Sunday, February 28, 2010


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Saturday, February 27, 2010


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It took me 3 years to finally get these stupid photos off of my cell phone from when I was at Gaidai. This was probably my favorite out of all of them. I took it on my way back from school one night, at everyone’s beloved 枚方市駅. Poor guy. He looks so uncomfortable in that suit… on those chairs.
If you’re wondering whether or not he missed the last train, it was still fairly early in the evening when I took this, so it’s not like he missed the last one or something. Maybe he lost his job. Maybe his wife left him. Maybe he was trying to sleep off the o-sake. Maybe he was just really sleepy. Who knows? This is probably a quintessential salaryman photo if I’ve ever seen one.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Maps ♪


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of my all-time favorite bands. Karen O. is quite possibly one of the coolest people on the face of the entire planet.  This is an acoustic version of ‘Maps’ that I adore…

My OTHER favorite song of theirs is their cover of ‘Diamond Sea.’ It’s so much more desolate than the original Sonic Youth version, and Karen’s voice is lovely, which is why I kind of prefer it. I couldn’t find a good video, so here’s a link to the song that someone was kind enough to put on youtube:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Diamond Sea (iTunes Acoustic Session)

Speaking of Karen O., she also did the soundtrack to the film “Where the Wild Things Are.” I taught this song to my 6th graders (it has a lot of cool things in it, like shouting HEY! and whistling and saying oooh oooh oohh). They really enjoy singing it.

I haven’t done a “Things I love Thursday” post in quite some time.

These are some songs I love. How about you? What have you been listening to lately?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I was thinking about this the other day after one of my friends asked me question #5. I mean, she’s my friend and all, but I still felt a little weird talking about it with her. This is a list of the 10 most annoying questions that people in Japan (and not just Japanese people, either!) absolutely looove to ask me. Nine times out of ten, they succeed in making me feel extremely uncomfortable. Now you can, too! With the aid of this helpful list!

10. Can I practice my English with you? If I know you, sure, I’d be happy to speak English with you and help you out, after all you ARE my friend. Man, I WISH my students or people I actually know asked me this rather than weirdos on the train. If I don’t know you… I really really don’t want to practice with you. Sorry. That will only give you more opportunity to ask me weird questions like the following:

9. Can you use chopsticks? Ok, this one I can kind of understand, since in the U.S. we mostly use forks, spoons and knives. However, someone needs to tell Japan that chopsticks are not an eating utensil exclusive to this country.

8. Are you French? Of course, no offense to the French, but I have been asked this more than once! On the street! In the airport! Waiting for the train! On my way to class! Way to assume that every blonde white girl is French. Racial profiling at its finest!

7. Can you eat Japanese food? This is part of the reason I wanted to move to Japan in the first place. I LOOOVE Japanese food! Can YOU eat a hamburger? Of COURSE I can eat Japanese food, silly! I can even eat natto, but I won’t necessarily like it.

6. What is your blood type? Ok. I have some pretty politically sensitive reasons (if you want to know, ask me about it sometime) for not wanting to answer this question outside of a hospital or blood drive. I want no part in this Japanese blood type horoscope nonsense. It infuriates me that people perpetuate such ridiculousness without knowing where it comes from. Outside of that, I actually don’t even know my blood type (which I probably should know, in case of an emergency).

5. Do you take baths? What most people DON’T mean by asking this question is “do you clean yourself?” but RATHER “do you take a Japanese-style bath?” I still, however, really detest this question. Especially with coworkers. I really don’t feel like discussing my bathing habits with you or with anyone for that matter. Oh and just FYI, I DON’T sit around in someone else’s previously enjoyed bathwater, thank you very much. I know it’s the culture, but that is gross. I will take my morning shower, thank you.

4. How much do you weigh? Jeez. This is like the number one thing you should NEVER ask ANYONE, ANYWHERE, AT ANY TIME. The only people that ever ask me are creepy guys and my students. I usually just tell them that the system of weights in the U.S. (pounds) is different from Japan (kilos), so they wouldn’t understand the number anyway.

3. Are you married? I can understand the immigration office or the company I work for asking me this for tax purposes, but really, does everyone in freaking Ashikaga need to know whether or not I’m married or single? My students have asked me this question every other day for the past 10 months. It’s starting to get old.

2. Do you have a boyfriend? This is the usual follow-up to “Are you married?” I was actually poised this question during my BOE interview when I first came to work here. I was shocked that they had the nerve to ask me, and kind of did it jokingly… which was even more off-putting. Whether or not I have a boyfriend is my PRIVATE business.

