It has been a very long time since we’ve talked.

My apologies. It is simply that the times have been so trying. I’ve not been able to figure out where to begin. How to make a meaningful comment, give a perspective that might make things better, offer a calm reasoned perspective.

But I have nothing. The best that I can offer is we are all in this together and as I believe we are all intrinsically good, we will figure this out. 

I try and maintain a snarky attitude on this blog, oblivious to everything except me. but it seemed little aligned with the world today. 

That said the world must go on. And so must I.

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“Mr. Sandberg, being old, balding and forgetful is no excuse for not fulfilling the College of Liberal Arts second language requirement.” 

Thus was my petition to drop the second language requirement rejected by the University scholastic board. To add insult to the rejection, they answered me in Pig Latin. 

But I get ahead of myself. I finished the Spring Semester sequestered in one of the thousands of newly formed branch offices for the U of MN. I’m lonely but I can walk around my campus in just briefs and a smile and not get arrested. I finished the semester with the grades of A, A, A, A-. My mailbox is still filled with regular invitations to join a myriad of scholarship organizations as well as regular invitations to sign up for AARP. Just last week I received a letter directed to my parents congratulating them on my grades and that perhaps they might like to enroll me in their scholarship organization for just $19.95 a month. The fact that my parents have never lived with me at this address and that they have been dead for 10 or 15 years doesn’t seem to faze them. 

Back to Japanese. Let me begin by saying I was totally led astray about this second language thing. I thought it was all about how to speak English with a Japanese accent.  Much like Mickey Rooney playing Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. His Japanese accent was spot on and I clearly thought this was what a second language was all about. Frankly, I was looking forward to a long stage and screen career as a Japanese character actor. If Mickey Rooney could do it, so could I. 

Mickey Rooney, beloved child star, Judy Garland’s first boyfriend and horrible racial stereotype. Yep, my hero.

Was I mistaken. I’ve actually signed up to learn Japanese! Japanese with two different alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana) of 46 characters to memorize and Kanji (the goofy Chinese style glyphs) of which there are 6,000 sanctioned symbols. In order to read the newspaper (shinbun しんふん) you need to know at least 2,000. What’s more, a Kanji symbol can have several meanings and several pronunciations. 

A logo I did for my class: Tazawa-Sensei’s Japanese Language Warriors. My class mates said, “Okay Boomer.”

The class meets (online of course) for three hours Monday-Friday 9:00 to Noon, condensing a 15 week semester into five weeks. We started with 20 students and at the end of this semester (last Friday) we were down to 15. After class I spend the rest of my day is trying to stay alive and above water in studying (benkyousuru べんきょうする) all I need to learn. 

Happy to lend you some good reading (unfortunately this isn’t it).

Finals were last Friday, I changed my t-shirt three times from excessive sweating. Literally a half hour ago I found out I passed the first semester, I’m taking it Pass/Fail. Professor Tazawa (Tazawa-sensei 田澤〜先生) says next semester, starting tomorrow is easier. 

I have nightmares of hearing him say in class, “Sandebago-San, translate this sentence into future perfect, speaking to an elder or someone of a higher social status than you.” My reply, “Sensei, there is no one with a higher social status than me!” does not go over well.

Hai, dozo! はい、どぞ

I return to self-imposed summer torture tomorrow at 9AM. When you eat Kowalski’s sushi, think of me.

More later, Yip Yip

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