How I Fell in Love with Naruto

For those of you who don’t know, Naruto is a Japanese anime. I’d heard good things about in high school, but back then I was too superior to watch “cartoons” over acting that conveyed true emotion. Boy was I wrong.

I have to give Rich credit for this share. We were hitting a wall trying to find a common ground between action-packed gaming (all him) and tv shows that focused on relationships (all me). Stumbling through Planet Earth, we watched other show clips on Youtube to find something we’d both like.
It’s been four months, we’re knee deep in the plot of Naruto and I don’t want it to end at all. All it all started with the “Naruto vs. Neji” clip on Youtube.

I didn’t have any prior knowledge of the characters or why the kids were battling. But I picked up quickly through the backstory infused battle these ordinary kids were passion-fueled to become Japan’s future top ninjas in their village. I was hooked.

Despite having seen over half the story arcs in the long run series, Rich didn’t ruin any surprises from the start. He let me have all my first feels and boy were there many. Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the incredible two part series (and spinoffs!), has done a wonderful job of incorporating the awkwardness of growing up, sheer stubborn will, impulsive influences and much more to reveal characters true form and growth. There are shocking sequences that makes the viewers resonate with the villains leaving watchers sad at their role departure. And Naruto – the title character – is silly and stupid and annoying and persistent and determined and a believer and pure of heart all the while wrestling his demon. That’s what makes him so lovable. He’s the rawest persona of all of us.

Watch it. Follow Naruto’s boyhood and then his young adulthood in Naruto Shippuden. It doesn’t matter how old you are – there are lessons to be learned and the torch of hope to keep burning. The ninja skills are jaw dropping, the character quips hilarious, and the friends that come out of it welcome us viewers into the fold.

Sometimes the most obvious thing to binge is the least expected one to. Take it from me, I also just started watching The Magicians two days ago. I don’t like gore and horror, but the show is addicting in a darkly fascinating way. I think Naruto is better – because it reminds me heroes lie in all of us with hard work and determination  – and because I can sleep at night after watching it 😛

The first three seasons of Naruto are on Netflix, the fourth season of Naruto and first two seasons of Naruto Shippuden are on Hulu. For all dubbed episodes for free, watch on narutospot. I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

However old you are, always let your kid self out to dream and play sometimes 🙂


loner girl improvised

Yesterday I got snowed in. No going to work, no leaving the apartment. It was my first day since moving in that I spent in the apartment entirely alone. I was excited because for the first time it meant I could have my day however I wanted. I spent my morning doing work and then I got to enjoy some new tv shows Grownish, Alone Together and I fell in love with The Magicians. I had time to hang up heart decals in my bedroom and do household chores at a leisurely pace.
But it wasn’t long before the solitude began to eat at me.
As an only child I don’t have trouble being alone. I know how to occupy myself. But silence – that’s something I didn’t expect to eat at me. But it did.
As a teacher, I’m constantly around chatter of children. After work I either spend time with my boyfriend or my parents. My apartment has been home for the night and a place to relax on the weekend. Yesterday I realized all the social interactions I got from just being around people mattered.
When I first moved back home after graduating, I went through a similar spell of depression. It was a culture shock of not being around people my age at any time of the day, to be able to talk about everything or nothing. Instead I was stuck in bed and I didn’t like it. When silence around you seeps into your head, it’s like being cut off from hope. A mental suffocation.
To subdue my restlessness, I talked on the phone and texted friends last night. It helped a little. I moved out to be comfortable on my own but I’ve been using my freedom to see friends whenever I liked instead. While that was fun, I was dependent on that pattern and I was hindering myself from growing alone. 
I realize that life cannot be one way or another: a healthy lifestyle is a balance between hanging out with people and hanging out with yourself. Both are equally important for your emotion receptors to get the pleasure they need without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
My work got canceled again today because of the weather. Today I will do it differently. I will make sure to make the most of the time I have by myself before I venture out into the cold to see friends.

spin the wheel

Life cannot be perfect. Its trials makes us stronger but if you could choose one aspect of your life to be tricky what would it be: family, love or work?

Personally I would choose work. When work gets stressful, spending time with my family and my love helps me unwind and recharges my energy. But when things look bleak at home, it’s very hard for me to concentrate at work.

The choice depends on a person’s priority. I choose love and all relationships that come with it. This is tricky though as a teacher. I remember when my students would tell me they loved me in October and I would smile and say thank you. I adored them, but I wasn’t quite ready to tell them I loved them. Yet by Christmas, having spent 17 weeks, approximately 80 days together, when I finally started telling them I loved them I really did mean it.

Still I wasn’t able to give them my all during the process of moving out knowing I was leaving with a strained relationship with my parents. An argument with my love made me insecure about our future and I was a ball of stress.
Time and communication allowed for all sides to be heard and understood. Right when I felt like I could relax, my job got a bit more complex.

