Today Jon asked me why I don’t write blog posts at home and then bring them to the internet café on my little pink USB stick. It’s true, I do have a lot of downtime at home and I spend huge portions of it sleeping or in the bath. I could do something a little more productive, and update this blog thing.
But whenever I write here I feel like I’m complaining or just giving mundane details of my day-to-day life. Maybe that’s what blogs are. Hilarious situations happen here a lot, but when I sit in front of the computer screen I draw a blank. Sketchblogging is so much easier (if I could just get myself to do some of that!).
As I write this a little Japanese voice inside my computer is asking me “sō desu ka?” How appropriate. Within the last week Ive gone from banning the Japanese language in my home (at least when it’s gaijin saying things I don’t understand) to having a slight grasp on the language. When I first came to Japan I didn’t know a word. I couldn’t recognize anything said on TV or to me. At my first (and only) Japanese lesson a few weeks ago, the woman was asking me for my name and I gave her a blank stare that created a whole new remedial section in my beginner’s class.
Now Im starting to pick things up. It took a combination of hearing the same thing repeated over and over, learning about the grammatical structures, and seeing the words written in romanji in books. But, even when you read Japanese in the familiar script it is pronounced differently than in English. For example, “desu” is pronounced dess. The “u” is silent. And “hajimemashite” is an example of how tricky it is. It’s pronounced ha-jee-may-mosh-tay. I’d say I know about fifty words. I can make a few questions but cant really put sentences together beyond “My name is…” and “I like it.”
Tonight I had a Nabe party at my house. Jon was here and some former students from Nova, as well as a woman I give private English lessons to. She came to the grocery store with me and it was amazing! I could just pick up a product and she could tell me what it was and what was in it! That’s part of my reason for wanting to learn Japanese. Also, it gives me some brain food. But knowing that even if I study intensely for a few years I wont be completely fluent makes me feel defeated and unmotivated. Because I know I wont put that much effort into it. I think I have the attitude that if Im not going to be perfect at it (and will forget most of it when I move back home) it isn’t even worth spending time on. Of course, then I look around and realize where I am and pick back up my Kanji Starter book.
Like today, for example. I was in the shower and Jon was cooking pancakes (it was 4pm). All of a sudden the hot water turned off! Like, nothing was coming out of the showerhead. I got out of the bathroom and into my freezing apartment and asked Jon what happened. He had leaned on the hot water heater control. I stood there trying to fix it for twenty minutes, whining about my situation and screaming “I hate Japan!” I pushed the four buttons in every sequence conceivable and but nothing worked. The voice inside the box just kept saying, something-something-blah-blah-kudasai. I had to call Sister Fuji, luckily she came over and said the problem was that we hadn’t turned off the faucets. That’s what that voice was saying. Of course.
Funny thing happened yesterday. I was trying to find the kanji for “Kudamatsu” so I Googled “Japanese Kanji Kudamatsu.” Guess what the first result was… youre looking at it.