Wednesday, July 27, 2011

pert near sayonara

it is so hard to believe that im really sitting here thinking about next week and next week does not involve sitting at this desk, being on this island, speaking japanese or even being in japan at all.  and neither does the week after that or even the month after that.  in fact, there is nothing in the near future that will have to do with japan at all and there wont be now in the foreseeable future at all.  my heart is just torn.  living here and doing this all consuming job has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, yet being here and doing this job has meant giving up many of the greatest loves in my life as well.  though i have grown to love this place and these people as home, there is a voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me that moving on is the right thing right now.  i am doing my best to listen to it in spite of the fact that every movement towards leaving feels heavy and sad, every goodbye feels surreal and every last meal, walk, ride, swim, run, sunset ect feels like i wish it would go on forever.  i am doing my best to imprint these people, places and things into my memory but there is a fear that i will forget and that time will erase them.  i know many will stay with me forever but i want to remember them all so badly, i want to remain in this little slice of heaven and let my mind marinate in its goodness. 

but, alas, time is marching on and i am preparing to re-enter a world of love and comfort that i have not known in so long.  so long now that i have nearly forgotten how good it can be and so i am anxious to see and feel it again as if for the first time, yet with a residual memory reminding me that it is so good and that i DO want that again.  my mind and my body are warring right now with how to feel and what to do.  i see the piles of things on the floor of my apartment asking to be delivered to Oregon or to new owners here, but moving them into boxes and bags and suitcases is not as easy as it should be.  how do i say goodbye? 

leaving is as scary for me now as leaving was for me two years ago.  its so scary in fact that i know more and more than this IS what i am to do now in life and that i have made the right decision.  when life is this scary there has to be amazing change and opportunity just beyond its haze of thunderclouds and driving rain.  its just that getting through the clouds and the rain isnt easy.  im doing my best to get my little boat to a safe harbor with many people i love in the near future and to zip my rain jacket up to my chin and dig my paddles in just a little bit harder.  moving moving MOVING!  trying to get the momentum going is just not so easy.  i will do it though and continue to do my best in enjoying all of the moments as they come down the line.  after all, there are no ordinary moments in life, remembering that is key to my success now.

onwards and upwards.  here i come!  making my way through the storm of sadness to find the rainbow of lovelies waiting on the other side.  I WILL be seeing, hugging and loving you soon.  ive just got to get these goodbye blues out of the way first. 

and here is another quick shot i stole from the entrance of the main garden.  a LOT of work.  a LOT of cool.  cheers man.  keep up the good work on making this little island a unique little slice of heaven. 

im leaving this picture small to retain some of its clarity, so sorry yet again about the photos here.  this whole trip to this part of the island was unplanned but i was glad to be there anyhow.

this is hands down the coolest garden on this island.  this guy (and i know its a guy, cause he showed up about two minutes after i took this picture to make sure i knew it was his.  ohhhhhh!) has labored long and hard to collect all of these buoys from the sea and hang them carefully around his plants.  i was in awe.  this is just the first plot of his huge garden.  there were three more like this just to the right of this one.  cheers for creativity in surprising places.

egami tori

for some reason i had never seen this tori on the island before.  maybe because it is on the way ne side of the island that i dont get to much.  that fact was made obvious while i was out there this day taking pics with my phone and every little old lady in the neighborhood slowly started coming out of her house to see me and ask me what i was doing there.  it was pretty funny, but i was glad to talk with them and happy to know that they are still the curious old ladies that i have been meeting for the last two years here.

i cant believe that i am almost done with two years.  where did they go?

Thursday, July 7, 2011


a little asian history, japanese culture lesson from me today.  Tanabata is celebrated here by people making simple wishes on paper strips and hanging them from huge bamboo stalks, eessentially making a wish tree.  i forgot how beautiful this holiday is and wanted to share it all with you.  the kids at the elementary school had a ceremony this morning and gathered around the huge bamboo stalk that they had decorated and hung wishes on and sang.  of course i stood there watching and crying knowing that it would be the last time i would see these kids performing this ceremony.  what a wonderful moment i got to be a part of.  what a wonderful time in our lives we have been able to share over the last two years.  i didnt expect to feel this way when i left here, but deep down i knew i would.  i have grown so attached to these kids and these teachers and this community.  they have welcomed me and shared their beautiful lives and island with me, letting me make it my home too.  i know that change keeps us moving in life and gives us strength and character, but why does it have to be so hard?

