The daily journal of a Fukushima
JET. Read the day to day adventures of an ALT,
Assistant Language Teacher (Automatic Language Tape-player)
living in Fukushima Prefecture, or Northeastern Japan.
Monday November 1st, 2004
This weather is crazy. Seriously it feels like a cool summer's night but it's already November. I am only wearing a thin windbreaker around town. Sometimes I sleep with the screen patio door open. They say it will be a cold winter due to all the recent hurricanes, but so far it's a warm winter. Maybe the bottom will drop out soon and it will get cold. I really need to buy a new thick really cold jacket. Last year I had to double up a few times. I also need some snow proof boots since it's also supposed to snow a lot. I don't really know how you can predict snowfall, but people are. Then again people do like to talk as if they actually know what's going on.
So I have been laying the foundation to get a date with this teacher at a different school I go to occasionally. My current status is I know she is single. I found that out semi-subtly by referring to her and her husband. She quickly replied she wasn't married. Then I mentioned her boyfriend in an assuming type of way, and she made a point to say she is single.
That's where the problems start. In the US I can easily tell when a girl is interested, and more often when she is not. In Japan, people often say things in English that mean something different to native speakers than to people who speak it as a second language. For instance, here are a few quotes from her email replies to me. See if you can determine the meaning. Remember she speaks English as a second language, so you can't just treat it as native English. These were multiple conversations.
Me: Thanks for coming to the Halloween party. It
was great to see you. I wanted to talk more, but I was the DJ and busy.
Her: Thanks for inviting me. It was fun. I'm looking forward to see you again.
In the US that last part is obvious. Here I'm not really sure. I have had men and women say that to me.
Me: Would you like to have dinner and see a movie sometime?
Pretty clear date question.
Her: I've not seen a movie in for a long time. I'd like to go to the movie. Thank for asking.
Is she more interested in the movie?
Her: Thank you for today (coming to her school festival). Students and Teachers were glad to see you. me too. (^-^)
I wanted to talk more with you, but I was so busy.
I hope we can see a movie soon.
It seems easy, but these things are not so black and white. I've had numerous people say these things and just mean them as I had a good time and I want to hang out again. I even had a male teacher say he loved me, but he didn't mean it as such. So from here I will try to see a movie with her. Most likely she will bring a friend since Japanese girls don't consider the first few dates as a private thing. I can live with that. In one case I was more interested in the friend than the date. I didn't notice it until they were together and the friend was more talkative and a bit cuter, so it can back fire.
The other thing is if we do start dating, it becomes a thing. People stare at us. Dating a foreigner is both a trophy and a betrayal. It's so strange dealing with that. It's a mild form of racism. man speaking of racism. I found a website with hotels in Iwaki which is the beach town in Fukushima. I was looking at the website and it had a chart. I'll copy and paste the chart below. It's classic.
Can you imagine for ONE MINUTE a hotel in any other civilized country in the world having a website, or even a policy, where they may or may not allow minorities? WOW. I mean #@&%-ing WOW man. That would be sued and shut down before they took in their first guest in the US. "I'm sorry, it is the policy of this hotel to not accept any Jewish or Asian guests". Only in Japan.
Back to the dating thing. If we do start dating, she would have to ask her parents if that would be ok. Then they would have to meet me and get to know me. It seems the same as the US in a way, but it's something that they give a lot of thought to. My sister was dating a guy for a while and he asked my parents if he could marry her. That's different, although I don't really believe in that so much these days. I respect him for doing it and think it's great, I just don't think it is something I would do. Marriage to me seems to be more about her and I. We have to know we would be happy together. Maybe in the sense of if parents are paying for the wedding, but I am 32 going on 33 and I will probably be paying for all of mine. Though in Japan, somehow the guest are required to give 2-300 dollars. I guess that would be the gift thing in the US, but it seems so strange requiring it as part of a ceremony. Maybe couples profit from weddings here?
The other thing is we would have to talk about where we would live. I could live in either Japan or the US or another country. The option is open to me. If she says she will never consider it then that's another "thing" to add into the soup. I probably can't date someone who refuses to be open about certain things. There might come a time when we are thinking about moving somewhere and it's inconvenient, but that's different. This is about refusing to even consider it.
