American Notes
  • Portion sizes are huge. When did a medium drink become so big? Seriously-- who needs that much soda? I have never felt this full in Japan.
  • Americans are so friendly. People smile and say "hello" and "sorry" and "excuse me." I often have random conversations with strangers in stores-- not about anything major, just that we're both looking for chipotle chilis or the gate numbers for our flights have changed three times or the line we're standing in is way too long.
  • Americans are so rude. Average Joes and Janes on the street are really friendly, as I said above. This refers more to the quality of customer service in the States. I know I've remarked on this before, but really-- American service personnel are awfully rude.
  • Campaign madness is at an all-time high in Iowa right now. This is what I witnessed during a commercial break: Mitt Romney ad, Mike Huckabee ad, Old Navy ad, Hillary Clinton ad, Fred Thompson ad. Today at the grocery store all the cars in the parking lot had been papered with leaflets touting Ron Paul for 2008. Later in the evening, we got a call from something called "Riverview caller." Mom said not to answer it, so we let the answering machine pick it up. It was a computerized message for Ron Paul. Holy crap. Shut up already. I've only been in the States for a week and a half and I'm already sick of the campaigning.
written by Ruthie @ 7:42 PM   1 comments
Copied from Candi.

The trick to this survey is you are not allowed to use my answers.

1. How long do you spend in the shower?
10 minutes... Al Gore is going to kill me when he finds out.

2. Name something a football player wears under his uniform.
His lucky jock strap.

3. Name something people hate to find on their windshield.
flyers for the nearest strip club.

4. Name something a man might buy before a date.

5. What's another word for blemish?
pock mark.

6. Something you cook in the microwave.
ready-made curry.

7. Name a piece of furniture people need help moving.
a suit of armor.

8. Name a reason a younger man might like an older woman.
she's very good looking.

9. Name something a dog does that embarrasses its owner.
hump people's legs.

10. Name a kind of test you cannot study for?
Urine test.

11. Name something a boy scout gets a badge for?
building a nifty fort from sticks.

12. Name a phrase with the word Home in it?
Home Sweet Home.

13. Name a sport where players loose teeth?
Dentist Truth or Dare.

14. Name something a teacher can do to ruin a student's day?
Give them a detention.

15. What is a way you can tell someone has been crying?
They tell you they got something stuck in their eye.

16. Name something found at a Séance?

17. Name a bird you wouldn't want to eat?
Kiwi. I prefer the fruit. Plus, I think they're endangered. I don't want Al Gore to have two reasons to kill me.

18. Name something that gets folded?

19. Name something a person wears even if it has a hole in it?
any sort of clothing, duh. Don't they all have some sort of hole for sticking appendages into?

20. Name something that gets smaller the more you use it?
An eraser.
written by Ruthie @ 7:07 PM   1 comments
Fall Highlights
Sorry for the extended period of silence, loved ones. I just haven't been in the update-mood lately. But today I finally decided that it was time I told my peeps back home the 411 on the happenings of my 'hood. For my more, ahem, wisened readers, get a young whipper-snapper to translate that last sentence.

Highlights of this fall:
  • Still getting along well with the new coworker, Ami. This is not to say that we haven't had our little struggles, but its nothing compared to the tension and strain I felt with a previous coworker. I am so thankful that, in most things, Ami and I are on the same wavelength.
  • I went to a sumo match in Fukuoka in November. It. Was. Awesome. Probably the most memorable experience I've had in all my time in Japan. For more on this experience please check my previous blog entry.
  • I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December. I took the second-lowest level out of four levels. I will find out if I passed in mid-February. I feel pretty good about it, though. I think maybe I did all right.
  • I finished applying to music theory masters/doctorate programs. I will have to do several phone interviews in January and probably do a little bit more paperwork. I will start to get notifications of acceptance/rejection in March, I think. I will be happy to be accepted to any of the four schools I applied to, though my first choice is the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
  • Work has been exceedingly frustrating this month. It's been so bad that I reviewed my contract to see if there was any way I could trap the school into agreeing to a list of several demands I have been making in my head, such as translating the school handbook into English, translating our paycheck information into English, translating morning announcements into English, giving us goals and grading policies for our classes, etc. Those are reasonable requests, don't you think?
  • I am coming home for Christmas! I will be in Des Moines from December 24-January 5, so if you're in that area, please let me know and we can get together!! I am so thankful for the opportunity to get out of Japan for awhile and soak up some familiar culture and food and faces.


written by Ruthie @ 1:48 AM   3 comments
Blog Browsing
Sometimes when I'm bored, I go to my blogger page and click the "Next Blog" button in the bar on the top of the page, just to see what comes up. Usually I just find a spam site or some teenager's angsty rambling. Sometimes I stumble upon porn sites, so be careful if you try this for yourself. Occasionally, however, I find some pretty interesting blogs, like the following:

The Palomar: a blog about the swing era. If you like swing, you can listen to songs, read bios on famous swing composers and bandleaders, or find links to sites where you can buy CDs. Since the anniversary of Glenn Miller's disappearance was last week, there are several articles about his life, music, and mysterious disappearance during WWII.

Skinny Laminx: her "About Me" states: "I'm an illustrator, writer and designer from Cape Town, South Africa. This is where I record my work and share things that catch my eye." Her work is absolutely wonderful-- creative, modern, and beautiful. She does a lot of work using mod, colorful patterns and prints on tea towels. She also posts pictures of other designers' work that she enjoys.