The following variation of the story of Tanabata is known in China and Japan: A young farmer named Mikeran discovered on his farm a robe which, unbeknownst to him, belonged to a goddess named Tanabata. Soon after, Tanabata visited Mikeran and asked if he had found it. He lied and told the goddess that he hadn't but would help with her search. Eventually the pair fell in love, were wed and had many children. However, one day Tanabata noticed a piece of cloth which had once belonged to her robe on the roof of Mikeran's hut. His lie discovered, Tanabata agreed to forgive him on the condition that he weave a thousand pairs of straw shoes, but until that time, she would leave him. Mikeran was unable to weave the shoes in his lifetime and thus never met Tanabata again. However, it is said that the pair meet once a year when the stars Altair and Vega intersect.
Tanabata song:

Sasa no ha sara-sara (笹の葉 さらさら)

Nokiba ni yureru (軒端にゆれる)

Ohoshi-sama kira-kira (お星様 キラキラ)

Kingin sunago (金銀砂子)


The bamboo leaves rustle,

shaking away in the eaves.

The stars twinkle;

Gold and silver grains of sand
i will always keep the memory of these children as they were this morning; busy minds working over the present, quiet hearts contemplating the future and eyes that were asking the world for kindness.  it is my Tanabata wish that they will find this kindness and so much more in life.  it is my Tanabata wish that this beautiful country will rise from the hardships we have faced this year and find new ways to thrive.  it is my Tanabata wish that safety and health will follow those i love and me as we journey on through this magical thing called life.
make a wish and see it through, you never know it might come true...
love to you all out there. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

trash talk

i cant get this tune out of my head.  its a happy little jaunty tune that sounds like it should be coming from an ice cream truck down the street.  i hear it every monday, wednesday and friday while im teaching.  it seriously makes me nuts and today when i heard it, i lost track of what i was teaching the 4th graders sitting in front of me.  it is that distracting.  where does this singy little tune come from you ask?  the garbage truck, thats where.  it really is the damnest thing.  a trash truck that plays happy tunes as it goes about its business of loading our waste into its belly.  some days it makes me really smile to think that the japanese people thought to do such a thing and some days i just want that song out of my head.  today is the latter. 

im not even going to mention the fish truck...oh man.

by the way, this blog officially does not like my videos.  i cant seem to get a single one to upload.  im blogger challenged.  know i have tried though and continue to try...

love and hugs

Monday, June 27, 2011

this one time...

i want to tell you a little story about this one time when i made the right choice.

sooooo... the weather was forecast to be terrible, as in typhoon terrible.  i had made plans to go with some friends from the islands to the mainland for a good-bye party with many of our mainland friends in an attempt to start the inevitable good-bye process.  this would be a one last chance to see those who i had grown closest with on the mainland and have one last good hurrah with them.  i made these plans prior to knowing about the typhoon.  i had also made plans, or rather they had been made for me, to have my debut with my taiko team for the 20th anniversary of our team's existence.  the good-bye party was saturday night and the taiko performance was sunday afternoon.  this meant that i would have to catch an early boat sunday morning in order to make it back in time to perform, for the first time in front of people, with my taiko team.  okay, i can do that, i can make it happen i thought to myself.  no problem.  this was before the typhoon forecast too. 

after i head about the typhoon i started to doubt the possibility of all of this happening as i had planned.  on one hand there was missing the good-byes to consider and on the other hand there was missing my debut with my team to consider.  still on a third hand (i know there is no third hand in life, but just go with it okay!?) there was the typhoon to consider.  we rarely have weather really pan out to what it is forecast to be, so when everyone around me is telling me a big typhoon is coming i tend to not really believe them.  upon investigating it myself i found that they just might be right this time.  just maybe.

i really, really, really wanted to go to say good-bye to my mainland friends.  after all this was kind of the one last time where they would all be there together and a final chance to see many of them.  i wanted to go if there was even a chance i could do it.  i also really, really, really wanted to be able to perform with my team after all of the months (I've been practicing with them for 18 months now) of work and i didn't want to let them down as they were counting on me to be there.  what does a girl do?

