Aaaaaaaaaaaand it’s time for another catch-up post. I haven’t posted a “daily life”/random observations blog in a while, so here we go! Warning: This is long.
※ I was wondering…Why is everything I do so interesting? To everyone? For example, every time I come to this one school, the office lady asks me, “Did you bike here again today?” She asks me this and she is amazed when I answer “Yes”. The weather is nice and it only takes 30 minutes. Why is that so interesting? Also, people are amazed when I mention that I like exercise. And that I like to go to the gym after work. You’d think I qualified for the Olympics from the reactions I get. This stuff is normal, but since I am a foreigner in Japan… I guess everything I do is just interesting?
※ At one of my schools, there is a transfer student from another country. His father has already been here for a while, working, so he just recently came to join him. The rest of their family is still in their home country. I think it is interesting, because this kid speaks little Japanese and little English. Man, that must be hard. Plus, his name when put into Japanese katakana means “Ant.” I talked to the teachers about him recently and they said that the kid is being teased a bit and has few friends. The situation kind of makes me sad.
※ For the month of October, Kyle and Tori’s tradition is to watch one Halloween movie per night. So far I have joined them for Nightmare Before Christmas, Slither, Idle Hands, The Witches, and The Ring. The Ring (American version) is one of the scariest movies I have seen. I had horrible nightmares the night after I watched it the first time. I even slept-walked in Sam’s house and woke up on the floor in her bedroom’s entryway with a huge bruise on my foot. Still have no idea what happened there. Since then I’ve gotten a little desensitized by it and was okay to go to bed by myself. After we watched it last week, I went home and got in bed. I reached up to turn my overhead light off, but then froze. My lamp that hangs above my bed is a circle-shaped light, resembling a ring. The line from the movie played in my head: “Before you die, you see the ring.” So I bravely turned off the light, knowing what I would see. The room was completely dark aside from the ring of light, which faded into the dark seconds later. Pretty scary.
※ I’ve been cooking a little more lately. I’ve made a new curry recipe and this one is rocking my taste buds right now: click here for the recipe! And also, I rediscovered some of my Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free baking flour that Tori and Kyle gave me for Christmas last year. I still had some left! So I decided that I was going to try and make carrot cake. I even bought nutmeg and everything. I used this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie and while the results were not as visually “pretty” as a normal carrot cake… The taste was incredible. I hadn’t tasted carrot cake in probably over a year, so it was pure heaven for this carrot cake lover. Plus, it takes 5 minutes and you can make it in the microwave. I don’t have an oven here in Japan, but… This carrot cake can be made anywhere in the world with a microwave! I need to order more gluten-free flour. :)
Another thing I made was… CHILI. Oh my gosh. I have not had chili in… two years? I can’t remember the last time I ate real chili. I am so looking forward to eating this with a nice ripe avocado on top. I used this recipe from Oh She Glows.
※ We celebrated Kimberly’s birthday on August 28th! I surprised her with a custom Captain America crepe-cake that I special-ordered from the creperie downtown. It turned out awesome and she was so surprised/delighted. :)
※ I turned 25 on September 18th. I woke up a gift card from Sam—I almost deleted the email because I thought it was spam, haha. And then I found balloons and gluten-free+veganized “muddy buddies” outside my door courtesy of Tori.
That started my day off right. I had a school visit that day, but at least I got the elementary school kids to sing me Happy Birthday three times. They are so cute… After that I didn’t have to go back to the office, which was awesome. So I went ahead and went to the gym for a nice workout. After that I went to my favorite restaurant to get dinner ”to-go” for myself. Tori and Kimberly were at dance practice, so I couldn’t see them until later. Eating dinner alone kinda sucked, but at least the food was great and I didn’t have to cook it myself.
After Tori and Kimberly got home, we all (Kyle too) hung out, I got to open two very generous gifts, and then we watched the season premiere of Dexter. I have awesome friends. And then a couple days later, we found the time to go out to dinner to actually celebrate since everyone had been busy on my actual birthday.
Birthday purikura ensued.
※ How is work lately? Extremely busy. It seems like all of my schools liked me last year, so I’ve become more popular this year. More schools have requested for my visits than last year, so I am constantly going everywhere. Nishimeya, Owani, Inakadate, Hirosaki… Lately I am lucky if I have one free “office day” per week. I guess it is a compliment to be busy, but I am also looking forward to when things slow down… around late December. Teaching is going well, though!
※ Have you ever heard of the board game “Settlers of Catan”? Recently Tori, Kyle, Shaheen, Theresa, Travis, and Evan have been playing a ton. I learned how to play a little while ago and love to play when the game doesn’t start too late. ^^; I’ve never played any strategy game quite like it before and it is a lot of fun. I haven’t officially won a game yet, but I am slowly getting better. P.S. Evan and Travis are new Hirosaki JETs this year. Travis is from Austin, yeah! I’m not the only one wearing burnt orange Longhorn gear all the time!
※ On October 7th, we ran in the Hirosaki Apple Marathon! And by we, I mean our little Hirosaki group of myself, Tori, Kimberly, Travis, and Tori’s friend Allyson (who was visiting for the long weekend). The weather was great (a lot better than last year’s rain) and aside from the fact that I got a flat tire on my bike on the way to the starting point. Plus I had to use the bathroom 10 minutes before my race and was panicking because all of them had huge long lines. Finally I just went into one and begged the women in line, “My race starts in ten minutes so could I please go ahead of you?” And they were nice enough to let me. Whew. I got to the starting point on time, re-tied my shoes, and discovered that I was next to one of my JTEs.
How did the race go? Well… I felt like I did the first 5k a little too fast. And then I just tried to hang on for dear life. I kinda died towards the end, but I ended up going a full minute faster than last year! 53:03! I should learn how to pace more… Or build up some endurance. Then maybe I could go a 52 or 51. I ended up placing 31st in the women’s division, which is not bad at all.
Here were my splits:
Someday I want to be able to do a triathlon, so I can utilize my swimming skills as well. It’s on my bucket list. I’ve been trying to swim on a more regular basis lately.
※ Also–Pushups. Pushups were the one thing that I was consistently bad at in the States. In all my fitness classes, I could only do one or two on my feet and then I would have to go to my knees. I should be able to push up my own body weight! So now I can pretty comfortably do 3 sets of 10. I’m quite proud of myself.
※ We had a fire drill last week at my office, which was done in a very Japanese orderly fashion. Each office had to send up a representative to practice using the fire extinguisher, so guess what? My co-workers all volunteered me for the task. It turned out to be really fun (the extinguishers were loaded with water for this drill).
※ Last night all of us went to an open mic blues night at Eat and Talk, a local restaurant/hangout place not too far from where we live. It was really fun! Kyle got to go up there and jam on his guitar and harmonica with a bunch of the guys. One of the songs really struck me as “Austin”-feeling and I imagined that I could be at a restaurant in Austin, listening to the same song.
※ To end this, I’ll say that I sometimes wake up before sunrise and the view from my apartment is simply awesome: