Daily Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder (ALT) in the JET Programme living  and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. More information on the JET Programme here and here.

Tuesday July 1st

I didn't have to go to Hobara today and I knew if I went to Higashi I'd just sit down all day and surf the web or at least try to because any website I would try to go to would either be blocked or "time out". I can't update any sites because the network is so slow, about all I can do is check Excite mail, and hardly anyone writes me there. So I stayed home all day and worked on various things. I got a lot done, even though I stayed in bed until noon. I could have gone to school, but I am really getting tired of no classes. I don't want to complain, because a fellow JET complained at her school and they gave her a ridiculous amount of work.

I really can't understand the waste of me as a resource sometimes. I mean if I was a Japanese teacher in America and there was a native speaker at my school, I would try to speak to him/her everyday for practice. But not here, no one approaches me for that. I even told the teachers I would be happy to do that, but nope, they are too busy running to the copy machine and apologizing to everyone for everything. When the phone rings, people around it act like they don't hear it and then someone "runs" to the phone to get it. Then whoever it is for apologizes for not answering it. A) How would you have known it was for you and B) why did you act like you didn't hear it. I answer it because it's a few feet from my desk and I need the Japanese practice. The office lady always speaks slowly when I answer.

Back to the waste of resource, many times they say they aren't ready for me in class. How can you "not be ready" I can go in and just read if you want. There's nothing really to prepare. Again if I were teaching Japanese, and the Japanese native speaker didn't have anything to do I would have them come in and read in their native speaking and pronunciation. But not here, they are not ready. Sorry to whine, but this really bugs me. It's such a waste and sometimes I feel like they don't want me there. But yet they make me show up on time everyday and sit there. I can totally see why the guy before me didn't renew.

He would always take two hour lunches and leave without telling anyone. At first I hated him for it because it made things worse for me, but now I totally understand it. I go insanely bored there. You think I am a whiny baby for complaining about having nothing to do, but think about having to go to your job and having nothing to do. Computer access is limited and slow, but you have to be there on time and stay all day. For a few days it would rock then you start to go insane. Like Work Arrest. I am going to try to go to Kenchou (the state government thing) tomorrow and look at the finished copies of the New Comer's Guide I made. I could wait, but that would get me out of the teachers room for a few hours. Plus if I say "kenchou" the teachers all freak and let me do whatever. We are all State Employees and Kenchou is our boss headquarters.

This weekend I have something to do straight from Saturday 7am to Sunday 9pm. Straight, at every hour between that I have something to do, but I don't know what I will be able to do. At 7am I am going to Koriyama for a International Festival, which I love. That lets out at five at which time I am supposed to go to Iwaki for an overnight beach party. Then at 10am the next morning I am supposed to go to another International Festival in Aizu Wakamatsu. The two International-Fests are really important, but the beach party would be a load of fun. I technically could do it, especially since they will pay me to go to the first festival. I just have to see about a bus from Iwaki to Aizu. I think there is one, just don't know how much it would cost. Anything under $20 is feasible since I get reimbursed for travel to the Festivals, within reason. I'll have to decide soon.

Every single time I type h-a-v-e� I end up typing it a-h-v-e. Every single time, I can't change it unless I slow down and type the word really slow, and even then I sometimes type it wrong. I'm gonna be SOL if I ever add it to the spell check dictionary. I said another blooper tonight but I forgot it. Oh what was it. [sitting back to think for a bit]. Argh. Well one of them was I requested Taka Maki instead of Tekka Maki, but that's only slightly funny. Tekka Maki is a sushi roll with tuna in it, whereas Taka means hawk, which they do not eat. But there was another goof that was funny and I meant to write it down. Argh2. It will hit me later in bed when I am too tired to get out of bed and write it down. I really need to take a note pad with me at all times since I have the memory capacity of cloth.

I had a dinner date/language exchange with Hiromi tonight. It was really fun. I really like her and wish she wasn't going to Australia for 6 months, but then again her English will be so good when she returns. I don't know if I can visit her, but I hope we can stay in touch via email. She's going to meet some strapping young man and I will be sad forever, so I should decide if I want to do something before she leaves. Argh. BJ has totally got me saying that now. He also says "Over and Out" at the end of a conversation, which is catchy as well.

Wednesday July 2nd, 2003

Oh man I just got so much done. I had been delaying several things and I took an hour and did them all. I sent my old YahooBB modem back, a month late, because I was afraid it would cost a lot to ship it, but it was only $8. Then I mailed two letters to new incoming JETs about Maps of their area. They are both going to Iwaki (the beach city) and I found a nice little map at the International Center. Then I deposited money into the AJET Post Office account, which was MEGA-EASY. That is one area Japanese ATMs get bonus points for. To deposit money at an ATM you press Deposit, then drop the money in a little tray, then hit ENTER. It's instantly accessible also, none of this "If deposited before 2pm on Monday or Friday of the 3rd Week of the 2nd month, your money will then be available 10 business days after the first of the third second day month". Whatever.

I've always wondered why when you try to deposit a check for $500 and you have over $500 in your account, they say it will have to wait to clear first. BUT if you just cash the check, as long as you have the money in the account, they will cash it right away. Then you turn around and deposit the cash which is instantly cleared. So why not just do that for checks if I already have the money there? Gotta love our banking system.

I was about 10 minutes late today, more or less on purpose. I woke up a few minutes late and could have easily made it if I hurried, but then I realized I would be hurrying to sit here in the teacher's room and do nothing. So I took my time. I almost wanted someone to point out I was late so I could say "late for what? Sitting at my desk not being used?". I plan to study Japanese today. I didn't even bring my computer here, I left it plugged in at home downloading things.

I managed to walk all the way down to the International Center and back in 15 minutes. Granted you have no point of reference for how far that is, so you can't appreciate it. It's about as far as from my college dorm to the cafeteria. Guess that didn't help either. Maybe a mile or so each way.

OH, since I was late I was traveling with a different crowd this morning. Apparently all the whackos come out after 8:15 because I saw no less than 5 men on bikes blatantly pull out in front cars and buses. Directly in front of the "RED Do Not Cross" signs. 5 men, all on bikes. It was so bizarre. The last guy waited until the light turned red and then slowly rode out in front of a bus, he was actually almost hit. In a deep dark area of my mind I secretly wished he was hit so the police would come and I could say "I say it, he just pulled out in front of the bus, because Japanese people never look where they are going". But it was a near miss. Like when you have a friend who is a horrible driver and you wish they would get in some accident that was their fault so you could say "I told you so". But they never do. Actually you do, and they tease you about it.

[later]

I got home around 3 after going to Kenchou to see the samples of the Newcomer's Guide that were just sent out. They look alright. Next year they will rock, and I might even include a CD with video and pictures. So I get here and I work on the database for a while. Then BJ calls and asks if I want to eat Ramen real quick while he goes out to Michelle's town to practice for the driver's test. $50 says he fails. Not because he is a bad driver, but this is the first time he's ever driven a stick shift, and the tests are really difficult here anyway. We'll see.