My sister had some friend who go married and then her husband said they would only live across the street from his parents. He would never move far from them. I think it ended in divorce, which I expected. Who can live in a house like that? Especially across from someone's parents. Man that would be like you were in High School just playing house. There would be no privacy.
So I get to school today, on time, and there are no teachers. No one. No students, just some office workers. I have been sitting here typing this and watching "The West Wing" on my computer. I am glad since I have some actual computer stuff to do later and I bet I will have no classes after lunch. Apparently there is some marathon at a field near here. It's driving distance away so I don't feel like walking or riding a bus to see kids running in a circle. I'll watch another episode and then start on my computer project. Basically I have to create a book for the volunteer organization I am in called AJET. The book is called Tatami Timeshare and it's a great idea. When JETs travel they can look up people in this book and stay with them for free. It really saves money. The problem is all JETs get holidays at the same time so when say Fukushima JETs want to travel to Kyoto or Osaka, the Kyoto and Osaka JETs are probably traveling as well. All in all it's a good idea.
I think this Sunday I am going to some Elementary school to be the token foreigner. Maybe I can get some other people to go and hang out. My friend works there and she wants the kids to meet foreigners and practice English, or at least just be around them. It should be fun, and I will probably go for a while if I can. I have been wanting to take a day trip or a weekend trip someone for a while, but I haven't been able to. I always have something on a Saturday or a Sunday. We have a Tuesday holiday in the end of this month, and I was thinking of going somewhere from Friday to Tuesday. The Thursday and Friday of that month are for the stupid Mid Year Conference that no one wants to go to, but we all have to.
I really have to decide what I am going to do next year. I have a few possibilities, but nothing set in stone yet. I had a small fleeting thought of renewing and moving to Elementary school. If I did that and I had no rent, I could probably save $1,500 a month. At least send that much home and then about $200 would come out for some bills I still have. It's tempting to consider the thought of having nearly 20K in the bank but I don't know if I can stand another year of this. Granted it would be at a different school in a different town, but I'm just not sure. I still have a few months to think on that. I plan to get more info from a Fukushima JET who is currently doing the Elementary school thing in Iwaki. I have to see if he likes it or not. Ok, back to the TV shows, over and out.
Monday, November 15th, 2004
Been a while since I updated this, which is really strange. Before I was a JET I was reading a fellow Fukushima JET's journal, and during his second and third year he was a bit slow on updates. That always made me mad since I would have to wait days or sometimes weeks for answers to his situation. I swore I would update mine more frequently, but alas I have failed as well. I just get busy and don't feel like typing, but I really should allot at least 30 minutes a day to writing something, since I treat this as a diary.
I don't know how far back I should go. I'll rant for a minute first since there are so many rant-able things here in the land of the rising sun. First off, last week I was watching some boys play soccer during P.E. one day. The way Japanese High Schools have P.E. is classic. They get about 4 classes together to "hypothetically" have P.E. together. That makes sense so far. If I were the teacher I would have some playing volleyball, some playing basketball, some soccer, and others handball. What if everyone wants to play soccer? Since Japanese people are non-confrontational the teachers agree to let all the boys play soccer.
There were 80 boys playing soccer. Eighty boys playing soccer. 80. 8 x 10. There were two teams of at least 40 boys. Well our field is pretty big so I guess proportionately it should balance out. Nope. They all squeezed into one regulation sized soccer field. 80 boys playing soccer on a field designed for about 20. But as long as everyone has a position they are supposed to stand near, then it should be alright. Nope. That would make sense. We are still in the land of no common sense. There were 80 boys running around wherever they wanted chasing the ball. But some of them don't have a chance to kick the ball, what should we do. The only logical thing (using Japanese logic) would be to put 4 balls into circulation.
There are now 80 boys running all around the field, trying to kick any of 4 balls into either of two goals on a regulation sized field. I don't even think they were on teams. It was the craziest thing I've seen on the field. They all did get some good exercise, but they also got smacked by the ball several times. There were so many people on the field one could not kick a ball without hitting someone else. It was truly silly.
My big rant is with Japanese drivers. Luckily I don't have a car, because I would either die or have a heart attack due to stress from dealing with Japanese drivers. I might start a website about Japanese drivers. It would truly be an amusing site. My recent experience involves a driver blocking a whole lane of a major road waiting to turn into a full parking lot. It's so rich I have to draw a picture of it. Be right back.
