Archive for December, 2008

Emotions, Emotions…

Just finished Zettai Kareshi (the “Absolute Boyfriend” drama).  For the record, I totally called the ending of the series way in the beginning.  Actually, I got pretty emotional near the end–maybe as emotional as I was the entire series of Densha Otoko (that says a lot).  Still, I kept getting frustrated because the whole thing could have been avoided if Riiko would have only used her brain a little bit in the beginning.  He’s a robot.  Duh!…  I feel so sorry for Soushi.  I’m surprised that he didn’t hit the road after he found out Night was a robot (that’d have been waaaaay too awkward for me– a robot?  seriously…).  And Soushi’s ex-girlfriend, ooooh, don’t even get me started on that–that reminds me.  I also just realized, since I’m starting Densha Otoko over but w/o subtitles, the girl who plays Soushi’s ex-girlfriend is one of Hermes’ friends that you see in the first episode of Densha Otoko.  And Hermes herself  is a friend who works with Yankumi in Gokusen.  And Yankumi, along with the head teacher from Gokusen, is in Trick.  Oh yeah, and then you know Night from Zettai Kareshi?  Well, he’s Hermes’ older brother in Densha Otoko.  Weird, eh?  It’s a small, dramatic world after all…Okay, I’m done now…The whole point of that was just to tell you that these J-dramas are really starting to take their toll on my emotional life.  

Okay, besides that, I’ve also told you recently that I’ve been a bit emotional lately because of letting go of French.  Well, Thursday  (two days from now) is my final.  Wish me luck.  And that reminds me.  When I was watching Zettai Kareshi, there’s a part where a French chef comes up and starts talking to them them.  But after a little bit, a voice over comes on to translate into Japanese.  Talk about messing with someone’s mind.  My brain didn’t know which way it was going.  Since I could understand the French and a lot of the Japanese, I honestly couldn’t tell which language was “happening” for like 10 seconds.  Weirdest sensation EVER.  In the past, the french/nihongo mixture has messed with me a bit, too.  I used to say stuff like 。。。Xがbesoin。。。

So, basically, that was a huge digression just so that I could tell you that this emotional state in which I’ve been in addition to end of semester madness has been messing with my motivation.  

Yeah, here’s the part where I start talking about stuff that relates to my faith (or religion, as some people like to call it).  If you’re not really a Christian or you don’t have that much knowledge about this stuff, you may just end up getting confused since this kind of deals with my motivation for studying Japanese.  

Here goes.  I was recently having a discussion with a mature Christian whom I trust and respect very, very much.  If this person ever reads this blog, I hope this person isn’t offended by what I am about to say.  We were talking about the upcoming winter break.  I have a few weeks off between semesters (I’m gonna Kanji it up, baby!), and this person has off for several weeks from work.  This person (let’s call this person “he”) said he was excited because would be able to get a lot done (around the house and with another great project which he is working on for our church).  I agreed with him and said that I was excited too because I would finally be able to get a lot done too (with Japanese)

This is where it got messy.  He said “Yeah, but that’s different…”  He went on to say that I have to be careful of those types of things because if they “take over your entire life” then they’re not of God.  After that, he shared a story about something similar, but that’s the gist of it.  

Whoa.  Time out.  I was really shaken by what he said.  After thinking about it for a while, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.

Here’s what I think.  I’m not just studying Japanese for peanuts and giggles and because I like learning languages (confession: I really do like learning language(s), though; I wish I could know like 500…).  I actually have prayed about learning acquiring Japanese for a (relatively) long time.  I still pray about it.  I’m almost positive that God wants me to learn Japanese at this point in time.  

However, in addition to looking to the future, I believe that the most important thing for any believer is to be faithful wherever the believer is right now.  Right now.  We live in the now.  We have to be faithful, right now.  Our lives and attitudes aren’t going to magically change sometime in the future when we get into that “one ministry.”  Want to hear a secret?  Everybody already has a ministry.  You’re ministry is being faithful where you are now.  I’m not saying this is where you’ll be for the rest of your life, but you’ve got to be faithful right here.  

The first part of being faithful right now is being faithful in your relationship with God.  This means meaningful prayer (at the very least) and, hopefully, reading your Bible everyday.  This also means that sin has got to go.  After all that, the second part of being faithful right here is dealing faithfully with the people around you.  

Anyways, where I’m going with all this is that I’ve been working hard on this “faithfulness where I am now” thing in addition to looking to the future for a while now.  I don’t want to say I’ve got it all down pat because there’s always room for improvement, but I’m finally at the p0int where I’m sort of consistent and making progress.    I believe a part of this faithfulness, for me, is learning Japanese.  However, this faithfulness, I guess, still implies things like church, family, and friends.  I’m working on that.  Though the jobs that I have in our church are small, I try to be as faithful as I can.  I spend a reasonable amount of time with family and friends.  

