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Archive for October, 2009

It’s ALL in the attitude

That’s right, yesterday was a perfect day- sun, run, and fun, but my mental state was in a rut. BUT today- rain was pouring, and I hopped out of bed (before the alarm!) got on my kicks and hit the pavement. And it was a glorious run down by the river this morning. What a difference when you just change your attitude! I clocked in at about a 3.5-4 mile run this morning, had time for a quick rinse off and bolted out the door, riding my granny bike, umbrella in hand, and leopard leggings- ON.

So, the truth is, maybe I’m in a fabulous mood because I have Halloween spirit and I’m decked out in leggings and cat ears (that’s the effort I put forth anyhow). I walked into the doors at school and got a few giggles, but this girl don’t care because it’s HALLOWEEN! YAHOO! It’s only 8:30a.m. and I’m annoyingly wired (2 cups coffee- check) and ready for my busy, busy day. Check back later for a few pics and the rest of my afternoon……. HAPPY HALLOWEEN ALL! (and Happy Birthday Benedict πŸ™‚ )

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More later πŸ˜€

Molly

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Yes, that’s right, I walked out my door this morning and felt just a smidgen of humidity- and it.was.glorious. I know that when summer hits, all I do is complain about the sticky, sweaty, messiness, but today, I was welcoming it with open arms. I think because fall has hit and winter is quickly approaching (snow in the forecast for Tuesday. What?), any hint of warmth I can suck out of Mother Nature- I will take it! I didn’t even need a jacket today, in fact- broke a sweat on my track walk (more like saturated my work shirt- oops.

As I promised, the final touches were made on the 1st grade project in celebration of All Hallows’ Eve:

IMG_7675Cheesy, right?! I had the kids write their names in Romaji (English letters) and then I glued them to the Jack-o-Lantern along with their class pic. They’ll be surprised tomorrow when they come to school πŸ™‚

I was supposed to teach 3rd graders today, but since it was their first day back, as well as Ms. san-nensei’s, she canceled that plan and I’ll be joining them next week. At least this would give me more time to wrap up my other projects.

I don’t know if it was the tradition of Halloween happening this weekend, or just the ho-hum feeling of missing home, but instead of dwelling on what I clearly can’t have, I decided to make a list of the things I love about Japan. My goal was to list 5 things

  1. The mountains- especially the ones covered in dark evergreens
  2. The people go out of their way to be friendly and helpful (especially to the struggling foreigner)
  3. The apples!
  4. How safe I feel, no matter what time of day or night (I’m still careful though!)
  5. People’s gardens in their yards- stunning!
  6. Importance of tradition, respect, and family
  7. Rivers to run along
  8. The staff at school & the Board of Education (they came to support me at my marathon, printed pics for me, and so much more!)
  9. The students
  10. Other ALT’s in Japan

Wow, I doubled my goal in a matter of minutes, and I’m sure I could think of more, too. I know that there will be days when I don’t like things so much, but if I just step back and think about the things I’m offered here in Japan, then things don’t seem so bad. I’m sure I’ll be even more sad once I can’t have them anymore either. That’s how things always seem to work!

Depending on when I leave for the weekend festivities, and even more so, depending on what I actually decide to do- I’ll try to update my blog as soon as I can! Β Stay tuned for some wild/crazy Halloween madness and everyone be sure to have your own spooky fun back home!

Molly

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IMG_7674Rise and shine nook town, this is quite.the.site. I think I could justify waking up at 5:30a.m. everyday and walking if this is what greeted me each morning. Crispy fall air, sunrise, dog-walkers; what more could you ask for?!

IMG_7672_2Not only did I watch the sunrise, but I came back to talk to my favorite Kelly (my supervisor from my internship). If any of you want to be put in a good mood- just call her πŸ˜€ . I made sure I had plenty of time today (even packed my lunch the night before) had breakfast ready, yet, when I walked in the door this evening. I came into my kitchen with something still on, that I’m not going to even say- b/c one, I think my parents would not be happy to know, and two, let’s just say I should do a check, and DOUBLE check before I leave the house (like my wise mother always taught us girls!) Oopsies.

