When I was at NWC, I used to quietly judge people who walked around campus with their headphones in their ears. I thought it was kind of rude. I thought they were closing themselves off from the rest of society. I felt bad saying "hi" or stopping them to have a conversation because they were absorbed in whatever they were listening to.

Since I've been in Japan, my opinion has changed. I now understand the appeal of wearing headphones everywhere-- I can feel immune to everything outside of me. I don't feel so out-of-place when I can hear familiar music. I don't feel so lonely. The constant staring doesn't even bother me as much when I'm listening to my music. If I can just walk along and jam to the RENT soundtrack, I don't have to get peeved at the kids pointing at me. I can pretend I don't hear the obnoxious high schoolers yelling "harro!" to see if I will react. I forget that I don't like my job, or even that it's effing cold and windy outside. The bottom line is this: when I'm listening to my own music, I can forget about all the external stuff that's bothering me for the half-hour walk home. I need that kind of release. And if someone wants to talk to me, I will take my headphones off and listen. As long as you don't interrupt me in the middle of a good song. ;)
written by Ruthie @ 9:21 PM   4 comments
The front of the school. Doesn't it look like the school in Back to the Future?

The English Lounge, where I spend the bulk of my time working (read: surfing the internet and playing solitaire).

The school symbol and motto. The motto is "walk as a child of light."

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written by Ruthie @ 7:06 PM   2 comments
Photosearch Survey (stolen from Candi)

1) Answer the questions below
2) Take each answer & type it into the Google image search
3) Take any picture from the first page of results and post

The age you will be on your next birthday:

A place you'd like to travel:

Your favorite food:

Your favorite animal:

The town in which you were born:

Your favorite color:

The town in which you live:

The name of your pet:

Your name:

Your middle name:

A bad habit of yours:

Your first job:

Your favorite kind of music:

Your crush/love:

Car you drive:
written by Ruthie @ 10:29 PM   3 comments
A Letter from Indiana
I come home from school this evening and immediately I see that I have mail. I dig around and discover that one of the two items is a large envelope (the other is my electric bill. It was depressingly high). The return address is from Indiana University. Well, a big envelope is a good sign, I think. If it were a rejection notice, it'd be a small envelope. I throw the envelope on my kitchen table and start to put my groceries away, thinking I could wait to tear into the envelope like a bear in heat until after I did some chores. I underestimated my own excitement, however. I started talking to myself. Out loud. In my apartment. In a sing-songy voice. "It's a big en-velooope. It's from Indiaaaaaanaaaaa. That's gooooood neeeeews. Probably good neeeeeeews." I finally finish putting away the cold groceries and rip open the envelope. My eye catches only certain phrases: "pleased to inform you," "reccommended for admission, "offered admission for 2008," congratulations." I go berzerk. Jumping up and down, singing and shouting, hands in the air, euphoria. I know where I will be when I go back to the U.S. I have a place. I have a clear path. I will live in Indiana. I will study music theory. These things are certain now. I am happy.

It's funny-- I applied to four graduate schools, and only once interviewed and accepted me. Is this a sign? Did God clearly mark the path for me? I like to think so. It gives me some hope that He's watching out for me.


written by Ruthie @ 4:09 AM   3 comments
Valentine's Day
1 John 4:7-12

Valentine’s Day was last week on February 14th. Do you know about Valentine’s Day? How do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? We give chocolates and greeting cards to people we love. In America schoolchildren give Valentine’s cards to their classmates. Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day has a long history, but the story is not very clear. There is a legend about Saint Valentine, the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named. Saint Valentine lived in Europe in the first century, AD. The Roman Emperor at the time decided that soldiers should not marry. St. Valentine, however, was a priest, and he helped a soldier get married. Since Valentine broke the Emperor’s law, he was put in prison. While Valentine was in prison, people hid encouraging notes and letters in the walls of his small room in the prison. Some people believe this is why we write Valentine’s cards today.

We do know one thing for sure about Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is all about love. We give gifts to those we love. Stores are decorated with hearts. Couples have a special time together. But the reason that St. Valentine was put in prison a long time ago was because he loved God and he loved other people. He was a Christian. He helped soldiers to marry even though it meant he would be put in prison. Let’s all try to love like St. Valentine.

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written by Ruthie @ 11:27 PM   2 comments

Kokura Castle, as seen from the roof of the mall. I like the juxtaposition of the castle in the center and the modern buildings in the background.


written by Ruthie @ 12:05 AM   1 comments
Ichi Ni San

I'm hoping to teach this song to my students. It helped me learn some Japanese when I was a little tyke. Now it can help them learn English!

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written by Ruthie @ 11:19 PM   1 comments
Last Friday I gave a lecture to some workers at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on how not to speak Janglish. The following is a summary of that lecture.

Janglish (和製英語,): strange or awkward English that Japanese English speakers often use.

