Mind Toot #1


Hello and good day to you all!

久しぶりですね?(Long time no see) Now that I’m actually starting to remember some Japanese I’m trying to use more of it.

So, today’s post is going to be similar to the last one–in no particular order, I am going to spit out the oh-so-important and oh-so-not-important innermost thoughts that are swirling around all over this random and eclectic brain of mine. That being said, because posts like this will most likely be a series of posts (because I’m dumb and can’t just focus on one thing), I’ve decided to give them a name. I wanted to go with “mind farts” because of the explosive nature of these thoughts exiting my head, but upon further discussion from my lovely 友達 (friends), Niamh and Betsy, we have decided to instead lean in favor of “mind toots.” Inside joke. Don’t ask. I mean you can, but I can’t guarantee that it will make any sense to you. So, without further ado, let’s begin Mind Toot #1!

  1. Election blues
    • I’m sure this one goes without saying. I am sad. Terribly sad and frustrated about what happened with the election. I spent all day on November 9th (yes, 9th, because I’m in the future, remember) parked in front of my computer watching the votes coming in in real time. I told everyone not to expect anything from me that day. Not to bother me with anything extra. And that if they saw me at any point crying and huddled in the fetal position underneath my desk, it was because He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named won the election. I went in to the election thinking, “There’s no way in hell that Trump can win, right?” But then the votes starting trickling in. More and more crimson started flooding across the US map on my computer screen. Everyone in the teacher room was watching. Trump was ahead most of the morning. Then, as I went to class afer lunch during fifth period, I had the election up on the computer monitor, and Clinton had the lead. Then fifth period ended and Trump won Florida. Then I went to English Club, and when I came back to the teacher room, as soon as I walked in everybody looked at me with the “we really pity you” look as everyone had video footage titled “Trump Wins US Election: President Trump” flashed across their computer screens. blehgh *shivers all over* “President Trump.” I hate the sound of it. I hate his stupid little face and beady eyes mocking me every time I see a photo of him in the paper.
    • It really says a lot about Americans if we were willing to vote for the most bigoted person in our country as our leader, one who, to make matters worse, has no political experience whatsoever and can’t even control his own Twitter account, let alone the whole country. I hope that he won’t run our poor country into the ground, but I’m not holding my breath for that.
    • I drew America’s grave on a piece of paper and taped it to my desk. “アメリカは死んだ。”
    • I’m pretty sure all of the American ALTs drank ourselves into oblivion on election night.
    • I was so upset that the next day, my daily chat question for my sannensei was, “Do you think it should be mandatory for people of legal age to vote?”
  2. Cultural “oopsies”
    • I knew that the day would come when I would commit a terrible cultural faux-pas, and what do you know, that day has finally come. And it was in direct relation to a question I was asked during my interviews (both times I interviewed) for the JET Program. The “As a vegan, what would you do when somebody offers you food that you can’t eat” question. Now, at this point, the English department and my whole aisle/section in the teacher room know that I don’t eat meat and really don’t like eating dairy. Particularly meat, given how horrible I felt the last time I accidentally ate something that I didn’t know was made of meat broth and not vegetable broth until after the fact.
    • So, what happened here was that nearly four months ago when I got here, I gave all of the teachers omiyage from America, a.k.a the eighty or so little Tabasco bottles that I brought with me. I had naturally completely forgotten about it because it was ages ago.
    • For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call the teacher involved “Across-from-me-sensei,” because his desk is the one opposite mine in the next aisle, so they face each other.
    • So, a couple of weeks ago after school (keep in mind Across-from-me-sensei had all day to do this), right as I’m leaving, Across-from-me-sensei ambushes me in the hallway. At first I thought I imagined my name as I heard a faint, “Erin-san” ring in the hallway behind me, because it was so quiet. Then he says it again and there he is. I was a little surprised because he’s a chemistry teacher and tends not to talk to me that much. He started talking to me in Japanese, at which point I was like “Oh crap I only understand a little of what you’re saying.” He was saying stuff like, “You give me present.” and I was internally like what? present? When? For what? I easily get confused when people use the present tense and not the past because sometimes that little change really makes all the difference.
