Daily Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder (ALT) in the JET Programme living  and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. More information on the JET Programme here and here.

Sunday, Feb 1st, 2004

Started off the month on a productive note. I put together a complete little book for Fukushima to sell at the Tokyo Orientation this year. It's a nice little booklet that has several lists of things, like English adjectives, and Japanese translations, and differences in American and British English, and other things. It's compact and we can probably sell it for about 500 yen.

Today I worked on more things in the other book, and then watched that video of the Hong Kong airport again. It never gets old for some reason. Then I went to the station to look at these cheap floor chairs (oxymoron) that lean back a little. They are really just back rests for the floor, but they are about $20 each and that will let me and another person sit on the floor and study at the little table I have.

Other than that I didn't do a whole lot. I have to renew my contract this week sometime so I can be a Fukushima JET for another year. That's enough for now, over and out.

Monday February 2nd

I actually missed a class today. I forgot about it and just typed on the computer right through it. Usually I go with the teacher, but this time he wanted me to come in about 10 minutes late so it slipped my mind. I bet I'll get even less classes now. My supervisor asked me about renewing and I told her I would think about it and we can talk about it Wednesday. I am going to set forth the following demands:

A) More classes. At least three per day on days that there are classes.
B) For weeks that there are no classes, such as the summer, a bit of leniency about coming in late and leaving early.
C) A bulletin board in the hallway for me to have something to do when I have to just sit there.
D) Maybe 5 more vacation days. I want to travel more this year since I should have extra money.

I think that is more than fair really. I have a pounding headache for some reason. Most likely because I have been going on an eating binge. I go out and buy breakfast food for a few days and then end up eating it all as a snack. Being addicted to food really sucks sometimes. As I eat I am thinking, STOP, I am not hungry, why am I eating. Then I keep eating. Now I am hungry.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

WOW.

Major turn of events possibly.

I sat down with my supervisor and laid out my situation. I had charts and graphs and clapping monkeys and a list of my demands. First I pointed out, on the chart, how I have been used only %20 of the time since April and I just sit here and do nothing all the time. I had each month broken out and showed how many classes I should have and how many I actually had and how many I had just sat there doing nothing. So I went through the spiel and she was impressed, or depressed rather, and frequently said things like "is this correct? 4 months with no classes?". I said yes and explained it was not counting ceremonies or holidays or anything else like that.

So then, out of the blue, she said "Higashi focuses more on preparing for college entrance exam. We don't really use an ALT like we should. I think Adachi could use you more, maybe we could have it changed so they were your base school.".

A-booooooooooooo.

Wow. I never thought of that seriously, but it would be great. Adachi uses me at least 3 or 4 classes a day. If I could at least go there another day of the week it would be ideal, but making them my base school would rock. There are more teachers there that I get along with and the students are more into fun English games than studying for entrance tests. My favorite class was there this year, but they are all gone since 3rd years don't go to class anymore. It would be even better if I could live in Nihonmatsu (knee hone mahts) which is a smaller town, but has a more family feel to it. Interesting. I don't know if I would move, but that could be cool. It's nice living right on the Shink line, but a change would be nice and Adachi would be more than welcoming.

They have a cool English club too, last year we had a lot of fun doing crazy games and such. I actually wanted to go to their graduation this year instead of mine. Actually I might try to do that since I bonded with more students there than here. Hmmm, I wonder if Higashi would be mad. I'll bounce the idea off someone and see. The Adachi girls would flip if they saw me there, in a suit no less.

Other than that I did nothing all day. I had a half-class 2nd period where I went in and read for a bit and then left. A half class is better than no class. My supervisor also told me the teachers here are afraid of "boring" me in class and worry I don't like going. I told her I'd rather go than sit here. Man, maybe things will start to change soon.

[later]

I've been either speaking like a Judge, from watching The Practice, or speaking like Yoda.  For the Judge I quote legal terminology like "I'll allow this" or " counselors, please approach". Instead of saying no, I say "motion denied". Yoda is more fun, it's almost like Japanese in English, you just reverse the grammar. What to do now, I am not knowing.

