Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pass me the remote...

Back in the earlier days of my time on Okinawa, I used to grimace as the weekend approached. I'm sure most of you cannot fathom dreading two whole days off, especially on a tropical isle. Unfortunately, I just saw it as 48 hours that need to be filled. And it was quite the task to keep busy and wasn't helped by the fact that I could never sleep past 7 am for some awful reason.

Now, I have become a regular person and absolutely adore my weekends. I have begun to live for my days off again. It's a great feeling and I can even sleep until 8:30 thanks to an extra futon to make my bed more comfortable. I get my cleaning done (sometimes) and call the parents before heading to the gym around 10 or so in order to beat the crowds and get the sweating out of the way. Today, for instance, there were only three other women in the workout room. Two of them were carrying on a long conversation with one woman rolling her feet on the machine and the other half-asleep in the massage bed. The third lady was reading her newspaper on the exercise bike and no one had turned on the loud television yet. It was unbelievably peaceful despite trying to run myself ragged. And then one of the older women, amazingly contorted her body into various ballet poses (also sort of looking at me...trying to garner whether I was impressed or not. I was!) and then started doing push-ups. At least 55 years old and doing push-ups. But that's Okinawa. I walked to my faraway grocery store and witnessed some marathon running. The islanders love to run (but according to one of my teachers, never really win the race because mainlanders and foreigners outperform them) and the streets were lined with drummers, water pushers, pineapple chunk stations, etc. And the runners themselves were quite the image. There were some who were walking, others were looking like they were on their literal last legs, and one girl was wearing a cheerleading outfit with a sash and saying hello to everyone. I stood and watched for a bit and then headed back to continue my perfect weekend.

Yesterday I decided that it was time to return to Mr. Donut for some coffee and crosswords. I hadn't been there since before Christmas and was walking along when my phone started vibrating. It was my friend Bridgit and she said something along the lines of, "I'm craving Mr. Donut! Want to join me?!" It was so bizarre that we would both be heading to a random place we had never visited together before, and yet, shows the mindset of foreigners on the island. (We did get our money's worth of chatting, people watching, and a strange coffee buzz that was too strong for the amount of coffee consumed. Perfect.)

Today has been a rainy day and I have learned to embrace the power of an afternoon movie in my PJs, a nap on my reclining legless chair with my soft blanket, and some tea (with some fantastic cookies that taste just like McVities Digestives, but are loads cheaper!). Eventually I'll rouse myself to figure out what I want to make for dinner and will enjoy another movie later on. This is my typical view for Saturday and Sunday. Lovely.

One of my students who was a foreign exchange student in Springfield last year was talking to me this week about what she misses about America. She said she misses sitting in her host family's living room on one of those couches with the two reclining sides, watching TV with her host sister and a dog in between them. Her host parents were always in their own chairs, reading and watching TV... and these are the moments that Kumy misses most. I agree. Probably my favorite memory of Christmas vacation (no offense to all the get-togethers and excitement) was lounging with Brooke all day and watching ridiculous TV. So while I try to recreate that feeling of comfort here in my tatami room, enjoy your weekend moments with your loved ones. (And make sure to add milk to your tea.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The United States can't contain them...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A rittle resson about what's light and long

In my lone class today, the students had to run around the classroom, memorize song lyrics, and report back to their "writer" what each sheet of paper said. Spelling was supposed to be correct and all the usual jazz. The song used today was Josh Groban's "Up Where You Are" and I noticed one group of very intelligent girls had interpreted the lyrics as such... "Fry me up to where you are beyond a distant star." After stifling the giggres, I pointed out the mistake and the girls were smiling too.

The "l" and "r" mistake is unbelievably common and is often used among the ALT community for some comic relief. The students even try to make their "r"s look like "l"s so that you can decide which it really is. I applaud their ingenuity in trying to get credit either way. However, this "ritter" problem needs to be addressed, although when the teachers also struggle with pronunciation, I suppose there is little to be done. All I know is that when we play a game that involves writing my name, I always just write it on the board because to overpronouce "Aaaarrrrr" and "ELLLLLL" for every group gets pretty old and usually students just throw down my name in characters instead and laugh.

It's not rimited to high schools, though.

(And yes, Mom, I can hear you *sigh* at the mere mention of that song all the way over here. Repetitive prayings can take care of that.)

Driver! ... Move! That! Bus!