    • At that point, an English teacher walked by (who we’ll call Bucket-hat-sensei, because he always wears a bucket hat” walked by. “Bucket-hat-sensei! Help me!” I whispered to him as he walked by. So he translated for me, and got the message across that back in July/August, I gave Across-from-me-sensei a gift, and I was liek Oh yeah, the omiyage! I forgot about it! Bucket-hat-sensei told me that Across-from-me-sensei wanted to give me gift in exchange, but then started reading off all of the ingredients Chicken, pork, shrimp, crab or something like that–all of the things that will make me violently ill if I try to eat it. “Is it ok?” He asked.
    • At that point I was internally combusting and going “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” because I knew that Bucket-hat-sensei knew from my welcome party that I was a vegetarian. I also didn’t want to waste perfectly good food that I would end up either throwing away or giving to someone else. So I asked him to tell Across-from-me-sensei that this would make me sick. He said something to the effect of, “Oh, I guess I got the wrong thing. But more for me” But then I felt really bad, and I didn’t know how seriously Japanese people take gift-giving until after the fact. So, upon going to Kyoto two days later, I got him an “I’m sorry I’m a stupid, jerk foreigner” omiyage and spent an hour crafting an apology, and I think we’re cool now.
    • Lesson unfortunately learned at the expense of Across-from-me-sensei.
  3. Kyoto Round 2/My friend stalked a Geisha!
    • I went to Kyoto for the second time last Sunday. I went with my friend to see the fall leaves, because Kyoto is supposed to have some of the best fall colors. We didn’t want to wait any longer in case the leaves were gone by this week. Thankfully Kyoto is only about an hour away from downtown.
    • First, we went to Kiyomizudera, a very famous temple in Kyoto. It seemed to have a lot of smaller sub-temples and shrines near it. The building was beautiful and raised up on these stilt-like things. At the top, you could see the pretty mountain fall colors, but if you looked down, you could get an overview of the city. I wish I had gotten more pictures, but unfortunately, both my phone ran out of memory AND the memory card on my point-and-shoot camera (my Nikon coolpix) that I brought SPECIFICALLY in case my phone ran out of memory also decided to crap out on me because the memory card stopped working right. So I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked. There was this thing in the main temple where you went downstairs into a pitch-black room, and had to feel your away around by holding onto these beads along the wall. Eventually, you ran into a dome-thing that you were supposed to touch and make a wish. The “womb” is what they called it. Pretty weird stuff. I also did something called a “love walk” or something like that, where, with my eyes closed, I had to walk from one stone to another so that my romantic dreams will apparently come true. But because I had assistance ( my friend telling me where to go to not run into people), apparently it means that I can’t find my true love without someone else’s help. We’ll see.
    • We also went to Ginkakuji, a “national treasure” of Japan. It was basically a small-ish temple with a short trail that went up a mountain. We saw some deer in the distance on the mountain!
    • We did the “Philosopher’ s Walk,” a walkway near a canal and we saw CATS!! Lots of cats!!!
    • We finally made our way to Gion, this big main street with a lot of souvenir shops. There was a festival of some sort at the temple/shrine/thing across from it, so I got some taiyaki and a sweet thing with a strawberry on it. Also stopped to get omiyage for my section. It was making our way to this area that my friend essentially decided to chase the Geisha, who I think got creeped out and ended up getting in a cab with the person she was walking with.
  4. School Arts Festival
    • My school had an arts festival a couple of weekends ago! I got to see my students dance with dance club, I saw the chorus club perform, and I bought a ticket for tea ceremony club and learned the proper way to drink tea and appreciate the artwork on tea cups. I also bought some cute handiwork from some of my students in the art club!
    • I got to do an ikebana arrangement for all the students and parents to see and enjoy!
  5. WaniKani level 6!
    • making my way up in the kanji world! Only 44 more levels to go! I will be literate one day!
  6. Recontracting
    • Don’t remember if I mentioned this in my last blog post and I’m too lazy to check. But I signed my contract to stay a second year. Huzzah!
  7. Thanksgiving/Christmas Decorating
    • I started my Christmas decorating early, along with the rest of Japan. Last week I bought my Christmas tree and decorations and put it up. I’m not done decorating yet, though. Never enough Christmas!
    • Thanksgiving is today! My friends and I are going to get thanksgiving dinner after school today!
    • img_1224
      My Sweet little Christmas tree that could. Ignore the fact that two branches fell off during assembly and that I accidentally decapitated it while moving it two days ago. What you get when you only pay $19 for Christmas tree. 
  8. Kansai-ben
    • I’m learning kansai-ben (the kansai-area dialact)! So far I know “sabui,” which is cold (normal word is “samui”) and “wakarahen,” which is normally “wakaranai.” 今日はさぶいね?I also learned “suimasen” instead of “sumimasen” which basically means excuse me/sorry/something to that effect. 
