I Think I’m Learning Japanese

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

I think I’m learning Japanese, I really think so.*

Just kidding.  I thought I was learning Japanese, but this weekend provided me a harsh reality check.

It only took me eight months of living in Japan to crack open my Rosetta Stone.  And it will probably take me double that time to actually comprehend anything I’m supposed to be learning.  I’m not going to try and explain here Rosetta Stone’s method.  Because I can’t.  I have absolutely no clue what or how it it is trying to teach me.  All I know is when I turn on my laptop, strange-sounding words emanate from my speakers, slides of very Anglo-looking people appear (this is the Japanese version, right?  Oh, wait!  They’re holding chopsticks!  Yup, we’re good to go!), and I’m supposed to click or type or chant or something.  It’s all very confusing.

Nevertheless, after completing several lessons (and repeating them) over the past couple months, I felt confident that I had learned something.  I’ve known the basic phrases for a while: Hello (konnichiwa), goodbye (sayonara), thank you (arigato gozaimasu), excuse me (sumimasen), and I’m sorry (gomen nasai)**.  I’ve gotten by with these phrases just fine, but I was ready to move on.  As it turns out, my parents were visiting and we were spending a few days in Tokyo.  My dad doesn’t believe in public transportation, so as we were hailing a cab I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to exercise my new language skills.

“Konnichiwa!” I exclaimed as I climbed into a cab.  And then I froze.  What do I say next?  WHAT DO I SAY!?  All of a sudden I realized that while knowing how to say things like, “The girl eats/is eating rice,” makes me sound really smart to anyone who knows less Japanese than I do, it holds zero practicality.  Zero.  What I really need to know how to say is, “We’d like to go to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, please.”  Why doesn’t Rosetta Stone teach me that?

Humbled and ashamed, I fumbled through my guidebook and pointed to our destination on a map.  As we were stopped at a light, the cab driver pointed out the window and said, “Tokyo Station.”  I panicked.  Did he intend for us to get out here and walk?  Were we close to our stop?

“Um… Um…. Get out?” I asked, and motioned getting out of the cab.  The driver looked at me confusedly.  A light-bulb went off in my head.  I knew the word for “walk”!  So I said what I thought was “walk?” but turns out was probably not “walk”, because the driver looked even more confused.  So I began pantomiming getting out of the cab and walking.  And then the driver looked less confused and more concerned, like maybe I was having a seizure or maybe I was on drugs.  So I decided to stop talking and stop pantomiming and sit in silence.  Turns out the driver was just pointing out Tokyo Station for the hell of it.  I cursed Rosetta Stone (in my head) for failing to teach me the proper word for “walk” or anything else remotely useful.***

Upon reflection of this most unfortunate cab ride, I remembered that it took me two years of study plus seven months of living in Italy to become proficient in Italian.  And Italian is infinitely less perplexing than Japanese.  Except, I suppose, for Japanese people.  But really, “thank you” in Japanese is eight syllables.  Eight!  And I’m supposed to form full sentences?  And that’s just speaking.  Let’s not even talk about reading and writing.  Sheesh.

Anyway.  Maybe it’s not the end of the world if after a few computer-based lessons I’m not yet fluent in Japanese.  I’m going to keep plugging away at this language-learning thing.  And who knows?  Maybe one day I will need to say, “The girl eats/is eating rice.”  I can only hope.

*If you didn’t read the blog title and this first line to the tune of the song, “I think I’m turning Japanese,” shame on you.  Begin again.

**Sumimasen and gomen nasai are particularly important; their extended meanings are, “Excuse me/I’m sorry, but I’m a dumb American and though I’m trying my darndest to assimilate to your culture I have no idea what I’m doing.” I find myself using those two phrases a lot.

***It is entirely possible that everything I think I’ve learned is wrong.  As I mentioned, Rosetta Stone’s method doesn’t exactly explain what you’re learning.  For example, I thought I was learning the plural when I was actually learning the negative.  The only reason I found this out is because I asked for clarification from someone.  Can you imagine if I had gone around Japan thinking I was talking about people or things in the plural but it was actually the negative?  OMG how embarrassing!

