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Another Monday.
Monday, February 2, 2009

            I stayed in most of the weekend playing that online game. Itís fun usually, but it gets annoying. There are aspects of it that donít make sense and annoy me, while others make sense but still annoy me. One part is very high level players can run around instantly killing lower levels. Thereís no physical way I can beat them or even slow them down for a fraction of a second so whatís the point. Itís like if someone shows up at your work and says ďyou there go to the sandwich place 10 blocks away and get me a bagel, NOW.Ē Sometimes when you revive yourself they get you again and again until you stall them out by not reviving yourself. But other than that, the game is enjoyable usually and keeps me busy and inside not in town spending money.

            Saturday I did go into town to get away from the nasty weather in Konan and then to see someone from Tokyo. The weather part didnít work since it was just as bad in Koriyama as it was here. It had rained and then got cold so there was rain on the ground and then the rain turned to snow and then everything was sludge. It was about 8 inches deep at times. Roads had two big ruts and parking spaces were difficult to get into. I was actually spinning my wheels a few times in the parking lots. Later I went to Daveís place and there was a small party for Michelle who was a Koriyama ALT for 6 years then moved to Tokyo and is now moving back to Canada. That was fun, but then I had to drive all the way back to Konan in the nasty weather again. Thatís getting old and I am ready to move. Photo: Some idiot wearing sandals and socks when there is 6 inches of snow and slush.

            Today I got to school a little early and tried to play with the kids. That is hit or miss and I donít know what causes them to act differently. Sometimes they are happy to see me and want to play, other times they run away and donít want to talk to me. It actually makes me a little sad when they do that. There are a few kids that are reliable though, they always have a smile for me and will chat a bit. Those are the ones I am drawn to and remember. There are a few kids whose names I donít know or donít remember, because they always ignore me.

            Thereís also a system of walls here, walls of separation to be precise. Thatís how they punish people in Japan socially, the person is excluded from groups. Itís always subtle and polite, perhaps maybe a group will have a party and not tell someone and then let the person find out later. Sure we all do it to some extent, but itís more of a thing here. There is a name for when a village excludes someone living there. I get shut out a lot being foreign and not being fluent in Japanese. I donít like it, but I know it happens and donít sweat it too much. I was shut out recently when some teachers had a party and planned it on the day I wasnít here. I happened to come in for something and happened to see the sign up sheet that said basically, please let me know by today if you can attend. Maybe it was a last minute thing, maybe it was so someone could say ďwell you werenít here when we had to make the reservationĒ.

            Wow I just realized the ski day is on Thursday and I will not be here. Thatís actually good since I didnít want to go and didnít want to come to school doing nothing with no teachers or take vacation time and stay home. I went my 1st year and didnít have fun then my 2nd year and broke my toe in the absurdly too tight ski boots. Then my 3rd year I passed and that was the day my alternator blew out causing $300 worth of repairs (exactly when I had an extra $300 from the Bush Stimulus package (hey we didnít need this money for the war so you can have it back)). And this year itís on Thursday so Iím not going. I have snow board gear, but no board. I want to go since it would be great exercise and something to do, but I donít know if I will be able to snowboard. I am getting old and have never been good at these things. The old bones donít move like they did before. Although I was decent at skateboarding as a kid, I donít know if that will carry over.

            I have two classes today with the seniors. I am showing a movie and sadly some students have asked if they can pass on the movie and study in the classroom. Awesome. But thatís fine by me if they donít want to see it. I would rather they stay in the classroom than bring their homework to the movie, that is annoying. [Update] In the first class three students stayed in the room to study or sleep. For the second class, the one I prefer of the two, everyone came and thought it was stupid to stay in the classroom rather than watch a movie.

            Iíve actually been a little depressed recently and I donít know why. I should be happy and excited about the 90% chance of moving to the new apartment in town from April, but little things have gradually built up causing me to feel bad. Alone they are things youíd brush off, but eventually enough straws will break the camelís back. Something recent, today actually, is that the Monday announcement club does an English bit. Last two terms I prepared something and played it on the intercom and students enjoyed it. For 3rd term the two girls merely read from the textbook and I have nothing to do with it. I should say ďhey great, one less thing to worry aboutĒ, but I find myself thinking how odd it is that students would do something English related and not even include the foreign English teacher. Again, by itself it is just a straw, but too many of themÖ.

