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. A real life Fukushima JET.
Sunday May 1st, 2005
Nothing much to report of major interest. I am waiting to hear something from the Koriyama job I recently applied for. I am also in the process of applying for a job at the Japan Embassy in the US, in Washington D.C. actually. But I really don't think I have the Japanese skills for that. If I were to get it be assured my Japanese would sky rocket in a short time. I fit the job fairly well, but the part that I don't fit, is the most important part I think, the Japanese language. Well we will see. I still prefer the Koriyama job, because it's teaching which I really enjoy.
I've noticed my reading skills are part of my problem in learning Japanese. I need to read more which would allow me to read faster and understand more Japanese, but it's still so painful to read, well semi-painful, that I don't want to read things. Here's a diagram:
Hmmm. Today Michelle, Corey, and I went to have lunch at a place called Milky Way. It's got a great salad bar so we go occasionally. Then we went to a sports place where I bought a vitamin packed jelly drink. Which had no flavor and felt like I was eating some medical ointment, but if I get the needed vitamins then maybe I'll drink more. Corey bought some pants and Michelle ran into about 5 people she knew.
Then Corey suggested we go bowling. Even though it was a nice and sunny day, we all agreed to go. We bowled 2 games then Michelle and I quit and Kris and his girlfriend from Aizu (eye zoo) came by and played another round with Corey. Then we decided to go have Baskin Robbins 31 flavors, even though I can't eat ice cream. But the ice cream looked so tasty, I had to have a bite. It just caught up with me and reminded my body to not do it again. Then Michelle and I met David and April at the Indian food place and chatted for a bit. Dave and April went to Okinawa together on a special deal in Japan called birthday tickets. You can buy tickets to anywhere in Japan for $100 each way. You can take up to 3 friends and go 7 days before or 7 after your birthday. It was April's birthday so they went to Okinawa which would normally cost more than it costs me to fly back to Atlanta.
Michelle had a good story about Japan culture. A pipe in her closet was leaking and it caused some things to get mildewed. If that's even a word. So she called her landlady who came by and fixed it and felt bad about smelly items, one of which being a big suitcase. The nice landlady wrote her a note that said:
I'm terribly sorry about the pipe leaking and messing up your suitcase. I should probably buy you another one, but how about you take this bag of green tea instead?
Keep in mind the bag of tea in question would cost about $5 at a store. That's Japan for you. I bet if Michelle tried to complain about it people would be offended. I mean, how rude of her, she was already given a bag of tea. Some nerve. The best part was Michelle's supervisor told her she had to go and thank the landlady for the kind gesture of the tea. So Japanese.
Yesterday I did nothing much. I cleaned a bit, well cleaned a lot really. I trashed more junk and dusted a lot. I really scrubbed the sink and prep area and the bathroom as well. I'm most excited about getting the bathroom sink drain to actually drain rather than back up into the tub. I received some nice shirt and coat samples from my personal Indian tailor in Thailand. I can get nice custom made shirts for $30 including shipping and full suits for under $200. I plan to get a long blank wool coat next year, mainly because it's looks more professional than what I normally wear. But that fluffy coat I bought on sale is so warm.
Friday I worked on the computer all day. I got my English resume ready again, though now it dips over to 2 pages. I prefer a one page resume, but it's just impossible, especially since all the things are really relative to the job I am applying for.
Oh I should mention, we are in the middle of our big Spring vacation period, Golden Week. In Japanese it's called Golden Week. Ha. We had Friday off, then Tues-Thurs of this week. Most people are taking Monday and Friday off as well, but I can't since I am returning in June for a week and the Baboon Monkey Drunk Donkey Circus that "runs" the Fukushima JET program, changed some of my sick days to vacation days. Why? Because they can. So I will go and sit on Monday and Friday.
Friday, May 6th, 2005
83 days until the end of my contract on July 28th. As much as I want a change, it will be sad leaving this place. If I get the Koriyama job I can at least visit occasionally. If not then it will be a sad goodbye. Oh I should mention I have applied for a job at the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C., but I am not sure of the chances I have. It requires more Japanese skills than I have and that might be a problem. It really depends on where they place emphasis. The other parts of the job are web site maintenance and database management as well as cultural outreach to local schools. I can do the job, but I am afraid the language requirement. Plus I am not sure if I am ready to move back to the US now. I really wanted to be conversational before I left, and I barely there.
Tuesday through Thursday of this week were holidays and I did pretty much nothing. Tuesday Liz and I went to Tokyo for the day. A day trip to Tokyo. That sounds strange doesn't it? It sounds strange here as well, but thanks to the Shinkansen it's quite easy to make a day trip out of Tokyo. The correct spelling of Tokyo is Tookyoo, but no one ever does that. So we went down there and had Wendy's for lunch, Mexican food for dinner, bought some books at an English store, she bought a belt clip for her iPod, and then we looked for her hotel when her sister comes to visit in a few weeks. Liz will go back to Athens, Georgia in late May for a weekend more or less, then her sister will come back here for a week with her as a graduation present. Oh we also so a movie. It was Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. Liz really enjoyed it since she had heard of the books, but I thought it jumped around and didn't make much sense. But I liked Jim Carey in his role. She hates JC, but I like his stupid brand of humor. He was perfect for the role of Count Olaff, and the kids whom I've never seen before were good as well.
Then Wednesday and Thursday I virtually didn't leave the apartment. I was working on something on my computer and couldn't leave. I also couldn't update this because what I was doing required my full attention and I didn't have time. I don't want to mention what I was doing, but it's nothing of interest really. I'm not mentioning it not because it's something bad, like me downloading adult videos, or me trying to break into something, I just don't want to write out what I was doing. I'm going to stop typing now.
Well I don't go to Nishi (West) High School today, I just come to Higashi and sit. Though my new supervisor is really cool. She always tries to give me a class when I am here. Well today I only have one, but it's the effort that counts. It's better than sitting here for 3 months with no one single class. I do appreciate the one class, but 3 would be better. Even if there is not much for me to do I would rather be in the class with the students. Sometimes I do this thing where I walk around and wait until a student is writing something, in Kanji, then I tap their elbow and make them mess up. Then they look at me and I apologize and they erase it and do it over. Then I act like I am walking away and tap their arm again. I apologize again and they usually snicker. Most kids find it funny and it lets them know I am not a stuffy serious teacher. For me it lets me act like a 16 year old again, which I do miss.
I've decided talking at inappropriate times is just a cultural thing. Teachers do it during the morning meeting, sometimes they aren't even subtle about it. Parents and friends did it at the brass band concert I went to on Wednesday. People do it in theaters when movies are starting. It's just a cultural ok I guess, though I find it annoying most often.
For the past three years the brass band at my school would have a concert during Golden Week and I would never be able to go, because I would be traveling somewhere. But this year, having to save money for my trip to Atlanta, I was in town and went to the show. Overall it was very entertaining. The music was great, and during the second act they got really creative. There was some black light theater, small groups of kids playing various up beat songs. People doing solos. People singing that I didn't know could sing. It was fun. Of course there were about 3 big grand finales and then they would play another song. Finally the actual end came and they just closed the curtain and turned on the lights. At some point they gave us glow sticks, but never told us what to do with them. That was odd. I was planning on going alone, but I ended up seeing April, the ALT in Koori Machi, which is where BJ lived last year. We sat together and enjoyed the festiveness.
This Saturday, Dave "Killer" Kowalski, will allegedly have Siete de Mayo. We can't have Cinco de Mayo, because that was yesterday and people are still out on vacation. People who don't pay rent and have tons of money to spend on things. Not bitter, really. NOT BITTER. [unclenching teeth & fists]. We are going to have Mexican food and drink margaritas and watch 3 amigos. Well I made up that part, but I think it would really fit the mood. Maybe I will take it and just pop it in and say, "everyone be quiet, the movie is on". When people comment they didn't know about a movie, I will just shush them up.
An AJET friend of mine and Michelle's came up from around Fuji to visit Michelle. They drove up to the top of Japan, well the top of the main island of Japan, and they are taking it easy on the way back down. One place they already visited, and no this is not a joke, is Jesus' grave. Yup, Jesus Christ. He who had nothing to do with Japan in any of the history books, was buried here in no where Japan, after he came back to life. It's typical Japan. Someone just makes a claim and people believe it for years, or 2,000 as the case may be. They are working their way back down to Fukushima hopefully in time for Killer Kowalski's 7th of May Fiesta. There was actually someone in semi-recent Japanese history named Killer Kowalski. He was a wrestler or something in the 40's to 60's I think. I read about him in a book I was reading about someone else, but he was mentioned in passing I think. Our Killer Kowalski also takes Aikido, so maybe he will be KK2.
The girl who replaced Meg at the South High School is named Colette. She is a lovely British girl. Her brother (brah-vah in Brit speak) came to visit from England recently and brought something for me. When her dad was here, I asked him if he knew of some really thick hair gel so make my thin hair stand up. I didn't ask random British people hair gel questions, he is a rather well known hair stylist in London, so I figured he would know. He did. He suggested Black & White. He said it's often used to grease back afros, which would definitely be strong enough for me. So I have it and will try it soon enough. I need to cut my hair shorter again so it actually spikes up rather than lays back like a mobster. Wot u lookin at? Fagitaboutit.
Apparently I have a Vitamin B12 deficiency. I went to the doctor complaining of severe chest pains and left arm numbness. Well not so much severe chest pains, that was added for the dramatic affect, or effect. My left arm was a bit weak, more so than numb. It shakes when I hold something in it for a while. So the nice English speaking doctor referred me to the neurologist next door. He said my lower vertebrae in my neck was off and I was B12 deficient. While taking the B12 I have noticed less of a weak feeling in my arm, but I think I am allergic to the medicine, because when I take it I get really mucousy. I know that's not a word, but I sneeze and blow my nose a lot and have a mild cough. I read that it could be a cleansing effect or affect (I should look those up) which causes toxins to be released into excess mucous. Lovely thought there. So I will check on that at some point.
Ok, off to the post office to mail my resume to the Japanese Embassy in D.C.. Do I put a sentence ending period after the abbreviation period in D.C.?
I had to mail it via what's called EMS, which hopefully isn't an ambulance service, maybe that's EMT. It was $12, but I need it to get there fast and sometimes things take over a week to get to the East coast. I didn't really find out about the job until late last week and all this week the post office is closed and the deadline is May 15th, which seems to be a Sunday oddly enough. It said only successful candidates will be contacted, which I don't really like, but I guess they get a lot of applicants.
I really like the connections I make with certain teachers. One teacher I mentioned a few years ago, Fukase (foo kah say), suffers from hay fever and spring allergies like I do. We were both in the lobby of the school moments ago, me to mail the resume, him for some other reason, and he commented he wished it would rain. I eagerly agreed with him. During the blooming season I really love rain. Especially hard windy rain. Sometimes I actually stand in my apartment and laugh like a mad man chanting "more more, I must have more, more rain, faster wind, destroy!! ". Well the destroy part was overkill, but that's for the pollen. I want it to be destroyed. Everything destroyed. Total destruction. Mwa ha ha ha.
So I guess that's enough babble for the time being. I will make another update this weekend sometime. It's like I've had three weekends right in a row. Today feels like Monday, but it's Friday. Saturday is the party at Dave's house, but during the day and then on Sunday I have nothing. I've been walk-jogging in the evenings, but I feel like I have actually gained weight since I started. Just my luck. Next week things return to normal. Tuesday I go to the devil school and hopefully I won't have bad classes. That one class 2nd period is still fun because it's only 9 students. This week I am going to teach them the difference in A vs. The. Japanese people always say things like "I will take A 3:50 train". I can teach at least the easy difference of one versus many.
I just had my class with my favorite teacher, who is also my supervisor. She really thinks about various ways to get the students to learn. I know the ones she teaches will really do well in the long run. About half way through the class I started to have a giggle fit. It was stupid and I had to leave the room for a minute. We were talking about Chiaki Mukai the Japanese astronaut that went to space in '94 and '98. I was reading parts and the class was repeating. Then the teacher started talking about the grammar, in Japanese of course. Well Japanese today is actually part English. But she was explaining the grammar and speaking English somewhat. Then I tuned out and started thinking of eggs. I don't know why, but I was fixated on eggs for a while. Then I heard something that broke me out of my trance.
She said there was "a nice view of the ass". What? Did she just say ass in class? I can't believe it. Why is no one laughing? Then she said it again as she wrote it on the board, except rather than writing ass, which would be silly and inappropriate, she wrote "a nice view of the earth". Japanese people can't say R or TH so the R sound comes out as A and the TH as SS. So earth becomes eaass, which sounded like a Brit saying ass like ahss. When I realized it I couldn't stop giggling so I stepped out for a minute.
Whatever this guy is eating beside my desk smells like feet. It really smells like when you lick your arm and then smell it. Man open a window. Serious.
Saturday, May 8th
Well the Killer Kowalski pulled it off with flying colors. We had our Siete de Mayo party at Dave's apartment and it was great. We had more than enough food as one can see below. See below now.
Michelle's hands can be seen in the upper right hand corner making the guacamole. We had so much good food, it really hit the spot. Next time (which statistically will be two more years away), we can add tacos, not that we needed food.
After that the group went to Karaoke and sang for an hour. I had to leave right when the hour was up because I have developed some strange smoker's cough, and I don't smoke. Sometimes I will cough and then break out into this uncontrollable wheeze and coughing fit. I might go to the doctor and get checked out, or I might not.
Other than that I just worked on the computer all day. Sunday (technically today) I will do more work and clean a bit. I need to start packing even though I am not going back to Atlanta for another 3 weeks. I just need to make sure I take everything that needs taking back. I don't think that sentence made sense. I have two big old books about Japanese art, as well as my ski boots which don't fit any skis here, and some general stuff I have collected over the years. I'm not taking a lot of clothes since I plan to buy some and bring some from my closet. I also need to buy a blender and a juicer. The blender for smoothies (healthy ones) and the juicer for making fruit and veggie juice. But then if I get the embassy job, which I don't think I will, I will need to ship them back. At least the juicer. We'll see. Enough for now.
Monday, May 9th
My bloody alarm clock phone didn't #@*&% go off this morning. I set it as usual last night and actually woke up at 7am thinking it was 6am since I didn't have my glasses on. Then I went back to sleep and woke up again at 8:30 with this feeling that it was late. things just come alive after the 7am hour and I could sense it. So I checked the phone and it said 8:30am, and I checked the alarm and it was set. There's no reason it shouldn't have gone off.
I've had this problem before and it drives me crazy. I've even had a problem with actual alarm clocks. It's like the universe is playing tricks on me to amuse itself. There is absolutely no reason for the alarm to have not gone off. It was plugged in as usual. I set the alarm before midnight as usual. I haven't touched the alarm part for weeks. No reason. I can't explain it and I hate that. So now I am paranoid and will buy some form of actual alarm clock. It's just sad because no one believes that alarm clocks just don't go off. And to be honest, I don't blame them, there is no logical reason for it. ARGH.
Japanese business usually use used paper for internal things. I have a fax from my school tomorrow and the back is some other non-important previously used sheet. I guess they are thrifty and trying to save paper usage. But that's a contradiction since Japan loves paperwork. Honestly I fill out forms for everything and then those forms are approved by everyone and then copied. If you want to reduce the paper usage just use less paper. I have a sheet of paper to fill out every time I go to a traveling school, then one when I return, both unneeded. Vacation time gets two forms before and two after, sick days get more, plus copies of any proof. Everyday I have a stack of 5-10 sheets on my desk for things that could easily be posted once somewhere or just mentioned in a meeting. We have daily morning meets where all the teachers are present and are hypothetically listening. Of course half are whispering to each other, because that is unofficially accepted in Japan, but they are still present.
I really hate people not listening. It was a big problem when I was running FuJET. I would send out 10 emails that would say something over and over and be perfectly clear and then at least 3 people would ask me the same question that was covered in each of the emails. So then I would over emphasize something and send out more emails, to which people would just ignore them. Sometimes I wanted to write a long email and at the very bottom write "email me right away and you will win something". Actually one time I hid a note like that on the website and no one found it. But I also created a members only section and made it password protected and after nearly a year someone asked why they didn't know the password.
I just finished working on a sheet for Matsukou tomorrow about A vs. THE. Many Japanese people will say things like "I will take a 5:35 train". I figure it's a small thing and I can teach just a few of the key parts and it can help them in many things. Even people who are nearly fluent make that mistake occasionally. I get to sleep late (intentionally) tomorrow and leave school at 12:40. I'm curious what will happen when I get to the West High School this Friday. The last time I went I told them I could leave early from my other traveling schools and they reluctantly said ok, but they didn't get official approval. I'm sure it got back to the official people by now. So I guess I will see when I go Friday. I go this week, but not next week. Then the week after, around the 24th and 25th, I go to the hospital school and the special ed school (where Eriko works). Then another week and I will return to the US on a Friday.
Yesterday was the first of three monthly half price pizza days at the local Pizza Hut. Oh it was good but it tore up my stomach as usual. I mean it's all tore up. I was trying to make that sound slangy, but I can't. Anyway, it's tore up in hya. Sorry, I'll quit really. I had some for dinner and then breakfast (which was where the real tearing up happened), and then some for lunch today. I have enough for dinner tonight. So 24 hours worth of meals isn't bad. I really need to stop eating it because my body constantly sends me messages like
"so yea, we'd rather you not put anymore pizza in, we don't seem to handle it well, at least not the ultra-excessive-meat-lover's-overdose".
I always ignore them, but maybe I should stop. Maybe I should actually listen to the signals I get from my belly.
Tuesday morning, May 10th, 2005
So I guess my punishment for complaining about missing my alarm clock was I woke up this morning at 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 7, 7:30, and 8. This was the morning I could sleep late, because Matsukou's only redeeming quality is that I can arrive just before my first class and leave just after. I even went to sleep around 1am anticipating being able to sleep late. I woke up at 5 to a bad dream. All I can remember is I was somewhere and a girl gave me a drink and I joked that she had better not have put ruffies (sp?) in it. Then I start getting really sleepy and start yelling at everyone that I had been drugged, but no one listened. Then as she was walking me out she said I should have told on someone and now she was going to get even with me. Then I woke up suddenly and was wide awake. It was so real and I was so mad those people (who don't really exist) didn't help me.
Well at least I will get to sleep a bit at Matsukou on the teacher's couch. I always doze off after my first class. Since there are few students, there are even fewer teachers so they are always teaching which means the teacher's room is usually empty or close to it. I'll read from my book a little then tilt my head back and zonk out. Sadly I think sometimes I snore or breathe heavily.
Tuesday afternoon, May 10th, 2005
Matsukou is turning out to be one of my favorite days. I can't believe it. Today I had my fun class with 9 students. We did one on one interviews and their English is getting much better. Then I taught them A/An vs. THE and that went over well. I had four pieces of chalk and asked one boy to give me THE piece of chalk. He looked and said "which one?" I said exactly. Then I asked a girl to point to THE boy, (there are 3 boys). In the end they seemed to understand it more, at least the teacher did and she said she has had problems with that for years.
Then I was in the teacher's room and had another miscommunication. A teacher came rushing in and came up to me and said, or so I thought, "Your hometown is Alabama right, let's go now, your hometown is Alabama". I said no I am from Atlanta. He looked flustered and said it again. I restated I was from Georgia, next to Alabama and started to turn away. He told me to come with him quickly. I thought maybe someone was at the school from Alabama, well this would be fun. Nope. He was telling me I need to have my picture made for the school album. Album in Japanese is Arubamu (ah roo bah moo) and hometown is shuushin (shoe sheen), photograph is shashin (shah sheen). When I saw the photographer I instantly understood and explained what I meant. I think he was a bit embarrassed that I didn't understand his Japanese.
So then I went into the loudest class 3F which actually had some of the girls from my 2nd period class. One girl named Mieko is very quiet, but had perfect English today. I feel bad because the other girls are loud and she is just quiet and nice. She should be at another school, a better school. So in this class we did the same as the time before. We listened to an Aerosmith song and they filled in the lyrics. They were quiet for it oddly enough. Then we played the trivia quiz challenge and they really got into that. I need to make more questions for other classes. But a funny thing happened in class....
The teacher takes a new CD player into the room. It has a remote control. It's a small remote, maybe like 3 cigarettes put together. Easily can fit in a hand. So I hide it and walk to the middle back of the room. When he starts explaining what will happen he is standing in the middle of the other side of the room. Then he says ok let's start, so I say, in Japanese, "CD Player, START" and it does (because I pressed the remote play button). So of course no students actually started listening, they were all freaking out about the CD player. So the only logical thing for me to do is say "CD Player, STOP". It magically stops. They are amazed. My hands are crossed so they can't see me pressing the button, but I quickly slip it into my shirt pocket and lower my hands casually.
Then I go to the front of the room and say "Ok let's actually do the lesson now" and press the button on the player. A moment later a student says she can't hear the CD from the back, so I say "CD Player, Volume UP" and it goes up. I did this for the whole class and they were amazed. At the end of the class some girls thought I had a remote, so I casually handed it to the other teacher who is about my age and male and I figured he would catch on to what I wanted. He did. I walked to the front of the room and the girls were saying "remote". So I raised my hands palms out and said "CD Player STOP" and it did (thanks to the teacher, who quickly hid it in a pocket). The girls went crazy and started yelling things at the CD player. There were about 4 girls right in front of it yelling STOP START and such. So the other teacher started pressing the remote on and off and the girls squealed.
Finally the class was over. We packed up and I said "see ya" and they repeated it. Then they all started shuffling around and I was almost out the door, but I turned and said "HEY" really loud so they all looked. Then I reached in my pocket and held up a remote. They started fussing/laughing/pointing/squealing. I slipped out the door and could hear them talking about it all the way down the hall.
Tuesday late night, May 10th
So I get home and type up all that and then go eat. I get back about 6:30. The weather has been stupidly cold recently so I was a bit chilly in my apartment. I decide to get under the covers for a minute. I wake up 5 hours later. Wow, what is it with today and sleep or no sleep? Now I am wide awake at midnight. I am just surfing the web and watching various things.
Wednesday, May 11th
Had two fun classes. For some reason I remembered my ex-boss' phone number and called him out of the blue. He said he was still working at the same company, but hardly anyone else I knew was there. Most were laid off recently. That company gets a stupid idea, acts on it quickly and then months later realizes it was stupid. But he was doing well and I was glad to hear that.
Then we had some student body election speech at the end of the day. Two sets of kids got up and talked about why they would be the best person. I hate these things because it's never based on values and quality, it's a popularity contest. Our student body president, from my high school days, was the coolest kid in the school. Not the most efficient or reliable, just the most popular. So when it came to planning our high school reunions, guess which school didn't have a 5th year reunion? Or whose 10th year was small and obscure? Heck they told someone they couldn't find my address, but my parents have never moved.
On the way out of the speech thing I saw the almost cute nurse working with someone on the scale. I asked her if the scale was broken and she said it has been reading 3 kilos over. Well that's great. Three kilos is over 8 pounds. That makes a big difference. Now maybe I won't feel like a fat greasy slab of fat smeared pig lard. I'll try the scale tomorrow and see what it says.
Thursday, May 12th
I was playing Solitaire on my computer during the teacher's morning meeting. I sit in the back and hardly anyone can see me and Solitaire is quiet, so I really wasn't disturbing anyone. About half way through the meeting, a teacher who I never talk to and was sitting behind me, was quietly trying to get my attention. I turned and he pointed at the screen. Ok ok I get it, I will stop, so I shut the computer. He motioned me to open it up again. So I did. Then he said "move the ace on the left to the 2 on the right". He was right. All this while the vice principal was telling everyone about something important.
Got a fax from Matsukou about next week's lesson. Same as usual for the most part, but the teacher asked me to stay until 3 rather than leave early. She said she has something to tell me. That's got me a little worried, but not terribly. Maybe I will have to start staying there the whole time. That won't be the end of the world, they are paying me to sit and read, so I might as well sit and read there until 3.
Friday the 13th (of May)
Went to Nishi today. It was good. Had 4 classes, three of them self introductions and one was my 2nd time there. Overall I like the school I wish I went to Higashi, Nishi, and the night school. That would be a nice mix for my last few months here. Four classes is always better than no classes. I like being used at school and I really like being in the classroom being with the kids. Even the kids at the punk school, when they are not being punks they can be pretty fun. I prefer the kids that want to learn, that's a very rewarding experience. I think teaching in the US wouldn't be as fun though. I just don't remember having relationships with teachers like we do here. I feel like I am friends with the kids, more so than a teacher. In high school for me, I was a student and the teachers were teachers. I only recall one who was friendly. She was an English teacher ironically.
I've been depressed lately. I think it's because school has been a lot of fun and high energy. I've been planning things for the English clubs and planning special classes at different schools. I mentioned earlier I did a lesson on THE vs. A at Matsukou. Next week I will do Me Neither vs. Me Too. In Japanese you don't differentiate between positive and negative. It's more like Me Also. But the point was I have been more active recently and I really enjoy it. I assume it's like being an actor or better yet, a musician. I saw an interview with someone, Billy Joel I think, and he said depression is common among musicians. You get on stage and perform to 50,000 people and the energy is through the roof. Then it's over and you are alone in a hotel room with a bottle of Jack Daniels. I imagine those are the extremes. Granted my life is not like that, but being in a classroom is like being on stage. You have to be "on" when you are there or the lesson is boring. There's nothing I hate more, apart from calculus, than a boring lesson.
So when I have classes I am "on" and then when I am walking around the school I am goofing off with the kids. I can see they really like me. When they see me their eyes light up and they get a big smile. It's a great feeling. I try to be like a puppy dog to them. Every time I see a student from my school, especially the girls, I make a point to say Hello to each person. I say it to the popular ones, the quiet ones, the pretty ones, the not so pretty ones, the book worms, the athletes, everyone. To some I do it in a stupid way. Maybe I will wave like a princess where you hold your hand and arm straight and just spin your hand at the wrist. Sometimes I tilt my hand and head to the right at the same time. To one girl I say hello in Swahili, which is "Jumbo". Sometimes I will walk past a room when a teacher is teaching and stick my head in the door in a way that the teacher can't see me and mouth "hello". The kids in the class will wave back in a way the teacher can't see. It's like our little game.
I think I've been depressed because I realized at some point in the near future this will all be over. Maybe I will get the job in Koriyama and I can visit the school for graduation or something. As much as I haven't wanted to be at school on certain occasions, like when I had no classes for 3 months, I now realize I am really going to miss this place. I don't want to stay here forever. I know all things come to an end and even if I have to return to the US I'll have some great memories. But people resist change. People don't like their habits to end and to have to start over.
Sunday, May 15th, 2005
I would like to present my journal today in the form of an interpretive dance.
[7 minutes later]
Actually, you couldn't see that so I will create a picture page since I have a number of photos to upload. #%@& I said Picture Page again, so now I am singing that dreaded song. Anyway, here you go: Today's Pictures.
I went to some dance party last night. It was ok, but I don't dance so I just hung out at the bar and talked to other people who didn't dance. It was the first party of some girl who wants to throw parties, and she was friends with someone we know so we went to support her. It was ok, though she started it at 8 and no one got there until 10, which is pretty basic common sense for throwing parties.
I left around midnight since I was tired and it was smoky. I came home and went to bed. I woke up around 5am after having this strange dream about death. It was like a morgue hotel. People would rent these small pristine rooms and die on the beds. Then people would walk by and look in and see the bodies on the bed. The bodies would stay there for a while. Someone I was at the Morguetel with my friends. We rented to rooms. They got the room where a person left early, whereas I got the room where a person died and stayed on the bed for a while. I woke up because it was this horrible feeling of getting in the bed where someone died. It was the worst feeling in the world and I popped awake. Not sure where that came from. Usually I can piece together things that cause a dream. I read somewhere most dreams are parts of memories that are dumped at the end of the day. Your brain tries to piece together all the parts and that makes up your strange dreams. Usually I can put the parts together, but not this time.
Today I have no plans, and no money to match. Luckily I get paid Friday so I will pay for the rest of my Atlanta ticket and put more money in the bank for when I go back.
Still working on that idea, Elise.
Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
Went to the devil school yesterday and it has lost status as being enjoyable. I still like the 2nd period Oral Communication (OC) class and the teachers, but everything else about the school has gone away. 5th period I had 3A, which is one of the worst classes. We played a Bingo game where they first had to translate some vocabulary words and then fill them in. Of course half the class just wrote the words verbatim from the list so when one person had Bingo, 10 others did too. What bugged me about the class is they were loud and rude as usual, but they were harassing the nice female teacher. I really like her because she's nice and very cute (though married), and she knows about how stupid it is to teach English at this school. Being an almost all male school, they should have more male teachers, and have the female teachers stick to the few mostly female classes. But they don't do that mainly because:
** What happens in Japan, doesn't really happen. Even if it really happens, it didn't happen.
So with this in mind, there are never any problems with students. Therefore why should it be a problem for female teachers to go to wild classes of all boys? What could possibly happen?
Well the group of really bad boys, within the class of bad boys, had a ruler with something written on it. At first they were holding it near their crotch and stroking it like masturbation when she walked around. Then they would spank her with it when she walked by. At one point the kingpin stood up, held it in front like a penis, and started poking it into the teacher's crotch from behind her. Later they brought it to me to show me the ruler. It had markings on it. The markings showed the different sizes of the groups penises. Some were 3 inches some were 12 inches. He asked me to mark mine on there and I said the only thing I could to actually shut him up. "Sorry this is a child's sized ruler".
Anything else would have provoked them to taunt us more. I kept the ruler at the desk and they sat down and sulked. Later the teacher made her way back to the front and we talked about how tiring the class was. Then the lead-punk came back and, in front of us both, asked me if I wanted to smell the ruler. He reminded me that he had poked her in the butt with it. In front of her. I said no and told him to sit down.
Now, let's try not to use common sense, and heaven forbid we compare this story to US culture, but take a wild guess what happened to these students. Remember the mock masturbation, the spankings, the poking a female teacher with the ruler (in front of the class), the markings of penis lengths, and then the pushing for me to smell the ruler. Think about all these and then try to think of what happened to these students. Two things to keep in mind, this is Japan, and then re-read the ** note above.
Did you come up with nothing? That's good. They weren't expelled, they weren't suspended, they weren't sent to the principal, nothing happened. Why? Because students have a right to be in the classroom. If we would have complained and reported them, can you take a wild guess as to what would happen? And this time is different, something would happen if these kids were reported....
Their parents would have come to the school and demanded the teacher and I apologize to the students for embarrassing the student.
You are laughing, but if you are a JET you can understand this. It may have never happened to you, but you at least have similar experiences to know that this sounds right. If you've lived in Japan for any amount of time you also might be able understand the mentality. Although I completely disagree with this and think it is utterly absurd, I can almost expect it in Japan. I know when things are going to end like this and I stop worrying about them making sense. Japan has its own logic, or illogic rather.
Oddly that's not even the reason why I no longer enjoy that school. I now have to stay all day and can't leave early. That seems petty, but once I have my last class I do nothing there. Well maybe I could talk with the teachers and help their English? Nope. It's a small school and only has a skeleton crew of teachers so they are always either in class or working on something. So Tuesday I was finished at 1:30 and dozed off on the couch until 3. At least I could leave at 3 and not stay until 4:15.
It seems whiny to complain about this, but it's not entirely. I don't necessarily want to be at home, just not sitting in a teacher's room doing nothing. On days when I have no classes (like today and Monday) I could be at any number of schools that would actually use me. I always have a full load at the West school, and I was always used at Adachi, Chuo, and Kawamata. I really miss those schools and I am still mad at Kenchou for uprooting me without even letting me know. It would be totally different if they had the professionalism to give me notice so I could have said goodbye and tied up loose strings, but they didn't. They just transferred me to poorly chosen new schools and I had to try to track down the students and say goodbye and apologize to the English clubs for just leaving. That's why I don't like Kenchou and why I refer to them as the Drunk Donkey Sick Chipmunk Clown Circus.
I was up really early for some reason and just came to school. Actually I went to the station to get breakfast and take a bus. At the station, right where people were exiting the trains, were the Mormons passing out their leaflets in Japanese. It's always a few nicely dressed white males being overly eager to talk to people. We can always identify them because they always have a nice dark suit on and helmets when riding bikes.
For some reason religious groups passing out leaflets always bugs me. I'm not sure why. I guess they want to recruit people as much as any other group might, but it always seems to me if your product is really good, in this case your flavor of religion, then people will seek it out. I always hated when churches would "trick" people into coming in for a sermon. My friends would say, "hey there is a free pizza night at the church this Friday, we should go". So we would go only to learn we had to sit through an hour long sermon and sign up for something before we could get the pizza. I've always felt when people are trying so hard to convince others of what they believe in, they are really just trying to convince themselves.
For me, I don't care if 1 billion people or 2 people believe what I believe. My beliefs are not contingent on others. They come from my experiences and my sense of logic. I know I could be totally wrong in what I believe, but I still believe what I believe. You can't change what you truly believe, at least not intentionally. You can say you believe something else, but if there is a higher power, I think he would know the truth. I don't know why these groups are so desperate to have a high membership. It's not like they need a lot of people to force their beliefs on others by lobbying congress.
I need to figure out what I will be doing in August. The thing I really want to do is work in Koriyama, which is near Fukushima city. Haven't heard much from them recently after sending in my resume. I'm getting a bit worried. Not knowing is getting annoying. Knowing is half the battle, isn't that what they say. Even the other people who applied haven't heard. Last year it was the same way I heard. I would really like to at least have an interview soon. Someone said there is a meeting this week so maybe I will hear after that. Either that job or the Embassy job would be fine. I might even apply for another job I heard about today. Something about wall street, but I don't know what. Haven't had much luck balancing a checkbook, so wall street could be tough. Oh well, more on that later. That's all folks.
Sorry my English is going down hill.
Thursday, May 19th, 2005
I have a really strange update today. Strange indeed. One that has me thoroughly confused.
You know how when you are typing in Microsoft Word, and you type something that it can predict like DEC, it will pop up a little screen that says something like press tab or enter to insert the word December. It will do this with days of the week and several other things. It's very convenient for the most part. Convenient indeed.
So I was typing something today. Maybe I was working on one of the 5 books I am working on. (I should have used another phrase than working on). Anyway, I am typing along and I get to the word Hard. Perhaps I was saying something is difficult or something to that extent. Well, thoughtful and kind MS Word, asked me if I wanted to insert something it had in memory. Let's take a look. It was so juicy I had to do a screen capture:
Ah yes. I was writing about how the use of Japanese name stamps would be easy to duplicate, but the foreign signature would be hard to copy. As I paused for station identification or to just think of the next line, it asked if I wanted to insert Hardcore Naughty Bitches.
How did that get in there? I can't imagine ever typing it. Plus it seems like it would either need to be specifically added to something in Word, or typed so much that it's automatically added to memory. It is the strangest thing to me. I bet it's related to a virus. I got caught in a virus recently when my friend popped up an instant message that said "I can't believe this is you...." and there was a link to something that included my email address. So of course I clicked it. then it prompted me to download something so I did, but luckily I caught it before it was installed. Perhaps it's something related to that or some other virus. Either way it was a Kodak moment.
Friday, May 20th, 2005
Today, Thursday, and Wednesday I have just sat here doing nothing related to the JET programme. I've been productive, but when they say they are not getting their money's worth if I am not here, this is what they mean. I am not sitting here doing nothing. I'm not asking to be at home, I would rather be teaching. I can't imagine that all the schools in the area are busy now as well. I could go to the hospital school or the special ed school with Eriko or the West school or the fireman's school where I taught emergency English. Any of these would actually what I consider getting their money's worth, but just sitting here doing nothing is ridiculous.
Some people say "you can't complain if you stay a second year". That's just dumb. If you say that you are just dumb. I like the students, I like Japan (usually), I like my friends, I like my life for the most part, I just don't like nor do I understand being wasted at school. I've never been in a situation where resources were so wasted. It's like a teaching hospital having a special surgeon from somewhere far come to teach the medical students but then only be used for 15 minutes of the 6 weeks he is there. Everyone would agree that is wasteful, so why not this as well. In my experience I am either at work working, at work doing work that is needed to be done but apart from my usual duties, at work doing time filler busy work, or not at work because there is no work to be done.
I think I can leave early today. My ex-supervisor who sits beside be said it would probably be alright so I just need to approve it with my current supervisor so she doesn't get in trouble. One thing I like about Japan is, sometimes, someone can do something without making a big deal. Since people are non-confrontational here they tend to just look the other way. Me leaving early is like that sometimes. Not leaving at 9am, but at 3 or maybe even 2. Especially today since they are studying for mid terms next week and apparently I am not trained in English as the Japanese English Teachers are.
I go by the landlord's office to pay rent, technically last month's rent. There was a problem last month and I never got around to paying. The problem was I went in to pay rent early for the previous month around March 24th and they hadn't calculated the scam water bill yet. So I said since rent and the exaggerated water bill always comes out to be around $415, how about if I pay $420 and then just get a credit. So I did. Then I get the bill for the next month and it shows I didn't pay the water bill so I owed it twice.
I had this problem before in college. Once I paid the cable bill in cash and a check. They gave me a receipt, but apparently assumed I would lose it like I nearly did. So the next month the bill shows up and says I only paid the check part. I went down to ask them to look through the receipt book and find the day I came in and it would all be explained, but they couldn't be bothered with that. They said it would be too much trouble and I surely just lost the receipt and forgot what I actually paid. I searched and searched and finally found the receipt and showed them and they were so apologetic and nice. Later I realized they didn't want me to do what I should have done. I should have gone straight to the police and reported the theft. Then to the newspaper to see if they wanted to do a story on it since I knew the editor. Then to the Better Business Bureau and report them as well. But I just paid it and went home.
I didn't really think that was the situation here and it wasn't. I went in and talked to the new girl and explained the situation and I only paid the usual amount. Then I tried to pay extra for this month's rent, but they said they hadn't miscalculated the scam water bill for this month and we had better wait. Which leads me to think I might just not pay rent until the next pay check because I need money to go back to Atlanta. I just bought the ticket and it was right at $1,000 which hurt, but I haven't been back in over two years and I have a new niece whom I would like to see. Plus if I get the Koriyama job with it's extra vacation time, I will be traveling to other places around the world rather than going back to Atlanta, so I had better go back when I have time.
The whole point of me talking about the landlord was to mention, when I walked in and started talking to the new girl, she was, hmm how should I say this, she was:
Very attractive. I'm talking like Gabrielle on Desperate Housewives. So I made stupid nervous small talk about various things, all in Japanese. She laughed which was good. No ring which was good. But no English which is bad. Though I still might be dating Eriko. We just haven't talked or seen each other in two weeks. It's a little odd to be honest. I mean I like my space, but seriously. Japanese people are always so busy it's hard to get together. So maybe I will make up reasons to go in to the landlord's office daily. "The sink is broken, can you fix it? - I'll send the repairman - No no I mean can YOU fix it, how about later tonight around 9 or so, I'll be making dinner....". Yea that doesn't even sound like it would work in Ryan's World.
I saw the cute Japanese teacher I knew briefly from Hobara high School two years ago. She was really cute and I flirted with her once until she said she was getting married the following weekend. Her hair had grown out some and I was just staring because I could tell I knew her, but couldn't place the face. Then she waved and I figured it out. She would also fall into the BOOYA category, but she is only a 1st Lieutenant whereas the landlord girl is an Admiral.
I have a whole lot of nothing to do tonight. Furthermore, there is no one around. Liz is in the US (for the weekend), Michelle is in Tokyo where I should be at an AJET meeting but I don't want to go, Corey and Amy have some secret party to go to in Shiroishi, Dave has some Aikido party, and there is really no one else I hang out with around here. I guess I will go eat somewhere alone, which is not a big deal. I go eat alone quite often. Then I might come back here for a busy night of sitting. I could go see a movie though they are pricey and there is nothing much I want to see until tomorrow I think. I could see one tonight and tomorrow, but that's way too much. I'll just chill or something. I could really use more Indian food though we went Saturday and Wednesday. Well poo.
Sunday, May 22nd, 2005
Dave, who is turning into the festive host, had pre-Philly Cheese Steak night last night. It was a small gathering with only 4 people total. They were really tasty although the jalapenos tore up my stomach about an hour later. After that we chatted for a few hours about all sorts of stuff. Then I left and came back. When I got back, someone called me and we chatted for 10 minutes. I didn't know who it was since it was just the number coming through and not her name. I didn't want to ask "so who is this by the way". Finally I asked where she worked and I figured it out. She was downtown and drunk and was apparently drunk dialing.
Then I goofed off on the computer for a bit and finally went to bed. I took a sleeping pill so I would sleep a while since I have been waking up early. So I took that around 11:30 pm or so. Then at 5am I wake up in a panic. I had another bad dream and it was so real. This time I was in some field, which was actually in my hometown near Atlanta, but I felt like it was Japan. I was digging and I saw an airplane coming toward the ground. It turned near me and was only 50 feet off the ground. It was pull one of those streamers with the advertisements on it. But the streamer was big and had a lounge area in it. I can't really explain that. Then the plane turned and crashed just over the hill. It was about 500 feet away so I ran to it. Then I was somehow somewhere else, and there was a house that was burning with a big gash in it, but no plane parts. I couldn't get my phone camera to take a picture. Then the entire house collapsed as well as the two unaffected neighbor's houses. At that point it seemed so real I woke up.
I can trace most to events or discussions during the day. For the digging part I was thinking about how the poles in the new parking lot near my house were 8 feet long and only 3 feet were showing above ground. What a deep hole that would be. For the airplane, there are two sources. The first which also explains the banner streamer thing was from when I was walking to the store yesterday morning to get something to eat. I kept hearing an election car all around me and almost on top of me but I couldn't see one. Finally I looked up and saw an airplane dragging a banner and also blasting election garbage everywhere. The second comes later. Not sure why the banner had a lounge in it with a refrigerator and table. That's odd. The plane crashing into the house came from a discussion I had with Sartre at the cheese steak night. He say someone's body in China. Whoever was embalmed permanently and is on display. I can't remember the name. I asked why no one was like that in the US and we all agreed it would be too creepy. I suggested someone like MLK seems like he should have been, and Sartre pointed out someone would have taken a plane and flown into the building that housed it. The missing plane parts from the wreckage came from a discussion we had about there magically being no plane parts around the Pentagon when it was hit. How the magical plane completely incinerated and defied all the laws of physics. Then I took a picture of one of the Philly cheese steaks to send to Michelle who is in Tokyo and wanted to be there, but I couldn't get it to send. Finally the neighbor's houses falling though not being touched by the crash was related to the other buildings around the twin towers that also defied physics and fell for no logical reason.
Well at least I could figure out why I had that dream, but I shouldn't have woken up while on the sleeping pills. I've got some special pills to take on the plane. They are sleeping pills I bought in Thailand from a pharmacy, but they are like horse tranquillizers. They knock me out hard core. I want to sleep at least some on the plane. I can't stand being awake for 24 hours straight. It just makes the jet-lag that much worse.
Well it's been absolutely beautiful recently. The weather has been actually spring like and the sun has been out. It was like that Friday, yesterday, and today. Luckily I did laundry yesterday and my clothes are getting the nice spring breeze smell as they sway outside. I need to continue making a list of things to buy and do while in the US. I'm going to just take one day and buy everything probably early on. Since I am not taking many clothes back I will have to buy some. I guess I will work on that list as well as get some lunch and then find something else to do. Over and Out.
Monday, May 23rd
No classes, but I went in late due to a doctor appointment and left early to pay my overdue phone bill. I have discovered the most incredibly inefficient company in Japan, and that would be the archaic phone company. The one that was a monopoly and charged $800 to have a phone turned on until people got tired of it and started using only mobile phones. No they've lowered it to about $200.
So I go to pay the bill and tell the guy at the counter that I don't know my number because I never use it. I only use my mobile phone because apart from the $50 a month fee, it also costs money to make each call, even local calls. Gotta love monopolies. But this is not about that or even about the guy behind the counter. He was innocent and just an employee. He even apologized that I had to wait during all this. All what you ask?
