald Angels Sing" could be a heck of a Nerdfigher Christmas song.
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Every time I see a foreigner (which is almost never), I wonder if I should go and talk to them. And then I realize, and say what? Like, "Hey, I noticed that you, too, are white, Should we become friends?"
Or like, "hey, we have something in common. It's that we're both foreign."
So, I say nothing.
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I don't know if I get started at more when I'm alone, or if I just don't notice people staring at me when I'm focused on speaking Japanese, but man, I was at the station today alone (yay for shopping without anyone rushing me~), and SO many people stared at me. It was a little bit over the top, like, c'mon guys, I know you see foreigners on TV.
It's funny, though, not weird/isolating. We need tone phonts or something, for pete's sakes. If you don't know me and you read things like this, I probably sound clinically depressed, when, in reality, my reaction to stares is something like this:

Japan Journal Seven: A Japanese Lady's Haircut Gives me Middle School-Related Cringe Attacks, and Other Occurrences

Petition for Zoella to voice the next Disney Princess.
Oh, no wait, it got better. I want Zoella to voice the next princess, and I want her character to be betrothed to a prince (played by Tyler Oakley); but she totally isn't into it, and she doesn't want to get married, because she wants to travel and see the world, go on adventures, and explore. He's also iffy about it, but it's never said why. Then, for some reason, they have to go and save the kingdom from imminent danger, so, off they go with Zoella's quirky BFFs (played by Hannah Hart and Troye Sivan, because I love them both). And, the entire movie, you THINK that Zoella and Tyler are going to fall in love, and then their betrothal will all work out, but--plot twist--Tyler's character falls in love with Troye's character, because it turns out that he's gay. And then Zoella gets to go off and travel the world in the end, just as she wanted to do. And Hannah's character makes funny puns, because that's how she rolls.
Oh my gosh, and can there be, like, a sassy fairy Godmother, played by Mamrie? And they're like, 'Dude, can you help us out?" and she's like, "Man, I don't know what's going on. I'm gonna go have a margarita."
And can Jon Cozart just play, like, every other character in the movie? I don't even know whom he should play, but I feel like at some point, he shout form a quartet with himself, seeing as he's shown a remarkable talent for that.  
I would pay so much money to see this movie.
Maybe we should just dial it down to step one, where Zoella is the voice of a Disney princess. But, I'm just saying, Disney execs, you're welcome to any of this information. Free blockbuster material at your fingertips.
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So, in a stunning turn of events, I watched Massan this morning, and Ellie was using a notebook to write down new phrases that those around her used! And then, using them incorrectly because she didn't understand them completely. Did I mention that we are basically twins? Oh my word.
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This guy tripped today, and knocked over an entire stack of books, and I failed at repressing a laugh and snorted loudly, because I'm a terrible person.
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Girl in my club: "You should get married to a Japanese guy!"
Other girl: "Yeah, you can have cute half-Japanese, half-American kids."
Thanks for the tip, guys. I had no idea that that was even an option.

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I made friends with a kid on the baseball team, so that officially makes me the coolest.
Today, the entire team came in to the genkan, because they were done with practice, and I was like, "How was practice?," and ALL of the other players looked over, and I was just like, "THAT'S RIGHT, I KNOW HIM, WHAT NOW?." You know, with my eyes.
The baseball team is living that strug life. They all have to shave their heads and wear suits to school. Why? I don't even know.
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A belated thank you to the random girl at LAX who let me call my parents on her phone. You the real MVP.
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People in Japan are always so impressed to hear that I do my own hair, and they haven't even seen me put it up with a pen yet! It gets better, you guys.
I don't know why they find it so impressive, but I'm just rolling with it.
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I saw a Japanese Lady rocking the Kate Gosselin today.
Understanding this joke, I now realizes, will take general knowledge of 2008 pop culture, so I will laugh if someone is reading this years from now, and somehow doesn't get it at all.
No worries, GIFs are here for you:

I was just looking through GIFs and was having these cringe attacks, like, "Why on earth did I even watch this show?", and then I saw this GIF and remembered why:

AWWWW.
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English teacher: "Erin, can you tell us why Americans use the same word for bodily organs, and organ, as in the instrument?"
Me: They're homonyms?
I had no decent answer. Sorry.
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I went to a taiyaki store with Risa the other day (one to which we have been many, many times), and they gave us a free gift with our taiyaki, because they remembered me! It was so sweet. I love this little shop at the station; it's run by a bunch of sweet grandmas and grandpas, and the taiyaki are so delicious! The free gift was so kind--it made my day.
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I was feeling kind of iffy-ish yesterday (the ususal struggle of "my host sister won't talk to me" was raging, and was added to by the fact that I found out that I'm not allowed to travel to Tokyo, to which I was REALLY looking forward. So, that all sucked), but today, after school, I got to talk to Risa, and then we walked to the station and went shopping, and it was SO awesome. So much time to talk to Risa, who is fun, sweet, and awesomesauce, and lots and lots of Japanese practice. I was so happy! And she agreed to go to Karaoke with me sometime soon!! Yay. I miss her and her family, they were so amazing. My new family rocks, too, but the whole no talking thing is not fab. So, being able to go to the station today and hang out with Risa just made me feel so much better about the whole situation.
Also, I bought Kristian the most legit necklace of all time. We both have a lot of TFiOS themes clothing, and galaxy-themes stuff in general, and Kristian digs steampunk a lot, so when I saw this legit steampunk-galaxy necklace, I was like, "DUDE. HOW CAN I LEAVE THIS?" I hope she likes it. I loved it, too, but I don't wear a lot of jewelry. I was debating whether or not I should grab it just because I loved the design, when--lo and behold--they had a hairtie of the same thing. What? I know. I was hype.
We will be unabashed, steampunk, TFiOS/Galexy twins, and we will love it.
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Me: Ben, I got you a really cool hat.
Ben: Is it like the pointy ones that Japanese people where while they are farming?
Yes, Ben, in fact, it is. And I'm somehow going to fit that into my suitcase without it getting crushed, and bring it back to America for you. Because I am dedicated.
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The word "Yo" originated in Philly, so Pennsylvanians are basically the coolest people ever.

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A lot of people have asked me what surprised me the most about Japan/what is surprising me the most about Japan.
I think I mentioned this earlier, but just in case I didn't, it's definitely the fact that people sleep in class. Like, unsubtly and frequently. It's interesting to me, because at my school in America, you would have gotten in trouble for sleeping in class, or at least scolded. But here, most teachers just ignore it. So, that was definitely surprising to me.
Another thing that I find amusing: Japanese people call any store (item sold at store)yasan, which literally means Mr/Mrs (item sold at store) store. For example, panyasan = Mr/Mrs. Bread Store. They say this without a trace of irony or cloying. I love it, 
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Teacher: "How do you say 'Gyuudon' in English?"
Me: "We don't have Gyuudon."
Teacher, "No, but like, what do you call Gyuudon in America."
Me: "We don't call it anything, we don't have it. 
Teacher: "No, (in English) BEEF BOWL." 
Me: "No, I know what you're talking about. I've eaten it before. We just DON'T HAVE IT." 
I feel like, at the end of the conversation, he still didn't completely understand that we don't have gyuudon in America. 
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Today on Massan, Ellie was trying to convince her friend's family to allow her to have a job outside of the home. Rock on with your bad self, Ellie; you rock my socks. Not only is she basically me, she's a feminist, too? And in 1920?! I love her forever,
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Teacher: Who's the tallest in this class?
*Class calls out tallest person's name*
Teacher: Okay, really? How many centimeters?
*Person answers question*
Teacher (with a touch of benevolent envy): Ahh, really? That must be nice. (Literally, he said, "Aaaa, ii naa~ in the voice that one might use when one hears that one's friend is going on vacation to Disneyland. It was hysterical).
He's like 5'3". It made my day.
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The cover of my Ethics book is Aristotle/Plato, universals vs. particulars. I think the real name is "The School of Athens," but I am doomed forever to think of it in the way in which it is discussed in "How Should We Then Live," which we read and analyzed extensively in my sociology class. Thanks to this class, I look like I know what I am talking about in Ethics, so woot!
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Today, my teacher made a reference to Giant Baba, and I understood it only because I used to read "Love Com" in middle school, and there was a character who was nicknamed "Giant Baba" in the comic (you know, due to his gargantuan height), so, to whomever suggests that manga aren't educational....there you go.
I was just like,