i woke up saturday morning early to check the weather and finally decided that it just seemed like it might be too big of a risk to get on a boat because having them canceled on sunday would be devastating for me and my team.  i let my friends know i was going to stay put and sent them off with hugs for everyone i was going to miss.  sniff sniff.  then i had a little pity party for myself and tried to get excited and focused on what i wasn't going to miss.

as saturday wore on the typhoon slowly came on full force.  the rain pounded down and the wind made being outside nearly impossible.  it raged on, as i knew my friends were too on the mainland.  i wished i was there with them, sent my love to them from here and tried to sleep.   i woke up sunday morning to the island intercom man announcing "ohio gozaimasu.  good guess work beth.  all of the ferries for the day are canceled.  no one is getting on or off this island for awhile."  (okay, he didn't really say that, but he did tell us that all of the boats were being held.)  a HUGE sigh of relief.  if i had gone i wouldn't have been able to make it back for my performance.  yesssssss!

sunday was fantastic.  i spent most of the day preparing for the party with my team who thanked me again and again for staying and giving up my party on the mainland to perform with them.  i couldn't believe how much they actually cared.  they repeated this thanks in front of all of the guests later at the party after we had given a really fantastic performance.  the kindness of these people really is just astounding some days.

so there it is.  the time i made the right choice.  not easy, but i just listened to my heart and the weather report and decided i should stay.  what is not so easy right now is dealing with the choice i have made to go come august.  I'm sure this will all work itself out, but for now I've got a lot of goodbyes to get on.

leaving you with some pics of my team practicing last week and from the pre-party last night.  trying to get the video up of our performance last night.  gambarro.

hope life is letting you know you're on the right track too, whatever track that it.  and if you find you're not, take a chance and skip onto the next one. 

love love

ps-sorry about the photos that arent right side round.  i still cant get my computer at school to do as i ask.  appologies for my lack of kanji skills. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

happy solstice!

...annnnnnnnd rainy season is officially upon us here in the goto islands.  i was ready for it this year though.  things are going off without a hitch and my rain boots and umbrellas were ready and waiting for the rain.  here i am walking to an enkai (eating/drinking party) last saturday.  the party was to celebrate the hard workin day we (parents of my students and my coworkers at the jr high and elementary school) had on saturday.  we all took the day to present english lessons to anyone who wanted to come see them and then took the afternoon to play volleyball.  it was indeed the strangest volleyball i have EVER played and no my team didnt win.  i wish i could say i didnt care, but i kinda did.  dang Nohara sensei holdin my team back! ;)

real pics of the day to come. 

hope all is well out there in the world with any of you still reading.  today is the first day of summer and the rain has indeed stopped for the day and the sun in shining down on us here in Goto.  was a lovely thing the solstice is.  makes me happy every year knowing the entire summer is before me and adventures await.  currently i am working on living in the moment here and making all of the 40-some days that i have left living here in japan really count.  i am going to miss this place more than i ever thought was possible, but i am also really looking forward to being back with things that at least used to be familiar.  i leave my lovely island august 3rd and head for south korea to meet my friend becky (its been such a long time!) who is working there for a few days and then travel onto china to meet my fantastical cousin megan (really looking forward to being with family!!) who is living and working there from there i head back to my family's homeland of sweden for a week of exploring and music festivaling (can you say EXCITED!!>>!>!>!??).   then from there i will be reunited with my best friend erin (no words can describe this excitement) in italy who i havent seen now since before i left to come to japan and from italy we will travel back to croatia where she will be working in august.  from croatia i will head back to italy to do a little bit more solo exploring and then finally get on a plane back to japan and from japan i will finally at long last, at the end of the month return to portland.  if you are reading and will be in portland august 30th, get your hugs ready cause im coming for you!!!!