Organization in Progress: another crafty blog. The author posts photos of a variety of different things she's created, ranging from greeting cards to scrapbook pages to paintings to metal work to photos.


written by Ruthie @ 7:29 AM   0 comments
Mall Christmas
Christmas decorations at a huge mall in Fukuoka:


written by Ruthie @ 7:58 AM   0 comments
Full Circle
After trying tons of blog templates, I decided to face up to the fact that the samurai-style template was the coolest. Turns out that a change does not always do one good. Take that, Cheryl Crow.

In other news, I am coming home for Christmas! YEAY!! I finally got all my travel plans figured out this evening. I will get to Des Moines at around 8PM Sunday night, the 23rd-- just in time for Christmas!! I'll leave the Land of the Free on January 5th, back to the Land of the Rising Sun (aka. The Land of Totally Illogical Decision-Making Processes). I am looking forward to Mexican food, cuddle time with the doggy, chat time with the family, driving a little, shopping in familiar stores with familiar sizes and prices, watching American TV on an actual TV, worshiping and hearing a church sermon in English, and sleeping as late as I want for two weeks. If you'll be in the Des Moines area at all between Dec. 23rd and Jan. 5th, let me know! Let's hang out!
written by Ruthie @ 7:52 AM   1 comments
The Christmas Story
My IIE students today were given the task to explain the Christmas story to me in the best English they could. What they came up with reminds me of David Sedaris' story "Jesus Shaves."

"King of Roma said to people of Roma must register their name. Maria and Josephus went to Bethlehem, but it was long way. They didn't have inns and their relatives didn't want them to stay in their house because Jesus wasn't Josephus' child. Maria and Josephus looked for sleeping place. They found barn. Then Jesus was born. He was sleeping in manager. Scholars came to meet Jesus. They brought oil, gold, and spice. They used a star to find Jesus. This is Christmas."


written by Ruthie @ 7:59 AM   3 comments
200th Anniversary
This is my 200th post! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! Honestly, I can't believe I've kept this thing going for that long. In honor of reaching the 200-post mark, I have changed by template. Whaddaya think?


written by Ruthie @ 7:24 AM   3 comments
A Gift from Baiko
After Children's English Program on Saturday the foreign English teachers all received a 3000 yen (approx. $30US) gift card to Seven Eleven. Today I used it to buy five mini Hagen Daas ice creams and a bottle of wine. Best present I ever bought myself. :)


written by Ruthie @ 1:15 AM   2 comments
Christmas Tree
A few Sundays ago we put up and decorated the Christmas tree at church. They insisted on using that Fibrofil stuff as fake snow. I couldn't talk them out of it. And we had no star to top the tree, so we used a particularly big and gaudy ornament for the tree-topper.


written by Ruthie @ 12:32 AM   1 comments
Fun with Mannequins
The "I'm with Stupid."
The Tyra Banks.
The Creepy Foreigner.


written by Ruthie @ 8:04 AM   2 comments
This is an example of the pronunciation I hear almost everyday in class. While teaching a lesson on prepositions in a basic oral communication class:

Ruthie: "*Sachiko, Where is the pencil?"
Sachiko: "Itto izu... on za desukku...?"
Ruthie: "Very good, it's on the desk. *Michiko, where are the photographs?"
Michiko: "Ze a-ru... neah... za rampu."
Ruthie: "Good, they're near the lamp. That's correct. Ok class, please repeat after me: under."
Class: "Anda."
Ruthie: "Across from."
Class: "A-kurossu furomu."
Ruthie: "Next to."
Class: "Nekusto tsu."
Ruthie: "Good. Now please work quietly on pg. 56 while I go across the hall and shoot myself in the kneecaps. Maybe they'll give me the rest of the week off."

*Names were changed to protect the innocent.


written by Ruthie @ 7:35 PM   2 comments
Friday, November 23 was a national holiday in Japan, so a few friends and I went to SUMO!!!!! My friend Shintaro somehow got four free tickets, so he invited me and two Baiko teachers to come along. We took the long-range bus to Fukuoka, had an awesome buffet (with a chocolate fountain!) for lunch, then headed over to the arena. Outside before the tournament started we watched the wrestlers enter the building. Men and women would pat the wrestler's backs and say good luck as they passed by. I had never seen a sumo wrestler up close and let me tell you, they are MASSIVE. I couldn't help but stare at their thighs and jiggling bellies as we walked past them stretching in the hallway leading to our seats.
We were at the arena watching sumo for about four hours and I never got tired of it. It was so much fun! Even though the action of an actual bout only lasted a couple of seconds-- half a minute at most-- the formalities leading up to the bout were fascinating. The wrestlers would enter the ring, face each other, do some coordinated stretches, step out of the ring, drink some holy water, pick up a handful of salt, throw the salt as they entered the ring a second time, face each other and squat and bow, stand up, leave the ring again, stretch a bit, enter the ring throwing salt again, face each other and squat, leave the ring, wipe their faces and bodies and slap themselves in the face and chest, then enter the ring and, finally, go at it. Apparently all the posturing holds meaning taken from ancient shinto rituals. I didn't get a chance to learn much about it.
After the tournament was over Shintaro took us to a more traditional-style Japanese restaurant where we had octopus covered in wasabi, rice with tiny dried krill or shrimp or something in it, and raw horse tongue sashimi. Yes, I ate raw horse tongue. The flavor wasn't bad, but the texture was really hard to swallow-- literally. I think I chewed my piece of horse tongue for about two minutes before I could finally swallow. There were some tendons I had to gnash through to make small enough pieces in my mouth. It was not the most pleasant experience, but an experience worth having, I'd say.


written by Ruthie @ 12:45 AM   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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