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PLACES (of the earth & mind)
Wednesday
Jan232008

Wax On, Wax Off


John and I began our Japanese class last night, along with friend Clayton. Brandon Walsh will be happy to learn that we are attending his alma mater, University of Maryland. Go Terrapins. Our teacher's name - no joke - is Mrs. Miyagi. The Japanese language is both quite easy and pretty difficult. I was not blessed with Camilla's ear, and when called on to read, I can barely get the words out. We are going to learn Hiragana, which is one of the THREE writing forms that the Japanese use. Sentences contain all three writings, so I have no idea how learning Hiragana is goign to help me read anything.

The funniest part is the "helpful hints" that she gives us to help us learn the symbols. According to Miyagi Sensei, the symbol for the letter "Na" resembles a nun on her knees in front of cross. "Na" for "Nun." Bit of a leap, but okay, maybe. Now get a load of the symbol:

Really? Do you get cross and praying nun from this? I have some serious work to do.

In addition to learning how to communicate in Japanese, and writing Hiragana, we will be learning how to properly wax cars, catch fruitflies with chopsticks and defeat a school bully in Karate despite a broken foot.

Monday
Jan212008

Niche


MLK Eve, we went to see a Japanese jazz band play at a local club called "Niche." The band was outstanding, the place was intimate, very mod, and it was a pretty great time overall.

The jazzy-swankness of it all inspired some expirimental photography....




Niche is the first place I've been to on the island where flip-flops were considered "underdressed."
"Booster," an airforce pilot, was our award-winner for fashionista of the evening.

Friday
Jan182008

Singapore Sling


Our buddy Clay informed us last night that we are all taking a trip to Singapore in March. Sounds good to me! I'm looking at LonelyPlanet.com to learn more how to make the most of our trip, but I was hoping to get some personal insights. Have any of you been to Singapore and have "must-see's" or "must-miss's" for me?

Thursday
Jan172008

So Sorry


John has a habit of apologizing for things that are not his fault. Like the fact that the US Postal Service is holding three fifths of all my worldly possessions hostage. Or that I ordered something to eat that turned out to be less than delicious. He is very sincere about it, and truly concerned. Like if he'd only had the foresight to guide me away from that ordering that dish, I would have had a more enjoyable dining experience. Then he offers me his dish to make up for his blunder. The idea that he takes my happiness to heart even in the smallest details makes me happy.

The Japanese are similar in a way. Apologies run amok in dialog with the locals. "Please forgive us, so sorry, so ashamed, full of disgrace, that we ran out of rice for your sushi order....please accept our sincerest apologies and our first born." Something similar happened to me the other night at Zen Sushi, and while consoling this poor waitress, I assured her that it was no disgrace, and I would happily have the sushi, sans rice, sans child.

Verbal apologies were never much a part of our household growing up. We just sulked until the other party forgot, and then the egregious behavior dissipated over a good family meal. It's good to not hold grudges, but sometimes words can be necessary, admitting you've done something wrong can often completely cure the harm you've done.

The Japanese use the term "gomen nasai" to apologize, which actually means more along the lines of "I'm so, so sorry - but it ain't my fault." Well it's probably not quite like that, but it is an apology without claiming to be the cause of the injury. It seems excessive, but now makes me wonder if I'm being rude by NOT offering such condolences. There was a German girl I knew as an acquaintance who seemed so cold and unfeeling because she never offered any sympathetic words, and it made me feel that she couldn't care less how my life was going. But now I think it may have just been cultural. Cultural relativity if you will. I think sympathy in any degree is welcomed, as long as it's genuine.

Wednesday
Jan162008

North of the Island


John and I took a little drive up to the north of the Island, which is a lot less developed. If you stare at the mezmorizing blue sea for long enough, you can almost forget that your fiance is wearing black socks at the beach.