Friday, January 20, 2006

OK...LONG TIME!!! I KNOW!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!






I know it has been a while and I apologize! Life has been insanely busy. Right now I am trying to decide whether or not to contract for another year! Any thoughts you have would be welcome. I am adding pics from Korea (I went to visit my friend R. there over Christmas) as well as pics from New Years....yes I got to wear a real kimono! :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sayings and funny tales




This part of my blog will be dedicated to sayings and funny tales I come across! Though my facebook profile will contain many of these, I plan to continue updating this list instead of that one! Enjoy!

Alexa: Kore wa kasa desu ka, INNIT????
Z: Oh my Gosh, she not only manages to slaughter the Japanese language, but also British English all in one go!

Alexa: Niku....Cat.... Niku!
Z: NEKO!!! Cat is Neko...Niku is meat!!!
Alexa: Well, I was close... a cat is made of meat...I am sure somewhere in the world they eat cat
Z: Well, I am on a cat free diet. They are really fattening!
Alexa: Well, I saw it in my head N-E-K-O...but it read NeeKoo....I still saw cat!!!!
Z: Oh, so you see dead cats?!?!

Teacher:"Are you from the Indies?"
Alexa: "No, I am from America. Z's family is from India."
(Teacher translation: Are you from the Andes (Mnts.) commenting on the poncho I was wearing.)


*********ENGRISH SECTION**************

GO!! GO!! SUMMER!!! -A Japanese Car Sale sign...you have to love Engrish

"Last of Time Sale"- A sales sign in a Japanese clothing store

(T-shirt Engrish) " I'm Clean" (what does that mean????? lol...scared to ask) "Panama Winner" (....mmm...ok)

(English Phrase book Engrish) "I believe in liberal upbringing" and "I am in the pink of health"

(T-shirt in which two children are sitting on a front porch holding leaves) Come and experience the magic leaf. It will set you free! I will be a pink cat and you can be a blue bear and we will experience nature together.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005




Dizney




Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hanging with the Mouse







Disney was amazing!!! Our journey started about a month back when I convinced Z to get intouch with his inner child. I was quite taken aback when he said his mother had even been to disney (Euro disney) but he had never gone. I then convinced him for his bday that we should go since it was one of my goals upon coming to Japan to do....Strange, huh??? Most people come to Japan to visit Tokyo, get random anime stuff, or see historical sites, and I come to go to the Disney ( I remember seeing opened on TV at the age of 7 or 8). Anyway, back to the story. so the faithful day arrives (with me incharge of all the tix and Z incharge of getting us there). Well, I was bursting to get through with school to head out. As the day drew to a close and I was about to leave. I was cornered by a lady who had wanted to meet me. Not being rude I talked to her all the while eyeing the clock as the minutes ticked away. My bus arrives to take me home at 3:52, the time when she got done talking??? 3:49. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but my bus stop was down the street and I had my indoor shoes on!!! I hurried to my locker to switch shoes and ran out the door. I didnt even take time to tie them. I managed to make it to the bus stop and had just enough time to tie my shoes since the bus was running 2 min. late. I hopped on my bus thinking that this was my close call for the day, but I was wrong. My sigh of relief got caught in my throat as we stopped at Route 8 (the road that takes me back into my part of town). Traffic was backed up and we were going no where. They had decided to do road construction...we sat there for over 15 min. Once again this seems minute, but our train departs at 4:42...I usually get home
(without construction ) at 4:17 which gives me just enough time to get home grab my stuff and sprint to the train station. Now the train was late!!!! Alas, the first thought I had was of my body being hung off of Z's third floor balcony..."ok...ok... dont panic....I will just call Z to pick me up...no that wont work...we will just get stuck in the traffic on the way back....I could try to walk, but that would take me about an hour to get home....AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" I sat there highly agitated and panicy. Finally we began to move. The lil bus driver stepped on it to make up time, but I was still late getting home. I grabbed my stuff and ran. I made it to the train station where Z was waiting right at 4:42. Luckly, the train was running 2 min. Anyway, we caught our first of 3 trains, and ambled our way to Tokyo (3 hrs. away!!) We arrive and find our little hostel like hotel (the New Kayo hotel) which is really nice if you just need a bed. It was about 27 bucks a night and was perfect for our purposes. We then waited for Tomu who was running late. So after he called we went to Shinjuku and got some dinner at the Raj Mahal. The curry was fabulous (more than we could eat) , the Mango Lassie was supurb and the --- Ghunai (can"t remember the name) that we had for dessert was heavenly. We managed to waddle back to our hotel before going to bed and getting ready for the big day the next morning.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Yeah...Soba