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When Staying At Home Sucks

Posted on Feb 13, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

I am so, so grateful that I can stay at home with Elisabeth.  I know I am very blessed to have that as an option, and I try not to take that for granted.  And I love, love, love my daughter more than anything.  She is smart and funny and sweet and entertaining and our time together is priceless. I just needed to put that all out should Elisabeth ever find this blog post and think I think otherwise. Because some days being a stay-at-home mom sucks. I have no desire to get in the working mom v. stay-at-home mom debate.  Who cares?  For those of us fortunate to have the choice, if working fulfills you, that probably means you’ll be a happy, healthy role model for your children, and so that’s probably what is best for your family.  If staying at home fulfills you, that probably means you’ll be a happy, healthy role model for your children, and so that’s probably what is best for your family.  But I’m willing to bet there are some days when working moms think, “Aghhhhh I hate my job and just want to be at home with my kids!”  Because I know for a fact that there are some days when stay-at-home moms think, “Aghhhhh I need to get out of my house and away from my kid(s)!” Um, maybe I shouldn’t speak for all stay-at-home moms.  But if I’m the only one that feels that way sometimes, I’m going to be pretty embarrassed about admitting it on the blogosphere.  But seriously, some days are tedious and tiresome and just plain boring.  There, I said it. Anyway.  Those days are rare.  Very rare.  I just happened to have one yesterday.  And now I need to blog about it because I feel partly guilty about harboring such feelings and partly in need of a good vent. I went to bed Monday night with a raging headache.  I woke up on Tuesday morning – in the 5:00 hour – with a raging headache.  Knowing before 6:00AM that your day is probably going to suck,...

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The Only Workout Song You Will Ever Need

Posted on Feb 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s February.  Which means your resolve to uphold your New Year’s Resolution is probably waning.  Actually it’s mid-February, so that resolve is probably completely gone. If your resolution happened to involve working out a) please stop crowding my gym classes every January and b) it’s your lucky day, because I am here to re-motivate you! A good playlist can do miracles for your workout.  Perhaps you’ve read about the motivational power of music or seen articles highlighting the best songs for getting your exercise on.  Last November, my friend Sarah posted her list of top 10 workout songs.  While I’m sure this list is excellent, I am not actually familiar with much of the music listed because at the time Sarah posted it, I was listening exclusively to the N Sync Christmas Pandora station.  But it got me thinking: What would my perfect playlist be? Oh, poor, poor me.  I already knew the answer – I’ve known it for years!  It’s just that since Elisabeth came along my running routine has been inconsistent at best, so I had forgotten. For shame!  I’d probably be running monthly marathons by now had I remembered!  But I must not dwell on what could have been.  Instead, right here, right now, I’m going to share a secret with you. Brace yourself.  This is going to revolutionize your workout. You don’t need an entire playlist to get you through a workout, you need only one song.  What song, Diana?  What song?! The only song you will ever need ever again* is: Celine Dion’s, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”. *Crickets* Okay, you’re confused, I get it.  Celine Dion? For my workout?  Just trust me.  Go get your iPod or smartphone or whatever it is you listen to your music on these days and give Ms. Dion a listen. But I don’t have Celine Dion in my music library.  She’s lame.  LIAR!  Falling into You was a magical album.  I know you secretly love it.  This is now the second time I have declared my love for Celine on this blog, and if I...

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It’s All About Poop: That and Other Lessons I Learned My First Year (and Two Months) of Motherhood

Posted on Feb 2, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

My baby is fourteen months.  That means I’m two months late publishing this post.  So without further ado, the most important lessons I learned during my first year (plus  two months) of motherhood, not ranked in order of importance.  Feel free to pass this along to expecting or new parents – this info right here is priceless.  1) Your conversations will mainly revolve around poop.  Deal with it.  While in Hawaii, my dad asked me what I had found most surprising about being a parent.  My response?  “How much I talk about poop.”  It’s gross, but it’s true.  When I was pregnant, I went out for coffee with a few other moms and the entire conversation was dominated by talk of poop and nursing.  How cliché!  I vowed I was not going to be one of those moms that could only converse about a baby’s bodily functions and breastfeeding.  Then I had the baby, and realized that all moms are those moms.  It is unavoidable.  Because that is what your life primarily revolves around, at least for the first six months or so.  Hubby comes home from work:  “Hey hon, the baby had four massive poops today!” Go to play group: “Hey ladies, how do you handled your child’s constipation?”  To the flight attendant on your cross-country flight: “I’m sorry, but I have to ignore the fasten seat-belt sign.  My daughter just pooped up her back.”  The babes poop.  All.  The.  Time.  And since a baby’s bowel movement is a major indicator of his or her health, it’s kind of important to pay attention to.  So no matter how uncomfortable you are talking the potty talk, get over it. 2) Celebrities aren’t lying when they say they lost their baby weight by breastfeeding.  I always assumed when I saw someone like Heidi Klum modeling lingerie like, three weeks after giving birth, and then credited her weight loss to breastfeeding that she was a) lying through her perfect white teeth to seem more relatable or something and b) had a personal trainer and chef to whip her back into shape mucho fast.  BUT SHE’ WASN’T...

