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Lower than Low.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

     I fully realize that English is merely one subject among many and that my job is a supplement to the regular English teacher. With that in mind I would still think they would want to use me as much as possible. I mean either I am in class teaching English or I am sitting at my desk doing something else. If I taught Japanese at a school in the US and we had a native Japanese person who was always there and whose sole job was teaching or assisting, I would use that person until they begged for mercy. I would constantly be talking to him/her, having him/her record his/her (I HATE USING BOTH PRONOUNS, I’m going to use her from here on) voice, have her make tests and worksheets, I’d have her in as many classes as possible, I’d have special classes after school, have field trips or plan culture things as much as possible. But not here.

     I had 9 classes this week and the most important one was with the new 7th graders. It should be today 6th period, but they cancelled it yesterday to make way for a meeting about the sports day next week. The funniest part was when the vice principal flatly told me “it was supposed to be 2nd period, but that’s Japanese class”. Of course they can’t miss that. Especially this week when they are not learning about some countries they didn’t invade or occupy. Fine, next week I will have the class and get over it. Oh no, next week they have Japanese twice, social studies twice, and the rest are meetings and practices for the big sports day. Oh wait there are two “self study” periods and two regular English classes.

     I don’t mean this part as sarcastic, even though it will sound that way, but they seem to cut classes at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t seem right to spend class time having meetings for a sports day. Mine are always the first to get cut and that really messes up my curriculum, especially when they cut one of my 3rd year classes, but not the other. Now my classes are about two weeks off. I could ask to have a class next week with the 7th graders, but it would bump some other class that is far more important and I don’t want to cause ripples.

     AHA! The power of whining and pouting prevails!! I was sitting here thinking about how bummed I was that my classes were always cut when the schedule guy came over and told me he would balance out the schedule this week. Think good things and they happen, HOGWASH. Whine and pout and mumble stuff under your breath and things change. I’m going to pout about being broke for a while now.

How Dare I.
Friday, May 4th, 2007

     I went to the Smile Mart to buy some carrot juice today. It was about 75 degrees so I threw on a t-shirt and some shorts. I get there and the nice man that owns it stared at me as if I was naked. Another person in the store also looked at me with wide eyes. I asked "what?" about five times. The nice man said "it's just that you are wearing short sleeves.....in May".

Not Hungry.
Saturday, May 5th, 2007

     Here's something a bit odd, odder than it being weird to wear short sleeves on a warm day in May, I haven't eaten anything since Thursday afternoon. I'm not hungry since I have been drinking tons of water while I have been doing some computer programming. I've just been sitting here drinking water and coding. I didn't even leave today and only went to the Smile Mart yesterday. All I had on Friday was the carrot juice. I guess I am fasting. Wow it really isn't so bad. I'm totally not hungry. I guess I should eat the spiciest and greasiest meat I can find to break the fast. Ha ha or maybe I'll ease out it with some steamed veggies or something. I might do this more often, especially if it has a cleansing effect.

Feeling Groovy.
Monday, May 7th, 2007

     The accidental fast went well I’d say. I only had some carrot juice, water, and a few carrots from Thursday evening to Sunday night. I wonder if I could fast every weekend, man I would save some hard cash (or mad bank as the kids say today). It could be as much as $50 a weekend, but I don’t think I could do it all the time. There have been times after school when I just wasn’t hungry, but ate dinner for the sake of eating dinner.

     Other than that I was wicked productive. I made about 10 computer games that are easily expandable and changeable. They are simple things that quiz students based on info in a text file. I can easily change the text file to add more things when needed. I plan on making several more and just giving them to anyone that wants them. I could probably make money by selling them, but that adds such a different vibe to it. People might not be happy and want their money back or people would just copy them. Plus it would be good kharma to just give them away.

     This morning we all went to the elementary gym to practice the group warm up before sports day this Sunday. In Japan we all warm up the same way at the same time in unison. You can’t warm up on your own, it must be done as a group. They do it to a peppy song. All the teachers were jumping off the walls to show how happy they were. It was like a Billy Graham concert where everyone was so happy. Even if you are sad, you are so happy. How happy are you? I am so happy it hurts. I think I am even more happy than you. I am the happiest in the world. Let's say nothing but happy from now on. SMILE NOW. I hope it doesn’t drizzle like last year.

