Thursday, February 18, 2010

二番 Number 2

A funny story from Friday:
I had a long day. I taught 4 classes in a row, then had to spend an hour and a half listening to some students practice their English speech contest speeches and explaining to them how to make the "th" sound. Nevertheless, I had a headache by the end of the day. I was sitting at my desk, head pounding and wondering if I could even drive. Luckily, I was at the school where I had a small group of young female teachers that I've befriended. One of them asked if I wanted some medicine she had. I didn't know what it was, and I felt bad for being a burden, so I was hesitant. She started translating the side of the box to see what symptoms I had, just to make sure the symptoms went with the drug. All I had was a headache, but I went along with it. She started going down the list in Japanese and translating them, and I knew most of them. Then we got to seiri (生理). I had no idea what that was, and the teachers searched their electronic dictionaries. They handed me their dictionary with the word pulled up. I looked at the English definitions. Definition No. 1 didn't make sense, but No. 2 did: menstrual cycle, aka period. I handed the dictionary back to them and said "Niban (No. 2)." Next question was "do you have niban?" I confessed I did have niban currently. We didn't use the word seiri, we used the word niban, as if the actual word was taboo. We were in the middle of the teacher's room, so it was probably a good option.
That, my friends, is how the menstrual cycle became known as "niban."

Art project
One of my favorite teachers is an art teacher at one of my schools. By unlucky fate I rarely am teaching the days she teaches art. I just so happen to use her desk when she is not there, so one day I left her a note at the desk. The next time I returned she had left me one. I was excited. In high school, I wrote a ton of notes. My friends and I had the same classes and teachers, but at different periods, leaving us bummed and isolated. I'd write notes and slip them in desks for them to find when they had the class later, and they'd return the favor. I had the same sort of giddiness return to me upon starting up note writing with my teacher friend. Today the planets aligned and we both had classes. After my classes were done, I bee-lined it for hers. First class was 1st years (7th grade equivalent) sketching and working with modeling clay. She handed me paper and I joined some of the kids outside to sketch the scenery. It started snowing, so our hands were shaking too badly to draw. The next class, 3rd years, were carving stamps/personal seals out of small marble blocks. I was amazed by their designs of not only the stamps, but the carving of the handles they were doing by hand with tools. The art teacher asked me if I had ever done anything like that, and I said no. My art classes were never that cool! She found me a leftover kit and told me to make one! The main focus of the project was to make seals with the students' names in kanji (Chinese characters), but in the way the kanji looked thousands of years ago, in the ancient Chinese writing style. It just so happened that the day before I had a teacher help me choose kanji for my name. I had done it before with friends but I had made this one a more serious choice, so I took those kanji and decided to make a seal.

Kanji meanings (as individuals) sub-, crimson red, logic
Since I have a foreign name and I'm converting it to the Japanese syllabary and then trying to find kanji characters that match those readings, it wasn't easy.

I'm working on it now, when I'm finished I shall post pictures. I'm excited to be making my own stamp that I could use on letters and such.

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