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Charming moments with my host family

Posted by Shaun

With my eldest host sister, Arisa:
 Arisa is by far my favorite. She's completely different from my host brother and sister who live in the house with me and Missus. She's really talkative and energetic, and she reached out to me first, without giving up when my answer was uninteresting or confusing, or making me have to pry questions out of her. She seems like she takes after Mister. I'm not sure who the other two take after.

It seems like Missus tends to forget things. There's a lot of stuff she's never explained to me, or said she'd tell me later but never did, and I forgot to ask or couldn't find the right moment to ask. Like, how often should I wash my futon, or how do I use the stove? She's just really busy and I guess stuff slips her mind. Totally understandable. It just means I need to ask when I want to know something, which, weirdly enough, is hard for me.

Anyway, Arisa seems to play the role of remembering the little stuff that Missus forgot to think of. Like "Shaun, you carry all your stuff to the bathroom whenever you shower. That's really annoying, right? Here's where you can put it. Just write your name on all of it or someone else will probably use it by mistake."

On the same evening when she was presumably organizing the bathroom, before she showed me where I could keep my things, she ran to my room to show me a round plastic soap dispenser that had a cat face on it.
"Isn't it weird, right? Creepy, right?"
The soap in the bottle had a greyish pink color, as if it was mixed from the remains of several different soaps. Arisa was laughing as she was showing it to me.
"This color, gross, isn't it?"

Tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to find Arisa here again. After I announced to Missus that I have absolutely no plans for tomorrow, Arisa exclaimed, "Shaun, you're free tomorrow, why don't we go to the hospital together?" I guess I looked either confused or concerned, because she put her hands on my shoulders and started laughing. She's always laughing. "The hospital for Billy-chan? It'd be a real life Japan experience. You've never seen a Japanese animal hospital before. The doctor would be so surprised..."
Billy is the family dog. He's 15 years old, and he has cancer. For a while, I was pretty sure he was going to die any day now, but he seems to be doing a lot better. Missus keeps talking about the really great veterinarian she found, and I think he might be having an operation on his tumor tomorrow. I'm not sure yet if I'm really going to the vet with Arisa or not, but I am helping her lift Billy into the car.

Incidentally, there doesn't seem to be a distinct word for "veterinarian" in Japanese, or if there is, my host family doesn't use it. Hence my surprise when Arisa asked me if we should go to the hospital together. First I had to figure out if she meant "hospital" (byouin) or "hair salon," (biyouin), since I just recently found out that in addition to teaching English, Missus manages a hair salon. Who knew? I probably thought Missus said she was going to the hospital when she explained that to me. Or she forgot to explain it to me. She forgets things from time to time.

With Missus:
Sorting laundry is a difficult task, of which Missus bears the brunt. It's sort of weird and embarrassing to lay out all of your clothes and go, "Here's what I have, please don't put it in Erina's laundry basket because I have way less clothes then her, so I'll notice if something goes missing, while she'll probably just put it away without thinking about it. And please don't make me have to liberate my pajama shorts from Ryuunosuke's laundry basket again." So Missus has to carry the burden of observing what people wear and knowing her kids' wardrobes well enough to guess what's new and therefore mine. This gets further complicated if someone goes shopping. I'm thankful that other than the my-shorts-are-not-Ryuu's incident from early on, no underwear has been sorted incorrectly. That I've noticed.

Socks, however, have been a problem. Those of you from my family may remember my tendency to either have all of my socks taken by other family members or retaliate by taking way too many socks to college. You may remember me buying many new socks for Japan Study to avoid this. Those of you who follow my Facebook may remember the frustrating day where I came home to find Erina wearing my socks. I had to resist the urge to yell at her, even though it was probably not her fault that my pink socks, which say No Nonsense on them in English, wound up in her laundry basket. I haven't seen them since, but I did get the yellow version back from Missus with an "oops, sorry, I messed up." The clothes that I get back and the ones that I don't give me an interesting look into her image of me.

Or maybe not.

In any case, as of yesterday, I was missing my brown leg warmers and my black tights. I had a Japanese essay to write, so I was hanging around the house before going to my afternoon classes. When Missus came back home, I totally surprised her by still being there. Whoops. She was getting ready to leave again at the same time as I was getting ready to head to class. In the doorway, I caught sight of her legs. Low and behold, she was wearing brown and tan leg warmers, exactly like mine. In fact, they were mine. I stuttered out "Those-those leg warmers? I have some like that, and I can't find them."
Missus looked at her legs too. "These are mine. ...Aren't they? I have one that looks like this." Then she started to doubt herself. "...Are these yours?"
She checked the clothesline outside and the laundry basket in the bathroom. Then she ran to her bedroom and came back, holding a pair of grey leg warmers with a similar pattern. "These are mine! Different, right? They look so similar! I'm sorry!" I started laughing out of relief that the missing clothes problem could be resolved so easily, and she hurriedly took them off and promised to wash them. Now they're back in my possession, and I also asked her about my black tights, which she found for me that evening. Erina had them but was able to pick them out as not hers.

And the saga of the missing clothes doesn't end there. When I got back from school, Missus was like "Shaun... wait a minute." Then she pulled a package out from under the magazines on the table and handed it to me. It was another pair of leg warmers, tan with pom-poms. "So I won't get confused!" she told me.

Another ongoing issue in the house is Ryuunosuke's bottomless stomach. Apparently he eats all of the leftovers whenever he gets home. I brought back apple cookies from my program retreat to Nagano, and while I ate three of them, Ryuu ate three in one sitting. The other day, Missus was telling me with disbelief that Ryuu drank a whole bottle of juice in one go. She didn't know what to do. Then she had a thought: "I'll write 'Shaun' on it! If I write your name on it, Ryuu won't drink it!" If I buy food to make lunch with, I have to write my name on the packaging specifically so other host family members won't devour it by mistake. If Missus tricks my host brother into thinking the juice is mine, maybe the rest of us will get to drink some after all. It's a little dishonest, but I approve.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Laurie says:

    Shaun, you are really learning patience and humor aren't you? I'm glad that you are so understanding. When one is busy or preoccupied, it really is hard to figure out whose laundry is whose! Trust me. Too bad Missus doesn't want you to just do your own laundry, but I guess that would not be environmentally sound!
    I hope the deceitful food labeling works. We had to do stuff like that in my sorority and in apartments I shared in the past. Heck, we do that here at home sometimes, don't we?!
    I'm glad to hear you have another sister, Arisa!
    Have a great time with Shannon. Take lots of pictures of each other and some together too!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am always hiding food around the house or if I have to put it in the freezer or frig putting notes on it so that it is there when I want it! It's an international problem.
    So glad that you and Arisa are on the same wave-length... that will make everything more fun!
    Love, Jody

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