goodness, life, school

All pau with school

Tonight I turned in my final paper for my Master’s degree.  I am finished with grad school.

Now I have time to look for a job and read that excellent book my parents got me for my birthday, The Modern Maya.

Actually, this is the list I have going for shit to do now that I have time:

clean room (omg it is a shit show)
learn french ratatouille song (I have to learn a French song)
memorize shinkendo language (becoming a dojo bum starts tomorrow)
buy tabi (for dojo bum status, and late bday present to myself)
buy ramen from mitsuwa (been missing that tonkotsu magic)
organize Into the West viewing (movie watching with dojo people)
ask Hiroko-sensei if she teaches private lessons (for a friend)
play ukulele (YES)
buy stationery for poem and future nonsense (so much future nonsense)
reply to Japan job (GOTTA LAND THIS ONE)
Japanese homework (get ready to get fucking rocked, Hiragana)

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family, goodness, humor, life, school

Burfdaaaaaah!

It’s mah burfdah!  Tonight I’m going to Korean BBQ with Dad, Sister, her boooooyfrieeeeeend, Boyfriend and Diminutive Roommate.  Friday is dojo friendship day: we’re going to Honda-ya Izakaya for birthday dinner and drinks.  I’m going to get destroyed.  Then I’m getting pancakes at BLD with Boyfriend on Saturday, then gelato with my old friend from elementary school whose older brother is an instructor at my dojo.  Very small world, very good people.  I cannot wait.

But god, all this awesome hangout time could not have come at a worse time, lol.  I have so much school work to do, it’s not even funny.  Gotta finish a paper, start and finish another (plus a third, shorter one before the end of the semester), plus my teaching video, all the follow-up documentation, commenting on other students’ videos, and one more forum post.  Plus, the last week of school might be filled with jury duty.  Yikes.

Wow.  Sister just sent me the best birthday email ever:

[My coworker’s] twins are sick. She told me yesterday how one of them got up in the middle of the night and threw up, and partially on his twin brother. Which made me laugh, which was probably inappropriate. Made me think of how good [tigerlilytoph] was at being sick, just lying there and staring at one spot.  

So here’s to [tigerlilytoph] the best sick kid there ever was, unless she needed to throw-up, in which case, she was the worst..no warning at all.
 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY [TIGERLILYTOPH]!
So true 🙂
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badness, school

Treat me like an adult or I swear to god I’ll act like a child

So… I got docked for not using what is essentially the two-column note-taking system most of us were taught in high school for my field notes.  They’re explained in the syllabus, and when I read their description at the beginning of the semester, I thought, “You must be fucking kidding me” for a few of reasons:

 1) If I need to be told how to take field notes in my last semester of grad school, I am fucked.
2) That’s not at all how this program taught us how to take field notes in the first semester.
3) Two-column notes are for high school suck-ups who don’t know how to take notes.
4) The two-column system assumes note-taking in an actual notebook…  We’re supposed to take down as much dialog as possible (to make the notes accurate and useful) which can most easily be done in real time by typing 80wpm instead of writing at less than half that speed.  Also, it’s fucking 2014 and we’re all in grad school.  Chances are there’s a laptop or two floating around.

I am now at an impasse: do I alter my field notes to meet the absurd requirements set before us (aka. be a kissass), or take a hit on my grade and continue to take excellent field notes?  I’ll have to email the professor and ask for some answers to the above questions (once I’ve taken the poison out of them).
.
.
Okok, I just had another look at the fieldwork observation guidelines, and it states we should either do two column notes, OR bracket our “analytical question or observation to think about later” amidst our field notes.
I cannot hate this more than I do at this moment.  This level of micro-management (and the fact that it has already affected my grade) makes me bristle.  It also makes me wonder how the previous classes fucked up their field notes so badly that this kind of hand-holding was deemed necessary.  I’m inclined to misbehave just to see if I get threatened with a spanking.
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family, goodness, life, manfolk, martial arts, school, work

The past two months

I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I posted.  Unacceptable.  “Marjorie, pull yourself together!”