This past weekend, was the Soba adventure. It started last week when Z told me about this place that was going to teach people how to make soba. "Do you want to go and make Soba??? Igarakashi* sensei told me about it and wanted to know if we could take Tam (homestay student at Igarakashi sensei's house)." My response was a resounding OF COURSE!!! Why wouldnt I want to go and learn how to make one of my favorite Japanese dishes from scratch? Entreperial dreams entered into my head. I would start small, with a resturant in Midtown before being discovered for having the best Soba in Atlanta. From there, my fame of making authentic fresh soba would spread and I would soon be making apperances on Good Morning America, Regis and Kelly and Oprah. I would have my face plastered on the sides of "soba to go" packets and small soy sause bottles. The morning of my great advernture finally came...Saturday. We went and picked up Tam and headed off. Of course we had no clue where the little farm was. We drove and drove and drove and drove somemore. We made a couple of wrong turns and had to stop and ask for directions. The place was out in the boonies....think Iowa with rice fields. We got there and began the art of soba making. For those who are unfamiliar with this wonderful Japanese food...soba is basically buckwheat noodles. They can be eaten hot (usually in a soup) or (as I like them) cold with a dipping sauce. The first step is to wash your hands. Second place with the flour. Your supposed to be sifting it, but to me it is just playing with white powder. You then make a mountain and for a crator in it. You get to create your very own Mt Fuji. After that pour water in the crater and slowly mix it together to make dough. I was extremely ept at this point. Thanks to my Southern heritage, I had been well trained for such a process through the art of bisciut making. No worries here. I guess some food preparation processes are international ;) Anyway, after the dough was made, it was time to enter phase 2...the rolling. Once again, my culinary skills were well used...I am known for my pies....the rolling of the soba dough was just like rolling pie crust. I was totally into my rolling. Roll and rotate....roll and flip...add a little flour, etc. After rolling we folded 3 times for phase 3....Cutting the noodles. OK...problems hit. I forgot a pony tail holder. I couldnt see how thick I was cutting the noodles!!! AHHHHH!!! So basically my noodles ended up thick...opps....we ended up calling my soba American Soba...Everything in America is big and so are my noodles!!! They then took out handy work and prepared a feast for us to eat. It was wonderful...soba, tempura, tea, and company. There was about 10 of us...4 of us made soba (Tam, Z, a German homestay student named Max and me) . The rest of the people were there to help put on the event for us. It was awesome!!! Total yumminess. The other great part was that I got to play with a 2 year old who was a total mess!!1 She kept taking all the chocolate and was just as cute as punch!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Spelling Errors

This is a post of the emergancy grammer system. We are here to warn you that spelling and grammer mistakes will be present in the following blog. Had this been a true Grammer emergancy, the following message would have been followed by a corrected edition of each blog!!!

