It's now up to 85% humidity here in Shimonoseki, and although it's only 85 degrees or so, the oppressiveness of the water in the air makes the rainy season my least favorite season EVER.

So here's a list of reasons why I hate humidity:

I am soaked in sweat after five minutes outside.
People smell more heavily of body odor than normal.
Laundry never gets completely dry.
The scenic view of the harbor and the mountains is constantly shrouded in mist.
My dreams get really weird in hot, muggy weather.
My hair expands to the size of a small country.
Garbage smells that much worse.
written by Ruthie @ 9:38 PM   1 comments
...is a curse.

I wonder if, before scientific thought was developed, people were happier. I imagine explanations were simple: earthquakes or tornadoes were visible signs from God, strange illnesses were a result of sin in a person's life; coincidence did not exist; if some odd events happened to line up inexplicably, God (or the gods, or fate, or Mother Nature) did it for a reason. Now practically everything can be explained away by science, logic, and evidence. Modern people from an intellectual background can't simply believe that an invisible spiritual force causes strange events to occur. There must be scientific evidence to confirm the natural cause of such events. All the ancient cultures had stories about how the world was created, where evil comes from, how to stop bad things from happening. Modern society can no longer believe such stories because science provides a perfectly logical, practical, tried-and-true explanation to everything. Even love is no longer mysterious for some. It's downgraded to a complex chemical reaction in the brain that creates certain predictable emotional and physical responses.

How I long to attribute creation, natural phenomenon, any strange coincidence to God or spiritual forces! I don't care if science can explain these mysteries anymore. I want the simple, creative, beautiful myths of the past. I desperately want to believe God created man from dust and woman from one of man's ribs. I'd love to accept that evil came to the world as a serpent. I'd like to believe languages were formed because men tried to build a tower to reach God, and he was worried they could actually do it, so he made it impossible for them to understand each other. These stories are much more fun than accepting a complex and highly technical theory involving evolution of man from pond scum and different tribal groups creating forms of communication unique to and compatible with their respective cultural practices. It'd take the fantastical bedtime stories with a nicely-packaged moral over the textbook, technical jargon-riddled theories any day. They're beautiful, they give my life purpose, they teach me how to live a good life in harmony with nature and the people around me. Science can't do that. It's cold and calculating, without hope or wonder or affection. There is no moral, only a profound sense of arrogance because the answers to life's unanswerable questions have been found, that the intellectuals (a very tiny sliver of the world's population) are right and everyone else is either uneducated or just kidding themselves.

I may be an uneducated simpleton who just hasn't been properly exposed to all the evidence to support the big band theory or species adaptation or the reason humans love or the existence of "evil." Or I may just be a dreamer, an optimist, or an idealist who loves bedtime stories. I think I'll chose the latter.
written by Ruthie @ 3:07 AM   2 comments
Shop TIll You Sleep
I've heard "Shop till you drop," but "shop till you sleep"?


written by Ruthie @ 5:25 AM   0 comments
Engrish Shirt
An Engrish t-shirt seen in a store called Right On:
Pretty funny, what with the "No Peace No Gouge" and "Gouge of Smoke" slogans. But upon closer inspection of the bottom of the shirt, my friend and I discovered that this shirt is, in fact, the funniest thing we'd ever seen:
Yes, those are cigarette packs on the shirt. And yes, that is Matthew 17:20. So I know the what, but I'm still not sure about the why...


written by Ruthie @ 6:35 AM   0 comments
Yes, it's rainy season in Japan. My colleagues tell me to expect dreary, wet, humid weather for about two months. When I heard that I thought about what my hair looks like in humid weather: double its normal volume, Diana Ross-esque frizz, generally unmanageable. My hair was to the length that it didn't curl very well because of the weight of the hair, but it wouldn't stay totally straight, either. In short, it was in a wave limbo. At that point in the growth of my hair I can only effectively style it one way: in a ponytail, with the cowlicks clipped to the sides of my head. So I decided it was high time for a haircut. I asked several foreigners where they usually go to get their hair cut, but I wasn't too thrilled with their advice, so I decided one afternoon to just walk around downtown until I saw a salon that looked reputable. A little risky, but I ended up at a place in Green Mall: the Korean section of town. The hairdresser's name was Kimura, and she didn't speak any English. So I explained in broken Japanese and body language that I wanted a short haircut because my hair was curly and in the coming weather short hair would be better. We communicated fairly well and in the end I got a really short, layered bob. After she styled it I stood up and checked it out in the mirror. An older lady materialized from the back of the shop and said I looked like a mannequin, so I posed accordingly and they laughed. They kept using the Japanese word for "cool," which boosted my ego. I got home and showed my coworker. She said, "You'll be the talk of the school tomorrow." And indeed, as soon as the students saw me and my obvious lack of hair, most of them gaped at me with their mouths open and promptly squealed, "Cute!!!!" Some of the teachers said they thought I looked like a mod 1950s American swinger or something. In all, I got quite a favorable (and pretty funny) reaction to my new 'do.

