Saturday, July 31, 2010

分からんではない。たぶん。

wakaran dewanai. tabun.
"They don't not understand!  Probably."

The above phrase has a funny story behind it.  First, let me say that it sounds just as odd in Japanese as it does in English (being a double negative).  Anyhow, on Monday, I went with my German buddy to get yaki-niku (焼肉, grill-it-yourself meat) for dinner at a very "neighborhood" sort of place.  We go in, I say there are two of us, we get shown to our table, we get the menus, and the waitress explains to us how the ordering system works at the restaurant.  It's very familiar, like most any other yaki-niku place.  I listen attentively as she politely carries out her duty, wondering whether she supposes I can understand her, wanting her to trust that I do (truthfully, I understand about 85% of her instructions).  When finished, she leaves the table, and I happen to catch what she says to her co-worker.
"They don't not understand! Probably."
Needless to say, I thought this was hilarious.  I've been waiting the entire year to overhear someone say something like that here, and it finally happened.


Anyway.
It's my last Sunday in Kanazawa, and today I've spent a lot of time packing up my stuff.  I can't believe that this year is basically over now.  Is it just me, or are the days just going by faster than they used to?  It seems like this year has been so fast.  I've done a lot of amazing things this year, gotten to know some fantastic people, had many wonderful experiences, and I can speak conversational Japanese now (it's better than my Russian for sure now).  Packing up my room is a lonely experience, but seeing all of the souvenirs and everything I've accumulated over the year reminds me of what an awesome year I've had here, and it makes me all the more certain that I'll come back.

This fall, I'm signed up for advanced Japanese and advanced Russian at Tufts, as well as a senior thesis seminar.  I'll be busy and plan to study a good deal and keep up my language skills, but I want more than anything else to just have an awesome fun year.  Then next summer I plan to spend some time in Europe.  After that, I may go back to Japan or work on board a Sailing School Vessel or similar occupation.  Thinking that far ahead in the future is problematic at best, but it's good to have goals.  There are still so many things I want to do in the world, and I want to take advantage of the opportunities available to me while I still can.

I also feel that I've grown up a lot in the past year, certainly in the past year and a half.  The time since New Year 2009 has meant massive changes for me, and a lot of growing up.  I look older, too.  It's a strange proposition, growing older.  Maybe I've grown a bit less sentimental, but perhaps it's in a positive way.  I'm still sensitive to things like that, but the days have been going by faster recently.  I have some more specific ideas about what I might want to "do" with my life, but it's also possible to say that I still don't really know--so I keep learning, keep traveling, and keep dreaming.  If I ever lose that sentimental wonder, I won't be me anymore.


(News stuff)
Want to see an example of truly abysmally horrid news reporting?  Click here.  (I wrote a very stern email to the author of the article.  As expected, no response.)


I had saved the links below a while ago, all of which concern some serious issues in contemporary Japan concerning the "foreigner" population.  They may or may not be interesting.
http://soldave.ismysite.co.uk/biginjapan/okinawan-protest-draws-far-fewer-than-quoted-by-media
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/business/global/08kyoto.html?pagewanted=2&src=busln
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/arts/20100514TDY12T04.htm
http://www.debito.org/?p=4136
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/disgrasian/the-mcdonalds-mr-james-ad_b_269692.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090901ad.html
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1918246,00.html


Here are some pictures from the past month or so, leading up to last night. (Not in order.)  For now, I'll let them speak for themselves.

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