okay, thats my run down for now.  lots going on here, and today i have to keep my head in the teaching game as i still have lots more classes and fun with my students before i say goodbye.  yesterday i had my LAST demonstration class with my 3rd grade elementary students and their homeroom teacher and apparently it went really well and people really enjoyed it.  great!  feels sooooooo nice to have all of that done now.  there are a few more weeks of lessons and then tests here and the summer break will start for kids in japan.  i have packing, good-byes (loads of them...yuuuuck), more packing, giving away, swimming, biking, eating and general enjoying to get done before i go so wish me luck. 

hope to be seeing many of you in the coming months and weeks ahead.  in the meantime take some moment and welcome the summer right today, or tomorrow, whatever day it is where ever you are.

sending lots of love from my little island to yours.  namaste.

more taiko

 another shot of the taiko practice area.  i konw its a small picture, but again it was taken with my keitai.  this is our taiko sensei, masa-san on the right and a few of my team mates on the left.  gambatte, ne?!!


  another not so great shot taken with my keitai, so appologies again, but this is the taiko studio i practice in every week.  we have been hard at it lately especially because we are having a big show this weekend celebrating the 20th anniversary of the taiko team here in Naru.  it will be my official debut and yes, i am very nervous.  another great chance for me to stand out in front of a crowd.  oh how i really hate performing in front of people!  yikes.

horse face slight return

  appologies for the horrible photo, but it is proof enough that i am still alive, eh?  was modeling the skirt i bought in thailand for my coworkers and managed to remember to send it to my blog.  hi!  this photo was taken in the staffroom at my high school by my lovely tea lady (the one who called me horse-face.  remember her?)  she is wonderful. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a slight return to real life

humpf.  i just deleted the post i was writing here because it was taking too long to figure out how to say what i wanted to say here, so instead of thinking about it too, too, toooooo much im just going to write, as i usually do here.  mistakes and all.  (this is a sign of a badddd writer, when you are lazy to edit yourself.  right?!)

i have 46 days of work left on this little island in my little schools up on the hill.  yup, thats right, i counted them.  less than 50 days to do what i was sent here to do.  have i done it?  have the times when i have felt like ive done it really been to the best of my ability?  is there something that i have missed and should have been doing more of while i was here?  will what i have done here matter to anyone when i leave?  do i really care if it matters to anyone when i leave?  there are obviously loads of questions surrounding my thoughts about my time here now, but all i can do at this point is just work them out slowly as they come one at a time.  one at a time.  that is all that we are capable of after all, right?  why should i try to figure out what all of my time here means in this instant, when i know that i will be figuring it out for the rest of my life bit by bit.  (obviously my brain is kind of in over-drive right now.)

so, less than 50 days left of work and about two months of time here period.  the end.  i will most likely never return to this island.  actually there is a good chance that in my lifetime this island will cease to exist.  the population is just dwindling and there is nothing here for the people to do outside of fishing, and most of those jobs are held by older men who have maybe 20-30 years TOPS left of fishing.  who will take their places?  good question.  i dont think anyone will.  okay, so there is that.  but beside the inevitable demise of this island what am i thinking about naru right now?  how does it feel to know that this place i have called home for nearly two years now is going to be a speck in my rear view sooner than later...?  gosh, it feels so complicated but i know that it should be easy.  i should be saying that time here has been flush with learning experiences about myself, japan, the world and people in general, all things that i am interested in.  but what i am really feeling is this insane need to stop time and take down notes and photos of every little thing that is coming and going in my world now and pin them down into some secret album for to to always return to.  basically i want a portal to be able to come back to this moment in my life forever.  i know its not going to happen, but i cant help but keep thinking how cool it would be if it did.  how, in just two short months from now, will i be able to just get on the boat one final time and say good-bye?  i dont know, but i will.

the feeling i have about leaving here feels a lot like the feeling i had before i left portland to come here.  the nervous stomach at knowing that i am plunging into the land of unknowns; people wont understand the way i talk, the food will be weird, i will have to figure out where/what home is again, the people will be strange.  i already know that the reverse culture shock will be heavy, but i also know that this time there is one big difference; there are people where im heading that love me.  this big thing makes a big difference and that is why i know i will be okay.  this is the one thought that is guiding me through these waves of doubt and sadness right now.  it will be so hard to say good bye to all that my life is here, but it will be such a huge relief and release to be back with love surrounding me. 