Another new adventure recently was my first broken tooth. Monday morning I was polishing off my English muffin--searching my mouth with my tongue for any residual crumbs stuck in those hard-to-reach places-- when I felt a rather hard crumb toward the front of my mouth. I bit down. It was crunchy--not "Rice Crispie Treat" crunchy, but "I had a picnic at the park and accidentally got a rock in my bologna sandwich" crunchy. It was a piece of tooth from one of my mandibular central incisors (I looked that up on Wikipedia). Naturally, I spat it out, inspected it, then proceeded to almost hyperventilate. I've never had a serious problem with my teeth, let alone gone to a dentist IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY, so I was pretty freaked out. Luckily, my friend Joe recently broke a tooth on some toast and had to go to the dentist, so he helped me find the office and told me what to do. It turns out that Japanese dentists are very gentle: no pulling the mouth open or stretching the skin to see every cranny with a mirror or pushing down on the teeth. It wasn't too bad. And now my tooth is back to normal!

Also this month I made a trip to Tokyo to see some friends from Northwestern College. The Drama Ministries Ensemble came to the Tokyo area to perform Bible stories, do workshops, do some sightseeing, etc. I figured if they're in Japan and I'm in Japan, I should try to see them. So I flew up for a weekend to hang out. It was great to see some old friends, meet some new people, and see the big city for the first time! I only had time for a little sightseeing in Tokyo: I saw a bit of the imperial gardens and a famous shrine called Asakusa, but spent the bulk of my time on public transportation trying to find these places. I still have many things on my list to see in the Tokyo area.

Other than those exciting stories it's been pretty normal here in Shimonoseki. The first year students are still quite curious about the weird-looking foreign teachers, so they stop by the English Lounge to try to communicate once in awhile. I have seen some progress in my more advanced students, which brings me great joy. Recently I talked to a student who graduated last year. She studies English in college now and she said that she taught a friend the word "bummer." Apparently her current English teacher uses the word frequently, and she remembered it from my English class. I was so glad to hear that she remembered a word I taught her, even if it was just "bummer."

Coming later this summer are a few items that are starting to cause me some stress: a friend and I will be going to China for a week or so for a vacation, my two American coworkers will be returning to the States, a new coworker will be arriving, and I'll take the GRE in preparation for graduate school applications. So if you're in a praying mood please pray that I will have patience that everything will work itself out whether or not I worry my head off.


written by Ruthie @ 6:34 AM   0 comments
受ける to undertake;to accept; to take; to undergo; to experience; to catch.

愛する to love.

I think it is interesting that these two characters are so similar. The only thing added to "love" is the character for "heart":
So "love" in Japanese may literally mean "to undertake/accept/take/experience/catch one's heart." I like that.


written by Ruthie @ 9:57 PM   2 comments
Alta Vista Babelfish has been helpful for me at times here in Japan. If I get emails in Japanese that I don't understand, I can copy and paste the text of the email into a field in the website. The translations are understandable only with careful discernment. They're pretty crappy, often yielding hilarious results. Below is the direct translation of an email from Amazon Japan:

We have been dispatch due date which we have planned when ordering, but still supply of the below-mentioned commodity is does. Make wait we have done, there is no excuse truly, but continuing, because it supplies the commodity, that now for a while it can receive the postponement of time, we ask may. Accompanying it is in this and it has modified in the dispatch due date which becomes aim in present time. Furthermore, unless ahead this supply is possible by any means, until it is ascertained, in order to be able to supply the commodity, exhausting power it does, but it is truly regrettable at that point in time concerning when it is supply impossible, but point to the cancellation you want, you want there is also a thing which is. Beforehand acknowledgment that it can receive, we ask may. In addition to wait when it cannot receive the postponement of the time when it receives, cancel this order it is possible also at present time to receive. With the code of this site, price of the commodity makes claim when dispatching and in order the to receive, claim to the customer regarding this commodity at present time is not done. Concerning the cancellation method of the order commodity, from URL below link doing in the "Help Department," it can view.
written by Ruthie @ 2:54 AM   0 comments
Random Tokyo Pics
The entrance to a garden path in Kamakura.The hotel I stayed at in Kamakura.
The Indian restaurant I had lunch at in Tokyo.

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written by Ruthie @ 9:27 AM   0 comments
It's strange and unfortunate that life can be clipping along at a normal, leisurely pace until all of a sudden a giant ghost from the closet of one's past comes flying into the present via the internet. Suddenly I find myself in an emotional black hole: having trouble breathing, close to either tears or screaming and ripping my hair out. Angry? Sad? Confused? What happened to my life?! How did it end up this way? I feel like I'm in an alternate universe and the life that should be mine is happening to someone else and I can't stop it. Even though I KNOW that is not the life I want, that should be my life she's living. That should be my husband. If only he would have been a better liar...

It has been two years. I finally made it to the point where I could go for weeks without thinking about him and our disaster of a relationship. Then Facebook ruined it all. Curse you, Facebook! I know I once blessed you for rekindling a high school friendship, but now I curse you for tormenting me with my high school sweetheart. This is why I don't want to go to reunions. Avoid the good and the bad.

Why can't I let go of this emotional baggage? Why can't I move on? Why can't I erase that entire saga and release my heart? Why was it so, so damaging to me? Because I gave my heart and my life to another person and now I can't get it all back from him. It's like he still has part of me that I desperately need, and I can't get it back. I feel like we are still attached somehow. I see pictures of him and my heart wrenches into my neck as I remember the beautiful and the awful times simultaneously.

The bottom line is that, even though all this time has past and I thought I had moved on, a part of me stayed in past, wishing for that alternate universe. I must move completely into the present and live fully in this life, with all the opportunities and hardships that may come in it. I must remember what I've told myself all along: that life is not for me. This life is what I want. I wouldn't be happy in that life. It wouldn't have satisfied me. We weren't perfect together after all. He's probably happier. I'm probably happier.

Feeling it from dark to bright
When a wrong becomes a right
When a mountain fills with light
It’s a volcano, it’s a volcano
It’s a volcano, it’s a volcano
So much present inside my present
So much past inside my present

Thanks, Feist.
written by Ruthie @ 11:35 PM   2 comments

I was surprised (though now I wonder why) to see so many foreigners at the famous temples of Asakusa. I heard Chinese, Korean, some kind of Slavic language (Russian?), and heavily accented British and Australian English. The shop owners I talked to were floored that I could communicate in Japanese. It was probably refreshing for them, as I'm sure they get a lot of ignorant tourists who don't bother to even learn how to say "thank you." I hate those kinds of tourists.


written by Ruthie @ 7:53 PM   0 comments
This swan was outside the imperial garden in Tokyo. I have my suspicions that swans were bred there just for the royal family. Not that it's a bad thing; it sounds like something the Japanese would do for the Emperor and his family, doesn't it?
I saw this group just outside the palace entrance: two adults and a duckling.
Swans are so beautiful, aren't they? I watched them and took pictures for probably ten minutes. There were several other people around me (mostly Japanese) taking pictures as well.


written by Ruthie @ 5:12 AM   0 comments
That sounds dirty...

I went to Tokyo this weekend and got two more personhole cover pictures. Here's Kamakura's:In the center are two highly stylized Japanese characters, though since they are so funky-looking I can't tell what it says.

Here's Tokyo's:
A cherry blossom. In the center it says "Tokyo not water something." At least those are the literal meanings of the third and fourth characters. I don't know the last one.


written by Ruthie @ 1:32 AM   1 comments
A quick post before I leave for Tokyo: Japanese toilets are definitely not made to handle American-size twosies. This has been confirmed to me thrice.

It's better that some of you reading this DON'T understand.
written by Ruthie @ 8:11 PM   1 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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