Praying Mantis
Ami and I were walking to the post office the other day and we saw a praying mantis being devoured by a swarm of ants:The grossest part was the it was still alive and moving. The ants were carrying tiny pieces of it away on their backs. It was so gross and cool that I had to take a picture of it.

Labels: ,

written by Ruthie @ 7:56 AM   1 comments
I just made creamy butternut squash soup FROM SCRATCH. I will make somebody a good little wife someday....

...any takers?
written by Ruthie @ 1:04 AM   1 comments
Pet Peeves
Overly-squeaky shoes (including my own).
Origami paper that isn't cut exactly square.
Wet armpits (especially my own).
Runny, non-sudsy, totally ineffective public bathroom handsoap.
Itchy sweaters.
Online games that don't have the option of turning off the music/sound effects.
The smell of metal that gets left on my hands after handling coins or a locker door.
That high-pitched noise that comes out of the back of the TV.
Internet/text message jargon (i.e., LOL and it's variations, cya, j/k, substituting numbers for words ["b4" instead of "before"]).
Smelly feet (including my own).
written by Ruthie @ 3:59 AM   0 comments
I got my GRE scores back. I did well. That makes me happy.

Other than that, not much to report here. Lots of school festivals are coming up. Halloween is next week, so I'll be handing out candy to any brave students who will say "trick-or-treat" during the lunch hour. It's getting cooler, but not cold. Still only getting down to the fifties at night, seventies during the day: perfect weather. Apparently the leaves won't start really changing color until the end of November, which is weird, now that I think of it. Back home all the leaves are usually on the ground and crispy by Halloween. Midterms are finishing up today. That means my three-work-day hiatus from teaching will end today. That doesn't necessarily mean I will be busy.

What are the big news stories in the States lately? I read BBC news reports so I don't have to encounter the stupid celebrity gossip or the over-publicised presidential candidates' new campaign developments. Besides those two types of news stories, is there anything interesting going on at home?


written by Ruthie @ 10:42 PM   3 comments
Sound Effects
The Japanese language has a ton of awesome words for sound effects for things we don't have exact words for. I made a list of some of the more interesting ones. Read the sound and the explanation and imagine the thing making that sound. It's sort of funny.
  • サクサク saku-saku: Crunching of potato chips, leaves, other crispy things.
  • ニョロニョロ nyoro-nyoro: Something long and thin like a snake moving along with a wriggling motion.
  • サラサラ sara-sara: Murmuring, rustling.
  • ドキドキ doki-doki: Heartbeat.
  • チュ chu: Kiss noise.
  • プチプチ puchi-puchi: Pop pop, crackle crackle.
  • プルプル puru-puru: Shake, quiver.
  • ゲップ geppu: a burp.
  • パクパク paku-paku: opening and closing mouth, eating, gobbling. This is where Pac-man came from!

Labels: ,

written by Ruthie @ 9:17 PM   0 comments
I want to 見つける someone
who really 知ってる me.
でも、 what does that 意味?
How do I know もし someone 分かります me?
Am 私 that difficult to understand?
In this 世界、no one speaks my language.
How ironic.
たとえ when I'm surrounded by 人 who
話す my language, I still feel that
they 聞こえない what I'm saying.

Labels: ,

written by Ruthie @ 2:48 AM   1 comments
This reminds me why I love living in Shimonoseki: everywhere you look is gorgeous.


written by Ruthie @ 8:11 PM   0 comments
Ghost Story
Since Halloween is just around the bend, I thought I'd share a Japanese--nay, a Shimonoseki-- ghost story with my readers.

Long ago, there was a legendary fight between two samurai on a tiny island in the middle of the Kanmon Strait. The two samurai were the leaders of two very powerful clans: the Heike and the Genji families. The Heike family was structured around the seven-year-old emperor, Antoku. Eventually, the Keike family lost the battle, and, knowing young Antoku would be slain by the Genji, the child's grandmother took him in her arms and jumped into the strait.

I found this information on a website called Byzantine Sacred Art Blog: "Ever since the battle, fishermen from the Straits of Shimonoseki have been finding the crabs with samurai faces on their backs. Believing these crabs -- Heikegani -- are reincarnations of the spirits of the Heike warriors defeated at the Battle of Dannoura, Japanese fishermen kept throwing them back into the sea from their nets."

The Heike family graves are located within the walls of the Akama Shrine in Shimonoseki. On Saturday I saw the graves. My coworker told me that most Japanese don't visit the graves, because they are afraid the area is haunted.

written by Ruthie @ 8:39 AM   0 comments
First I put my hospital card into a machine and it spat out a slip of paper that I think said what I had an appointment for. Then I went to the window at the internal medicine counter. They took my slip and my card, and I waited while they prepared some sort of file for me. When the lady called me up, she asked me with a very concerned look on her face, "Is Japanese ok?" I assured her that I could understand her. She handed me back my card, along with a file folder containing what I assume was information about the visit and a mysterious item shrouded in what looked like a folded-up and taped brown paper bag. Then she told me to go to window 23 down the hall.

I walked down a gray, dimly-lit hallway to window 23, where a lady swiped my hospital card, checked a box on my form, and told me to proceed to window 26. I went to window 26, dutifully handed them all the material I had been given by the preceding nurses, and took a seat next to two elderly women on some burnt sienna-colored benches the nurse indicated. So there I waited for my stomach to be photographed. Will there be sedatives used? Will I puke all over the place when they hit the gag reflex? Will the English-speaking doctor be there? Here are the answers I predict I'll get: No, Yes, No, respectively.