     Here is an example of something that really annoys me about Japan. Today one of the vice principals was calling someone for some reason. The protocol here is to call and say who you are and then "can I speak to so and so". He did that and then, I kid you not, he said "is this the Tanaka residence?" about 20 times. The first few went unnoticed, but after about 6 times of him sounding like a broken record people started looking. He just went on and on. "Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?...Is this the Tanaka residence?". I was going insane. Just wait for a bit. Say something else. What on earth is the other person saying? Just over and over non-stop. It's the Japanese way to just repeat the set phrase over and over until you get the response you are expecting. It drives me insane.

     The English teacher is taking the TOEIC test soon so I have been quizzing him and speaking a lot of English for him. I looked up some phrases that have been in the test and I will occasionally ask him or say them. Then I saw that last year 3 million people took the test. Wow that’s a lot of people. Then I noticed the test costs about $60 to take. WOW that’s 180 million bucks they made last year. There is no way it costs anywhere near that much to make a test even with all the research that must go into and all the printing and mailing. I mean seriously 180 million dollars. Hmmm, well I do know that the sites that administer the tests pay the people to watch them, but I don’t know how much. Still none of this seems to add up to 180 million. Wow.

     There was a time, even at this new school, when I would keep looking at the clock and hoping it would be time to leave. I can remember saying "oh 3 more hours". But recently I have been so busy, not only do I not look at the clock often, but when I do it's like 6 or 7 at night. I have been so busy at school since I have started making more quiz programs for the kids. Also the standardized English test is in June and I made a big push for people to take it. The signup deadline is this Friday and I think some, as in more than one, first year JHS kids will take it. Last year only two 7th graders took it the whole year, but this new group has several stars that should take it and possibly pass.

Sushi Treat.
Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

     We had a meeting today for the JHS teachers. We have one every week. The homeroom teachers talk about all the kids that were absent and why they weren't there. I hate it because it's not my concern and it feels like a huge invasion of privacy. Anyway, the meeting was at the meeting table area by the windows. It was a beautiful day so we had the windows open. The humidifier was on so I leaned over and turned it off. About 4 teachers gasped. I asked why and someone said we can't turn it off until June 1st. It didn't even phase me as absurd since I'm used to that “logic”.

      After the meeting I was sitting in the teacher's room alone, for some reason. The phone rang and I wanted to answer it, but I'm not ready to answer the outside line yet. It rang about 10 times and then I got up and went over to it and thought about what to do. Then it rang and rang. I started counting. It rang about 40 times. Seriously, 40 times. Isn't there a point at which you realize no one will answer it? For me it's around 5-10 rings. 10 being a really urgent call and I think the person might be around. But a business or a school, come one people 40 times.

      After school I went into Koriyama to get some sushi and do some shopping. It's been about 2 weeks since I have gone to Koriyama so I needed to get some things done. I mailed a few letters and bought some crap at the hundred yen store. Oh speaking of the $1 store, which of these ties is made of Thai silk and which comes the $1 store:

      I'll let you know in tomorrow's entry. I am really going to miss the $1 store (though here it is the 100 yen store) when I leave Japan. You can get all sorts of things there. I am constantly amazed at what can be bought there.


Friday, May 11th, 2007

Me: Why are the windows open?
Teacher: Well it’s a bit hot.
Me: Could that be because the heaters are on?
Teacher: Yes, I think so.
Me: Maybe we should turn them off.
Teacher: We can’t until June 1st.
Me: You mean we aren’t supposed to?
Teacher: No, we can’t. There’s no way.
Me: You mean no way, apart from this on/off button or the power cord here?
Teacher: It won’t go off though.
** click **
Me: It’s off now.
Teacher: Maybe we will get in trouble.
Me: Yes, you’re right. Let’s waste energy and open the windows with the heaters running full blast. We should turn the sinks on full blast as well.
Teacher: That would be wasteful.