Yesterday I went to Adachi and had fun as usual. In one class some girls were being loud and the teacher kept saying be quiet, but they wouldn't. So one time they were really loud and the whole class started looking at them. The teacher said it again, and they were just chatting and ignoring everyone. So I said, in perfect Japanese apparently, "they are ignoring us". The rest of the class laughed, but the girls didn't hear me. So everyone was looking at me and I walked right in front of them and said, again in perfect Japanese apparently "I am a donkey". The rest of the class laughed for a minute, and finally the teacher stopped laughing and got the girls attention. I like making the kids laugh. It's fun. Especially in Japanese. Alright, it's bed time. Over and out.

Thursday, Feb 5th

I got a lot of stuff done today and it was a busy day, although I had no classes. I left around 3 and left my supervisor a note saying I was going a few school related places such as an art exhibit for the students. I did go there, like last year, and it was about the same level of semi-interesting as it was last year. There were about 40 works and only about 5 stood out as impressive. Most were what you would expect from an art assignment. One was about 6 paintings that were spread out on a wall. I noticed an eye, a nose, and a mouth all sewn closed in the painting. Then my eye caught a "woman's body part" and a "man's body part" also either sewn shut or sewn around. It was interesting that someone would paint that and more so that they would allow it. I'm all against censorship, so I shouldn't complain.

Before that I ate lunch at McDonald's. There were these 3 kids in there with their mother. The kids were talking full volume all the time. Then when the mother left to get the food, I thought since the kids are sitting one foot away from each other they would talk softer. Nope, still full volume. Then when they had something to say to her they would scream it. Everyone was turning around and looking except the mother. I want to have kids in Japan so bad so I can show Japanese parents this new word call Discipline. Geez lady, tell your kids to shut up just once and maybe they would. I almost looked over and put my finger across my lips, but no doubt they would have told their mother what the freaky foreigner did in the corner.

So after the art gallery I came back to the apartment and worked on the computer a bit and then BJ called and asked if I wanted to go to the gym, which I did. So he came over and we walked, a long long way, to the gym. Like 5K I'd say, maybe more. On the way there it was cold, but decent weather. We worked out, him more so than me. I was just telling my body a workout plan was coming. He already had a routine since he has been going for a while. Then I finished and watched some people playing ping pong.

I really don't see the fun in professional level ping pong. They would hit it full strength back and forth about 3 times and then the ball would fall and they'd stop. There was no momentum. It was just a rigid ritual they would do. So then I went back and watched BJ run on the treadmill which was humorous. He started out strong, then I could see him panting, then he would moonwalk back a little. A few times he got really close to the edge. Then he would speed up and then slow down. I need to run more, but my legs always itch really bad when I do. I think I have bad circulation in them since my toes are always on the verge of frostbite. My toes actually hurt in the warm shower when the water gets on them.

After working out we start walking back and find that there is a full blown blizzard going on. There is already about a half inch of snow on the ground and I had no umbrella. Snow was flying in from everywhere and coming down hard. We walked all the way to the station, but I really wanted to catch a bus. I will next time. Then we had sushi. We ate at the nice place, but they were having a weekly special where one fish is only 100 yen and it was Salmon. I had about 7, man it was good too. Then I came back and just crashed.

Friday February 6th

Today I am just chilling waiting on my Amazon.co.jp packages to be delivered. We can still get things COD here and that's great. I guess people in Japan don't try to screw over the system as much as the US. COD was great until so many people did it and then wouldn't pay. Plus if I order over $15 I get free shipping which I did. I have things to do, but I am waiting for this guy. He came Wednesday and I called the number and they said it wouldn't be until Thursday, but I knew I would be out all day Thursday so I had better say Friday. Which I did, but to be nice I said from 8am to 3pm, which means I can't really leave until it gets here. Argh.

