cleaver me

March 10, 2009

A whole week with no appointments, deadlines or obligations would be a blessing for many people. Think again! I’m sitting here, rheumy eyes glazed over, brain feeling much the same way, tapping away on the keyboard in an effort not to draw attention to my general droopiness. For now, it’s working.

The reason I find myself in this position is that it’s entrance exam week at my school. That means that the whole place shuts down and only the most hardcore of teachers need to show up. Yep, that includes me. Good thing I’m here, too. These hours won’t waste themselves. So to get to the point, there are hundreds of wide-eyed junior high school kids here today sitting their entrance exam. I’m not sure why they bother, to be honest; mine isn’t the most academically excellent of schools. And we’re not talking about desirable real estate, either. Surely kids don’t need to do an hour-long English exam when all they want to do is play baseball or cheerleading. But what would Japan be without hours upon hours of inefficient customs and beauracracy? I’ve said it before: I stopped asking permission to do anything around here a long time ago. I realise this may seem presumptuous of me, but so far it has only resulted in startled admiration from my co-workers (“you organised this all by yourself? Darren-sensei, you are very busy だよ!”). It’s not because I’m subverting authority or because I don’t wanna talk to the vice-principals (OK, actually it is a little bit of both of those), it’s just that if I did things by the book, I wouldn’t do anything. 

I don’t feel like writing movie or music reviews here anymore. I’ve lost my critical edge. Oh no! The smoothening has begun! I can feel my jagged and caustic personality being whittled away to an inconspicuous sand dune with every passing day in Japan. Opinions are as rare over here as good coffees. I find myself retreating in a sea of self-loathing every time I venture an opinion thanks to the startled looks I get from my co-workers. And then I step back and realise that my brain is rotting away. Time that used to be spent criticising art and music is now being spent semi-consciously trying to conjugate verbs or thinking about the housework I gotta do. I should get back in the habit of hating everyone and everything. Life was good back then, the world was so full of possibilities. 懐かしい。。。

I started snowboarding a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, started, in late February. But it’s OK because the snow season goes for like six months of the year in these parts. We went up to Zao which was everything you expect a Japanese ski resort to be, complete with eery ghost-like steam emanating from the natural hotsprings.

I was alright at snowboarding, actually. Better than I probably should have been on my first attempt, so naturally on the second time around, my head got a little too big and as a result the benevolent forces that be decided to plant me firmly on my arse. Big head = sore arse. That’s how it works when it comes to snowsports. But it has only strengthened my resolve to go out and drop heaps and heaps of cash on gear that I’m probably only gonna use a handful of times. We are located within two hours of about a dozen ski resorts over here, it’s pretty mental. Every Japanese girl on the mountain is dolled up in brightly coloured jumpsuits and beanies, regardless of their ability when it comes to, you know, going. Down the mountain.

Let’s see, now. A few us dropped a crazy number of yen on tickets to Fuji Rock in July! To be honest I’m only lukewarm on the lineup at this stage but I figure it will be fun regardless. Three days, at the foot of a mountain. You have to hike through forests and cross over streams just to get between stages! I’m also going to Punkspring although the lineup is pretty lame.

Today is bento day. When there are no classes, they have these bento days where the teachers are supposed to eat bento together and strengthen their office relationships. Well, I’ve been here for two hours and nobody has said a word to me. As if relationships needs strengthening! The bento days are the same as any other day, except there are no students bouncing in and out of the office, and your lunch is cold and costs 1100 yen. No thanks! I’m planning on taking myself off to the supermarket on my bike and getting some yaki soba or ramen

The olds are arriving for a visit in April. They’ll probably be around my area for about eight days. The following week is Golden Week – named not for any special celebration but simply because there are four public holidays within two weeks. So I’m looking at going to China again during that time. I don’t have any desire to go to Korea, have just been to South East Asia, and definitely don’t wanna go to Malaysia or Indonesia. Plus there is so much of China I haven’t seen, and the food is incredible. This time I wanna go further south (but avoid Shanghai). 

My mate and I are campaiging to take over the local JET newsletter for the upcoming year. I would be lying if I said it had nothing to do with my brain going stale. Any opportunity to be able to express things in my native language is welcome, as far as I’m concerned. We want to make it entertaining and pleasant to look at. There is no reason why it needs to be bland and utilitarian. We’re living in Japan, for God’s sake (神の酒?), there should be no lack of inspiration. A well-written and entertaining publication is as important as an informative one, and if we can lure in a solid readership I think it will only become more and more popular and attract more and more contributors. If you are reading this, you are probably already familiar with our campaign or you are in a position where to actually care about my editorial aspirations would be an enormous waste of your time. It’s just something I’m looking forwards to doing.

There’s only so much Japanese study I can take in. I recently bought a textbook with an accompanying workbook and CD. It’s so intimidating that I don’t wanna start it yet. I think I know enough by now that I could comfortably skip the first half a dozen lessons, but then who knows what nuggets of wisdom I might be missing out on? It’s a daunting prospect, taking on an entire language textbook without any guidance or prior experience, but I guess by moving to a foreign country with very limited English I haven’t left myself with much choice. My conversational Japanese is still clearly my worst point, which is a shame but I guess it’s understandable. A month or so ago I threatened to take on the 3-kyu JLPT in December but, considering I have  taken in very little new material since then, it’s looking unlikely.

This thing is losing steam. Peace y’all.


One Response to “cleaver me”

  1. ez said

    another trip to china?!

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