This is a Japanese road so it might look reversed to most readers. The cars are driving down and turning right into the parking lot. When lots are full, Japanese people just line up. Not only do Japanese people love to cut in front of people, they also love making a line. They line up for restaurants and anything else that might require waiting, going somewhere else, or thinking of something original. So these cars are waiting in line for someone to leave the parking lot so they can enter. There's nothing wrong with this since the parking lot has a long entrance and it's off the road.
But this moron, just stops in the middle of the lane and waits with the blinker on. OBVIOUSLY the line is going to take a while, are you seriously going to just wait there and block traffic? What on earth is going through your head now? There are times when I wish I could be this moronic. Just not worry about anything throughout the day. Just stroll around in my own dream world. I was passing by on the sidewalk and I was cringing at the sheer stupidity of it. But wait it gets better. Finally after the 10 or so cars behind the lead car were honking and yelling (Japanese people LOVE to honk their horns) the car moves out of the lane.
So let's break this down. The car was in the lane blocking traffic, waiting on a space to open. It is now no longer in the lane blocking traffic, but there is still no space at the entrance for it. So where did it go.
Right in the dead center of the other lane. Seriously moron, what are you thinking? Can you not see the cars lining up now? People were patient for a minute thinking the line was about to move, but it didn't and then they started honking their horns like mad. This time it was necessary, but I have seen people honk for the smallest stupidest thing. It's funny when I get honked at with a friend, if I am out of the car about to get in I just stand up and stare at the car. The honker then realizes we are foreigners and has a look of terror that is quite amusing. When I do something stupid I will accept a honk, but here it's the silliest thing. At the loading and unloading area of the station, if someone has to wait, honestly, 5 SECONDS, they give that polite little tap honk. If I had a car I would definitely have some problem with road rage here, and since I am the foreigner, it would always be my fault. Japanese people simply don't make mistakes, it must be the infidel foreigners.
Sunday the 14th, I had a cooking class sponsored by the local Indian Food place. We cooked Nan and Curry. It was terribly difficult and I doubt I will ever try to do it myself. At one part we had this Nan batter in our hands and we had to clap them so it would stretch out. There was no way I could do this. It would constantly fold over and then I would have to start over. Then it would stick to my hands and I would have to start over. I watched the teacher and he even explained things in English to me, but no luck. I can never work in an Indian Food restaurant. I wouldn't mind opening a restaurant here, except for the fact I know nothing about running one. I would do something like all American food or something. Who knows.
Then on Saturday I participated in the Sukagawa Taimatsu Akashi Matsuri, which means nothing to you. It's one of the top three Japan fire festivals and it is really cool. We carried these huge tree like logs through town that weighed 3 tons. There were 70 guys on ours and 50 girls on another one, including several Fukushima JETs. We walked about 1 mile, maybe less carrying this on our shoulders. It was really heavy and the fact that I would about 6 inches taller than everyone else didn't help any either. I had to squat-walk a good bit which really hurt. Luckily the guy beside me was the same height and had the same problems. I took some good pictures and video which I can be found here: Fukushima Fire Festival. (soon)
Other than that I have been somewhat considering staying on another year or two. I really don't like my current situation because they don't use me and the students are only interested in passing the college entrance exam. I would like to teach Elementary school. Every time I visit one it's always so much fun. It's a lot of work and you must always be super hyper in class, but the kids are so cute and actually eager to learn. The biggest town in Fukushima has a good private program I am going to try to get into. It's mainly elementary schools which is what I want to do. Plus I think they get better benefits, or I should say logical benefits. Things such as when there are no students at school, why should we be there? They get more vacation time and time off. That's not why I want to go there, but I am so tired of coming to school, like today, and doing nothing. There are classes, but for some reason I have had none. I'm actually going to update my usage worksheet now so I can watch the chart get smaller as I type. It's truly exciting.
Well that's done. So far my base school has used my %17 this month. That's only counting the time so far as well as the days that there were classes. Pretty sad. Overall for this entire school year which is April to March, they have used me %22 of the time. Really really sad. They paid for me to fly all the way over from the US to sit here in their teaching and only teach English %22 of the time. In the US someone would get fired for blatant incompetent fecal-spewing monkey-like inefficiency, but not Japan. As long as I am physically AT school, regardless of what I am doing, as long as I am sitting here they feel they are getting their money's worth. Westerner's as well as many other countries with common sense have a problem with sitting at work doing nothing.