            During cleaning time I noticed someone had put my skit backgrounds into the trash pile. That really annoyed me and it has happened before. These things took weeks to make and were really nice and then I saved them by putting them away somewhere. Clearly if I wanted them thrown away I would have done so. But the part that really annoys me is EVERYONE knew that I was responsible for making them so how hard would it be ASK me if it was alright. I would have said no and taken them out of the trash, but now that someone did it this way I just left them in the trash. I was planning to use them again this year when the incoming 7th graders do the folk tale skits next year so now we will just make them again from scratch. That put me in more of a reclusive depressed-#$%& everybody mood.

            For the first movie there was a scheduling issue where I needed the English room and so did the English teacher. I asked him if he needed it and he said he did and then tried to do the Japanese polite way of saying ďyou back down I need it moreĒ, but I didnít play and won. He said ďdou shiyo (dough she yo) a few times which literally means ďwhat should we doĒ, but also means ďhmmm, get the hint I donít want to do what you are askingĒ. A Japanese person would have backed down right away, but I needed the room and knew he could easily change rooms. He needed a projector only. I needed the projector, the nice speakers, and most of all the thick black curtains. I pushed for the curtains and bought the sound system myself. Any other day I might have backed down, but I wasnít in the mood today.

            After school I saw some of the practice interviews for high school. Students go to elementary and junior high schools around their house, but they test to get into top high schools. Everyone else goes to technical or generally low level schools. The part I saw was insanely rigid, which didn't surprise me. For about 5 minutes they practiced simply entering the room. The student kept taking 9 steps and ending on the wrong foot, but it had to be precisely 10 and ending on the other foot. She could not get it right without double stepping. I stood there wondering if there were something even more pointlessly trivial for them to focus on. The graduation ceremony is the same way. We will practice it about 50 times and most of those are making them bow to the correct angle for the correct amount of time. Then taking the exact number of steps from point A to point B. Well I saw "we will practice", but I mean they will. I no longer watch the rehearsal since I want to scream "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHO CARES HOW MANY STEPS YOU TAKE". But they do, they care about more than I cared about my entire high school graduation.

Epic Moron-ness.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009

            I have this one class with some annoying idiot boys. They just act stupid in class for no reason and there is nothing I can do about it. One kid started out cool, but then got dragged into the group of idiot boys. Well this boy, in particular, had an interview with one of the top schools in Koriyama on Tuesday. Like a true moron he took his mobile phone, which kids arenít supposed to have until high school and then they arenít supposed to bring to class or have at school or at best turn off the ringer or turn it off entirely. Well he didnít and it went off at some vastly inappropriate time and the teachers AT THE SCHOOL TO WHICH HE WAS APPLYING scolded him for breaking the rules of an institution heís not even a part of. Of which he is not even a part. So chances are heís not going to that school since the competition is fierce and there is a line of hundreds of people ready to follow the rules. WOW at the ďjobĒ interview he screws up.

            I knew it was serious when I saw the principal yelling at him. In Japan the homeroom teacher, then the discipline teacher, then the vice principal will first scold them then talk loudly, then yell. But I have never in 7 years seen the principal scold someone or yell at someone. I listened for a bit and could only hear ďI donít have anything to say and there is nothing to say and you have 3 years to think about it when you are at [a lower school].Ē Then the boy came out and had to explain and apologize to each teacher. Not me though which was good, I would have laughed or done something stupid. But what an awesome punishment, having to go around to 30 teachers and say ďhey, Iím a moron, hereís what I didĒ while crying and having each one of them give a firm talk about how stupid it was. That was moronic on an epic scale.

            He has been explaining and apologizing to all the teachers for most of the morning. Heís not going to apologize to me though. I was standing in the kitchen area which is somewhat secluded and he and another teacher were standing just outside. We usually leave it dark in there for some reason. I heard him talking to the teacher about it and then when he finished the teacher asked who was next and he said he didnít know. Then he said ďmaybe RyanĒ and the teacher laughed and said ďheís not necessaryĒ. I intentionally dropped a fork so it would make a noise. They turned and saw me, but didnít know if I understood or even heard.