     I stayed late today and a teacher showed me some stuff about next week's schedule. She and I trade Japanese lessons and English lessons. We both want to read better. First she was teaching me general Japanese, then I requested newspapers, then I realized I really need to be able to read these schedules and other memos. So we did that and it was helpful. It's hard to just look up Japanese for several reasons. One is sometimes they use abbreviations that aren't in the dictionary. Other times there are several words with the same meaning. Even though they have slightly different meanings some idiot just gave it a vague meaning in the online database. So I will find a word and think it's right and then find out only 83 year old ex-police women say this phrase on August 15 of every other year at a certain temple. By the way, the blue tie and the greenish tie are from the $1. The white tie was about $30 and is nice silk.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

     I know I complain about Japanese culture a lot, but I really and truly want to understand it. That’s what I am usually doing when it seems like I am just complaining. I am organizing my thoughts and writing them out so I might see some pattern. Today there was a pep rally for the upcoming city wide sports match. I didn’t know about it at first since I missed it on the schedule, even though I went over the kanji last week for this week’s schedule. Then I realized where everyone was and avoided going for a while since Japanese pep rallies are so structured and non-peppy. “Tomorrow you will do your best. Now we will cheer for you. Do a good job. That was our cheer. Now you will feel excited about the match tomorrow. It is the end now”.

     Anyway, I finally went down to the hall because I saw some graduated students wandering. I chatted with them for a while and then went to the action. I stood outside the window and watched a bit. I heard someone crashing symbols and banging on a drum. That’s usual for J-pep rallies. The odd thing was someone seemed to be talking on a mic at the same time, but I couldn’t hear them. Why don’t the people stop with the drums for a minute? Furthermore, it doesn’t have a beat or any pep rally type sound, it sounds like someone practicing. So then I walked past the big hall to the music room and saw it was in fact music students practicing. The only thing separating them from the pep rally was a thin partition.

     I really wanted to cry simply because that just made 100% no sense. Why can’t someone say “hey can you wait for 5 more minutes?” Why can’t the kids and teacher see or hear the pep rally not 10 feet away? Why do I feel like I am suddenly in the twilight zone? I really just want to know what it is that causes this behavior? There has to be some samurai related thing that has carried over.

     I had a class with the 2nd year JHS kids (8th grade). It was in the computer room. I had made some games for the class. I installed a few and tested them and they didn’t work. I used some just like this last week that worked fine, but this week these simply didn’t work. No errors, just nothing on the screen. Well one thing, but not everything. So I had to revert to something else, which worked out ok. In the class kids kept switching to the internet. Another cultural thing I want to understand is why they have attention spans of dish soap. I would say “don’t use the internet, close it now”. Then some kids would apologize and close it and then immediately open it and start looking at some page. It’s like they have it locked in their brains “will look at internet”.

     I did this a few times and then I explained I would pull a yellow card from my shirt twice and the third time I would pull a red card and tell their homeroom teacher and their club coach. Club activities, and really anything else, take priority over classes. I mean that non-sarcastically and seriously. If they have a nice homeroom teacher, I will threaten to tell their team coach first and that will shut them up. I did this once three or four years ago at Fukushima Higashi High School and it caused a problem, but got the kids quiet.

      Earlier in the day I had a class with the seniors. I tried to teach them the difference between A/An/The. It was tough, but some got it a little. The funny thing was I made up most of the lesson on the way to the classroom. I really prefer to have something prepared in advanced, and I did make a bingo sheet, but I made up a few activities as I walked there. It’s one of my magical abilities. The other one is a bit crude and I won’t mention it here.

     Oh here’s an example of sports taking priority over classes. I mentioned to a teacher that I was thinking about starting a private lesson type thing after school for some advanced kids that want to learn more English. He thought it was a great idea, but suggested I wait until the seniors have to quit their clubs in a month or so, because kids can’t miss club activities. I mean who could think of such a thing?

The Tree.
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

     After school I was sitting at my desk planning two lessons for tomorrow. The kids were outside either doing sports or just playing. The elementary kids were out back playing as well ,at least those that were waiting for a bus. I saw two girls running around a tree near the window. They weren’t chasing each other, just running around the tree. I thought about how relaxing that must be to be amused by merely running in circles around a tree with a friend. If only there was some pill one could take to go back to a child’s mentality for a day or so. I guess if you do enough heroin you are like that forever, but I meant something safe and legal and temporary. Oh well, such is life.

So busy.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

     I have been so swamped at school and even at home that I haven't had a chance to update this at all. It feels like it's been a month, but I see it was only a week. That's still a long time though. Usually I write something at school and don't have time to upload it, and then make a huge update, but I haven't had time to write anything. Got paid yesterday and didn't spend all that much. More than I wanted, but still not all that much. This month is a massive crunch month since I have to pay $400 for my Legacy car tax even though you pay for the year in advance and I already sold it. That doesn't even phase me, even though it really hurts my money situation this month. It's a Japan thing and I know better than to even waste time thinking about not paying or trying to explain I don't have the car.

