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2006-07-20 4:16 p.m.

rasuto takosu

Another quick update. Last night was my going away party with my English conversation class kids and their mothers. They got the place we ate at to make tacos and everything. (Though they seemed to have something akin to cream cheese in them, the tacos were actually pretty good. You never know what you're going to get under the label "taco," or rather "takosu," in Japan.) The kids made me little elementary kid-type presents, and I gave them each one of my cherished pens and taught them the basic form of pen flipping.

I also got a special gift for Natch, who has really done a lot for me. The other mothers were there, too, and upon receiving it...

Natch: "I don't know about in America, but in Japan it's bad to give a present to just one person in front of a group. You should have given it to me when we were alone."

Me: "Is it okay in Japan to start this kind of discussion in front of the whole group, then?"

Her: "Well, no..."

Ugh. She's a great woman and she's done a lot for me, and I mean A LOT, but she also has a talent for annoying me. Like the time I made nikujaga (a stew-type thing) for her, and the first thing she said to me upon our next meeting was, "It was too thin. You put too much water in it." Suffice it to say I never cooked for her again... I think she feels that she has to act as my mother while I'm in Japan, and I know she's just trying to be helpful, but... Ugh.

I'll miss her anyway. Dagnabbit.

I've checked off a lot more lasts since the previous entry. Surprisingly I haven't gotten that verklempt so far this week, as I've been too busy rushing to finish everything that (still) needs to be done. I am finding myself very reluctant to leave now that the time has come, though. Traditionally I'm raring to go when the time comes to move on to the next thing, but this time is different. But my last time in Japan was like this, too (though I was only there for four months).

I love this place. I won't regret never having to stamp in at the middle school again, though... The middle school can bite me, to be perfectly frank.

There is so much more I want to write here, but there's no time... I hope I find time to write more before I leave. In case I don't see you, wish me luck in not getting killed in Central Asia or in Serbia!

choking on the splinters,