As I mentioned I didn't know my number. I assumed the company could just look it up in the computer. Nope. He asked for my address. Then he got a huge book from around the corner. It was so big it was hard for him to carry back. He opens it and looks for my neighborhood on a map. He finds it and writes a number down. Then he turns to another page and matches that number to a chart and gets another number, which relates to another book. He gets that book and flips through the pages for a while. Finally he has another number. He takes this number and types it into the computer. After searching for a while, which was odd since I must be the only McDonald in the whole town, possible prefecture, he finally brings up my account. Which would logically have my telephone number, possibly even as the account number. But nope. He takes my account number and writes it down and goes to another computer and types in my account number. Finally he brings up an account which contains my phone number. He writes this down and suggests I memorize it and apologizes for me having to wait.
Wow. I have gone into banks and other places and told them I needed to pay some bill but I didn't know my account number. They would use this magical box on the desk. They would press buttons on this magical box and my account number would appear on a TV like screen. It's something new that should change the world.
Wednesday, May 25th
Had quite the interesting day at the hospital school. First and last it was sad because it was the last time I go there. I really like going because the kids are so genuinely happy to see me and jump around in their seats when I walk down the hall. I always give and re-give my intro briefly all in easy Japanese, then they ask me questions. This time I chatted it up for a while. We learned about "interjections" and greetings. The elementary class of 6 kids was great. One of the kids was too shy, but the others were happy and asking questions and eager to try to talk. I had a blast.
Then I go to the middle school class, which was one boy I knew from last year as an elementary school kid, and one girl in a wheel bed type thing. It reclined more than just a chair since she had no neck muscle control. The boy was shy last year but talkative now. Then there was a kid in the back of the room with a social disorder and wouldn't mingle with a group. He just watched.
All was normal as we did introductions, though I had been introduced to them numerous times. The boy said some things, then the teachers said some things to fill in the class. Finally we get to Saya, the girl in the wheel bed thing. She doesn't talk so a teacher explained things for her. She smiles a lot though. The teacher explained Saya likes poems and jokes and then she said something in Japanese. I laughed to myself because the word she said sounded like the word for passing gas. Then the teacher turned and put her hand to her butt and made a fanning motion. Then she said the word again. Then to make sure I knew what she meant the teacher made the noise of passing gas. I was a little confused and slightly embarrassed. Then all the teachers started making the noise and Saya smiled.
After doing this for a minute or two as I am looking around trying to figure out if I am still in reality as I knew it, the teacher asks me to write passing gas on the board. So I wrote passing gas, and then she made me write others ways of saying it too. So I had wind and fart on the board. Then the teachers started telling Saya to pass gas. She couldn't and we moved on. It was all a little morbid and freaky. The only thing I can think of is these kids need constant approval of trying to do things and they never get scolded for things. It makes sense because it's a hospital school and all the kids are sick, but it's a little odd.
I visited one shy girl upstairs in the section where they don't leave their beds. As usual it was a lot of standing around agreeing with nothing waiting on someone to think of something else to say. Finally we left and I left after saying some goodbyes and having my picture made with the kids. I caught the bus back and had a small lunch at the new Indian place that opened near the station. It's owned by the same guy that runs the other one, but this one will do much more business because of its location.
For dinner I went to Gyoza with Liz and her sister. She came over to visit from Atlanta after graduating high school last week. Liz showed her around Tokyo on Tuesday and Nikko on Wednesday. Today and tomorrow and Friday she is in Fukushima. I think she returns to Tokyo on Saturday. I think Thursday night we will go to Indian food at the original location, and Friday she wants to take her sister to Chuck Wagon to see the Japanese band sing American songs from the 50's. It's quite entertaining. I should get some pictures and post them here.
Today was also my dad's birthday. I called and left a message on his machine. I don't know how old he is exactly, I would guess 63 or 64.
Thursday, May 26th
I overslept again. But this time I noticed it was the same alarm setting on my phone as before. I can set 5 alarms on my phone and this one was one of them. I have since deleted it. I woke up at 8:15 and managed to make it to school just after the meeting started so I waited until it was over. It really wasn't noticeable that much. the weird part is I was having a dream that's too hard to explain. At one point I was walking down a road and it forked and there was a sign on each road that said "this way to keep sleeping" and the other said "this way to wake up". I tried to walk down the keep sleeping road and people started booing me so I stopped and looked around and remembered thinking in my dream, "this is strange, something is not right". Then I suddenly woke up and saw the time.
I'm at school now and typing this during 1st period when I should have a class. I didn't notice the time nor the teacher secretly escaping so I couldn't say anything. I will for my other two classes. I don't want to sit here all day again after doing that most of last week and then Monday of this week. I got my ticket yesterday after eating Indian food. It's an e-ticket so I need to get there early to be sure I get an exit seat. I really don't like sitting in inside seats because my legs are so cramped. Then again maybe no one is going to Atlanta in June and the plane will be not full. Will not be full would have sounded better I think.
Turns out I am not having classes today. My new supervisor came by and I asked her and she said they were giving back the tests and discussing them. Frustrating that I had to rush to get here this morning and there's no reason to be here. I can understand having to come in, a little, but why can't I come in late? She asked what I would be doing today and I said nothing. So she said I could probably leave a bit early. Well that's nice. I'll sneak out when the vice principal is teaching. You know oddly enough, the reason I want the job in Koriyama is because the two people who do it now say they are worked to the bone. They have about 6 classes a day sometimes 1 less. I would much rather be working than sitting here. It's so wasteful. If you are reading this and are applying for or already accepted to the JET Programme, prepare for both extremes. Some of my friends have a full load everyday, some have nothing to do.
At the end of the day when the students clean the school, there were some boys who come in and clean the teacher's room. They empty trash and sweep and stuff like that. There were three boys doing the trash. They collected all the smaller cans and met and poured them into one big bag. They they did rock paper scissors, which every Japanese person does for ANY decision, to decide who takes the big bag out to the recycle shed. They kept getting the same result so they had to do it over and over. Finally they resorted to hitting each other, but when they did it was a total 3 stooges moment. One boy would hit another who would kit the third who would duck and punch another, who would hit the first. It went around for a minute and was quite entertaining.
Friday, May 27th
Went to Nishi again, had 4 classes, 3 intros and one 2nd time. Good times as usual. It's always a pick me up when you are walking to school and students come up and ask if you are going to their school, and then beg you to please come by because your classes are so fun. Yea I am going to miss that part.
After school it rained and thundered really bad. I am mentioning that because I can remember about 3 or 4 thunderstorms in 3 years. It's just rare. When it happens some kids get scared and cry. Last year at the night school the students were going crazy and screaming and crying and running around. Wonder how it was tonight. Later we are going to Chuckwagon to show Liz's sister the crazy band that plays there. About 10 people are going so it should be fun. I am going to eat only salads and stuff so I can be on somewhat of a diet. So to keep me from being hungry there I went to have some sushi first. Two irritating things happened.
First, a mom and daughter came in. They seemed very close and that was nice. But like many Japanese people, they would hit each other in a playful way. Some kids hit people semi-hard, but they are being playful. At the sushi place the mom would grab the daughter's sushi and the daughter would slap her then the mom would hit her back. It was playful, but annoying because they kept doing it. It was like sitting next to apes or something. I thought it was really kind of uneducated even though they were playing.
But the really annoying thing was they ate a lot of sushi. No problem there. When I eat a lot of sushi I just stack all the plates up since there's not much space. Not here. Each time they would order more plates they would shuffle the others around so they could fit one more in. That would cause the other's plates to slide and therefore more ape-like slapping. So then more and more plates came and they would only put them beside each other and not stack them which was by far the most logical thing to do.
