はな つち
花と土 Flowers and soil on

みち せみ
道は狭いが on a narrow path during

春散歩 a warm spring walk.

In Japanese class this week we wrote haiku's. In Japanese. I was freaked out. I thought it would be so, so hard. How can I write a poem in another language? Well, the results were good, possibly profound, and definitely hilarious. Here's another one I wrote that turned out to be not a haiku, but a senryu-- a satirical poem with the same number of syllables as haiku. Apparently a poem only qualifies as a haiku if it is about nature or a season. This next poem is only indirectly about nature. To wit:

鼻水や     a runny nose and
あたま  いたい
頭が痛い a bad sinus headache means
あ れ る ぎい
アレルギー allergy season.

(Note: the translations are not literal. I tried to translate them so the syllables were still the correct amounts and stay true to the ideas in the poem. It was tough. Give me a break.)

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written by Ruthie @ 4:07 AM   1 comments

Snow and a palm tree in the same picture. Cool, eh? This is just in front of the high school building, overlooking the Kanmon Strait. The penis-shaped thing is called Yume Tower. It has an observatory and restaurant at the top.


written by Ruthie @ 7:47 AM   1 comments

I've decided to try to post a new photo everyday to add some interest to the blog. Let's see how long I last before I forget to update and decide to scrap it altogether. :)

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written by Ruthie @ 12:08 AM   2 comments
I watched Apocalypto last night on the internet. It was probably illegally recorded, because I don't think it's out on video yet in the States, is it? Anyway, it was really good. Really sad and creepy and violent, but good. Here are some thoughts. I'm not a movie critic by trade, so if you want a better review of the film, go to Pajiba. If you haven't seen the film yet and you're one of those who don't like to hear details about a movie before you see it, proceed with caution, or maybe not at all.
  • I thought it was really well-made. I love that the characters weren't speaking English in an accent, but in Mayan (I think that's what it was supposed to be, anyway). It made the movie a lot more realistic.
  • For about a third of the movie I had no clue what was going on. Before I watched it, I didn't know anything about f the film except that it was Mel Gibson's brainchild and that it was bloody. I suppose I vaguely remembered hearing it was about South American Indians, but that was all I knew. So I was really confused, especially when the Mayan dudes came in and captured a bunch of people. I had no idea why they were killing and capturing so many people. I think that added to the realism of the film for me, because maybe the villagers felt similarly. They didn't know who these people were or what they wanted. They just knew that they were captured and would probably die a horrible death.
  • I know frighteningly little about history. Not just the history of Mayan or other ancient civilizations, but history in general. I can no longer name all the presidents of the 20th century. I don't know the major battles of the major wars of the West. I don't know anything about Russian, Chinese, or Indian history. It's sad, really. This movie made me realize how little I know-- not by really teaching me anything, but by my own confusion throughout the movie. I didn't even realize they were Mayans until I saw the temple thingers, and even then I thought maybe they could've been Aztecs. Is this as pathetic as it sounds? Somebody help me out here. Was anyone else lost during this film?
  • Even though this film was really violent, I didn't think it was as violent as Braveheart or Saving Private Ryan or The Messenger. Maybe I didn't feel it was so violent because the violence was mostly without the use of higher technology. It was a lot of chopping off heads or knifing people or arrows going through chests just bashing in skulls. It didn't seem as violent as seeing body parts getting blown off by a bomb or someone getting shot twenty times. There wasn't a whole lot of blood spraying everywhere as someone got a broadsword through the heart. Even though the priest dude cut open people's chests and held up their still-beating hearts, that didn't seem so bad somehow. Does this mean I'm a complete sicko? Or that I'm desensitized to brutal violence?
  • I liked the irony of seeing the Spanish land on the beach at the end. The Mayans were doing exactly what the Spanish would eventually do, but on a small scale and to their own people. I suppose they got their comeuppins.
I know Mel Gibson is supposed to be all crazy and bigoted and alcoholic and stuff now, but he makes a good film, I think. What did you think, those of you who saw the film?
written by Ruthie @ 7:37 PM   0 comments
New Layout!
Something a little more Japanese. Whaddaya think?
written by Ruthie @ 8:10 PM   2 comments
More from the Tea-Master