So on the way back he had me park his bike at my place. He bought Corrinn's old bike for nothing I hope and will use it as a city bike. Man this was the worst thing I had ever ridden. The seat spun while I was on it, the front brakes didn't work at all, and the left brakes literally burst my ear drum from the squeal they made. Plus the whole thing was really wobbly.

OH OH OH, on the way home there were these two groups of girls passing out flyers for a new bar in town. Apparently it's a Malaysian bar or Filipina bar or something. These girls were incredible. It was evil really. Plain and simple. They had the shortest skirts and the tightest....skin. They were so fine. Granted I would NOT take one home to meet my mother, but still they were there strictly for sex appeal. So I took one of their little flyers which I couldn't read. I noticed it had no map just phone numbers, and I have heard there is a Filipina bar where they pick you up in a van and drive you out there. That's a little freaky to me. I think BJ got kidnapped once in the van. I'll have to get the story at some time. They were evil plain and simple.

Thursday July 3rd 2003

At school, no classes again, getting really old. Anyway, I just had a cool experience. I needed to give two students English notebooks to write in, so I went over to their homeroom teacher and asked him to give them the notebooks. But I forgot the Japanese I had practiced since a teacher distracted me on the way. So I just started talking in Japanese. The whole time I was talking I wasn't paying attention, but I was looking at another teacher waiting for them to become free. Then I realized afterwards, I had just talked without thinking and understood everything the teacher was saying. Wow, that was awesome. I need to get distracted more often.

I brought my older computer in and I actually have some things to work on today. I have no internet access on this at school, but I can type and transfer it later. Plus there is Solitaire which I can't beat. I play this newer Solitaire on my other computer, called Spider Solitaire, though I don't know what a spider has to do with it. Why not call it Donkey Solitaire or Angry Chicken Solitaire. I wonder if Chickens actually get angry. I mean I'm sure dogs and cats have emotions like that, I know they get sad or scared, but do chickens get angry at other chickens? That is something to ponder, if you have too much free time like me. I'll bring it up when we are drinking.

We just had a pep rally and no one told me about it. I was walking around the school and stumbled into the gym and there was everyone cheering. Oh well, in actuality I wish I hadn't found it since it was really boring. There's really no "pep" to it, they have some "do your best" talks, and then they do this scripted clapping technique while watching someone lead them. I always fall asleep during them. This time a teacher walked into the middle of the 1,000 seated students and slapped him up side the head with a newspaper. I think he was talking or cutting up (acting the fool as some older people say).

Then about 7 girls in the band come out and play the school's anthem. I have no idea why the whole band of 100 or so students doesn't play it, because 7 girls playing it doesn't sound great. They are playing it fine, but when one person makes a mistake you can hear it. Even a slightly off key note, you can hear it. But it's always the same group of seven girls coming out of the group and playing the song.

I just spent $1.10 on lunch and it was filling. If I can keep this up I should be in the money. On a side note (that should be the name of this journal), I'm thinking about breaking down and buying some short sleeve button up shirts. I hate wearing them because I feel like an assistant manager at Long John Silver's Fish and Chips, but they are really comfortable in this nasty heat. Some people look sharp like the Principal and other teachers look silly, which is the category I would fall into most likely.

It looks like I can announce my big surprise in about 2-3 weeks. I have to make some changes and then it should be ready to go. Hopefully it won't be much longer than that. On another side note, Burberry lady is wearing it again. At first I thought there was none on her, but then I saw her collar. Guess what pattern? I would be willing to bet she has Burberry underwear, though I am not going to pursue that angle.

Tomorrow is going to be hectic. I go to Adachi and then come back early to go to the meeting at Kenchou. Then there is a welcome party for the new girl replacing Julie. Then Meg and I have to get up (at our respective separate apartments) and be at the station by 7am for the hour plus local train ride that will get us to Koriyama by 8:40am for the all day International Festival thingy. I think I am going to skip the beach party since it just won't fit comfortably into the weekend. It will just cost money and I won't be able to enjoy it.

[later]

The woman organizing the thing on Saturday called me and told me what to expect. Basically it's going to be a big English Club meeting for this entire school. There will only be High School students at the festival, which is ok I guess. I really like when there are kids there ages 5-10. They are curious about everything and eager and haven't learned foreigners are different. We are just people. So they come right up to me and I say "High Touch" which is like High Five and they jump for my hand and slap it and have this big smile on their face like they just won a big teddy bear. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a pill that you could take that would make you act like a 7 year old? I'd take it all the time. You would be free to do anything and say anything. You could spend an hour staring at a tree, or talking to flowers, or stepping on bugs. You wouldn't worry about taxes, or elections, or your car payment. That would be nice. I guess they do have� a drug like that, it's called Speed.

There is another International Festival on Sunday in Aizu, this one will have the little kids at it. I spent hours today making posters about the US and Canada. They look pretty nice. I hope to make some game out of them. I also printed up a few Certificate of Achievement certificates for the kids. They are really simple and I will stamp it with something and print their name and my name. Actually I will sign my name in my fancy doctor like signature. Doctor like in the sense you can't read it. You know it's odd, I print everything and don't write in cursive. My dad says my handwriting is bad and I should work on it (I'm 31, yup that's at the top of my list). He has neat cursive handwriting, well I should say it's not sloppy like mine. But it's this fancy cursive that I can never read. I always have to ask him "Is this a J or an F?", "son that's a Q", "oh yea". So you can read mine, but his is technically neater.

I've pretty well decided that I have to blow off the beach party. It really won't fit, plus there is another one in August when the new people get here. I plan to take my inflatable sofa and inflate it on the beach, then I will put down these little felt/styra-foam snap together flooring things and have a nice little seating area. I'll hopefully have a grill by then (they are $20 at the local thingy place) and maybe some music and my $20 chairs, that I have stuffed in the closet. I will be big pimpin. I'll get some pictures as well as some video maybe.

Meg came over tonight and we discussed the Saturday Festival a bit since we will be working together on it. She brought some stir fry pre-prepared stuff and we ate it. Then an hour later we realized we were still starving, so we went to Wara Wara (whara whara - no idea what it means). We pigged out. She was on a diet but caved in and eat all sorts of stuff. I concluded I am officially addicted to food. I was eating extra helpings and sneaking bites when she wasn't looking. We ate so much and I was still hungry at the end of the meal. I really need to go vegetarian for a while, being addicted to food does not help one lose weight. I'm still at about 96K. I can't move from here. Much rather be here than 120K or so, I don't remember how much I was, but it wasn't pleasant. I still would like to lose the gut.

