Tuesday, July 19, 2011

bfg on having the best cup of coffee in the world. And I don't mean maybe.

If I never hear the word "Maybe" for the rest of my life it will be too soon.

Usually moments that are lost in translation are cute. When my student tells me, "I'm hot!" and I explain that can mean sexy we giggle. If a teacher tells me how "terrible and excited" they felt about a movie, I explain that terrible really has no positive meaning. And I just love explaining to the students that "shat" really does not mean "shirt". But "maybe" is so misused, so misunderstood and so frequently that I may become violent.

For example,

"Are you hungry?"



"Did you go to the party last week?"

"I think so."

Oh, really?

The one I hate the most is when I ask for directions.

"How do I get to the movie theatre?"

"Maybe you turn left from Gofukucho at the Seiten."

"Maybe? You don't know?"


"What? Okay, lets look at a map."

"Oh, but we don't need to."

"But you said you don't know where it is exactly..."


"So we should check the map..."


Kill me now Sweet Jesus!!!

Last Sunday after a long series of unfortunate events where the gods reminded me why I must stay indoors with a Japanese Boy-Toy doing my dishes and other domestic duties for handicapped individuals such as myself, I was comin' down the mountain with friends after camping and there before me was this lovely little cabin that said the most beautiful thing I ever read: "Coffee".

Not even waiting for it to stop, I was out of the car running in. It had been more than 24 hours!! How can a human survive? Who would want to ?

"No! Please take off your shoes."

I don't bat an eye. Direct directions is all a white woman on a coffee mission needs.

I never thought caffeine paradise could be on a mountain with bears and wild pigs. I associate such things with going to school not heaven.

But just look at how they made my coffee. It was like a dance! A song! A ceremony! I was so happy I ordered two.

Good enough to go back for thirds? Maybe...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

bfg on when the extraordinary is ordinary

The other day it hit me.

Old man slows down, rolling down the car window to see if I really am what I am. I bow and continue on my merry way.

Clerk overcharges me 10 YEN. Manager has a hernia. I smile and say, "だいじょぶ!” 

Couple stop crossing the street to look at my tattoos. They backtrack, pointing very obviously. I smile and bow my head. Yup, I got tattoos on my chest! Want a closer look? Promise I cover them in an onsen. Cross my heart.

I forgot my 100 YEN pen in the shopping basket on the 6th floor of one of the most crowded malls in Shizuoka. Walking out of the elevator, a clerk meets me at the bottom of the STAIRS out of breath. "GOMEN!!! You forgot this." I take this in stride. She had to take the stairs so she could catch me at the elevator doors, you see.

Fact is, all these little instances that made living in Japan so manga-wide-eyed have become normal. In many ways, I am EXPECTING such behaviour. Does this mean I will wear nylons at work in humidity of 1 gazillion? I am not psycho. But seeing other female teachers with nylons, woollen socks and sandals - all part of my morning coffee experience.

And there are other "settling in"moments - my students have been friendlier to me. They yell "Hello Banessa!" from across the football field, sneak a wave if I walk by the class and some actually smile. One of my shiest students came up to me yesterday to say he was happy "I can speak to Banessa sensei". I was not supposed to teach 2nd year students but this year I was asked to...

Even disciplining is better. They know what I will do. So I give the look and they smile and I say, "Goto!!" and he actually does it. How the hell did that happen!?

And as the realizations hit - that a year has actually past, that many of the people I have relationships are leaving - I think about what will I do this time next year... Right now, with Megane Boy writing me an email about birthday presents, Yuka making me an ink drawing of Taylor Swift and bike tiers screeching in the city streets with the basketball team chasing me for a "Hello" and weekend sighting I can't fathom it.

Summer is here and I need to take a step back at being "Banessa Sensei" and get back into reading, working out - yes, I actually wrote the words without Mother Earth swallowing me whole - and enjoying Japan. Because with this year having gone by so fast, the other one is just around the corner. I have some catching up to do.

Hiroshima! Kobe! Osaka (again)! Here I come!!!