Well, today I spent most of my time working on the Halloween surprise for the 1st graders, and they turned out alright. Nothing too fancy, but kind of fun (pics tomorrow!) I made it out to the track for a few laps just before lunch and when I came in, I knew perfectly well, I’d have to face Mr. V.P. and “do I dare ask to use the microwave?!” Here’s what I figure- he was most likely telling me I couldn’t use it for coffee/oatmeal/breakfast time. So, I thought- well, lunch should be permitted, I’m just gonna go for it. So, in my timid, slightly frightened voice, I asked, “sumimasen, microwave, daijou bu” (I obviously pointed to the appliance while saying microwave, since my Janglish is a little hard to understand at times). He immediately went and grabbed the English teacher. Uh oh, I thought, he’s going to ream me out through her…eeek. But then I explained to Ms. ni-nensei that I wanted to heat up my rice/bean/veggie combo. She did her translating, and I said- because another teacher said that Mr. V.P. said it wasn’t okay, so I just wanted to double check. Well folks- what came next blew me outta the water- Mr. V.P. replies, “I never said that.” Hmm. Okay, well I was told not to use the microwave, and then he just laughed, like, “why wouldn’t you be able to use it.” Now I was confused, more than ever (typical), but much to my relief, Mr. V.P. explained that basically things are “lost in translation”…to simply put it. I’m so glad I asked, because it made me realize that when I ask something, the teachers may not fully understand, or interpret my needs/questions completely. So, there ya have it- the microwave ban has been lifted, and I am one happy camper!

I guess that means I need to hit the books just a wee bit harder- so I can be my OWN interpreter, and actually face Mr. V.P. myself! Baby steps right πŸ™‚

Today on my desk- one apple, one red bean dessert (love any and ALL red bean treats), and 3 BROCCOLI heads. WAAAHOOO! What to make for dinner?! I think I know what will be on the menu now!

Until next time,

Molly

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No time to be cold!

Once again, my internal alarm clock went of at 5:28a.m. (exactly 12 minutes before the real one)- how annoying. At any rate, I was not so hasty to climb out of bed just yet. I would have, but I could hear the pitter-patter of the rain right outside my window- meaning, once again, no walk or run. Bleh. (I totally would have today too!)

I lazily laid around until about 6:40a.m. and even though I’d prepared a curry-rice combo for lunch (I’m a bit nervous to use the microwave to heat it up), so I decided I better whip up some chicken on the stove and pack another salad (since I didn’t prepare my weekly batch last Sunday. Rats! I quickly showered (thank goodness), but before I realized the time, I was standing in a towel, sopping hair, chicken cooking, oatmeal-a-brewin’ and it was 7:30a.m.– YIKES! I was like a chicken running around with my head cut off, let me tell you! I didn’t have time to blow dry my hair, put on a speck of make-up, I barely got dressed (ooh that would have scarred some people!), and made a MAD dash out the door. I didn’t even have time to think about the cold weather with how fast I got my body movin’, I practically had a mini morning workout in those 10 minutes. I warmed right up! Guess that goes to show, if I literally have no time- I can get ready in 10 minutes. Impressive. (Despite the wet hair). Did I mention today was the day I had to be in A PICTURE with the 1st graders, go figure.

Once we got past the air dry “au naturale” look for the day, things didn’t turn out so bad. The rain stopped, Mr. Sun made his appearance, and right after lunch, instead of a walk around the track- I ran/jogged for 30 minutes. 5 lap jog, 4-5 lap walk, 5 lap jog making that about a 4k workout πŸ™‚ I’ll have to finish up the rest after work- boo.

The 1st graders, genki as always, and today I surprised them by taking their picture (but not telling why). One boy thought he’d be oh-so-clever by flicking off the camera (as if I don’t know what that means)…kind of wonder if he even does. Thank goodness we had a couple shots to work with!

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Aren’t they just so cute!? Ooh, which reminds me- some of you asked how old the kids were- I thought 9-14 (oops) correction, they’re between the ages of 12-15. That makes a little more sense.

