Tuesday, December 15, 2009

catching up on photos...

a shot of the island with previously mentioned hawk flying above.  they really are everywhere.  (photo by benjamyn rivers)

another shot of the island on a grey-er day.  not every day in paradise is sunny...just most of them.

a sunset shot down by one of the harbors.

yes, i have been fishing and yes i am learning how to gut and deal with the aftermath once it is off the hook.  not pretty but i guess this is how it's done.  sucking it up as sho would say...(and yes this is the extent of my kitchen.  huge, i know.

it might sound kind of morbid, but i have been hanging out in cemeteries a lot since i have been in japan.  what can i say, there are just a lot of them everywhere.  they aren't really cemeteries though, they are just shrines to the dead here by which all kinds of things are placed.  flowers like most of us are familiar with but a fanta soda or asahi beer are not uncommon either.  i guess it is whatever the dead's taste was.  anyhow, this is a shot from one of my favorite shrine spots here during the last full moon.  it was really breathtaking how the reflection was playing on the marble up there.

and here are the christmas lights!  they really are quite impressive for a tiny island like this one where everyone will work on christmas day, few if any gifts will be exchanged on that day and the kids all laugh when you say santa claus.  i guess they really think that american kids are suckers for believing in him.  i like their moxie! 

this is the main street in naru.  you can see this was rush hour as there was a car flying past as i took this photo.
oh!  and there is the only traffic light on the island again.  wow, how unusual, it's green...!

hope you all enjoy the little catch-up.  i will be more diligent.  love and hugs, beth

Thursday, December 10, 2009

one with the birds.

"like so many robins, like so many hawks, like so many lovebirds, like so many stalks.  a little swallow will tell you, without using heart wrentching, misleading words.  when we are inhuman, we are one with the birds."

there isnt a whole lot else that i wanted to post today other than i am thinking about everyone that i miss and love back home these days...a lot.  i think i owe it to the time of year and how different it feels to be in another place but not be sharing the space that feels full of holiday cheer, overeating for no good reason and presents galore.  none of that will be happening here and im not entirely sad about it, but still there is that something.  i cant put my finger on it at this moment, but know that if i have cared to keep up with you at all since i have been here, i am and have been thinking about you in the last few weeks and will keep thinking about you and missing you for the next month or so. 

have i bothered to mention the hawks on this island?  never in my life have i seen so many birds overhead or gotten to know them as intimately as i do these birds now.  their japanese name calls them black something-or-others, but they are brown hawks and they dominate the sky here.  walking down by the harbor last week i stopped to count them quickly (just the ones that were in the harbor area mind you) and i quickly was at 25 before i could take another breath.  their shrill little screams are becoming something that i look forward to hearing their calls with great anticipation on my walks to school as they do a great job of blending into the buildings that they perch on when the sky is grey and with their little screetches i can find them easily.  its almost as if they are announcing themselves and letting the other birds and me know that "this is my spot, dont even think about coming over here".  i have watched families of hawks teaching their young to fly, hunt and swirl through the skies.  i have watched them dip, dive and soar through the naru skies and spent long thoughtful moments watching them brace themselves and lean into the wind with focus and strength.  it is truly amazing to get as close to these creatures as you can here.  one day when i am far from here and i hear the cry of a hawk, i will be transported back to this place and this time.  their presence here is adding to the richness of this experience and i feel so priviledged to be observing their lives.  i am convinced it is my karmic return for all of the people who are observing my life here. 

happy days everyone.  lots of love to each of you. 
mata ai masho

Monday, December 7, 2009

holy hole in the doughnut batman!

 (im really all over the place today...just a warning.)

i just had something occur to me that i hadnt given much thought to until right now; my older sister is really going to be old this year.  sorry ab, but thirty all of a sudden just feels really old and really close.  thirty is like a landmark and i am not that much behind her, which is why it is always hard for me to watch her have a big birthday; because i know that my day to be there is not that far behind.

so thinking about this and knowing how fast life moves i once again began reflecting on some things about being here and about life in general.  its more and more important all the time to enjoy what is in front of you each day and to take it for what it is.  i have been reading some of the meditations of the dalai lama at work and am really beginning to be able to take myself out of places of pain, hurt or fear and replace them with light, love and hope.  the mind is an amazing thing if we care to take the time to harness the power that it possesses.  i like the challenge of being able to do this on a pretty regular basis as it is easy to get freaked out here about everything that is going on, but it is also becoming relatively easy to control that anxiety and to turn it into wonder and education.  the tests i get put through daily here are unlike any i have ever thought were possible in life and i can feel my mind and spirit benefiting from every day that i spend growing and learning.  im doing my best to soak it up and suck it up.  but sucking it up is no longer necessary when i remember to enjoy even the things that seems painful, as they will prove to be great lessons one day soon.  every day is different and still the same thing applies; its all about attitude.