as the end is coming closer i am finding that there is something simple missing here that i have been missing all along, but i miss with great urgency now; a hug.  thinking of being embraced, really well embraced by someone i know and care about, who knows how to give and receive hugs brings tears to my eyes.  i honestly cant even let myself envision it anymore without loosing my composure.  that is how bad i just wish there was someone to hug around.  its been way too long without that little thing in my life and i NEED it back.  i will never be able to understand how japanese people can go through life with so little physical affection or even interaction, but i do know that i will never take a hug for granted again,  never.

i dont mean for this to sound sad and pathetic, in fact im kind of wondering if i should have written this at all because in reality i am fine.  life is going on and im not dragging myself around or feeling like the world is about to end as it might sound from the last few paragraphs here, but there is just a void that needs to be filled and i know how to fill it, but just cant yet.  i suppose what i am trying to say here is that if you are reading this, you should be boning up on your hugging skills for the next time we meet.  i wont be letting go quickly and there will be great amounts of squeezing involved.  so go ahead and practice a little right now, with the next person you see.  most of you are in places where that isnt a weird thing and you can at least explain why you are doing what you are doing to them.  do it for those of us in the world without that luxury.

i cant wait to luxuriate with you.


Friday, March 18, 2011

shaking and earthquaking

so, unless you have been living under a rock for the last week you know that the world is kind of falling in and on and apart in japan right now.  north eastern japan to be specific.  there was the huge earthquake followed by the huge tsunami.  in the days that follwed there were hundreds of smaller earthquakes that shook the already unsteady ground up north and further destroyed things that were already unstable.  avalanches, roads crumbling, houses/businesses/huge buildings falling prey to the earth shaking and enormous walls of water pounding against them, not to mention the nuclear reactors which are inducing fear here and abroad right now.  i have seen more death and destruction here in the last few days than ever in my whole life.  luckily, i have not had to witness one moment of it for real and have gotten all of my images via internet and tv news. 

for those of you who check this still, if there are any, know that i am safe and seriously out of harms way as i sit here writing this.  we have felt no earth shaking or had any destruction visit us here in nagasaki ken.  i feel both lucky and overwhelmingly grateful to be where i am.  i could have easily gotten another placement in this country and been up north where people who have my same position are still missing and unaccounted for. 

i have a new found respect for life and this earth we tread so heavily on since the events of last friday here.  life can change in an instant and when you come so close this sort of complete destruction happening all around you it makes one really step back and look at life again.  how precious and even fleeting it can be.  it gives one great inspiration to really live in the now and make sure you are loving, giving and sharing as one should.  it has me doing a lot of celebrating life this week and i want to make sure that all of you who do keep up with me here know how much i do love you.  you all are what has held me together here in moments that are strained here, you all are the people who make being alive today so wonderful for me.

please keep the people of japan in your thoughts and prayers.  they will need your continued love and support to make it through this trying time.  rebuilding efforts after devestation this extensive will go on for years to come and support through love and prayer will be needed throughout.

to those who are worried about me here, let me reassure you again that i am safe.  if you need to check, look at a map of japan and look for hokaido, that is where the action was, then look for nagasaki, and then look to the left a bit off the coast and find the small chain of islands there and that is where i am, the goto islands.  pretty much the safest place one could have possibly been when this happened.  know also that should something change in the situation here that my job is not worth risking my life for and if i am in danger i will get somewhere safe before i am in an emergency situation.

okay, that is all for me for now.  i have some beautiful weather outside to attend to and some living and loving to do. 

sending huge, warm hugs to all of you today.  love love love you each.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

omiyagi; one more

sweet little sweets

more omiyagi

the details that go into these little cakes are just unreal.  sorry these photos are not so wonderful as they were taken with my cell phone.  but they measure about 1 inch square.  sugoii!


