Tuesday, October 28, 2008
5:00am – My keitai (cell phone) begins the day with its annoying alarm. This barrage of electronic noise continues for two hours.
7:00am – Physically out of bed, I crawl to my computer to see if the Bills defeated the Dolphins, which they did not. So much for BILLieving. I skip to the refrigerator to grab my prepared snacks for the noontime feast. I also assemble my workout gear in a separate bag.
7:15am – While staring at myself I cut fragments of hair off of my face. I am later voluntarily attacked by soap and water.
7:35am – I hurry to cover my frigid skin with gray slacks, a purple dress shirt, and matching gray tie and socks. After I plop some temporary glue on top of my head; I’m ready to roll. I throw a jacket on to keep the chilly 50° F air at bay. It’s going to take awhile before I transition from sunny Florida to seasonally ice cold Aomori.
7:40am – While Aomori Koko (High School) is literally less than 100 feet away, I walk over to my storage shed to retrieve my jitensha (bicycle) for a fun commute. I park it under the protective roof and strut into the “adults only” entrance.
7:45am – Strategically I remove my outdoor shoes on the lower level while only stepping with my socks on the above ‘indoor’ floor. I exchange the outdoor for the indoor shoes in my very own shoe locker, then I walk over to a Periodic Table looking contraption and flip my name from white to red signaling that my a$$ be in the building.
7:48am – Walking up to the third floor, I utter an incoherent round of “Ohayo gozaimasu” (Good morning) to students and colleagues. My contracted time is from 7:55am to 3:40pm. Typically though, I like to be at my desk by 7:45am and try to stick around on campus in some shape or form until at least 5pm.
7:50am – Arriving at the office, I perform my daily start-up tasks. I turn on the desktop computer, place my edibles in the office refrigerator, make some semi-disgusting tea, and write today’s to-do list.
10/26 To Do List:
o Katakana / Hiragana Online Quiz
o Katakana / Hiragana Writing Handout
o Study Japanese
o Grade Class #1-4 “Who I Want to Marry” homework
o Request nenku (vacation days) for winter break trip to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore
o Publish 1 blog
o Mail Call (having my supervisor translate my mail)
7:57am – I see the English department head by the coffee machine. This is seriously the best place to find someone! I confront him on how I think it’s a good idea to skip today’s lesson since his class would end up being two weeks ahead of the others. He agrees! I’m now off for the entire day. I literally have ZERO assigned tasks.
8:00am - Staff meeting. We all march professionally into the special meeting room. There all assigned seats, and a strict order to follow. I work on my katakana / hiragana writing sheet while everyone makes announcements in Japanese. Occasionally I glance up and smile.
8:15am - I grade my katakana / hiragana writing practice sheet…I did not do such a hot job today. I continue on to my daily dose of an online quiz where you must match the katakana or hiragana characters to their appropriate English syllables. Once again, no records were set today. I begin my breakfast consisting of water, tea, Ritz crackers, and an apple.
8:45am – I thank a teacher for the little pastry omiyage from Miyagi prefecture. She went there over the weekend for a school related business trip. I also begin my daily obsessive periodic checks of hotmail, facebook, blogger, and myspace. I continue to surf the net. My supervisor and I also confirm my nenku (vacation days) for winter break, and we do a little “mail call,” where my he translates my mail for me.
9:51am – I grade all 36 Class #1-4 “Who I Want to Marry” worksheets. I then type up the best excerpts to publish for a blog.
11:00am - The MacBook Pro makes its debut and the headphones find themselves on my ears. I repeatedly listen to a favorite track from the Hancock Score. Then I shuffle a play list of ‘emotionally moving’ tracks that include: Paloalto’s ‘Breath In’; Radiohead’s ‘Fake Plastic Trees’; Pete Yorn’s ‘All at Once’, Rachael Yamagata’s ‘Worn Me Down’, and South’s ‘Paint the Silence.’ Looking at unfinished blogs, I decide to post four pictures for the Around the Town blog entry.
11:30am – I research voter trends, statistics and quotes for an upcoming blog entry about voting.
12:00am – I spend more time piecing together this very entry.
