Wednesday, August 1, 2007

clack clack clack

similar to the last time i came to japan, the first few days are spent in awe of actually being here, meeting the people, experiencing the culture, blah de blah de blah. after that the anxiety sets in. no, i am not having any trouble with the food, people, or language. its the constant encroachment of concrete, electric lines, and consumerism into my life. although there are many open spaces in japan, this in only because they are too mountainous to cultivate or develop, otherwise the entire country would be subject to urban planning. i start to tremble every once in a while, getting those nasty dt's from a lack of access to open green areas, swimmable water, and the feeling of something under my feet other than the clack clack of heels as i walk to work. but all is not lost. again, much like last time, an appreciation for the unexpected beauty of the concrete jungle can be seen in home gardens, outlying agricultural areas, and those seductive distant mountains. i went on a bike ride to the next town over, and it was really lovely. the waving townsfolk deep in their waving rice fields made a planned 20 minute ride turn into a spontaneous 4 hour one instead. this island of kyushu has a lot to offer, i only hope i am not too blind to see it. although the acquisition of a motorcycle before my three day weekend later this month will surely help!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

my kingdom for a drink

as most of you well know i have not imbibed any liquids of the alcoholic variety since i was about 16. there have been many times when i frequented bars i would wonder if the social losses were worth my self-imposed deprivation, and the answer was always a resounding yes. i may have questioned it at times, but never have i actually wanted a drink, i just kinda wondered if i would fit in better if i did. all that changed last night. yesterday was my first day of training in preparation for my new career as an english instructor with nova. my god i have never wanted for the mind numbing apathy that only alcohol can give until 8 hours of being trained to school eager and hopeful new english speakers in improper grammar and poor enunciation (i was actually told to explain to them that saying have to is not correct, but hafta, or gotta for got to and the like.) holy crap, my grandfather would have slapped me upside the head (quite literally) if he heard me speaking in such a manner.

but those were not the only trying moments of the day. the students themselves are fantastic; bright, charming, and a bit shy. i am such a cradle robber, i was totally attracted to one of my students until i found out he was in high school! ick! anyway, trainer himself was a bit of a tool, kinda patronizing to both me and the students. but i guess this should have been expected, i am working for the mcdonalds of english instruction. by the time i made it home my back was aching as never before, and i couldn't be bothered go shopping, so the roasted peas and soybeans from the 100yen store had to suffice as sustenance for the entire day.

one eureka moment that came from the day did make it worth it, at least as an insight into the links of work and drinking. i have always avoided being a corporate tool to the best of my ability, and have never had trouble staying away from the alcohol. i did not realize until now that there two factors are inextricably linked. working in a suit requiring, buttoned down, no individuality, ass kissing job necessitates the drowning of our collective sorrows in a pint of beer or a bowl of sake, depending on where you might be. for now, i'll stick to my cup of tea. but i have only been through day one. with two more days of training on the horizon, i just may end up the drinking buddy my dad was always hoping for...

Thursday, June 28, 2007


there is no doubt in my mind, i am home. i have felt neither the anxiety nor visceral reaction (pre-game poo) that i had anticipated. the other nova kids are intelligent, nice, and by god actually attractive. of course there are a few of the awkward ones that dont really fit in to society in the u.s., and can come here and feel comfortable because they have a pretty good excuse for not fitting in. i feel so very blessed, having left some fantastic, beautiful, witty, kind people to hopefully meet more of the same. there are so many people in this world that i care about, and know that no matter the time, distance, or change, i can always go back to them. my goal is to remember to express to them how grateful i am to have them in my life, and try to be a bit more humble and a less preoccupied with my own sensitivities and more aware of theirs. oh, and maybe there was a little pre-game poo (but just a little).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

what have i gotten myself into?

so i just received the notice that the nova group in its infinite wisdom has placed me in nakatsu japan, on the northern part of the island of kyushu, near neither a major metropolitan city nor close access to surfing or snowboarding. hmmm, it seems that my edge of my excitement to leave the humdrum of central california may be somewhat dulled by the fact that this city could very well be a similar situation, with the bonus of not being able to understand anyone or eat a significant portion of the local delicacies such as fugu (blowfish) or horse meat sashimi. although i suppose i was left out of most of the local tasties here as well, considering the name of the town in which i am currently residing is spanish for lard. but there are some positives; the city of fukuoka is not too far away, with decent nightlife, great surfing, and a couple of promising tattoo parlours. and there are some fantastic onsen nearby (which will only prove useful if my current tattoos are overlooked), as well as some great hiking on some smaller islands easily accessed by ferry. it may very well turn out to be fantastic, however a little more work may be required to discover just how to make it fantastic, but when it comes to frivolous activities i have no trouble putting in a bit of effort. the actual work that i am supposed to be doing (the whole teaching english nonsense) may have to suffer a bit, but hey, gotta make sacrifices. (i hope my new bosses don't google for teachers blogs!)
but i have given myself two years, so i will appreciate a different experience of japan than the one i was expecting, and maybe move on in a year. the thing that will really make or break it will be my roommate and other nova teachers. if i meet some cool kids that are down to make the most of it, i'm sure to have some unforgettable experiences. if not, well, i will get a lot more writing done, and by the end have a book to show for it!