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You've Probably Noticed . . .

jane tease
 . . . that I never post here anymore. Not that I don't love LiveJournal, it's still very useful, I just find myself posting at other places a lot more.

So, if for some reason you want to keep up with me on the interwebz, you can check out my Flavors.me page (it's like a website for your websites!) I find myself posting at tumblr a lot, and I twitter (tho after 900 tweets I still don't quite get the point of it). Feel free to still comment on this journal, I might come back someday.

Until next time.

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It's been a while . . .

sphinx
(Bah, now I'll have that stupid Staind song in my head!)

I figured I should update this journal before a whole year passes. Some randomness:

My vice-principal was totally talking about me on the phone and I wanna know why!

Sorry, Japan, squid is nasty, and processed school lunch squid is nastier.

I really wanna know who kidnapped Spring. 16c high today and cloudy, what the deuce?

Loverboy was very wise to observe that everybody is indeed working for the weekend.

I have 1 hour and 55 minutes until my weekend can start.

Holla if you want an animated Office theme, as there's been some icon-worthy moments recently and I'm thinking of reviving the project.

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Making an Office Mood Theme

pb&j
Last summer, I made an animated Jim and Pam mood theme which was the single most awesome Jim/Pam related thing ever! Okay, maybe Top 5. Eh, it was okay. Anyway! Since my love for the show is still undying and I suddenly find myself with some time, I'm going to undertake making a general Office theme. The goal is to have it done by September 25th. I have it all mapped so that I give equal love to all the cast and all the seasons.

Now the point where I ask for help! See there's 132 LJ emotions, 65 Office episodes, like 18 regular cast members . . . the mind boggles. So, please post any and all suggestions for moods, especially scenes with the secondary characters. Here's a list of the 132 LJ emotions. Carpel Tunnel, here I come!

A year ago today

pam woot
It's already the 20th here in Japan, but it's still June 19th in the States, which means it was one year ago today that I found out, after an unnecessarily drawn out process with JET, that I was coming to Japan for realsies. Since then there's been laughter, tears, and many many cultural misunderstandings. But mostly, there's been photo opportunities like this:



All in all, a good year. (Check out my photos that I'm very slowly uploading at Flickr)
jane dance
Since I've exhausted my supply of TV shows (is it really another month until new Office and 30 Rock?) I've turned to movies, and last night I watched "Becoming Jane". I'm a sucker for Jane Austen movies and I'll tell you why: curly-haired guys in puffy shirts. Really, what is it about long (preferably curly) hair and puffy shirts with the frou-frou collars? I mean look!



So this leads me to "Becoming Jane". The movie itself is a little all over the place and some things are never well explained. Like Jane saying she was raised by brothers, when we only ever see the one. I also never understood what was so bad about the guy that proposed to her. And who the hell was the deaf dude? One of the brothers? Some guy wandering on the set? Did he have a name?

One of the two good points of "Becoming Jane" is me being a big Anne Hathaway fan. I guess the choice for her to play Jane was criticized because she's not British and her accent's a little funky. How come there never any outrage when a British actor plays an American? I guess because they somehow get the accent so perfect, I don't know they're not American until I see them on the Tonight Show and say, "Holy Crap, that guy from 'House' has an accent!

So what's the other good point of "Becoming Jane"? Puffy shirts and frilly collars, of course!



That's right, James McAvoy is wearing a green velvet jacket over what I know is a puffy shirt. Fantastic.

So while I thought the movie was just okay, my love of the puffy shirt and frilly collar continues to grow. I also like the scenes where Tom appears at the ball, and his little candle-lit "Goodnight" tease, so I made icons of them.


Okay, I think I've exhibited enough embarrassing nerd-dom in this post, so I shall bid you adieu.

It's leap day!

sphinx
Not much point to this post, just want to see that little "Feb. 29th" time-stamp.

I got sick for the 3rd time since I've been in Japan. How can I improve my immunity to Japanese bugs?

A 3rd grader at my elementary school drew a picture of me today, it's very cute, I'll post it sometime.

What did you do with your extra day?

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Creative Block?

lonely
As I go through my backlog of deviations on deviantART, I'm realizing that I've felt completely and utterly uncreative recently. I can't make excuses either: I'm in Japan, I have plenty of time on my hands, but nothing's coming out. Any suggestions on how to jump-start my inner-artist?

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So bad at updating . . .

sphinx
I know a few of you might still be waiting for "November in Japan: part 2" but here's some tidbits to tie you over.