            On a different note, I really and truly just donít understand Japanese culture, specifically in the humor area. I showed the last part of E.T. today for the 8th graders. They brought all their notebooks as usual and had them opened before class. I told them if they didnít want to watch the movie they could return to the classroom, but if they stayed they canít study since thatís rude. During the movie they were quiet and only laughed at certain parts, most of which were parts that I thought were too predictable and slapstick. They were silent during parts I thought they would roar at and they roared at parts that were trivial and mundane to me.

            There is a part where the kids are riding their bikes away from federal agents. They are just riding then downhill getting away from the cars. That part caused them to roar with laughter and excitement. There was nothing remotely interesting about it. Then they roared at the end when the dog tried to run into the ship and then ran back out. It was cute, but just nothing worthy of them rolling on the floor laughing. Itís like the word ďdeskĒ. Itís simply not funny. Itís not offensive or inappropriate, itís just not funny.

            Then I had a class in the elementary school with the teacher that always hijacks my class. He did this time as well and caused us to go way over time as usual. He was late because he was helping another class with skiing. I had already explained everything and was about to pass out the 20 minute activity for the remaining 30 minutes of class. He came in and made us review everything to the smallest detail. Itís more important that no student feel left out or even slightly uncomfortable about an activity. That is far more important than anything they actually learn. We reviewed what I had already taught over and over and then each student practiced it and then we did more reviewing. Now we had 1 minute until class was over and we start the activity. It went 15 minutes into lunch and then we stopped. He did this at a recent observed class and was scolded about it, but still does it. The bad thing is I canít be mad and say ďjust let me do it my wayĒ because his students do have a high level of English. I just canít push them or challenge them in any way in case their delicate feelings get hurt.

            Today I woke up with a bit of a throat issue. I think it has to do with my apartment being too dry from the heater so I donít want to go to the doctor just yet. There is also the chance it has to do with drinking too much whey protein since I have a dairy reaction. I took something last night to make me sleep better and it stayed in me until this morning. I didnít want to get out of bed and I actually reset my alarm and went back to sleep until 7:45. Itís mildly hurting now so I am going to see how I feel after school.

So Sick of It.
Monday, February 9, 2009

            I am so sick of a certain class, but not even the whole class just the boys. I could narrow it down to a few specific boys (the above mentioned moron is in that class), but most of the time all the boys join in the nonsense. Today I showed the last part of Goonies in class. Never before and never again will these kids get to watch a full movie like that in class. Yet the boys in this class would sleep, talk, open the window causing light to pour in. The other class that watched it sat quietly and I knew they appreciated it. Different classes act differently based on their homeroom teacher. Thatís true in all the classes I have been in while in Japan. Strict teacher, quiet well behaved class. Passive teacher, loud rude class. Firm-and-Fun teacher, quiet and fun class.

            Every year I have lived in this small poorly designed not insulated apartment I have gotten a dry throat that turns into some nasal dripping sinus disaster. I canít get medicine since itís not an infection, just a drip caused by sinus dryness. I have it now, but itís not nearly as bad as it has been in the past. Iíve been taking something from the US that dries mucus and clears the chest. It seems to be working great although last night I woke up several times with Sahara mouth from a nasal clog. Iíve often wanted to shove tubes down my nose to just bypass the nasal passage, but Iím sure that would be a bad idea.

            This Friday is a week away from the big Konan Snow Day when 21 AETs come to play with the kids. That takes a lot of planning, but mostly it is me trying balance and compensate for the nonsense Japanese traditions that interfere. Normally I would be more sensitive, but in this case I canít. These foreigners are coming here to play with the kids. Two grades will be together for one period. Six grades total means three periods with two grades each. The bus driver wonít leave the city hall until 8:30 at the earliest, so they donít get here until close to 9:30. Thatís exactly when 2nd period starts which is when the first and second graders have their play time. Last time we did this I begged and pleaded and was assured several times we would not have an opening ceremony. Not only did we have one, but it was an hour long. It was almost as if they were trying to do that more than play with the kids. We had less than ten minutes for the kids to then find their groups, change into their snow clothes, change into their outdoor boots, go outside and have a 1 minute snowball fight since there was no time for anything else. I asked why we did that and the answer was basically ďNOT have an opening ceremony? That is unheard of. That is absolutely insane. Thatís like asking us to not breathe. I canít even imagine.Ē