OK, it's almost midnight here which will be July 4th for me. If you want to know how it is in advance stick around and I'll let you know. We have no big 4th plans here, other than a welcome party for Julie's replacement. I'll let you know how that as well as the other events on Friday turn out, at a time later than this.

Friday July 4th

No major update today. Had the meeting at kenchou and it went great. The Fukushima orientation is coming along nicely. Then I went to Jessi's welcome party and Julie's Farewell party. Now it's midnight and I have to be back up in 6 hours, plus I have more crap to do online for a bit. I need to pack an get some things ready for tomorrow and Sunday. So no update until Monday. Hopefully I'll have pictures and maybe some short 20 second movies of the Festivals.

Over and out.

Sunday July 6th, 2003

Wow, big update. I woke up in time and caught the 7:34 to Koriyama and met the people in the station who took us on a bus to the high school. There were about 100 foreigners there from all over the world. We were shuffled into a room and they had us register and then they reimbursed us for travel. They actually gave me money for the shinkansen, but I rode the local train so I made a little profit. Plus they paid us extra for our time. We had no idea what was in store, but we knew in advance to have� a few things planned in case there was nothing planned. Does that make sense?

At the beginning of the event they hauled us all to the stage, in front of 800 students (failed to mention that before didn't they) and we each had to give a short intro. OK there are about 80 people on stage, and each person gives a 30 second intro including clapping and talking. So that's 40 minutes of us sitting on stage saying the same thing. So I pulled out my usual "make them laugh" intro and said, all in Japanese,� "Hello, my name is McDonald. My Father is the President of McDonald's". The students roared and even people on the stage turned and were saying "no, you are lying, no way, really". When the laughter died down I said "I joke I joke" and they erupted again. Then Meg had to go after me and had nothing to say that was clever. The kids said nothing, and she felt stupid. She wanted to say her grandfather was JFK, but I told her that would really sound stupid and she should, especially right after me. She called me an ASS the rest of the night. Sorry, I can't help it that McDonald's is huge here.

I was paired with Emily from Koriyama, although they had told me I would be with Meg. No big deal except Meg and I had planned some stuff, and I had to go along with Emily's plan. Again no big deal, she had a plan to do poems called "Diamante Poems". They are a weird formation using adjectives and opposites. I thought it was a little too difficult for the students, but they seemed to pick it up and were rather creative. I had brought certificates for them and we made copies and wrote their name out and stamped them.

One thing I really didn't like about the class is Emily is among the believers that students learning English should have class completely in English. I completely, and respectfully, disagree with this idea. I can say this because I am learning Japanese, and when I am taught all in Japanese, I learn FAR less. I am at the stage, as I believe the high school students are as well, where I can follow most things, but not everything. I personally speak a lot of English, but I separate what I want them to learn and what I want them to do. If I want them to be quiet I say it in Japanese, because it carries more weight in their native language. Saying "please be quiet" doesn't mean much to them, but "hanasanai de" does. So this class was completely in English, and I watched their faces and they quite often had the "I don't understand" look on the face. When they did this I would quickly and quietly explain it in Japanese, usually to the dismay of Emily. It's really just a difference of opinions on the matter. Those who speak no English have their reasons and experiences, and we have ours. I base most of mine on the fact that my brain quickly starts to daydream when everything is in Japanese.

Then we ate lunch in the classroom with the students and played this game where they scatter cards on the table and someone calls one out and each person tries to slap it first. I actually did pretty good and I almost won. There was one girl beside me who only had about 2 cards where I had like 20, so at the end I said let's make teams and I teamed with her, that made her feel great, but we still lost. Then I gave them my email address and 2 out of 27 have emailed me. That was a fun class. At the end they gave us a little gift and then we left.

After the first thing, we had a break and then we got to sit in some class and learn something ourselves. I chose Calligraphy since I am trying to study it here. This was the second highlight of my day. We made big name stamps out of this soft stone that you carve. So I carved my name and then stamped it a few times. It needs more work, but it was really fun. I'm really proud of this and want to keep working on it. I'll post something when I get further along.

Ok, I just finished uploading the pictures of the weekend so give them a look. There are other pictures of different things if you want to check them out as well. After all that I rode with Jeff and Kris back to Aizu and went over to Kris' house for a bit. His "friend" Sachiko came over with her cute friend Azusa. We chatted for a bit then we left. I got her email and we've been shooting phone messages back and forth for a bit. Then we got back to Jeff's house, just the two of us, and we to sleep, separately.

So then Sunday we woke up, separately again, and made it to the location by 9am. It was inside a gym since it's the rainy season now, and I thought this would be great, but we had to wear slippers and they don't make jumbo slippers for tall people here. So I had to wear these too small public slippers until Kris brought me some of his. The festival went great, the same as last time really. Little kids come up and in Japanese I would say "Guess three countries that English Teachers might come from". In the back ground we have the answers written down and we act like we don't see them and then tell the kids they did great when they answer correctly. I always do a high five, called High Touch here, and the kids really like that.

At the end of the day Jeff dropped me off at the station so I could catch the bus. After he did I realized the next bus wasn't for another 2 hours. I took a bus to Koriyama and then caught one to Fukushima. the buses here are so great. Always on time, super clean, nice seats, polite drivers, and relatively cheap. Sometimes I have trouble fitting in the seats, but usually I am ok. I never rode Greyhound back in the states, but I think this is the exact opposite. I'm really going to miss the transportation system here. that is assuming I return to the US. Maybe I can find a job in Tokyo. Maybe I'll be completely sick of the Japanese Business System by then.

Wednesday July 9th, 2003

I'm pretty sure something here is making my hair and fingernails grow faster. I know that seems odd, but my chest hair seems much thicker, and I have to cut my head hair far more often. Also I cut my fingernails almost once a week, whereas before it seemed as though it was 1 a month. Back in the US I had to shave about once every 5 or 6 days, and that was before it was noticeable, but here I have to shave every other day or I have this obnoxious 5 o'clock shadow, like now. Of course I can't grow a beard, because it's only under my chin and not anywhere in the zone 3 or zone 4, commonly known as the beard area.

I'm at Higashi today and it's the teacher's meeting right now. I am typing softly since I am bored and don't feel like waiting. I think I am supposed to have some classes today, but I also expect to hear "we are not ready for you today so maybe no class" since of course it takes weeks to prepare for me to stand in a class and read from a book. Luckily the CIR (Coordinator of International Relations) told me she would call the school and ask me to come to Kenchou on Monday to work on some stuff. I might be able to get out of school all day. That will be sweet.