In a few minutes I'll start printing labels for this guy in Osaka as part of my AJET duties. It's no fun really, but it's part of the job. That should take up a good few hours, then I'll go eat and go to the night school and then eat Gyoza. This time tomorrow I'll be in Sapporo at the Ice Festival. When I return I will have tons of pictures since there are always so many ice and snow sculptures.

Monday February 9th

Returned from Sapporo today. Update will come soon. My friend Maki told me there was no link to the February journal. Oops. So I fixed it. Thanks Maki-chan.

Tuesday February 10th, 2004

I saw the most glorious thing on the way back from Adachi today. I was walking back and nearing the station. There was a traffic light about 50 yards in front of me. There were about 5 cars waiting for it to turn green (or blue as they say here [it's green]). From behind me I heard a loud motorcycle approaching. It sped up and I could tell it was going too fast to stop at the light. He sped up and passed the cars. When I say passed I mean rode on the center line narrowly in between the cars on the two lane road. Then about 100 yards ahead of me I hear a quick screech and see him flying in the air.

YEA !!! He was one of those loud punks that rev their engines as they fly through town. I took off running hoping to see him injured. It's sad I was hoping for that, but he was being a punk and putting other people in danger. As I get up there a grocery lady is yelling at him and I throw in "he's a fool" in Japanese. She agreed. He was just getting up and a street worker was walking over to help him pick up parts of his bike. He pushed the bike to the side of the road and tried to crank it but no luck. HA HA. People that worked around the area were in the street yelling at him, and I felt compelled to join in. Although I knew he wouldn't understand me I looked at him and said "You are a complete dumb ass". His bike wouldn't start and it was all tore up.

I felt so good after that. I get so frustrated partially at the punks for doing it, but more so at the cops who rarely patrol and never seem t do anything about it. In Fukushima the punks are always out around midnight near the station on Fridays and Saturdays. You think it would be smart to place a cop near there just once? That would require thinking out of the box.

[earlier]

This morning I get to the train for Adachi a tad late which worked out better since I didn't have to stand in the cold waiting on it to get there. As I walk up to get on a woman in front of me presses the door open button, gets on the train, and without looking around presses the door close button. I had time to stop, but that wouldn't have had the effect that I wanted. I walked into the doors and made sure to kick the door for added sound. Some kid by the button pressed it and the door opened. By this time people, including the lady, were looking at me. In Japanese I said "next time look around". Needless to say I got on a different car.

Alright, the Sapporo trip. It was a big success. I go so many goals knocked out at once and it went by without a hitch. I think everyone had a great time. It wasn't as cool as I had expected, but it was still really cool. Let me set up some pages with pictures about it now. Ok here are the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri pages I just set up. I also updated my page about Japan Capsule Hotels.

After all this we get to Sendai Station and then some of us go home, others, go to Starbucks and then Maruzen, the big book store with tons of English books. Finally we catch the bus back which is disproportionately cheap. The local train to Sendai is 1100 yen, the shink is 3200 yen and the bus is only 800 yen. It should be more like 1500-2000, but I am glad it's still cheap. I can afford to go to Sendai, but not really do anything there.

Friday February 13, 2004

Oh it's Friday the 13th, wow. So anyway, I forgot I took some Engrish photos in Sapporo. The most humorous ones were those of the Bidet at the hotel. Most toilets in Japan have bidets and I have grown quite fond of them.

This one had a diagram and explanation of how to use it. Most likely written in Japanese and translated by someone who somewhat spoke English, or more likely by several people using dictionaries. Here they are in order:

 

This button operates the bidet.

 

This button cleanses the posterior.

 

This button stops the bidet and
the cleansing of the posterior.

 

Not exactly sure what the difference in a bidet and something that cleanses the posterior is. I guess it just sprays water all over your general backside. I love the formal English "stops the cleansing of the posterior".

