Saturday, February 28, 2009

The jury is in

It has been three weeks since starting to teach at my new school, Koga third; and I could not love it more! It has been such a short time, so my camaraderie with the other teachers isn't so strong, but the responsibilities of my job more than make up for that; and those friendships will come too! This is the highest level school in Koga, so the students are really studious and actually understand almost everything I say! Of course I am conscious to keep my vocabulary at a lower level, but students at my other schools still don't get much of what I say.

The biggest perk of this school is that I teach alone!! I can teach the students anything I want and I am not bound by a set curriculum or textbook! They only give me 20 students at a time, but that is a great number for me and I have such a blast every Friday! I have my own classroom - they have just given me the audio-visual room in case I ever want to use PowerPoint. And the librarian at this school is fantastic! When I have free time on Fridays, I go down to the library to speak with her and just hang out. She wants to learn more English, but I am able to speak to her a lot in Japanese, which is great practice for me.

My situation at this school could not be better. If my whole job was this way, I would have stayed a second year - no question. I had such a great class on Friday with a group of students from homeroom 5. From the moment they walked in, they were laughing and ready to meet me. I went through my self introduction and they were so enthusiastic and had some great questions for me. I was able to play back and forth with them and we all just had a really great time. It is fun to teach kids with dreams and aspirations. Almost all the kids at Koga third go to college - and really great colleges at that. I met a girl who was accepted to Meiji University. That is one of the best schools in Tokyo!

I walked around and took some pictures of the school last Friday and stumbled upon a display of student artwork that I found to be really impressive. The students at this school have enthusiasm and talent that I remember from my high school days. To me this school should not be out of the ordinary, this should be the norm.

I was able to watch some graduation rehearsal at this school too and it was actually kind of exciting! They have their own brass band (which most schools don't really have "arts" clubs) and they were conducted by a student. Before they began rehearsal, all the students got a lecture in the proper way to bow for such a formal occasion. There was discussion about how to sing the school song in a very loud voice - oh, and if you forget the words they are printed on the wall to the right of the stage!

It has been and will continue to be a refreshing place to work. I was really nervous in the beginning, but after a few weeks I have some nice warm and fuzzy feelings. Check out my new pictures of Koga third.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blows my mind

On Wednesdays I have only one class to teach and it is the last period of the day. So generally I will catch up on writing letters or emails on Wednesday mornings and just bide my time until lunch. After lunch I have my aerobics class fifth period and then I teach during sixth. After aerobics today, I get back to the teachers' room, change back into my normal clothes and wait at my desk to go to class with Otsuka-sensei. So the bell rings for the class to start, and Otsuka is no where to be seen. I walk around a look for him a bit, but again, no where. So I just wait patiently at my desk, read some news online and keep an eye out. I ended up waiting the whole class period, and he never shows until after the bell has rung for class to be over.

Turns out, during fifth period a student and a teacher got into a bit of a verbal fight. The student had a question and the teacher proceeded to ignore his raised hand, so the student lashed out. He became unruly in the class and was very disruptive. Otsuka had to run interference during sixth period between the teacher and the student. The most surprising part of this whole scenario however, is that while Otsuka is taking care of this issue, our sixth period English class is just sitting down in their classroom completely alone and hanging out. They got a free period today. Now, would that EVER happen in an American classroom? Is one teacher going to completely ignore a class they should be teaching to moderate a situation of which they had no part???? I think not! Educational priorities are pretty screwy in the Japanese system to be sure.


I planned a lesson for my classes yesterday that involved a board game and asking each other questions in English. Now, usually an important component of a board game is a device that determines how players progress down the game board. I think the most natural selections are either dice or spinners. My plan was to buy dice at the hyaku en shop (dollar store) and bring them to school. When I arrived at school yesterday morning, I was reviewing the plan with Endo-sensei and I realized that I had completely forgotten about dice! In her very Japanese way, Endo-sensei apologizes to me for me forgetting the dice. I tell her, no I am the one who is very sorry it is my fault that I forgot dice. In response she says, "Thank you for saying that!" I tell her that I will walk across the street and purchase dice during second period before our third period class. She looks hesitant but says okay.

Now, I feel like a dope and I start trying to rack my brain thinking of ways to solve this problem without going across the street. It hits me, and I run over to the one internet computer this school has and bogart it for about 30 seconds as I do a Google images search for "make-your-own dice." The first image that pops up is perfect, so I click on the image, do a copy and then paste it into a word document. I resize the image to make it just a tad bigger and then I copy and paste six images to a page - I wanted to play the game with 10 groups, so I needed a lot of dice. I print my page, make a second copy and grab some different color highlighters, and some small paper fasteners that have a bit of weight to them. Back at my desk I sit there contemplating for a moment. I have no scissors nor glue and most of the teachers are not in the room for me to ask. So I just wait for the first person I see and ask to borrow their scissors and glue. I start my little arts and crafts project. I color the dice with highlighters, cut out the pattern. The adorable little adjunct science teacher that sits next to me, sees what I am doing and offers to help me!! He cuts out all my dice and then has to rush to class. I continue working on my little project; folding on every line, applying glue where necessary and dropping a fastener inside of each die before sealing it completely. I knew that little paper die were going to be too light to work well, so I thought that something inside would give them a little weight; it totally worked! Another teacher sees what I am doing and again offers to help me! We made twelve dice in less than an hour and they all worked!

Endo-sensei saw what I had done and asked the teacher helping me, "Was that your idea?" And the teacher said, "No, it was all Annelyse." I was pretty happy about being able to trouble shoot so quickly and really thankful for the help and supplies that the other teachers gave me! And just to show that students are wholly unaware of what their teachers go through for them...

...Once I got to class and the students started playing the game, one of the students completely destroyed one of my dice and then refused to play the game and left his team without a means to play either. Brat!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Crazy quick read - it only took about an hour. However, it was still fun and a nice little throw back to the Harry Potter series. I think J.K. Rowling is incredibly creative and has created a world much akin to The Wizard of Oz in my mind. Now, I love the Harry Potters books, but they will never replace the Wizard of Oz for me. However, the world of Harry Potter is so rich that anything written on the subject (by J.K. Rowling, of course) immediately sucks me in. If you're a Harry Potter fan, it is worth an hour of your time. If not, that's cool, but let me have my fantasy!

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster by Dana Thomas

I took a dive into non-fiction with this incredibly informative and witty book. If you don't buy into the whole luxury industry and their exorbitant pricing, this book will help to further justify your disdain for $2000+ handbags. If you happen to be into the whole luxury thing, this book will hopefully steer you in the direction of luxury companies that are worth your money as opposed to Louis Vuitton and the crap they try to sell you.

Thomas delves into a world of obscene wealth (consumers) and an industry born of true craftsmanship and elegance and mutated into greed and sweatshops. There are very few true luxury brands left that adhere to the principles of ultimate quality and integrity, such as Hermes. For me, this book was fascinating to discover how the industry is divided among conglomerates and which companies own certain brand names; my business nerd was in heaven.

Another fascinating point of the book was how societies of people buy-in to the image brand names provide - the shallowness of it all was astounding. There were many sections of the book dedicated solely to the Japanese and their buying habits. Often these brands will open stores in locations specifically targeted to the Japanese. For example, Hawaii has exploded with luxury shopping strips in the past 10 years due entirely to the high volume of Japanese tourism on the US islands. Japanese travel agencies have taken their cue and now offer travel primarily for shopping. There are weekend excursions to Hawaii from Japan that are two or three days long, have a shuttle from the airport in Hawaii to the luxury one-stop shopping, and back on the shuttle to catch your plane back home.

This book was a great lesson in marketing and the ability of something shiny to woo the masses and get them to dump all their money into a big vat of greed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Broadway in Tokyo and singing all the way back to Koga

This weekend, I went with my partners in crime, Lauren and Chika (and other friends), to see Wicked in Tokyo. Now, I am sad to report that Wicked is the only Broadway show I have ever actually seen, but now I have seen it in two languages; so that basically rocks! We met up on Saturday afternoon in Tokyo and ventured to our hotel to drop our bags before lunch. Now Lauren is our travel coordinator extraordinaire, and she booked us a fabulous hotel that was fun and a little luxurious. The lobby smelled of fresh flowers and had marble floors and a rich wooden staircase.

Next we headed out to lunch and hit up a little Italian cafe with a great lunch special! It was great fun to sit and gab with a bunch of girls about nothing and everything at the same time. Even all the way over here in Japan, the little things are still the most important. We spent an hour and a half at lunch lounging and making new friends with our waiter. He was a fun Japanese guy who liked to try his hand at English while we were ordering in Japanese. He was showing us the display case full of dessert at the end of our meal and we couldn't see, so he said, "chotto sorry," which means, "little sorry." It was so funny that even the Japanese woman sitting at the table next to ours started laughing at the new Japanese/English expression.

We don't have many occasions to dress up here in Japan, so we decided to break out the fancy clothes to go to the theatre. After lunch we went back to the hotel to change and get ready for the show. The theatre was a little odd - it was a theatre tucked into a shopping mall - only in Japan. Our seats were up in the balcony, but as I suspected the theatre was the perfect size and our view was really incredible! I was so excited by how much of the show I actually understood (not just remembered from the last time)! I knew I was understanding because at certain times I really thought the translations could have been better at getting the true feeling of the scene across. The actors were quite good, but to be frank after seeing the original cast in New York - nothing will top Joel Grey and Leo Norbert Butz (and Kristen and Idina). As with every time I see a show (professional or just little community productions) I cannot wait to be back on stage performing for an audience of my own!

After the play, we discussed the content and I let my geekiness fly when I was explaining in painful detail the story and how it intertwined with the original Oz story. I embrace my obsessions. We went to a little British Pub and got some good dark beer, fish and chips, and Shepherd's pie. We talked more about our families, taxes, and cynicism vs. love (love wins every time - depending on who you ask). Naturally we did an hour of karaoke and went back to the hotel singing down the streets of Tokyo!

The next day, we all had to wake up and get back to our respective cities for other meetings and dates. I was meeting up with some people to do even more karaoke (big surprise at this point, I know). Notice the picture above of the billboard for the karaoke place. It's really an awful name, but they have pretty good machines. We ended up doing 5 and a half hours of karaoke and I was all sung out. No seriously, I was; but I got over it quickly...haha.

Now I am just back to my normal routine, teaching, reading, lounging. Hopefully more fun adventures to come soon! And thank you to everyone for playing Malarky with me! Maybe I throw in other trivia from time to time. If you have anything you want to post, do it! We all like playing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If Malarky taught me anything... would be that you can know everything, as long as you have a good enough imagination. Now Malarky is a really great board game that teaches you how to use the world around you to infer knowledge about things of an uncommon nature. I guess the bottom line is that it teaches you (a) how to BS really well or (b) how to sift through the BS others are trying to feed you. But from a less cynical perspective it really helps to expand your mind to figure out certain things without being taught first. For example, one of the questions in the game is, "On the instructions of the shampoo, it tells you to wash your hair and then repeat. When you repeat, why is it that the second time you wash your hair the lather has more volume?" (okay, so it might not be verbatim, but you get the idea) What do you think the answer is? If you think you know, answer in the comment section. Try to answer without looking it up online or running upstairs to the game box to read the answer on the card, Dad!

Trying to conjecture and figure out the reasons "why" for happenings in the world around us is a valuable skill that more people should acknowledge and practice. Having the ability to research is a skill, don't get me wrong, but being able to think and reason is an even greater skill in my opinion. The best way to practice is to be observant of everything around you. Simple day to day things can be extremely telling of a culture or a society's norms. Thinking through all the pieces of a problem in order to uncover the best solution takes patience but also prior knowledge or understanding of common things or basic science. For example, soap clings to dirt to wash it away. That's the only hint I'm giving.

PS, when I get home everyone who knows me better run and hide because I am going to subject all of those people who are not fast enough to endless board games and family time! Malarky, here I come.

PPS, my Dad is one of the best Malarky players I have ever seen. Does that mean he knows a lot of things, or has a good imagination or that he's just old? Thoughts?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My drug of choice

So I just bought 7 new books in the last week. I read everything in sight and I have an impulse to buy new books at every opportunity. I am hoping that my ever growing queue of literature will keep me busy for a while, but one can only hope. I feel as excited and invigorated by reading as I did when I was a kid! I am thrilled to be back in this place and I am always happy to take suggestions. I think my safe guard should be to just put the new books I want up on my Amazon wish list and wait until a special occasion or gift certificate comes along. Goodness knows there are already enough books in my world to keep me busy for quite some time. I just thought I would share about how incredible reading is. It is the best way to learn new things - even non-fiction and novels can be intensely researched and have loads of solid, factual information in them. And of course reading leads to me doing some of my own research to learn more about the subject matter of which I am reading or research about the author. I love this upward spiral into the stars!

If I were a bell

Hand bells are not exclusively Japanese, but it is in Japan that I experienced my first hand bell concert. I have told you about Akemi before - she is one of the women in the Heartful English Club - she invited me to her Alma Mater's hand bell concert. It was such a fun time, especially because I recognized most of the songs they played! I have always been in awe of people who have had the skill and talent to play a musical instrument and these hand bell players were incredible! I like to sing and I am decently talented, but I think it takes so much more coordination and skill to actually play an instrument! I am going to be one of those awful mothers that require her children know how to play the piano or some other instrument of their choosing (hopefully something that can be in a jazz band!)

Okay now, tunnel vision (that one is for you Theresa), each girl had about 6 or 7 bells for which she was responsible. And often I noticed that girls would share bells within the same song. I can only imagine the rehearsal that goes into choreographing a hand bell concert! They are able to move their hands with such precision and at lightening speeds. If you have never been to a hand bell concert, I would surely recommend that you find one! The music they make is so complete and beautiful.

The Bro Code by Barney Stinson

I know what you're thinking, "Barney Stinson, he's not a real person. He's just an egotistical, womanizing character on TV." Well I've got news for you, you're perfectly correct. But this book is merely the mantra of womanizing men everywhere. Thanks to Michael, I got hooked on "How I Met Your Mother" and humor in this book is every bit as witty and ridiculous. Uber quick read - I read it in an hour on the train to Tokyo yesterday! And just good for a short chuckle; they even have some interactive puzzles you can do like logic puzzles and word search. However, there is some math involved, so you might want to bring a calculator. And FYI, I would make an excellent wingwoman - keep that in mind. ;)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I think I like change now

I need to revitalize my blog. I am getting bored, so I am hoping that a face lift will give it a boost. As much as I enjoy all the color that I had going on, I have to be honest, I am more of a classic, sharp lines, clean-look kind of blogger. So the look and feel of my blog may be changing over the next few days, so please be patient with me.

In six months, I have gone from hating and dreading change to feeling bored and restless without it. I really like when things are a little bit difficult and the answers don't come easily. Of course I am worried about moving back to The States with no job, but I am kind of looking forward to putting myself out there and looking for a job in full force. In such a short time I have made a lot of personal changes already. I don't know if that is part of just being an adult or if it is moving abroad and living alone. I think it is probably a combination of both, but I am excited about the person I am becoming and proud of the person from who I am growing.

Somethings I have realized about my personality that I know to be different from when I was younger: I am a very flexible person. I don't mind changing plans or going a bit out of my way to accommodate someone else. I am not judgemental. That is a bold statement, but it is one that I sincerely believe to be true. I can and will accept anyone and the decisions they make for their own life. Of course I have guiding morals and values for my own life, however those do not always align with others and if I expect them to accept my ideas, I have to accept theirs. Through this I have become more open and inviting to all people. Not a lot gets me stressed or upset. Generally speaking, I am easy-going and able to adapt to new situations. Sometimes however, I do have trouble integrating all aspects of my life into one reality - I like to compartmentalize; I'm still working on that. I am incredibly intuitive when it comes to people, their words and their actions. I believe this makes me a good friend. I admired those people who are more skilled and more talented than me. There is no one that can be the best and worst at everything, so that gives me hope that I can always learn something new and often have the opportunity to teach someone else.

Really understanding what change means in my life has brought me to this current state of mind. I can now close my eyes and jump with the confidence that even if no one is around, I can catch myself.

I love visiting snow

I have never liked snow. Even when I was a kid I hated snow because it meant that school would be canceled and I hated missing school. And then I had the bright idea to move to Boston for college and the snow and winters only got worse. Living here in Koga, I have been so thrilled that there is no snow to accompany the cold. Generally snow is just inconvenient and dangerous. But I am thrilled to say that this weekend has helped to make me more open to the pure joy and fun of snow. Living in Japan has helped me to embrace change and be more open to whatever life has to throw my way.

Every year on the northern-most island of Japan, Hokkaido, in the city of Sapporo (yes, like the beer) there is a Yuki Matsuri - Snow Festival. So Chika and I decided way back in November to make a weekend of it and catch a plane up to Sapporo. The festival includes incredibly intricate and gigantic ice sculptures created by professional sculptors. Essentially it is just a week long event that displays all the wonderment and joy of what winter has to offer. It turns the inconvenience of snow into something so beautiful and childlike that you cannot help but ignore and dismiss the cold!

We began our weekend by stopping by the hotel, dropping our stuff and then heading out into the city and checking out all the sights. I was able to get so many awesome pictures, so please check those out! Everyday we were there is snowed and after the first day, I just gave up on my hair and trying to keep it dry! I always love hanging out with Chika because her sense of humor is fantastic and I can learn so much from her about Japanese culture. But during this trip I discovered that she is an awesome little tour guide too!

She suggested that we take a ropeway up to the top of a nearby mountain in order to get a good look at the night view of Sapporo. The ropeway was fun and reminded me of a similar one in Hakone. Once we got to the top, we stopped to check out some of the brochures of the attractions at the festival. One of the magazines I saw was named Ho-ShiHit. Now I don't know what that looks like to you upon first glance, but it struck my funny bone and I have kept the magazine as a little souvenir. At the top of the mountain it was snowing like crazy, but we decided to take a tractor ride as far up the mountain as we could go. We found a nice look out point, but all we could see was snow and fog. It has been a long time since I have been outside in a snowstorm and not minded it one bit - I had a blast!

We ventured back down the mountain and ended up on the main strip to grab a bit of dinner and have a couple drinks. We stopped into St. John's Wood - an English style tavern/pub. It became very clear to me that I like sour/bitter/old man alcohol. All of my drinks have a strong gin base and sometimes a little tequila. I guess I just like liquid pine tree. haha. Shortly after we settled into our pub, we got a call from some other JETs who happened to also be in Sapporo enjoying the Yuki Matsuri. After a bit of convincing, we joined them at a nearby bar called Rad Brothers. When we arrived, they had already taken the place over with the help of some Navy boys they picked up! Now, Navy guys are confident and not afraid to make new friends ;) I found out they were only in Sapporo for a week doing some snow training, but are actually stationed at a Naval base near Tokyo. The party didn't stop at Rad Brothers, but continued on to a club named Booty; Chika and I decided however to call it a night and head back to our hotel. We did stop and grab a coffee on the way back and got a nice little surprise jazz band playing just inside Starbucks.

The next day we got up bright and early to do some sightseeing and check out some of the more historical places in Sapporo. We went to the old Prefectural building and toured a bit. After that we decided to go up to TV Tower and look at the City from above. This time we weren't quite as high up as the mountain, so the view was much better. It was from there that Chika noticed a skating rink, so we made plans to go the next day.

Aside from the Snow Festival, Sapporo is famous for being the home of the first brewery in Japan. They don't give tours of the facility, but they have a pretty popular restaurant on the premises that sells lamb and of course plenty of beer. We enjoyed an all you can eat lamb dinner and then made our way out into the cold again. No vacation of mine (no week really) is complete without karaoke, so of course we rented a room for an hour and sang our hearts out!

The last day reminded me the most of being at home when I was a kid. First, we went through an ice maze. We were in line with about 100 elementary school students on a school trip. We were so out of place in the middle of the young herd, but the maze was soooo cool, and we were not going to miss out on that! Afterwards, we went ice skating! I have been ice skating only once before and I don't remember liking it, so I was worried. BUT, ice skating is soooo much fun. I'm not very good, but I could get around - Chika and I even raced and I totally beat her! Chika and I wanted to check out the nearby park. When we got there, we discovered there wasn't much there that gave evidence of the festival, but there was no shortage of snow! We followed along in a path that had already been patted down by many visitors before us. The park was beautiful in it's untouched whiteness stretching as far as I could see in all directions. At one point, I just stood and took pictures in a circle just to show the completeness of the snowfall. Chika soon grew bored of walking on the nicely made path, so she suggested we create a path of our own! It was so much fun walking along, our feet sinking two feet into powdered snow. We were walking single file and Chika mentioned that she was having an easy time of it, because I was going first and she was just stepping in the footprints I had already made. I immediately thought of when I was little and would play outside in the snow with my Dad. I would walk along in his footsteps (as best I could with my tiny strides) through the deep snow. This thought made me relish my time in the snow and set my mind to enjoying the cold and wet and wind.

I am so happy to have spent my vacation with Chika really enjoying the fun parts of what winter has to offer. The longer I am here, the more I open up and am more laid back about things. Don't you worry Mom, I may have hurried through my childhood, but I am finally learning and remembering how to have fun with silly kid things!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stop talking, this is supposed to be a song!!!!!!!!

So I am sitting at school listening to my favorite online radio station - Listening Post channel - and stupid Sheryl Crow comes on! In the past few months I have noticed something infuriating about her; she is a "singer" who never sings in her songs! She just speaks, she tells a story. She is probably only famous because she knows how to play the guitar, but oh man she drives me nuts. Her voice is not nice to listen to when it is speaking through all the music. Her tunes are catchy, but that is probably only to distract from the fact that she isn't singing. Why do people like her make huge boo coo bucks for only having half the talent for which everyone gives them credit!???!

I must be crazy

I have been trying to keep it a secret, but let's face it - I suck at keeping my own secrets. (For my friends out there, never fear I am only loose with my own secrets, I am a champ at keeping yours, promise.) So I started a running regiment and it is totally kicking my big ol' butt. I was running really sporadically before February, but since last Sunday I have kept myself to running every other day. I am incredibly out of shape, so running is hard. And to say hard is a huge understatement.

I can run for about 15 minutes without stopping, and then I just want to die. So, I walk for 10 minutes or so and then I run some more. My body is sore, but I was expecting that. I was afraid my crappy ankles would start hurting, but I have been lucky so far. Here is where my lousy secret keeping comes into play. I mentioned to some teachers at Sanwa that I had started running because I wanted to exercise. This news caused them to invite me to run with them yesterday after school. It was Wednesday, so I was supposed to have the day off, but I figured it is a good idea to take them up on their offer. I warned them that I would be exceptionally slow and they assured me it was okay.

Hiromi kept paced with me - which was extremely kind of her. I lagged way behind the group, but at least it gives me something to work for. I doubt I will ever be "fast" but my goal right now is just endurance. I want to be able to run for 30 or 45 minutes without stopping. I am quite a way off that goal for now, but it is something to work toward. And since Hiromi went slowly with me, we were able to work on the speech I have to give to Koga Third teachers tomorrow. I have included it below with a translation!

おはようございます。 私の名前はアネリス ヘイスリップです。 アメリカから来ました。 今まで日本に四かい来ました。 だから五かいめです。 日本の食べ物はぜんぶ好きです。 でもなっとうが大きらいです。 私はしゅうじにきょうみがあります。 私はみんなと勉強することが楽しみです。 よろしくお願いします。

Good morning. My name is Annelyse Haislip. I am from the United States of America. I have been to Japan four times before and this is my fifth time. I love all Japanese food, except natto. I am really interested in Japanese calligraphy. I am really looking forward to teaching the students. Pleased to meet you all.

So, I hope you all are cheering me on in my efforts to get healthy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nostalgia makes me sad

Lately, I have not been my usual, happy, optimistic, sickeningly positive self. I am feeling a little defeated, a little lonely; having some self-worth issues, etc. Even though I am deciding now to wallow in sadness and self pity a bit, I don't want you to think this is a cry for attention. I just want to be sad. I want to cry and I want to feel a bit melancholy. I can blame this on anything I want - the weather, dislike of my job, desire to be home close to my family, relationships and friendships.

Sitting in school, knowing how little a difference I am making and beyond that how wasted my time is just makes me long for when I had part time jobs with friends I liked. I miss the Majestic! I want to be back in that box office making $9/hour talking to distraught customers and making their day better. I want to open the MajBo at 10am on Saturday mornings and talk (listen about) video games and new movies with Craig. I want to go back and make more time to hang out with Annie and Christina and Erin. I want to be back in college volunteering with children and playing memory games with colors and shapes. I want to teach them manners and how to be polite and share. I want to color and watch my kids make pictures with their incredible creativity. I want to tutor kids who secretly want to learn and have a huge capacity for knowledge. I want to be able to communicate complex ideas with the people around me and to feel like I am being useful and giving back to my community. I think it would be great to be sitting in class again listening to lectures about management theory and learning accounting and finance theory and application. I want to be able to call a friend up and go to dinner any day of the week, any time of night.

It would be great to go back to high school and be in 3, 4, 5 plays each year. I want to perform on stage for a big audience. I want to sing and have people hear me. I want to learn lines and blocking and help to brainstorm the best way for the scene to be choreographed. I want to put on stage make-up and dye my hair for a show. I want to see my friends from community theatre again and be friends with adults. I want to sit in Japanese class with Mr. DiNicola and be challenged again and actually learn something.

I want to stop complicating my life and my emotions with thoughts of, "what if." I want to have a life that is not compartmentalized between home and college and living in Japan. I want one unified life that doesn't have any secrets. It has been a long time since I have cried and I need to cry and release everything that I am feeling. I need to feel my sadness completely and then let it go completely.