12:30pm – I decide to take a break. I packed a lunch for poverty and it’s time to enjoy it. There is no cafeteria for the staff, as we all merrily eat at our desks. I typically chat it up w/ my supervisor as we joke around. Since all of the solicitors arrive during lunch, my supervisor and I partake in a classic rating game for the women who dare enter our office. Other times I use the time to surf the net for wrestling or roller coaster news. We can eat/drink whenever…but our official ‘designated’ time is from 12:25am until 1:05pm. Most teachers bring their lunch, but some order the 500-yen ($5) ‘Obento,’ (boxed lunch) to be delivered. I try to rock the ‘Obento’ scene at least once a week, but you never know what you will be eating. It’s always a random surprise. Hit or miss baby! Today I will be eating what I brought from home: instant miso-ramen, a ham and a cheese sandwich, Ritz crackers, and a package of pizza flavored potato chips.
12:50pm – My supervisor provides me with a kind lecture on how I incorrectly prepared my instant miso-ramen. He then randomly hands me a banana. I jokingly proceed to dip the banana in the ramen by saying “Banana Ramen.” His face swelled shut in shock, and then quickly changed to laughter signaling his relief that I was joking. We then discuss the itinerary for my upcoming visit to a local hospital to teach sick children all about Halloween, which strangely occurs two weeks after Halloween. Oh well.
1:30pm - The remainder of the lunch period is filled with casual bites, extensive research into amusement park project developments for Dubailand, the WWE ‘Cyber Sunday,’ and Facebook. I must say, there is no such thing as a “cliché” joke in Japan, so I can get away more with a lot less. For most of the English teachers, they are hearing these doozies for the first time. Today I asked a co-worker how her school-related trip to Miyagi prefecture went, and she made mention of how her and our department head met up with his daughter in the bustling metropolis of Sendai. She hinted that she was cute and looked nothing like him. Then I said, “Maybe she’s adopted,” a classic over-used line in America, but here…OMG…my supervisor barely made it out the door struggling to hold back an onslaught of giggles.
2:15pm – Lunch is in my belly and I head to the second floor to unload the goods at the “Staff’s Toilet for Gents.”
2:25pm – Desert comes in the form of a kit-kat bar and glass #3 of 3 of Coca-Cola. The headphones are back on…and we’re gonna try to produce some blogs to save for future days when I can’t get to it. We’ll see what happens.
2:43pm – Damn I’m still editing this blog. Ohhh snap. I’ve completed everything on my to-do list except for “Study Japanese” which I never do get to. My eyes are beginning to shut. It’s time to stretch, I chug the coke, and change up the music. Can’t go wrong with a mirage of Faithless – Insomnia remixes.
2:48pm – The Obento deliveryman walks into the office to retrieve the boxes, and you can tell I’m tired because I neglect to react quickly enough to play his patented theme song. My co-workers looked over in anticipation, but I’m afraid I disappointed them.
2:50pm – To end this state of gripping tiredness…I pull out the trump card. ‘Transylvania,’ the opening track from the Van Helsing score. The only drawback is now I feel like leaping into battle and stealing someone’s life with the brute force of my fist and maybe a knife or two. We’ll see what transpires.
3:10pm – As I’m angrily plowing away at my “To Vote” blog post, three innocent girls humbly approach me to grade their crossword puzzles. Last week I started a “Cravak Sensei Presents ‘Fun With English’” bulletin board in the main entrance. It now features the holiday Halloween and inside a hanging pumpkin are Halloween Vocabulary crossword puzzles. Any student who completes it and brings it to me in the office gets a free piece of candy. While only 6 students have done so, I’m satisfied and it does save me time from running to the store to restock.
3:14pm – The cleaners arrive. Every day after school, students and teachers are assigned to different parts of the school for sanitary purposes. While the school employs three janitors, their primarily goals include lawn care, toiletries, supply stocking, and opening/locking the school. The cleanliness of the classrooms, and hallways though are the complete responsibility of the students and staff. The vacuum cleaner is making its way towards me, and with all that sugar swimming in my mouth; it’s time for a cleaning. M coworkers and I freely brush our teeth in the office sink. I thoroughly enjoy the gurgling and harsh spitting sound effects.
