How the sea urchin came to be...

I have to keep this quick as Boz's cousin is in town and we're heading out for piles of crab legs. It will be an early night for me as I need to be well-rested for the start of my thespian career tomorrow. We will post the video as soon as possible...but in the meantime, here is the explanation of how this all went down:

About three months ago, Boz and I set out on a Sunday evening stroll (something we do all the time in Japan and absolutely never in the States). We passed by a billboard with a 8x10 sign advertising 'Acting in English!'. Most of the information was in Japanese but there was a small section providing application instructions in English. I snapped an iPhone pic of the sign and we continued on our way.

The following day, I basically conquered the world...or, in other words, figured out how to send a 2-sided Japanese postcard and actually mail it from the post office. That task took about four hours. I wasn't exactly dying to be part of the play, but once I started the whole postcard mission, I felt determined to finish.

Two weeks went by, I finally received an acceptance letter, and I went to my first meeting on a Monday morning. It took me about forever to find the location of the meeting (again...all the signs were in kanji) so when I finally settled on a spot, I entered the room super tentatively. As soon as I opened the door, 20 Japanese women all fell silent and stared at me. The director, Julia, piped up in English (an unprecedented moment of good luck in my world) and introduced herself and then gestured for me to take a seat. She went on to say what was clearly "Stand up and introduce yourselves one by one" so I sat through about 10 Japanese introductions before I had to speak. I stood up and said my name and then pretty much just stared blankly until Julia asked "Abby, do you speak Japanese?". I suppressed a flurry of smart-ass replies and admitted that all I can do in Japanese is cheer for the Swallows. (This is no longer true, I'll have you know...but at the time, it was a fair assessment of my skills.) Julia gently explained that a majority of the play would be in Japanese with English lines sprinkled throughout. The play would be one element of the Azabu Civic Center's 25th Anniversary Celebration and it would be sponsored by an organization that offers acting classes in (a little bit of) English in order to help Tokyo residents improve their language skills.

Ahhhh. Yeah. That's definitely not how I interpreted "Acting in English!".

Julia then moved right along to the next introduction and didn't give any indication as to whether or not I should stay, so I just sat back down with the intention of sticking out the meeting and never returning.

But then we broke out the script. And then I realized the play was about a bunch of animals visiting an onsen. And then I learned my position would be a Japanese-speaking sea urchin. And from then on, there was nothing on earth that could have convinced me I wasn't destined to be in this play. I promised Julia, "I will learn Japanese to be the sea urchin. I swear to you."

Because Julia is cool as hell, she completely believed me and was 100% supportive from the get-go.

So here we are, a few months later, and I have had the absolute time of my life. I am approximately one million times better at speaking and understanding Japanese, I have met a group of fabulous gals who have all been so helpful and encouraging and fun, and I have discovered a new hobby that I absolutely love. I am so excited for tomorrow...and I also never want it to come because then this whole experience will be over. But then again, that's how I've felt all year...so perhaps this is the perfect beginning of the end.