Monday, November 26, 2007

Haikus about it.

Pittsburgh represent
in Kyoto this weekend.
Started with coffee.

Looking oh, so fly
take the train to Osaka.
Danced until sunrise.

Temple was super
special. Found meaning to life
under red leafed tree.

Julia and Brad
suggest we all share the juice.
Then we put on scarves.

Sushi, sashimi,
mashed potatoes revive us.
The rap stars head home.

We find Tina's shoes.
Wake up to enjoy one more
coffee. Hugging bye.

Bus ride back down south.
Brad tells me I smell real bad.
I think I might barf.

Kyoto was the
dream fantasy trip for all
three. Lets never leave.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How much gin did Dad put in the Fish House Punch?

Of course, I educated Japanese elementary school kids about Thanksgiving.

The combination of holidays and arts and crafts is the most beautiful thing in teaching English as a Second Language.

But, I am feeling a little bummed that I will not be in Pittsburgh this long weekend. For some reason, I have this urge to be at the Saloon this Wednesday night, avoiding eye contact from some high school friends and desperately trying to make eye contact with others.

Even though I never really have fun at bars in Mt. Lebanon. I always just end up looking around the room and realizing I am wearing more clothing than about five girls combined. And I am the only one drinking whiskey and ginger ale while everyone else drinks Red Bull and vodka or Coors Light.

And last year Tim Jones was there.


So I will not feel that bad about things.

The last time I was abroad on T-day I was in Prague. And my academic adviser made a wonderful thanksgiving dinner.

Obviously, there was LOTS of red wine. No matter what happened in Prague there was always red wine.

Then I was drunk, and full of turkey and stuffing even though I was thousands of miles from North America.

Have fun this Thanksgiving as you question how much gin my dad really put in that fish house punch.

Monday, November 19, 2007

No Shame

I have no shame in admitting that this was the best part of my day and it will probably end up being the best part of my week:

important section reads: "My favorite teacher is Ms. Caity. She is very cute."

important section reads: "I like talking with Ms. Caity. She is very pretty."

If 14 year old Japanese girls do not think I am kawaii, I am not sure what else there is.

Also, these Japanese Jellyfish are super.

And my new Jellyfish bag glows in the dark:

But it is too cold for swimming now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dear God,

Can I please make arrangements to come back as a Japanese high school boy in my next life?

I will wear lots of peace signs and hot pink.
I will shave my eyebrows.
I will have dramatic hair styles.
And I will touch other boys in ways that are not encouraged in America.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


I could not let this one pass me up:

Set the scene ...

It is Saturday night. I am hanging with Brad Pittsburgh in Naruto. He just made some heady, bomb tasting, healthy, vegetarian, maybe organic, maybe vegan, or raw, all that bullshit, dinner. We are talking about food and how what you eat affects how you feel.
I am thinking, `wow, maybe he has a point.` I believe that the exact words to come out of my mouth are, `maybe I will fast and then only eat raw, organic foods, for the rest of my life.`

Then the door bell rings.

We are about two beers deep and the JET program brainwashes its participants into thinking it is perfectly okay to invite EVERY Japanese person into your home who shows the slightest interest in your culture. So, Brad`s health store friend and the two creepy people that are lingering behind her are invited into his home.

It is awkward, obviously.

After I complement the health food store girl`s, super bling, Dolce and Gabbana belt she claps her hands and says, `lets try!!!!`
`Um, try what?`
Then they start talking about Johrei and how it will help you rid the chemicals and maybe bad spirits in your body and some weird bullshit.
All I can think is, `Oh my god. I am being accosted by a cult and Brad is in on it. I thought I knew this person.`

And I was about to give up biscuitville. What would I have eaten at Smith Street Diner, the $9 fruit plate, hell no!

I prep to give Brad the most freaked out look, in hopes he is indeed not in on this Johrei. He returns the look (thank god). But, he agrees to do the Johrei.

We are sitting on one side of the room, Johrei people sit on the other side and stick out their hands. We sit in silence for ten minutes.

When it is over they start asking us if we feel any different.

`Nope, no different, just kinda bored.`

The super weird man is trying real hard to suck Brad into this cult.

I am fidgeting in awkwardness. Dolce and Gabbana asks if I want a massage. I think they are thrown-off by my presence and wanted to distract me while they brain wash Brad. I turn around and get my back rubbed while the weird man tries to get Brad to quite JET and join Johrei.

As things are winding down I ask they guy, `is this ... like ... your job?` Then they take off. My back feels good and Brad is not brainwashed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things Just Got Really Japanese

And things also got really good.