          To me it is absolutely absurd and moronic. These foreigners came to play with the kids and it is more important to follow the culture than to allow them to play. During the ceremony first the kids walked in and sat in their seats on the bleachers, then the ceremony was officially opened by someone, then there were speeches by anyone who wanted to give one including the vice principal and another teacher, a speech by a 6th grader in English (though she was reading Japanese that sounded like English), we sang the school song and then that song written about Konan, then the foreigners introduced themselves, then it was closed. FINALLY we started at 10:05 and the end was 10:15. STUPID STUPID STUPID. I have insisted there be the most minimal ceremony this year that does not include the songs and only a few words by the highest ranking person here. I donít know how it will go.

            This Friday is also a month away from the JHS senior graduation. Itís always on the 13th except when that is a weekend. This year it will be Friday the 13th (bom bom bom Ė scary music). I will be so glad when they graduate, well specifically just one class. The other one I will miss. Iíll miss some girls from the bad class, but only the girls. Today for the movie I had to move half the desks away so they couldnít sit in the absolute back of the room and study. How annoying is that. I donít plan to participate in any of the 98 million graduation rehearsals either mainly because they focus on excruciatingly trivial matters and itís always the same anyway. ďOk letís bow again, you go all the way to 45įand hold it for 3 full seconds.Ē They even play the piano in a special three tone chime to make sure people are bowing at the same time. I think a Japanese kid would freak out of they went to our graduation. Well first they would freak when they found out we donít graduate from kindergarten, elementary school, and then junior high school. Then they would freak at the relaxed nature of it all. We sit, hear some stupid speeches, walk by the front getting our diploma and shaking the principalís hand, then sit back down. No one cares how many steps we take or how we shake his hand.

I had to do it.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

            I did something I felt bad about both during and after I did it, but I had to do it and it needed to be done. I had a class with the 5th grade today and I usually teach with another teacher, but sometimes I am alone. I usually prefer being either alone or having a clear leader teaching. By that I mean if someone is in the room with me we both need to know who is ďrunning the classĒ and who is assisting. I donít mind either, but I like to know. So I was alone and the class is usually quiet, but today they were a little talkative. Some girls had their backs to me talking which burns me up and one girl was doing another subject. That pushes me over the ledge since itís so rude, though not as rude as talking really. I told them to be quiet a few times and then after class I told the teacher a few students were doing other work and many were talking. He was mad, apologized, and asked who, but I asked that he just announce it to the class and let everyone know. He said ok and then I knew what would happen and I felt bad. After school three girls came to the teachers room and asked me to go to the hall with them. In the hall they apologized for doing other work. I smiled said it was ok, but donít do it again. They agreed and ran off relieved. I hated doing that, but they were getting worse and worse each time and that needed to be stopped. They needed to see I would do something when push came to shove.

            My throat no longer hurts like before, but I am hoarse and can barely speak. I have 4 big classes on Thursday at Ohse. I am doing NT classes for some reason where I plan them and run them alone. Iím curious as to why they want to see them. I think they are considering having me as an NT there which would be more work, but fine with me really. I still donít know whatís going to happen with me from April.


Cultural Goof (only because itís silly).
Friday, February 13, 2009

            Twenty five people from some other board of education came to see our flagship school. I saw them arrive and told the vice principal. He acknowledged what I said, but acted like he didnít hear me or see them or care really. Then I watched and figured out what had to happen. The highest ranking person from the visiting group had to humble himself by finding the lowest ranking person in our group (the office staff) and announcing their arrival. Then the office staff had to tell the principal that the guests were here. I just interrupted the flow of culture.