I've re-contracted for another year with JET. Why? Good money and lack of a post-JET plan; the reasons they tell you NOT to re-contract, oops. :-P

It snowed in my town for the first time in 2 years on Wednesday. I was at an elementary school and the kids were over-joyed. We had a snowball fight, if you can call a ball that's 1 part snow and 3 parts dirt a "snowball" that is.

And after being here for 5 months I found out the ALT gets a cabinet full of supplies at one of my schools. Not that I make a lot of things for class, but way to keep me informed, JTEs.

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November in Japan: Part 1

sphinx

Are you noticing a trend here? The last post was called “October in Japan”, now I’m writing a post called “November in Japan”. The creativity is just pouring out of me!

October 31 and November 1 was the Saitama JET Mid-Year conference. Now, if you were to ask me, “Lauren, when do you think the Mid-Year conference is?” I would answer, “Well, by virtue of it being called the ‘Mid Year’ conference, I would say it would be roughly 5 or 6 months after I get to Japan.” “Sorry, Lauren, it’s actually going to be 2 months after you get to Japan.” “Blerg!”

After I got over the fact that the Mid Year conference wasn’t mid year at all, I headed to Omiya and followed the trail of foreigners to Sonic City. We sat through an interesting but essentially useless lecture about using poetry in the class room. I say useless because I think native English speakers would have had trouble with the activity, much less Japanese junior high schoolers. After lunch, we had a workshop about the “expectations” and the “realities” of being an ALT in Japan. In other words, “Bitch Session.” I feel a little guilty, however, because compared to most of the other JETs I met, I have to say I have it pretty good. ALTs were telling stories about teachers not telling them when and where Sports Day or festivals were, about their kids reading and walking out of class, about teachers being mean to them, or not using them in the classroom at all. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there thinking, “I don’t have anything to complain about.”

At the end of Day 1, we went drinking at The Hub. It seems that whenever I go out with foreigners, I end up at the most Western-style place around. This particular bar was a “pub” that was airing a rugby game and having a Jack Daniel’s happy hour. The JTE from East Junior High, Mr. Aizawa, came with us, and he could not get over the fact that he was out drinking at a time when he would normally be at school. So we watched Rugby, I met some JETs that lived near me, it was good times.

Day 2, the day started off with another lecture about how to be a good ALT and how to be a bad one. Then a Japanese man who was a coordinator of something or another came in and said in the extremely solemn tone. “I guess you haven’t heard what happened, I will tell you.” We were all at the edge of our seat, waiting to hear about an accident or a train derailment or something. “10 ALTs check in this morning and . . .” The tension was thick, were they in a terrible accident, were they hospitalized? “. . . And then left.” Man, here we thought someone had died or something, and it turned out they just skipped out on a lecture. After a couple workshops, I went and had Okonomiyaki, which is awesome btw, and then I ended up at The Hub again! In Japan, whenever you enter any kind of shop, they shout, “Irashaimase!” which is just a set phrase meaning “welcome, coming in, please buy something”, so the Hub Worker was saying that to everyone, then saw me and said, “Irashaima–he-hey” like I was some kind of regular.

So I met a bunch of ALTs, and had good conversations with some of them. I feel the need to explain here that my romantic expectations here on JET are kind of low since I’ve been told repeatedly that Japanese guys are intimidated by foreign women, meanwhile, the foreign guys here are generally trying to hook up with Japanese girls. One of the best examples of this is one of the ALTs I met from Canada. He lives near me and and we had a pretty good conversation, then he saw some Japanese girls and hit me with this nugget: “Hey, looks like I have an opportunity to practice my Japanese, I’ll talk to you later.” Nice; subtle, really.

I hung out at The Hub for a while longer (with some rowdy ALTs, by the way) but it was a Thursday night so I headed home at about 10pm. It’s fun to travel to my town because the trains are pretty full when I get on in Omiya, then by the time it reaches my machi, it’s significantly lower. So I was sitting on the train with a little bit of a beer buzz when I looked up. This younger Japanese businessman (we’ll just call him a salaryman) with a pink tie was sitting across from me and he looked at me. I smiled since that’s just what my reaction is to anyone making eye contact with me, and went back to listening to my iPod in my beer haze.

We reached my machi and I walked along the platform to the escalator. The salaryman was in front of me, then turned around and smiled and said hi. I said hi back, and he told me his name was Takeshi. I told him that I don’t speak Japanese well, but he kept asking me questions and I attempted to answer in my broken Japanese. We walked through the gates and down the stairs to the street when he noticed it was raining outside and said to me “kasa ga nai?” (no umbrella?). I said I was okay, then he said “Isshou ni tabetai?” (want to eat together?). It took a few seconds for my tipsy brain to process that Takeshi the very cute salaryman was asking me out. But cute as he was, he had a pink tie on! And didn’t speak English, so I declined (which means I said “Daijoubu” a few times and walked to my bike).