We have some stupid meeting in two weeks. The only thing I am looking forward to is a trip to the beer garden I planned after it on the first night. All the Fukushima ALTs are coming from all over the prefecture and we all get together and teach each other the newest and best methods of team teaching. The people who are speaking are not experts, just regular ALTs like me. They have no specialty or advanced ability. I honestly think their names were just pulled out of a hat. The people in charge should ask for volunteers first, someone might apply. When you force someone to do a speech and even assign the topic, you get the same thing that happens every year. The people get up there and talk for a few minutes and then tell the audience to get into small groups and talk about the topic and then report back about 20 minutes later. It's silly, but don't get me wrong that's exactly what I would do. We are assigned stupid topics that even the native speakers don't understand. Things like "An Empirical View of Cross-Culture Internationalization's Effect on Team Teaching". What does that mean? I don't have any idea. If they chose me to speak on that I would just change it to something else.
Then they ask for questions or suggestions about making our JET life easier, but when people offer suggestions or questions they are told to discuss them with their contracting organization. Finally when there are no more questions, because we have figured out the pattern, they say that since their are no questions we must be happy with our situations so no changes need to be made. The sheer cycle of it makes me want to go insane and knock over desks. I think I said sheer twice so far, which is more than I have ever said it. Let me check. [Checking]. Confirmed. I said it twice, well three times including the line about me saying it twice.
Thursday November 11th, 2004
There is this really irritating thing at my school, well there is at least one really irritating thing at my school. The phone in the teacher's room to be exact. Apart from the "act like I don't hear the phone" game that we always play, this one involves people in the office calling up here. There are about 4 phones scattered around the room, each teacher doesn't have their own line. That's not unusual. When there is a call for a specific teacher, it first goes to the main office and they will call the teacher's room and ask for that teacher. Let's say it comes to the phone near me. I answer in Japanese and the lady asks for, oh let's say Mr. Tanaka. I look around and then yell, "Mr. Tanaka? Mr. Tanaka?". If he is not here I then say, in Japanese, "I'm sorry he is not here". Most of the time the office person says ok and we move on. But occasionally, and this is not just in cases where I answer the phone, occasionally it will come to one phone and that person will yell for someone. Then a minute later the phone across the room will ring and someone else will yell for the same name.
Do you think we are lying? Do you think this person magically appeared in the 30 seconds since we just hung up? I really need to inject sarcasm into Japanese society. That would be a nice legacy. The man who taught the Japanese to be annoying asses. It could be my 15 minutes of fame. If I could speak better Japanese I would start my World Domination Plan by answering the other phone and saying "nope, still not here. Try to call back in 10 seconds to a different phone and see if he was beamed up by Scotty". That is a driving factor in my learning Japanese, sarcasm.
No classes again today. Major surprise. Huge. I plan to watch 4 episodes of Season 2 of "24". Can you imagine watching a TV show at work, full screen, and having no one say anything? I actually want them to say something so I can ask exactly what else I should be doing, since I am just sitting here. Anyway, if you were following "24" years ago when season 2 aired, then you know how I am addicted to it although it is really stupid at times. I think the show should be renamed "I won't tell you this crucial piece of information because that would resolve this matter instantly". I have never screamed at my TV so much and I am always screaming the same thing. "JUST SAY IT". There is always something that should be said, but they never do.
"Why were you late, what's wrong with you?"
"I....I.....oh nevermind....I can't tell you"
"If you don't tell me what's going on I will call Division".
"I'm sorry I can't".
"You better, I mean it".
"I'm sorry I can't".
"If you don't tell me I will storm around acting mad".
"I'm sorry I can't".
Then that goes on for a while, when all he had to do was say "I was late because I was exposed to radiation and will die tomorrow". To which the reply would not be some drawn out argument, it would be "oh. well that sucks".