     Today is another example of how they cancel classes at the drop of a hat. There is some big city wide subject by subject teacher’s meeting today. It’s 5 and 6th periods so those are cancelled and the teachers will ALL go to Koriyama for the meetings. Each subject is at a different school. The English teacher here asked if I wanted to go, but from my experience I know it would all be in Japanese so I said no. I don’t know why they can’t have the meeting right after school so only the sports activities are cut.

     This week I have an average class load. I still haven’t been in the elementary school as much as I want to be, so I am going to start taking matters into my own hands and just directly asking for classes. I talked to another private Koriyama teacher who works only for a few elementary schools. She said she has 4-5 classes a day and if the teachers see her sitting at her desk, they ask if she can go to another class. It’s the opposite here. I have to repeatedly ask and re-ask for classes in the elementary school.

     So yesterday I got some things done, but I had to be thrifty so I couldn’t do everything that I wanted. This month I have the $580 car payment, $400 car tax (for the car I no longer have), and I had to send back $480. I’m going to have to spend the $580+$480 for 5 more months so I am going to try to keep up that pace and send back $1,000 each month for a while. I’ve said that before, but things keep getting in the way. Hopefully after the car payments, and the flight back to the US in December, then I should really be able to save or pay off my big unnecessary federal college loan. I’m going to miss my deadline of paying off my secondary smaller loan by the June paycheck, but I should be able to knock it down by the end of summer or December at the latest.

     No summer travel plans. I might go to a language school for a week in Tokyo since that’s about all I can afford. I would have to stay with my friend Daisuke like last time as well as bus down and back. Other than that I have heard the English camp will be during the summer. I’ll still have about two weeks to account for. I had planned to go back to Sapporo for the language school there, but accidentally buying the car when I did somewhat blocked those plans. I’m still glad I bought it, but the timing wasn’t the best. If only I had checked to see when the yearly emissions test was rather than assume it was this year. ARGH.

     Ah, I just figured something out. I was wrong about them cutting classes today. The meeting is after school, but the teachers have to leave here an hour early to get to the meeting on time. So most schools have all 6 periods, but this one can’t. The teachers are leaving around 2:30, which is when 5th period ends, but then the teachers would be rushed so they cancelled 5th period as well. See I can admit when I am wrong, but they still cancel classes all the time.

Learning Japanese.
Thursday, May 24th, 2007

     One, of many, thing I really hate about learning Japanese is that sometimes it seems like there is a decoder ring all the Japanese people have which determines what each word or grammar point actually means. The ministry of confusing foreigners occasionally sends out updates as to which secret pair you should move your ring to. At any point in time two Japanese might have different settings on their rings.

     I say that because on several occasions I have had two people, both educated and smart, completely contradict each other on basic Japanese. Not at the same time in front of each other, but still saying the opposite. One example is the suffix 'nashi'. It means 'without'. So you can say 'apples nashi' and that would mean without apples. Though apples would be in Japanese of course. I say this and have said it for many years. I hear other people say this all the time. But when I went to the Japanese language school in spring break, the main teacher said “we never say nashi”. I probed further and he meant it's just not used. Then I came back and kept hearing it and asked if it is ok and several teachers said yes it was perfectly ok and they use it a lot. ARGH.

     Then at a different language school in the summer of 2005 (hmmm, I'm detecting a pattern with language schools) they said if you use the word for time after a verb it means 'when I do that verb'. The word for time is 'toki', so if I said 'eat toki' it would mean when I eat. So we had a lesson on this and they said the above structure and then clarified it as actually meaning moments before I verb. You must change the verb to the -ing format to mean when I eat or am eating. There were all these other confusing rules which went against everything I had learned up until then. So then today I say something on the news and they wrote out 'eat toki' to mean when you eat, just as I had learned before the school.