This person, when it comes right down to it,  seemed to have a problem with the fact that this Japanese project is cutting into the spending time with family and friends bit.  I have several things to say about that.  

First, I do spend a reasonable amount of time with them.  I eat meals with my family.  Now that the holidays are coming/here, I spend time with them for that stuff.  Sometimes I watch a movie with them (even in English!  Though I did get my little brother to watch the Death Note movies with me the other day…).  Still, the fact that I’m often secluded at my computer because I’m doing Japanese bothers them.  (BTW, about that. Some people have a problem with me being at my computer a lot.  For the record, people, I’m really not just surfing the web aimlessly.  I have a purpose and good reason in EVERYTHING I do on the Internet.  It’s not a mindless monster that’s stealing my life, it’s a tool.  Noobs…)

Secondly, are they giving this project (which I have prayed about) the same amount of respect as other projects that I have? How about college?  College is a great example because A) it concerns learning, just like the Japanese project, and B) it’s important because I have prayed about it and am confident that God wants me doing it (I even questioned the whole “going to college” bit before I made that decision because I thought God couldn’t use it and it was a waste of time and money–apparently, after a bit/a lot of prayer, I was wrong).  College is more than a full-time job (especially now, at the end of the semester).   They don’t question the hours and hours and hours and hours and hours I’ve spent doing school stuff instead of wasting time in front of the TV with them (though they actually do sometimes, and that bothers me too…).  They don’t question college because it’s a socially accepted institution and many other reasons.

Basically, don’t be hatin’ ‘cuz my project (language learning acquiring) takes a lot of time when it’s done well.  If the fact that it takes up a lot of time means it has “taken over my life” and is a sin, then things like college would, in fact, be a sin.  Work would be a sin.  Nope.  I can’t agree with that.  And anyways, since it’s language that I’m learning, I can use it to maintain these other important projects that I’m supposedly “neglecting” right now like my relationship with God.  I can (or will be able to) do things like read my bible and pray in Japanese…

Therefore, Back.  The.  Sesame.  Street.  Off.  

And I mean that in the most respectful way.

So, that ended up being really long.  And it felt kind of out of place.  I hope it didn’t sound hateful because it wasn’t meant to be.  I just had to share my feelings on the matter.  There I go with that feelings crap again, lol…Oh yeah, and don’t get the feeling that I’m one of those “God told me X, so it’s my way or the highway!” people.  I’m not.  I’m not asking for your blessing.  I’m not even asking for your agreement.  I’m just asking you not to judge me because of a decision I made when I took a step of faith.

Like I said, that was way too long, lol.  For real this time.  End of rant.

Hmm, let’s see…Other random updates…

Pretty exciting: I’ve just passed the 700 mark with Kanji.  Not as much progress as I’d like, but I’m still pretty happy.  I’ll get more (if not the rest) done over break.

 

700 Kanji!  RARRRRR...

700 Kanji! RARRRRR...

 My Japanese progress is pretty good I guess.  I’ve learned lots of random words, phrases, sounds, and other things, and I’m understanding more and more all the time.  I think once I finish all the series that I’m going through right now (j-dramas) I’m going to officially turn the English subtitles OFF.  Kinda scary, but it had to happen sooner or later.  This also means that I’m going to have to get some more Japanese movies and stuff on DVDs (that excludes ALL J-dramas on DVD since those are all, without question, 250$ or more).  My first planned movie is the Japanese dub of Matrix.  I’m pretty excited.  And since you’ve suffered till the end of this ridiculously long post, I’ll reward you with this awesome link: do it.

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Smelly Headphonesは?。。。

I’ve always had a slight fear of being “the smelly kid.”  I don’t think I’m a very vain person or anything, but I have always had this particular fear.  You know the type of person I’m talking about–they do exist, no matter how much we try to pretend that they don’t.

So, the result of this fear is a slight obsession.  I have to take a shower once a day (just like everybody else).  If I don’t get that one shower, I freak out a bit (though that’s pretty normal, too).  Similarly, I MUST wear deodorant.  If I don’t, the result is probably worse (mentally and physically) than my reaction to the no shower situation.  I end up having a nervous, paranoid, everybody-be-lookin-at-me-and-laughing-and-talking-behind-my-back-and-I-might-as-well-shoot-myself-now breakdown.  Still, this isn’t that bad.  Oh yeah, and we can’t forget the toothbrush; I used to have more of an obsession with this than I do now, but there are still fragments of it hanging around.  Though I brush them every morning, once in a while I’ll get a random urge to brush my teeth later on in the day.  If I’m traveling I like to carry my toothbrush (preferably in secret) with me wherever I go (sort of like a security blanket).  Whatev.

