Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ups and Downs

There's some discussion in my home department about teaching writing. So I decided to write a short email note in response to another about the topic. I hope I struck a balanced, decent tone in explaining my position, and didn't hurt someone's feelings unnecessarily. It's sort of a downer start to the morning, worrying that I'm stirring up things I shouldn't be or something, or in ways I wouldn't if I were there talking to people. But I also think it's an important discussion.

Office hours today to help students prepare for the next essay. Some good, a no show, one not so good.

Then I had a delightful lunch with a couple of the staff members here. One had offered to advise me about going to Kyushu over spring break, and she invited the other as a friend and because she'd been to Kyushu. It was GREAT! They helped me figure out where to go and how long to spend in different places. And at the end of lunch, one took the paper and said she'd talk to the travel agency on campus about it.

Class. Well, class stunk. I think they hadn't all done the reading. Okay, to be honest, I think not a single person had done the reading. Grrr. Today was the first day of talking about using other people's words and ideas in our own writing. To prepare, they were each supposed to find a relevant piece of information (from the internet was fine) about the problem they're writing about. Most had done this part.

But I felt like I was starting from total scratch talking about introducing sources and such. I'm pretty sure they've been exposed to such material in earlier English classes, and probably in other classes? At any rate, and for whatever myriad reasons, class just didn't work today.

I had another office hour after class, and got a call from my lunch pal. After the office hour, I went down and met with the travel agency person, who had come with all sorts of amazing plans for me to choose amongst! I'm going to Kyushu! And I'm taking an overnigth ferry to get there!

For several of the nights, I'll be staying in traditional Japanese style inns (called ryokan), but for the last nights, I'll be in western style hotels. (The travel agent told me that it's often difficult to book rooms for a single woman because at some point when a woman was about to kill herself, she'd book a room in a ryokan. So they traditionally think a single woman is up to bad things. I am, but not suicide any time soon, I don't think.)

I'll be traveling in all sorts of ways: ferry, bus, train, bullet train. It's pretty darned amazing, all the planning!

I paid for most of the reservations today, but will have to pay for at least one ryokan along the way, and several trains. So that's great news.

As I was walking back to my apartment, I saw a couple faculty folks tossing a football around, and asked if I could join. They invited me to, and so I had fun throwing a football for a bit, and then we switched to frisbee. I've never been as good at flipping a frisbee as at throwing a ball, but it was still fun to run around a bit and try. And they were good in that way people can quietly be helpful, moving a step closer so I don't have to throw as far, that sort of thing. So I really enjoyed it.

And then I got a little cramp in my leg, and a little pull in a shoulder (from trying to jump to catch a frisbee, of course), and reminded myself that I'm not a kid. Alas. So now, a hot bath is in my future, and probably some hot cocoa (because that's just the sort of wild thing I am these days!).

Mostly ups, and a few downs today.


  1. Anonymous5:32 AM

    Are you taking the ferry that lands in Beppu, or at least going to Beppu? I love that place.

    You're doing an amazing job getting out and about. Complain all you want about your aches and pains, but while you have that much energy to travel around, you ain't old yet!

  2. Hi Meg, YES! I'm taking the ferry to Beppu, and staying a day there. Do you have things you'd suggest I see or do? I'd love advice if you do! Thanks :)

  3. I am so jealous! Had you done a lot of reading before traveling abroad? Or are you mostly learning as you go? It sounds like everyone is really nice and helpful.

  4. Anonymous5:08 PM

    My advice isn't really worth much, being 20 years old. Going to the mudbaths there was really cool, and the people were wonderful. And the ryokan I stayed in was really nice too.

    Have you been to a public bath yet? Go to one there at home -- with a friend if possible, but if not, don't worry about it. Having a little familiarity with the ways and protocols of a public bath will make the mudbath culture in Beppu (and the hot springs in Niigata, etc.) much more fun.

    There's a Japanese children's book called "Ofuro" (in hiragana) that is a complete course on the public bath in pictures. See if you can find it at the public library or at the nearest bookstore.

    As you can probably tell, I'm lapping up all your adventures -- keep 'em coming!