     On several other occasions I have had a principal or high level teacher tell me some phrase. Then I use it somewhere else and another principal or high ranking teacher said “we never say that phrase”. I point out that it was principals only to show I wasn't asking an atomic scientist something and then confirming it with a 90 year old rice farmer. It was between two people of similar status so why the confusion? The best part is when I clarify and say “so under no circumstances ever would you say this phrase? So it is completely wrong? Even in THIS situation it's wrong right? Completely wrong? This phrase here.....”. Then I find the other person at that school that said it and put them together. The answer is always “oh well in THIS situation it's ok”. Which seems to mean, "I was sure you were using it wrong since you are a foreigner".

     This is just a me thing, but I don’t like to brush my teeth around people. It’s not a me-getting-older thing either, I have never liked it. Teachers and students just walk around brushing all the time. Plus they do something I can never do, they hold it all in their mouths until they are finished. For some reason that drives me nuts. I have to spit every few seconds. What I really hate, to the point that I usually leave, is when someone is brushing and talking. They have to open their mouth and hold it all in and talk like “wai waz woing foo coll you fumarrow” since they can’t close their mouth. Eck, it’s nasty to me.

     This week the 7th graders are learning “are you…yes I am…no I’m not”. I ask them questions in the hall and they have been slow to answer. They would answer, but they had to stop and think about it. Then in my conversation class on Wednesday, I played a game where they each had a new name and hometown and a chart with all the new names and hometowns. They had to walk around and ask each person “who are you” then the other would say “I’m Mickey Mouse” or whatever. The first person would guess “are you from ‘Sweden’” and the response would be “yes I am….no I’m not. I’m from Disney ”. If they guessed right, they got 2 points. Otherwise they just got 1 point for making the connection. I mean by drawing a line between Disney and Mickey Mouse. Then at the end we added up all the top numbers and I gave $50 (Ryan Dollars) to those that had the best 5 or so. So then today I was asking kids in the hall again “Are you…” and I would pick the wrong name sometimes. They would quickly respond “yes I am….no I’m not”, almost at a natural speed. My game plus their usual lesson really helped. I like my classes as reinforcement sometimes and other times as special topics.

     I had two classes with the 8th graders today. The first one went well since they seem to be the upper level class. The second one has a few loud boys and since there is ZERO discipline in Japan, they are always loud even after I say shut-up 10 times. Anyway, I played a cool game like battleship where kids say “I am going to….” Then pick a verb phrase from a grid and match it with a time from the top of the grid. Like battleship they only pick blanks on their sheet and hope they get a hit on the other sheet. The hits are either G for gold, S for silver, and B for bronze. They wrote one of each on each line. It’s similar to battleship, but you have to randomly guess each time, there are no long ships that take up several spaces.

     So I did that in the first class and it went ok, but there were a few kinks. I worked out the kinks and went to the second class. First I gave them a long quiz that covers how many/much, at, in, on, me, my, you, your, and finally BE verbs like am/is/are/be. That took about 10 minutes and then we were about to move into the game, which would take the entire rest of the time. Then a 7th grader comes in, which in itself was odd, and announces something and all the kids leave. Uhhhh, hello? What was that?

     I walked…marched…stormed down to the teacher’s room and asked in not so many words, “what the #$%& was that? Everyone just left”. The response was “oh they have an eye check, but it will only last 10 minutes”. I retorted “why does it have to be during school hours if it will only last 10 minutes, why can’t it be after school which wouldn’t disrupt classes?” I sensed the response as the vice principal said it “ha ha ha, students CAN’T miss their club activities.” But they can miss classes for any reason.

     I swear I am in the twilight zone, that is the only way any of this would make sense. I bet I am in a coma and these nonsense moments are when some doctor is shocking my brain. Maybe when I get on a plane and fly to some other country, where things seem to make some sense, those are times when I am actually regaining consciousness in the hospital bed.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

     I’m back to my normal schedule now. Saturday I took and early bus to Tokyo and met up with an old friend from Atlanta. She is Swedish, but was living in Atlanta for a while working for the same awful internet company I did. She was actually a manager over me at one point. She was visiting another friend in Tokyo and they went to China for a week then I went to see her on Saturday and Sunday and showed her around Tokyo some. Then on Sunday we came up to Koriyama and she got a hotel. Then on Monday she came to my school and participated in classes for a day. It was fun overall, but I am exhausted. I’m adjusting back to my normal schedule now.