1. Where do you live? I have been to some events with lots of people that I don’t know asking me this question. Maybe it’s because they have nothing else to ask me. Maybe they are just trying to be polite and start up a conversation. Maybe it’s because they plan to show up at my doorstep unexpectedly with a box of cookies. Maybe it’s because they want to stalk me, break into my apartment, cut me up into little pieces and bury me in a bathtub full of sand. I have no idea. Nevertheless. If you are a complete stranger and want a surefire way to make me feel uncomfortable in a public place, just ask me where I live.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


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I freaking love these things. It’s only fun when you can do it with fun people, though!!

Friday, February 19, 2010



To everyone who sent me lovely birthday wishes , gave me lovely gifts, sang ‘happy birthday’ to me, and made me delicious birthday dinners, THANK YOU ♥
I had a really great day thanks to all of you!

(It’s so nice to not have your birthday forgotten)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


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It’s my birthday today!

Some other cool people just happen to be born on February 18th: Louis Comfort Tiffany, Enzo Ferrari, Toni Morrison, Ono Yoko, Dr. Dre, and Regina Spektor.

Some interesting people have also died on February 18th: Kublai Khan, Martin Luther, Charles Lewis Tiffany (ironic), and J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Besides births and deaths, February the 18th was also the day for momentous occasions such as these:

1841 – the first ongoing filibuster in the U.S. Senate (it lasted until March 11th of that year)
1929 – the first Academy Awards were announced
1930 – the planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh
1979 – it SNOWED in the Sahara Desert in southern Algeria for the ONLY time in recorded history (!!!)

Thank you Wikipedia, for making my birthday slightly more interesting!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Here’s the deal. I had a pretty crappy day yesterday. When I get upset, I cook (and write…or paint… but I’ve been having problems with painting lately). I personally find it to be relaxing. So. Here’s a recipe for Bruschetta that I, Bridget Beaver in Japan, invented! As far as measurements go, I don’t have measuring spoons and cups and all of that fancy schmancy stuff, so um… I didn’t include any. You’re totally on your own for that. This is a pretty simple recipe, so as long as you don’t drown everything in one ingredient, I’m sure you’ll be fine just eyeballing it.
Also, I usually cook for one (me!) so this is a recipe for one or two servings… depending on how much bruschetta you (or the people you love) can eat in one sitting! I like to use two tomatoes and then use about half of the topping right away, then throw the rest in a container and let it marinate in the fridge for tomorrow. It’s fabulous, I know.

You will need:nanimonai 003

  • Italian or a similar white crusty bread, cut into pieces approximately 2-3 inches in width and about… oh.. half an inch (more or less) high. (I use baguette bread, since it’s the most decent bread I can get here, and it can be cut into nice little rounds!)
  • a tomato. or two.
  • garlic (I LOVE garlic. Sometimes I use 4 cloves, but how much is entirely up to you)
  • rosemary (dried OR preferably fresh)
  • basil (dried OR preferably fresh)
  • oregano (dried or… you know)
  • parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin (tee hee) olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Take your bread and slice it into nice little rounds as seen in the photo above. If you would like to toast your bread, you may do so at this point. I don’t own a toaster oven, so this step is impossible for me. I don’t mind not having toasted bread, but YOU might mind! Set this aside for later.

Peel and chop up your garlic. How small your garlic pieces are is entirely up to you. I peel the garlic then smash it with the side of the knife, THEN roughly chop it. Never a fine mince or whatever. Oh, and FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, DO NOT USE GARLIC POWDER.

In a small saucepan or sauté pan (or whatever small-ish pan you have handy, seriously, I don’t want you to have to wash a huge pan for this recipe) take a few tablespoons of your favorite extra virgin olive oil and sauté your chopped garlic AND some rosemary until the garlic has turned a nice golden brown color… but not dark brown or black. Those are the WRONG colors. If your garlic has turned either of those colors, throw everything away and start over again. You have failed.
Also. don’t forget the rosemary. It’s nice to sauté it a bit in the oil to soften it up (if its dried) and to infuse the olive oil.

Remove the olive oil/garlic/rosemary concoction from the heat. Set aside! For later!

Cut up your tomato(es). I like to dice mine. You probably should dice yours, too. Place in a separate bowl.

Then, in that bowl with your nice diced tomatoes, add your basil, oregano, and salt & pepper to taste. In a pinch, you can do just Italian seasoning mix, but like… where is the fun in that? Also, you may omit the salt, since parmesan cheese is kind of salty to begin with, but some kinds aren’t.

Stir! Gently! Don’t break those lovely tomato dices!!!!

