The latest big thing has been the Japanese speech contest both here in Madison and in Chicago, so that's made both the past two weeks really busy, but in a good way. The deadline for the Madison contest was last Thursday, and at first, since I didn't have any good ideas, I figured I'd just reuse the one I had to write at the end of last semester. It compared polite speech in Japanese and English, which while pretty well-written and at least semi-interesting, was really an educational speech as opposed to something personal, so I didn't particularly want to use it, but figured it was better than nothing. Instead, however, I had a great idea hit me Monday night, so I scribbled down a quick outline, and wrote the whole thing in seven hours Tuesday night, so that I could turn it in to Nakamura-sensei, my TA, for corrections on Wednesday, and then correct it and turn in the final copy on Thursday. Like anyone who's ever taken the time to write something well knows, you can't write a masterpiece in one sitting, so while my ideas were all good, the writing was kind of iffy, and while I could see that easily enough, I couldn't seem to figure out how to fix it. But Nakamura-sensei helped me out so much, I couldn't believe it. I got the draft back, and it wasn't just a few marks correcting the most major problems, the whole thing was *covered* in blue ink. Then she talked with me for a half hour afterwards to clarify some places where she wasn't sure if she conveyed what I wanted to say correctly. I was so thankful! Anyway, that was last week; I only found out this Tuesday night that the Chicago contest's deadline (not postmark date, date it had to actually *be there*) was today, and required a handwritten copy of the script *and* a tape recording of the speech. So Wednesday was a looong (but good, don't get me wrong) day. After classes, I finally had my official meeting with the CO to quit NROTC (yes, that should've been done a month ago), did my homework for Thursday, ate dinner, and went to Van Hise @ 6 to have Nakamura-sensei help me with the tape recording. But after reading it over three times to practice, Kawakami-sensei, who was working in the same room, noticed that the way I accented words and syllables was very English-esque in places, and suggested that we go back and mark the places I should be stressing most and wasn't. It was really tough, though really helpful...but by the time we started to record, it was 8:00, and Nakamura-sensei, noticing that I was worn out, suggested that we do it the next afternoon after class. So then I spent the rest of the time before bed writing the thing out in my best handwriting and reading it to myself a couple times. Then yesterday afternoon, when we did record it, went a lot smoother, and I got it sent Express Mail just in time (though it cost me $15 :O).
Anyway, anyone who wants to read it, just ask me on AIM :) Two most important things though: First, I was amazed at how helpful Nakamura-sensei, as well as Kawakami-sensei, was. Instead of just having me read it as I had been for the tape, they made sure my pronunciation was perfect...I don't know why I deserved that, but I was super grateful. I felt like I was a secret weapon being trained to sweep the competition, haha. But we'll see; I say I've got a pretty good shot. Secondly, wanna know the funniest thing of all? I spent all this time and energy on this, but it's not like it was required. But believe me, I've got a reason. Doing well at the Madison contest is nice enough 'cause it sort of makes a name for myself in the Japanese department (actually, I've probably already seen to that, but winning would only make it more so), but the Chicago contest has a wonderful first prize: a round-trip ticket to Japan. You see, my parents won't let me buy one since I should be putting my money toward college, but if I win one I can use it! So I'm gonna give it my all and see if I can't go see Mayu a year early! :D
And speaking of Mayu, we're finally able to talk online now! It was a little tricky, 'cause I guess her computer is only running Windows 98, so Skype, what seemed like it'd be the best, didn't work. But hey, I'm always on AIM anyway, so having her on there is quite convenient. :) We haven't tried voice communication yet (which I've heard is pretty bad on AIM and we might need to use Ventrilo, but we'll see), but we've done just normal IMing twice now, and it's been wonderful. =) Though at the same time, it kinda sucks, 'cause while I wish I could just talk to her for hours and hours on end, 15 hours is a huge time difference, and with our schedules, we've only managed to talk twice, for 45 minutes at a time, Wednesday morning and this morning. 45 minutes, but it feels like 5, argh. Oh well, we'll figure something out. There's no use complaining about it, 'cause it's just so awesome that we're finally able to talk by a different method than just e-mail, even if it's not all the time.
Hmm, I've gotten myself back into JPop, too. Somehow, in my huge prog/power metal kick this past year, the only new Japanese music I had heard was Mr.Children, since I always buy their albums. Anyway, you can watch the weekly Top 20 and latest PVs (well, clips anyway) on the Oricon site now, so that's pretty awesome. Plus I found a Shoutcast radio station that plays the weekly top 30. :D Japanese music always has such a refreshing feel to it, I think. Well, for the most part, anyway. It really irritates me that stupid ghetto music is gaining popularity by artists like m.flo, Namie Amuro, and such (yeah, so those two aren't exactly new artists, but anyway), so I really hope that's a passing trend...but other than that.
My lord, I've been using Japanese so much in the last 2-3 weeks, I can't even tell you. I think my thinking/speaking/writing speed is really starting to make progress.
I wanna do one of those Johari windows like everyone's been doing...but I suppose I need to go back and fill everyone's out first. I know I at least tried to do Ashley's, but it wouldn't load...I clicked the button like 8 times and it kept timing out. Hmm, anyhoo, yes, must do that later.
Well, it's been almost a month, so I guess this post'll probably be rather disconnected, but now's the first chance I've had to really just sit and relax with nothing on my mind this week, so it seems like the thing to do :D