Monday, November 28, 2011

What happens when you buy a new car in Japan?

The inside where we were sitting and the guy was chanting up a storm and drumming occurred:

The girls ringing their bells around and inside the car:

The priest

 A helper girl

Them going back into the area we came out of:

It would have been nice to get better pictures but, oh well, I did my best!

And here's a video of me eating candy. They just don't make it like they do in America.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yellow caps

So I had a video here, I didn't like it, I re-edited it and then I'll put the remnants of the video back up. :) So everyone CHILL OUT. (I'm acting like somebody said something, no one said anything, I'm just super paranoid about being judged)

EDIT: Here it is!
With the most attractive video-still you ever did see.

So I wanted to tell you guys about my morning.

First of all, I wake up at 7:30 to get ready and eat, and leave at 8:30 for the start of my one-hour commute (about thirty-five minutes on foot, twenty-five on or in-between trains), and every morning I'm tired as poop because I never go to bed when I plan to:

First, this:

And after I finally escape the suffocating grip of the internet:

So, every night is a battle.

Anyway during my one hour commute I'm really not in the mood for...people. Or things. Or anything, really. Life. So I stick in my earphones and go on with my morning routine.

As I'm transferring trains this morning, I'm waiting patiently for my train to come, leaning against a pillar, when I hear something over the sound of my music. Very slowly, cautiously, I turn my head to the left.

Ohhhh no.


Maybe if I walk to the next cue for the next train car...farther...farther away...then I won't...

But they come closer. 25 pairs of tiny eyes underneath bright yellow hats, with 25 energetic mouths, and two exhausted-looking teachers.

I shove my hands in my pockets as the train pulls up and I get inside as fast as I can, thinking surely they'll take the train car closest to them. 

I walk as far as I can into the train so that I'm facing the opposite sets of doors, and peek over my shoulder.

25 children of about 5 years of age and their teachers come barreling into the train, the former screaming excitedly and pushing against each other and other passengers as they recklessly find standing space. Let it be known that trains are uncomfortable full without school groups on a good day, so suddenly there was no room even to breathe. 

I'd managed to squeeze myself into a corner between the train doors and the side of the seats (being really close to other people on a train freaks me out a bit, so I was lucky today), and I tried to focus on my music and laughed a little at the situation I had found myself in.

Now, I've talked about how much I love Japanese kids before, and I still think they're cute. When there's one of them. And not 25. At 8 30 in the morning. And it turns out I wasn't the only one, because the minute all the kids were piled in and the doors were closed and the train started to move, an older man who was sitting down was overwhelmed by the waves of the kids, and he just quit immediately; got up and moved to the next car. Lucky for him, he was close enough to where the cars were connected that he was free to do so.

The train sped up and jerked; all the kids tipped to one side as though they weren't accustomed to the sudden turns of the train, and roars of screeches and laughter rivaled the sound of the train roaring through the tunnel.

The girl to the right of me stared hard at her reflection in the train doors; the boy next to her looked as though he were willing himself to go to a happy place, squeezing his eyes shut and resting his head against the doors; and a guy trapped in the middle of the sea of children looked like he was done twenty minutes ago, before they even boarded the train.

And so today I learned that nobody is a kid-person at 8 30 in the morning. But I know it's possible to be a dog-person full-time, so take that to heart. If you think I'm telling you that dogs are better than kids, then you are correct, that is exactly what I'm saying.

So that was my kind-of-annoying, but-I-still-laughed morning.

Also on my way home, I ran into them all again. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beware: I talk about my feelings today

Hello all! It's been over a week since I've posted last and I apologize for that. But because I have been oh-so productive today by doing all of the things I've been procrastinating for over a week, I am like a productive MACHINE and decided to write a post.

I felt like this for a bit.

