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And That's a Fault of Mine I'm Working On


Allegedly, it's supposed to take four weeks to make a habit. (Or maybe that's to break one.) Even if some of the 'habits' I've picked up aren't yet automatic, they're definitely getting there.

The train station has become fairly automatic on both sides. I figured out which exit I want to head to by the end of the first week. Now, it's just a matter of fluidity, which I think I've managed decently. Getting the ticket, going through without waiting for the gates to close from the person in front of me, managing to put the ticket back in the wallet while walking towards the train... all going smoothly. I've consistently managed other things too, like getting off the train and by the water fountain so I can refill my water bottle and put my book back in my bag without getting trampled by rushing commuters.

I'm still bad at basic maneuvers, like paying for an item at a grocery store. (Depending on the store, they might not show the price, so I need to either know exactly how much the items summed to, be able to understand what they're saying when they talk really quickly, or put down a sufficiently large amount to cover it. I usually go with the third option.) I have very little knowledge of how much change I have at any given time, so I sometimes end up dumping every coin out of my wallet and finding that it only sums to about seventy for a hundred-yen item. Then I need to put down a 1000 yen bill and struggle to put all the change, and the new coins they're giving me, back in my wallet.

Regardless, when I'm walking in the street, I want to at least look like I know what I'm doing. This mainly consists of walking on the left side of the street.

I picked that one up really quickly. By the third day, when I realized I was walking without thinking about it and checked myself, I realized I was already on the left side. Today, I noticed that it felt weird to pass someone on the right. When I go back to the US, this will either result in me unlearning just as quickly, or getting run over by a car. I'm hoping for the former.

Other things might take longer, because there's more conscious thought going into them, and they're less destructive. The strongest example is washing my hands when I get home. It's a Japanese custom, my host mother isn't usually around when I get back, so I'm not doing it for her. I'm doing it because, the second day of class, the teacher asked who washed their hands whenever they got back to their house, and everyone else raised their hand. So I gave in to peer pressure and started doing that.

I'll try and turn the key to get into the house the wrong way, but I do that anyways. It will be weird that there's only one lock, not a fence and two locks, but that sense of unease will probably fade soon. I don't think the roads are similar enough for me to try the same routes I walk in Japan, but at some point I might.

If I'm given chopsticks with my food, I'll use those. I might try drinking my soup more than eating it. (That could quickly be a problem with turkey carcass and bones soup) I might try taking my plate to the kitchen and retreating upstairs, but I have a feeling that would be a habit very quickly broken.

I'll probably continue to apologize to people I run into in the streets with 'sumimasen.' If I'm riding a train and see an open seat, I will swoop down on it like a vulture.

Those are the ones that I can think of right now, but I'm sure there will be other things that I'll discover once I'm back in Chicago. For now, though, it's another full week of trying to look like I have some idea what I'm doing, even when I don't.

Posted by Soseki 04:55

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