            I love my job, but hate when the culture gets in the way. The area Iím mad about now is how there is no punishment in school. You can do whatever you want and there are no consequences. Or you can simply not come to school and still graduate. In class students can talk or turn their back to the teacher or do another subject. Only if the teacher is loud and strict will the students listen. The worst part of having no consequences is that in my class where I donít give grades or ďprogress marksĒ that combined with no punishment means kids rarely do what I say. Today I passed out a TEST and everyone pulled out there books. I said put the books away and the students were appalled and genuinely confused. Some simply didnít them away, they just smiled and said no. They were polite, Japanese people are always polite, even when they are being rude.

            I had a class with some elementary students today. Thereís one kid who speaks great English, but has severe behavioral issues. About twice a month we all hear screaming from somewhere and then see the teacher dragging him down the hall. Well today in my class he was late since the teacher was absent and I was alone. They knew this and a few kids played later. When they got to class the others scolded them, not because they cared so much about the rules, but more so because Japanese kids jump at any chance to scold other kids. Anyway, they all came in late, then this kid comes in later. The whole class starts yelling at him and I knew he was going to erupt. He slowly changed out of his ski clothes and came over to one kid in particular who was scolding him. The loud kid grabbed the other kidís head and gave him a hard head butt. I ran out of the room and found the school nurse and the hurt kid walked down there. Then all the kids were in the hall and it took 10 minutes to get them to go back. It was such a stressful class because the kids have no attention span at all. I would say ďsit downĒ and they would be running around swarming me.

Running in Thigh Deep Water.
February 18th,2009

            I am finishing up the preparation for the big Konan Snow Day on Friday. Twenty one foreign English teachers from around Koriyama (Koriyama ALTs) will come around 9:30 and play with the students and then eat lunch together. All my prep work is basically trying to counteract the annoyances that are caused by Japanese culture. I won in the opening ceremony area. I did so in a Japanese way too. The teachers talked about what they could do and I kept casually suggesting that certain things could be dropped. Finally it was nearly nothing and I said why donít we just drop it altogether so the kids could have more face time. Thatís what I wanted all along and I had to do it gradually to make everyone feel happy about themselves and the decision. Thatís the Japanese way.

            Then I organized where everyone would sit in the lunchroom. I lost in this area since that was hijacked. Actually, in Japan the way ANY decision is made is the group is consulted and all opinions are used. Since I am not Japanese I didnít do that for any decisions which made people uneasy. I come from a culture where one person spearheads a project and does all the work or delegates it. In my culture if something like this were going on and one person said he/she would take care of everything, I would be relieved since it is one less thing for me to do. Here itís the opposite. If everyone doesnít get a chance to put in their opinion then people feel uncomfortable about the decisions even if that is the goal they would have wanted anyway. Here itís not about whether or not you win, itís actually about how you play the game. The MEANS justify the END, not vice versa.

            Iím probably going to just ignore some things if I get too many more opinions about how things could be done. Itís like running at the beach in thigh deep water. It takes so much effort and you donít get anywhere fast. Itís always like this though. 3rd term is rough for me since the seniors have no interest in any lessons that arenít flat out fun games or movies. The cold weather and snow makes me want to hibernate and not do anything active. Everyoneís emotions start getting annoyed since itís the end of the year for us. Then April comes and we all start over and everything is renewed. Thatís one thing I really like about the Japan school/fiscal year. When things are new and just starting so is the weather and season.

The Worst is Over.
February 23rd, 2009

           The big snow day went off with a few hitches, but we managed to make it a great day for everyone. Really the only person who was annoyed was me and that was because of the culture causing problems. The first problem started when the bus driver chose to not come the direct way because of the snow. He said it would be impossible to get through. Well he should have told the 50 cars and 10 buses that made it through successfully. Instead he chose to drive down the main highway which is known as the ďparking lotĒ and was an hour late. So we had to completely redo our schedule and change everything. Ok, thatís fine so now we are really pressed for time letís just get right to it.

            Oh no you donít. Since I managed to squeeze out the opening ceremony they managed to squeeze back in a small informal one. I should know better, you simply cannot start some function in Japan without officially marking the starting point. You simply canít and we didnít. We didnít not do it, we did it. I tried to bring the foreigners in and have them scattered around the room so the kids could find them, but that plan was hijacked and they were sent to the bleachers for a greeting. The kids stood up and said ďhello somethingĒ I stopped listening. Then we talked about nonsense just to waste time. Finally the AETs went to their areas and the kids found them after some coaching and more or less directing them to the person. We started with about 60 minutes of play time and managed to waste half so we had 30 which included getting outside and changing into snow boots.

