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  
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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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