Okakura, Kakuzo. The Book of Tea. p. 35 "Strangely enough humanity has so far met in the teacup. It is the only Asiatic ceremonial which commands universal esteem. The white man has scoffed at our religion and our morals, but has accepted the brown beverage without hesitation. The afternoon tea is now an important function in Western society. In the delicate clatter of trays and saucers, in the soft rustle of feminine hospitality, in the common catechism about cream and sugar, we know that the Worship of Tea is established beyond question. The philosophic resignation of the guest to the fate awaiting him in the dubious decoction proclaims that in this single instance the Oriental spirit reigns supreme."

It is really funny to me that most Westerners don't even realize that the tradition of drinking tea came, not from the English, but from the Chinese. Most Americans probably conjure images of the Boston Tea Party and the British Prime Minister and his lovely wife drinking Earl Grey from a silver tea service prepared by a butler named Jeeves. What is sad is that Japanese tea culture has changed from being a highly somber and ceremonious event with only the finest green tea leaves to being a copy of the more Western custom of drinking brown tea with sugar, lemon, and/or milk as routine after a meal with desert.

p. 69 a story of Soshi (Chuangtse) the Taoist: "One day Soshi was walking on the bank of a river with a friend. 'How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves in the water!' Exclaimed Soshi. His friend spake to him thus: 'You are not a fish; how do you know that the fishes are enjoying themselves!' 'You are not myself,' returned Soshi; 'how do you know that I do not know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?'"

Hahaha. I like this little vignette because it sounds so goofy, like something Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid would say.


written by Ruthie @ 2:41 AM   0 comments
Good Weather
The weather was so beautiful today. I went for a walk this afternoon to a park close to my apartment. I found a few trails to walk on, took pictures of flowers, just enjoyed the sunshine and the warm wind and the beautiful view of the mountains and the sea and the city.

My friend Satoko told me that the Japanese have a saying that, when spring begins, there are three days of good weather, then four days of bad weather, then three more days of good weather, then four days of bad weather, etc. I hope she is right, because that means there are two more days of good weather ahead.

This evening I walked home from the train station I again thought of the great weather. The sky was clear and so dark. As I walked the narrow street back to Hatabu, I saw a dark patch of bamboo forest against the dark sky, poked with holes to let the heaven behind it through. I get so thoughtful and melancholy when I can see the stars. When I reached the crest of a hill I looked out to see how far I could see. In the darkness I couldn't make out where exactly the ocean began, except for where the lights of the city were sucked into a sudden opaqueness. I couldn't see it, but I knew the ocean extended further than my eyes could stretch even in broad daylight. It felt weird to think that I was looking out at such a vast expanse of water. Suddenly I had an intense desire to be out on the ocean in a boat-- glossy blackness below me; thick blackness above me, poked with stars. I wanted to sleep under the stars. I had the crazy idea to move my futons to the roof and sleep there tonight, just for tonight, under the stars, be woken up by the sun, no alarm clock. The Japanese word for star is 星 (ほし、hoshi). The word hoshi sounds very similar to the word ほしい (hoshii)、which means "want" or "desire." Maybe that explains why stars make me thoughtful and melancholy.
written by Ruthie @ 7:43 AM   1 comments
The subject line means, "It's been awhile. Sorry." Since I've been here for over half a year, my life doesn't seem so exciting anymore, so I decided to downsize to an update email every other month. Does that greatly disappoint anyone?

