We drove out to Florida for Grandpa’s funeral last week. He was given a typical funeral with scripture readings and guest speakers, namely my dad and his brothers and sisters, then the next morning was the military burial service at the VA cemetery in Bay Pines, Florida. As for the trip itself… well, if the purpose of going wasn’t for a funeral, it’d be a nice vacation. We rented a car and drove down stopping at what seemed like every Bob Evans and Starbucks we could fit into the schedule to satisfy cravings, and we probably chewed up all of my dad’s Holiday Inn points on that hotel right on a harbor in Indian Rocks Beach. That whole area is still a little too humid for me, but I think if I moved down there I could get used to it. Either way I can’t complain; I had to do a bit of convincing to get my dad to agree to take me down to Florida with him and mom, and I had to take 7 days off of work and miss a week of class to do it. I wanted to be there to say goodbye to my grandfather, and that was that.

Speaking of class, I enrolled in the beginner Japanese class for this fall. For those of you who don’t know, I was heavily interested in Japanese language and culture through high school and a few years afterwards, to the point where I had Colorado and Pitt in my list of college choices because they offered Japanese language majors. (Yes, the same Colorado that- never mind, it’s not football season yet.) Anyways, I took beginning Japanese my first semester at Nebraska and did fairly well in it, but sometime toward the end of the first semester my head got plunged up my ass and the rest was history.

Fast forward to two years later, and in the fall of 2000 I took beginner Japanese at Metro. The next term I took the second course and did fairly well there too, so the idea was to continue taking classes and see what happened next. The instructor I had those two semesters was one of those instructors – she made it her life to make sure you learned the material. If you didn’t get something, she went over it with you again and again until you got it. If you couldn’t write a character quite correctly, she’d give you a blank sheet and tell you to practice. On day one, she gave everybody her e-mail address and instructions on how to install the global IME software on your computer so you could exchange e-mails with her in Japanese. And if you still had problems, she’d give you and 3 or 4 other students directions to her house and tell everyone to be there on Saturday for a weekend study session. I think that was the biggest reason for me even staying in school at Metro as long as I did, because with all the work Osugi-sensei put into her teachings, for somebody to quit was just too much of a waste of a perfectly good opportunity.

When it came time to sign up for the third semester class (which would be the first intermediate class), I eagerly signed up, along with about four other people. Yes… four. The class was canceled due to the lack of interest. As they say in Falling Down, “not economically viable”. I don’t know what happened with the other people who were signed up, but without the structure of the classroom or incentive to move forward, I quit studying Japanese and moved on with my life.

Next summer, I’m uprooting myself once again and going back to school at Nebraska. I somehow managed to get enough credits to be just short of junior status, and as a result of having been accepted back for enrollment there way back in about 2002 (I didn’t go, mostly for financial reasons), I am already back in good standing with the school. I can go back and academically bankrupt the two semesters I blew, then coast through the second half of my degree with hopefully much better results. In short, the school is all but holding the door open for me to go back. So, while I’m single and still cringe at the prospect of producing younger copies of myself, I figure I’ll go ahead and get this done. Anyways, as is required by the school of Arts and Sciences (which houses the Computer Science and Engineering department), I need to have four semesters of a language. I figured, I have three options here.

1) I could take something completely new. Czech would be pretty oddball, same with Russian. I could have sworn Nebraska offered Chinese classes too, but either they were done away with or weren’t offered at all in the first place. And I was never really interested in French or Spanish anyway.

2) I could take German. I lived in Germany for five years, and was becoming close to fluent with the language by the time I graduated high school. The problem is, I resented being moved back to Germany in the middle of high school. That’s a separate rant for a separate day, but I absolutely hated being there and wanted out as quick as possible. I know now that by going I had some cool opportunities to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do in Nebraska, but there were also things in Nebraska I couldn’t take part in because I was in Germany. So, for the sake of keeping that chapter closed, German is out.

3) I could take Japanese. As I said, I had the ideal instructor and I know I’d learn something if I went back. My copy of James Clavell’s Shogun hasn’t been touched in ages, I quit watching anime years ago, and more importantly I can’t remember much of the language itself, but I’ll be damned if I found something really wrong with the time I spent in that area before. The only thing I hated were the know-it-alls that came into class on day one knowing three or four phrases and tried to impress the instructor. Just shut the hell up, you idiots. I found out a few weeks ago the same instructor is still teaching at Metro, and the intermediate classes are now “economically viable”, so if I started this fall I can hit all four semesters before setting foot on campus next fall. It’s a situation I know will work, and it won’t take long for me to start remembering things anyway.

Pretty obvious choice.

Incidentally, Iowa Western Community College offered a transfer program while I was taking Japanese classes before, and I could have spent 6 months over in Japan through them. But apparently dismantling their 9th-grade level entrance exams and having an open wallet doesn’t mean shit when your cumulative GPA is around football level.

Bedtime sounds good right about now, so… yeah.

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