Well, the windy skies of October have given way to the brisk breezes of November! Actually.. it's much warmer today than it was last week. I had a great birthday and felt all the love from back home. My birthday weekend consisted of Halloween party time and some restful downtime at home. I even got restless and wanted to go running.. but it started raining (which I wanted it to do because of the plants I'd put in the backyard).
One of my dead trees finally fell down in a storm sometime back, so I stuck a little sweet-olive tree in its place. I love those trees, and they smell so good in September. I've also put in pansies, and they're multiplying. I want something pretty to climb the fence by the road, because it currently is just a gross, bent, rusty, peeling green paintjob of a thing.
I'm still fighting the good fight in my head about staying or not staying a 3rd year.
Work last week was a lot more elementary than usual, and even in middle school I was giving the same powerpoint pantomime spiel. I got pretty tired of that presentation. I watched the opening song from Nightmare Before Christmas about 23 times in one week. Halloween activities abound, but how do you attempt to encapsulate this weird holiday for kids who have no experience whatsoever of its traditions? Nightmare Before Christmas is actually, I think, a good component, since it playfully embodies so much of the scary spirit of Halloween!
This week is going to be, secretly, kind of awesome, because work is not at all the same old. Today kind of is, but tomorrow, instead of elementary, we have SPEECH CONTEST. I'm really excited about it this year, despite having to be a judge (I hate being a judge). My kids are rock stars and even if they don't win, I'm really proud of them. Practicing with them has been fun, and their teacher (Mikan-sensei) has been a champion too. South Yamasaki JHS started practice for speech contest, as usual, back in like July or some crap.. but even for all that, there is some chance my kid might win the whole thing.
Wednesday is a holiday, but we're working the Furusato matsuri, aka International Festival? ..it's in Ichinomiya this year, which means a lot closer to civilization (last year was Chikusa). Instead of being hot-dog group (America 2) or ice-cream group (America 1), I'm poutine group (Canada)! There are so many American ALTs in Shiso that we figured 4 to each group, and then I would help out the one Canadian. ^_^ I rather think it'll be fun.
Then Thursday, instead of elementary, I get to just be an accessory to the show-our-Sequim-girl-around gig. I was just told what this will mean. While last year it meant sitting in the back of a couple classrooms fretting over the way my-life-the-sitcom had just taken a TURN, this year it means playing games with the third years, then going to a nearby shrine or temple ("or something"), then going out to lunch with the kid and principal before visiting Iwa Jinja, then going up the Somegochi valley to make soba.
Sequim is the sister city of Shiso. It's in Washington state, and is a tiny mountainy town kind of like this one. Every year we do an exchange of third-years/ninth graders. A couple of my favorite girls went over to Sequim in early October, and now the Sequim group is coming here. From what I understand, they spend the first several days touring Kyoto and Tokyo and what have you, before coming to Shiso in time for speech contest, International fest, etc.
Friday, it'll be back to the grind, or.. back to small elementary, which is a beautiful and charming place.
Thursday, I stopped by Shorinji Kempo on my way to Salamander, and met Shiso's first ALT (circa 1991) who was there with his wife and daughter. They all live in Washington now, but had come back for a visit.
Over the weekend, I watched some more of the Amazing Race and downloaded last year's application forms. I rediscovered smart.fm and am using it to study Japanese and the countries of the world. I am still working on concepts for our three minute audition video.
I was a kitsune for Halloween/my birthday (because it just fits, right?) and had a lovely time in Himeji! I am now also the proud owner of a hot glue gun, a rarity in Japan.
I have discovered the wonder that is black tea (especially Earl Grey) brewed a bit strong with some milk mixed in. Happiness in a cup?
I'm sure I forgot something, but that's the view from here!