My mother often reminds me of a time we were walking around a department store when I was about 7. We passed a glamorous pink dress and I asked if I could try it on. She agreed, but reminded me that we were not going to buy it.
I walked out of the dressing room and I was the most stunning 7 year old to ever stand in front of that Kaufmann's mirror.
She looked at the price tag again and suggested it was time to say goodbye to the dress. Naturally, I was devastated and cried for the hours that followed.

Now that I am almost 24 I kind of understand that I cannot have all the dresses I want. This does not mean I want those dresses any less.

Last month, I went to my first Japanese tea ceremony. I stared enviously at all those women scurrying across the tatami in their kimonos.
I tried to spark a, seemingly casual, kimono conversation, "So, Kocho-Sensei, do you have a kimono? Do most Japanese women have a kimono? Why are you not wearing your kimono tonight?"

"Hai, hai. Maybe sometime you can try kimono, Caity Sensei."
"Oh ... whatever...."
At that moment I decided that all I wanted out of Japan was a kimono. So long as I fly out of this country with a kimono in my bag.

This month, I walk into the community center and I am chased behind a curtain to put on a kimono for the ceremony.

If I had known I was going to have a kimono to wear I would have washed my hair, put on some lip gloss, and brought my camera (there is obviously the camera phone option, which I used in this case).

But, I still felt like the most stunning white girl to glide across that tatmai.

Japanese tea ceremony is a dance. Every movement is choreographed. And while watching others dance you must wait, in pain, sitting seiza (on ones knees with a straight back). As the layers to kimonos consist of hard blocks secured tightly with ribbons and rope, forcing one to inhale dramatically when being tied in, there is no room to slouch.

The tea ceremony ended. Kocho-Sensei took me downstairs to show off the white girl dressed up in a kimono to a bunch of drunk Japanese men; which was, of course, both awkward and hilarious.

I knew I would have to take off the kimono and return it, as I did the pink, department store, dress.

As I was being undressed by old Japanese women they said, "gift to you."
"No, no, I cannot."
"Yes, she has many kimono."
"No, too expensive, I cannot."
"Yes, please, gift."

This woman simply gave me one of her many kimono's.

I put my nose to the floor as I bowed in thanks.

What the hell do I give to someone who has given me a kimono ... a car?
Too bad I did not know about this gesture of kindness this previous weekend.
I would have bought her a huge piece of pottery from Naruto's Sunday afternoon pottery festival.

The next month of my life will consist of a search for a piece of ceramic art that can be used during a tea ceremony.

Meanwhile, I will be sleeping with and touching my kimono.

"This dance is difficult, this dance is hard, it makes me want to spin around in my yard." -Mirah.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Please Teach Me Many English

I stopped at a Lawsons, at 7am this morning, to get a can of hot coffee and a juice before I flew down the Tokushima expressway. I listened to a podcast of Wait, Wait, Don`t Tell Me and laughed out loud (all the way from Japan) at the discussion of Giuliani`s obession with the digits 9,1, and 1.

When I pulled into my Monday morning elementary school there were no cars in the parking lot. I walked up to the locked door and turned right back around, happy to have one less lesson to plan this week.

Gillian Welch kept me company as I planned a Jr. High lesson while sitting in my car in the empty lot.

When I arrived at the Jr. High School I found a typed letter on my desk:

Thank you for using our shop for the other day.

We feel sorry not to explain to you well.
We explain the exchange of fasteners to you again.

We will exchange fasteners of your clothes.
It is because the fastener is completely broken.
Exchange fasteners must be relieved with a fastener that looks a like.

It takes about one week (or 10 days) to do it.
The charge of the exchange is about 1800 yen.
Please you must pay when the clearing work is completed.
Please come for the receipt when it does for one week.

I`m always working in the city office.
In the city office, the visitor who sometimes speaks English is seen. However, I run away, and leave it to the person who can speak English.
And, I only use poor English when traveling abroad...
I felt the importance of the study of English, because I renewed.

Please teach happiness that speaks in English to the junior high school students.

We will wait for the next use.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Jesus is Magic

Holy shit. I am so excited I cannot even contain myself to wait for a moment when I have more time so that I can post a proper blog (including illustrations) on this subject matter.
So Japanese people do not know about Hanukkah. They know all about Christmas. They even exchange Christmas gifts.

Today in my adult language class some people started asking me about Christmas. Then I started talking about Hanukkah. They had never heard of it.
I drew a picture of a menorah and the star of David on the board. We talked about Adrien Brody in the Pianist. I explained the reason behind having two pieces of hair, hanging from the hat, to frame ones face. I had them all say the word "Torah."

Guess what Ikedacho, this ALT is not going to do Christmas. Christmas is old news. It is all about Hanukkah this December.

Please send me any Hanukkah paraphernalia you might be able to spare. I will probably have an "incident" involving children's books on Hanukkah, within the week.