            The outside snowball fight went ok and everyone seemed happy. We were supposed to make it over to the ski slope for some sledding, but the kids stopped to throw snowballs since we canít do that anywhere in Japan. Whatever, it was fun and the kids and AETs had fun. Iím sure glad I went to all the trouble of tracking down all the extra sleds.

            Then timeís up and we come back in and the AETs go to their waiting room and then the 5-6th graders go into the big hall. I pass out their interview bingo sheets and the teacher starts reviewing what they are going to say. In Japan itís more important for everyone to be prepared and feel good about themselves than to actually do or learn anything. They reviewed again and of course went into excruciating detail. Then I led the foreigners in and once again tried to send them directly to their starting positions. I was told to have them go to the bleachers and I started to get noticeably angry. There simply was no time for any of this because the outside thing went 10 minutes into this part and then we took 15 minutes to come inside and relax for a minute.          

            I said ďthereís no time for another ceremony. We only have 20 minutes until lunch. There is NO time for this nonsense.Ē He looked at me and said it was very important that we review what was going to happen seemingly startled that I was suggesting we NOT review this for the 453rd time. I said there is no time and everyone knows what to do. The kids have their sheets and know what to ask, the foreigners have done this activity 100 billion times before, what is there to review? Then he just locked up into the ďwe must do it this wayĒ mode and started directing them to the bleachers. I said whatever and then ďletís do another ceremony. Letís sit and waste more time and do another stupid ceremony.Ē I was saying it loud to the foreign teachers, but the vice principal heard me and knew how I felt about ceremonial pomp so he said something to the teacher and the first part was a bit shorter than it could have been. They still reviewed what was going to be asked and the kids practiced again and then they started. It was now 12:00 and lunch started at 12:10, so what should we do? His usual plan of pushing this activity into the next one, which was lunch. Lunch started at 12:10, but we didnít get up there until 12:30 and everyone was waiting. Who cares, as long as we have a proper ceremony. Thatís whatís important.

            I stayed in the teacherís room printing photos of the AETs in the snow to attach them to the thank you certificates I made over the previous few weeks. When lunch was over the AETs went back to the big hall and signed notebooks and papers and arms and foreheads for the kids. Finally it was time to go and I passed out the sheets and they made their way through the swarms back to the bus. It was like I was paparazzi and the kids were fans and the AETs were celebrities. I was running around snapping photos and the kids had made a tunnel for the AETs to walk through, somewhat like London Bridge is Falling Down. Finally they were on the bus and they left with the kids screaming and waving goodbye.

            After all that I received about 100 ďwell doneĒ and ďgreat jobĒ and ďyou must be tiredĒ comments from everyone. Later there was a meeting where the principal formally asked each homeroom teacher how many students are eligible to advance to the next level. Iíll give you a hint. The answer is any and every student who has ever attended a JHS in Japan. Even the kids that donít even come to school as well as the catatonic kids who never speak and wander the halls. They are all eligible to advance to the next level. I was going insane at the ceremonial process they go through for something that is clearly for appearance. I kept wanting to yell ďALL OF THEM. The answer is ALL for ALL classes. There are no punishments in Japan. You do your work you move on. You donít do your work you move on. ď But I sat quietly dozing off and reading something online.

            After school I had to get away from there so I went into town and met up with Matt, Marc, Kelly, Erin, and Jak. They were bowling and then playing some video games at Minami Bowl in town. Then we went to a yakiniku place (cooking meat strips on a grill). Some went on to Karaoke, but I went home and Matt rode with me (to his place).

            Saturday I planned to go into town early, but I got online playing Warcraft and then fell asleep for 3 hours. Finally I went in around 5 and ate a late lunch (or early dinner) and then went to Barbara and Henrickís farewell party. They are two Danish locals who are going to India for 2 months to do volunteer work. They have a company apartment on the 12th floor right in town that was amazing. Partially because it was nice and big and partially because they decorated it in the Danish minimalist style. There was a huge solid oak 12 foot by 5 foot table that they apparently had to carry up 12 flights of stairs. I couldnít even lift one end. I drove Kathy, Angela, and Mark (a different one hence the K vs. C) which was a tight fit in my little Pajero, but we managed.

