Friday Five · Seen

Friday Five: On The Wolverine

(Mini spoiler alert! Though if you haven’t seen the film, most of the things I’m going to mention are pretty obvious/predictable right from the start.)

2013 Movie Preview: The Wolverine

(Is anyone else kind of freaked about by his crazy muscles? Picture source)

Last weekend, Chad and I went with my brother, sister-in-law, and friend to see the new Wolverine movie. My brother was telling me that Hugh Jackman said in an interview that The Wolverine was supposed to give fans the Wolverine they deserved, and one of my coworkers told me the film was mostly set in Japan, so I was excited to see it. Here are 5 things I noticed throughout the film:

1. I was really excited to understand all of the Japanese without subtitles! When the subtitles came on I needed them a few times because they were talking so fast and angry-like, but for the most part I could understand a lot, which made me happy. At the same time, it made me miss Japan tremendously (like I didn’t already, haha).

2. While understanding the Japanese made me happy, I’d have to say a good 30% of the un-subtitled Japanese was just the word gaijin, or foreigner, being thrown around as angry Japanese mafia chased and confronted Wolverine.

3. And speaking of gaijin, Japan is notorious for Japanese women falling for even the nerdiest, jerkiest, weirdest foreign guys, while foreign women tend to loom in the background, feeling like ogres. So it came as no surprise when Mariko slept with Wolverine. Gaijin  guy strikes again!

4. And while we’re talking about Mariko, I was surprised no one sat down with the non-Japanese actors to talk about how to pronounce her name. I heard everything from Marko to Mary-ko.

5. Lastly, the bullet train scene was pretty fun, though hardly feasible. I mean, maybe somehow Wolverine’s extra strength and mutant awesomeness allowed him to get by, but how about the mafia guy? Unless he had some super physics-defying powers hidden in his tattoos. Which would be an pretty cool revelation to everyone who knows anything about yakuza.

Two more final notes: 1) What was the point of Viper shedding off her skin only to basically lose her hair? She looked way cooler with reptilian skin, in my opinion. And 2)The after-credits scene starts off really cool with Wolverine and Magneto, but when Xavier comes rolling through like he’s on a game show my brother and sister-in-law just about lost it. We all decided that was probably the best moment in the movie.

Did you see the movie? If so, what did you think?

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Bachelorette Parties & Wrapping Paper

On Saturday one of my friends had a bachelorette party, and for dinner we tried an Asian cuisine restaurant called Fuji Yama. The restaurant had Thai food, Vietnamese food, and of course, Japanese food! I was really excited.

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I ordered a beer right away, hoping Asahi was on draft, but settling for Sapporo instead. Then I had the hard choice between eating Thai Prawn Green Curry or Tempura, ultimately going with the tempura.

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Some things I was surprised about:

1.) The waiter brought out the miso soup that came with my meal about 5-10 minutes before bringing out the rest of the meal. In Japan, the miso soup is enjoyed at the same time, creating a nice balance of alternating bites of the dish, rice, and a slurp of soup. I waited for the rest of my meal and felt a little sad as my soup got cold.

2.) The serving size was huge! I think there was probably three times as much tempura as you would get in a typical tempura set in Japan (not that I’m complaining). I couldn’t finish it, though it was delicious.

3.) There were some interesting veggie tempura choices that I never had in Japan–namely broccoli and carrot. I did like them, however, and was happy to try them! Does anyone know if that’s an Americanized version of the veggie tempura, or if you can have that in Japan, too?

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After dinner, we headed back to my friends house for some of the typical bachelorette party games. One of them required each of the ladies to buy the bride-to-be a pair of panties so that she could guess who they were from. Earlier in the day, I went to a department store to pick some up, and was surprised that there wasn’t any tissue paper at the register to wrap panties! (The cashier was clever enough to go pull some tissue out of a nearby folded shirt.) In Japan, pretty much no matter where you go, there is an option to have things gift wrapped. You can generally choose between a couple types of wrapping paper or bags, ribbons and/or seals. Everything is wrapped very precisely and beautifully, as presentation is very important in Japan.

I found this lovely tutorial (pictured below) on wrapping in the style of Japanese department stores, and am looking forward to trying it next time I need to wrap something!

I have enjoyed looking through the blog that posted the tutorial with the picture abovethe blogger lived in Japan for a while, too!

Do you have any interesting or fun ideas for wrapping gifts? I also really like this idea for using confetti, and this one for using newspaper!

Learning · Projects

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

 

 

 

I remember loving the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” when I was growing up, and I still love it to this day. Lately I have been finding myself getting down and worrying about a lot of things I can’t change. I want to fix everything to make my family happy all the time, I want to have more friends that I really feel I can connect with that live on the same continent–or better yet, the same city in the same state!–, and I want to be comfortable and capable in my new job. I don’t want to worry, I want to be happy!

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A few years ago, before I got the opportunity to work exclusively as a teacher of small children, I made the page above in my art journal. Amazingly, I’ve done a lot of the things listed: I’ve gone to Italy and Spain, I’ve sort of joined a book club (though it only consists of my sister-in-law and myself), I started Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (though I didn’t finish–ahem), and I’ve gone paragliding (though I know that’s not the same as parasailing!). I’ve been researching soup kitchens and Habitat for Humanity, and we’ve been looking at houses with a Realtor, so we’ll be getting our chance to make our first house a home.  And, probably most significant at the moment, I am now working in a cafe.

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Around the same time that I made that page, I made this one above with a “mantra.” I came up with the mantra through an exercise in an art journaling class I was taking, and when it came out be the following, I was really excited:

“I want to electrify the lives of children by broadening their horizons and teaching them to navigate life with energy, curiosity, creativity and optimism!”

After making that page, I was lucky enough to live out my mantra as an Executive Head Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator for the Early Learning Center of an international school in Japan. I found my passion, and I hope one day I can start making a difference in early education in the states. In the meantime, I’m trying my best to stay positive, and not let anything or anyone get me down. I mentioned briefly before how working at Starbucks has been kind of stressful, but I think I’m already getting used to things. And I feel pretty lucky to be getting the opportunity to learn all about (and taste!) coffee, to always take my breaks and arrive/leave when my shift starts/begins (which I never did when working as a teacher), and to be gaining so many new, valuable experiences.

Since we’ve been home I’ve often been feeling a bit out of place, and it’s been hard to talk about my life when pretty much every sentence starts with, “In Japan…” or “When I was in Japan…” That was my life for about 5 years, but I feel like a lot of people can’t relate and so they sort of shut down whenever I talk about it. I’ve had moments where I just want to scream or where I just want to cry because I miss my friends in Japan. But, I also have the joy of being with my family every day, and of living in the gorgeous state of Michigan. I’m forcing myself to think something positive to counteract every negative thought that crosses my mind, and if I’m frustrated with a particular situation that’s out of my control, I try my best to let off steam about it once and then limit my acknowledgement to a simple, “I’m frustrated with X situation right now,” before trying my best to let go.

I think I’m learning an important lesson in being vulnerable and in growing through change. We knew we had gotten really comfortable with life in Japan, and that things would be getting uncomfortable for a while as we figured out our life together here. But overall, we’ve sure got it good. We don’t need to worry, we just need to focus on letting go, appreciating how lucky we are, and on being happy.