Sunday, November 16, 2003
Not dead, just busy...
Wow, I can hardly believe November is already half-way over. Time really flies, and I still feel like a complete n00b here in Japan. Work is well, work... so I won't bore you with the details. I think I'm finally approaching the point where I know about 2/3s of my students, and I'm hoping in another couple of months, I'll know nearly everybody.
As a relatively new teacher, I find it fascinating that all my students ask almost the same identical questions when they first meet. It's not just because their English is limited, either... I find the same questions come from students who are very low level all the way to near-fluent speakers.
1 What is your impression of Japan?
2 What is your impression of Japanese people?
3 Can you speak Japanese?
4 Do you like Japanese food?
5 Why did you come to Japan?
I have almost robotic responses to them too. It's involuntary, like blinking in bright light.
1I like it here... it's different from home. More crowded, less space, but clean places, and low crime.
2 On the whole, they're more polite than Americans, that's for sure. Heh.
3 Sukoshi. (a little)
4 Very much so. But I haven't tried natto* yet.
5 I wanted to travel and experience something new that would help me to grow as a person.
* = natto is funky fermented soy beans. It's on the "to eat list" and will probably be a future blog entry.
In any case, once the questions are out of the way in the first few lessons, then comes the interesting part of getting to know my students. A sampling of some the more interesting folks (besides my previously mentioned transplant surgeon and girl street racer).
-a CEO of one of the largest car part manufacturers in Japan. He owns 3 factories in Japan, 2 factories in America, and a factory in Hungary.
-fashion designer of young women's clothes (18-25) for a major department store.
-bakery owner / baker who specializes in cakes and pastries who studied in Europe as a young man.
-merchant marine ship's navigator. He picked up basic English from the large number of Filipino sailors on his ship.
-family counselor / psychiatrist who works for Osaka city family court. Her speciallty is mediating disputes between couples who are getting divorced.
-high school student who's the all-star catcher for his school team.
-women's university student, whose favorite activity is kyudo, a martial art best described as Japanese archery.
Yep, interesting folks. As you might ascertain, most are working professionals or middle-class types. English lessons ain't cheap here in Japan...
On a side note, I'm still starving for news from home and I'm starting to give serious thought to getting a subscription to either an English language newspaper here in Japan, or something like the NY Times. Visits to the internet cafe are the great days for me, because I can check the NY Times, the Seattle Times, CNN, etc.
Hey, even IIStix is back online. Yay! Give 'em a visit.
Even more than that, I've also been enjoying visiting friends' blogs more and more for their take on current events and just life in general. Gives me that feeling of almost being back home in the States, really.
YOU SHOULD VISIT OTHER BLOGS.
The following blogs are my favorite, all of which I like for variety of reasons - most of which involve style of writing and FREQUENCY of updates. If you never update a blog... what's the point, eh? If you get left off the list... sorry, no offense.
In no particular order:
back to la motor liga - Great blog by the mr. davephonic, writing that I admire for it's dark humor, infrequent ranting about the things that suck in life, and SARCASM. Sarcasm is the universal language of all disgruntled writers, especially disgruntled Asian American writers. Come here if you also dig travel to exotic lands, eating fried hamster, and artsy photography. Viva la Resistance.
kboy75 - I've never met James in person, but I find it uncanny how much we have in common - Christian home upbringing, loss of a father, misspent youth, taste in movies, music, etc. I read what he writes and I just understand.
ajar - The mysterious ms. fayeCH is quite the artistic wonder, especially when the camera is out. I see her photos and I'm tempted to jack 'em, heh heh... if only she wasn't so darn clever about hiding her name in 'em. Honest, insightful, and also my source for the latest Asian/HK movie reviews.
hullabaloo - A recent addition to my blog reading list, I can appreciate the rather pessimistic and ironic view Drew takes on various things, because hell, my mind works the same way most of the time. I'd also describe his style as honest and direct, which is funny, because I'd describe the way his woman writes in the same way...
sojinification - The link to her blog is dead out of respect for her privacy (as well as the name being fake), but ms. heh gets a lot of props from me just for the plain fact that she writes raw - not afraid of Joyce-esque stream of consciousness, tangent filled writing. Reading what she writes is reading exactly what she thinks - the very essence of pure communication that all writers strive. After all, if you can't communicate to your reader what you're thinking, you've FAILED as a writer. And all without a 4-year college education... very impressive. On a sidenote, she's a g0su Star-crack player... for a geek like me, skill at Star-crack automatically is a sign of good intellectual resources...
gaegulboy - Mr. Frog has skills in the writing department in terms of the way that he imparts a very painful honesty sometimes in his words. 'Nuff said. Now, if he'd just write more often...
JeeSukkie - If James happens to remind me of a future, older me, than Justin reminds me of a younger alter-ego of myself, except the addition of Korean-ness, adoption angst, and some idealism. Plenty of witty comments, sarcasm, and the occasional blistering hip.hop verse. Rock on (the mic).
UncreativeScreenName - My friend Joe is funny, random, and his skillz with Photoshop... amazing. I also visit to watch his latest antics with airsoft guns. Beware the man with the afro and the glock. The key word here: entertaining.
slightlyskewed - Adopted little sister #1, Cora, is quite the writer, but then again I remind her that she has to be if she wants to do the whole "lawyer" thing. Very verbose, often whimsical, and not afraid to be a smart-ass, heh. Reps the surname "CHAN" well.
spacecadet - Adopted little sister #2, Steph, has some funny insights into often just the regular things of life. Lots of writing here with nearly English-esque dry wit and my favorite, yes... sarcasm. Sensing a pattern?
yunshine - I met Yun first through good 'ol AACF and I also happened to be connected to him by virtue of the fact that my GF and him both used to go to the same church. His Xanga contains a lot of amusing comments about life in So. Cal, attending seminary, and working in a Korean American church. If you laugh, just remember... someday soon, Pastor Yun might be running your church, yo! heh.
swirleygirlie - Besides the cool name, Amy is another Seattle-ite stolen to the wicked area of SoCal. Nice writing, simple, light, and easy to read.
hipstomp - I don't know Mr. N. Rain in "real life" nor have I ever really met him online, except for his old column on AsianAvenue, "Love in a 10 Block Radius". His writing was the lone sparkling jewel in that craphole site, next to the old "The Wall". My esteem for his writing skill-age can be summed as (un-)simply as this: I hope my writing someday brings the same brevity, wit, and insight to people's days as the reading of some of his writing does to mine. No joke; I just really enjoy his style. Especially the mock dialogues... hilarious.
The internet cafe loves me because I give them all my money. That and I feel my English is somehow getting polluted by bad English of my students. I have a nagging sense my writing and my English is getting worst.
Until next time. Mata ne.
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