Sunday, December 25, 2005

Just a Reminder...

I’ll be back in Grand Rapids from December 27 to January 8. Plan your schedules accordingly and let me know if you’re interested in hanging out.

Shoko is coming with me as well. It’s not her first trip to the States. She spent two weeks in New York a few years ago. She was hoping to do some sight seeing, but wasn’t able to see much due to some unfortunate timing. Her plane landed in New York the morning of September 11, 2001. The rest of the time she was in New York most of the tourist destinations were closed down. But that’s her story really, and you should ask her about it if you get the chance.

Although this won’t be quite as bad as when I took 8 Japanese students on a home stay, obviously it will be a bit of a balancing act between entertaining Shoko and spending time with friends. In addition to the usual awkwardness of introducing a new girl to old friends, Shoko’s limited English might make it hard to integrate her into the conversation.

Shoko's a bit nervous as well in part because of what I've been writing on this weblog. "Everyone's going to think I'm really stupid because of what you wrote," she said. "I'll just have to introduce myself and say, 'Hello, I'm the Japanese girl who doesn't know anything.'"

"I didn't say you were stupid," I said. "I said Japanese people in general were ignorant."

"You said Japanese people were ignorant and then you used me as an example."

"Oh, yeah I guess I did do that once."

"Repeatedly," she insisted.

So, if I've given the impression that Shoko's not that bright, I apologize. In a lot of ways, she's doing a lot better job of running her life than I am with mine.

Anyway, if having Shoko with me cuts into time with friends, the silver lining is of course that I’ll be back home permanently come March.

In fact a lot of Japanese friends have asked me, “Since you’re leaving in March anyway, why go home for winter vacation?”

I don’t really have a good answer to this except that I just want to go home. It’s been a year since I was last back, and around the year mark I always start to get really homesick and sentimental.

It seems like it has been an eternity since I was last home and saw old friends. I start to really miss everyone, and reproach myself for spending so much time in Japan, and allowing myself to grow distant from my friends and family.

And yet the past couple years, despite feeling desperately homesick the weeks before Winter vacation, before my break was even over I was eager to return to Japan. I’m not sure why that is. The feeling that I no longer fit in back home, or perhaps the fact that my job, friends, social circle, and life are all now located in Japan? Signs of reverse culture shock? Having too much time on my hands because my friends were working during the day? Or perhaps, as Dean Dozeman surmised, the human instinct to always despise our present surroundings and our constant longing to be somewhere else.

At any rate, come March I’ll have to deal with it permanently, so this Christmas break will be good practice if the same feelings do arise. At present I’m so homesick that I can’t imagine getting to America and then wanting to go back to Japan. But then that’s how I felt this time last year.

I miss my family a lot too, but last year it was amazing how, even having been away for so long, I quickly started bickering with my siblings again. Within 4 days after my return my youngest sister started screaming at me because she felt that my being in the same room interfered with her enjoyment of watching TV. (I think because she felt embarrassed that she was watching cartoons. I’m not really sure actually. Perhaps my tendency to ask questions about the plot was what did it. I made a token effort of sticking around just because I didn’t want to look like I was giving into the yelling, but then the screaming only increased, and I gave in.)

My brother and I share a bedroom suite, and there was a rather heated discussion about whether or not he had the habit of slamming the door in the morning.

I’d like to think that at 27 I’ve out grown this kind of sibling squabbling, but apparently not.

Link of the Day
I've rediscovered Steph's blog through Chris Powell's links. Great source of pictures.
A picture really is worth a thousand words. I spent a great deal of time trying to describe the waterfall in this post. All I really needed to do was link to Steph's picture here.

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