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I like that the YouTube ad campaign means that I get cool ads for Japanese YouTube channels on my sidebar. Yay, lucky me!
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Of course, SciShow commercials start coming on TV when I'm out of the country :/
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I have no idea from whence this madness came, but I had a cringe attack/flashback back to eight grade Study Skills class today.
Shout out to the girl who, every time we had to watch the bizarre study skills videos that were made in the 80's and featured horrible hair and such useful pieces of advice as "You need to get an assignment book. That's a book where you keep your assignments," complained about the fact that she was seated directly in front of the screen. 
"It feels like she's staring into my soul!" she said of the creepy women featured in the videos. She gave an almost constant and completely irrelevant commentary throughout the videos about how irked she was about her placement, until, out of desperation, the teacher made her switch seats with me. And then I had to deal with the creepiness. So, lucky me. 
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I'm pretty sure that Avril Lavigne is a vampire, that chick is eternally youthful.
And insanely popular in Japan. LET THEM KNOW THAT WE'RE STILL ROCK AND ROLL! 
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Today, when this one kid was asked a question, he randomly got up, walked across the room, and looked out the window before answering Whatever works, I guess, dude.
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His accent. C'mon.
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Today, I was on Tumblr, and someone reblogged  something in Japanese I didn't even notice that anything was different about it, until a few seconds after seeing it, when I was like, "hold up, that was Japanese." Immersion rocks!
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So, I just introduced my homegirl to Zoella, and she messaged me and was like, "Who's that guy that Zoella was dating? He's definitely gay." And I was like, "Alfie..? Alfie's NOT gay, what's she talking about....OMG, SHE MEANS TYLER OAKLEY, SHE WATCHED THEIR FAKE BOYFRIEND TAG."
I die. I was laughing so hard.
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My homegirls are the best.
Yesterday, I talked to Kristian for a  long time about her new book--which sounds absolutely FANTASTIC. I can't wait to read it. Guess who is a character? That would be yours truly. I AM PRETTY EXCITED ABOUT IT (I hadn't meant for this to be in CAPS, but I decide to keep it, since I feel it accurately describes my feelings about this situation). The book sounds great, and Kristian is mega talented, so I know that it will be fabulous. And we had our normal amount of nerdy banter, which is always enjoyable.
And then this morning, I talked to Liss for a while about YouTube, which was AWESOME, as YouTube is my passion/addiction. I introduced her to Zoella and she's totally into it, which pleases me, because I adore Zoella.
Yay for positive interaction!
BOO for too much English. I need to go and speak Japanese now. No more internet. 
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Yesterday, I went to the bookstore and bought a bunch of books that I didn't need, which is always fun. I stuck them all in my backpack, and then had to wait while the employee processed my card, and somehow, during the three minuets that it took to do this, I completely forgot that they were in there. I hoisted my backpack onto my back and was like, "Oh my gosh, why on EARTH is this thing so heavy and lumpy?! What did I put in....OH, DUH."
Mistakes made.

Japan Journal Six: I get a Japanese Friend Hooked on Supernatural, and Assorted Other Happenings