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What Would Martha Do: The Birthday Blowout

Posted on Jan 24, 2013 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

What Would Martha Do: The Birthday Blowout 3

Elisabeth and I recently attended one of her little buddy’s first birthday party.  It was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed and it was so freaking cute.  I have got to give this mom props.  She is moving in a matter of weeks.  She has no furniture but “stick furniture” – the stuff the base loans you once they have packed up and shipped out all your real stuff.  Besides being sans furniture (and most major kitchen appliances, I would assume), she was and is undoubtedly dealing with the major stress of organizing and executing an overseas military move.  Yet she pulled off a seriously awesome first birthday party for her little guy. Colorful lanterns hung from the ceiling to look like the little caterpillar!  The food served was all the food the very hungry caterpillar ate – strawberries, oranges, sausage, cheese, cupcakes!  I mean come on!  So cute!  So creative!  Even birthday boy Jonas had an adorable little onesie that corresponded with the theme.  I was admiring her handiwork when I realized, We are crazy.  The whole lot of us.* This mom is probably one of those women who pulls together cute and creative theme parties effortlessly.  I’ve seen some of her baking creations, so I assume she is talented in these sorts of things.  But while coordinating a move?  And without a Kitchenaid?  My goodness!  That is love for child right there. If it were me, and I were moving, I would also have thrown Elisabeth as rockin’ a party as possible.  Even though she wouldn’t remember it.  Even though it would probably cause me unhealthy levels of stress.  As it was, Elisabeth’s party fell just days after Damon returned home from deployment and on a holiday weekend.  What was that about unhealthy levels of stress?  Yet I’d be damned if she didn’t get a memorable first birthday party.  (Um, a second first birthday party.  She also had a party when we were visiting the states.  She is so the first child.)  I blame – as I often do on this blog – Pinterest.  Because Pinterest has placed...

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Cookie Hell. Or, That Time Girl Scouts Turned Me Into a Dealer

Posted on Jan 18, 2013 in Adulthood Stole My Cool

I do not do drugs.  I do not condone drugs.  I never experimented with drugs.  But maybe if I had, I’d be better prepared for dealing with Girl Scouts now.  Stay with me. While I don’t believe in doing drugs, I do believe in volunteering.  Last year I wrote about volunteering with Girls on the Run, a wonderful organization dedicated to making health and fitness fun for young girls.  While we don’t have GOTR on NAF Atsugi, we do have Girl Scouts, another organization committed to building girls of strong character.  Or something like that. As you may be interested to learn, I was once a Girl Scout.*  So when I learned that the Atsugi Girl Scouts were looking for volunteers, I thought, Why not?  I figured it would be a great way to get more involved more in our community and give back a little of my time to an organization that had given so much to me.** I was wrong.  Very, very wrong. Due to my schedule, I was unable to volunteer as a leader.  Instead I was asked to take on the role of Cookie Manager.  (Co-Cookie Manager is more accurate.  I have a saint of a partner, Kat, who is way more on top of this thing than I am, bless her soul.)  It wasn’t really what I had in mind, and truth be told, I didn’t really know what the job entailed.  Again I thought, Why not?  If that’s what they needed me to do, by all means I would manage me some cookies. What I failed to take into account is that people go bat-$&!% crazy for girl scout cookies.  Straight up psycho.  People want their cookies, and they want them now.  Let’s be real for a second – they aren’t even that good.***  But it’s as if we as Americans have some weird, nostalgic connection to these cookies that compel us to buy, buy, buy and sell, sell, sell.  And the fact that they are only offered -gasp!- once a year in -gasp again!- limited quantities strikes an urgency in us to get...

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