Types of Janglish:
  1. Poor Pronunciation.
  2. Borrowed words (written in katakana) with different meanings in English from their meaning in Japanese. For example, the borrowed word "マンション"(pronunced the same as "mansion") is derived from the English word "mansion," but in Japan a マンション is a lot more like a condo and a lot less like Bill Gate's house.
  3. Phrases or sentence patterns that are taught in Japan, but are rarely spoken in English-speaking countries. For example, "See you!" is not used in the U.S., but the Japanese are taught to say it for "goodbye."
After the lecture a few people went to a bar, where I discovered that I think I am much better at Japanese after I've had three beers.


written by Ruthie @ 12:54 AM   2 comments
Taiko at Baiko
Taiko is a traditional Japanese drum. Shown below are many different sizes of taiko being played by a group from nearby Akiyoshidai. They came to perform for whoever showed up at Baiko a few weeks ago. It was a small crowd, which was sad because it was AWESOME to watch. A couple of the players really got into it, like the girl below (standing, middle):In one piece two drummers got into a sort of drumwar, banging on each other's drums and teasing each other:
After the concert the group invited the audience up to try banging on the drums. Then the group leader taught us a few rhythm patterns. It was quite fun, and educational. And very, very loud.

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written by Ruthie @ 6:59 AM   2 comments
Pinky Swear
Today some of the English students came to the lounge to eat lunch with Ami and I. We got to talking about the names of the fingers: thumb, index, middle, ring, pinky. The students told us that in Japanese, the fingers are part of a family: the thumb is the dad, the pointer is mom, the middle and ring fingers are sister and brother, and the pinky is the baby. They asked what the word "pinky" means. Ami and I looked at each other a bit and realized that it doesn't really mean anything-- it's just a cute word that means "small." Apparently there's a type of breathmint called Pinky in Japan.

If that wasn't funny enough, then Ami and I explained the "Pinky Swear" and the students got excited and said they have a similar concept in Japanese, called yubikiri. The oath goes something like this:

Yubikirigenman. Usotsuitara, harisenbonnomasu. Yubikitta.

Roughly translated:

Pinky swear. If you break the promise, I'll make you drink 1,000 needles. Pinky Swear.

The Japanese make you drink needles if you break a promise. We cross our hearts and hope to die.

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written by Ruthie @ 12:13 AM   3 comments

Big Bird is homesick in Japan. Kinda like me.

written by Ruthie @ 11:48 PM   4 comments
Temperature Challenge
In all fairness, I should have expressly forbidden Aubrey to participate, since I happened to tell her the temperature of my apartment on the phone the other day, but she was the closest with 47 degrees. My thermostat said 47.5. Yikes. So can you guess what the temperature was this morning?
written by Ruthie @ 7:55 PM   2 comments
I'm tired of buildings not being completely heated.
I'm tired of cameras being in my face because I'm white.
I'm tired of bowing.
I'm tired of sitting in my apartment alone every weeknight.
I'm tired of thinking of meal ideas that aren't ramen or stirfry.
I'm tired of listening to speeches I can't understand.
I'm tired of buildings not being completely heated.
I'm tired of masking my feelings because it's not socially acceptable to respond to "How are you?" with "I'm not so good today..."
I'm tired of having no work to do at work.
I'm tired of the gloomy winter weather.
I'm tired of eating the same sandwiches for lunch everyday.

What irritates me the most is that I know that some of these things will be what I miss about Japan when I leave.

... on second thought, I just read through that list again, and I'll probably only miss the sandwiches.

Suffice it to say, I'm not having a good day in Japan.
written by Ruthie @ 8:10 PM   3 comments
Grad School Update
Thank you, readers, for all your wonderful comments and encouragement and advice. I never expected that one rant would receive such feedback.

The day after I received my rejection letter from Eastman, I had a webcam interview with Indiana at a local church. I had to play piano for them to show my mad piano skills (haha. That's a funny joke, see, because I don't really have mad piano skills) and analyze a piano piece, so I set up the webcam in front of the piano. I wasn't really as worried about the actual interview as all the technology working, but it went off without too many problems. The call dropped a few times during the interview, but we were able to re-establish a connection quickly enough.

So we talked about why I want to study music theory, and why I chose Indiana, and if I had any questions, etc. Then I sight-sang a few melodies (nearly flawlessly, thank you very much) and sight-read the piano piece (not flawlessly at all, but not too badly either). Then they asked me to analyze the piece, and I did that. Then they asked me to deduce, from the style of the piece, when it was written and the possible composer. And I NAILED it!! I NAILED it!! I got the right era, the right composer, I analyzed it well, I did AWESOME!!! And I could tell the interviewers were impressed. Then they played some intervals and chords on the piano and I told them what I heard and they were impressed with how well I did on that, too. Actually, one of the dudes asked if I had absolute pitch (I can tell exactly what pitch is being played upon hearing it, like I can tell the difference between an A and a B flat with my ears), so I told them about how professors in my past have disagreed about it and that I think it comes and goes, but it was awesome that they recognized that I have really good ears (because I do).

Overall I feel like the interview went very well, probably the best that it could possibly go. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, because it is possible that they don't have room for me or that another candidate is more highly qualified or something. But the experience did confirm to me that I am, indeed, AWESOME at music theory and that I love it. So that was really good. Really, really good. I probably won't find out if I got in or not until March or something. The head honcho interviewer couldn't give me a solid time, but he said he'd email me directly as soon as he knew. And when I know, you all will know, too.


written by Ruthie @ 10:37 PM   4 comments
Temperature Challenge
Okay, faithful readers. I have an idea for a little game. Let's see who can guess what temperature it was in my apartment this morning when I woke up. I'll announce the actual temperature after I have a significant number of guesses (say, over 3).
written by Ruthie @ 10:30 PM   4 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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