Things have been moving very quickly over the last few months.  I’ve started my last semester of grad school, which is bittersweet.  I’m ready to be done with school, but sad I won’t be able to tell people I’m a grad student, which I’v fantasized about doing since I was just a kid.  I’ll be done with classes in about six weeks, and I’ll walk at the graduation ceremony in early May.  My parents will be so proud, which makes me very happy.

give me a life in the country

I’ve applied to the JET program, which, if I’m accepted, will take me to Japan for a year to teach English.  I’ll essentially get paid to do accent reduction as a TA and live in the countryside, which sounds like a fucking dream.  I probably should’ve asked Boyfriend what he thought of that idea before I applied, but I didn’t because I want to go to Japan, and that’s that.  Turns out he’s totally into it, and will come visit/live with me for short stints if it works out.  Very exciting 🙂  I’m signed up for weekly, 2-hour Japanese classes; they start next Thursday.
UPDATE: 1/21/14
I just found out that I didn’t get into the JET program.  I’m totally crushed.  I can’t think of why they wouldn’t take me.  I didn’t even get an interview.  Ugh.  Ouch.
END OF UPDATE

taught my Master Tatsu. no, really.

I’ve taken up Shinkendo, which is very challenging but rewarding (and I passed my first test!  Woot!).  We’ve started learning bō, my favorite weapon, and I could not be more excited.  Bō speaks to me in a way the sword does not, it’s like having a dance partner; it does what it wants, all I can do is give suggestions.  We form an agreement (most of the time), and communicate well.  Perhaps more importantly, I’ve found some amazing people who have become good friends at the dojo, and I’ve had the chance to reconnect with an old friend from elementary school, and can’t wait to help that friendship grow.  I also started another blog, which is what I’ve been spending my time on instead of tigerlilytoph.com:

http://www.dojostuff.wordpress.com

It’s all about life in a martial arts studio, and how hilarious and stressful it can be.

Office Job is still pretty dull, but better since Little Mole Boss was removed from her position as my boss.  She was a good boss (maybe the best I’ve had), but it’s nice to work with my co-workers more directly and speak frankly when we exchange ideas without fear of stepping on anyone’s toes.  I’m taking a more active role in the upcoming events our office is planning, which feels good.

I’ll upload a photo of our bees’ honey soon!

The bees are doing just swimmingly, and we might actually harvest some honey this season!  Soon!  We did a minor inspection and found a few bars dedicated to honey and nothing else.  I held up the comb in front of the setting sun, and it glowed amber and gold.  The comb broke open when I pulled it out (the bees built two bars of comb together, so it broke apart when I pulled one bar out), and the honey dripped out of the cells.  We tasted it right off the top of the hive.  It had a clean, light taste, ultra sweet and just beautiful to look at (surprisingly light in color).  I can’t wait to see what it looks like once we harvest a little bit.

Thanksgiving this year was good, but boozy for the cousins.  I love them, but omg they are annoying drunks, and they drink a lot, lol.  I’m such a lightweight, maybe I’m jealous? (hint: NOPE)  Next year we’ll have to divvy up the apartments by temulency rather than gender.  Diminutive Friend came up for Thanksgiving day to hang out and eat with the family.  She seemed grateful to have people to spend the holiday with since she couldn’t spend it with her family in New Orleans.  I love her so much.

Dad told me a while back that he’s unhappy at work, and since he’s unreceptive to changing jobs, I told him I expect him to find some way to change his attitude toward his job.  Instead of taking his job personally (and constantly checking his damn email), he’ll have to find a way to let it go.  We’ll see how that goes.  It strikes me that I’ve chosen a good path: teaching English as a foreign language is a job I will enjoy (assuming I can find one).  Frankly teaching just about anything at all would make me happy, and I’m lucky to have discovered this as early has I did.

My folks gave Boyfriend a subscription to Bon Apetit magazine for Xmas, which I’ve already reaped the benefits of with a delicious rosemary chicken and a butter-basted halibut.  He is an amazing person.  We’ve been together over 5.5 years, since April of 2008.  I find the idea of marrying him very, very intimidating, even though I would love to have him as a life partner, and he clearly feels the same.  Luckily, neither of us is in any rush to make it official, and I’ve never had a burning desire to wear diamonds.

I spent this past weekend at GameHaus with friends, and, like every Sunday, doing Shinkendo and enjoying my dojo family’s company.

I am so lucky.

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goodness, life, martial arts, school

The rapid-fire beauty of October

This past October was insanely busy.  I wanted so badly to write a post about the pumpkin carving and all the pumpkin-themed food and drink I’ve been making and enjoying, and all the awesome friendships that have been developing for me lately.  October was amazing, actually.