     I have this weird disorder called Ryan Syndrome. I’ve mentioned it a few times before. It’s basically when either something absurd happens that I can’t explain and seems to be happening only to me, or some other obstacle like that. Something that has happened a lot recently is I will do something such as send or receive an email, forget about it for a while, and then later I will want to check it but I can’t find any reference to it at all. It seems to have disappear from my computer and the internet and there is no record of it. An example today is last week I created an account and posted a question to a web board about this MS Excel problem I have. Then I forgot about it for a few days and went back to check it today. I can’t find any record of the post or even my username, not on the site nor in my email account. I have searched for some phrases that were in the post, but they all come up blank. I am completely at a loss about this. The only way I can explain it is that the universe it playing tricks on me.

     I just got some wicked bonus points for being observant. I was typing up a lesson for later and I looked out the window. I saw some of the 1st graders climbing a hill in the back of the school as part of some nature class. Then I saw the Japanese flag. Wait, I shouldn’t be able to see that since I can only see part of the flagpole from my desk. I walked over to the window and looked and it was definitely at half mast. Someone saw me and asked what I was doing and I replied “why is the Japanese flag at half mast? Did someone die?” They are scurried around since they didn’t know why it was at half mast and then they realized it was some mistake. The VP and lead teacher ran out to raise it. Then I heard mumblings of “wow the foreigner noticed the flag was halfway, but we didn’t”. They thought I was concerned about the flag or the image or something like, but I was just curious as to who had died. Either way they were happy.

My Broken Heart.
Wednesday, May30th, 2007

     Here’s an example of the above mentioned Ryan Syndrome. I can do computer programming in a language called ColdFusion. It’s not the fastest or the best, but it’s solid and several major named companies use it. I can do some pretty good things with it, but it’s not free and costs a bit more to have a website with it. Probably the best language out there, which is also free, is called PHP. I am trying to learn how to program in PHP now, and I have been trying off and on for a few years. Today I decided to make the simplest of programs. A web page that has an input box. I type in a number and the page submits it to another page that puts it in the database. Then a 3rd page reads the database and lists all the entries.

     It took me over an hour to get the first part working. It would take me about 3 minutes in ColdFusion, but it took me an hour to get this done. Then when it was spitting out the date, it would do it in the computer format which is a 14 digit nearly unreadable string. Every time I made an entry, it would automatically timestamp when I did it. So the database would show the ID number of the entry, starting with 1 and going up by 1 each time. Then It would have the number I inserted, we’ll say 5, then it would have this nasty timestamp like 20070530102040. That breaks down to mean 2007 05 May 30th 10am 20min 40seconds. I wanted it to be formatted when it came out to something like 5/30/07 or something easily readable. THAT took me another hour and I still didn’t get it right. Finally I said Forget It and gave up.

     How that relates to Ryan Syndrome is that for the first 45 minutes I was just copying and pasting lines from a tutorial website, but it just wasn’t working. I checked all the lines for typos, I made sure the database was correct and had a user attached, and everything was ok. Still nothing. I retyped it all making it really simple, but nothing. It wasn’t even inserting it and I could find absolutely nothing wrong. I was going insane. Finally I stopped and left and came back and changed nothing and it worked. What? Why?

     Another example, and things like this have happened to me, is say you are using a drill to drill something. You plug it in and test it and it works fine. Then you go to drill whatever and it doesn’t work. Click click. Nothing. You unplug it and plug it back in. Ok it works. You go to drill something and nothing. Someone else comes in the room and tries and he can use it fine, but when you hold it nothing happens. He takes it and drills. You take it and nothing. What am I doing wrong? Did I suddenly forget how to use it? Just squeeze the trigger right? Still nothing. Later it works fine. It makes no sense and you start to feel like you are in the Twilight Zone.

     One recent thing, well last year sometime, was when I was using a copy machine when I was in a huge hurry. It simply wouldn’t copy for me. When another teacher tried it worked perfectly fine. When I reached over and pressed the start button, nothing happened. When he pressed it, it copied fine. I was starting to question everything. What is going on? WHY is this happening? Nothing was making any sense. I can’t explain it and call it Ryan Syndrome.

     I stopped by the 7-11 to get money to pay my car tax for the next year for the car I no longer have (Japanese logic). There is a girl that works there who is beautiful in a natural way and always has a real smile when I come in. Not just a fake employee “welcome to the store” look. I just melt when I see her. If I had to guess I would say she is a college student, at the youngest, or maybe in her twenties. When I see her it really makes me happy. She’s just a beautiful person and, although I don’t know anything about her, I know she must be nice as well. I would never ask her out since she no doubt lives in the small town near me, but she still brightens my day.