  9. Awaji Conference
    • We had a skill development conference on Thursday and Friday of last week in Awaji (EDIT-several Thursdays ago since it took forever to post this), the island just to the south of my house connected to us by the big pretty bridge. It was sorta useful, I guess. If nothing else, it got me out of school for a couple of days and I got to see a lot of the other ALTs in Hyogo that live farther away. Spent some nice evenings with my neighbor and the other ALTs at his school who stayed at his place.
    • The only downside to Awaji was the bus. We kind of dawdled a bit getting there on Friday morning because we stopped for coffee and missed the bus we were supposed to get on. The next bus ended up being full, so me and two other ALTs (thanks to the graciousness of the bus driver who allowed us to get on the bus anyway because we were desperate) ended up crouching akwardly at the front of the bus. I was contorted into some strange position resembling “the thinker” for a good fifteen minutes until we got there. I couldn’t feel my legs when I got off the bus.
  10. The Quest for Spicy Food
    • I’ve been on the hunt for good spicy food for ages since I got to Japan. Nothing is spicy enough. I miss jambalaya. Curry isn’t spicy enough. We went to a Nepalese restaurant near my house after Awaji day 1 and I finally found spicy food that meets my expectations and makes me want to cry! It was so wonderful! Everyone kept asking me if I can handle spicy food, but they forget that I hail from the land of endless spicy food…
  11. Settlers of Catan: Japanese Edition!
    • It’s the same as regular Settlers of Catan, except the cards are teeny tiny, written in Japanese, and instead of wooden blocks, the pieces are made of plastic and are fancy and realistic looking, so they’re not nearly as much fun  to play with when it’s not your turn and you’re bored. You can’t stack them up and make piles out of them.
    • For those of you who don’t know the game, you basically build settlements and roads and crap and trade sheep, bricks, and rocks and wood, and it looks like this:
  12. No More 雪祭り for Me 😦
    • Yesterday was a sad day for me. I had to tell the people running the trip to the yuki matsuri (snow festival) in Hokkaido that I can’t go. I’ve been dying to go to this festival ever since I saw it in my National Geographic Japan guidebook. But alas, I have no school holidays and I have three ichinensei classes that I can’t get out of, so perhaps next year…
  13. First Japanese Movie Theater Experience
    • Yesterday my friends and I went to a Japanese movie theater (eigakan) for the first time! We saw Kimi no Na wa (君の名は), Your Name. It’s been getting a lot of hype as the only anime movie to earn as much as a Ghibli movie, or something like that, so I really wanted to see it. It was good, but I have a feeling that even if I spoke perfect Japanese or the movie was in English, I still would have been confused by the plot. But the theater itself was really nice! They charge you an arm and a leg for a ticket (aout 18 dollars), but the food is reasonably priced, so I guess it evens out in the end.
  14. I miss my cats. Terribly.
  15. I also miss my Sweet Potato, my Spoiled Spud, my Sack O’ Tatoes, my Tater Tot…
  16. Meeting the “ALT Mom” of 垂水 (Tarumi)
    • Sunday (several Sundays ago) was the birthday of Ryoko-san, the “ALT mom” of my neighborhood, so my neigbor kindly invited me out to finally meet her for her birthday. I don’t know how I went so long without meeting her, but she’s so sweet and I was so happy to meet her at long last!
  17. Costco!
    • ALT Mom took us to Costco, where I realized that I do not have enough space in my Hobbit Hole for anything sold at Costco. I left with a fancy power strip, a gallon of popcorn kernels, and four ears of regular corn. What does that say about me, exactly?
  18. Gotta Catch ‘Em All
    • I found a loophole in the video game buying system. Japanese DS games don’t work on American DSs and vice versa because they are region locked. BUT!!! BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I made an amazing discovery! My 3DS connects to the internet. I have the internet. Because I bought my 3DS in America, it connects to ENGLISH internet and is connected to THE ENGLISH Nintendo E-shop. All I have to do to purchase games is (1) Open my 3DS (2) Go to the Nintendo E-shop (3) Add funds with my debit card and (4) download the game of my choice.
    • So I bought the new Pokemon Game that came out last week, Pokemon Sun. And I can’t put it down.
    • It might have been a mistake but I don’t even care. Who cares that I got my Pokemon to level 30 in only four days? I don’t have a problem. I swear I don’t. Not at all.
    • Not.
    • At.
    • All.
  19. Home Improvements, Round….4? 5? I don’t even know any more, man.
    • I gave up counting how many home improvements I’ve made, but I made even more over last weeked. When I went to the furniture store to pick out my El Cheapo Christmas tree on Saturday, I also made off with new bedsheets–a dark red futon cover and a red and black plaid comforter cover to spruce up my otherwise quite boring white bedsheets with a myseterious blood stain on them.  My house is apparently now red and black themed and everything matches quite nicely. I love it so much!!!