the beautiful box of tea candies i was given by the lunch lady at the elementary/jr high today.  they are apparently really special tea cakes from kyoto and the very expensive kind.  how lucky am i?  it was a really random gift as i simply helped set up for a special lunch for the graduating jr high students today and the lunch lady's daughter happens to be one of those graduating students.  im really not exactaly sure why she gifted me this ultra nice gift, but i do know that i am so grateful and happy to have gotten it anyhow.  what a beautiful thing.  ;)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


high school graduation, a day most students spend their entire primary school time looking forward to, that is, unless you are a japanese high school student.  the harsh realization that fun time is over has come and it is time to hunker down and get real with life.  today was the end of that childhood for my kids and there were smiles and tears, though i saw more tears from students than smiles.  mostly the teachers are smiling that they have successfully run another class of students through the wringer and gotten them out safely on the other side.  hooray! 

this is the number one most important ceremony of the year in high school and there is traditional dress to go with the formality of the ceremony as well.  many in attendance were kimono clad.  my kocho sensei (principal) who is always one to dress the part, wore her most beautiful kimono for the ceremony and let me take her picture this morning. 
(i dont know why the pictures are doing this now.  they were right side up when i uploaded them...darn it.  sorry)  anyway, this is tamaru kocho and she is one fantastic lady.  one of two female kocho senseis in all of nagasaki ken.  she will be leaving naru in a few weeks for another school (none of us know where yet, of course) and i will be so very sad to see her go.  she can out do anyone around here and drink any man on this island under the table, ive seen it done.  her kindness has really been a great blessing to me while i have been here.  thank you tamaru kocho!

and next we have mr. iriguchi.  he is technically my supervisor, a.k.a. the person i am supposed to go to for whatever i need around here.  but he is also in charge of the senior students and spends around 12-14 hours a day at school helping them.  so whatever i need usually takes a back seat, though he has really helped me out on some funny occasions too.  he is a good guy and has been a breeze to work with, mostly because he lets me do whatever i want when we teach high school classes together.  i like that. :)  cheers to iriguchi sensei in his finery today!

and finally after the ceremony was through and the staff had unwound a bit from all of the preparations and taking down of the preparations ect, tamaru kocho pulled me into her office, literally.  she asked me about what was on under my turtleneck and what i had on under my pants.  ok, a little weird, but ive been here long enough now to know that this was leading somewhere fun.  she was going to have her way with me for about ten minutes and dress me in her fancy kimono that she wore for the mornings ceremonies!!!!  waku waku!  so after much turning, tying, holding arms out and standing straight and tall she was done with me and i was the new tamaru! 

fancy stuff, eh?!  what a wonderful woman to do that for me and to lend me her beautiful kimono for awhile.  she took me around the school showing off how nice she made me look all the while telling everyone how easy it was to get me in it and how it fits me perfectly and how my figure is so "porportioned" and i should be a kimono model and on and on.  this made me more than a little uncomfortable, but i smiled away anyhow and knew she had good intentions.  these pictures were taken in the staffroom and what you can see here are the other six or ten teachers standing opposite us taking our pictures.  i cant remember the last time i felt like i was in front of the papparazzi.  oh only in japan.

well thats it.  ive changed back to my regular, boring suit clothes and now we are all getting ready to go celebrate the success of the day and the year.  time to enkai!  (that is japanese for eat and drink til you cant anymore, or something like that.) ;)

be well take care out there in this big world. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

oh my goodness...

well i have certainly not been a very loyal blogger have i?  i am ashamed to say that i havent gotten much done on here in the last four months now...yikes.  sorry to anyone (if there is anyone out there still!) who is checking this or hoping for some action.  i didnt forget about this, but once some time had passed it seemed too much had happened to try and blog about it all, so i kept putting it off and putting it off...until today!

okay, where to start?!  my last blog was in november last year, so happy new year and valentines day and presidents day and coming of age day and foundation day ect!  i spent the loveliest of holidays finishing up 2010 in the incredible country of india.  i went to volunteer in building some homes in a dailit village just north/east of chennai and then toured a bit of the country with my good friend Brittany, who lives on the next island over.  we had an amazing, life changing time meeting new friends and learning so much about the world around us as we went.  i know that india stole a bit of my heart and as overwhelming as it was in the start, after two weeks i had begun to stitch some of the indian ways and customs into my own and i know now i have to get back and explore some more.  im so grateful to those of you out there that helped in funding our project to build homes.  please know that those people expressed their gratitude and appreciation for your help every time they interacted with us.  i will never forget the beautiful smiles of the chevuru people.  (by the way this is a SUPER editied version of this trip.  if any of you would like more details email me or buy me a beer when i get back.  i could talk about this for days.)

