Quick Goings-On Update

Quick life update, then it's off to bed.

-Oy vey! It's been over two months since I got here. Craziness. I'm so glad I'll be here for a whole year, and not just a semester.

-I'm having fun writing up a paper on why Japanese people save their money.  I'll toss it on here when it's done. The quick take-away is that it has less to do with being responsible, and more to do with a carefully engineered, borderline-fascist government-industry relationship designed to subjugate individual welfare to national Economic interest. I love my econ teacher.

-I'll be doing my first English conversation class at Six Apart tomorrow during lunch. No idea what we'll be doing; hopefully someone brings something they want to read or watch. If not, I guess I'll print out some random articles for us to work on.

-Went to my second house party on Saturday; lots of fun. It was hosted by some guys that were born in America, but are doing four full years at Waseda, putting them in the small-ish subset of people that both speak really good Japanese, and also get western jokes, cultural references, etc. Also, one of their now-emptied bedrooms worked great as an impromptu swing/blues dance floor. I'm in talks with the single guy in all of Tokyo that blues dances about trying to get a night going with kids from my school.

-My current laptop is a giant thing I got dead from my work, put a little time and money into, and have been very happy with thus far as a big, pretty computer that sits on my desk. I think it's time for a more portable machine in my life, though, and I've got my eye on a netbook- the most-used name for a new class of sub-3-pound, $300-$500, 9-10" laptops that have been hitting the market in the last few months. They're called "netbooks" because they don't have the power to do much more than use an office suite and a web browser, but realistically, few people need much more than that in a portable.  I'll keep the big one at home for photo editing.

-I'm always working on balancing my social life between exchange students and Japanese kids. I love all the ryuugakusei (留学生=studying-abroad student), but it's easy to get sucked into a place where you go out with nobody but westerners and speak nothing but English. I've been consciously trying to go at least 50/50- at least one outing with Japanese people for every one with English-speakers.

-Funny anecdote of the week: I'm walking out of the building after class, when two girls from a film school in Tokyo ask me to help them with a project. I guess they wanted Westerners to pronounce various English words (Can't really recall them; they were international-related but pretty forgettable), and were then planning on juxtaposing the audio with some sort of artsy film. Beats me. Point is, when they first asked me to do it, one says, in broken English,

"Do you speak Japanese?"

Of course, I tell her, as I'd tell any Japanese person asking me,

「日本語喋れない」, "No, I speak no Japanese."

They seemed to get the joke, I did their little interview,  and then asked them about their project- what sort of people were they using, what was the message they were trying to send, etc. I was doing this all in Japanese, but I guess I didn't notice that one of the girls was only answering in English. At one point she was trying to explain something, stuttered, cut into Japanese, and then when I answered here, she says, "You can speak Japanese?" 

Of course, the only response I had to that was:


"I've been speaking Japanese this whole time, you silly girl!"

I guess she didn't get that it would be pretty hard for me to speak it without being able to understand it. I couldn't really fault her for the brain disconnect- I've done similarly spacey things- but we all had a pretty good laugh.