Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

虹色光 aka Solara (Care Bear Monster!)

Hello Baby Solara! Welcome to the World!
Born Dec. 7th, 2009. 8lbs. 3.5 oz.

My new daughter Solara Sapphire Vick!  She decided to make a bold statement by being born on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. She's our 'peace baby' as she symbolizes the wonderful relationship Japan and the U.S. now share, so much so that her American father could meet her beautiful Japanese mother allowing for the chance for a beautiful baby to be born. Peace baby!

My daughter Solara becoming extremely disgruntled when she found out that sucking the Care Bear's arm did not dispense with the milk. Grrr...! Give me milk!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Angel Eater

So my students are writing about their "future dreams" of what they want to become when they grow up. Girls tend to want to become flight attendants, teachers, nurses, and pastry chefs. Boys want to become pilots, firemen, salary men, and teachers. These answers are standard, often unoriginal on purpose (as they're all trying to fit in), but in the land of the homogeneous every once in a while you get a Koji.

Koji wrote about how he wanted to become a god. Why? Because Koji wants to rule the world. Sounds well enough, but how does one become a god I asked? Koji informed, "You must first find God, and ask him to make you a god, and then you become a god."

Ah, sounds easy enough, I replied. Koji nodded in the affirmative. "It's that easy," he said.

Then I asked, "What do you do when you become a god?"

"Well," Koji said with a contemplative grin, "I will eat angels."

"Eat angels? What? Why?!"

"Because!" Koji said confidently, "That's the type of god I will become."

I asked if there was anything else he would do other than conquer the world and eat angels, and he simply said, "Nope. That will keep me pretty busy."

A few minutes later the JTE (Homeroom teacher) came up to me and asked if Koji's essay was acceptable for the open class tomorrow. I said yeah, it was fine. A little strange, but every class needs a Koji once in a while, a unique personality type, with an over active imagination, and a class clown to boot. But this is the type of originality and unique independent  spirit which is so rare in Japan. I sometimes find myself wishing their were more angel eaters like Koji.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Do As Infinity

Because I'm in the mood, and it's a great song. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Smelly Girls!

Living in a foreign culture can sometimes be challenging. But other times, it's downright exciting. The exchange I can have with my students is not only informative, but we can all enjoy the oddities, or rather peculiarities, of one another simultaneously learning about each other in the process. This multicultural exchange is what makes being an ESL Teacher worthwhile.

This time, I had the pleasant experience of quirky off the wall humor. It's an epic of silliness. It's one of the reasons I enjoy living in Japan. Namely, the Japanese culture is so different from my own that every little difference is startling! For example, in Japan tattoos are BAD! Really bad. Not like, I'm a good Christian and my Pastor dad will kill me if he finds out kind of bad, but, literally society will shun you and you'll be driven out sort of bad. But then again, they love to bathe communally... in the nude... together. Go figure. Just don't get caught with a tattoo.

Even so, it's these differences which I find amusing. And one of the best examples happened today. Let's call it: the case of the smelly girls.

It all began after fourth period, before lunch, when a group of students convened in the hallway to chat with me. As they were excitedly all talking to me at once about numerous topics of interest, I noticed the girls continually sniffing in my direction. I looked at them and they all giggled and then stared back at me. As a habit, I turned to the boys and asked, "What are they doing?"

The boys laughed, and informed me that I smelled good. "Oh, you think so too?"

"Yes," they confirmed. And then one of the girls asked, "Are you wearing perfume?" All eyes and ears intently focused on me anticipating a response.

"No," I informed, "I am wearing deodorant."

 "Di-ode-o-ra-n-to" they replied in staccato Japanese accents. But in Japan deodorant is scentless, and moreover, nobody wears it. It's only meant for really active boys who are doing sports, and then Gatsby, one of the popular brand names, only sells aerosol sprays and paper-powder-wipes, both non-scented. Not exactly what they think about when they smell my Old Spice Aqua Reef gel based antiperspirant and deodorant.

So I thought it would be a good time to do some show and tell. I retrieved my stick of Old Spice from my school bag and opened it to show them. The boys took a big whiff and instantly retracted, eyes tearing up, noses wrinkled. "Pheeew-that's strong!" One boy exclaimed.

The girls, on the other hand, loved it. Of course, in Japan girls are accustomed to wearing perfume, and so anything new and exotic entices them. Then, without warning, one girl grabbed my Old Spice and started rubbing it on the back of her hand. She then proceeded to make her friends smell the back of her hand, informing, "I smell like Vick-sensei!"

Without hesitation she passed it to her friend, who did the same, and then there were seven girls, all rubbing my deodorant on themselves giggling frantically because they smelled like Vick-sensei.

One of the boys turned to me and asked, "How do you put it on?"