Today I stayed in bed a lot, yesterday I stayed home and stayed in bed a bit as well. I wasn't feeling great, but could have easily gone to school. It was the only day I was going to Higashi this week and I could use a break. Give them a week to think about actually using me instead of me sitting around doing nothing. Sadly, I am looking forward to having no classes during spring break. I have to work on this book for FuJET.

Tonight I go back to the night school. I think they have a break next week or at least I do. I'll check on that later. This weekend there is nothing much planned. Have you read my Sapporo Yuki Matsuri page? It's pretty cool with pictures and what not. I guess that's about it for now. Over and out.

Sunday February 15th, 2004

Man I am screwed. I had nothing to do all weekend since I had no money, literally no money. So I watched TV and goofed off on the computer, and slept as much as possible. Herein lies the problem. Today I did nothing so I did what I could and finally around 3 pm I went to McDonald's and bought 3 hamburgers with the last of my change. On the way home I figured I'd buy a CC Lemon to wash it down, but as always this week, I was 10 yen short. I had plenty of 5 yen coins, which the vending machines don't take, heck I could have bought a vending machine in 5 yen coins. But I was 10 yen short in 10 yen coins. That happened about 5 times this week. So I give up on the CC Lemon and eat the three hamburgers.

Then I watch a few of the things on the Bonus Material part of Lost in Translation. That movie is a perfect representation of life in Japan these days. Almost everything except the strange machine gun scene. Everything else was dead on. DEAD ON. I digress, I watch a few bonus tracks and then I'm just sitting there doing nothing so I lay down on the bed and get under the covers since it is a little cold and I just ate (so all the blood went to my stomach). Then I more or less force myself asleep. I feel myself partially wake up a few times and then roll back over. Then finally I feel myself wide awake.

There was just an air about the time, I knew it wasn't the morning. I knew I hadn't slept 12 hours. It was/is 9 pm. I slept about 4 hours. I was already not really tired from sleeping all weekend and doing nothing of physical exertion, but on top of that I now took a 4 hour nap. So back to my lead line, I am screwed because there is no way I am going back to sleep in the next few hours, possibly not even until well after midnight, and I have to get up early tomorrow for Higashi.

The good news is I am almost certain to have 3-4 classes at Higashi tomorrow since they had a meeting about me last week. I was partially sick and partially wanting to take a break from going since I had sat in the teacher's room so much. The other good news is the IRS finally figured out one tax form was blank and said "Tax Payer Abroad" the other one actually had something written on it and the latter was most likely the actual one. I called them and they said a check would be mailed within 2-4 weeks. He said the check was in "release" status and it's always two weeks after that, but to be safe maybe it would be 4 weeks total. I can wait 4 weeks I guess. If I do wait 4 weeks, then I am going to send every penny to bills since I am well beyond the point of needing the money. I will have paid back all the borrowed money by then and the IRS money will just be extra money. So straight to credit cards it will go.

I really can't imagine not being broke all the time since I have been broke for the past 5 years or so. I went from having money and spending it freely to being deeply in debt, and soon I will be at the "was in debt, not going to blow it again" stage. I saw the amount in someone's account over here by accident recently and it was over 2 paychecks. I have never had 1 yen more than one paycheck. I couldn't imagine having that much in the bank. Never having to worry about money. Don't get me wrong I totally deserve it, and I am sure it did me good. Maybe I'll get a high paying job in the future and will be able to save it all. I'd like to have $100,000 in available cash in the bank at some point in my life. Perhaps right before I retire to Fiji and open a bar on a beach.

I should learn to bartend before doing that so I could be the cool bartender / bar owner. Otherwise I would be the dorky bar owner sitting at my own bar reminding girls I owned the bar therefore they couldn't kick me out. I need to learn to bartend. Granted if I have that much money in the bank I can learn. I almost went to bartending school once and so many of my friends said you don't need it, all they do is make you memorize 100 drinks and teach you some basic things you can learn from reading a book. So I didn't do it. I still wish I did though.