      How many red things can you count in this picture?
    • I also bought a floor chair at Cainz today. Yay for back support while sitting at my toasty kotatsu on the floor.
    • AND I played Apartment Tetris. The rolly-cart-thing by the kitchen window got moved behind the mirror. The dresser that was originally in the closet that got moved next to the TV got moved where the rolly-cart-thingy was. The small desk went where the dresser was by the TV. I dismantled my big table and now it’s hanging out in the bathroom. And two downtown trips later, I came home with three bookcases and made this!

      I really need to be the new mascot for Lowe’s or something when I get back to the states. Really embracing the whole “never stop improving” lifestyle here.

  20. No third year classes??
    • I found out two days ago that I won’t have my third year student classes at all next term. I’ll only have eight classes and will have so much free time and will be bored out of my mind.
    • Addition to point A: since writing Point A, Exams have happened. Because I have no exams, I have nothing to do. Because I have nothing to do, I sit at my desk and lesson plan for next term. Oh wait, I already lesson planned for ALL OF NEXT TERM. So I can print out all of the actual materials for next term. OH WAIT, I DID THAT TOO. There’s gotta be something for poor part-time ALT Ern to do, right? Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahaha. Ha…….ha.
  21. So bored at work.
    • See item 20 above.
    • at least when I’m bored out of my mind because I already did all the things, I can stare deeply into the soul of my Japanese textbook as we form a quite intimate relationship. We’re going steady now.
  22. Nobody ever let me do the planning for a trip. Ever. Nuff said.
    • I keep saying I’m going to go on the Great Hokkaido Excursion of 2016-2017, but have I booked plane tickets yet? Nope. Hotel Rooms? Nuh-uh. Planned anything specific? Kinda-sorta? Have any kinds of expectations, hopes or dreams for this trip other than the expectation that snow will in fact be there by simple virtue of the fact that I am going to Hokkaido? Nopity-nope-nope-nope. All that’s come out of this theoretical trip is apparently the development of my amazing skills for creating new words (see nopity-nope-nope above)
    • ADDENDUM TO THE ABOVE STATEMENT: Since originally writing this, I have managed to half-plan a trip! I booked a plane to Hokkaido! I booked hotel rooms! So far my itinerary is Sapporo, Hakodate, and Aomori, but 90% sure I will also add Iwate and Akita prefectures in there as well. Now I just need to figure out how I will get myself home…
  23. I did my Christmas card shopping today and somebody (in America) is getting a hilarious yet mildly inappropriate Christmas card this year.
    • Perhaps I’ll buy a dartboard and throw darts blindfolded to decide who.
    • *insert evil laugh here*
    • Whoever I end up sending it to better appreciate it’s glory.
    • You’ll know when you get it if it’s the inappropriate card.
  24. Host family fun
    • Finally met with my host family again last weekend for the first time in ages! Had a lovely lunch with them last weekend, and spent some time with Shinji-san and Max today!
  25. I may have gone a little overboard with “extensive reading” in my desire to become literate in another language.

    And by extensive reading I mean manga. Lots of manga. 
  26. Kobe Luminarie
    1. We went to the Kobe Luminarie on Saturday! It’s a big light structure memorial for the 1995 earthquake that happened here. img_1239img_1241img_1244img_1245
  27. I’m dumb
    • Last but not least, to anyone that I ever offend with my cultural ignorance or plain stupidity and inability to at times keep my mouth shut, I’m sorry. Sometimes I don’t know when to shut up or how to appropriately respond to things because I am awkward and terrible and socially inept. 本当にごめんなさい。

Well, that’s about all for now, folks. I hope that you enjoyed Mind Toot #1, and I hope even more that you start cracking up laughing whenever you read the phrase “Mind Toot.” I know I do. I’m writing this post at work because I’m done lesson planning and I’m bored out of my mind and I’m snickering to myself as I write this and the other teachers already think I’m weird enough. May someone else think the same of you. Yay for weird!

Until next time,


エリン (Erin)


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