Here is some more random year-old stuff! At this point, I was settling into my apartment and beginning to learn about my city and coworkers, but I had no internet (and some residual jet lag, I think).
Without further ado, I give you August 7, 2009!
Trash, you may have defeated me today, but washing machine, I will arise victorious! You and your little funny looking buttons and hoses have nothing on me. After all, I cooked an egg in the microwave today! Number one, turn on! Actually, I better connect you to the bathroom first, I believe. Mwahahaha!! Thank you for giving in so easily and playing a happy song for me! Now, about that trash...today I was skulking around the Board of Education office trying to figure out how to throw away a plastic cup. Apparently, there is a spot on the other side of the floor! Also, cars, we need to have a discussion. Y'all are making me look like an idiot! I keep trying to get into the drivers side when someone is taking me somewhere! And I'm still not used to driving on the other side of the road - when it comes to turns, especially, there have been a few white knuckles when I do finally get into the passenger side - everything in me wants to scream "Wrong lane!" Speaking of people taking me somewhere, can I just mention what a weird feeling it is to basically be completely dependent upon people I've known for a grand total of two to two and a half working days! It hit me several times today, as I've had many things to sign or stamp with my new hanko. Most of it has been solely Japanese, which as you know, I don't read. Well, actually, I can read this: エリサベス ホール. If you guessed that to be my name, you are right! Anyway, if you know me at all, you know that I am very hands-on and detail oriented - I like to ask questions and make sure I know what's going on before I commit to something. Not so here...for all I know, I could have just been sold to a Siberian work camp. Actually, everyone here has been amazingly wonderful - they have been taking very good care of me. Tonight is actually the first time I've been alone for any length of time (besides in the morning when remnants of jet lag and an early morning sun have me waking up at 5am). The staff actually cleaned my apartment for me before I moved in, which just blew me away. The first night, three people on the staff took me out for dinner to keep me company, and last night the whole staff had a welcome enkai for me.
Quick update - I won the wash battle, but the dryer battle seems to be getting the best of me. Time to check the guide! Hmm...it seems that the washer has had the last laugh - I thought I had turned the bathroom sink off before I unhooked the washer, but apparently I turned it on to full force. Blah! ...Pause to hang up clothes in wardrobe room...note to self, need fabric softener...
Anyway, back to what I was saying about the staff. Everyone has been exceptionally nice and helpful. For example, today I was a little unsure about what someone was saying. I was pretty sure that I had it figured out, but they went ahead and called an ALT in another city who'd just done the same thing to let him tell me about his experience. And today, Reiko took me to the bank to set up an account, the cell phone store to set up another account, the rail station to pick up a ticket, and the ferry terminal to see it (I have a visit to Rishiri next week). When I say that Reiko took me to set up accounts, please understand that she did all the work. I just stood around and tried to look like I was paying attention - again, just weird for me, who's usually plowing around in the thick of things. To just be a bystander looking in on my own life is really weird. It's really knocked my independent streak for a loop. I suppose it just goes to show that we can never judge an alien in our midst by his or her performance in our society (I can say alien because I am officially an alien now!). Look at me...an educated woman who can't really even order lunch. "What did you have for lunch?" "Uh, I don't know..." Come to think of it, I'm really not sure what I had for dinner either. It's really been good for me to have this experience and learn that the fate of the world really doesn't rest on my decisions.
Enough heavy stuff! Back to fun! I have to say that I am experiencing the most achingly beautiful summer! You know the old question, "Which do you prefer, mountains or oceans?" Heh heh heh...here in Wakkanai, I don't have to choose! While sitting at my desk in the office, the cool breeze brings in the cry of a seagull. I look up, surprised, and see mountains in the distance. In the cafeteria on my floor (AWESOME!), windows all across one side of the room look out over a deep blue sea. It almost hurts to look at it. When my plane landed in Wakkanai, I felt like I had been dropped off in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. The scenery was just wild and unspoiled. It's - of, course - different in town, but still oh, so amazing. I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time outside tomorrow learning the kana.
It's also strange to feel so cut off from the world. I just got my cell phone today and I can check my email, but other than that, I can't do a whole lot of communicating. I'm looking forward to getting some contact information for people at Sapporo Orientation next week.
OK, I really need to go to bed. I'm very surprised that I'm not tired yet - yesterday, I was worn out by like 8 (maybe it's the espresso I had at lunch without cream or sugar).