Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stepping out

Well, this year has really been a year of changes and new exciting adventures! I am embarking upon a new one as we speak!

My cousin is co-leading an e-course called The Creative Playground, and is meant to allow you to play and be creative! I signed up and have been looking forward to it! This evening, it began, and I realized that I am also slightly TERRIFIED!

As I was working on the first prompt, my inner critic started up. She was rather horrified at my lack of artistic ability and deep insight. She looked over my shoulder, frowning and making suggestions, and huffing at every slip of the marker. In her opinion, I should just content myself with watching others play, because Van Gogh I am not.

She has been fired.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go wash my green and pink hands.

Cultural clashes

There is something that reminds me almost daily that I'm not at home. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to properly adjust, and I feel ridiculous every time. Ready? It's...

Walking.

Yes, somehow, one of my most obvious cultural clashes (and crashes) is encountering people while walking and trying to get past them. I instinctively swerve to my right, and everybody else swerves to their left.

I'm kind of not so good with the spatial awareness thing, though, so I'm having a hard time getting my body to go the other direction. It gets easily confused and can't remember which was the original direction and which was the new direction. Don't ask!

Anyway, it often makes me wonder what other cultural situations I may be blundering into (and completely unaware of). People around me are always randomly standing and bowing. Sometimes, I will be really deep into something at my desk and then realize that everyone is standing up! That is discombobulating!

It's always interesting, though! I think I had definitely been rooted in my own culture's forms of politeness (naturally), so it's interesting to see life and behavior through different eyes. I just never realized the enormous scope of things I didn't have to think about before Japan!

Oh, on a fun note, next year's hopeful JET participants have been finding out whether or not they've been accepted!

HEY! That means this blog just had it's first anniversary!! Um, happy anniversary, dear blog! Maybe someone will send us a gift of paper!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another Suzy Homemaker FAIL

I often have dreams of being a modern day domestic diva. Somehow, someday, I will be able to keep up with my full time job, social life, Japanese study, and in addition, I will have a beautifully maintained apartment full of homemade foods and handmade useful and unique accessories a la Trading Spaces. "Oh, this couch?" I'll say offhand to my amazed guests as I hand around a plate of homemade scones and petit fours, "I whipped it up last weekend out of some old twigs in the yard and some recycled fabric given to me by an old woman in the Sahara. Really, it was nothing." Then, I will blush modestly while they ooh and ahh over my perfectly prepared sweets. Did I mention that in this life I manage to meet or exceed the US guidelines of an hour of exercise per day. Really, it's not so hard. Yes, I even get my 8 hours of sleep every night and naturally I eat my 500 servings of fruits and vegetables. I mean really, who doesn't do that?

Then I wake up.

Today was another good example of a Suzy Homemaker FAIL. It all started this way...

After church today, I was admiring the family's built-in water filter. They mentioned that stores have machines where you can buy a jug, then fill it up all you want. Well, this sounded like an ideal situation to me, as bottled water here is much more expensive than back home, plus it comes in much smaller bottles, which creates a lot of yucky environmental waste as well. So, we went to the store and I got started with my very own jug of water.

Well, I was excited about my new-found water wealth this afternoon and was thinking about what I wanted to do. I decided to have a cup of chai tea. Then, I decided that if one cup was good, many cups would be even better! I brought some chai teabags back with me from home, so I decided to go ahead and brew a whole pitcher of chai tea.

This would be a step toward Suzy Homemaker land. I envisioned sauntering into work, carrying my own chai tea with me (instead of my usual speedy pass by the vending machine to get some hot cafe au lait). This led to a whole fantasy of actually making my lunch and amazing my coworkers (actually, they usually aren't all that amazed when I bring my own lunch, but in my fantasy, they always are).

I set a pot on the stove and put the teabags inside. I had already heated the water with my amazing electric teakettle, so I just reheated it for a second and then poured it into the pot. I did figure that pouring boiling water into a plastic pitcher would be a bad idea.

As the tea steeped, I washed some dishes (or maybe just one yucky pan, but who's counting?). Once I thought it had steeped long enough, I decided to go ahead and make myself a cup before I made the whole pitcher.

I poured enough for one cup into my mug. Now, at this point, the brew was basically just spicy tea. To make it delicious, you need to add sugar and milk. I decided to add the sugar first, as the milk would cause the tea to cool pretty quickly. I took my jar of sugar down off the shelf and prepared to sweeten my tea.

Now, there is something that needs to be understood about my sugar here. It's not quite as sweet as sugar back home, and it is also a bit damper than what I'm used to. It's almost the consistency of brown sugar, if that gives you an idea.

Since I had spent all my time washing one pan, all my spoons were still dirty. I actually don't have THAT many spoons! So, I did what any good, intrepid person would do. I decided to ever-so-gently pour a slight amount of sugar into my tea.

You can guess how well that turned out.

Dismally, I surveyed my tea and tried to decide what to do next. Then, my Suzy Homemaker within spoke and reminded me that I had a pot of tea that needed to be sweetened. So, I poured my tea back into the pot and felt slightly virtuous. Then, Suzy spoke again and mentioned how nice my house would smell if I recycled the used teabags by placing them in a pan of water over some low heat instead of just throwing them away.

Well, as I prepared the pan for free potpourri time (yes, it was dirty, too), I decided to take that opportunity to reheat the tea in the pot.

I have a gas stove.

I didn't think about the teabags dangling over the side of the pot.

Just as I was washing one pan with one hand and turning on the burner with the other, it hit me. Apparently, it hit the dry paper at the same time.

My house is still standing, in case you are wondering.

And my ash chai wound up tasting pretty delicious! Oh, and I made my bed today.

But, I have to ask myself, does Suzy Homemaker have this much fun? After all, who wants to be perfect all the time?