Who needs U-hauls when you have students with perfectly capable arms and legs? Friday was Moving Day at Chatan High School as the temporary classrooms were moved into their own brand new building. The last two hours of the day were devoted to taking everything from "The Barracks" to the barely-out-of-hardhat-status classrooms.

I was told before arriving for duty in Okinawa that there was a new school being built. I didn't even really notice any building going on when I first showed up at school at the beginning of August. Quickly, though, a school began to take shape. But quickly, as shown by these pictures taken in August and October, a school began to take shape. Meanwhile, we were being cooked alive in metal barracks.

One morning I arrived a bit early to school and witnessed a morning meeting with the hard-hatted workers. They were doing synchronized calisthenics complete with music. Side bends, lunges, sweeping motions. Apparently, they were warming up for their day. Or perhaps they were still working from the day before and enjoying a cool-down. The rate at which this school was put up was amazing and I sometimes wondered whether the workers ever went home. They finished the main building on time, although the gym is still being built. It should also be completed in about a month and then they are going to tear down the other one.

So, anyways, Friday was the official moving day, by the time I returned from lunch, students were carrying their desks up numerous sets of stairs and while some were being very dramatic about it, most of them were taking the child-labor abuse with great stride. I wasn't sure where to place myself (no other teachers were physically carrying anything), and ended up on the top floor with the ichi-nensei rounding their final set of stairs. I cheered them on with Taiko and had a couple ask, "Sticker?!" And the funny bit was that their desks they were carrying were absolutely covered with my stickers that I've handed out since arriving.

The building was absolutely spotless and students felt guilty for wearing their shoes into the building. Each room has cubby holes for shoes and a balcony that looks out to the ocean. Perhaps the "rooms with a view" are a marketing tactic to get better students to want to attend Chatan. Every single classroom overlooks the water. My high school experience consisted of loose cows every once and awhile and "drive your tractor to school" day. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer learning in school to standing on a balcony looking at the famous Mihama ferris wheel.

We have one student at the high school who is in a wheelchair and his classroom was put on the second floor, instead of the third, as a concession to his disability. However, there is no elevator in the building. He used to be carried up and down the barracks stairwells by a couple of friends and it honestly broke my heart seeing it every time. I was upset that they didn't install a working elevator and Taiko and I discussed the legalities of this sort of situation in America. Apparently, they are installing an elevator in the old teacher's building when they renovate it. Then he can go up to the second floor in that building and make his way to his classroom via a crosswalk that will be connecting the two buildings.

After everything was moved from the metal buildings to the new school, students returned to scrub down their old rooms. There were rooms full of cleaned fans, windex being employed on windows, and a classroom with twenty boys on their hands and knees scrubbing the floor. Some of these rooms were in terrible shape, showing an utter disregard for public property. Apparently, they are going to tear down two of the buildings and renovate the others to make them into teacher's rooms in April until our building is done. Which means that there will be no air conditioning for the teachers. I already told everyone that they will find me in the library.

At the end of the day, students were summoned to the gym and were informed that someone had put graffiti on the western stairwall within thirty minutes of moving desks. The teacher asked those who saw it to volunteer information in front of everyone. He also went on to talk about students who were on the roof and others who had climbed out of windows. Even though it was past the end of school, students had to head to their homerooms and write down any information they had about the mischief that went on. Even though I am leaving Okinawa this summer, to know that some students are already defacing the building really disappointed me.

It was also a fairly momentous day for many teachers at our school. Every 3-5 years, teachers are rotated among schools and today was the day that new assignments were announced. Apparently new teachers who have finished their one year of training are usually sent to remote islands for a few years. Tomorrow I'll be able to find out where everyone is headed. There are at least four, possibly five, English teachers being moved this year, which is half of the department. The going-away parties will commence soon, I'm sure.

For now, Chatan will be enjoying the first days in a brand new building. And maybe the teachers who will be moving here in April will be feeling a bit better since apparently, being placed at Chatan High School is a let-down for most teachers. These students will be waiting for their arrival...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Feeling two feet tall...

Last night, Bridgit and I decided that after our rough week of work we needed to do a little karaoke. There is nothing like a rousing rendition of "Lady Marmalade" and "You Oughta Know" to get the weekend started off with a bang. So, I took the bus to her village of Yomitan and after a little sappy movie time, we headed out to blast our lungs in the privacy of our own karaoke box. We took a taxi to an establishment that she had been to with her teachers and knew when we entered that something was off. Once the young kid left and got an old woman, we knew that we were going to be turned away because we are ... Americans. And it isn't because the directions are in Japanese and they are worried about our enjoyment of the karaoke experience. Even with Bridgit's excellent Japanese and telling her that we are teachers, not military members, she refused to allow us entry. It was utterly frustrating, embarrassing, and surprisingly upsetting. I have never been discriminated against and I know that this example is minor in the whole scheme of things, but it certainly did not make Okinawa any more endearing to us.