There is some kind of bus to a Beer Garden this weekend, I've already said I would go though money is really too tight. But oh well, it will be the last time I see a lot of people so I will go anyway. Yesterday one of my teachers at Hobara brought me the books I ordered (weeks ago) from the free Japanese class. They are all in the simple languages of Japanese (there are 3, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (kanji is the devil)). This will give me great reading practice in Hiragana and Katakana. My reading is still so slow, I don't just SEE words I have to sound each letter out which is painful sometimes. Though some words are appearing to me as words, since I am starting to recognize their shapes. I read somewhere that that is all we really do, recognize shapes. That's why reading ALL CAPS is not natural, we can't recognize the shapes of words.

I'll practice that book, and it has another extra book and a workbook. I brought the workbook today to start going through. Most of it is basic, but I really need the basic practice. Sometimes it seems really strange to me that I can communicate in a language that looks like random squiggly lines. I can't wait until I am playing Pictionary in the US with one Japanese person and a bunch of non-Japanese speakers. I can write what appears to be lines and shapes, but really says "Hey Sachiko, the answer to this question is Pudding". Someone will figure it out. Curses, my evil plan is foiled again.

A nice teacher named Abe sensei (Ah bay) just came over and said good morning. I realized he does this everyday, just comes over and says good morning. He is a really a nice guy. He's the one that drove me all around last August when I was stuck in the teacher's room. He showed me tons of places. I remember my friends being jealous because they would talk about some area and I would say I'd already been there, but we had only been here a few weeks. I really like him. He is the leader of the mountain climbing club. I wish I could participate with the club, but anything more than a 5 degree incline for more than 50 feet wears me out. I should probably check into why. I tell people stairs are my enemy. The term for stairs in Japanese is Kaidan (kigh dahn) which sounds like a cartoon evil character. If I could draw worth a squat I might develop that.

I've already slipped and told a few people what my big surprise is, but hopefully there are a few people that I haven't told. Everyone thinks it's really cool, but I hope it actually happens. There are little snags along the way, and I am trying to work through them. They are really aggravating little snags and sometimes they are expensive little ones as well. Only another week or 2, maybe 3, most likely not 4 and then my secondary evil plan will be unveiled. I'm going to play solitaire. Right here at school, I am going to do it.

I lost. Then I played again and won. Hiraki came over and chatted about nothing with me for a bit. It seemed awkward, like she felt she needed to chat, but had nothing to say. So I chatted back. She said she watched Ann of Green Gables last night but it was 4 hours and couldn't stop watching it. I had that problem back in August the night before the bus trip to Aizu. I popped in the tape labeled "Shawshank Redemption", and it was AGG. So I watched 5 minutes of it, because I had already sat down and changing the tape would have involved getting up and moving. Then I got addicted and had to see how that crazy girl was going to get out of her next little caper. Then I couldn't stop watching it. Finally it was over at 3 am and I had to be back up and at the station in about 5 hours. Argh.

[later]

Just got back from the dollar store where I bought my lunch. These dollar things are actually somewhat tasty when you have enough of them. So for lunch I am spending $2 since I need two of them to fill me up. I challenge you to eat for $2 or the equivalent in your country. It's not easy. So I come back and I'm letting it cool and I decide to make little alphabet cards for me since I still confuse a few letters that look similar and that, obviously, changes the meaning of the word. I found a nice site online that has a template where you can copy a two pages back to back to make a nice sided sheet and have flash cards. I'm going to try to do this in a minute.

Anyway the point was as I am walking in, a teacher passes me with a tape recorder on her way to class. An English teacher, but yet they are not ready for me somehow. I completely do not mind standing in class and reading from the book like a tape recorder. I am going to print out my charts and graphs and present them to Hiraki sensei at the beginning of the next term which will be right after Summer vacation. I'm going to show them Hobara and Adachi use me at least 3 classes a day which is %100 on average. If you have more than 3 a day that's considered a heavy load (high School teachers in the US and other countries who teach 6 and 7 classes, please hold in your anger). But Higashi completely under utilizes me. I've heard I can call Kenchou and have them say something, but I'm afraid they would retaliate and give me 7 classes a day, which would be better than none I think. But still too much.

I've been working feverishly on a seminar I have to do in August at the New JETs Fukushima Orientation. My topic is about Transportation in Japan. I will cover everything from the local train to taxis and shinkansens. I have a ton of stuff to cover and hope I have enough time. I want to include pictures on my laptop so they can really see in color what you need to do to buy a ticket, for example.

I had a nice meeting with Hiromi last night. She's really coming along nicely with her English. She still has a boyfriend, which sucks, because she is so cute and sweet and nice. Total wife material, but alas my plan has once again been thwarted. I never say that word, but it came to mind and I typed it. Thwarted. To thwart. One who thwarts, a thwarter. The more I type it the less correct it looks. She is still going to Australia, which is sad for me, but her English will improve incredibly. I've moved on to another romantic possibility who seems not to have a significant other and also seems interested in me. She is listed on the picture page. He name is Azusa, or Medusa as we call her. We have exchanged emails and last time she wrote when am I coming back down to her area, and I said "you just bought a car, why don't you drive up here to visit me". She seemed surprised and then happy that I suggested that. So we'll see. There's also a teacher I am interested in, but she rarely replies to my emails, just because she isn't addicted to her phone.

Meg wanted me to come to her English club thing today, so I guess I might as well. Her students speak a little better than mine, so that will be interesting to see. Plus this way they will say hello to me at the station when they see me. Now I pick them out and say hello, I am Meg's friend, and they say OK, and move on. My English club meets during lunch and we never have time to do anything worthwhile really.

Thursday July 10th, 2003

The English club thing was pretty fun. We played Charades although Meg picked a few things that were way too difficult, like KGGS which is their sister school in England. I wanted to do simple things, but she kept picking bizarre things. Even worse, she would go well beyond the point of "The don't get it, just stop now". That really irritates me. There is a point when they don't get something and you have derailed, see that point and then stop. Nope, kept going. That let out around 6 and then we rode to the station to meet BJ and help him get his phone repaired since he dropped it in the toilet (hopefully post-flush). He wanted me there to use my Japanese in case he didn't catch something, but in actuality, he is good at languages in general and is picking Japanese up faster than me. I just never study anymore. I need to get back in the groove of that. I think I am going to record some of my Japanese friends speaking slowly and just listen to that over and over. I can't stand listening to Japanese at full speed.

Anyway, we help him get his phone fixed and they give him a loaner until then. He is leaving in a week, but I can't divulge where, it's both scary and pretty cool at the same time. If I had the money I don't know if I would go where he is going, but I might. He is going for a good cause, and they need people there. But this place might be pretty Anti-American so I don't know. I have this fear of going anywhere that the phrase "I'm an American" gets me hog tied upside down naked. If all goes as planned he should have some good stories to tell. I'll announce it when he leaves. He told his mother yesterday about his plans and she said "no". He said he will wait a day or two and then talk more about it. Although he is going either way.

