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Showing posts from February, 2019

Chicken McNuggets and Valentine's Day Traditions

I had an established Valentine’s Day tradition with my ex.

First, a stop at The Steeping Room, our favorite tea and scones place in Austin, for a light dinner. Then, to the Alamo Drafthouse to see the collection of the previous year’s Academy Award nominated animated shorts. It was a humble tradition, but we loved it.

I remember Valentine’s Day 2018. Days after our breakup, unemployed, back in my childhood home. I sat in my room all day, mentally time-stamping all of the things I would be doing if we were still keeping to our annual tradition (the time when I would get home from work and start getting ready to go out, the time we’d arrive at our reservation a few minutes late as we always did, the time we’d get to the theater with enough time to order food and watch the pre-show, etc.). I felt hollow, like a Matryoshka doll, pieces of me taken away, the rest left to rattle around in my skull and remind me of what I was missing.

In 2019, I wanted to have a better experience. But I didn…

Saying Hello and the Fear of Failure

I’ve seen how the students address Japanese teachers in the halls. They stop, straighten up and stand with arms locked to their sides, bow to a near-perfect 30-degree angle, give a quick “ohaiyougozaimasu” or “konnichiwa” and keep walking. It’s strange and a little militaristic, but Japan is all about the formalities.

With other teachers, they know exactly what to do. But with me, it’s a test.

I can see it in the kids’ eyes as I pass them in the hall. The deer-in-the-headlights expressions on their round little faces used to be amusing. That novelty wore off a long time ago.


It’s just one word, two syllables. But usually it’s enough to make their little shoulders seize up in terror at the thought of having to speak English outside of the classroom.

 I’m not a teacher, at least not on paper. My official title is “ALT.” It’s an acronym that stands for Assistant Language Teacher - the word’s right there, in my job title, but most teachers don’t know what the acronym stands for.…