Thus, we found ourselves in another taxi going to a place close to her apartment that she had talked her way into before. As predicted, the man at the desk attempted to refuse us admittance, but after more pleading, he told us that it was a "secret" and ushered us to a room. Of course, we don't want to get people in trouble. We just want to be able to sing Hanson with the rest of society! We enjoyed our time, but the experience left us bitter. I have heard of restaurants on the island that have "No foreigners" signs on them, although have not encountered any of this attitude in Chatan. These sort of hard feelings between the Okinawans and Americans seem to be elevated lately. Last weekend, there were mass protests outside of Kadena Air Force Base against the arrival of some stealth fighters that were going to be visiting the island temporarily.

Recently, I have been unbelievably annoyed and offended as I read random articles, forums, etc. online mocking Americans and the typical "Ugly American" routine. I could write a whole other blog about the hypocratic nature of these other nationalities (not Okinawans this time) who are apparently refusing to look at their own histories and their own "not-so-pretty" moments in world affairs. Yes, we as a country have faults. We have citizens who are, let's face it, an embarrassment. But I am tired of those of us who get out and see the world, who are aware of not only "America" but other facets of world affairs, are constantly being the punching bags of others and can't defend ourselves because then we are even "uglier." But, anyways, it's Saturday morning...and I want to enjoy my day...enough.

As I sang last night (or warbled...or massacred), "You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows." (Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues)

Third Grade Memories

I generally detest birds, but these tiny singing ones cheer me up on my walk to school. Today I happened to have my camera and caught this one in a cherry blossom tree. It just so happens that I took the picture where two days ago I witnessed a five pound white dog wearing --- and I am not making this up --- a cartoon diaper. It looked a bit shaky, but that might just have been from the apparent dog abuse. If only I was carrying my camera that day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"U Rock" "No Doubt" "Talk 2 Me"

Chocolate hearts. Check. Chocolate truffles. Check. Chocolate donuts. Check. Chocolate milk. Check. Commercialism. Check.

Valentine's Day does in fact exist in Japan, although in a slightly different form. The Japanese way is not to bombard the consumer with diamonds and roses, but rather with the sweetest thing in life...chocolate. The giving of "Valentines" is completely one-sided with women giving chocolate to friends, family, and significant others. In fact, half of chocolate sales in Japan happen during the week before Valentine's Day. There are two specific types of chocolate gifts that should be handed out by women to the men in their lives. One is called giri-choko, which translates as "obligation chocolate" and should be given to male coworkers, friends, etc. There is no implication of romantic feelings, only gratitude and friendship. The other is honmei-choko which is given to a love interest, usually with another small gift, like a necktie. Sounds like the men are getting the best of this deal, eh? Well, on March 14th (significantly one month later), men have to repay the women who gave them chocolate for Valentine's Day with more expensive chocolate. It appears chocolate makers have got this strategy down. March 14th is called "White Day" and I am beyond curious to see the men with their chcolate.

Today, the women at school hosted a luncheon, presumably for the men to enjoy, although everyone feasted. (Like the idiot gaijin that I am, I completely forgot that I was supposed to bring something until I heard a fellow teacher discussing taco rice and then I literally smacked my forehead.) There was some festive music playing and curry rice was enjoyed by all. I asked Taiko-sensei whether she got her husband something for Valentine's Day and she said that he doesn't really care whether he gets anything, so she doesn't usually buy anything. I like the spirit! I also tried to explain the agony in America of picking out the absolute perfect card at Hallmark, the rising costs of roses, the trials and tribulations of making reservations at a favorite restaurant, etc. She said it sounds like their Christmas Day, which is generally a day for romance here in Japan.