With the sudden departure of a fellow kindergarten teacher from the team, the classes had to be tweaked to make sure all scholars were getting what they needed out of education. Since Ella is a special education teacher and our classroom was only general education, we received our 27th student with autism from another class. It’s – interesting.

Jo assimilated well the first few days. There were slight hiccups among table mates over personal space but the other students were accommodating. The week before winter break it was like all hell broke loose. The excitement of the holidays in the air and a new school schedule change led to impatience and the need for frequent energy breaks that led to tantrums. The first time he threw chairs and objects in the classroom, I saw fear register in the faces of my other students and I felt like I had failed to protect them. It was the worst feeling – not knowing how to help or be the role model to help the other students move past what they see. We’d work as a team – Ella, school psychologist and social worker and I to dissipate the situation and redirect the rest of the scholars to focus on lesson at hand.
I cried the day we had to line up my class to get out of our classroom from Jo.

It’s hard. They’re all five. For Jo to be that age and struggle with expression is hard. He needs patience and rewards and breaks. With that comes different expectations than the rest of the kids. This had to be explained to them: we all have different goals we want to work on in class. Some of us are working on not calling out and some of us are working on sitting attentively and others are working on expressing themselves. For fear not to be a dark cloud hovering overhead within the class, we explained to our students that sometimes when we get really really sad, we don’t know how to talk about it. That’s when our actions can be bigger than we want. What can we do instead? Small actions like smiling and listening to each other so our friends know they can share their woes and modeling appropriate reactions like following a teacher’s instruction reminds all of us of the classroom rules that need to be followed.

I feel helpless when I think of my classroom not being able to predict what will happen.

Now with a change of schedule to allow for scholars to move between teachers to be taught guided reading and new literacy centers in which scholars dramatize less and sequence stories more there’s more preparations that need to be done by teacher. It takes away from the individualized attention some scholars need to vent. I feel a bit overwhelmed, like it’s the first day all over again. I am prepared with a bat at the bating cage. Unfortunately the ball toss machine has gone haywire and I’m no longer practicing for a good hit but rather survival.

It makes me appreciate spending time with my family and my love even more. I try to leave all my concerns and worries at the doorstep of the school so I can maintain my usual bubbly self in conversation with friends. I have to compartmentalize school related issues: lesson plans can wait to be thought about the next day, a concern about a student’s progress can be brainstormed. Timing myself strictly to while driving helps too. Once I step out of the car, I think about what’s ahead to continue to let my relationships grow without work interfering. After all, all the laughs I get at the dinner table is the best wine glass I can drink to relax after work.

What would you pick if you had to choose between family, love or work to be wonky?

inside driving

I’m a decent driver even though Rich would disagree. It’s only because his lovely self distracts me! Nonetheless, to get a discount on my car insurance for three years I chose to take a Defensive Driver course. The exam at the end was tough! It definitely took me by surprise that my common sense could not compete with the 300 minutes of instruction. Relying only what I knew did not make the cut 😦
I want to share some of the things I learned in case any one wants to start the new year with a discount for their car insurance – and feel whammied by the questions like me.

– Energy that is dissipated in a crash is called kinetic energy. (Ugh, how could I forget physics?)

– Unexpected traffic congestion can lead to more aggressive behavior behind the wheel. (I thought it would be the car in front taking frequent breaks. I know that would piss me off)

– Modern vehicles have steel beams in doors to protect passenger compartments. (Well…I guess it was somewhere in the reading…)

– Visibility during the night is limited to the area immediately in front of motor vehicle. (This one I knew! Goes to show you should never second guess yourself)

– If your car breaks down, you should park where the vehicle can be seen at least 200 feet in every direction. (I looked this answer up online and I couldn’t find it. Hope you’re luckier than me and take a different test)

– In 2005, approximately 2.5 million people were injured on the roadway in the United States. (2005?! Blimey, this test is old. I was 10 then!)

– The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the United States is estimated at $230.6 billion annually. (Well if this is based on stats from 2005, I don’t want to know what they are now.)

– If two vehicles meet on a narrow mountain road in which there is only room for one vehicle to travel at a time, the vehicle going downhill must yield to the vehicle going uphill.

I passed by the skin of my teeth! I hope you have better luck proving you are a good driver. (I suggest taking the exam from a direct source and not the one recommended by your insurance.) Now as I drive I am much more cautious. I choose to play Spotify or a CD than be distracted by my radio. Tonight’s going to be a late night drive so having someone with me will help me stay awake. I’m grateful I’m not driving far because I don’t have to take a break after two hours of driving. I really don’t want to step out of my car unless it’s to run into my house and straight to bed.

Safe driving everyone! Make sure to have a designated driver or a couch to sleep on! And beware of the icy patches in this frosty weather!
I know I’ll be making Rich drive back home tonight 🙂