Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Been a Good Run, Boys

I've never known more about soccer (football) that I do at this point in my life.  Thanks to the Japan National Team, I got into the Bundesliga and, thanks to the Bundesliga, I got into the Champions League.  Which means that starting out with the World Cup three weeks ago, I knew people from just about every single team and had some expectation as to how those teams would play.

Where do I begin to describe my feelings for my own team?  I know their names, I know their playing styles and many of them, I know their off-pitch personalities.  (I couldn't stop laughing at one video of Yoshida-san and Uchida-san greeting some ball boys in which Uchida-san immediately reached up and patted them on the head, much to the boys' chagrin).  There's no objectivity towards my boys - I'm not sure there ever was.  

And now the World Cup moves into the knockout stage and my team returns home, heartbroken and disappointed in themselves.  Zaccheroni has resigned from being manager.  Hasebe resigned from his captain post.  The team is trickling back to Japan, with Hasebe leading the way, stunning the media with his gentlemanly refusals to stop his and give interviews.  

It's sad, waiting for four years to show the world what you're capable of and realizing that you didn't do that.  However, as I think back on my team and their playing and how the games went, all I can say is: Thank you.

It's been a good run, boys.  I've enjoyed every bit of the past four years.  Thanks for the journey.

Ganbatte Nippon!

Rom Com Cute Meet

I was sitting in the foyer at church today, waiting for my ride and a nice young woman named Emma who is moving out of Cville on Tuesday was waiting in a chair nearby for her ride.  One of the congregations that we overlap was getting out of sacrament meeting and a tall, handsome young man wearing an orange bow tie (believe me, it was classy) came out of the chapel door, looked at me and smiled, turned and smiled at the young woman and then sat down in the chair nearest her to fill out his tithing slip.

Then, I did not even attempt to stop staring as they had the following conversation.

Handsome boy: Hi, I noticed your bag there.  Do you go to Albemarle High?
Emma: No, I don't.  I mean, I would be going there in the fall but my family is moving to a different city.
Handsome boy: Oh, really?  Did you attend Southerland then?
Emma: Yeah, I did.
Handsome boy: Good school.  Why are you moving?
Emma: My dad's job.
Handsome boy: Too bad.  I went to Albemarle.  Well, at least, I did.  I just finished.  I'm moving soon, too, to North Carolina.
Emma: Really?
Handsome boy: It was so nice to meet you.  What is your name?
Emma: Emma
Handsome boy: My name's Josh.  Well, <standing up> I'll see you around.  Or well, I won't.  But I would, if you were staying.

After he left, I unabashedly spoke up.  "Isn't that how life works?  Two days before you move, you meet a handsome guy who could have been a friend at your school or at church dances."

Emma nodded.

And then I awkwardly continued, "Well, I guess, that's not how my life works.  My life is more like having conversations with that guy over there," as I indicated a different empty chair across from me.  She nodded at me dubiously while I just marveled that a handsome boy had purposely made a point to get to know her.  (She even acted like it was normal to talk to handsome guys)

Cute meet, right?  If life were a rom com, this would not be the last time she sees Josh.  My inner kdrama fangirl sqeees at the possibilities.  (Does this make me the socially awkward side character that you just pretend is not a part of the story?  Because I'd be ok with that, honestly)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lab Woes

I went back to my lab today, in hopes of figuring out what was wrong with the computer data acquisition program for another graduate student.

This is what I found out: About a month ago, the lab was hit by lightning

Let me repeat that:


I'm afraid when I heard that, I started laughing, although I'm not sure if I was laughing because it's better to laugh than to cry or because I was so deliriously happy that it was not my lab anymore.

Does that make me a bad person?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pharaoh's Daughter's Best Friend, Priscilla

Halfway through sacrament, we ran out of paper for drawing pictures.  Given enough paper, the two little girls that I now have charge of during church are happy little clams, drawing pictures, coloring pictures and begging me to draw stick people of all kinds.  (They call them "sticker people")  I'm never quite sure that they even listen to the goings on of the meeting but I did notice that right after the speaker alluded to Lucifer as a dragon that both of them immediately turned to me, "Draw me a dragon!!" 