Finally I leaned over and suggested they stack them. Of course the only logical response to that was them laughing at me and saying stacking plates would be rude. Of course, why wouldn't it be rude. Sadly the 20 other people in the place as well as everyone else I have ever known who eats sushi, stacks plates. Then I told them to look around and they saw that everyone else had their plates stacked. So they stacked theirs, but as they were doing it they acted like apes again. This time like the apes from the movie 2001 when they found that black monolith thing. They were stacking plates and staring at the stacked plates like it was a UFO. It was the oddest thing I had ever seen.
Saturday, May 28th
Last night we had nice night out. We went to Chuck Wagon and saw the cool band play and then to Karaoke until 1:30am. As we were leaving we realized we had the munchies and really wanted something to eat. Then we realized the new Indian food place was about 100 feet from where we were. We all ran over there, but it was closed. The owner was still in the kitchen which has a window to the outside. We begged and pleaded, but he had closed everything.
Then we all separated and I followed some people to the station since it was on my way home. It was Michelle with her friend Mike, who just flew in from Washington DC that evening, and then myself and Corey. We all had the munchies so Michelle drove us to Milky Way which had also just closed. Finally we settled on Denny's which is nothing like the Denny's we know in the US. It's a nice family place here with none of the good breakfast foods we crave at 2am. Finally I get home around 3:30 and go to sleep. You can see some of the pictures here, especially The Clippers at Chuck Wagon.
It's a beautiful day and I have nothing to do outside, and nothing to do that costs money since I need to save for next week. I really shouldn't have spent what I did last night, but I am so tired of staying inside all the time. But things outside typically cost money so I need to be conservative. I could pack or repack and get reorganized so I am not a nervous wreck Thursday. I'll do that, or at least plan on it.
Nope didn't do that. I snoozed around since we got in so late and I always wake up early. I could do it in a minute after typing this. Instead I slept around, not as in with different people. I should say I just slept a bit. Then I called the British guy who is the liaison between the Board of Education in Koriyama and the people like me who want to be hired. He's actually not British I think. He was born and raised in Sapporo Japan, until age 10, and I think his first language was Japanese. I seem to remember he only learned English at age 10 or something. That would be really weird being a complete foreigner, but speaking natural Japanese at school. So anyway, he's really nice. I asked him if he had any idea about when interviews would be and he said this week or next week so I told him I would be leaving from this Friday to the next Friday. He said he has a meeting on Monday and will try to push for an interview this week. That's good.
I always worry about things too much. Like I hadn't heard from them in two weeks so I had assured myself they were just not interested and weren't going to call me. That's how the Embassy job went, they just don't contact you at all which I think is really dumb and unprofessional because I don't even know if they received my application or not. But the Koriyama guy said they had been involved in some major event for the past two weeks and were really stressed. Well that makes sense. So hopefully the interview will be this week before I leave and I will have a better feeling of whether or not I have a chance at the job. I think I have a good chance since I love teaching and actually want more classes and responsibilities. More on that later. I should pack or repack.
Monday, May 30th
One more thing I like about being a foreigner in Japan. This morning I went to the doctor for something, as I was leaving I saw the UPS/Fed-Ex type guy near the building. In Japan it's called Takkyubin (tah Q been) and the company is called Black Cat. So I see him and I ask if he has a phone number so I can call and get some packages picked up on Wednesday. There is a great service here where the Takkyubin place will pick up your bags and take them to the airport. Then when I get there I go to a desk right beside check in and retrieve them, plus it's only about $20 total. It's a great deal for huge clumsy bags. They also deliver them to your apartment after a flight, an even better service. So anyway, I go up to him and ask for the card and he says why and I say to take some bags to the airport. All of this was in Japanese of course. He asks when I want them picked up and I say Wednesday around six. Still haven't said my name or my address. He said he will stop by Mezon Koutoku around 6 on Wednesday then. I stared at him for a moment then realized I am the local foreigner and I guess he remembers that.
Man I was really worried about making that call. Although I have done it before, it's just something that I don't really like doing. Though I should practice more since talking on a phone really bumps up one's listening skills. So I made it to school by 9:30 and I hope I have some classes today. Luckily this week sometime I have an interview for the Koriyama job. I talked to the girl that has it now and I want it even more. She said it is a small school with only 280 kids in both Elementary and Middle school. She knows all their names and told me about some of the classes. I am really excited about it since that's what I wanted to begin with. And I go to only one school so I can focus solely on that. I don't mind when I go to schools like the hospital school or the special ed school, but I don't like long term traveling schools like the devil school. I may or may not go to that tomorrow depending on the weather. If it rains I go, if it's sunny I don't. They have a sports day planned tomorrow.
Well I was in a great mood. My supervisor came over and told me I would have no classes today. No real reason why, they have some special classes. That usually means they don't feel like having a native English speaker in the room. The JET programme should be a study in inefficiency. The job I want is all about actually teaching English and getting results. The JET Programme is more about appearances. I am so tired of sitting in the teacher's room doing nothing. I find things to do, but I want to be in the classroom with the students. It's more fun and, what's that other thing.....oh yea that's why I gave up my life in the US to come here. The sheer illogic of this just infuriates me. What is the point in having a native English speaker sitting all the time? Seriously, people would be fired in the US if we had a native Japanese teacher on staff all the time and gave him/her nothing to do for weeks or months at a time.
The other thing that ticked me off was that I was told I had no vacation time left. Not a big deal except that I am going to Atlanta on Friday for a week. Plus I know I have 7 days left, because I have been keeping tabs. So I dug a little and found out the Baboon Clown Circus known as the Kenchou Board of Education changed some sick days from the fall to vacation days. At least have the professionalism to tell me. Ha ha I made American joke. I wrote professionalism and Kenchou in the same paragraph. I think my supervisor will pull some strings and do something under the table. It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't already bought the ticket and was ready to go. I will bring her some nice gift back from the US since she is taking a risk for me.
Man I am in an all around sour mood now. I brought a different bag for some reason so I don't have any of my books to read. Which means I really have absolutely nothing to do. I have a few episodes of some Anime I watch on my computer and a movie that has little or no sound for some reason, but no books or even music on my computer. I moved all my music off to my external drive. Argh. I guess I will go surf the limited web again or play more online solitaire.
Tuesday, May 31st
I brought a few things to do in the space between classes. That was a good idea since, as usual, classes were cancelled. I am just numb to it now. I don't even care. I am so tired of JET Programme wasteful inefficient misuse of resources, that I don't even care. I really hope I get that teaching job in Koriyama, because there are no days without me being in class. If I am not in class I am not at the school.
So far I have watched some old James Bond movies. I can always watch them over and over, because I really enjoy the series. At least the old ones. My enjoyment stops after Roger Moore. I prefer Sean Connery and then Roger Moore, but other actors don't count. The James Bonds of today are a disgrace and are just some regular fantasy action movies. An invisible car? Come on, that's pushing it.
Now it's about 11am and it stopped raining. It was pouring on the way here and all this morning. For some reason I woke up a dozen times this morning to go pee and I didn't drink much water or other liquid last night. Rather strange. Well yesterday I sent the non-refundable deposit to the language school I want to go to this summer in between Higashi and the new place. I have most of August off and this fits in two weeks between the initial meeting and the starting meeting. But if I don't get the job I lose the money. But if I do get the job I will only be assured a spot if I send in the money before June 3rd, which I would rather have not done since I need to save money for going to the US. I've paid for the ticket, but I still need $200 to get to and from the airport in Tokyo. $80 to get to Tokyo station and $30 to get to the airport. The other cheap way is $50 by bus and $20 by another train to the airport, but that way takes about 7 hours so I would have to leave too early or go the night before. If I left the night before I would need a place to stay which would then cost another $30 or so. Which means I am at $100 either way. There's really only a $10 difference in luxurious convenience and being really thrifty.