"You rub it on your body," I said.

"Your naked body?"

"Yeah, basically," I told him. His eyes got big, he looked at all the girls frolicing and rolling around in the scent of Aqua Reef, and then doing a double take looked back at me.

"Which part of the body?" he inquired quite earnestly.

"My armpits I told him."

He started laughing hysterically and ran off to tell all the other boys that the girls were rubbing my deodorant all over themselves, which I use on my armpits!

Then the lunch bell rang, and retrieving my Old Spice, I watched as seven smelly girls danced and pranced down the hall all giddy with the excitement of smelling a little bit smellier than they smelled before. And all this made me chortle, as I found it so funny that they got so excited about something so mundane back home. It was entertaining to say the least.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Middle Mountain Madness

Sometimes students change a little, and sometimes a lot! I was at a culture festival and ran into her, and she ran up to me and asked me if I remembered who she was, and I said, "Yeah, but don't you have a little too much make-up on?" And she hit me and laughed. Then we had a good long chat and caught up on each others lives. It was a nice mini-reunion.

At any rate, we had a good half hour chat about her future goals and aspirations and we caught up on old times. She is one of my all time favorite people, quirky, fun, beyond interesting. It was a real pleasure to run into her. I enjoy seeing every one of my ex-students whenever and wherever we happen to bump into each other at. It's always a great chance to see them develop into fully fleshed out adult people. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Puri-Kura Time!

Last weekend I made the arduous journey from Hiroshima to Kumamoto. Arduous because, if you've ever driven on the densley packed Japanese toll high ways, well, then you probably know exactly what I mean. Short drives are fine, but over six hour trecks are more than nerve wracking. Anyway, a guy has gotta' do what a guy has goatta' do. The bottom line is, I was happy to see my wife again and get a few days off work. The baby is "super genki" and is kicking like a ninja/soccer player. Future Shaolin soccer master? Perhaps.

 For those who haven't heard, we've already decided on a name. People have names after all, and we only thought it would be fair greet our baby daughter properly. So in three weeks we shall welcome Solara Sapphire Vick into the world!

Sayaka's mother accompanied us to the print club photo fun booth, called puri-kura (purinto-kurabu) in Japanese. Taking puri-kura photos is a popular past time for Japanese, as they do it in middle school and high school every weekend with their friends. Sometimes adults just can't help feel a little nostalgic and hop in one for old times sake.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Say Hello to Mr. Nezu!

Here's my best Japanese friend Mr. Nezu. He's a really cool guy. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Aliens and Predators Ate my Student's Brains!

Funny story. One of my third year boy students (same as a high school freshman in America) came up to mean and started telling me how excited he was that the movie "Aliens vs. Predator" would be on television this weekend. He continued to inform me about how awesome scary movies were, and we have a really fun geeky conversation about scary movies.

He had mentioned that he loved the television series "Supernatural" also a personal favorite of mine, and then asked me what my current favorite scary show was? I informed him about "True Blood" and he got overly excited about a new Vampire TV series which will come to Japan soon. I responsibly added that the show was rated for adults and had too much gore and nudity in it. This, however, seemed to only excite him about the show. Oh well, can't say I didn't try.

A few minutes later I was talking to a girl student in the hall and she told me with great excitement that she was going to watch "Aliens vs. Predator" this weekend on TV. Deja vu struck me, and I couldn't help feel that I had just had this conversation. Low and behold, this lovely young lady was planning to watch this scary movie with her boyfriend, and she was excited, not because of the Aliens and Predators which were going to terrorize her imagination, but she was extatic about snuggling up to her man and enjoying time together amid the Aliens and Predators.

A little while later I ran into them both again, and asked them if they were dating. My students got embarassed, but then informed me that they were "sort of dating." They were boyfriend and girlfriend, but dating is a real big word here in Japan, so they didn't want to admit that... just that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. I told them I understand, dating implies serious comitment and even a physical relationship, so boyfriend and girlfriend it is then. We all continued to talk about scary movies, and if I'm not mistaken "Aliens vs. Predator" should be airing any minute now.

Catch you all next time! Have a great weekend! I'm gonna catch myself some B-rated sci-fi, and hope that everyone has a good time this evening.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Japanese Bento (Homemade!)

School lunch services got canceled due to the typhoon Melor. Since it was a test day also, students got out at 2:00 pm instead of 4:30, so it was a bring your own bento day! A bento is like a Japanese lunch box... except a lot more preparation goes into making one. Take a look at the delicious and verily artistic bento my lovely wife Sayaka made for me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kyoto Trip Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Shrine) also known as Rokuon-ji (the official name) is one of Japan's biggest tourist attractions.

Having a macha-tea break. Yummy!

Kyoto Trip Kiyo Mizu Dera