But out of paper, I wasn't sure how to keep them quietly entertained.  So, I pulled out a packet of Old Testament pictures.  The artwork is just nice enough to catch their interest.  So, quietly, I let the older of the girls flip through the pictures.  She would find one she liked and point at a person and say, "Who is this?"  And I'd respond.  "That's Esther.  She's a queen."  "She has long hair," the little girl would reply.  "Yes, she does."  "That's David and Jonathan.  They were good friends."  "That's Joseph in Egypt.  Here he is in jail."  "That's Joseph.  Here he is with all of this brothers."  "There are a lot of people named Joseph,"  she seemed surprised.  "Well, actually, it's the same person.  There are just lots of pictures about his life," I explain.  "That's Moses.  He's parting the waters."  

After several pictures the girl looked at me in awe.  "How do you know everyone's names?"  I smiled.  "Well, these are pictures of Bible stories.  I have read these stories.  That's how I know their names."   

And then the little girl points at a picture of Moses as a baby in the reed basket in the river.  She points not to Moses or to Pharaoh's daughter but to one of the random bystanders who are vaguely mentioned but certainly given no names.  "Who is that?"  She asks.  "Uhhhh...."

My friend told me later that her name was Priscilla.  (Make up names, he insisted.  They'll never know the difference.)

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's a Brave Thing to Be Awesome

In 1988, when it came time to choose my Halloween costume, I remember BEGGING my mother to let me be Flo-Jo.  My family and I had watched the Olympics on our TV sets (one for picture, one for sound) and I was amazed by the fastest woman in the world.  I wanted more than anything to be one of the people that I so admired. My costume was pretty low-key as far as costumes go.  (I think the previous year I had gone as a butterfly).  I would wear a leotard with a number tag pinned on and then dancing tights with one of the legs cut off.

When I got to school, though, everyone asked what I was.  I was shy - painfully shy- and to suddenly get all this attention for something that I thought needed no introduction, I panicked.  I took off the Flo-Jo characteristic tights.  Garbed in simply a leotard, I let my classmates believe that I was a gymnast or a swimmer even a dancer- it didn't matter which.  The vagueness of it allowed me to escape anyone's notice.  

When I got home, my mom asked me how the costume party went and I admitted I hadn't been Flo-Jo at all.  I think she was a little disappointed.  

While walking to work this week, the memory of this Halloween came to me.  It surprised me how recent it felt - the shame and embarrassment of not being Flo-Jo in public, of talking with my peers.  You know what?  I'm disappointed too.  Sad even.  Because Flo-Jo was awesome!  And a little seven year old girl being her for Halloween?  Even more awesome!  

So, why was I afraid of being awesome?  Why was I afraid of being myself?  

It's simple: I'm afraid of rejection.  If you have an opinion, a thought, a personality, at some point someone is going to disagree with you (or worse).  It's just the way it works.  But for someone who is ultimately afraid of being rejected in any form, this means remaining as neutral as possible and even then, still hurting from the people who dislike people who have no opinions, thoughts or personality.  

I'm doing myself no favors this way, though.  Honestly, I'm not doing the world any favors either.  My elementary school missed the opportunity to have a Flo-Jo in the Halloween parade.  Hopefully, the world could use an original, thinking, acting, motivated Erin today.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In One Sitting

I'd hit my social limit for the evening when I wandered into the closet of a kitchen of my friend's house and found her and her boyfriend, sitting on the floor next to the sink, shoulder-to-shoulder, with their legs stretched out in front of them in enviable meaningful conversation.  I was intruding, this much I knew. 

But the room I left was initiating a nerf gun war, which was so far beyond my energy level that I braced myself to just walk out entirely when I stopped.

"Is that your copy of A Fault in Our Stars?"  I asked my friend.  I'd seen it countless times in the bookstore, tempting me.  But a teenage book about someone dying of cancer could be really really good or really really bad, which, given my current job-hunting state, I couldn't justify finding out on my own dime.  

"Yes.  It's wonderful and sad. I read it in one sitting.  You can borrow it if you like."

And so I did.  A wonderful read.  I enjoyed the experience of diving into a fictional world as much as the delicious experience of giving myself the time to read it in one sitting.

And then I went back the next day and read through my favorite parts all over again.

Thank you for friends who forgive the awkward.