I've had "After Ever After' by Paint stuck in my head ALL. DAY. LONG. I was completely bewildered, as it's been a while since I heard that song, until I realized that we're playing a Disney melody in kotobu, and "When You Wish upon a Star" is prominently featured. That explains it.
In other news, although I couldn't possibly sing "When You Wish upon a Star" with the correct lyrics, I CAN sing that part of "After Ever After," and it is apparently the first thing that comes into my head when I hear the actual song XD So, that's fun.
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I love Nerdfighteria. Yesterday, this chick on the Nerdfighter facebook group was talking about how legit her kids are, and how much she enjoys having a nerdfighter family. I told her how legit I think they are, and that I aspire to raise a family that legit in the future. And she was like, "Why wait? Become an honorary member of our family now! We shall call you Aunt E--pronounces Auntie." It was so sweet! It honestly made my week/life. I'm all about alternative families, and creating families that are not related by blood, but are connected by love and shared awesomeness, so this is all about which I could have dreamed and more. I love being a nerdfighter; the community is so open, so kind, so friendly, so full of love. I'm lucky! And I am grateful for my new nerdfighter family. Aunty thinks you guys rock :)
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Wise words that I lifted off of Tumblr:
physically i would describe myself as a noncommittal wiggly hand gesture with a vague “enhhh” noise
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General topics of conversation that strangers bring up with they find out that I am American:
1. Massan/how much I look like Ellie from Massan.
2. Whether or not I am interested in marrying a Japanese person (....Maybe? I don't know. How do you even answer this question? "Sure"? "I'm game for anything"? I don't even know what I'm doing a month from now, let alone what I'll be doing by the time I am ready to get married. Although I understand the interest behind the question, and it's fun to discuss/think about).
3. Whether or not I am scared to go back to America because of Ebola (I WASN'T BEFORE YOU SAID THAT).
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So, I was watching a talk show with my family, and for some unknown reason, the hosts had with them a large bottle of dirty river water (it somehow had something to do with the victory of a local baseball team, which honesty raises more questions than it answers). It reminded me of the only baseball game to which I have ever been (I was in the third grade), during which, in some serendipitous twist, my best friend was ALSO at the same baseball game, across the stadium from me. Which would have completely flew under the radar, except for the fact that her mother was chosen for some sort of drawing, in which she had to choose one of two boxes. The chosen box would contain either:
1. A 25 dollar gift card to a Wal-Mart-esque store, or
2. A bottle of Susquehanna river water.
Mom allowed bestie to chose the box, and bestie chose-yup, you guessed it- the river water.
A glorious day for us all.
And then-plot twist-at that moment in time, I DIDN'T KNOW that it was bestie, but at church, I told her about the adventure, and, in one of the most bafflingly exciting moments of my childhood, she revealed her identity.
We were like star-crossed homegirls. Destiny brought us together.
I will bet you anything that she doesn't remember this story, though XD
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The other day, I got out my laptop to watch a YouTube video, when, as usual, a commercial began playing (yay, pre-rolls). It was clearly a commercial for a movie, but it was in English with Japanese subtitles, so that intrigued me. It was honestly super bizarre and somehow vaguely scandalous-looking; everything in the preview looked barren, and seemed to be coloured in various shaded of grey (honestly, this should have been the first clue as to which movie it was). I sat there for a few moments, feeling vaguely unnerved, before a character said, "Mr. Grey will see you now." AAAAND then I knew what it was, and I pushed the "SKIP" button like it was my JOB.
Why is there a 50 Shades of Grey movie? Why? Like, if you want to watch that movie, no judgment, enjoy your weird, offensive, heteronormative, stereotypical movie that degrades women. Okay, so, a little bit of judgment. I mean, meh. If you're into it, I hope it's great, and that you love it to pieces! I really do. But...yeah.  
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Sometimes I think that Japanese reality TV is weird, and then I remember that we have Honey Boo Boo, Extreme Couponing, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, and whatever mess happens on "Your Kid Ate What?," so I feel like we're about even. 
Actually, what the crap, America. You're weird.
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One of my friends at school told me that she wants to be a comic book artist, but she knows that this is a difficult job, so, as her back-up plan, she has decided to work at a bakery, because she likes making bread. I'm all about that--backup plans rule. I'm frequently really irritating about this, like, someone will tell me that they want to major in music or become a famous model, and I'm just like, "RESPONSIBILITY: WHAT'S YOUR POLICY?!", but it sounds like this girl has got it under control. Rock on with your bad self, cool Japanese girl.
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Wow.
The father of a good friend of mine from high school has just passed away suddenly.
I am absolutely stunned.
She is such a sweet, sunny, intelligent person. My heart is breaking for her and her family.
If you are reading this, and you're a praying person, or a positive thought sending person, please send out whatever you can for her.
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Host Grandmother: Which do you like better, America or Japan?
Me: I like Japan the best.
Her: Oh, well, half Japanese, half American kids are really cute, you know....
Every time. Every. Single. Time.
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The fact that I am living in Japan is still kind of surreal to me. Sometimes I can't believe that this is my life. I am so, so lucky to live here.
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If you are going abroad to Japan as an exchange student, DO NOT bring your Japanese textbook from home. You will never use it, and it will be heavy to carry and will take up extra, unnecessary space in your luggage.
I speak from unfortunate experience.
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People keep telling me that I'm really good at aisatsu (greetings). Thanks? Sounds good to me.
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So, mini ranty thing:
My host sister definitely doesn't like me. Like, at all. So, that's really not a big deal, but it would be better, because it would be great if I could practice Japanese with her, but she will not engage in conversation with me at all. Like, I am constantly bringing up conversation topics, and she's giving me one word answers, and then just going on her phone. GRR. Example:
Me: "Hey, how was Tokyo?" (Did I mention that she went to Tokyo with a bunch of friends, and I was not invited? I mean, I get it, she didn't ask for me to live at her house, and she totally deserves to go out with her friends without me, but she goes out and does cool, fun, Japanese things with friends every weekend, and she has not once invited me to come along. So, that's whatever, but it would be nice to go).
Sister: "Good."
Me: "What did you do?"
Her: "An attraction." (What the crap does this even mean?!)
Me: "Wow, that sounds fun. Like, karaoke?"
Her: "No, roller coasters."
It went on like this for a while, before I just gave up and let her play on her phone. It's not a huge deal, but it's kind of annoying. Like, at least pretend you like me. Just talk, please. I came here to practice Japanese.
It's no big deal during the week, but on the weekends when my family is my only source of conversation, it becomes very frustrating.
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I showed Ben my cool "Master One Skill" shirt that I bought here, and he was like, "I get it, it's like, 'don't half-ass two things, Leslie; whole-ass one thing."
I love this kid XD
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I got Yu-ti, my homegirl, hooked on Supernatural. I think it's safe to say that I'm a nerd hero.
She came up to me at school today, and was like, "I watched Supernatural this weekend, I LOVE IT!" I recommended it to her because she tends to like TV shows and movies like that. And, lo and behold, she did!
Later, she was like, "Sam, Dean, Sam, Dean, yay!" It made me laugh.
She also likes Harry Potter. This is why we're friends.
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Japan Journal Five: I Crave Movies Instead of Drugs, and Other Observations