I invited a ton of people to the pumpkin carving and got about 50 people, including a bunch of foreign students who had never experienced Halloween pumpkin carving shenanigans of any kind.  Success!  Their pumpkins were awesome!  There was one Japanese woman who I befriended when she got lost on campus looking for her husband’s law school orientation who came to carve with her husband and a friend in tow.  They were amazed by the others’ pumpkins, and when I mentioned that I knew what sugoi means (amazing) due to watching so much anime, that’s all they could say, lol.  There were a bunch of different circles of friends there, and they all mingled well (although whenever my family comes, they tend to sequester themselves in the kitchen, which they did this time too… *sigh*).

the results of a successful visit to the pumpkin patch

the results of a successful visit to the pumpkin patch

The party was fantastic.  I made a huge pot of pumpkin drink and left it on the stove for people to enjoy.  It was empty by the end of the night.  There were two dozen carved pumpkins in all, I can’t believe I didn’t get any photos!  I was sick and too busy hosting and enjoying everyone’s company.  Of course there were a couple board games going on at once (Zombicide and Betrayal at House on the Hill).  A bunch of my friends from the dojo came and played Betrayal (and beat the haunt by cheating, lol).  It’s so great to hang out with them outside of the dojo, and apparently this is a new development.  Once most of them had left, Dojo Happa and I stood around chatting by the front door while a large group played Cards Against Humanity on the floor next to the piano.  We were chatting about how nice it is to see everyone outside the dojo, and he said, “Yeah, it’s awesome, we didn’t use to do that.  It’s because of you.  Oppa Sensei didn’t used to come out like this, now he comes to everything.  He was at the pumpkin patch, he came out tonight, he comes out to eat with us.  He’s not doing that to see me, it’s you!”  We laughed about my tendency to bring people together and make people laugh.  He seemed really appreciative, and it’s so nice to hear in so many words what I try so hard to do.  I really enjoy their company.  One of them (Senior Ecuador) invited a group of us to his parents’ house in the valley after the pumpkin patch to have a late lunch/early dinner of mostly Ecuadorian food with his folks, who could not have been nicer.  Earlier in the month, I had him over to get drunk and watch Hansel & Gretel, which wasn’t actually as bad as we expected.  He and Boyfriend actually kinda liked it, but they’re idiots, it was total trash 🙂

The founder of the martial arts style I’m studying now (Kaiso) had his 65th birthday party mid-month, and although it was expensive, it was a really fun time to see everyone dressed up and happy.  We had sushi and really good shabu shabu, and some amazing cake and green tea ice cream (which I got totally busted for scarfing down before we all had to leave in a rush to walk Kaiso to the valet and see him safely off).

I had a bunch of presentations and projects due within the last two weeks of the month, which coincided perfectly with the huge event my office hosts every year where thousands of people visit campus to participate in our programming, so that was pretty stressful, but I’m either getting awesome at handling stress, or getting better at handling my work load because October wasn’t nearly as emotionally/mentally draining as I thought it would be (though it felt super rushed all the time).  Also I was sick for the first time since I quit Karate Job.  Worst.  Timing.  Ever.

So... something to shoot for at next year's pumpkin carving

So… something to shoot for at next year’s pumpkin carving

A couple days after the pumpkin carving party, I went to a Danny Elfman Concert with Diminutive Friend and German Friend, which was amazing.  Although I’m not a huge fan of concerts, since there’s not much to come away with other than the music, which I already have access to and enjoy whenever I want.  Still, it was Danny Elfman’s first concert in something like two decades, so it was very exciting.  Loads of people in the crowd dressed up in what can only be described as a hodgepodge of steampunk, goth, circus, Halloween gear, and they all looked great.  And I kinda lost my shit when Danny Elfman came out and sang, “There are few who deny at what I do I am the best, for my talents are renowned far and wide…”  I knew he would sing that first!  And not just because it’s Jack’s first song in Nightmare Before Christmas, but because those lyrics are perfect for a comeback concert!

Then a couple days after that was Halloween!  I gave a presentation for one of my classes (in full costume, of course-Ren Faire gear this year), then zoomed downtown to an old professor’s class to defend my work (which he loved so much, he’s been using it as an example for current and future classes) and ended up giving my final presentation from his class all over again.  The students asked some really good questions, and I even managed to quote from the article he drew from most and essentially based the class upon, and I cited the page number of the quote.  So yeah, I’m a fucking amazing academic, thanks for asking.

Afterward he and I went out for a drink and chatted for a couple hours about my life, what I’ve been doing, what I will do, and why I’m not staying in academia (he wants me to so badly).  Midway through our time at the bar, I thought, “This is what it must be like to have a mentor.  Someone who knows the framework of your life, and what you’re capable of, and then looks you in the eye and demands that you go further and continue to challenge your self.  This is amazing.”  It was also super intimidating, but he was satisfied at the end of the conversation that I was getting enough stimulation (I convinced him my friends are all geniuses who don’t get drunk for fun, and that Boyfriend has a great sense of humor and is fully capable of keeping up with me), and that my selflessness might not be such a crutch after all (“So explain this to me: You have this sense of giving, this selfless streak coursing through you, but your’e American, and Americans are selfish, so how does that work?  Where did that come from?”  We had a good laugh about that, but he was mostly serious).  I invited him to come see the beehive some time soon, and he seemed enthused.  He’s also stoked to write me a letter of recommendation, and he’s super fun to hang out with, so overall I’m feeling pretty lucky to have encountered him in my life.  We walked by the Mayan on the way back from the bar, and he seemed particularly tickled when I fist-bumped some guy dressed as Deadpool (and Deadpool enjoyed being recognized, of course).  Overall an amazing evening.