The best part of the class was when the old guy Sho (who has amazing English) asked me, "Isn't Jewish and Christian ancestry very similar?"
And I replied, "Yes, yes it is. But the difference is ... well ... Christian people think that like ... Jesus ... um ... they think that JESUS IS MAGIC."
It just came out of my mouth, like Sarah Silverman snagged my soul and helped me through that speechless moment.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I will be really tired on Jan. 14th

On Dec. 23rd I will fly from Osaka to Bangkok. Then I will travel to Chiang Mai and meet up with the sustah. (But not Zack. Do not let the photo confuse you).

Then this guy that I met at the Tiki Lounge, in the South Side of Pittsburgh, will meet up with us in Chiang Mai. So that will be cool.

Then When I get off the plane from Bangkok to Osaka, on Jan. 7th, Cara and Rory will meet me in Osaka.
(But Kiel will not be there and there will not be hot dogs or blunts. Do not let that photo confuse you).

I will just dance my way through Southeast Asia, have Cara and Rory help me tear up Japan. (Without Hillary and her miniskirt. Just keeping you from confusion). And then I will be poor and tired when I give some more goodbye hugs on Jan 13th. But, I will have lots of pictures and souvenirs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Today was a Good Day. Ice Cube. Remix

This morning I woke up remembering my dream that was in Japanese. I did not understand anything that was being said in my dream, but my dream state told me that it was Japanese and it was an unmistakable sound. Only makes since that I would have such dreams; I listen to the noise that is Japanese all day. The Japanese that was being spoken made sense to the other Japanese people in my dream ... it is a start.

And today I had on a new pair of wool socks and a new turtleneck that matched. I kept pulling my turtleneck up around my little cold nose.
And my shirt smelled good like new, department store bought, cotton.

Monday, November 5, 2007


This Monday morning was much more daijobu than the last two Mondays. For starters, I did not wake up with a vomit/ I partied too hard taste in my mouth.
I actually woke up feelin' kinda genki.

This weekend I packed up that trustworthy Toyota.

And drove an hour straight up a life or death situation- Japanese mountain highway- to the Iya Valley.

Lonely Planet refers to the Iya Valley as the "Tibet of Japan." I think that it is stupid to compare a beautifully hidden mountain side town (that is being rapidly discovered) in Japan to some other place in the world due to some vague similarities. Iya Valley is just Iya Valley ... a breath taking gorge with vine bridges to walk across, fish heads to eat, onsens to lay in, and and leaves that turn orange and yellow before they die and fall off trees. But, I do not know shit about Tibet. All I know is that I did just rent that movie and I did hang out with Brad Pitt(sburgh) during my stay in the Iya Valley (ha ha).

We camped and literally ran into a Fall festival the following morning. Obviously, there was a festival blocking the road back to Ikeda. There is always a festival in Japan.

After much soba, udon, and coffee we headed back down the mountain to a JET sponsored reality that is only now starting to feel real.

ps- tonight I made dinner that was not very good so I threw it out and ate a piece of cake, drank wine, and smoked cigarettes instead ... I pay bills therefore I do what I want.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Role Model Again.

This is the newest part of my family:

This part of the family is not too happy about the addition:


If I had a baby I would want it to be a dog:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

28 Days Later ...

it will be my birthday.
So you should send me a letter:

Matsushita Mansion 3-D
Machi 2395-2
Ikeda cho, Miyoshi shi, Tokushima ken
778 0002

Or a WQFS sticker.
Or a black speckled composition book.
Or a mix CD.
Or a pack of parliament lights (not 100's).

And I will send you a very thoughtful thank you note in return.

The Word Community

Best thing I learned at Guilford College is to use the word COMMUNITY as much as possible.
When you find yourself in a professional or academic situation and you are not sure what to say, just start talking about community. Even if you do know what to say you should throw that good word in.

I had an enkai (work drinking party) tonight and the principle called me God's gift to the school. Verbatim, she said I was a gift from God to her school. ( But this was one of those situations when I knew that if this person's first language was English that would probably not be the chosen vocabulary).

Not to undermine the existing love.
I did use that good word COMMUNITY at the first enkai.
When asked to give a speech about what I thought about Japanese sports day ... my speech was about community.

Caity Sensei-
What do you like about Japan? Community.
What do you like about Japanese schools? Community.
Why do you think Japanese schools are better than American schools? Community.
What do you like about Japanese food? Community.
What do you think about the students at our school? Community.
Do you have a Japanese boyfriend? Community.
What do you do with your free time, do you have lots of friends? Community.
You are so strong at drinking whiskey, how often do you drink? Community.
Do you drink alone? Community.

Thank you Guilford College.