Japan Journals, Part Five! Woot woot. The other parts are all here on my blog, too! Check them put if you're interested.
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 I was explaining to Japanese kids how American high schoolers have to change classrooms for every class, and they found it hilariously baffling. "We have three minuets to go to our locker, get our books, and go to the next classroom." "THREE MINUETS? That's the same time as cup ramen!"
It was hilarious.
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My life is like a game of "How Many People Will Compare me to Ellie from Massan," but it's a fun game, so I'm into it.
The current number is five. The fun part of the same is where they comment that I'm like Ellie, we look alike (no we don't, but whatever), and our names are similar. The less fun part is when they all try to find me a "Massan" by setting me up with random people. Although hey, whatever works,  I guess XD
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This goth Mom is my hero. I freaking love her.
That is all.
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Hey, do you want to go get some soup, and maybe have a baby?” should be everyone's go-to pick-up line, for the rest of time.
Can we just talk about this version of the song, which has the whitey-McWhiterssons singing it, along with a small child in a sombrero? Because, I think that we should.
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Today, I passed some people in the station, and they legitimately stopped what they were doing, turned around, and stared at me. And kept staring. Even when I was, like, 50 feet away. So much for subtlety, guys. They seemed cool, though. I would have talked to them, but I was with my host sister, who frowns upon speaking to strangers. C'mon.
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 I went to English club today, because I was feeling like I wanted to do something different (than Shodou). The students were supposed to discuss a favorite memory (they had been given this assignment last meeting, and had written it down). Apparently, one kid totally forgot that they were supposed to do this, so he went, "My memory is very recent," and then proceeded to tell us the story of how he and his grandfather got into a car accident yesterday and totaled their car (!!!). We were flabbergasted. Then, this exchange occurred:
Courtney (ALT): How old is your Grandfather?
Dude: "88."
Courtney: "Oh my gosh. And he drives?!"
Me: "Is he a good driver?"
Dude: "....Ehhh..."
So, I guess that explains the accident XD Oh, my.
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(A translation of an interaction on today's episode of Massan)
Ellie (speaking Japanese): Good morning!
Woman (running away): I don't speak English!
Ellie: Wait, wait! TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE RICE!
Literally me. Every day. I was wrong, Ellie is my spirit animal.
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Another good conversation, from the same episode:
Ellie was asked which she prefers, Scotland (her home country), or Japan (I get this question a lot).
Ellie: Well, I like Scotland, but I love Japan....I love the beautiful kimono, the delicious food, the way people from Osaka talk [Insert Osaka-ben phrases that I don't understand]...."
YES, ELLIE. YES. WE ARE THE SAME PERSON, IT'S DECIDED.
It's not that I don't like America, it's just that I love absolutely everything about Japan; every single small detail, the accents, the food, the toys, the colours of the seats on the bus, the way the station lights up at night...Everything is special, everything is sacred. And Ellie gets it, although no one else seems to understand.
I honestly relate to this character on a spiritual level (I mean, maybe not the part where she's a Scottish immigrant in the 1920's, married to a Japanese whisky brewer, but you can't always win). Everything she says applies to my situation so well. Oh my word. I'm so lucky that this is airing while I'm in Japan <3
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 So, a lot of people get random food cravings, but I get sudden and bizarre cravings for other things--rarely for food. Crafting, making something, watching a certain movie, listening to a certain song--something like that. Like, for example, earlier this month, I felt this bizarre desire to watch the live action, 2002 Scooby Doo movie. You could say that this was a horrible movie, but that would be insulting Queen SMG, so we won't say that. And, for some unknown reason that involves nostalgia, I actually genuinely love this movie. Ever since it came out, I think I have watched it every year around Halloween time, some years more than once (I can distinctly remember, when I was about nine, watching the movie with my brother in the kitchen. My Dad walked in, saw what we were watching, and groaned, "Oh G-d, not this again." I couldn't find it online, so that craving went unsatisfied. My current two:
"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses: I freaking love this song. This is my Christmas JAM, yo. Unfortunatley, I refuse to let myself listen to any Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, so as to not ruin the sacridity of it or something, so this craving is going unsatisfied.
Sky High: You may or may not remember that, due to my questionable taste in music late at night, "Just What I Needed" has been blaring through my headphones a little bit more that I'd like to admit. That song was in this movie, and since then, I've been thinking of this film. Which, like, I have this weird desire to watch, but I don't actually want to have to sit through it? Not that it's a bad movie, it's pretty adorable. And it has a BANGING soundtrack (that apparently includes someone called Flashlight Brown as an artist. What is this madness). And I went to see it in the theatre way back in 2005, so nostalgia factor (yes, I get nostalgic for 2005, sit down, haters). Whatever, weird craving.  
At least I'm not craving, like, crack or something, but c'mon.
(I can't find a picture of Winston from New Girl talking about crack, so here's this beautiful mashup that I unlawfully lifted from someone's Tumblr):
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English teacher: Erin, can you tell us some names from the Bible?
Oh, honey, I went to religious school. I can tell you ALL of the names from the Bible.
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Japanese kids are the masters of stealth sleeping in class. Like, they can sleep sitting up, looking as if they are looking down at their paper, and holding a pen/pencil. I can't even sleep when I'm lying in bed, for Pete's sakes (insomniaaaaa). These kids are dedicated.
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Every Japanese person be like, "This could be you and [insert random Japanese person's name here], but you playin' "