This evening I capped off by running a loop around the edge of town (approx. 3.5 miles) and headed home for some sweet n’ sassy curry. Got my dishes done, laundry picked up, pilates vid- check…bedtime – DOUBLE check :0)

I’m headed off to count some sheep~

Molly

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Yup folks, the rain is BACK. And in other news, the swine is still the most talked about topic here in town, but I haven’t been receiving death glares from the obaachans lately, so that’s a relief πŸ˜‰ Today, even one of the teachers was out sick (one of the English teachers). Don’t you worry, I’ve been on high alert!

I had such high hopes of going for a little jog after work, but then it started raining. I also had high hopes of doing some workout videos online as an alternate, but then I threw that idea right out the window when I put a sweatshirt on and climbed into bed at 5:30p.m. I think my run yesterday followed by a 14-mile bike ride allows for a day of rest, don’tcha think?! I didn’t even walk this morning, or at lunch! I can honestly say, I probably have blood clots in my butt from sitting so long at work. I only taught ONCE today. I probably should have gotten up maybe more than just to go to the bathroom. And maaaaaybe could have had one (or two) less pieces of chocolate. I guess dreary weather can do that to a person (or just me?!).

Tomorrow is a NEW day and hopefully filled with a glimpse of light! The first graders are back and I’ve got a full schedule ahead of me, as well as planning a little surprise for the class in celebration of Halloween! Can’t wait to show you on Friday!

This is a big weekend up ahead too- how sad, I’m already anticipating it, and it’s only Monday. But in lieu of Halloween, us JET’s will most likely be congregating over on the east side in Hach(inohe). Maybe I’ll even get the privilege of swingin’ by Misawa airbase πŸ˜‰ Doesn’t hurt to look, does it?!

Oh, and before I pop in a movie and call it a night- I’d just like to say that today marks the 3 MONTH ANNIVERSARY SINCE I ARRIVED IN JAPAN. Can you believe how fast time flies?! So mom and dad- I hope you’ve got my room SPICK AND SPAN, cuz I’ll be home before you know it!! (haha, just kidding…kind of) πŸ˜›

And since I’ve been here 3 months, so has this blog- so now is the perfect time to say THANK YOU to all of my faithful readers. I appreciate you love and support! I hope you’re enjoying all of my life experiences over here in Japan!

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More tomorrow,

Molly

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Can you believe for two days in a row it’s been nothin’ but rays of sunshine for miles and miles. Wow, Japan- you know how to make this girl happy!

I wasn’t truckin’ too fast this morn, but finally pounded the pave for a 4(ish) mile run in the HOT sun πŸ™‚ and loved every minute of it. I just embrace those days of happy runs (doesn’t occur too often), but I felt like I could have run another 10miles, but folks, I had places to go, people to see.

I was going to play it by ear on how I would go to Hirosaki today to meet a friend for coffee, but the obvious peak in temps left me with no other option, but to bike it. This time, however, since I was meeting my friend at the station, I took Hwy 7 into the city instead of the old 260.

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Not a single cloud in the sky- but I am floatin’ on cloud 9, b/c I was in a T-SHIRT all day. πŸ˜€

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It took me around 45 minutes to get there and only stopping twice to double check with a few Japanese people that I was headed in the right direction πŸ™‚ Yes, I even spoke some Janglish.

The coffee shop was tucked away in downtown Hirosaki, not visible to a traveler rushing through, but to those who are out and about exploring. It’s called “Zilch” and had a great atmosphere, comfy chairs, delicious coffee, and feel-good music. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

And this time around, I even enjoyed the bike back. Work in the early a.m. Hope you all have a great rest of the weekend.

Molly

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All around the ken (Part 2)

Well GOOOOOOOOOD Morning! I’m fully rested and ready to tell you all about my fabulous site-seeing adventures from yesterday.

Miss PART 1?

First of all, I set my alarm for 7a.m. so I could get in a quick run before my Skype date with my favorite K.M. However, my internal alarm clock decided to go off at 5:30a.m. How annoying?! I can barely crawl out of bed at 6a.m. on a work day. That is just a tad frustrating. However, read a few emails and slowly made my way back into a cozy doze for a little bit longer. I made it up for my 4.5 mile run, too. Yay.

Mr. eigo sensei picked me up at 9:30a.m. and we headed into Hirosaki for the University Festival (3 days long). He is the coach for their ski team and they had a booth up at the festival- so we went to check it out.