And now it’s November and I can finally relax.  I’m feeling less sick every day, I only have a couple more projects to do for school, there’s nothing crazy going on at work (aside from the non-existent job security, bleh), and Boyfriend’s three closest friends are randomly flying into town for four days toward the end of the month for no reason other than to bug him and have fun together.  They’re great people, I can’t wait to see them and watch Boyfriend disappear for a few days into that tight circle of friendship and love.

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badness, goodness, life, martial arts, school, work

Job security: Gone like a fart in the wind

Yesterday was Wednesday. As it turns out, Wednesdays can be a bit of a roller coaster.

Tuesday I went to work, then physical therapy, then stopped by home for a quick liverwurst sammich (delicious omg) before zooming over to a repair shop Hollywood to pay the bill for Dad’s car and park it on the street nearby before they closed (dad works too late). I went into the office to find a woman verbally abusing one of the employees. I shot her a stern look which she completely missed as she continued on her cuss-filled rant. “I took a fucking day off to come here, y’know what I mean? Why the fuck am I here?” The employee she was harassing could not have been more professional, and frankly I was shocked by them both. I decided that if she raised her voice or did anything remotely signaling a physical demonstration of her totally unjustified fury (throwing a pen, poking him, etc.), I would step in and redirect her wrath away from this poor man.

pretty sure I could've taken her

pretty sure I could’ve taken her

It never reached that point, and after a few minutes of her throwing her little tantrum she walked out while our friend was mid-sentence, recommending another body shop no less.
She blew right past me on her way out the door. I turned to the man and said, “Woah. Woah! I cannot believe she felt comfortable talking to you like that, I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve any of that. Holy crap.” Once again, he was super polite, so I stayed and chatted with him and the other employees in the room about how crazy she was and how they should never have to put up with that kind of attitude. To their credit, they didn’t tear her down at all, and just commiserated that some people are just angry and there’s no fixing it. What an excellent group of people.

I went home to do some reading for school and couldn’t keep my eyes open. I slept for about a half hour on the couch downstairs before Boyfriend woke me up to go to Shinkendo for an hour, during which I screwed everything up and got worn out some more. I got a curry bun with a couple of the guys from the dojo afterward (and a green tea mochi ice cream for free because I made buddies with the guys behind the counter at the mochi spot in Little Tokyo, they’re so nice!). Then it was back home to eat a bit before heading over to my folks’ place to have a sleepover (Boyfriend came too, and drove separately). We sat with Dad and watched a bit of the America’s Cup (which he just loves). He showed us some really cool clips at the start of the previous day’s race (especially the part where the American team was super clever and fucked up the kiwi team. He literally cackled a few times, it was really fun), and relayed how exciting this year’s race was: we were down 6-1 at one point, but had since come back to win seven races in a row to match the kiwis 8-8 in a competition to win 9 races. Wednesday’s race would decide it all! Boyfriend and I went to sleep in the beds Sister and I had slept in as children, which he decided felt like sleeping in a hotel. Overall a fun day.

But Wednesday.

that good feeling where you're feeling solidly employed...

that good feeling where you’re feeling solidly employed…

I woke up at 5 to take Dad and a couple of family friends to the airport across town. He and a friend are going car camping to see some ancient Native American ruins, and I could not be more jealous. I headed back to his place to drop off his SUV and pick up my little Fiat before heading home to make breakfast (hash browns and eggs with Cholula and ketchup, yum). Then it was straight out to work where I was disappointed, twice.

There’s a huge event coming up that we’re having catered, so the caterer set up a tasting of all the food they’ll be serving. I was not invited to this tasting because the office can’t afford to pay me just one extra hour of work (which wouldn’t even be overtime). This was planned weeks ago. It’s not fun to be excluded from something I’m an integral part of planning, especially since I was in charge of getting estimates from a bunch of other catering companies, but my boss went with the most expensive one instead out of convenience and habit (but a single hour of extra work is out of the question).

