Wednesday, July 30, 2008

sorry, mom

I've been quite busy since coming back from my trip home and haven't had too much time to post things. Despite school being out (though I still have to "work", as it were) several things have been keeping me busy - amongst them: trying to get a japanese driver's license (this process is pretty much eating away at my soul, hopefully it will finish successfully soon), buying a new car (a hott black Nissan Cube), taking over the Akita JETs' pet charity, now a partnership with Room to Read, and making it national for JETs throughout the country, saying goodbye to friends (Edel left on Sunday :( and hello to new ones (the first of our two new Honjo people arrives today!), converting my students` musings (example: "What put in question is not understood only from it") into meaningful English for an upcoming speech contest and, oh so happily, rowing again! This year the existing town government team has integrated us much more readily, Amelie and I are rowing with 3 Japanese girls for our "Ladies" team, and I've also been helping to coach the gaikokujin "Guys" team. With so much more practice time as compared with last year, I predict success! And of course most of my spare time in this sticky weather is spent floating in my new floaty tube at the beach. In the words of the next friend I have to say goodbye to, "Buoyancy is my favorite human attribute!" No new pictures right now but I am sure to have some great ones after this weekend, which will include a traditional dance festival, fireworks, and Akita's Kanto festival, all in my new yukata!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

kameda festival

A town to the north of Honjo, Kameda, just had a lovely festival on Sunday, featuring the town's children in various traditional costumes dancing down the streets.

Stopping for a seaside Lawson's break on our way there

the dances involved a lot of standing on one foot

little komachi girls!

Edel in her lovely yukata outside the kameda castle

at the top of the castle, overlooking Kameda

a scary and strange float. You can see the Yurihonjo (my conglomerated city) symbol- a lily (for yuri) on the backs of these guys' jackets

These dancing ladies were from another prefecture called Fukushima

I think these guys were my favorite - the mustacioed chimney sweeps

Kameda castle

These are actually from the day before, a trip to Nishime beach, where a Chinese rooster balloon was found and subsequently abandoned

Fields of flowing lavender at Herb World, where they also have delicious lavender soft-serve ice cream!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

my trip home

I was so happy to go home, even if for only a short time, to see my family and friends this summer. I had a great time in New York and Cape Cod, with plenty of activities jam-packed into just a little over a week. I am trying to avoid making this sound like the presentation I gave on the trip to my 1st and 2nd graders when I returned, but it may be unavoidable, as I did it 4 times today. Anyway, in New York I got to see friends and my sister, and it turned out to be a very culinary trip, as I was desperate to eat my fill of non-Japanese food. The 4th was spent in Cape Cod, celebrating with lobster and fireworks on the beach. It was great to see a production of La Cage Aux Folles while I was there, one of the things I really miss here in Japan is a variety of entertainment options, particularly nighttime ones, and I was reminded of this when I probably spent almost an hour debating what to do one night in nyc with my friends, the possibilities being more or less endless. A lot of people asked how it was to be home, how I felt and the answer became "It's weird because it's not weird". I think because I left in the summer, spending the time right before I left doing things very similar to what I did on this trip, it felt like no time had passed at all, like I had just entered some kind of time warp and was right back in last summer. And I was glad it was easy to say goodbye to friends because a few are coming to visit in September. So soon!

Noura and Mr. Franklin

Gina's apt

The new New Museum, around the corner from our old Stanton st. apt, and next door to the infamous sunshine hotel

at bocce

my beloved gowanus canal

the lovely smith and 9

what else could you want besides ice coffee, a stoop, and these 3?

Some baby birds in my parents' backyard. The kids really liked this pic.

Lobster on the 4th of July

Jackie, me and Gina

Beach fireworks!

looking good, flatiron!

pre-shake shack-induced coma in madison square park

some new paintings from N and M

sooo much better than Engrish

Friday, July 11, 2008

sumo taikai

I just got back from a trip home to friends and family, but the day BEFORE I left was an epic event, Akita's annual "International" Sumo tournament, benefitting Room to Read. It was as silly as it was serious, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves quite thoroughly. I was proud to have had an organizing hand in the event, which raised over $1,000. I was astounded at how the tournament brought out the caveman in many of my fellow male ALTs, or the frightened pacifist, as the case may be (I would have definitely been the latter if participating). I was also proud of the men of the southwest who participated - three made it to the semi-finals-Owen, Doug, and Jon - with Jon placing third in the end - definitely made all that trash talking I did worthwhile. So here are the pics of my half-naked colleagues:

Phil and Matthew

Doug and me pre-tournament

Phil and David face-off in the practice ring

Me and Amelie

Chris and Stephanie's Taiko drumming group performing

Jason S. painfully defeated by Jon

Matthew and Phil discuss strategy of how to sit comfortably in a mawashi

Matthew getting picked up and out of the ring

Doug and Jon face-off intensely, while a ref enjoys the view

Owen roaring like a caveman