If I can do one thing well, it's babble. I should babble my way into writing books. Actual books that sell, unlike this book. Don't get me wrong, it's selling ok, as I expected, but I should find something that flies off the shelves. But who doesn't want to do that.

I am really thinking about Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Nagoya for Golden Week. GW is a holiday period in May where we can use one 3 vacation days and take off about 11 days. Michelle and Dave might be going to Beijing which I really wanted to do, but the tour is $750 plus airfare and the cheapest I can find is $1200 round trip (not return which is only one way, Round Trip which means there and back). can't afford 2-grand at this juncture. Maybe next year after everything is paid off and I can actually save money.

I'm going to stop typing here since I am obviously in a typing mood and just babbling and divert that energy to outlining some books I have been debating writing. There are places that will print and sell your book online and in certain Barnes and Noble stores for a low fee. I used Trafford before and they are great, but there are others. I'm going now.

Monday February 16th

Michelle is trying to book a South Pacific cruise in May and she sent me the link. I read the itinerary and noticed an odd destination. It goes all around Tahiti and the French Polynesia and then it goes to... Well you look for yourself:

 

Overnight in Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia; Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia; Huahine, French Polynesia; Rarotonga, Cook Islands; Raiatea, French Polynesia; Raiatea, French Polynesia; Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Morehead City, North Carolina; Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia; Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia

Here is my estimated map of where it will go:

It goes all around the French Polynesia and then, for one day, goes to the wonderful Morehead City, North Carolina.

Here is the link if you think I am kidding:  http://leisure.travelocity.com/Vacations/Cruise/Itinerary/0,2415,TRAVELOCITY_2049_,00.html

But they might have changed it by now.

That would have to be 5 days out of the way. What a silly typo.

[later]

They emailed me and said it was a typo. Darn.

Wednesday, February 18th

Yadda yadda yadda, no classes goofed off all day, blah blah blah.

I saw the funniest thing yesterday. I was waiting for Liz after school and I was sitting on the steps at the station. The door into Lumine, which is the department store on top of the station, was closed. It was all in Japanese, but you can tell when something is closed. There were 4 signs with writing an two dates, one being yesterday and the other being a month away. Then there was a thing blocking the doors. I can't think of what it is called, but it usually forms lines at movie theaters. Like a felt rope thing.

OK, I looked at this, saw clearly that it was closed and sat on the steps waiting for Liz. No less than 12 Japanese people of varying ages came by, read the sign, then pulled on the door. Then when that door was locked for some strange reason, they pulled on the others. One guy did that, then read the sign then pulled again and knocked. He must be thinking "oops someone accidentally locked the doors and put these signs up that say we are closed for a month".

This all falls into my theory that Japanese people have difficulty thinking outside the box, making critical decisions alone, thinking of something new. The door is supposed to be open, they have no plan for it to be locked during business hours. It must be a mistake. The door should be open, let me try again and pull harder.

I've finished two books to sell at Tokyo Orientation. When I say books I don't mean like the one I have on Amazon.com. These are more like booklets of useful information specifically created for JETs. I've got a 3rd one I am working on, but I am really hoping that other people help me out since it will be a real bastard to do alone.

I had something else to write about and it has slipped the mind. Thanks to those readers who have commented on various things. I plan to take my camera out today and get some other Japanese shots as requested. I am already late for school, but I am so unbelieveably sick of being there from 8:30 to 4:15 with ZERO to do. I have already read a few books, copied the entire prefectural newsletter, and created umpteen crossword puzzles. I also know Japan is a non-confrontational society so they won't say anything if I am late. I don't want to be late, but I've been to school almost 130 days now since April with no classes. Just sitting there doing NOTHING.