Then! to your tomato-spice mixture add your now cooled olive oil/garlic/rosemary sauté mixture!! And stir gently once again…

Finally, add your parmesan cheese to the tomato mixture. This can be done AFTER or BEFORE you spoon the tomato mixture on top of your little slices of bread. I like to do it before, so everything is done in one fell swoop, but you can sprinkle it on top, as you please.

Spoon your mixture on top of your bread, as shown in the above photo!!

If you have a toaster oven (which, I reiterate, I do not.) you can also sprinkle the cheese on top of the tomatoes on top of the bread THEN toast the whole shebang, which is also quite fab. Either way, don’t forget the parmesan cheese!!!

Finally… in the words of the greatest of the greats, miss J. Child… Bon Appétit!!

★ ★ ★

Ok, so this recipe can be modified to taste. You can add stuff, onion or arugula or olives or whatever, or replace the parmesan with asiago or another hard Italian cheese, or even throw some prosciutto on there, but seriously people, this is a good, basic bruschetta recipe. Have fun with it!! I know I did… and it made me feel better on such a crappy day :)

Bad day.

I would like to issue a warning: I’m going to complain. If you don’t want to read it, then… well… I guess most of you can’t because it will be in Japanese. If you can read Japanese, however… I guess… 申し訳ありません。すみません。

今日の授業は本当にダメだった。みんなぜんぜんちゃんと出来てなかった。あたしが何時も楽しく英語の授業やりたいだけど、この学年は気に入らない。やっぱり、今日も、興味がない。うるさかったし、ふざけてたし、あたしの事をバカにして、わがままにして、皆と英会話ちゃんと練習ことがぜんぜん出来なかった。 それは失礼でしょう? あと、この学年はあたし、他の先生達、クラスメート、誰もを尊敬しない。でもこの場合は。。。誰か失敗した? この振る舞いは誰のせいで? あたし? 担任の先生? 子供たち? 親たち? よく分からないんだけど、今日あたし本当に我慢したけど。。。授業の後に泣いてしまった。これからこの学年をあきらめたい。




今日は本当に。。BAD DAY.

はい。。。以上です。いっぱい文句を言った、ごめんね!!! 時々外国人にとしてここに暮らすことはめんどうくさい!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My First Japanese Haircut

First, foremost, and for the record, I haate getting my hair cut, even in the U.S.! Every time I get my hair cut, I’m usually reluctant to go, but I feel pretty happy with the results a couple of days afterwards. Then I let it grow… for months and months and months until I feel its getting to the point where even my split ends have split ends.
Well, it was just about that time again… you know, to get a hair cut. My hair was super long… not that it was a bad thing. I like my hair long & sexy but sometimes it just gets to be a hassle when its too TOO long.

Luckily. I have a friend in Ashikaga who happens to be a hair stylist! Woohoo!

Now, for the photos!!


Long. Unruly. Dry. Split-end city!





Short. Professional. Adorable.

With those glasses?!

ooh la la…

Friday, February 12, 2010

diamond sea

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“look into his eyes and you can see, why all the little kids are dressed in dreams
I wonder how he's gonna make it back when he sees that you just know it's make-belief”

Sonic Youth - Diamond Sea

2007年にその「Diamond Sea」という曲聞きながらこの絵を書いた。最近墨絵を書きたいけど...I have no inspiration.

Friday, February 5, 2010

10 Awesome Songs for YOUR 英会話 class

So the school year is winding down. I’ve managed to teach my students a new song *almost* every month this school year. I’m teaching the last *new* song to my students this month, so next month we’ll sing our favorites as a nice end-of-the-year review.

I decided to put this list together because I always think that there must be SOME English teachers out there going nuts trying to think of something to teach their kids that is fun/cool and are going batty singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” every freaking day. I sure know I would. This is by no means the Gospel according to Bridget, so take it for what it’s worth: a list of songs that I enjoy and (hopefully) passed that joy along to my students.

This list is mostly made of songs I managed to get my 5th and 6th graders to sing. Believe me, it was challenging at times to get the kids to sing, but I’d say for the most part, my students were really cooperative, if not WILLING to sing. Even the kids who didn’t want to sing at all would at least make it LOOK like they were trying… even if the only song they sang all year was “Hello, Goodbye".

10. Sing – The Carpenters This song was originally created just for Sesame Street, but became massively popular when The Carpenters recorded it, making the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973. Plus, it’s got a Japan connection: “In 1974 while touring Japan The Carpenters recorded their first live album in Osaka. The album contained a new version of "Sing" with the children's chorus sung by the Kyoto Children's Choir. The song is featured on the album Live in Japan, which was recorded in June 1974 and released in Japan only on March 7, 1975.” (source: Wikipedia, for what it’s worth.) Come on, it’s from SESAME STREET! How can it NOT be good at school?!