So, I guess I'll start with the reason I haven't posted in a while. (If you don't feel like reading about my emotions, you can scroll down past the text for the pictures.) As of late, perhaps the last two weeks, I've been feeling kind of down. Not particularly about the Japanese language - I'm better than I was yesterday and only getting better - but about a bunch of little things. I guess it was like a mini-depression? Thinking back, I think I always get like that this time of year. And it's not even the weather, is the thing, seeing as Nagoya is still enjoying its autumn-time.

It was like, I don't know. I felt like I wasn't doing enough. Like because I'm in Japan, I should do ALL the things, ALL the time. And for some reason I didn't want to, and I was bogged down with all these negative feelings. Just out of nowhere. Sneaky hate spiral, probably. 

I felt like I wasn't doing enough but didn't want to make the effort to do more. I hated all Japanese people except for Ayame and my host mom. I didn't want to participate in class. I didn't want to go out with people - I didn't want to go out at all. I was happier alone but also lonely. I missed my friends and my family in America and wanted to go home. I admitted to my homesickness but instead of crying I put on a bold face and kept it together. I felt like crap. I wasn't hungry. I was always in a crappy mood and said bitter things and didn't care. And most of all, my self-confidence had taken a sudden nosedive. I hated everything, but it didn't make sense because I'm in Japan so I should LOVE everything, and this contradiction made me madder and I blamed Japan.

So I talked to some of my friends about it. Ellen, my support system, advice-giver, and best friend, gave me fantastic advice:

  • I think you should have an awesome you day in Japan. Like, I know you probably have "you" days all the time, but you should really make a day of it. Go to a cool museum or explore or whatever. Be by yourself (because there's no one better to hang out with, trust me.)
  • Don't let yourself feel lonely, don't even think about other people, just go get inspired by japan.
remember the parts you fell in love with in the first place. Take your ipod, drown out people.

And after I took her advice, I felt much better. I turned on my iPod and blasted Elliot Smith while on the train (because there's no one better to listen to when you feel depressed). I looked up, found, and went to a Manga Cafe all by myself and read manga (I've been meaning to go back since). And for a few days, I was better.

One thing led to another and I was down again. Just bleh. Didn't know where I stood with as far as friends, felt anti-social and lonely. 

And then I said, "Screw this," and made plans to go out with people - people from Nanzan that I haven't gone out with before. This would be the French group (three french girls plus an Australian boy and another girl from the states). And even though I didn't really feel like going, I was going to go and have fun, dammit. 

Also, I bought a bag of candy (an idea I took from Sam). This doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it was actually the first bag of candy I bought in Japan, and when in doubt, eat sugar. Because it'll make you feel better. Which it did, by the way.

So Thursday comes around and I came home to my host mom, who had been drinking with her three Japanese friends. I sat down and joined them, and since they wanted to practice their English we spoke in both Japanese and English and it became a blur and I could hardly differentiate as to which language I was speaking. We talked about funny things, serious things, and over all just had a great time. Plus there was delicious food and alcohol, so that didn't hurt.

By the time this Friday came around, I was feeling a little better. I was thinking that when I went out with friends I would have to force myself to have a good time like I had been doing for the last few weeks, but on the contrary, it was truly fun. We all drank and laughed and talked in French, Japanese, and English, ordered Irish Car Bombs (delicious) and spent a lot of money on food and drinks, then we went to an arcade and I won at the claw machine!!! And we just hung out and were kids and had fun in Japan.

And that was awesome. I could tell I finally shook my bad mood because yesterday I went to Ise Jingu, a shrine, and had to wake up at 6:30 AM to end up walking around all day in the rain (crappy day to go on a field trip), was soaked for eight hours until I finally got home and changed. And I knew I wasn't in a bad mood anymore because none of these things bothered me. I got to hang out with my friends on the bus, bought a cute sheep zodiac statue (as I am year of the sheep), got to shop down the street near the shrine and listened to music and played games and even though the weather was miserable and I lost many hours of sleep to go there, the atmosphere and my friends being there were worth it.