There is more to tell about my November, but this post is way too long, so I think I’ll save it for “Part 2″. Stay tuned!

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October in Japan

sphinx
So I've been here for 3 months, and I've been very terrible at updating, geez. So here's what's going on in my Japanese life.

I got sick, like wicked sick and was homebound for 2 weeks. I have this annoying tendency of getting only one symptom at a time when I get sick. So it's like 2 days of a runny nose, then 2 days with a sore throat, then 2 days of coughing. This means I'll be sick, but still functional. I would much rather get everything at once, spend my 2 days in bed, and have it be done. Anyway, I spent my birthday at home sucking on cough medicine and watching the Million Yen challenge.

My school had it's "Culture Festival" on Oct 27th. I don't know if I would call it a festival, it was more like a singing competition with a little mini-exhibition of art and science projects and things of that nature thrown in. Oh, and Mr. Donuts. The week before all the teachers were asking me, "Did you order your Mr. Donut Donuts? You know you have to get your Mr. Donut Donuts. They ran out last year, so order your Mr. Donut Donuts early!" Ah! Fine, I'll accept the sugar dough your pushing on me! I was fully expecting these donuts to change my life, the way everyone went on about them. Sadly, they didn't, but they were tasty.

Back to the singing competition. I didn't understand a word that was sung, but I still enjoyed myself. It made me think of the little quarter-long choir class I had to take in 7th grade and we had a little recital at the end of it. Very few of the kids in my class were destined to go on to sing in any capacity, so it was rather terrible sounding, but it was a lot of fun. Anyway, the kids in the school festival did pretty awesome, and the students did the conducting and the piano playing as well.

So the day after the festival was the teachers' trip to a hot springs in the Gunma prefecture. It's a strange irony that I was born in the mountains, I have lived all my life next to the mountains, then I come to a country that's 72% mountainous only to live in the largest flat area in the nation. Anyway, I was much too excited to see mountains as we drove to Gunma, and even more excited to see Mt Fuji off in the distance as we drove. I was like, "Is that Fuji-san?!" "Yeah, silly gaijin, it's Fuji-san."

Now while I was excited to visit the mountains, I have to say I'm kind of glad that I don't live in the mountains. There's no nice 4 lane highways to leisurely travel on, it's narrow roads and hairpin turns. Pair that with the teachers pushing beer on me at 11 in the morning and I was feeling a bit nauseous.

So we went to Kusatsu, which is a cute little onsen (hot springs) town. By little I mean there's plenty of giant hotels each boasting to have the freshest onsen water around, but it was charming none-the-less. It was funny because I told my mom that at an onsen, you don't wear anything. She basically gave me the whole, "Don't let them pressure you to do anything you don't wanna do, and if you wanna wear a suit, wear a suit!" I actually did bring my swimming suit with me, but when it came time to go to the onsen, I decided to tough it and do it Japanese style! Besides, it gives the little old ladies a story to tell (they pretty blatantly stared at my, ah-hem, assets).

In addition to the onsen we went to all these little sights. First a place called Onioshidashi Park which is a volcanic rock park that sits at the foot of a supposedly dormant volcano. I say supposedly because when we were there there was steam coming out of the top of the mountain, eek! But fortunately there were concrete shelters at the park just in case in the mountains blows whilst you're there. We also went to a place that was apparently very famous for bento (box lunch, except in this particular case there were no boxes involved) and then a place famous for udon. I guess in Japan when you are a place very famous for a certain food, you build a giant building that can accommodate dozens of large company parties, then have a big market devoted to selling your product so that people can make it at home.

The Tuesday after the teachers trip, I was asked to talk about Halloween to the kids at my junior. At first Yoshida-sensei (the JTE I taught with at my first junior high) asked me if I would wear a costume, leading me to think maybe it was optional. Then she pretty much told me I had to wear a costume despite me saying multiple times that I didn't have a costume, nor did I have any time to go get a costume! She then "gambatte"d me (fellow Japanese students, you know what I'm talking about), so I had to get something together. What I came up with was rather ingenious, if I may say. I bought some black socks at the kombini, cut them up and made cat ears with some foam and a stitching set at my house. Then I used eyeliner to draw whiskers on my face and a black belt for a tail. I supposedly out-did my predecessor, who only wore a sheet for his costume. Take that!

Okay, that's a long enough post for now and catches me up to Oct. 31. In the next segment, you'll hear about: Hanging out with foreigners in Omiya, going to a new school, getting pulled over by a cop, getting hit on by a Japanese businessman AND purposely missing my last train. It's gonna be big!

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