     While I was there I saw one of my ex-students from last year who now works at the store. She was nice and cute and I enjoyed her as a student since she always paid attention and tried. I was chatting with her about when she got the job and she said her sister helped her get it. I asked who was her sister and pointed to a girl in a high school outfit. I said “oh you have two sisters right? Because I know you mentioned your sister was in high school”. She said no, just one sister, and the high school girl turns around. It’s my dream girl, the high school student. ARGH. Why do Japanese girls look like they are anywhere between 15 and 30 as soon as they turn 15? So much for that, but she’s still cute and has a great smile. ARGH again.

     I went in and paid the car tax at the town hall next to the 7-11. The guy made some comment about me waiting until the last day and I replied I thought I didn’t have to pay it since I no longer have the car. He said if I didn’t pay it there would be penalties daily and they would eventually impound the car. I clarified, they would impound my Subaru Legacy. He said that’s right. I told him I sold that car a month ago and now had a new car. Then I asked if they would impound the new car. He said no, they would get the Legacy. I reminded him the Legacy is gone and probably junked by now. He said I should still pay the tax otherwise they would impound the car. Since I had things to do in the next few years, I didn’t feel like being locked in an eternal loop of illogic, so I agreed I should pay the tax, which I had planned to anyway. I knew they would never make the connection that I no longer have the car and will be getting this money back so why bother paying it.

     That’s one thing I have noticed about Japan, they never seem to make connections. They never say “oh I get it” or something like that. Things are a certain way. There is no deviation. There are no variables nor connections to be made. I keep hearing some Styx song in my head… One example of this was when I asked about doing fundraising in the school for my Thai orphanage trip. Here is the conversation taken from last December’s entry:


Someone: I see you are going to the orphanage again.
Me: Yes. This year we are doing a fundraiser for the home by selling postcards.
Someone: Oh, that’s a great idea. I hope you sell very many.
Me: Yes, me too. I think I could sell many to students. If each student bought a pack or maybe if the teachers bought a pack then I would raise a lot of money.
Someone: That’s true, but unfortunately, we can’t do fundraisers at school.
Me: Oh, really? Hmmm. What is that box beside your desk?
Someone: That is a fundraiser box for students and teachers.
Me: (waiting for the connection and then explanation). Ah. Hmmm. So…
Someone: We raise money for the victims of the earthquake.
Me: Which one? The one that was last year or two years ago?
Someone: Yes, that one.
Me: So we can do fundraisers at school?
Someone: No.
Me: Then what is that box beside your desk?
Someone: That is a box for collecting money from students and teachers for the earthquake victims.
Me: So it is a fundraiser? But we can’t do fundraisers at school.
Someone: That’s right, we cannot collect money at school from students and teachers.
Me: So what’s that box for right there?
Someone: That’s for collecting money from students and teachers for the earthquake victims.
Me: (waiting for the connection and then explanation). Ah. Hmmm. So….We CAN or CANNOT collect money at school?
Someone: We cannot collect money at school from students and teachers.
I am completely confused

     All I really wanted was for him to say “oh I get it, we can do fundraisers at school for things in or related to Japan, but not for Thailand.” That’s it, but there are no connections. They are two separate objects two separate instances.

Instance A: We cannot do fundraisers at school.
Instance B: We can do a fundraiser at school for this Japanese related situation.

     They don’t overlap and exist completely apart from each other, ergo, there are no connections between them. Another time I was writing my name on a form. When you do this in Japan and you are Japanese you write the Chinese characters in the box, and then above it you write the phonetic pronunciation in a stick like Japanese alphabet. If you are foreign you only write your name in the stick like alphabet. I can write my name in Chinese characters, but it’s not official. So I wrote my name in the name box in the stick letters. The guy told me he couldn’t read my name until I wrote the pronunciation in the box above. It would be in the exact same alphabet as I just wrote my name, but simply in a different place. I was trying to explain this and waiting for “oh I get it, yea it’s would be the same, so don’t worry about it”. But no connection was made. Name must be in both boxes or unable to read…click click…burr…burr…click…click. Finally I gave in and wrote it exactly as it was below and then, and only then, could he read it.


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