During my semester abroad in Japan, I took a class on Japanese literature. It was a memorable class in that it was completely horribly, unbearably boring. The professor was a type that obviously had an unimaginable amount of knowledge on the subject, but completely lacked the ability to convey any sense of enthusiasm. A certain catch-phrase of his that he would drawl in his slow, deep, Russian accent (that he had such trouble projecting that he had to use a microphone in what was not exactly a sizable classroom) was “It is not so interesting but…” in introduction of certain facts.


I even took to doodling my professor in an attempt to remain engaged…

Never before have I been one to doze off in class, but there were times I felt the weight of all of Japan’s literary history weighing on my eyelids and on my head, drawing me down into the world of dreamy moon-gazing and tragic reflections on the ephemerality of existence as illustrated by the fading cherry blossoms. Sometimes, I’d even allow myself to dip my head down and shield my closed eyes with my hand, while moving my pen along as if taking notes, but may actually have been producing mysterious illegible scrawls of my hidden sleepy subconscious.

The class wasn’t a complete waste, however. On the days that I was caffeinated and motivated, I would do my best to listen to my monotonous professor, because the fact was, some of what he had to say really was interesting. A particular favorite quote of mine is:

A person with a true feeling for the beauty of this world had always to be in love.

When I arrived in Japan, I had just fallen in love with my current boyfriend. This love colored the way I experienced my first trip to Japan, so when I heard my professor say that, it really dug into my soul.  I knew what he meant-how everything felt hopelessly beautiful and my senses were overwhelmed by the emotion that filled my everyday because of how in love I was, both with my boyfriend and with Japan. So when we were assigned the task of writing a number of our own haiku, I had plenty of inspiration.

If you read the Mission File, you’ll see that I’ve already mentioned my fascination with the concept of “bittersweet”. This is the perfect subject for a Japanese-style haiku, as well as the best way of describing my long-distance romance, so it was the main theme for a number of my haiku. Other subjects include some of my other loves: coffee, curry, and the school library.

They’re generally cheesy, and not exactly masterpieces, but I’m still somewhat proud of them.

Would sweet taste so sweet
If not for the bitterness
Of our deep longing

Like coffee’s rich taste
The bitterness of distance
Makes the sweet, sweeter

Curry’s warm comfort
During shivering winter
Like love’s close embrace

His jacket’s long sleeves
Wrap around me like his arms
Still I long for him

Wooden branch-like beams
The leaves are the book pages
Library in bloom

I guess there’s some hefty evidence in support of me being a hopeless romantic~


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