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They were making this famous dish served in Okinawa (city), but I can’t remember it’s name. Anyway, it is a fried egg on top of this big cracker thing with some sauces and garish. It was ok, not my fave. I feel like when someone buys something for you, it’d be rude not to eat it (unless it was something really exotic that I couldn’t stomach).

Now, when you think carnival, you probably picture cake walks, face painting, music and food. However, we’re celebrating Japan-style here, and instead of the cake walk, we’ve got your very own doctor check up station. Bizarre? I think so.

IMG_7526Here, they hand out a sheet, then proceed to weigh you, check height, sitting height, BMI (avg Japanese woman is 17%–let’s just say I’m off the charts there), blood pressure, hand strength?, lung capacity (I broke record!! 3900!…don’t even know what that number means. Basically you had to take a deep breath and blow slowly releasing all the air for as long as possible), and finally eyesight. I have a really healthy, but slow heart rate as well as huge lung capacity- so Mr. eigo sensei kept bragging about my marathon time and place. Ha. Oh, and before we left, I snagged up this hot deal, for Y100!

IMG_7617It’s a scarf, if you hadn’t noticed. I perfect accessory on a fall day!

After the festival, we stopped by his wife’s work and I met her. She was so sweet. We also made a pit stop at his mother’s house to fix a pole that broke in the garden. I was introduced and then she immediately scooted off into the house, only to return with:

IMG_7619Those treats are apple cracker/cookie things. Very delicious. And the others are hand-made/woven baskets and a tissue holder. She even filled it with a new box of tissues for me! What a thoughtful lady.

We made a quick stop for lunch at a sushi restaurant where I had some sashimi (no seaweed): Tuna, shrimp, salmon, crab, and pineapple for dessert. One way to get me not to overindulge is take me somewhere that I don’t absolutely love (shhh). I don’t mind sushi, but it’s still not a favorite (at least it wouldn’t be a first choice).

IMG_7529Mr. eigo sensei’s daughter (25) was supposed to come with us, but she got sick and had to rest. So instead, the two of us headed off to see the sites. And they were BEAUTIFUL. First he took me to Nakano where a small fall festival was held and many beautiful leaves to see.

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Mr. eigo sensei also taught me how to participate at a traditional Buddhist temple (by paying respect to the god/gods). I’m a Christian, so I obviously don’t share the same beliefs as Buddhists, but it was still interesting to learn! Basically you walk up to this water basin and take the ladle, wash the left hand, then right, then rinse it. Following that, you walk up the steps, toss in a coin, bow twice, clap twice, and finish with a single bow. There ya have it folks!

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IMG_7557Next up on the traveling agenda- Jogakura Bridge in Aomori City. Even though we were about a week late for the most beautiful foliage sightings, it was still gorgeous!

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The bridge is 360m long and 122m high. It looks over the Jogakura gorge and Hakkoda mountain range.

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It was such a gorgeous fall day out, however, on top of that bridge was windy and freeeeeeeeezing. But folks, the fun’s not over yet, I got my pics and it was off to the next destination. A famous and highly photographed region in Aomori: Oirase Gorge. If only I had a fancy schmancy camera to take extra-sweet pics with, but my lil’ baby Canon gives you a hint at the beauty here:

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IMG_7592It’s days and opportunities like these that make me step back and realize how lucky I really am. I’m on a streak of about one day every two weeks or so that I just want to go home and hug my mom. If only it were that easy. But, I face those challenging days and think of this great opportunity and down the road, I know I’ll be able to appreciate everything that’s was offered in this year-long experience.

The end of the Oirase:

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For the end of our LONG day, I was able to catch the last of the sun setting behind the mountain range at Lake Towada. It has truly been one heck of a day.

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After roughly 9 hours on the road, I was exhausted. Did I mention that Mr. eigo sensei knows my love for apples? Did I also mention he has a friend who’s an apple farmer. DID I MENTION HE GAVE ME ABOUT 30 APPLES?!?!?

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Life’s challenges are not suppose to paralyze you; they’re suppose to help you discover who you are. – B. Reagon

xoxo, Molly


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