The other thing is the daughter. GOD she is stupid. She consistently picks the absolute worst path to follow. It's not possible for her be any dumber. And when is President Palmer going to see his wife is obviously corrupt. She is so annoying, but a good actress though. Then there was the prison that didn't exist that held only Victor Drazen. Somehow, this ultra secret super secure prison had a MASSIVE drain pipe coming out the back that the criminals could virtually walk upright in. Come one seriously? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Not to mention at any time anyone can either make a call on a secure line or intercept a call and eavesdrop. Plus why are all the agents big fat goons except for Jack Bauer? If they ever call any other person to do a simply job like pick up someone's laundry, they get shot like a walking target. And why can no vehicle go from point A to point B without crashing or being hijacked? It's amazing really. And terribly predictable. Apart from screaming "JUST TELL THEM" all the time, I also find myself frequently not-surprised.
Here's a picture of the teacher I had a crush on for a whole year, who probably knew it, and never bothered to say she was engaged. Then one day she said, oh I was married last week. That's crap. She is really cool.
Not the best picture, but still not bad. I actually don't look terrible in that picture.
Friday, November 19th, 2004
As mentioned above, I had a date, I think, with someone recently. Well perhaps she thinks it was a date too. That's good. She's cute and seems to really like me. Either that or she still doesn't understand the meaning of "I'm really looking forward to seeing you again". We are getting together Monday to eat Gyoza and drink some beer. We both like both. She came to the date alone last time, asked all the usual date questions, and dressed nice (and a little sexy). So I think things are going well. I should actually start losing weight and stop being lazy if I want this to succeed.
I just wrote the word succeed three times before I got it right. Suceed looks better to me, two CCs looks strange, but spellchecker is never wrong. Computers never make mistakes. Believe what you are told. Comply.
I had no classes yesterday as mentioned in the aforementioned testimony. So I spent my time making some picture pages. Ha. Now I can't stop singing the theme song to Bill Cosby's Picture Pages.
Picture Pages Picture Pages
Time to get your Picture Pages
Time to get your crayons and your pencils
Picture Pages Picture Pages
Something something Picture Pages
Time to let Bill Cosby do his pictures page with you.
I haven't seen that show in probably
20 years and I can remember the stupid theme song. Whoever wrote that deserves a
prize, man that is a catchy song. So anyway, on to the picture pages links:
Sukagawa Fire Festival Ozaso School Festival Fukushima JET Halloween Party
Night School Teacher's Party Night School Students Horse Track
I'll also update my photos page since I have added several pages, but not updated that. [later] I just made a massive update to the photos page. Wow, I haven't updated that in a while. Here's the link. Wow.
Saturday November 27th
I had the mid year conference last this week where I thought it was pretty wasteful. I learned a few things, but the whole conference could have been organized a little better. First they randomly assigned people to give presentations and then randomly assigned them topics. All the topics were something vague and everyone ended up changing their topic. One was "International Understanding in Education". I don't really know exactly what that means, neither did he presenter so he talked about something else. Then they mixed SHS and JHS teachers in various workshops. We spent the whole time discussing how things wouldn't work in various Junior High Schools or Senior High Schools, rather than discussing the topics. Of course if I were to offer any suggestions, it would seem like I was complaining.
Speaking of which, please check out my newest Guestbook entry. Here's a screen capture and the posting from a nameless fan.
Is this site perhaps a parody? The journal often seems like it must be. I appreciate that many people have genuine grievances about the JET program, but you seem incredibly whiny about pretty much every aspect of life in Japan. I can't think that coming across like the more pathetic twin of the comic book guy from the simpsons really helps you out. It's like SOMEONE just taught you SARCASM and you JUST CAN'T SEEM to stop using it.
Why on earth someone who seems to be so unwilling to try to adapt to a foreign culture - preferring to just cry "OMG these ppl are STUPID why cant it be JUST LIEK THE USA" - would go on what is *quite clearly* a cultural exchange, as much as it is a TEFL scheme, is totally beyond me.
Almost as mysterious is why someone who can't even spell "succeed" would believe themselves qualified to teach English.
So let's take this step, by step, because it is one of my more classic entries.
First they leave only the name confused. This is accurate, because they seem to be confused as to how to stand by their opinions. They were confused at the words Name and Email on the guestbook form. The internet makes it so easy for people to spew out their opinion while hiding behind the wall of anonymity. I post my name, my pictures, my email address, my life. This person is confused about how to be real.
The next part babbles about something that is actually ironic to the last part of the first paragraph. Did I just learn sarcasm since I can't stop using it? Yes, that is actually true. I just started reading a book called "How to be sarcastic". I'm only on page three. So my sarcasm is a little weak. I'll work on it. Maybe that's on page four.