I've finally started to feel like I belong again. The loneliness has been shaken, as has the procrastination in school and other parts of my life: I spent 6 hours today doing homework, a project, a paper, my laundry, cleaning, and now writing this blog post. Keeping busy was good for my attitude and knowing that I got so much done today makes me feel so much more relieved.

Also, this whole time I had been blaming Japan for my miseries, but once I thought harder on it, I realized it wasn't Japan or Japanese people or anything to do with Japan. It was school. I knew I had a lot coming up (two research papers, two big projects, two creative writing papers, regularly scheduled homework and final exams coming up), and that crept under my skin and before I knew it, the stress turned me into a hate machine. But after I wrote down what I would do when, and then after my hugely productive day today, I feel a lot better in those regards, too.

Anyway. That's why I haven't been posting much. I was sad but I'm a lot better now. So far in Japan, my sads are really sads but my happys are really fulfilling. I guess there's nothing to do but accept it, really. 

When people tell me to have the time of my life, I get really stressed out because I have weeks where I don't want to do anything, and it makes me think I'm doing everything wrong, and the sneaky hate spiral begins. I'm going to do everything in my own way and make the most of it. I love Japan, but I need "me" days, too. Also it's unrealistic to try to do EVERYTHING possible in Japan. I'll do as much as I can and try to enjoy every minute of it. Basically, I'll do my best. 

SO. Here are some pictures from my raining visit to the temple. I didn't take any pictures of the actual temple because by the time we got there, I was soaked and tired. Ohohoh well. It looked like another temple. I think the nature on the way there is pretty cool, anyway. (You can click on the images to make them bigger) 

I promise I'll be funnier next time. See you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Earthquaaaaaaaaaake! UPDATED for philosophical purposes

Hey guys! How`s it going? I`m using a Japanese keyboard so bare with me as my punctuation and such may get a little funky.

I always wondered what an earthquake was like. I always imagined a lot of rumbling like in the movies, you know, but it turns out things only rumble when buildings and such are falling down. So a somewhat quiet earthquake is a good earthquake, the kind of earthquake you can train and raise on your own with only a few guides, you won`t have to take it to get it trained at an expensive trainer and you won`t have to worry about it peeing on your couch, because NOW, for just $56.98 once a month for three months, we will train your earthquake for you! No longer will it bother you at work or while you`re trying to study, because it will be as quiet as a mouse. A quiet earthquake is a good earthquake, so call us today and enjoy the silence tomorrow! 1 800 NO MORE QUAKE, thats 1-800 66 6673 78253! Side effects include shaking and light dizziness, spilled milk and some unnecessarily shed tears.

Yeah, I`ve been real tired lately.

So yesterday I experienced my first earthquake! And now I will go in detail about it. (Good, strong start, Haley.)

So I was wrapped up in my bed (I`ve been meaning to blog about this, but Japanese houses are super cold in late autumn and I assume winter as well. Because they are made of wood. Wooden houses. No insulation. So being inside is like being outside and being outside is like being outside and as someone who doesn`t like the outside I`ve been spending a lot of time under my warm comforter with coffee in bed lately) drinking coffee (even though it was around 7 pm, don`t judge) watching Gilmore Girls (it had been a rough day).

My bed is pushed in a corner so I had my back against the wall when I felt it. A short of light shaking at first, like someone had come in on the first floor and slammed the door really hard. That was my first impression, anyway. Which MAYBE could have been normal if anyone was home, but my host parents` son had come home that day and they went out to visit his grandparents so I was home alone(real attractive boy, by the way. My host parents` son, not his grandfather. Tall with a handsome face and good style. In school to become a doctor like his younger brother. Such a well-educated family. Too quiet, though. I introduced myself and he shut up like a clam. Booooorrriiiinggg and too hard to get to know. Also he doesn`t live near me anyway but damn, people need to grow some personalities). For some reason I leaned forward and paused my show like it was the first thing I should do, and kind of listened, expecting something more. (When I typed `more` I accidentally hit the Japanese key and it changed it to more, like, moh-ray, which sounds like the french word amore so if you can you should imagine this all to be in a french accent. Or don`t. I`m a blogger, not a cop.)