Main Entry: 3nothing
Function: noun
1 a : something that does not exist b : the absence of all magnitude or quantity; also : ZERO 1a c : NOTHINGNESS 3b
2 : someone or something of no or slight value or size

Merriam Webster pretty much sums it up. Maybe I'll take my computer today or tomorrow and work on more translations or something. Oh I made some kanji flash cards yesterday and I can study those and then take a walk to York Benimart. I need to get to Kenchou at some point and ask them about printing things for me.

Thursday February 19th

Let me start by saying that I think this is one heck of a ripe tomato:

These girls from the local agriculture school come by every so often and sell things they grow and I always feel compelled to buy them. They are usually cheap since there is no labor expense. These tomatoes were 150 yen for two. Look how big red and round it is. It was huge and so ripe I didn't want to eat it. It was like the poster child for tomatoes.

I went to school late today, like 10am. I left at 2pm. I asked my supervisor if it was really necessary that I get there at 8:30 and leave at 4:15 when there are no classes and absolutely nothing for me to do. She said it was ok for me to come in late and leave early on days like that, so I am taking her up on her offer. I'll wait until they say something to me, which will most likely be never.

I went to the night school last night to give them an oral test. It was so simple, but I saw many students mark the wrong answers. I really feel bad when they try and can't get it right. Especially at the night school where some students have mental problems or troubled family lives. I really feel bad about kids with troubled families. I always had a safe place to go when I needed it. I was never beaten or molested. I almost had the quintessential textbook childhood. I couldn't imagine not feeling safe at your own home. It's actually making me a little sad thinking about that now.

Tomorrow I get paid and go back to the night school. I might make up some silly activity for the kids to play since they just had a big test and just want to relax. I would take a prize, but I give them too much. When this holiday in March rolls around I'll have to give all the girls chocolate. It's the inversion of Valentine's Day. Here on V-day the girls give boys chocolate and then on White Day, the boys give girls chocolate. I wasn't paying attention on Valentine's Day and I thought all these girls were just being randomly nice. Then I felt stupid when one said it was for V-day. By then I had not paid attention to who all gave me chocolate so I can't give them something special in return. The moral of this story is be more attentive.

I did get the confirmation that I can go to Adachi's graduation instead of Higashi. It will be a little sad since there are a few students who I would like to say goodbye to, but there are more at Adachi. Since the stupid ALT board changed my schools and moved me from Friday to Tuesday at Adachi, I couldn't go to my favorite class in the whole world anymore. So I want to see them and say goodbye to them at graduation. Maybe I will give them my email address again and tell them to send me an email. We had some fun times, but I didn't realize it until it was too late. Take advantage of now, because soon it will be gone.

Who am I to dispense all these morals and thoughts of wisdom? Well I'm 32 and I've wasted a lot of opportunities. I still do, but at least I am aware of it. I do stop and smell the roses occasionally. When  I am in class I occasionally remember I am teaching English in a Japanese High School and that's kinda cool. Before this I was hating my job and my life because I wasn't appreciated, but now, even though I am not always appreciated, I am enjoying life much more. Though at some point it will end and I'll have to move on, but at least I know there will be a few hundred, if not thousand Japanese students who will have a memory of some funny foreigner who came over and taught them English while acting like an idiot in class. Maybe in 30 years they will be sitting around with their children and happen to remember me. What was his name again? Lion? He was pretty cool. I'm glad I was in his class.

Sunday, February 22

Notice the date is mid February? Today the temperature was about 70 degrees. Honestly, it was so warm I wore a jacket and then had to take it off since I was sweating. I just walked to McDonald's at about 8pm and it was even warmer than it was before. It's insane.

Japanese people are not nearly as subtle as they might think. At McDonald's a few couples walked in separately and each time the girl of the couple would see me and whisper something to the guy and he would turn quickly and look at me. Sometimes it gets old being the alien in a closed community. Other times it's great so I guess it balances out.