Anyways, the point is that my obsession isn’t INCREDIBLY bigger than most other people’s obsession with personal hygiene (the Japanese ofuro at night tradition, for example,  happens to be a nationwide obsession–not that big of a deal).  Still, with all this in mind, you can imagine my horror when I recently began to notice a certain smell following me wherever I go.  

I. FREAKED. OUT. 

I was seriously stressing people.  My first thought was my feet.  It had to be the feet.  I scrubbed those suckers like there was no tomorrow.  What other body part has such a notorious history of raunchy stench and foul odor?  Let’s not go there…

But that wasn’t it.  I was perplexed.  I was in a state of quandary (I just learned that word [in English] the other day when I was going through RTK–don’t you hate that?  makes me feel so baka…)  Then I thought it was the pits.  The armpits, to be precise.  

Nope.  Solved that problem months ago when I got deodorant/anti-perspirant with more Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex Gly.  

Then it had to be the hair.  Maybe my hair had just gotten smelly for some reason.  You never know.  A change in diet or something could have caused anything.  So I washed my hair like crazy and got a haircut (actually I got all of them cut).

Could it have been my jacket?  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Who has honestly washed their jacket more than twice?  Seriously people.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Close, but no cigar.  I just couldn’t figure it out.  Just as I was about to give up and go all emo on my stinky self, I realized something.  Since I started AJATT and created an “immersion environment” for myself in Japanese, I’ve been wearing my headphones wherever I go.  There are plenty of exceptions (believe me), but I still wear them A LOT.  I even wear them at night when I go to bed (these are the nice, cover-the-whole-ear, earmuff-like headphones that I mentioned in an earlier post).  They are starting to get smelly.

For a moment, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief; I’m so glad I’m not the smelly kid at school.  Then I was worried again.  How in the name of Densha Otoko do you clean headphones?    I am NOT gonna get water anywhere these $52.49 beasts.  Also, if I’m not smelly, how can they be smelly? (oh no, maybe I am smelly…)  Then I remembered something that my host family did while I was in Japan.  At night, they insisted on putting a small towel over the pillow that you sleep on when you’re on your futon.  I never found out why, but I’m guessing it has something to do with sweating at night (gross, I know).  Maybe the headphones are starting to smell from being with them like this 24/7?  I just don’t know.  

Anyway, just thought I’d share my thoughts on something that is in some weird way tangentially related to Japanese and this blog.

Okay, I feel really, really bad that I just spent this entire post talking about weird, personal hygiene things.  So, I thought I’d make this worthwhile with the picture below:

 

Sora, Kairi, Docomodake, and friends...

Sora, Kairi, Docomodake, and friends...

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RELAPSE

Oh no.  Here’s the deal.  I’ve been learning French for much longer than I’ve been learning Japanese (and through traditional, grammar methods in school, btw).  I’m giving it up for that I (may have?) stated in an earlier post.  It was going to be my major.  But I’ve taken Khatz’ advice to “stop sucking at one language and get good at one.”  In deciding, I chose Japanese for many reasons (if you’ve checked out my other blog, yeah, that’s why I’m studying Japanese; for that reason, French isn’t very practical…).  

Anyways, before I chose Japanese “officially” and discovered/started using Khatzumoto‘s advice for learning acquiring language, I debated using his “laddering” method to learn French to awesome fluency and then going on to Japanese from French.  But….I decided against it.  Partly because…well…I just don’t know why.  I guess it’s just impractical.  And I really do want to get “amazing” at Japanese.

So, as you may or may not know, it is, as of this post, nearing the end of first semester.  Since I made this decision after the start of this semester, I’m still enrolled in my college French class.  However, I’ve been loathing it and the grammar-based approach more and more since I started AJATTing.  Now that I’m nearing the end though, I’m starting to get emotional.  Though I would certainly not try to use the classroom methods to reach fluency in French, this kind of marks the end of my foray in the world of French.  Je suis triste.  I am sad.  You have no idea.  

My sadness about leaving the French language sounds lame, but I’m very serious.  Everytime I hear French somewhere on TV or elsewhere (my class doesn’t count though; I’m talking about anytime I hear native-spoken french because non-native French is, simply put, disgusting in many ways…) I get this…nostalgic feeling.  Though I certainly believe Japanese and Kanji are very, very beautiful, I think French is by far the most beautiful language I have studied/heard.  I can’t even describe it.  

Today I was watching a movie on TV with my Dad (I know, breech of AJATT etiquette, lol…), and there was a bit of French spoken by one of the characters.  Seriously, I almost broke down in tears.  I miss it so much already.  (I miss it loads more than I miss the English stuff that I’ve gotten rid of…)  I’m just itching to pop in the soundtrack to “Le Roi Soleil.”  Even as I’m writing this, wow, I feel sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo emotional and depressed.  OMGosh.  