But then the shaking began to intensify. The coffee in my hand trembled and I set it down on the shelves on my headboard. About 1.2 seconds after it started, I realized it was an earthquake.

I found this really coincidental  because the day before there had been a meeting at school on what to do if an earthquake occurs, and I was like, DID THEY KNOW???? But it turns out that they can only know if an earthquake is coming like, five to ten seconds beforehand. The more you know...

So I remove the covers from my lap and started to head to my desk nearby, as you`re supposed to protect your head during an earthquake in case things begin to fall off shelves, off walls, etc. But before my feet even touched the floor, it was over.

It all took place in less than 5 seconds, and although I couldn`t place the feeling exactly, I can now: it felt like the shaky part of a rollercoaster ride. Like one of those theatres in Disney, like an iMax theatre, where you`re watching this video of you being in a jetplane or something and the audience seats start to shake like you`re actually in the plane to make it part of the experience? Yeah, that`s what it was like. A teeny-tiny out of nowhere ride. A bit of jerking back and forth, like someone was shaking the bed really hard (like, poltergeist-hard). If I had been standing, I probably could have kept standing, though.

My friend told me he saw on the news that it was a 3.9, which is really basically nothing. Apparently the epicenter of the earthquake was very near us in Nagoya, though, which is pretty rare. I asked my host mom how often bad earthquakes happen here and she said she could only remember 3 or 4 where they were stronger than average (Japan has little earthquakes often, apparently), and said Nagoya was pretty safe in that respect.

If anything it was all really confusing. I had no idea if I had just experienced an earthquake or if something the size of a rhino had just hit the house...but quietly. There wasn`t really any sound, maybe a bit of a shuddering, rattling sound as the wooden frame of the house shook, but it was so fast that I just sat there like...`what?` and wrote this facebook post immediately after:

I think I just experienced my first earthquake but it lasted like three seconds? What is going on? Did a rhino hit the house? What is this? Are earthquakes known for confusing people?

I also remember feeling a little disappointed, for some reason. Like, Oh, that`s it? Like, REALLY disappointed. But then this morning I woke up and I was like, `but if it had been any stronger it would have been less confusing and more terrifying. And scary is bad. So you should be glad it was small.`

But I`m not really glad it was small, so much as I am worried about what would happen if there were a big one in the future.

All I can do is know the precautions and follow through with them at the time of an earthquake, I guess.

I`m still a little confused by it all. I don`t know why.



Also, the whole, five-second teeny-tiny experience I just had made me realize we`re really just guests on this planet. We are animals on a giant rock that`s flying through space, orbiting a sun with 7 other planets (plus Pluto. Sorry, Pluto.) in a vast universe that doesn`t give a shit about who we dated three years ago or what we`re majoring in or what we care about or if we`re a cat or a dog person.

We are on a floating chunk of rock in space, and it`s doing the thing it`s always done. Tectonic plates are shifting, the water cycle is continuing, winds are cycloning and creating tornados or, if the cyclones are over oceans, hurricanes. And the only reason this particular rock, Earth, is a bit more habitable than say Venus or Mars is because we are the perfect distance away from the sun and some 3.5 billion years ago the very simplest of lifeforms began to form and I`m a bit fuzzy on the rest but there were definitely dinosaurs and volcanoes and a big freeze and then monkeys branched off and evolved into humans and we learned how to wield weapons and once we figured out fire we started eating cooked meat which due to vitamins and chemistry allowed our brains to develop faster and stronger than other lifeforms` and we grew and evolved and created light and electricity and the internet and robots and we think our lives and our worries are so important and here`s a hint at where I`m going, they`re really not important.

We are temporary guests on an apathetic rock floating through space, and the universe does not give a single shit about what you`re going to eat for dinner tonight.