Around noon I saw the movie Love Actually, and sadly it was great. I really didn't want to see a love story, but Liz and I were bored and that was the only decent thing playing that we hadn't seen. It was a love story about several people that seemed unrelated, but somehow were related. I actually got teary eyed during one seen where a guy learn Portuguese and tracked down some maid he had to tell her he loved her. Oh heck I bawled. It was quite a tear jerker. There were several love related things they did in the movie that were quite interesting. I'll file them in the "when I get a girlfriend I really like" category.

On the way to McDonald's there was a kid playing guitar at the station. There are always various kids playing around the station so nothing surprising. When I walked past him I heard him sing "ketsu no hantai" which, unless there is another meaning, means "opposite of the butt". I'll try to figure out what else "ketsu" means, other than buttocks.

Yesterday we had an interesting day. There is a ski resort in Fukushima prefecture that allows as many of us aliens to come and ski all day for 500 yen, which is like $5. It's a great deal. So FuJET organized it and took care of the details. There were about 93 people signed up to go. There were a few problems, mainly related to people saying they will go and then no showing up. When that happened FuJET had to pay for them anyway since they gave us the lift tickets in advance. That wasn't too bad since only about 10 people did that and luckily a few people took a risk and showed up so we were able to use the extras. FuJET also surprised its members by paying for their ticket. It was a pleasant surprise for about 20 people.

The real problem came afterwards. About 50 people were curious if there was party afterwards so we organized a all you can eat and drink party for 35 people. 7 showed up. It was a big problem and we almost had to pay $1400 which is what the whole bill would have been. People said they left the slopes early since the snow wasn't as powdery as they preferred and others said they were too tired to drink, others had to rush back to their individual lives in their respective towns. We ended up working out something at the restaurant and only lost $200 instead of $1400. The whole day taught us a valuable lesson.

It's so hard to plan things for people since, quite frankly, many people are immature and inconsiderate. Most of the people at the event had a great time and stayed all day. Some people got their really late, others bright an early. From now on we are going to have to be strict and say "be here between these two times to get your tickets, at exactly X O'clock the deal is over". Then have people pay in advance for the after party or don't plan it. I enjoy planning things but I really get unmotivated after I get burned so many times. Luckily nothing happened on the Sapporo trip and that keeps me going. For the most part yesterday went by smoothly, at least it did for people skiing, but for us we got screwed just a little. We'll know better next time.

I hope we can plan many more events and if we get more money in the bank we should be able to. I've got a plan for us to get some money that doesn't involve sex, drugs, or rock and roll, sadly. But it does involve creating and selling a few helpful books at our major JET conferences. Details later. For now I am going to work on getting some rest.

Monday February 23rd

As mentioned earlier, Sunday was quite warm. The actual temperature was 63 degrees F. It was a strangely beautiful day for mid February. I actually left my patio door open while I watched a video and dozed off with it still open. Yet today, it is the exact opposite. It's super windy, I mean like Typhoon windy, and freezing cold. For a while it was snowing.

Liz and I were walking to the bus from our Japanese lesson, which went great as usual, and at one point she stopped and leaned forward and the wind was pushing her back upright. We could hear the house move a bit during the lesson. It was  a little disturbing.

Our lessons have been so good recently since we decided to go for being conversational rather than pass the level 2 test. We learn about what kanji means on advertisements for restaurants or hotels or how to ride and reserve the ferry. There are only so many kanji that are always used and she translated them very nicely. I really feel so good after our lessons, but I'd feel better if I could actually study what I learned. I don't know why I resist studying, I want to be fluent. I need to give up on the Japanese Fairy waving her wand while I sleep.

Tuesday February 24th

It's about 7:15 am and I am waiting a few minutes before I walk to the station. I went to sleep late and had to get up around 6:45 so I have my headphones on and I am trying to wake up and get with it. I am about to head out to Adachi, which is my favorite school even though it is a lower commercial school. I am going to their graduation a week from yesterday rather than my base school. There will be a few students at Higashi that I will miss, but far more at Adachi. Alrighty, I'm going to loiter in the kitchen and then head out soon.

