Wednesday, April 25, 2007

meant to write about this a while ago. but what with the old laptop/new laptop transition and believe it or not, being very busy at school, only just sat down to write it.
what i wanted to mention was a curious thing that happened a few times while my mom was here and that was confirmed somewhat during the first monday morning teacher meeting a couple of weeks ago.
having mom here made me look at my life through an outsider's perspective. but not just where i live and the customs and culture i'm surrounded by, but my own actions and perceptions and how they've been modified by living here. mom thought it was odd that i would cover my mouth sometimes when chewing and attempting to talk, but even though i'm conscious of when it happens i can't always help bringing my hand to my mouth to cover it after putting something bigger than a niblet in my mouth. the women do it a lot and i guess i've picked it up. mom also noted that whenever i can, i hand things over to people with both hands.
she didn't mention it but i noticed how odd it was to have my mom extend her hand everytime she was introduced instead of bowing. something about her forwardness was uncomfortable for me, and it could only be because i've already been accultured to certain ways of interaction here that anything out of the ordinary really sticks out to me, even though it's a part of my primary culture.
Craig mentioned in a comment that i must be becoming Japanese if i'm starting to talk about appreciating simple and natural things. that's very possible. i guess after the period of culture shock comes the period of acculturation.
and here's a perfect example. during the spring break, the teachers' desks got shifted around, as they usually do during this time of transition from one staff to another, from old school year to new. so my desk got moved closer to the computer, but it's now also closer to the head teacher's desk and vice principal desk and farther from the office lady's desk where it was the last two arrangements.
at the monday morning meetings teachers sit in the spots that somewhat directly coordinate to their desk location. so i used to sit at the very end next to the office lady and the accountant. and it seemed like a reasonable position. i sit in that spot for lunch as well. my position in the school is very clearly defined. i think i've mentioned the hierarchy system that exists within the school and not just mine. so. at the very first meeting of the new school year i go to my usual spot and the office lady motions for me to go sit next to the head teacher, at the head of the table. it would certainly make sense according to the system of how everyone else is seated but i felt extremely out of place there. i was all of a sudden sitting across from one of the senior teachers, diagonally from the principal, next to the head teacher and the vice principal.
and i honestly thought that it had to be wrong, and i shouldn't be there. a part of me knows that thinking that way is a bit screwed up, but a part of me still believes i should be at the other end of the table. and there ya have it. i'm turning Japanese.

and it has been extremely busy at school for me. but a lot of fun as well. several changes to how we teach have been implemented since the start of the year and they're working out smoothly so far and i'm happy, but also busy. and the story contest practice started and the two students are putting in serious effort in already, which makes the job so much easier.

but Golden Week is coming up and we'll all be taking a bit of a break thanx to the great Japanese system of forced vacation through public holidays. this weekend will be a camping trip, and then work tuesday and wednesday, and then nothing planned for the other 4 day weekend.
looking forward to it.

oh. and the macbook rocks!
and i've just uploaded the photos to the April Fotki folder. they're from a trip to Iheya from a week and a half ago.


Friday, April 20, 2007

yeah! i've finally figured out a way to let the silly computer at school let me into blogger again. the whole logging in automatically with my google ID is making this comp too edgy and tired.

but i won't post much right now, as i have a couple of things to take care of at school before i hop off to pay bills (it's pay day, yipee) and then play with my new Mac notebook at home. that's right! i ordered a mac laptop upon several recommendations and my own research and have just received it yesterday, two days after making a call to a nice young man in Tokyo who spoke nearly flawless english and seemed to have developed a crush on me, 'cause he asked me to call him "anytime" and then called me himself a couple of times to double check some things. very cute.
the fun part will be setting up the internet connection on it as it's been more than a year since i did it on my previous laptop and even then i had the help of the vice principal. will attempt on my own and then will call in the cavalry when i fail.

so if all goes well, i'll post a fresh blog this weekend on my verynew, white, and slick notebook from my apartment.

fingers crossed.

while you're here, though, click on the link for Doc's blog. He's got a curious map posted from Google and also a couple of worthwhile articles to read.


Friday, April 13, 2007

there are so many things to discuss.
the new 1st graders that rushed into the school on monday, scared and eager and bewildered. the new teachers that came in two weeks ago but whom i haven't had a chance to really meet because i've been busy with mom's visit. they seem like wonderful people: serious, diligent, ready to take charge of this mass of bumbling youth that is Ogimi JHS. there's the total shut down of my laptop that could be mentioned: it was its time to be sure, but it's sad nonetheless that i didn't properly get to say goodbye and take away all that i really wanted from it. nearly 7 years is a long time for a laptop. it did its job.
there's also the fact that i will get to teach my own english elective class this year, once a week for two periods on thursdays. 12 students signed up, 6 boys and 6 girls, and the first class is next week and i'm already quite nervous about it because now that it's a regular class (though it was advertised as a replacement of the after school english club i had last school year) i now feel i need to map out a strategy, a curriculum to improve these kids' knowledge of English. but first, i suppose i should meet them and see what they want to do. A couple of the students who signed up were a surprise; they are lower lever and i only expected students with English skills to join, but i guess they were enticed by the mention of movie watching and manga reading and perhaps their friends suckered them into it. fools! ha ha. they'll be learning and they don't even know it!

all the above things are good to talk about. and i've had lots of thoughts about all of them the last week when i was attempting to sit down at the comp at school and start a blog. i kept being rejected--the blogger page wouldn't load at school and then my comp. crashed and so i had to wait until today to sit down and write. took a day off today and am now on Schwab (that's a base) at the library. i didn't actually took a day off to write a blog. that would be rather excessive. nope. took a day off to lick my wound about not seeing my favorite band play tonight and monday on mainland Japan. after two months of internal dancing to the future possibility of Gogol Bordello live on stage in front of me, i was neatly brought down by a short e-mail from the band announcing their canceled dates for Australia and Japan. the crash inside me might be likened to a vacuum. oh no, i am so lacking for words now that i can't even describe a complete lack of space and depth as a feeling. regardless. i had to return my air tickets but decided to keep one of the three days of vacation i was going to take for the trip. so today i woke up around 11am thinking that in another reality i'd be in my car right now, on the way to a friend's place to park it, going to the airport and tonight i'd be in a blissful state of dance to the best live band ever. i hope me, in the other reality, appreciates it.

speaking of appreciation. that's what i actually really want to talk about. appreciation of insignificant things. of things that are primarily on the periphery of our daily vision as we move through busy lives filled with concerns over medical insurance, job pay, vacation days, new wardrobes.. always moving, always rushing, always on the lookout for the better, the bigger, the more stable, the more complete, the more acceptable.
i haven't been doing that for a little over a year now and i would highly recommend it. and i don't want to speak of it as if i'm better and i've decided on something profound while the masses out there are in an unenlightened world that needs to be shattered for them in order for them to see the truth that i have found. far from it. i know nothing of truth. i just now what touches me, and i have known for a while, but it's harder to focus in america. it's harder to slow down and pay attention to yourself there. i guess i had to come here.
this is all very personal and so i'm putting up a disclaimer....this is not about you. this about me.

Igor just posted an article that i took to heart. it's an article about a musician who is considered to be the best in the world, who plays one of the finest if not the finest violin in the world and who have some dubbed genius though he would quickly defend himself from that title. it's an article about Joshua Bell playing at one of the busiest metro station in Washington DC, performing some of the most brilliant and divinely inspired pieces of music and out of over a thousand people only a handful taking note.
it made me think of my friends and my sisters who are attempting to create things in this life that are to them beautiful, that might be considered inspirational and unique and people in their lives nagging at them for not following the "right path" in life. what is that path that they or i must chose? what is the path that is acceptable, that is productive, that is promising of fulfillment? why must it be determined by the external forces and not the internal needs? why do we have to conform and resign ourselves? because the money isn't right? is that it?

i'm a bit angry and sad and i hope it comes through, because i never am on this podium i've chosen to be mine. i have never considered this blog space to be an opening into me, only into my life. but that's me, isn't it? my life that i live here. the fact that the clouds in this place make me inexplicably happy. the fact that the positioning of shisas on the rooftops is a good thing to chat about on a sunny day. the fact that i can expect every weekend to be thought provoking and new even if i spend it alone.

it's going to be hard to leave this place. this place where i'm finding peace. there are things i struggle with daily: my laziness about Japanese, my weight, my occasional insistence on seclusion..but those are the things that are helping me grow here as well. i have less than a year and a half. i'm in the 2nd half of this Okinawa experience. i'll try to be more appreciative of the life people lead here, of their culture, of their stories, and of mine as well.

also, and this should have been first and foremost, i just learned about the death of Kurt's been an emotional afternoon.

here are the links to the article from Washington Post about Joshua Bell and Kurt Vonnegut's obituary.
Pearls Before Breakfast
Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 84; Keen Observer of Humankind

hope you take the time.