There was a local anesthetic, but I still gagged, vomited, and cried a lot. The nurse kept saying the Japanese equivalent of "Suck it up, rise above it, fight through it." She also said that I should try not to vomit because it's dangerous during the procedure. Too bad vomiting is INVOLUNTARY. If I could have kept myself from vomiting, I would have. During the procedure the doctor tried to show me the inside of my stomach on the monitor, but I just wanted to get it over with. I refused to look up, and instead stared glassy-eyed at a point on the curtain behind the doctor. I felt like a snake had burrowed into my body through my mouth and was trying to take a bath in my gastric juices.

"No ulcer. Gastritis. You have gastritis. Don't worry."
After the most invasive medical procedure I've ever been through conscious, I was handed the brown paper bag and the file folder and told to go back to the internal medicine counter. I think I was suffering some sort of mild shock after the trauma of having a giant tube stuck down my throat while awake. I found I couldn't sit and read while I waited because my eyes refused to focus on the page. I think I was suffering some sort of mild shock after the trauma of having a giant tube stuck down my throat while awake. I originally wrote this partly by sight and party by faith that it would be legible later.

I was finally called in to talk to the English-speaking doctor about the test results. He confirmed that I didn't have an ulcer, but an inflamed esophagus. He said it's probably caused by stress. He prescribed a medicine for me to take daily, and scheduled a check-up for next month. But if he tells me I have to do another gastroendoscopy, I will punch him in the face.
written by Ruthie @ 1:14 AM   2 comments

This is a traditional Japanese dance I saw performed at a local shrine.


written by Ruthie @ 7:43 AM   0 comments
I just received a tiny Halloween gift from the nurse at the high school. She is so sweet, and even though we can't communicate too well, she always smiles so much and helps me with whatever nurse-related problems I have. Inside a little gift bag were a broken ceramic jack-o-lantern and a pumpkin-shaped something or other. I assumed it was some kind of candy, since it looked and felt like a giant sweet tart. But it had three layers of plastic over it. "That's weird," I thought to myself. "Why do I have to unwrap so many layers of plastic to get to this sweet tart?" I figured it would be orange-flavored, but I licked it to find out. It tasted awful. Not like orange. More like soap. I wretched a little, then said something to Ami. She turned it over and read the label (smart woman that she is). Sure enough, it said "bath fizz." I'm an idiot.
written by Ruthie @ 9:07 PM   0 comments
Kit Kat
The latest additions to my collection. Clockwise: Some sort of traditional red bean-paste desert flavor, pumpkin, chestnut, orange and chocolat, yubari melon, kiwi, vanilla beans, and strawberry fromage (basically, cheesecake).

Labels: ,

written by Ruthie @ 8:55 AM   1 comments
School Days
Summer is over (technically, though the heat continues into October here) and school is in full swing. My new colleague, Ami, has been here for over a month now, and has been very energetically reorganizing and planning her class curriculum. Her fresh teaching ideas have given me a new energy and imagination with the students as I try to challenge the English-track students more and worry less about how little the basic-track students care about my class (some days I feel like I would rather drive a giant rusty spike through my forearm than teach the high school basic-track students. They are lethargic, have bad attitudes about the class, and can understand less English than several of my junior high school classes).

This week two new Baiko College teachers arrived. Unfortunately, none of the staff at the college (Japanese or American) prepared a welcome pack or got their apartments ready for their arrival. So the next evening I helped them find some essentials at the local grocery store and we had supper at MOS Burger, a Japanese version of In-N-Out Burger. They both seem nice and down-to-earth, though a little overwhelmed by Japan. It brings back memories of when I was first in country. I remember feeling SO FRUSTRATED at little things. Now, when I see the new people frustrated at those same things and I just shrug and say, "Hey, that's [Japan/Baiko] for you," I wonder if they aren't a little irritated. I was when my former colleagues would say that to me.

In other news, I took the GRE in Osaka about two weeks ago. For those of you who haven't been in school for awhile, the GRE is a required test for those applying to graduate schools. The exam tests verbal, quantitative, and writing skills, and is a grueling three hours long. And yes, it was in English, though I took the test in Japan. Because it was computerized, I was able to see my verbal and quantitative scores immediately after finishing my exam. Much to my pleasure, both my scores were higher than they had been on practice tests. There were also two writing portions, and I felt pretty good about them. So that's over with. On to filling out graduate school applications and writing Statement of Purpose essays. I hate those things.

So things are going pretty well, generally. I definitely feel busier at school this term, since there are only two foreign teachers instead of the three there used to be. Wednesdays are my worst days. I actually have a full load of five classes-- just like a real teacher! It's hard to believe I have been here a whole year. One year of my life spent in Japan. Another year to go. Bring it on, Japan.


written by Ruthie @ 11:11 PM   1 comments
Things I Did Know/Realize Before Coming to Japan
  • Eel is delicious.
  • Eggs start to smell bad after a few months in the fridge.
  • It really isn't the heat-- it's the humidity.
  • America's public transportation system really blows.
  • Peanut butter, Mexican food, and tiramisu are gifts from God.
  • People actually do read my blog.
  • How in the world did I live before owning a rice cooker?
  • The definition and scope of "common sense" differs greatly from country to country.
  • Teaching is HARD.
  • As badly as some doctors in the States communicate, I totally took for granted that they spoke my language.


written by Ruthie @ 8:58 PM   0 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.
read more