I’m thinking, maybe I’ll ladder french sometime waaaaay in the future.  But…dang.  I just don’t want to say goodbye.  I love the language sooo much.  It’s so beautiful.  Like, don’t worry, I’m not going back on my decision to learn Japanese or anything.  This isn’t going to become iFrancais or something.  I’m just vocalizing my stress here, that’s all.  (sighs)  As far as learning this waaaay in the future, I hope this doesn’t turn into some random polyglot fantasy that never happens (you know what I’m talking about, lol, we all have them).  I often spend oodles of my precious minutes wikipediaing languages I’d like to learn.  Mandarin Chinese and other dialects, Ainu language, Korean, German, Slovenian, Old Norse, Old English/Anglo-Saxon, Hebrew, Greek, Farsi, Gaelic, Hungarian, and tons of others.  I know most of these will never happen though.  I’m just hoping that, some years down the road after I’ve attained awesome Japanese fluency and have used it for sometime and I finally have a bit more time and direction than I do now as a college student, I’m able to pick up/rediscover my long lost love: French.  

That was really lame, lol…

BTW, I did actually have a bit of a relapse.  The other day, I broke down and popped in my Yelle CD, listened to it, and then spent a few hours on youtube watching stuff about Yelle.  Yeah, that didn’t help this whole issue, lol…

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Still Chillin’ (but with Yankumi!)

BOOYAH!  fa;osdkjf;dlsjfhl3kewjnrf,.dzmnvx.,mcxn

asdfjlksadj;flkdsfjhawe.,fzncx.,mnvx\

asdfkewa,mnf.,zmcxnmvlak,ns,jghwaehjf.,.dznmvxc

askfjhweakjfsnhzx,.cmnvwa;ieshfdxzvc

ads;vflzxmcn.v,awmnkgsjfnbalsj

Okay, you see that?  Multiply that by 566, and you’ve got how excited I am.  Yeah, that’s right.  Oh, but why that number, you ask?

 

566 kanji

566 kanji

Because that’s how many Kanji I’ve finally been able to mark off on my kanji poster.  566 = number of Kanji in “the system” = I’m hyperventilating…

I’m pretty excited.  I’ve just harnessed a bit of motivation I’ve had recently and got a bunch of Kanji done.  I also have a new system that I use to add Kanji to my SRS which allows me to get more Kanji done per day.  

Also, I’ve embraced high failure rates in my SRS.  I’m not a baby about it anymore.  It only means that I’m reviewing the difficult ones more often and getting more practice.  This way I’m not cheating the SRS, only the Kanji which I’m honestly good at reach the last stage in my SRS, I feel better, and, just trust me, it’s better this way.  But don’t worry–I still have a great remembering rate for Kanji that have been in the system a while.  

I’ve also ditched the post-it notes.  It’s sad, I know.  But we all go through our phases.  I made the decision when I was looking over my handwriting in English.  It’s horrid, and it always has been.  Even if I wanted to change it now, it would be a long, drawn-out, difficult, and painstaking process since I’ve got those patterns ingrained into my mind.  It’s kind of depressing, and I wish could have a second chance at developing my handwriting nicely.  That’s when I realized that I do have a second chance.  I’m still at the point with Japanese where I’m learning to write.  I can change my handwriting and develop it for the better.  I no longer have to be envious of all the girls’ awesome girly handwriting.  Then I looked at the post-it notes, realized the unorganized, unruly environment that they promoted, and decided that they had to go.  I got myself some awesome .5 mechanical pencils and a graph paper notebook, and presto, my handwriting is already magically improving.  

 

Maybe I can tape the pages to the wall instead of post-its...

Maybe I can tape the pages to the wall instead of post-its...

Oh yeah, and the little extra-dark spots are the places where I screwed up…  You know what else sucks?  The first page, after I filled in like 8 lines of Kanji, started to tear out of the notebook.  And now it’s completely gone.  Snaps.  Now I had to start a new page.  Grrrr…

Finally, I have at last fully recuperated from my Densha Otoko phase and moved onto Gokusen.  It’s pretty awesome.  I LOVE the main character, yankumi.  I guess she’s in like 500 other TV dramas in Japan, too, including Trick.  I’ll have to check that out… I’m kind of worried actually.  Since I’ve started J-dramas, I’ve sort of given up Anime (in fact, I’m neglecting Bleach–the favoritest bestest anime ever…).  I hope I can go back if I ever feel like it.  Oh well, maybe I’ve just evolved into  a completely different yet awesome Pokemon.  Who knows?…

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