9. ABC – The Jackson 5 My students were on a bit of a Michael Jackson kick, since he died and everything this past fall. I thought about teaching them “Bad” or “Beat it” or some of his later stuff… but then it occurred to me that I should teach them this song, since the chorus is SO EASY and their beloved Michael Jackson is the lead singer. A lot of them didn’t believe me when I said that it was a 12-year-old Michael Jackson singing it! This was easy enough for the 3rd and 4th grade, too. They totally dug the 70’s vibe.

8. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean – The Beatles Ok. So… initially I thought… this song was going to be kind of boring, but it has a lot of repetition in it, so its relatively easy for the kids to remember it. The fact that the Beatles recorded their own version of it with a good beat and a kickass guitar solo makes it all the more fun to dance around to.

7. The Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley Has ANYONE out there EVER heard of this song besides me? I actually taught this to my 3rd and 4th grade, rather than 5th and 6th, since I figured the older kids wouldn’t go for the silly dance I made up to go along with it. I was kind of strapped for a Halloween song to teach, and this was the best I could come up with. The kids freaking LOVED it. We actually kept singing it well into November, even after Halloween was over. The verses were hard, but they LOVE the chorus… “one eyed, one horn, flying purple people eater…” and the silly voice and the background singers saying “woo!” and stuff.

6. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano I really wanted to teach the kids an awesome Christmas song. Then we got two new students from Peru who don’t speak ANY Japanese at all, so I decided, why not sing an awesome Christmas song in Spanish AND English?! My homeroom teachers were thrilled, as were the two new students, AND the other kids were excited to learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish. This is a GREAT song for class because it is so full of energy, repeats itself many times over, and is fun to dance to. I made up some motions and a little dance for the 3rd and 4th graders. The 5th and 6th graders enjoyed this song, too, although I didn’t bother teaching them the dance & hand motions.

5. Hey Jude – The Beatles This was a real challenge for the 5th & 6th grade, but they REALLY liked it when I brought a guitar to school and played it for them. After that, they really tried their best to learn all the words, and I have to hand it to them, they did a really good job learning if not 80% or more of them! even the kids who HATE singing would at least sing “HEY JUDE” and the “na na na na” parts. They even did the claps. I was really proud, since this is such a classic. Kind of makes me tear up a little…

4. Country Roads – John Denver / Country Road – Toots & the Maytals I honestly don’t know a soul who doesn’t like John Denver. This is a classic song. I taught them the original John Denver version first, then introduced them to the Toots & the Maytals cover. The kids liked the reggae version, too, mostly because it was west Jamaica (which they have heard of)  instead of west Virginia (which they have NEVER heard of). I played this song for them on the guitar, too. They really seem to enjoy it whenever I play for them :D

3. 1234 – Feist Ok. this song was definitely not easy, and I was met with lots of protests from homeroom teachers that it was FAR too difficult, but the kids recognized it from ipod commercials, and it seemed like they enjoyed the rhythm and could understand bits and pieces of it. The only kids that ended up singing it were my 6th graders. They did a hell of a job learning the words. We took it very slowly, learning a couple of new stanzas every lesson, but these kids can do anything they put their minds to, and they had it down in no time.  For some odd reason they liked the parts where Feist sang “those teenage hopes”  and “1,2,3,4,5,6,9 or 10”. We even sang it when Benesse came for our 研究授業. They were impressed, to say the least.

2. All is Love – Karen O. and the Kids I went to see “Where the Wild Things Are” not too long ago, and this song was playing during the end credits. I stayed just to listen to the whole thing. It was so freaking cute!  I knew that Karen O. had done the soundtrack, but I was unsure as to what it would be like. Its not unlike the “exclusive itunes” acoustic session the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did for the ‘Show Your Bones’ album. It repeats stanzas a lot, has clapping parts, and even some parts where we get to shout “YEAH!” “HEY!” and whistle and all sorts of good stuff. It’s a fun song. You even learn how to spell L-O-V-E :) The 6th graders really like it, as do the 3rd graders.

1. Hello, Goodbye – The Beatles This is the QUINTISENNTIAL song for English class. If you don’t teach this to your students at any point in your short-lived career as an ALT, you may as well not even be an ALT. Seriously. This is GOLD, people. Yes, No, Goodbye, Hello, High, Low, Why, I don’t know?! COME ON!! Its perfect. Absolutely perfect. Which is why I make it #1.