I bucked tradition in Japan and made little gift bags for all of the teachers with some candy and Strawberry Shortcake valentines from home. Remember how in grade school it was vitally important which classmate got which valentine? The girls you didn't really care for got the not-so-cute cards, the boy crush got the card with the most romantic sentiment, but not too obviously, of course, and you always read into the meanings of your own cards. Essentially for most children, Valentine's Day was a day of reckoning and a popularity contest, despite teachers' best efforts to keep everyone involved. And I realized, sadly, that I haven't risen above the hype. I pondered which teacher would get which message and gave one teacher the bigger card. My pettiness astounds me on a daily basis. Of course, the teachers squealed "kawaiiiiiii" over little Miss Strawberry and yet, I think the idea of the actual card inside was lost on them. Actual Valentine cards are not a huge deal. I put some chocolate in the cute little heart bags as well, so I want to see how I am repaid in one month. I'm thinking Godiva for my generic chocolate. And although, they may think they're cute, wait until they bite into one of those chalky conversation hearts. Redhots and conversation hearts. The very best in American confectionary.

Your Candy Heart Says "Hug Me"

A total sweetheart, you always have a lot of love to give out.
Your heart is open to where ever love takes you!

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a surprise romantic evening that you've planned out

Your flirting style: lots of listening and talking

What turns you off: fighting and conflict

Why you're hot: you're fearless about falling in love

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Going Captain Ahab for a day

I told you that I would attempt to do something blogworthy over my three day weekend. And that's how I found myself on a boat yesterday with about 25 other camera-toting tourists (Japanese) on a wild search for whales. It was a fantastically gorgeous day and we were essentially guaranteed that we would spot some of the famous humpback whales that inhabit Okinawan waters during this time each year. They migrate down from Alaska to breed in the waters of the Kerama Islands. According to an AFN commercial Bridgit and I heard on the way to our adventure, whale-watching is a must-do while in Okinawa (along with Free Willy music).

One of my English teachers helped us to book a tour that began in Onna Village, a resorty area north of Chatan. (I tried to book it, but after my "Do you understand English" in Japanese failed, I realized I had no clue how to say, "Does anyone speak English?") We got a bit lost trying to find the "red flag in the sand" at the harbor, but thanks to some quick kanji reading found the parking lot and "the red arrow." Arrow. Flag. Same thing. They happened to have a young man working that lived in Okinawa, but has an American stepdad and spoke excellent English. He was in charge of taking us and a Guatemalan woman aside to tell us all about the boat. He begins by telling us, "This boat is about 18 meters. A whale is about 16 meters. This boat weighs about 20 tons. A whale weighs about 20-30 tons." I made a comment about how we probably shouldn't pick a fight and then he goes on to tell us about our lifejackets and how the back end is completely open. "Don't fall out." And that there is a black switch in the main cabin, and do not, under any circumstances, flip that switch. Which, of course, made me desperately want to throw it and see what happens. (I wish I would have taken a picture.) The Japanese tourists, of which two were Okinawan and the first locals of the season, were apparently getting instructions on how to navigate the waters and man the ship solo. Finally, we boarded the boat and Bridgit and I got separated. We were also warned numerous times that the water was very rough and that they would give us bags once we got onboard. As a major motion sickness sufferer, I has already popped two Equate Motion Sickness pills (free plug for the generic brand of Wal-mart, which works great and is a lot cheaper than Dramamine), and was prepared to put every trick I knew into place. Hence, no picture of the switch, as I focused on the horizon for the entire trip.

Bridgit and I thought that this boat would be tugging along on the way to the Keramas. Little did we know, that we had boarded a speed boat and that we would be attacking White Squall waves head on. The spray was massive and the folks in the back were squealing with glee every time we got a huge wave (this went on for about 30 minutes and then they were just soaked and cold). I was feeling pretty well considering the wave size, but a guy to our left was looking dramatically green and stumbled (literally) his way into the bathroom where he remained for the majority of the ride. No one could stand up without being tossed to the other side of the boat. I just kept staring at the horizon. And shockingly, I felt absolutely fine. Until we slowed down. And started bobbing, and turning, and swaying. But even then, I was only feeling queasy. We reached the Keramas after about an hour of quick moving and then started our whale-watching hunt. Some went to the front of the boat, while the rest, including me, headed to the top deck.

Every time I go on one of these whale, seal, dolphin tours, I expect to be able to pet whatever we are chasing. I expect to be close and to see them like in a zoo. Of course, I am disappointed every single time (and would probably be suicidal after an African safari). This tour wasn't any different and every time everyone yelled, "oooh!!!!" I missed what they were looking at. With that said, I did begin to spot the whales, usually by the spray of water thrown up. They would appear in clusters and would magically appear and vanish just as quickly. They are pretty majestic creatures. I thought my size would finally be an advantage with all of these shorter folks (dressed in their skirts and high heels...mainlanders. *sigh*), but I struggled to see around the crowd. Also, there was a girl who spent the entire time making retching noises into a plastic bag on the top deck. And it was freezing. All too soon, it was time to head back down to return to Onna Village. Unfortunately, the movement of going down stairs and stumbling my way back to my seat gave me my first serious spell of motion sickness. Despite my three pills by this point, I had to grab for the bag. Thankfully, my horizon-watching paid off after about five minutes and I was fine, although chilled to the bone and with my head in some weird, pill-induced world.