If I were a betting man I would be no classes today as well here at ole Higashi. I brought my computer and I can type, study kanji, study Hiragana, and work on some websites, but not having classes is really getting old. I think I am not even going to ask about coming in late during the summer, especially when the break is here and there is no morning meeting. I'm just going to start getting here around 9 or so. There is no reason for me to even be here during the summer break, but unless I take vacation days I have to come in. My vacation days roll over so I am not going to waste them. I had better check and see how many I have left. I get 20 more around August 1st.

Meg is still fuming at her school. They are making her come back here for 3 days. She would take unpaid leave, but they are keeping her plane ticket here. Since they are paying for it they are being asses about it. So she has to come all the way back up to Fukushima to get this ticket and sit in the teacher's room for three days. I might just say forget it I'll pay for my own thing. Because this is costing her an extra $400 because now she has to go down to Tokyo to get her boyfriend and then come all the way back up and then go back down to Tokyo again. Granted maybe no one will be coming to visit me like that, I just don't handle stubborn methods that really make no sense. Why must the ticket get here that late? Order it in advance, she knows the date she is leaving. Get an e-ticket and avoid all this. Nope they have to do it their way. She just got a new supervisor and the old one wouldn't have done all this. She is going to make it known she is leaving with a sour taste in her mouth. I think that is fair, she's not asking too much. There are no classes, and there is no reason why she needs to be here. I am pretty flexible, but when it comes to someone just being stubborn, then I don't handle that well. I would lose money just to make a point.

Man I am starving. I might go grab a raw carrot and eat it, even though I will be subject to laughing and ridicule by teachers and students. They are direct cheap though and might hold me over until lunch. I wish I could eat better, I think I might could if I had more money, although I would probably just eat more of everything. If I lived in a small town people might just bring me food. I have a few JET friends in small towns and their neighbors bring them raw veggies and prepared food all the time. That would be a really cool JET experience, I wish I had that.

Speaking of which I have been wondering lately if I am just a "The grass is always greener..." type of person. It seems I always find something else somewhere that would be much better than my situation. I can never just be happy with what I have. But am I being selfish or is there something really there. I say I live in Almostville, because I always get almost what I want. Like I get to come to Japan and study here and this is a good job, but I am always broke and can't travel or experience many things. So I have enough to keep me quiet, but not enough to really get the full experience. You see my point? There are too many examples to mention here, but there is a pattern. I am going to try to just be satisfied with what I have, but that is going to be hard, since I can see greener grass out the window.

I just played Solitaire and I won. I am the master of this game. Actually I don't think you can master the game since it's partially based on what you are dealt. I'm going to go get something to eat now, maybe carrots, maybe more $1 stuff. Over and out.

I'm back. I got more $1 store food. It was ok as usual. I was just making a copy of something and as I walked back to my desk yet another teacher passed me with a tape recorder. An English teacher I mean. HA. Just had a thought, what if I sabotaged the tape players? How long would they figure out, "Oh well we do have a native English speaker here, but we can't use him, he is just an ornament". I brought my headphones, maybe I will start listening to music or an audio book I have. Today time is going slow, but yesterday it flew by. Granted I had more things to do, but still it just whizzed by. I remember wishing that I had more time. I'll go study some flash cards for a while and see how I feel later.

I just spent the past two hours or so working on different websites. I probably won't post any links here, because 1) won't concern you at all, and 2) the other is the local FuJET website. Since none of you are in FuJET (or FuKen JETs as we say) then there is no point in you being there. The last site I started working on was one my friend and I want to do about local techno and trance parties. That will come later since we are busy and he is heading back to Philly this week.

I've been checking into getting TESOL certified. BJ got me on that kick and I have found some online courses for less than $300. Of course they go on the back burner, but it would be nice to have some certification when/if I leave. If I try to stay and continue teaching English somewhere, it would help with that as well. I just don't want to leave here and have nothing to show for it. There are a few people leaving this summer who have been here three years and they have very little to show. Maybe that's all they wanted, but I want to show I was productive.

I can't believe it is the middle of July and I am still wearing a jacket to school COME ON, heat up already. Now I jinxed myself and it will be a record hot tomorrow. I am tired of having to wear this grey windbreaker thing all the time. Although I don't like sweating like a stuck pig either, I favor warm weather to cold weather any day. I think it is winter in Australia now, someone told me that. I think that would be bizarre going there and it being ice cold, especially if you didn't take any cold clothes. Maybe Thailand is the same way, which means it would be hot during Winter vacation when many people go. I still want to go, but who knows when I can get there. I must go before I leave since I have a friend in Bangkok and she can show me around. She's cute too.

[later]

Just got back from Meg's place. We cooked Kimchee and watched MonkeyBone again. It's really a stupid movie, but the scenes with Chris Kattan is really funny. He has a broken neck and his head is flopping all over the place. It's a real hoot. So we cooked the kimchee, actually I cooked it while she packed and then we watched it. Then we watched The Art of War with Wesley Snipes, which I had seen and was only mildly interested in. It was alright. We had nice little chats about different things and told some gossip. Then she gave me some crap she was going to toss out. I'm going to work on some web stuff and then hit the sack. I have a busy day of sitting planned for tomorrow.

Friday July 11, 2003

About 20 students were in the teacher's room for something like a test and the phone rang so I ran through them to get it. When I picked it up I saw them all gasp and stare at me, so I said "Hello teacher's room" in Japanese and they all gasped. Then the person on the phone asked for a sensei and I repeated the name, another gasp, then I said "Naoko Sensei, you have a call here". All in perfect Japanese, and the students all gasped again in amazement. It wasn't really all that much, but they don't hear me speak Japanese much I guess. It was fun. Good times.

[much later]

Just got back from the party for people who are leaving. It's going to be sad when they leave because chances are I'll never see most of them ever again. maybe we'll stay in touch via email, but who knows. The party was alright, it was at a club called God Funky Paradise and two local DJs played. One interesting thing I found out was about the Beach party in August, I found out it will be MASSIVE. I mean there is going to be a bar and a food court and families and volleyball tournaments all day. They expect about 500 people. I plan to take my inflatable sofa and a grill and some snap together flooring I have. Plus my two chairs. It's going to be a real trip I think. I can't wait. Hopefully, I can stuff all this crap in Kevin's car. He is a 3rd year JET in Iino, but he is staying for another 2 months to help the new JETs in his area get accustomed to the area. He has  a nice big car and I plan to fill it up with Beach Party paraphernalia. Slight tangent. That is the first time I have ever typed the word paraphernalia. I had to type it like five times and then run spell check on it. Who would have thought there was an R in the middle of the word, I mean really.

I think I won't drink much for all of August, just so I can justify getting hammered this night. Maybe I will sleep on my beach couch or in my chair. The one that reclines. Maybe I'll suggest we go skinny dipping late in the evening. I should really stop typing, maybe I had too much to drink at the farewell party. It's amazing how much gossip flows at these parties. Too many people told me way too much stuff about things I really didn't need to know about.