It`s weird to get displaced like that once in a while, to look from the outside in and be like, `Why the hell was I worried in the first place? It`s not like the earth gives a shit, why should I? I am one of 8 billion people on this planet and I don`t really matter.`

And to me that kind of thinking isn`t at all depressing, it`s actually incredibly relieving. It`s like, huh, so this is what perspective is. That earthquake comforted me in a way, like it was shaking me and going, YO HALES TIME TO WAKE UP!!!! You`re just a walking, thinking animal on a rock that don`t give no shits about you! and I was all, Dude, you`re so right, man.

So when you get swamped down by your work or your homework or your worries, it`s good to know there are bigger things out there and you really don`t matter to this earth or this universe. It`s doing what it`s always been doing and it can do with or without you. The universe is like, 13 billion years old and I am...20. 20 years old. That`s .00000000153% of the time the universe has been around. Like, who do I think I am? I seriously do not matter to the universe`s history (let alone American history).

It`s like that earthquake was a moment of clarity, or something. Perspective was shaken into me. We are temporary guests. You are a temporary guest so just do what you`re doing and don`t worry so much about your own life. And that should be comforting, not scary. There`s no need to be scared. Or worried. Or anything. Stop letting your brain control you and start realizing you don`t matter and that, by not mattering, you can be worry-free.

And the reason you shouldn`t worry, essentially, is because these things the earth does is something you can`t control. As someone who always feels she needs to control any situation - whether it be going out (when it comes to making plans, some people are really incompetent. You can tell that I`m really anal about plan-making becaues I just called other people incompetent like I`m all high and mighty) or grades or money, those kinds of things I worry about. Because I can change those things, I can affect those things by making plans with friends, or studying more, or getting a job. I stress over things I can change.

Right, so my point is those things make me anxious, but you can`t do anything about earthquakes. You can`t tell the earth to stop doing what it`s doing. We are absolutely powerless.

That`s what I was going for, that word. Powerless. We are powerless compared to the earth and the universe and who the hell do we think we are, going into wars with other countries or fighting over religion or any of those things? Because we want that power, we want to be in control of things in our life and in a lot of situations, and when we don`t get that power, we worry unnecessarily and get anxious.

But the earth doesn`t even give us the chance to be powerful. It`s gonna shift those tectonic plates and continue doing sciencey things and we can`t do a damn thing about it. You`d think that knowing I don`t have power would make me anxious, but it`s so extreme it does the opposite. It reminds me that I never really had power in the first place. It makes me stop thinking about myself and start thinking about how I can`t prevent or change anything about the things Earth does and I`m forced to accept that and thus, the lesson here is to accept that which you cannot change and move on. STOP WORRYING.

TL;DR, The earth is an apathetic rock flying through infinite space and you actually think your worries matter? You should accept how things are and get over them, because sometimes you just can`t do anything.

And that, my friends, was without a single drop of acid.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I really can't get over how fun this video thing is

Here's a description of the last 11 weeks, all in under 3 minutes for you short-attention spanners.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Video Blog Post!

Part 1:
I assume here you'll need to take a break and go pee, maybe grab a snack. 
Then come back for part two:

By the way, this was a pain in the ass to do! Tried uploading this the first time to youtube and it wouldn't take it because it was over ten minutes, but before I found that out I waited over an hour to try to upload it.

Figured out how to split the video, had to do some special formatting "preparing project" crap in iMovie, takes an hour, upload to youtube, takes 20 minutes. All in all actually NOT a time-saving strategy, but let me know regardless what you think. :)

Hope you're all well and I hope you've enjoyed my idea of "saving time" while blogging. Sorry for the late post, I'll get better! :D


Haley <3

P.S.: The following picture is 100% true. I have witnessed it:

UPDATE: A round of applause to Jeff, the first one to commit to my crazy ways:

I'm seriously impressed by your dedication to our friendship.

UPDATE NUMBA 2: I've just gotten a picture of the kimono I'll be wearing at my Japanese friend's wedding.