Unfortunately, no whales got close enough for a shot like this:

We zipped (literally) back to the harbor and finally Bridgit and I could talk and assess our time on the Seafox III... The verdict? Seeing whales was nice, but going really fast over the waves was the icing on the cake.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Miss Nelson is Missing!

A warning. This is a "watercooler" entry full of complaining and bitterness, but in no way reflects my quite decent mood and refreshingly optimistic view on life on this very lovely Okinawan day. Really. It's fantastically beautiful. Again. And it's almost a three day weekend. So with that--- some vintage vent-age.

As I sit here on the last day of finals testing, and having just finished grading the "smart" class's tests (with a shocking number wrong for each student), I think it's time to comment on some of the day-to-day things at school that drive me mad. So, if I was given the floor at a staff meeting, these are some of the suggestions I would offer up in a lovely PowerPoint presentation.

Title- "The kids in room 207 are misbehaving again: An Outsider's View"
Dedicated to Tammy and all other Miller Hall survivors

First of all, all teachers must be in their given classroom when the final bell rings. Not running from the copier to their desk, not sucking down yet another cup of foul tea, not sprinting up the stairs to the classrooms and dropping all papers in the process. In front of the class and ready to go. Composed and in control a la Euclid. You are wasting precious time, my friend. Tick tock tick tock. As Groucho Marx once said, "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Another colossal (and I mean, taken-off-the market SUPERSIZE) waste of time is the taking of roll before every class. Maybe it's because they don't know their students names, but this problem is easily solved with a seating chart. A quick glance and anyone not in their seat is absent. Even if they are there. Give them a few absences for not sitting in their assigned seat and they'll learn. I was told throughout my education training that students should be engaged from the minute they walk into the classroom, not sitting through a tedious five minute roll that accomplishes nothing, except time to sharpen chopsticks into deadly projectiles. It is especially annoying in classes with all the chairs taken except one. All you have to do is ask, "Okay, who's missing today?" and the students would offer up the name. "Miss Nelson." Or maybe Yuki. Or Tatsuhide. Or Mr. Miyagi.

I just graded 40 tests and every single student missed a rather large number of questions. In fact, one problem was only answered correctly two times. As a teacher, this would tell me something. A) I did a lousy job teaching that particular point and it should be reviewed and probably taken off the total point score (the truth hurts) or B) Maybe my answer is wrong (*gasp* NEVER). I would not just go red pen crazy. In fact, generally, when I found questions that were like this, I would make it a bonus point if you got it right, which for some reason, works like a charm at getting kids excited (and other kids trying to forge a different answer to get that bonus point).

These students have potential if given some "Rah Rah Rahs" instead of "Bah Bah Bahs." It is completely refreshing to have brave students come and visit me at my desk (one in particular in a cute pink sweater is bent on learning English from me), and while their skills aren't perfect, I can understand what they are trying to say for the most part. And we can discuss such important matters as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Avril Lavigne. Please, teachers, give them the courage to speak English. Look around... you live on an island and are completely surrounded by military bases. As much as you may not like having them around, teaching your students conversational English will aid them as they try to get better jobs after graduation. Perhaps a job on base might seem like selling out, but I bet it's better than some of the other options. And like one of my teachers has discovered, you can get Dunkin Donuts coffee if you have friends on base!

It is positively an American student's dream here, which must mean something isn't working! There are no planned quizzes, pop quizzes, essays, 100 point projects, rubrics, homework assignments, busy work, bell ringers... I don't hear them reading outloud. I don't see them translating full paragraphs alone and answering higher level questions. It is a bit bold to ask a teenager to hold himself accountable for material when there isn't any incentive (stickers only go so far, mate). They know they will pass if they simply show up for class all year (students don't fail isn't compulsory and it is their "right" to pass). Of course they don't *want* to do work, but they would probably prefer it to just sitting around and sleeping all day. (Ask me! I am so bored that I search for work to do like a garbage digger. Everyone has their threshold before they need some sort of mental activity.) I am in no way a master of Spanish, but when I give students problems to translate into English, I find that I can still translate them into espanol. And two whole years after taking it. Yet they are struggling with very simple concepts like "What is the time? What is the weather? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" that they have been learning since the womb. Es mal.

