Hello there, 2008

Well, this is awkward, isn’t it?
Please believe me when I say that this is the first moment free I have had since my last update…almost a month ago. Well, the first free moment I have had not stressing out about letting myself relax enough. Yes, I stress about not relaxing. I also make bulleted lists on different ways to best relax, set email reminders to remind me that I need to be relaxing, and pencil in a schedule of relaxing in front of various people or electronics.
Don’t think you haven’t escaped a lame-o Year-In-Review post like all the Blogging Blogs I read warn me that viewers hate (YES, I read blogging blogs!), because it’s a-comin’. I only have the time NOW because I have suddenly gotten over the crippling fear of coming up with a lesson plan for tomorrow, even though I’m finished with the textbook! What do you talk about when you’re finished with the text? In high school, we watched movies and had parties and went on internships. In Japan, I guess you give speeches and hear Lauren-sensei reciting wikipedia entries on Martin Luther King Jr.
Advantage: The US of A.
Anyway, I’m off to a Japanese lesson soon, but I wanted to recount a highlight of my trip back to the states.
I was sitting at Island’s Restaurant in Los Angeles with Melissa, and the Caucasian waiter came to take our order. Without thinking, I leaned over to her and asked, “How do you order the Fries Appetizer with raw onions?”
Melissa and the waiter exchanged a look for a moment, and Melissa, being sensitive to my bi-cultural/geographical confusion, shouted, “You say that! He speaks English just like you!”
Now, in my albeit weak defense, I believe what I meant was that there was a special way she and her roommate Traci always ordered this appetizer, and I wasn’t sure if I were saying the right thing. Was I supposed to say white chopped onions? Chives are raw onions, too, and we didn’t want those.
But, yes, I do realize that I fell a little too easily into my routine in Japan of freezing in the headlights at the terror of ordering a menu item from a person paid to bring them to me.
Then today in Japan, as I was bowing at the morning meeting in the gymnasium, it occurred to me that the way I bowed was directly dictated by Shredder’s speech to the Foot Clan in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. I bowed low, but I never let my head drop or lost eye contact just in case my opponent (the 70-year-old principal, in this case) felt like roundhouse kicking in my face.
And I realized that, at least for next year or so, I will continue to do everything wrong, culturally, no matter what country I’m in.

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