I guess as far as TEACHING these songs… the kids can’t read lyrics, but sometimes they will know some simple words, like “love” or “hello.” I print out lyrics for them, even though I’m quite aware that they can’t read. It’s mostly just to give them an idea of how long the song is, what parts repeat and so on and so forth. I decorate the lyric sheets, too. Pictures of the Beatles, a young Michael Jackson, a cartoon of a Purple People Eater that I drew… etc.

I always choose songs that have lots of repetition in them. Feliz Navidad is an especially good example of the kind of repetition you want in a song for English Class… even if it’s not necessarily entirely in English. As for other songs, I try to get the kids to at LEAST learn the chorus. The kids may not be able sing the verses to Purple People Eater or ABC, but they sure as heck know the chorus, which is good enough for me!! Some of my kids only sang the words “OCEAN” and “SEA” when we sang My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. It was actually really funny and it would just put everyone in a good mood for the rest of class.

The most important thing is being able to have fun with it. If YOU don’t enjoy singing, then it’s going to be hard to convince a group of 30 or so 12-year-olds that they should sing with you. This is just something I do at the beginning of my classes to set the tone and get everyone warmed up!

Plus, I like singing. I’ve been known to dance, too. 

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Purple Guitar ♪

When I went home for winter break, I was thrilled to be able to pick up my guitar anytime I pleased. Its one of those little things you miss, and is super difficult to do when you don’t have the right tools at your disposal. I always really enjoyed being able to sit and play around campus at PSU as well as a few gigs here and there. I really really really find it quite hard to live without making music somehow. For a while there, the only thing I really had going for me was singing in the shower and well, of course, during English class.

I guess I could have lugged my guitar to Japan with me, but then I would have had to worry about it in the airport…and that’s no fun. The TSA people would have ripped it to shreds thinking there was a bomb inside or I would have had to check it and had it be thrown around in the baggage claim or some nonsense like that. So instead of packing up my existing guitar, I decided just to go ahead and buy a cheap one here. So I found one for sale on the world wide interweb for a ridiculously cheap price, that came with a stand, picks, a tuner and an extra set of strings. Its a 7/8 scale, but I personally don’t mind, since I find many acoustic guitars to be just too darn big and cumbersome for me anyway.

Oh, did I mention that it’s PURPLE?! HOLY CRAP. IT IS!!  Mostly because it is actually a guitar designed for little girls, but whatever, I AM a little girl (well… maybe not little… Also, it’s glittery (you can’t really tell from the picture, but it is) Yep. Probably the best guitar ever.

purpleguitarWhat’s even better, is that I’ll have the chance to actually USE this gorgeous purple item!!Yep. It’s that time again. For yet another installment of “Let’s Fighting Love.” Here’s a copy of the classy flyer that Matt designed:

17540_414920545359_814245359_10570559_5252469_nCute, right? Anyhow, I know that most of the people read this blog live simply far too far away to be able to get to this show, but don’t worry about it… I personally think that the cover charge is ludicrous for a show that I’m not even getting paid to play at (nor will my drinks be comped, thank you very much…). I am looking forward to it, though. I’ve already come up with a set list, so don’t even think of making any requests, got it?!

If you’re interested in all as to what kind of music I play, you can always visit my purevolume site where I have some of the things that I’ve recorded uploaded and available for your listening pleasure. Purevolume is really quite nice, it has a good design (aesthetically, I mean. As for functionality, it could use a bit of an overhaul, IMHO) and is a good place for unsigned bands/artists to show their stuff. Plus, it looks a hell of a lot more professional than that myspace music business where all the riff-raff on the internet exist in an aesthetically unpleasing den of inequity.

Ok. That’s all for now. See you at the show!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dog + Samurai

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This famous statue of Takamori Saigo & his dog is in Ueno park, just in case you ever want to go and see it for yourself. Saigo-san was one of the most influential samurai in history. I guess I could give you a whole entry on all of his notable doings, but it’s nothing that Wikipedia or Dr. Smit’s textbook couldn’t tell you in much greater detail, so I won’t bother taking the time to paraphrase what’s already written. However, I will mention that he was in opposition to building a railway system (!!) and opening up the country to trade with “The West.” I guess it’s just because he was an old-fashioned kind of guy.

Anyhow. I can’t ever get over this statue. You can go to any European city (or even in the U.S.) and find a statue of some great oxidizing generalissimo sitting upright on horseback waving a saber around in the air. How refreshing to see this great big bronze fellow with a belly in a robe & sandals walking a sweet little dog. It’s like he could be your next door neighbor going to get the A.M. newspaper and take the dog out for a piss, if it weren’t for that sword in his other hand. Nevertheless a charming statue, don’t you think?

2010-01-24 001 004Come on, how adorable is this dog?!