Sunday July 13th, 2003

Saturday morning  Azusa came to visit me from Aizu and we had lunch and then I taught her English. It was fun and she was looking ultra-cute. At some point I was asking her about her family, having her explain in English, and she said her dad was a truck driver and very strict. Which I took to mean that he most likely didn't want his daughter dating a foreigner. We ate at Angelo's Italian place. As soon as we walked in the place was packed and the woman behind the counter looked at me and said "oh oh oh" and I assumed she knew me, but I had no idea who she was. Then she stepped behind the counter and stopped the CD player and put in 80's music from my youth. It was really strange, but also nice since it has been a while since I heard some of those songs. Just odd that she did that for me and didn't know me, or I didn't know her.

After lunch we had a small English lesson and she taught me some basic Japanese things I didn't know. We played shiri-tori which translates to bottom grabbing, though I didn't hers (as much as I might have liked to), it's a word chain game where you take the last letter and make a word starting with that. You've probably played it, but it is big here. That went on for a while then I wrapped it up since I needed a nap before the Asahi Beer Garden later that night.

So at about 5:30 I head up to the station, after a short nap. I sit by the bus area and wait until the last possible minute, which is typical of JETs, and then everyone showed up. We get on this really cool 2 story bus and it takes us down to this beer garden place. As soon as we get there they have our food out on the table and the pots ready to go. The second we sit down they slam beer glasses down on the table. This place obviously has their method down, the service was impeccable.

There were pots with boiling water and we just threw everything in there and then picked them out with chopsticks and ate them. There were huge plates of meat all around the table, which was not appealing to the vegetarians, but quite so to the rest of us. I threw so much in there and at it up. We had some incredible sesame sauce to dip the cooked stuff in, I couldn't slow down. My food demon was in high speed that night. I ate so much and then drank so much, the second your beer glass was low there was another one fresh from the brewery right in front of you. It was 4,000 yen for two hours of all you can eat, all you can drink, and a bus ride round trip from the station. WELL WORTH IT. I plan to organize this yet again for the new JETs coming in. Speaking of which I need to start working on the new website for FuJET.com but maybe I will call it Fukenjets.com, get it? That's the name of our newsletter, "Here's your FuKen News".

After the Asahi bus dropped us off we went to Karaoke, which I don't really like, and there were about 20 people there, which is worse. If someone wants to hear a slow whiny song, it really drains the energy from everyone. But the room they put us in was all psychedelic and trippy. When you turned on the black lights all sorts of crazy space patterns popped up on the wall. But with normal lights there was nothing on the wall. I snapped some pics because they look cool.

So everyone is singing stuff and I am running around snapping camera shots of all the cool graphics on the wall. Then we had a towel fight, like we were 6 years old. They give us little hand towels everywhere you go. They are slightly moist and sometimes quite warm, if not boiling hot. So we were wadding them up and pegging people. It was a strange time since there were so many people that many stayed out in the hall and wandered around. 20+ is a bit too many for Karaoke, for future note, if you come to visit. 5-8 is a much better number.

Then after all this let out, we went to Shoya, though I was ready to come straight home. BJ the non-big drinker ordered another pitcher, and I was really beered out, but I had a glass. The fries and asparagus with mayonnaise he ordered was quite tasty. Then it was around 2am so we came back to my place. He crashed on the floor since I have tons of extra futons after Corrinn gave them to me. We slept until 9ish and then he ran off to a Catholic church he found, which I am assuming would be all in Japanese. Now it's 10 am and I am just going to goof off all day, although a student sent me an email earlier saying there was a band concert later today at school.

[later]

Meg called around noon and asked if I wanted to go see Terminator 3 and I said I couldn't afford it so she said the Bank of Meg could spot another loan. So I got dressed and ran over there. The movie was pretty good, though there were some questions I had but if you haven't seen it the questions won't make sense so I will not ask them. I assume there will be a T4 which will be interesting. There were a few great action scenes in T3 like the one with the crane flying through the city.

After that we went to the grocery store and bought all the fixing's for the night's dinner party that Meg planned. It went over very well. I cooked Deviled Eggs, and they were quite tasty and a hit. Meg fixed Tempura which is very Japanese, BJ made the Edamame (the soy bean type things) which consisted of boil water, add edamame, cool, eat. A Japanese teacher friend of Meg brought great Gyoza, and there were a few other things there as well. each person was supposed to print 20 copies of their recipes so each person would leave with a recipe book. It was a great idea on Meg's part and would have worked great if Jackasses like me actually printed the recipe out in advance. Brianna brought her Tommy Boy tape, which is my favorite movie, but she put it in the bag with her food and it spilled and got all over the tape. Then I tried to stick it in the VCR and it messed it up so Meg was mad all night at me. But later she got it working.

When the new JETs get here I plan to do a lot of these little things. These get-togethers are where you really get to know people. We just sat and talked about everything and nothing for a good hour or so. I felt bad for her Japanese teacher friend, because she did speak English but we were in full-on native slang mode and she couldn't follow it all. But she seemed to enjoy it and we all commented how tasty the Gyoza was. She really seemed to dig the deviled eggs, though the only way I could tell her the name was Devil Eggs, which sounds really demonic. I mean Devil is not a verb and you can't just past tense it, so all I could say was devil and egg. I told her the name was strange, but that's what they are called.

Tomorrow I am leaving school at some point and going to Kenchou for the better half of the day to work on the new comer's orientation and some activities. That will be fun partially because it will be fun and partially because I will be out of the dreaded office. I am so tired of sitting in the teacher's room doing nothing. But tomorrow I'll work on some ice breakers and a few other activities we have planned. One is a picture and address book of all the JETs in the prefecture currently. It should be very nice.

Tuesday July 15th

Don't have a big update. Played volleyball last night with the group. There were 10 people so it was good to have two teams of 5. There are a few people who are major ball hogs and that's annoying, but then again Meg and I goof off so we are equally annoying. Meg went to some gathering after v-ball, but I came back here and worked on stuff. Today I sat at Higashi for half a day and then went back to Kenchou to work on more stuff. That let out around 3 and then I came back here and cleaned / surfed the web.

I've had a few emails from people asking how to send me things. I thought that was a little odd, like early birthday and Christmas gifts, but I won't turn down anyone's hospitality. I suppose one could go to my Amazon.com Wish List and pick and choose anything that's there. I just added a few things recently and that gave me the idea. That link should go right to it, if not just go to Amazon.com, click Wish List, and enter my email which is listed in the contact area of the site. Anyone who sends me something off the list will be entitled to postcards from any country or city I visit. Plus I'd be really happy that I have something new to read / do.

