Saturday, December 31, 2005

Are you Scared? How about now?

You will be scared! You WILL be.

Did you know that Defecaloesiophobia is the fear of painful bowel movements?

Or, how about Alektorophobia, the fear of chickens?

And Papaphobia, which would have you believe is the fear of your father, although close, is actually the fear of the Pope! Good gracious, me. There's even Lachanophobia which is an acute Fear of vegetables, not to be confused with Maserphobia -the Fear of Singaporeans, or people from Singapore. Oddly enough, it's a real fear. Not to mention my new favorite fear, metrophobea, the fear of poetry! That one really got to me, giggles, hiccups and all!

At the website you can check out all kinds of strange phobias. Some of these things had me in tears rolling on the ground I was laughing so hard!

Admittedly, this list of phobias is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Yet, also quite educational as well. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bonenkai, Christmas in Japan, and Remembering Japanese names

I love how Japanese people always reply back to one's emails with a sincere, "remember me?" They are so cute in there curiousity of how we acknowledge them, and on top of all the politeness, they don't want to offend our feelings knowing that one makes so many new aquaintances that sometimes, we actually do forget. Especially when it comes to the more difficult pronounciation of some Japanese names. Girls over-all tend to be easier for me to remember. A lot of Japanese men have unique names which are often hard to say, and much easier to forget. It took me forever to remember Sayaka's dad's first name, Kazutaka. Not that it's overly hard, but it's one of those names that doesn't come up often. I always was so formal in calling him Miyamoto-sama, that I totally neglected to memorize his first name the first two months of dating his daughter! Yikes!

Sometimes even some of my good friends will write me a "remember me" message to my phone or email. It's not that I forgot my best friend, but it's just something that Japanese do out of politeness. In a way, it becomes a type of informal, albeit extremely humble, greeting which is similar to "long time no see, how are things going?"

Around this time of year, holiday seasons and what not, the Japanese celebrate 忘年会 (bonenkai) which is the end of the year events often culminating in many business parties and year end activities. The culmination of these events leads to the biggest holiday in Japan, お正月 O-Shougatsu aka New Years. Everyone sheds their end of the year worries, and gets ready to start the new year off right.

Christmas not being as big in Japan as the states, although there are quite a few of decorations and white Gaijin running around going from school to school dressed as Santa. It's funny, but one of the things a white English speaking foreigner has to put up with is the infamous beging of Japanese schools trying to get you to dress as the big man in red and come visit all the little children. After getting past the humilation of realizing the only reason you're being asked to do this is because your white, and the Japanese don't believe in "ethnic Santas" is one culture shock, but after that it's up to you to accept or decline the invitation.

When I recieved my inviation to dress as Santa, I didn't hesitate. I was ready to go spread some holiday cheer and I thoroughly enjoyed all the bright smiling faces. Some of the kids got so overly excited they started crying. Others kept jumping up at random and clapping their little hands in an abrupt outburst of joy, to which their teachers hushed them and begged them to let Santa-san speak. I gave a speach, sweating heavily underneath a heavy red satin suit which they keep locked away just for special events like these. With my spectacles, and extra pillows for padded gerth, I shouted a big hefty, "Ho-ho-ho Merry Christmas!" I finished with a speach, and drew the kids a big picture of Pikachu, to show them that even Santa respects Japanese culture. They all cheered, and I was off with a wink and a twinkle in my eye.

Exiting down the hall I was so much in character that I shouted another Ho-ha and statled my small petite escort, a quiet Japanese kindergarden teacher, who laughed after I shot her a playful Santa Clause wink. Behind, in the auditorium, came another burst of cheering and child screams.

I'm glad I was able to play that role, if nothing more than just a stereotype, sometimes we have to forgoe our egos and sucumb to more simplistic thinking, even if it means humbling ourselves before others. Santa's obviously white, because that's how he is in the movies, right? But for me it wasn't about racial stereotypes, because after having experienced the gleeful hoots of the bright eyed children, it became more about spreading some joy, Christmas cheer, and loving my fellow man.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unsung Song of Long Lost Sweathearts

After several years, I have found my good childhood friend!

I had two best friends growing up. However, of the two, the second was an unlikely match and pretty much stood for the opposite of everything that I was. Not in a bad way mind you, but my next best friend was a girl much younger than I. Now, I'm not talking like Johnathan Swift cradle robbing young, but when you are a child looking at the big outside world the scope of things makes a person younger than you by three years quiet noticible. Yet, this didn't stop us from being friends.

After having spent time growing up with this girl, she vanished out of my life at the end of my senior year of highschool. Without a trace would be an exageration, because I knew her circumstances, and her life was hard. My life was easy. Maybe I found excitement in her energy and boldness to take life head on, and maybe my laid back style of taking life as is came comforted her. Whatever the cause, we both clicked, but with all the changes we were experiencing growing up, I knew that no matter how well we fit as friends, our relationship was never destined for anything more than comfort.

So five years later, I do the daring, bold, and frankly quite crazy. I hunted down this long lost ghost of a friend and I wrote her a long letter about how important her friendship to me was growing up. She called me up on the phone a couple days later, and to my suprise, we're both the same but entirely new versions of ourselves. She has matured and blossomed, become a mother of two beautiful children, and I have adventured across oceans and found my true love Sayaka.

I must admit, catching up on old times was fun. Finding a long lost friend I didn't expect to find was also an exciting event. It just goes to show that the people who are important at various times of your life can always find a way of being important again. Or for that matter, perhaps they never cease to be important. For my own personal curiousity, I had to know whether she was doing well, and the neat thing is that she is. Coming from a tough background of growing up depending on her own will power to survive in the insanity that was our home town of Cut Bank, it was nice catching up with my dear freind. I'm sure that we will always be friends, but that's the beauty of it all, you see, for me true friendship is the best way to loving your fellow mankind.

The Japanese have the word nakama to describe strong friendship, the type that overwhelms, and those friends which are so direly important they are more than mere friends, they are family. They complete your life, and fulfill our more human needs of bonding and human connection. Perhaps, I feel a little more complete knowing that my childhood friend and I still have a strong connection; concordently our nakama never died.

It's also wonderful knowing that beyond it all, I have a wonderful woman to call my own, and in the light of things, it is Sayaka's frienship I cherish the most. Yet the bottom line is, it's nice to have friends.