[later]

That worked perfectly this morning. I got to the station in time to see some overnight train pulling through and it looked really nice, I want to ride one now. Then a few minutes later my train came and I jumped on. Adachi was fun as usual. I had three classes and teachers asked me things about English and I really felt like I was important. It makes up for feeling useless at Higashi, although I think that will change soon. They had a meeting and hopefully I will get more classes. She already gave me the go ahead on the bulletin board, now I just need to do something with it.

I gave a little cat figurine that I got in Thailand to a teacher I always flirt with at Adachi. She lived in Tennessee for almost a year and has great English. She's also really laid back so I always thought she was drunk when she talked. You know how drunk people are a little slow and wander a bit? She's the same way. But she lives far away with her parents, even though she is 28 or so. That's common for Japanese people and I'm sure it saves money, but there is no way I could live with my parents for any extended period of time. For one I feel like I am 12 again, and apart from that we are just really different. Generation gap I think it's called.

I won't go into any more detail because I hear about it whenever I tell something that is considered private, though I consider very little private. How much money I owe is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe I can stop someone else from getting in debt like I did. I didn't even buy anything worthwhile, I just always liked spending money. I am changing though, I have been broken. When I get my tax return back I thought about buying a new digital camera and an Apple iPod, but then my smarts kicked in and reminded me I should be smart for once and use the money to pay down my debts.

Oh, on the way back from Adachi I ran into some 10 year olds who spoke great English. I think I mentioned them before and it might have been the same girls. I said hello since they were gawking at me and they said hello back. Then they start interrogating me in Japanese, luckily they were 10 and I could follow it. But occasionally they would repeat my answer in English and use a complete sentence, like something longer than my high school students could say. They asked how old I was and I said "sanjuu sai" which is "32 age", or how you say your age in Japanese. One girl said "you are thirty two years old". Wow, where did that come from? Then they asked how heavy I was, and squealed when I told them and how tall I was. It was impressive. They were cute, but noisy.

Wednesday February 25th

I feel like a royal boob. A real idiot.

I bought a electronic kanji dictionary in 1998. That 6 years ago. I managed not to throw it away since then even though it's all in Japanese and I can really figure out how to use it. It was in my closet here, I don't even remember bringing it, and I started playing with it. I pressed the wrong button and it changed so I couldn't enter Japanese words anymore, which really negates the purpose. Then I got mad and started pressing all sorts of other buttons to try to get it back to how I had it originally. Then I come to some menu called Message and I press that button. It says change message Japanese or English. So I pick English and what do you know, all the menus are in English now.

What a wanker. I've had it for 6 years and never fiddled with it, and now that I am just tinkering with it I figure it all out. So much wasted time. Argh.

Other than that I got a lot done at school today. Went in late and left early as usual. Though tomorrow I will get there on time since there are supposed to be classes, but I doubt I will actually have any. I will take my computer and work on something I can't remember what right now, but I know I have something to work on. I've been really productive recently and I actually get annoyed when teachers talk to me since I have given myself so much to do.

The geography teacher asked me to come to his classes and talk about American Geography which is A-OK with me, better than sitting around doing nothing. But I am actually making great use of my time at school. Especially now that I can go in a little late and leave early. I have already started writing my memoirs about my time here. So far I wrote about 10 pages but it all came out so easily, I expect I can work on it for a few months and have something quite interesting. It's completely different from my journal. I don't babble as much or talk about off topic things, I do go on tangents, but they are somewhat relative, though I think that is an oxymoron. A relative tangent.

Friday February 27th, 2004

It's funny how it won't snow for a week or two and then the night before I have to fly somewhere it snows. It was bad for Sapporo, but last night not as bad. Still it snowed a good 3 cm the night before my flight. I don't leave til 3 pm so I'm sure it will be fine. I am going to Kyushuu which is the bottom island of Japan and hopefully much warmer. We have an AJET meeting about something. Should be fun, so no journal updates until late Sunday evening.