yesterday i enjoyed a beautiful day (even though it was a bit chilly and overcast.  hey im from portland and nebraska.  its going to have to get ALOT colder here for me to start complaining.)  in fukue (sorry fukue friends, it was a covert misson and i didnt tell any of you i was coming) riding a rented bike (well its really not renting it when the guy gives it to you for free, is it?  score one for kindness.) all over the BIG island and having myself a great time looking at the beauty around me and the admiring all of the strangeness that each shop i stopped in held for me.  among the treasures i found yesterday were a five dollar sweater that FITS!, avacados (its been months since i have seen them!) and a nice bottle of spanish wine that was not too expensive at all.  a hell of a day if you ask me.

today is much sunnier and my mood is high for the beginning of the week.  im wearing my new sweater (its orange and is really going over well today i must say, and the fact that i got it so cheap is REALLY impressing all of my coworkers, male and female alike!), having avacados for lunch and have learned some more of my student's names this morning already.  it really feels like i am getting life figured out when i can look at one of them and see the letters or even the katakana of their names in my mind and say it out loud.  each new name i learn is a word that i have never heard of before.  i rambled off a dozen or so names to mom when i skyped with her and dad the other morning/night and she thought i was making them up.  i assure you mom, these names are no joke and once you get the hang of them you forget all about the joe's and mary's back home and replace them with ryuske's and kurumi's and ayaka's.  aren't those some wonderful names? 

on a very strange side note (sorry to overuse strange here, but it is just always applicable lately and so i am really using it for all it is worth); the main street of naru is TOTALLY decked out for christmas.  i mean it puts many of the neighborhoods that i have lived in back in america to shame!  i will get out and take some pictures, but i am telling you, these people had to of spent a whole day or afternoon or weekend (where was i?) putting up lights and moving signs and nani, nani, nani.  its amazing and i am vowing to take a bike ride through it every night from now until christmas (when i get off work on christmas i will take one final ride through im sure too!).  just so odd considering i have heard so little about them celebrating it in the ways that i am used to.  take for instance the fact that i am working on both christmas and christmas eve.  i dont really think that anyone here has ever even heard of christmas eve, and working on the holiday seems to be par for the course.  just another day, no big deal.  i think they only know that it is a big deal because of the western versions they see of the holiday on tv and movies and now they are doing their best to imitate it.  let me tell you, so far so good.  i'll let you know how the rest of the christmas season pans out though...

be well tomodachis!

Friday, December 4, 2009

happy smiles!

all is well here in naru.  my first semester teaching here will come to and end at the close of december and i am glad to report that i have finally gotten to know some of my student's names, (new words in and of themselves, as they are names that i have never head of before in my life!) teacher's names i work with and personalitites of all the above.  it has taken much longer than i anticipated, but EVERYTHING here takes longer than i think it will, so i guess that i am forgiving myself for just how long it has taken to get the ball really rolling.  good beth.

i thought about something that was funny to me back when school started.  it is something that anyone else in the world might think is odd, but if you have lived or taught in japan or know anything about living or working here you might just bring to mind your own first time that this happened to you and smile as well.  it's all about brushing your teeth.

back in august when i first got to school there were too many things to mention that i had to start figuring out and getting used to.  most of them were things like finding out where to make copies and how to read the katakana on the copy machine or how to translate the buttons on all of my computer applications from kanji or hiragana to something that i could remember.  just your basic kind of exploring and there really was no one to tell me about what was what or how anything worked.  i was kind of on my own as far as learning what was going on went.  but i distinctly remember the day that i walked into the staffroom to find one of the other teacher's brushing her teeth.  at first i was embarassed and thought that maybe she had just forgotten to do it that morning and was smart enough to keep a backup in her desk or something.  but then later that day i noticed that there was a toothbrush in a little cup in the staff kitchen, then i noticed that there was one in my desk!  what was going on here!?  i suppose that in taking on the newness of everything that the brushing of teeth had somehow gotten lost on me for a few days but now i was really noticing it...everyone was brushing their teeth! 

and now, it is true, i have come to realize that indeed everyone here, teachers and students alike both can be found brushing their teeth each day after lunch.  it is a big event of sorts over at the jr high and i have found that it is much like clearning time in which it provides a great time outside of the classroom to interact with my students and get to know their personalities (see above).  they all brush their teeth together and react to me in english when they are done with one simple word, "fresh!".  yes it is hilarous and yes it has taken a good minute to get used to and remember to do, but now i am fully in the habit and understand it completely.  i keep a small tube of toothpaste in my desk as well as a toothbrush (with a tiny head, this is the only size they have here!).  there is no shame at all in standing somewhere in the main staffroom or with my students in the hall just brushing casually and having a bit of a chat.  you gotta love the unexpected things that living in a foreign land bring to one's life...

hope december is treating you all well so far.  i hope that the approaching holidays aren't proving to be too stressful to prepare for and that everyone is taking work, school and life in stride.  i'm only too glad to be missing the craziness that can be this time of year back in the states now.  whew!  but we will see what they make of the holiday here, as i hear that it is quite different from the one that i am used to having back home.

merry season and happiness to everyone where ever you are!