In Grade One, when a child gets taught to read, they become a walking-talking-reading machine. Or at least some do – I’m sure I did. Advertisement, signs, posters, brochures, billboards – all these things become objects of intense fascination and scrutiny. Lines and squiggles become letters, and letters – which can be slowly sounded out – become words; words, when repeated once or twice, make sense! The process is slow and painful; each letter to each word to a whole sentence, but it elicits a big smile and perhaps a laugh when the phrase finally provides some information that is understandable. I have taken a trip back in time to the Grade One Era. My studying is paying off and I can remember the majority of the 52 characters in the Katakana & Hiragana alphabets. I can distinguish them from Kanji (which I can’t read), and know enough to go through the slow and painful process of trying to read the characters in front me. Often, it doesn’t make sense, but just the ability to sound out the letters and pronounce an unknown word is considered a victory. When the word is part of the vocabulary I do know, not only is it a victory, but one worth celebrating! Today I read ‘Hair Salon’ (which isn’t spelled like that, but sounded close enough that I knew what it was) on the way to work, and it put a smile on my face for the entirety of the next train ride. It’s encouraging to know I am beginning to be able to read, because my ability to understand Japanese conversation is still hiding around the corner, waiting for me to learn more vocabulary. I plan to reach the corner as soon as possible.
I had my second Japanese lesson today – it consisted of money, numbers, and basic grammer. I already knew most of it, but hadn’t memorized all of it and it was a good review. I also have a friend in my Japanese Sensei who said I could ask her if I need help with anything. I did ask her if one day she would teach me how to cook a Japanese meal – and she said she would, sometime before I go. I also found out that I have to keep practicing my Japanese introduction, as I will be introducing myself on February 5th in front of all the researchers in my building/area – about 50 people! Scary.
I saw an advertisement on a train (several days ago) for the ‘Super Dream Circus’. The only thing I could read on the poster was the web address (most web addresses are in English letters). I asked my boss to take a look at it and tell me when and where it was, because I’d like to go! I got the information and put out an email to see if any other coops want to join me. Even if they don’t, I’m still going to go. I was thinking about my situation today, and I decided that even if other people don’t want to do things, or specific things, I’m going to do them anyways. I’m sure that for the most part, there will be other coops in the area available that want to do some sightseeing and tourist and cultural things, but even if they don’t, I’m going to! I also thought, though – what I wouldn’t give to have a friend here with me! I’ll make new friends, sure, but I would love to have a close friend here to do things with. I would also love to have a close girlfriend here! I love my guy friends, but it’s different to have a girlfriend around, too. I think there are two other girl coops in Japan right now. I’m sure I’ll meet them and get to know them, but as I’m getting used to, most of my company will be guys. Please understand that I’m not complaining, and I hope none of my guy friends are offended, but sometimes a girlfriend is an essential. Back to the circus – it sounds like some people are interested, and we may end up going this weekend! I also have to do some shopping this weekend: attachable spikes for my hiking shoes and some good gloves. I also have been wanting to buy an iPod, but I want to wait until I know my bank account and paycheques are sorted out and coming. An iPod would be nice to have on the long train rides, and to listen to my Japanese CDs with! And on that note – once again, it’s late (I wish it didn’t keep going that – getting late, I mean! :-P )… G’nite.