Then I am referred to as unwilling to adapt. This is funny. I want to adapt, but there are certain things that make zero sense. One would know this if they read the who journal. Then it is referred to as "quite clearly" a cultural exchange. All I ask is exactly what is exchanged. So far I have only seen examples of me putting up with Japanese culture and nothing on their part. That's all I want to know. What was actually exchanged? Did they learn anything from me? No. Because, in my situation, which, believe it or not, may be different from your situation, I am a decoration, not a respected teacher or even respected as a person. So I use my journal to whine and cry about various things.
Obviously we are British, because I have never heard anyone else refer to something as a "scheme".
But here is my favorite part. The crème dela crème of the whole letter.
Almost as mysterious is why someone who can't even spell "succeed" would believe themselves qualified to teach English.
The reason that is my favorite part of the whole "scheme", is because one paragraph earlier.....................
THEY MISSPELLED THE WORD LIKE.
It's only got four letters.
"JUST LIEK THE USA"
The person is whining about me whining and crying, and then tries to close out with the comment that I can't even spell Succeed, which is not even what I said, then they misspell a FOUR LETTER WORD. I guess my guestbook didn't have spell check.
If you want to be a real person and stand by your opinion, post your name and email. Better yet, send me an email directly. But you won't do that. However, I can stand behind my opinions, and complaints, that's why I have posted my name and picture and email as well as why I am going to leave your complaint/comments in my guestbook, and direct as many people as I can to it.
I use this page as my diary, I write anything and everything I want. I don't care if people read it or if they don't. If you think I am a whiny crybaby, then don't read it. Write your own. This is not for you it's for me. This article gave me a good laugh and made my morning brighter. It didn't bring me down. There are letters that have brought me down, but they were critical of different things, important things, and they were presented in a mature manner. This was not. So, I guess I should make another update shortly.
November 30th, 2004
I went to the hospital school today and it was fun as usual. I only had two classes and I wasn't able to dot the hospital walkthrough because I had a slight cough. They were testing a video conferencing system so half my class was them setting it up. It was alright because the students are so shy they usually don't say anything anyway. Here are some pictures from the day:
My supervisor at the school, Ms. Takano.
The elementary school students. Most
I have never met, the usual ones are
the three boys in the picture below. The girl looking away in the bottom left
was very loud and spoke a lot of English.
I don't remember their names, though
I think the middle one has the same name
as a famous singer, so they call him the singer's name.
The video conferencing machine they were using.
In case you had no idea what it
looked like on the screen. The kids were only upstairs,
but couldn't come down because they get tired too easily.
The ultra-shy middle school
students. We talked about differences in American
and Japanese middle schools, then I had them write Christmas Cards to the
orphans in Thailand that I am volunteering at in December.
A nice girl who was once mainstream
normal. Her mother insisted the doctor's
perform some operation on her back and they warned her it probably wouldn't go
well, but she demanded. It didn't and now Saaya is stuck in this chair. She can't
move and I don't know what cognitive functions she has. At one time she loved
swimming and playing the clarinet. She always smiles at me, but inside I am so sad.
I wanted the cute teacher in the
picture also. Her name is Kiriko, but I call her
Kireiko, which means cute child. Or at least I think it does.
After that I came back early and had sushi. Now I am working on some programming stuff, but it's not going well. Tomorrow and Thursday I go back to Higashi where I will most likely just sit. Friday is the last day of the fireman's school this year which is always fun. Since we leave at 9:30, we will get lunch which is always filling. I took off yesterday since I still had a cough (I misspelled cough the first time, I am not qualified to teach English). The cough went away, but came back at the Mid Year Conference when there were 250 people and half said they were sick.
This is completely unrelated to the hospital school, but I found it when I was cleaning out my camera. Can they be any cuter?
Japanese Elementary school students are so cute. I want to teach ES next year. It would be such a change of pace from high school. Apart from the fact I might actually be in the classroom, I have heard ALTs are really busy and get to plan lessons. That would be so different. But most of all the kids are cute and less shy. Here is another ultra-cute picture. These girls are wearing matching uniforms.
Just too cute. They were so shy though, but they would actually say more than my high school students. Somewhere along the lines high school students start to believe they can't speak English. They don't believe that at this age.