And as the new school year begins, some advice. The tone of the entire year is set by the first few minutes in class. So, let's try to smother the drinking party hangovers (I will hand out packets of Excedrin... unlike anything this country of weak meds has ever seen), the lack of confidence in your own discipline abilities, and really get things started with a bang. If you make it clear that it is going to be an engaging environment, that sleeping (or eyebrow shaving) is not becoming behavior, and that there are expectations for each and every student, then everything should be smooth sailing for the most part. (For more read Harry Wong's "The First Days of School." Just kidding. Maybe my teacher friends will appreciate the Wongvision reference.)

We are also going to have a brand new high school here in Chatan (moving in next week) and let's show some spirit ("I'm'm thinking...smiles...I'm thinking John Lennon illustrations) with decorated classrooms and an inviting atmosphere. How about some accountability for school property? (i.e. no drawing Nazi signs or naked mermaids on desks)

And, finally, as Perry R., one of my more memorable education professors told us, "Be careful with adolescent males. They are facing a lot of embarrassing conditions, like the appearance of man-boobs."

Let's shape some minds!

(Then to finish off my impressive speech, complete with professionally printed and bound copies, I would whip off my Viola Swamp costume and do a jig to an old Backstreet Boys tune wearing a mixed-gender superhero costume, which I think the teachers would thoroughly enjoy.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Some call it prostrating oneself. I call it groveling.

I am a slacker. I apologize to everyone who regularly checks this blog for exciting updates from Okiiiinawa. But I have some excuses to offer:

1) I have been ill. Seriously. Ill. Almost two weeks ago, I got to experience some really unpleasant back spasms that rendered me immobile and sleepless for a few days. Although I'm sure it would have been humorous to see me try to get off the floor in the morning, just trying to go up the stairs at my apartment took a good 10 minutes with plenty of grimace-filled stops. And then, I had finally recovered from the spasms and was at the gym when I felt my tonsils starting to hurt and within hours, I was experiencing my first cold of the season. Breathing became impossible and led to a few more sleepless nights, although last night I finally slept straight through (waking up at 6, but much better than usual!). I am currently hacking up a lung, which I think is pretty taboo in Japan. Hopefully, it will earn me a ticket home and plenty of time for "Guiding Light" and "The View."

2) Life isn't that interesting. Sure the weather is beautiful. Sure I have seen some amazing sunsets and was soaking up the sunshine yesterday. And, yes, there are random little cherry blossoms with twittering little birds on the way to school. Oh, and gorgeous, huge pink (bright and pastel) flowers at every turn. Did I mention that I had my windows open this past weekend with my laundry blowing gently on the line? Yes, all of those things are absolutely fabulous (especially when your nose is freezing immediately when walking out the door in Chicago... -5 degrees?! I wanted snow, but you can keep your cold!), but they don't make for exceptionally exciting stories on a regular basis. For the next three days, I will be sitting at my desk without my usual two classes of Jeopardy to break things up. The students are taking their finals (even though the year isn't over until the end of March) and I will be devoting myself to reading (and coughing for pity) and I might get enough motivation to clean my desk. It's that exciting here. I know. Refrain from getting in a plane and coming over immediately.

3) You have Starbucks at home. Currently the highlights of my week involve meeting a fellow ALT, Bridgit, at Starbucks regularly. It's a time of telling ridiculous school stories, people watching (somehow I am going to sneak some photos of the fashions and post them soon), and double mocha macchiatos. Starbucks is my therapy (and costs about the same as a professional), and you know the therapeutic benefits of a cup of coffee and a friend. It also cuts back on my need to vent via the blog.

I pledge to try harder at blogging in the near future. I have a three day weekend coming up (Happy Foundation Day, everyone!) and am determined to have some great photos and stories to bring you. My apologies to the Bears fans, and I guess a congratulations to my one Colts representative! Check out Ken's blog for an enlightening football entry from a rabid Packers fan. Quite the athletic supporter there. Ha.

Oh, ding dong! Finals begin in 5...4...3...2...1!

This groveling is hurting my back again. What better way to end an inane blog entry than with a blogthings quiz. How do they always know exactly who I am deep down?

You Are a Black and White Cookie

You're often conflicted in life, and you feel pulled in two opposite directions.
When you're good, you're sweet as sugar. And when you're bad, you're wicked!