            Then Sunday I had to get out of Konan and went to Indian food with Matt. As the days go by I am getting more and more annoyed with living out here. The snow is a hindrance, the lack of any insulation is annoying, the small apartment is a bugger, but most of all I have a 45 minute drive before and after any event regardless of how tired I am. After the party on Saturday I dropped them off and then drove 45 minutes home alone and tired. Itís just this feeling of everything is happening here and I am way out there on the outside. Itís like being 15 and sitting at the kidís table for Thanksgiving dinner. The kidís table in the other room, or next door. I feel like I am on hold until I move and then I can start living again.

            I still donít know anything official and that doesnít surprise me. I should find out this week or early next week since they have to ask the landlord no earlier than one month in advance which would be the 28th or 27th. Iíve already started packing and should be able to move everything relatively easily. If I could rent a large van or borrow the one I used when my old car died (or was junked) then I could make it all in two trips or so. I found a moving company, but donít want to call them until I know something for sure partially so I donít jinx it.

            This week I have 2 classes. Two classes all week at Konan. Well I should have a few at Ohse, but they will be review or something unimportant to waste time basically. Graduation is the 13th of March, which is a Friday and everything seems to revolve around that. The seniors arenít learning anything new, just preparing over and over for graduation. It must be executed perfectly. There is no tolerance for mistakes. If someone bows 43įrather than the full 45įthen the whole day is ruined. I couldnít imagine someone bowing to 43į rather than all the way down to 45į. Wow that would be offensive.


            Today we had the seniorís banquet lunch. By ďbanquet lunchĒ I mean regular school lunch with one extra piece of fried shrimp. I was a little disappointed because last year (and previous years) it was much more spectacular. Previously there were strawberries and other fruit as well as more than the usual lunch options. We did get seconds which was nice.

No One Gets It.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

            Thereís a laundry-depot I go to when I want clothes washed and dried within an hour. My washer at home is ok, but the dryer consists of hanging them for 3-5 days in the winter and then ironing out the wrinkles. The dryers finish them perfectly and I can use a dryer sheet making them smell magically fresh. Anyway, there are some big dryers and some medium dryers. The medium ones are stacked 2 tall. Every single time I have been in there someone has had problems with the dryers. Not problems with how they function, but problems because Japanese people canít seem to figure out anything slightly difficult. You put the coins in a slot. There are arrows that say ďPut money in here for the top dryerĒ or the bottom one, but people canít seem to read the Japanese. Japanese people simply canít figure out what to do. I am not Japanese, but somehow it was perfectly obvious to me. I have had to help about 2 dozen people of all ages with the terribly complicated dryers. The place has even put a piece of paper that blocks the coin slot that clearly says which dryer it runs, but people consistently get confused. I took a picture to show you how difficult it is. I truly donít know how they could make it any easier apart from not having them stacked 2up. The photo is marked when clicked.

            There is something in the air today that is causing people to get in trouble. Iím not exaggerating when I say today about 2-3 times an hour someone or some group is getting fussed at by teachers. Two elementary kids were fighting earlier, then two others, then some girls took the balls out of the computer mouses (mice), then some JHS boys did something, then a parent came to fuss about something, then a teacher was fussing at some kids in the gym about something, and so on and so on. Usually there is some small incident about 2-3 times a week, but today has been constant.

              I went to one of my favorite stores, Trial, a heavily discounted store. I bought a vacuum bag and some other stuff in preparation for the hopeful move in early April. When I went back to my car I was about to leave when someone pulled in and saw there were no more parking spaces. There are plenty in the back lot, but that would require walking around the corner and this is the country of convenience. That would be inconvenient, ergo it rarely happens. What happens instead is people park wherever they want. Handicap spaces have no meaning and no penalty. They are constantly filled with people who walk around freely. In this case two cars pulled in, saw there were no spots, and made their own. Then a third one pulled in completely blocking the walkway. One old man actually fussed at the driver, but was ignored.




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