3:20pm – I go downstairs for an encore performance in the “toiret,” and to change into my workout clothes. The school conveniently has a staff changing room. Each staff member receives their own generously sized locker, mine being the biggest. Ya damn right! What about locks? Forget about it, if you can’t trust a Japanese teacher, whom can you trust?
3:32pm – I emerge back in the office to add to this blog and to make sure I’m “seen” in the office until 3:40pm. While the powers that be don’t care what I do, I want to be set the standard for Americans in Japan. So far, so good!
4:20pm – I finally make it out the to the Karate gym but apparently practice is cancelled as I don’t see anyone. Regardless, I decide to go for a 2K run and finish off with some stretching, sit-ups, pushups (10 of them, I’m a machine!), and weight lifting. I felt the burn, and I love it.
5:15pm – I return home to change and rock some laundry. I don’t do Karate on Tuesdays for I have Spanish class, so it’s a prime opportunity to wash the clothes.
5:30pm – Time play cook. This evening’s fare consists of scrambled eggs n cheese, toast, baked beans and a Reese’s peanut butter cup thanks to Mom and Dad. I’ll wash down the goodness with water and afternoon tea. I spend the rest of the time goofing around on the Internet while listening to The Album Leaf. They’re a stellar dream pop / post-rock band.
6:26pm – The laundry is ready to be hung. It’s too cold outside and I’m afraid of spiders getting in my clothes, so I’ve devoted the spare room for the sole purpose of hanging up the fabrics.
7:12pm – I finally make it out the door for my shopping stint. I’ve decided that I must acquire a shamisen (Japanese banjo), a desk, and Christmas or any other assorted ‘cool’ light. A 15-minute jitensha ride later and I arrive at Hard-Off for what proves to be a fun shopping adventure. The agenda went out the window as I pick up a Salacious B. Crumb Star Wars Bean Bag toy for just 84 cents to join my giant toy soldier on my work desktop computer. I add in an Anpanman lunchbox with wheels and a handle for just 105 yen. Apanman is an extremely popular Japanese cartoon character that has a deliciously edible head that gets eaten and re-baked. I would have taken some photos but I’ve officially lost my camera. But that piece of crap went obsolete before it was made. This is good news, as it will force me to finally purchase a Canon Powershot G9 that I’ve had my eye on. While at the Hard Off I find a desk I want, but I’m going to have to make a call tomorrow to see if a friend can drive it to my apartment before I purchase it. There’s no shamisen or Christmas lights. But I do find three lighting alternatives in the form of a cheesy but fun fiber optic light for 800 yen, an eclectic green and yellow polka dot lamp for 300 yen, and a nostalgic wooden tree lamp that I plan on painting red and white.
7:50pm – I take my business to the nearby Dream Town shopping plaza. I need to take advantage of the public restrooms. But where will I leave all of my purchases? In my bike basket of course. Won’t someone steal them? Nope. I have a feeling that Don Quixote (spelling?); a previously mentioned Wal-Mart meets Spencer’s Gifts may have some Christmas lights. To my dismay they do not, but that doesn’t stop me from picking up Halloween decorations for tomorrow’s English Speaking Society (an afterschool club that I sponsor) Halloween party, a new journal to be used for “The Book of Feste,” which I will write during November’s National Writing Month, I also throw in a bottle of RockStar. I was shocked to find the energy drink there, as Red Bell seemed to be the only American energy drink to be available. But I guess the invasion of American energy drinks will soon make its way over here.
8:30pm – I decide to stop at Mister Donut to pickup donuts for the Halloween Party tomorrow. Donuts sure at expensive in Japan with single donuts hovering between 105 to 155 yen each, with no deal for a dozen or more. The cashier was either stupid or a condescending bitch as she asked me the donuts were for here or to go. “Yeah hunny, I’m so American I’m going to eat two dozen donuts in one sitting.” Then she proceeds to publicly laugh at and critique my choice of money, apparently I added one too many 100-yen pieces.
9:05pm – Home sweet home. Before I get lost in my computer, I attend to the dishes. I then check the progress of the Halloween Television Special torrents I’m downloading so that I can play some for the kids tomorrow at the after-school party. I end up with Disney’s Halloween Treat, Disney’s Monster Hits, and the Peanuts Halloween special.