Home Sweet Home



I live in an area of Itoigawa called Yokomachi. I am extremely lucky that I live where I do since I am centrally located. Yes, I maybe able to get a nicer apartment with 5x more room in March (if I decide to stay another year), but I am not sure if I really want to move all the junk out of this one and if I want to give up my privacy and "centrally locatedness". I am one of 3 people in this apartment building. Z lives directly above me and Hume san, a teacher at Ito chu (my school on Mon and Thur) lives down the hall on the first floor. Since there are only 3 of us, we can be noisy and leave excess trash in the hall (garbage sorting is a later blog edition). I can also tap in the halls, not worry about teachers snooping around my garbage or paying attention to when I/someone else leaves or comes in and just have plain privacy. Yet, if I stay another year, I maybe the only occupied apartment in this complex of twenty which totally freaks me out. Me--a lil gaijin female--all alone. I keep imagining the Grudge or Fatal Attraction or something which could easily classify as horror. (JT...I totally asked if someone was murdered in my apartment...URRRRRRRRRR(my goat-like sound...lol). My apartment is quite tiny and akin to living in a cardboard stucco box. I have tatami floors and sleep on futons which I have to put away everyday or else the tatami floor will get moldy (along with the futons). I also get to play "Little House on the Praire" and beat my futons weekly. My apartment measures out to be about 16m (I think that is what I wrote for the census). I have a tiny kitchen with 2 gas eyes for a stove and a massive fridge (for Japan). My freezer has to be defroasted once a month (it isnt frost free). I also have a water heater which I have to turn on to get hot water in my bathroom or kitchen. My kitchen is also stainless steal which is impossible to keep clean especially with the lovely hard water we have here. My bathroom is quite small with a tub that you have to be a Rocket to get into. Luckly, mom brought me a shower curtain even though the floor has a drain in it. Traditionally, you wash yourself outside the tub and then get in and soak...but I am not doing the sento thing at home!!! I have a small laundry room with an old washer (it has just one setting). I am not sure how the thing gets clothes clean but, oh well, beggers cant be choosers. I then get to hang my clothes up outside on my balcony to dry. Everything is done on the floor. I have a small heated table to eat at (on the floor) and three floor chairs. I also have two large closets to store everything I own including my futons. I also have one nice large window that will allow the 4 am sun to shine brightly through unless I have the curtains drawn. Ok....well....I guess that is the apartment LD. Questions, comments and anything else are welcome!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

OHHH YEAH!!!! WHY YUMIKO???


OK...I know you will be curious as to the name YUMIKO and how I came up with it. I was at a local pub. The owner Nojoro* is basically the Godfather of the ALTs. He has seen 18 years worth of us and we all go to pay our respects. He calls himself Mr. Kindness and has to have yukuza connections. Well, anyway, I was there with Z and we were talking to different people. One guy, who was a tad bit inebriated, decided to give us gaijin, Japanese names...the chosen name for me was Yumiko...Z's was Takashi. So you will be hearing about the adventures of Yumiko and Takashi!!!

*name changed to protect the guilty ;)


I am not sure where to begin since I have started this so late in the game. I am excited though to finally be able to share my pics with everyone. I guess I will start by telling you about where I live. I live in what is considered a rural village in Niigata, Japan. Niigata is the prefecture (akin to a state backhome). I live in Itoigawa city. Itoigawa is a cute little town with an old time town feel. Imagine living in the 50s or in a Leave it to Beaver episode. I have mountains as well as the Sea of Japan surrounding me. Sunsets are absolutely beautiful! I have no McDonalds, Starbucks or Baskin Robbins near me, which makes heading to the city a real treat. Before you start to shed a tear for me, do realize that I am not destitute!! We do have some amazing resturants and cute stores which constantly keep me entertained.
OK.....Things I have done while I have been here (a limited list...if you have questions ask!) ......
-Seen Tyke Sumo
-Become Vegitarian
-Danced in a festival wearing a yukata
-Used a Japanese squat toilet wearing a yukata (that takes total talent ya'll!!!)
-Eaten Natto
-Gone Wake Boarding in the Sea of Japan
-Gotten lost in Matsumoto
-Ran in Sports day
-Made Soba
-Dined at a Japanese persons home
-Been to an oyster bake
-Gotten on the wrong bus and gotten lost in rice paddies
-Traveled
-Been asked my "size" by a student (totally embarassing)!!!
-Washed my trash and have gotten my MS in Trash sorting

Places I have been:
-Tokyo
-Kyoto
-Joetsu
-Toyama
-Ota
-Matsumoto
-Takoaka
-Nagano
-Niigata- shi
-Kanazawa
I guess from here on out I will just keep you posted as things happen!!!