Tuesday, October 9, 2007

rents gone and good snoeshoes news

Randomata: Public consumption of alcohol is not an offense: feel free to pop the can, cap, or cork right outside the conbini where you bought the beer, liquor, or wine; feel free to walk down the street with beer in hand, with no fear of reprimand. However, think twice before you walk and EAT. Eating while walking around in public is considered quite rude, no matter how politely you scarf down your onigiri (tightly packed rice, often wrapped in seaweed, makes a great snack). You can sit down at a bench, or perhaps find a discrete corner at which to stand and eat, but don't eat and run, or walk, in public!

What has happened in the days since last I wrote?

I took a bath in hell and I'm going to Thailand. For an explanation of the former, please read "Noboribetsu, Otaru, Jozankei". For an elaboration on the latter, please read as much of this post as you can stomach.

Sunday saw my dear parents depart for Vancouver, capping off our tweek visit. They were great to have around, as I've said, because they made me get out and play tourist a little more myself. I think they had a great time taking trains hither and thither to Hokkaido's other towns and cities. Living with them over those two weeks (as I did for 21 years up till August) was... qualitatively different than sharing my home space with no one. It was hard to reconcile the 'new' live-alone me with hints of my previous 21 years of reality. Yet, I was happy to have them. And then, it was hard to see them go and I had to readjust to the realisation that I really am living, on my own, in Japan.

At work, I've felt more productive than I think I previously indicated: I had more classes, talked a bit more with teachers, chatted more extensively with students, found specific difficulties to help the kids with, helped with the English club - they even recorded my telling of two children's tales to help with their practice! Though I'm scheduled to be off at 4:15, somehow I managed to stay until at least 6pm every day last week. After seeing my parents off on Sunday I went in to catch some of the Band concert. (Those kids are incredible!!!! I was bored by the all-star guest performer!) Today after school, I stayed around a couple hours to play in a cross-school teachers' volleyball game.

None of this is to say I everything is perfect, or that I am even contributing all that much to the school as a whole. I still have a lot of dead time, and I still haven't connected with most of the teachers, and I still feel like neither they nor I know what I'm really supposed to be doing here.

And, clearly not all of the students are comfortable with me. One girl walked into a classroom to find me sitting down at a grandpiano therein (just admiring its magnificence). She was stunned into silence. I tried to tell her that anybody was welcome in the classroom, and she could just go about doing whatever it was she came in to do. She said nothing. For five minutes, I tried everything I could to assure her that I didn't mind whether she spoke or not, whether she stayed or not, or really care about anything she did whatsoever! But a long, long five minutes later she was still frozen on the spot, terrified. Yes, I could have simply walked out myself, but I am stubborn.

Over the last week or 10 days I've also been getting over what has been, for me, a terrible cough. My mucous-clearing hacks have reverberated throughout the halls of my school; I sounded like one of the monsters from the children's stories we recorded. It hasn't got me down too much, though, and I only lost sleep because of it for one or four nights. Now I'm just pounding my lungs to clear away the last of the tenacious phlegm. Apparently it is extremely difficult to stay healthy here, what with the cold weakening your general immune system and the hundreds of little junior high hellians swapping microscopic sick all over the place. So, that's something to look forward to!

Following the lead of a fellow ALT and shopper, I bought some snowshoes from a used store. I've never had snowshoes before, and I don't really know what to do with them. I am simply trying to commit myself: I WILL do fun and exciting and adventurous outdoor things this winter. I WON'T just stay couped up in my apartment and in the city, itching to get out and enjoy the hills and trees and wonderful nature. All I've done since I got here is itch!!

As for other exciting commitments this winter, a charming and rambuctious friend convinced me in about 5 minutes to buy a ticket to Thailand. We're going after christmas, over new years. That purchase was one of the most spontaneous things I've ever done, at least in terms of suddenly spending a fair amount of money. I don't know where we're going, or what we will do there, but my friend assures me we will know by the time it happens.

Hmm. My rambling thoughts are not exhausted, but I fear a rambling tongue outlasts the ear's patience. So, till next time.

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