Tomorrow and Thursday is Sports Day at Higashi. I suppose I'll be suckered into participating somehow. I should take some sports type clothes I suppose. I'm in the middle of a Carrot Juice fast currently. I never thought I'd be able to fast, but after about a day then your body gets the hint. I'm not hungry and haven't eaten solid food since Sunday. I felt the need to purge myself after the beer / meat festival on Saturday. I ate SO much, I even nabbed some meat from neighboring trays when they weren't looking. I'm already planning another trip there with some new JETs coming in August. They have a bus that seats 40 so we can do that.

I really need to start studying Japanese, I'm slipping. I can't remember basic things and I'm definitely not improving. I think I need to put aside one hour a day at least to learning Japanese, maybe one hour of review and one hour of learning something new or reading practice. Reading Japanese is such a pain, because in English you don't really read each word your brain recognizes the shape of the word, that's why words in ALL CAPS ARE SLIGHTLY HARDER TO READ. So in Japanese I am reading each letter. There are only a few words that I "see", and even they are not always fast. Ok, I'll do that. 2 hours a day. I'm going to have to bust my butt if I plan to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December. I am shooting for Level 3 which is the 2nd easiest of 4. Level one is difficult for Japanese people, so I'm going to wait on that one. Level 4 should be too easy. I'm going to research more about the test now.

Wednesday July 16th

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Today has been such a bad day. I'm going to list everything so you can feel my pain. The first half of the day was alright although time was dragging much slower than usual. Then after school Meg asked if I wanted to come by and see her English club perform some school plays, so I did, it was cool. More on that later. Then on the way out we run in to a co-teacher Kazu who I am certain does not like me. We had an interesting chat and then we left. Here is where it all went down hill. Meg suggested we go eat at The Moon, which was "our" restaurant. We would always go there and it was really a cool place. I was in the "middle" of a juice fast and was doing great on it. You are supposed to eat raw vegetables for a day to properly end it, but somehow Meg convinced me to break it with Korean Kimchee hot spicy thick full rice. So I did and I'm sure my intestines have a little tea party planned for me later as a way of expressing their thanks for my dietary jumps.

So we get there and sit down only to find out they created a new all Japanese menu. The old one had English beside it, but nope not anymore. Plus they got rid of almost all our favorite foods, except the hot spicy Kimchee. Then we said a Mango Pasoa will make it all better. Nope they discontinued our favorite drink. Then Meg pointed to the Mango juice and the Pasoa juice on the counter so the bartender caved in and made it. Breaking a fast with alcohol and spicy food, yea that's the ticket.

Then we left early since they place had negative 4 cool points. It was early and Meg didn't really want to go home so she convinced me to see a movie. We rode by The Forum where I had some free passes, but nothing of remote interest was playing during our window of opportunity. So we go by Warner MyCal the big nice theater. The Italian Job is playing in 15 minutes so we go to that. Of course we get extra large meg-butter popcorn, the perfect ending to a juice cleanse. The movie was pretty good, no major comments from me. But Meg was chatting all through the flick. I HATE PEOPLE TALKING IN THE MOVIES. I told her to shush a few times. I really can't stand that. I'll make an occasional whisper comment, but I'm talking a comment about nothing every 5 minutes. ARGH.

So then we leave and say our goodbyes, because the next time I see her she will have her boyfriend with her and things will be different and then on Tuesday she will be leaving to travel around Tokyo and then leave Japan for good. So I come back and try to update this page with the days events. When I log in to update it using Frontpage, it's all white. Nothing there. What is this? Then I download it and it's fine on my computer, but will not load in Frontpage. So I try to download it and then re-upload it and somehow I erased the June Journal. ARGH. If anyone saved June for some reason please let me know, the last time I saved June was apparently right in the middle of the month so I am missing the end. I've checked into a restore we'll see.

So I get this page to work and decide to reboot and run spy-ware sweeper. Then I go down stairs to do laundry with my $4, 2 for each machine. I put in $2 on the $2 machine and it starts, the other machine is $1.50 so I say who cares and put in $2. NOPE. It will only take the exact amount. I didn't even want change. Now I am out of money and already down $2. So I run up and get a $10 and buy a CC Lemon, which I ironically didn't want, and go back to the laundry room. Now someone else is using the machine. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. So I wait and finally get the laundry in. Now I don't have enough money to mail a package tomorrow.

I guess that's about it for now. The good thing that happened was Hiraki sensei said I could get to school late and leave early next week. Then the next week I will be in Tokyo for the hectic orientations. If you are reading this and you are a new JET coming to A or B orientation, come say hello. Ask anyone in AJET where the AJET DBA is, that's me. OK, finished for now. [Found an older version of June and uploaded it, might be missing something]. Darn well better believe I will make hourly backups from here on out.

I found some pictures of Kenchou on my camera so you can get a visual image of where I go when I say I am going to Kenchou. As a matter of fact I might be going there tomorrow. Although I am pretty sure the CIR has the day off, I'll go after lunch and then say "oops she wasn't there, so I just went home". Maybe I'll take some pictures for maps for the Fukushima Orientation. So anyway, here is Kenchou.  The buildings are side by side, notice the same tree in both pics.

Oh I nearly forgot some big news of the day, not the big news that I'll announce soon, but big news for me, just for today. I sewed a button on my pants and a hole in some other pants. The button I am most proud of because it looks great and it should be functional. I'll wear them soon. They are some nice Old Navy pants I bought years ago that are really nice and summery. The other pants were my favorite since they fit great and I felt they looked slick, and I wore them so much I ripped a wallet size hole in the right pocket. So I sewed it up tonight and I will wear them soon. I've been putting my wallet in the left pocket, which for some reason always feels awkward, but now I can go back to the right cheek.

Friday July 18th

Payday, oh a sigh of relief. Although most of it is already spent. Had to give Meg some money I had borrowed and then send back some as usual, but I still have more than half left over so maybe I will be alright. Other than that I sat in the teacher's room until I went insane and finally said I am leaving to go to Kenchou, as pictured above. I didn't go, but I think the school merely wants me to say that so their butt is covered, and if it comes out I can just say my plans changed. Hiraki sensei was asking me what days I will be at school and when I'll take off. She said teachers get five days off during the summer and then later came back and said that didn't include me. So I don't get a bonus nor the free 5 days off, so I am not a teacher. I'll keep that in mind in the future.

So next week I am going to come in for a few minimal hours each day, and then the next week I will be in Tokyo for 10 days or so. In about an hour or so I'll go to the station to meet Meg for the last time ever, kinda strange saying that. Then we will either go to Kentucky Fried Chicken or ChuckWagon, both are equally fattening and not healthy, but they are both special to us so it must become so. We hung out at 1 for a few minutes then she had to go back and make a farewell speech. Her boyfriend is on the way here now, he lands around 6 and should, hypothetically, get to Fukushima around 9. I couldn't imagine trying to navigate my way to Fukushima from Tokyo speaking ZERO Japanese and being Jet lagged. Wow, but he is apparently. I will be really surprised if he actually shows up. If we are waiting and waiting and he isn't there, I wouldn't be in the least surprised. Then she'll get a call and he'll say he is in Korea or something. Wow. There is no way I would invite someone here and say, find your own way.

