Long time no write, I know. Not that you guys can really tell immediately, anyway. Friday night went well; Judith came and picked me up and I went to dinner with her the spent the night at her house. We had lots of good chit chat just kind of catching up on each other's lives. Kind of like old friends who just met. :) Saturday morning I went with her to her Japanese class, which is a couple of towns away (which means like, 10 minutes on the train). They let me observe (which really means participate in... no simple observation there! :) ) the very beginner class, which was compromised of myself and a man from China named Yang. He arrived in Japan a month ago, but is just now starting classes. I intend on waiting about that long before starting Japanese classes-- it is a little too overwhelming to try to do everything suddenly. Yang and I learned how to tell time and tell when things open and close in Japanese. For example, I can now say "Go-ji san-ju fun des" which means "It is 5:05." The teacher was a hoot and a holler. She spoke English and Spanish and some Chinese, I think. She was very genki (which means healthy, active, energetic and is a term used a LOT here). I had a good time and really learned stuff, so I might choose to go back there for classes when the time comes.
Then Judith and I went to a recycle shop, which is kind of a cross between a garage sale and a pawn shop, sort of. It is all second hand things, but they only buy the best of the best stuff that is either never used or looks brand new. While there I happened to notice an adorable couch that was really cheap for its size and cuteness, so I bought it to replace my brown-falling apart couch thing that I inherented. I'll put pictures up as soon as I can. Getting the couch back to my apartment was an adventure. We borrowed Roxanna's car (because it's bigger) and went to my apartment to get the old couch and take it to the city dump. We made it to the dump literally five minutes before close and got rid of the brown thing, then went back to the recycle shop to get my new couch. My new couch was very nearly too big to fit into the car... we had to lay the backseat down and move the front seats as close to the front as possible. I doubled over laughing seeing Judith trying to squish into the extremely compact front seat... I'm still not sure how she managed to drive, but we made it back to my apartment. Then we had to somehow get the beautiful blue beast up the stairs and through the narrow doorways. To get in my front door we had to put the couch slightly over the railing and I was like, "Judith, is there a car underneath the couch?" She replied, "Yep, but don't worry." I was like "if this couch goes over the balcony onto that car I am packing my things, leaving Japan and never looking back." :) Thankfully nothing like that happened, and now I have a lovely blue couch in my living room. Domo arigato gozaimasu to Judith for all of her help!!!
Sunday I took the train all by myself from Hitachi to Mito for church. My dear friend Chi-chan met me at the station and took me to the church building. I felt so accomplished for being able to conquer the train system-- that is not to say that I won't have some kind of train mishap in my future. :) That is almost a guarantee, probably. ;) Church was great-- it is so good to always see everybody (and hear English!) and come together with all kinds of people for a common purpose. I've got to admit, I just love seeing my friends, too. After church it was a regular OC reunion-- Chisato, Chie, Tomoko, Izumi, Aaron, Denver S., Peter and I all went to lunch together. We had so much fun just catching up, remembering old times, and making plans to do more things together in the near future. How much fun!!!!
EBC went very well. I sat in on Peter's class as an observer and I was reminded of just how much I love to teach English. That just gets me revved up to get back into the classroom. And might I also just mention that Japanese kids are toooo cute. :) Eloise Ives was kind enough to take me home so I didn't get another adventure on the train, but I had a good opportunity to talk to her. She's an American who has been living in Japan for almost 20 years, including raising her two children here. Her daughter is starting at OC this semester, so I think she feels an obligation to help out an OCer who happens to be in Japan. :) She was very encouraging and kind to me. After I got home I ended up going downstairs and visiting with Ian for several hours, and it was great to get to know him better. He's lived in Japan for 7 years and is fluent in Japanese, so I'm sure he will be a great asset and friend.
Today at work was great, because it was an office day (which means we don't really have to do much) and I got to spend it with my co-workers this time. I am still so fascinated by how different all of us ALTs are. We're different, but complimentary I think. Everyone has different perspective and background and insight. I think we'll make a good team. Let me tell you about our section leader, Taka-san. He is an older man who likes to tease people. :) Today he used Ian as his interpretor to pick on the new girl (all in good fun, of course). :) He asked if I knew how to use chopsticks and when I said yes, decided to put me to a public test. He went and got a bag of something like chex mix and a pair chopsticks and made me prove myself after getting the attention of everyone in the office as my audience. Then after everyone saw me and applauded when I was successful, Taka-san made it harder by shaking the plate while I had to grab a little round cracker thing. I was laughing so hard I could hardly do it, but once again I represented the Amerika-jin and proved myself worthy. Had that happened last week I would have crumbled, but today it was all part of my adventure. :)
Our staff (the Hitachi Board of Education) went out to a lunch in my honor. I was asked to give a short address (which I hear they're quite fond of doing here in Japan) and we all ate some good Chinese food. It was such a funny process, though. I have never seen anyone on the staff (except the ALTs) go any slower than 100 mph at their work. Then today at about lunch time everyone stood up and began milling around. They acted like they were in a great hurry, except no one made any moves for the door. After a couple of minutes of that, the noon chime rang signaling the beginning of the lunch hour and thus began the mad dash that was lunch. We walked quickly to the restaurant, ordered quickly, gave quick "addresses", ate faster than I have eaten in a loooong time, and then ran back to the office all before 12:50. :) It was a good lunch, good time, but it just struck me as funny. :)
Tonight after work I decided to be adventuresome and strike out on the town by myself. I went to the mall that's farther away from my apartment and looked around. Also important to note, I found a vending machine that sells Dr. Pepper. I have seen several before, but I was always in a car and never able to stop. But finally I got my DP. :) Hip hip hooray for imports!