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Being an exchange student in kind of like going to language boot camp. Except, instead of only getting pain (and physical fitness or something else that I dislike), you get the most amazing time ever, and huge strides in your language skills. So, it's basically the most amazing thing ever. If you are contemplating it at all, go. You will not regret it.
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I just began noticing how much Japanese I am learning here, and it makes me so happy. Today, I noticed myself thinking in Japanese a few times, which was awesome. And I can completely understand spoken conversations (or, I can at least get the gist of what's going on, which is enough to participate, so YAY), and can understand a good amount of what teachers are saying when they are giving instructions. And I can understand TV!! AHH! All things with which I have been having trouble, all things I had no idea how to do before I came, all achieved in Japan, through natural conversation and immersion. LOVE. And I still have more time--I cannot WAIT to see what happens then. I am so happy.
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I wrote "Full House?" in one of my notebooks, as something about which I wanted to journal. What? I can't even remember. I need to get a better cue/memory system or something. FULL HOUSE. WHAT EVEN.
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I made friends with some boys at school today, which was cool, because they usually don't talk to me. And I participated in group conversations, which is hard for me sometimes, because it's all at a fast pace. Improvement! Yay.
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   I just skyped with my homeboy and made plans to go to Tokyo! So excited. It was the kind of conversation that leaves me feeling crazy happy afterwards, and included gems such as this:
M: It was the biggest typhoon of the century, I heard.
Me: Yeah, I heard that, as well.
M: You brought that, didn't you?
Me: Yup.
I have magical foreigner powers.

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"But people still like you. All the oldsters, everybody at the factory...."
"Right, yeah. But they like me as they remember me, not as I am now."
--- An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
Yes, John Green, yes. I relate to this on a spiritual level.
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Before kids in my class answer a teacher's question, they will completely unsubtly ask the kid next to them what the answer is. I have no idea why this surprised me, but it was really unexpected. We would have been scolded BIG TIME for doing this in America, so that's interesting.
Rock on with your bad selves, Japanese kids.
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One of the girls in my class brought some tums-esque medicine to school, and it smelled very strongly of wint-o-green mint flavor. All of the other kids were complaining that it smelled, when one girl who has been gone returned to the room. Everyone shoved it in her face and tried to make her smell it, and I can't even.
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