So, in light of my life here being boring, please allow me to bore you to sleep by giving you an account of a normal day: a Tuesday.
  • 6:30AM My alarm goes off. I hit the snooze every five minutes for a half hour.
  • 7:00AM I finally decide to pull myself off of my futon and get ready for school. I eat breakfast (usually toast with something sweet and unhealthy on top and a cup of instant cafe au lait), make lunch (usually a sandwich, a mikan [mandarin orange], and some Pocky [cracker sticks dipped in chocolate]), get dressed, and take out the trash (Tuesday is a red bag day-- that's burnables).
  • 7:35AM I start walking to the bus station, about a five-minute walk from my apartment building.
  • 7:50AM The bus arrives, five minutes off-schedule, usually.
  • 8:05AM The bus takes me to 丸山町(Maruyama-cho), and I walk to the school from there-- about three minutes. I change into my "inside shoes" at the shoe locker, then go to my coat locker in the building to drop off my coat, hat, scarf, and sometimes umbrella, then to the teacher's office.
  • 8:20AM Teacher devotions. One of the higher-ups reads a section of one of the Gospels (right now we're reading Luke), then prays. Then any announcements teachers have are made.
  • 8:35AM Nick, Rachel, and I go to chapel. We sing the Baiko chapel chant, then bow. Then we sing a hymn, read a section of Scripture, listen to the message, pray, recite the memory verse, bow again, and leave.
  • 9:00AM First period begins. On Tuesdays I have 1E Writing class. 1E basically means "first year high-schooler English concentration." Right now they are writing a scary story. Its a really fun, but challening, project for them.
  • 9:50AM Writing class ends and I go downstairs to the English Lounge, where I will check my email, plan classes, eat chocolate, take a nap, read a book, or study Japanese until lunch time.
  • 12:50PM Lunch hour begins.
  • 1:30PM Lunch hour ends. Cleaning time begins. The students and teachers clean the school and take out garbage. Although, my American colleagues and I are doubtful that any serious cleaning gets done.
  • 2:50PM sixth period-- Basic English Conversation class with 1A students. 1A basically means "normal first year high-schooler." This also means that they don't care if they learn English. This is the class in which I have the most discipline problems.
  • 3:40PM sixth period ends, hopefully without me having to confiscate any personal effects from the students (I have had to take away post-its and scissors before).
  • 3:50PM Seventh period-- 2E Writing class begins. I think this is my favorite class to teach. The 2E students are motivated, kind, and they love English. And they're quite fond of me, if I do say so myself. ;) Right now they are writing an argument paper-- they respond to a topic I assigned them by giving their opinion and giving arguments for and against that opinion. Its pretty challenging for them, but they are doing well.
  • 4:40PM 2E Writing class ends. I go back to the English Lounge to wait until 5:00 rolls around.
  • 5:00PM FREEDOM! Nick, Rachel and I walk home. Sometimes I stop at the grocery store on the way.
  • 5:40PM I make it home, put my groceries away, turn on my computer, and decompress for awhile by reading, listening to music, or watching junk on YouTube. The rest of the night is spent making supper, showering, writing emails or letters or postcards, tinkering around on the internet, generally being lazy. Sometimes I watch a movie with friends.

With three classes, Tuesday is my busiest day of the week. Its pretty pathetic, really. Most of my time at work is not spent on work-related stuff because I just don't have enough to fill my time. Maybe next fall when there are only two English teachers I will have some more classes to teach... I don't know...
Speaking of which, my high school is currently looking for someone from NWC to fill a soon-to-be-vacant English-teaching position. So if any of you NWC graduates (or soon-to-be graduates) are interested in teaching English in Japan, please let me know!

So that's a day in the life of ルーシー先生、梅光女学院の英語教師。Pretty boring, I think. But I'm used to this life by now. ;)


written by Ruthie @ 12:14 AM   1 comments
How in the heck do you spell "dialogue"? Because the spellchecker says it's "dialog." I thought there was a "ue" on the end of it. Did that change recently? Is pseudo-British spelling no longer allowed in American English? Because that's a shame. I rather like spelling words with superfluous U's. "Colour" and "favourite" just look more sophisticated with the extra U, don't you think? (haha. Don't "U" think? Did you catch that? I am so clever).
written by Ruthie @ 7:40 PM   2 comments

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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