He should have no problem getting through customs and immigration since you basically follow the masses. But then you have to find Narita Express and buy a reserved seat ticket. Then ride it to Tokyo station and find the shinkansen train to Fukushima, be sure not to get on one that stops somewhere else or flies through our station heading somewhere else. Then get on the correct car and make sure you get off at the correct station. On top of all this he has no cell phone so he has to find a phone if there is a problem. He speaks ZERO Japanese to the best of my knowledge.

I guess I'll start cleaning up or doing something to waste time. Monday is a holiday so next week is only a 4 day work week. Thank GOD since I have to go to school each day and do nothing. I'm going to present my little "under utilization" charts to Hiraki when school starts and politely say this is not acceptable. I came all the way from another country to sit in the teacher's room while teachers walk past me with tape players? I don't think so. I think it will freak her out that I have been making notes of all my non-teaching time. I'm going to be polite, not rude or sarcastic, but very direct. There are other actions I can take, but I don't want to go that far yet.

Sunday July 20th

Had an aggravating experience today. I loafed around until noon and then decided to head to Hard Off and buy a cheap printer or video camera. They had some for about $30 so I figured I could afford that. I get on my bike and ride then I realize I forgot my backpack to carry whatever I buy in, so I go back. Then I realize the back tire is low on air, but I continue. I take a different way and it's neither faster or slower than the other ways I usually go. At some point I get a flat front tire and have to push the bike to SATY. Then I can't find a tire pump or bike shop anywhere. So I park it at SATY and walk towards Hard Off.

Ironically it seemed a lot closer to SATY than the other day when I rode my bike there. I get there and the camera is gone as is the couch I wanted. So I find a cheap Lexmark Color printer and get that. Then I ask the guy where the nearest station is and he tells me there's one about 10 minutes in this direction. I decide to walk and leave the bike at SATY for a while. I pass no less than 3 bike shops on the way to this station. I get on the train and ride back to Fukushima. Then I walk back to the apartment. Now my bike is at SATY which is a good 5 miles away. I gotta either get out there with a pump or better yet with a car in case the tire is really screwed up.

Tonight we headed out to BJ's for an odd Movie Night. It was odd, because we spent the first 3 hours on top of Handa Mountain shooting fireworks. Then we all piled in his tiny little car and nearly died three times on the way back. He's determined to take these small back roads, but one time turned down the wrong one and couldn't back out. Dave had to get in the driver's seat and reverse it. It was an upper level stick shift maneuver. We had 6 people in a car that barely holds 4. Finally we get back and watch two episodes of The Tick on his computer. At 11 Meg, Brian, and I catch the train back here.

Saturday night I went to dinner with Emiko (pretty face) and Kevin (from Iino - the UFO place) and Emiko brought a friend of hers named Ayako. She was cute, and spoke great English since she lived in California for a year. We ate and chatted for hours then we met Meg and Brian at Shoya for one last night out with them. We stayed there for an hour or two and then went to Catfish where some people were break dancing of all things. We stayed there another hour and then said out goodbyes. It was a decent farewell night I suppose.

Tomorrow is a holiday and I am mad because I think all the stupid ATMs will be closed and I have no cash on me so I have to stay in and eat $1 store food all day. Of well, I've blown too much this weekend on crap anyway. I have to pack for Tokyo this week. It's likely there will be no updates or small updates between July 26th and August 6th since I will be in Tokyo at the orientations and quite busy. That's it for now.

Monday July 21, 2003

I had the strangest dream last night, but I think it is real enough to explain. Nothing like 1,000's of naked women were chasing me with mustard packets, but that's always a fun one. This one involved breaking into a house with two other people. I don't know who, but one was a girl. The house we were breaking into was very strange, and I can't figure out where it came from in my subconscious. The entire floor of the house was an open aquarium. It had walkways all around the place, but everywhere was a 5 foot deep fish tank. So we swam into the house and the lead thief used soap to murk up the water. Well somehow we get caught and I wake up all of a sudden. I don't know where it came from, usually I can pinpoint the different components in my dream at least. I have no plans to steal anything soon at an aquarium so I don't know.

It's only 11 am and I haven't ventured out to see if the ATMs are closed, but I already know they are. It makes sense in Japanese logic, closing ATMs on holidays. I'm going to learn Japanese for the sole reason of writing a nice letter asking the bank manager why they do this. It's so annoying and truly makes no sense, especially in the land of no crime, and modern technology.

Wednesday July 23rd

The ATMs were actually open, can you believe it? So I bought ground beef and Cream of Mushroom soup and made this thing where you cook the beef and pour in the soup and then serve that over toast. It wasn't as great as when I had it before, but still ok. Tuesday I was slammed busy, I had to print up 200 sheets of 10up AJET membership cards and then stamp each one, that's 2000 stamps. I mean it's like a rubber stamp, not lick a stamp 2000 times. I spent all day doing that in some capacity. I finished that and cut them today. I only lost about 100 in the cutting process, so I should be fine. Today I went back to Kenchou and had another meeting and then walked around town and took some pictures for the orientation. Here are a few:

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The daughter of the Home-Ec teacher at Adachi is a great artist, but always draws things that makes me think she is on acid. She's very nice and cute too, but the pictures are always of me and some strange character, like Bert, never Ernie, just Bert and we are holding hands. @ This is a screen shot of my ATM. How would you like to be presented with this and there be no English button? The top left button means to pull out, or withdraw. I've only used about half the other buttons. One is bank to bank transfer, one is update my passbook (since I never do), and I think one means kick me in the crotch.

It's 9pm now and today Hiraki sensei told me tomorrow I don't have to come in since there are going to be some test for college students and no teachers can be there or something. I didn't complain. I'm glad I have been getting things done early, I had planned on doing a lot at school tomorrow, but now I'll just stay at home and get it all done and then print it all out Friday.

I found out a few good things and bad things about my trip to Tokyo. The good thing is we get cheesy shirts to wear all the time, which means I won't have to wear a suit or a tie, except when I give my presentation (to 200+ people). Also, we get a food and travel allowance, so maybe I won't have to spend much money there. I do have to go out with the new JETs one night and I think the AJET group is going to Tokyo Disney one day as well, but other than that I might be able to keep it under 2 man for 2 weeks. That would be nice. There are other things, but I can't remember them now. I am hungry.

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** In Tokyo at the New JETs Orientation, having a good time. Will make a major update in August.

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