so after ushering in the new year on a rooftop in gudivada with crazy indian fireworks, johnny walker and cake i came back to my island reality, naru.

winter in goto is not the hardest thing to do, not gunna lie.  i suppose that after 25 nebraska winters though nothing short of the tundra is hard to deal with.  this was the nicest winter of my life, even though they say that it was colder than last year.  i didnt agree for some reason and found this winter to be really enjoyable.  i say that it was enjoyable because technically japanese people believe that we are in spring already.  they use the chinese lunar calender when it comes to seasons.  spring a month early?, im fine with that!

temps dropped into the 40s around here and it actually did snow a few times, though it never stuck.  perhaps the hardest thing about winter here is the fact that NONE of the buildings, including my apartment, have any insulation in them, so often they feel colder inside that it is outside.  no one has central heat or air anywhere here either so the classrooms are really cold and the poor students just freeze to death during those cold months.  poor things, they cant wear anything extra really that isnt their uniforms so the girls still have to wear their skirts and short socks and just sit in class saying "samui, samui, samui" over and over.  (cold, cold, cold).  it seriously prevents much from actually getting accomplished during those times and i think it would be in the japanese govts best interest to look into heating students classes during winter.  but that is just me and what do i know...

okay, so february has been a big month of making new plans.  i had to decide at the beginning of the month whether i would be staying again or not.  i was pretty certain of my decesion before i left for india, but knew after i came back that i would for sure be leaving japan this year.  i do love this place, but living on a little island with little or not refuge or real communication with people on a daily basis is kind of taking its toll on me and i think that leaving after two years is my best choice.  i feel good about my choice, though every time i think about leaving this place just six short months from now i feel a bit sad about it.  well, i knew i wouldnt be here forever, and change is inevitable, so change i must.  i am doing my very best to enjoy my daily walks to school, the crazy beautiful sunsets, the hawks constantly overhead and my newly discovered like for running along the coast lines here.  this little island is really magicl and i feel so lucky to have had the chance to discover it for the last year or so.  i will do my best to keep discovering for awhile longer now!

so now february is nearly over here and i am gearing up for a change of staff and students (well, a few at least) in naru.  the school year here ends in march and the high school kids will graduate on the 1st with the others finishing around the 23rd.  they will then take a few weeks off and resume in april at some date yet to be decided.  in those two weeks off a bunch of teachers here will be shuffled around.  when you are a teacher in japan you work for the govt and they get to choose where you will work every year.  usually they let a teacher stay in one place for 3-5 years and then give you a new assignment.  you get little or no say in where this new place will be and when your order comes to move you go, no questions asked.  if you dont go you can kiss your job or any chance of teaching in japan again goodbye, forever.  so needless to say, during the month of march teachers around here are all pretty jumpy and anxious to hear if they need to start packing boxes or if they will stay on again.  its hard to say whether people love their assignments in naru or hate them.  if they are young and want to marry the pool to choose from gets teeny tiny here, well really almost non existant and so they have to figure some thing else out for a few years.  if they have families many of the families will stay on the mainland to go to better schools and spouses can work.  there is little or no work on this island if you arent a govt worker or a fisherperson.  so, this time is quickly approaching and i am kind of looking forward to who may be here in the next month but kinda getting ready to miss some people that will almost surely be leaving this year too.  its strange for me, but they are all used to this for sure.  they all gasp when i tell them about teaching in america and how you can easily stay at the same teaching post for your entire career and teachers often do.  just proves even further that they are all really always concerned about the great wa here.  making sure they all suffer the same is keeping things fair i guess.

okay, so graduation is coming up and im going to try and snap some shots to share (gasp!) on here.  i got a new camera from santa because he decided that my old one deserved to go to someone staying at one of the hotels where i stayed in india.  i understand santa, you just wanted me to have a better one, right?!  great. 

oh and sakura matsuri is right around the corner too.  that is the cherry blossom festivals around here and i am armed and ready this year!

hope any of you out there still getting this are all well and happy and enjoying the last of the frosty time in 2011.  spring is on the way!