On Monday, Little Mole Boss emailed me and one other coworker asking for a job description. I kept it vague, not wanting to bore her, and was corrected yesterday: You need to flesh this out, she said. Someone else will be looking at what you write and you need to make yourself sound important and necessary. Why on earth is that, Little Mole Boss?
Well.  Apparently there was a clerical error that made my salary come out of the wrong budget. Now that that mistake has been discovered, the necessity of my position is being called into question by people with whom I have never interacted, and who are so clueless about what my job entails that they need me to map out what I do for them.

[To be fair, very few people at this job know what our office does. It’s not a commonly-understood area, but we provide an awesome set of services that I think are integral to having a solid experience.]

Regardless, I’m having trouble warming up to the idea of someone at some distant desk evaluating the past three years worth of my work and potentially coming to the conclusion that I could just as well have not been there at all. THAT’S demoralizing. I can see why people get depressed after getting fired.

So I went home and made a bunch of pumpkin pancakes and ate them all. Then I attended a makeup class for about an hour (totally pointless) and applied to seven jobs, mostly ESL teacher positions from craigslist. I texted a friend at the dojo and asked if he’ll be at class so we can organize some kind of pity party afterward. He was supportive but wasn’t sure if he could make class, so whatever.

I just need to stay focused and remember that this is not my dream job, and if I leave, all it will do is give me more time to find a teaching position, apply to teach-abroad programs, and load up my coworkers with even more work (unfortunately).

I’m observing an ESL class right now, and it’s great to have my career validated; every time I teach, I remember: This is my natural state. This is where I belong.

Also, I am the greatest earthbender in the world.

is there anyone better at overcoming obstacles by being awesome?  I think not.

is there anyone better at overcoming obstacles by being awesome? I think not.

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goodness, humor, life, school

Taking the reins… for about ten seconds

I meant to post this Thursday, May 23rd:

As part of my master’s degree, I’ve been sitting in on English language classes every semester. It’s been a very valuable experience, and kinda wild to see all the different styles of teaching. The first instructor was a short, chubby Caucasian man who had a very gentle manner and an excellent rapport with his students. He taught a great deal of pronunciation and asked the students to tell about their personal experiences.

The second instructor was a Filipina woman with a thick accent who spoke almost non-stop during the whole class without giving almost any chance for the students to speak or participate. As a result the class was disruptive, chatted among themselves and often didn’t pay much attention. Regardless, she reminded them constantly that they needed to continue their English classes, and shouldn’t give up on their education.

The third instructor I observed was a Caucasian woman who had married a Mexican man, and could speak fluent Spanish (but almost never did). Her lessons had a very predictable rhythm: speaking, reading, writing, dictating. Everything seemed very carefully planned, which demanded that the students pay attention and respect eachother.

This semester, the instructor is an odd mixture of scattered and organized. He teaches a level 1 class that consists of a large range of academic abilities: some students are barely capable of writing (having never been to school before), while others are fully capable of moving on to the second level by the end of the semester. As a result of this discrepancy, only some students consistently participate, and many of them are incapable of sharing detailed stories about themselves, which seems to cause many of them to lose interest.

I sat in the back and watched, taking notes on my laptop and occasionally circulating around the class to help with an exercise or answer questions. The students who sit in the back near me became accustomed to me, and often turned around to ask questions (sometimes related to the lesson, but often personal: Do you have a boyfriend? Do you cook for him? No? HE cooks? Really?).

vayate, gringa

vayate, gringa

A couple weeks ago, an older man who had not been in class for more than a couple of weeks turned to greet me when I sat down.
“Hola”
“Hi.”
“Como esta?”
“Bien, gracias, y usted?”
“Bien, bien…”
Then the instructor came around and we chatted while the class copied some vocab from the board. When he left, the older man turned and asked if I was from Argentina (So specific! Do I have an Argintinian accent when I speak Spanish? Why would that be?).
I said, “No, soy Americana. Soy de Los Angeles.”
He asked if I was Mexican (ethnicity). I said “No, soy, uh, una gringa.” He and a couple others at his table laughed. He said there is lots of discrimination against gringos, and pronounced gringos with an American accent. He and the people at his table asked several questions about pronunciation throughout the class, and felt free to catch my attention in between activities. One asked my name, and had trouble understanding (I’ve never met a Hispanic woman with my name). I said, “Es una flora,” which was met with “Ahhh” and nodding from the table, as though they understood.

The instructor gives me a chance to teach the class occasionally, which is intimidating but very valuable. The worst part is setting up the first question to the class. After that it’s easy and fun. I’m fascinated to hear what their responses will be. I looked for where we might be misunderstanding each other. I can tell I’ll get better at this with practice.

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