9:31pm - I take the burnable garbage in its corresponding blue bag out. In Japan, taking the garbage out means a black or two walk to the nearest garbage dumpsite.
9:38pm – I decide to cave in and I surf the net.
10:15pm – I do a hardcore trim, and shave off most of my beard to leave a faded but “nifty” beard. It’s shower time! Nothing beats just hangin’ around in the hot steam for as long as you like!
10:57pm – Pajama time! I test out the new lights, and they look fairly cool. I then return to the computer to finish this blog. Getting tired I make my way to bed to finish this sucker. I’m exhausted, but I’m determined to finish.
12:40am – I’ve been watching Disney’s Monster Hits Halloween special while I continue to write away. These blogs are a serious time commitment folks, and I imagine reading them isn’t any easier. Well it’s off to publish and I will hopefully doze off to the band the Album Leaf. Dreamland awaits and the cycle begins all over again.
Monday, October 27, 2008
- George Jean Nathan (American Journalist, critic, 1882-1958)
This past weekend I made sure to take advantage of suffrage, my civil right to vote, by mailing in my low budget looking black and white print-out ballot. I didn’t even need a #2 pencil to circle in my vote, hell even my 4th grade spelling tests had more requirements than the federal absentee ballot. I voted for Barack Obama and some democratic lady running for something I don’t remember. Sure I didn’t exactly research the candidates, but who cares. I voted; therefore I count as an American. I may be critical of the two-party system, but at least seeing a (D) next to someone’s name tells me I’m voting for the lesser of two evils.
If you haven’t yet already sent in your ballot or don’t plan too…you are not only a lazy a$$hole, but also the epitome of an imbesol. Ignorance cannot be used in this instance, as anyone breathing for more than 5 minutes should understand the importance of casting his/her/its vote. Sure there is an aisle full of excuses to yank off the shelves, but maybe you’re forgetting something. Our country, The United States of America, is EVERYWHERE! We’re not quiet about it either, as we love touting the promise of freedom through democracy. How in the world (literally) can we be persuasive, when just over half of our registered voters take part in the presidential erection (election)? According to my pathetically researched sources, Australia is the champion of voter turnout with 96%, however must realize that they institute a compulsory voting system, whereby you will be punished for not voting. HINT HINT! In America, you’re rewarded for not voting by getting more time to watch ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ reruns. Not bad huh. But in regards to major countries, the US lurks near the bottom with 56.2% recorded in 2004, whereas Japan was at 68% in 2005.
Consequently, I urge you to vote. I don’t care if it’s for Elmo, the communist party, or even McCain, but try to prove to the world that Americans are actively involved in the process and eager to rid the world of George W. Bush. You have the right to choose whomever you please, and I for one am not about to challenge that right. Remember, the world is not keen on Mr. W, but they are letting Americans use the “get out of jail free card.” Sadly, failure to prove our involvement or elect their fan-favorite Mr. Obama will cause a rippling effect.
Honestly, all I’m trying to do is to abdicate the ability that you possess. There’s no pressure (well…maybe a little), but please try your best to go out and show that you matter. You go, you independent action taker you! Ganbatte (go for it)!!!
“To vote or to vote, that is the answer!”
On Top of the World
This be a local stream of H20. Very nice!
This is what I see when I turn around from my desk at school.
For homework my students had to write body paragraphs explaining why they wanted to marry a person of their choice. The following are excerpts presented exactly as they were written.
“I like beautiful things. And she is rich. I want money. And she is thin. I like thin woman.”
A Nihongo Teacher
“He was naughty in the cradle. But now he is gentleman very much.”
“He can speak well.”
Mary Antwanet (Marie Antoinette):
“So, she said, “If there is no blead. You may eat cake.” This word is very famous. And I hear about her looks very beautiful. She has a golden hair, a long hair, a sharp nose, a small mouth, and so on. But, she had a two bad points. One, she has a fiancé. He is Rui 16. Rui is a king. So I can’t won him. One other, she have already died. I can’t meet her.”
“In fact, she looks stylish, beautiful, I can find her in people as soon as. That is good point for me.”
“He likes honey. So he is cool.”
“I like cats. I love cats. So I have felt close to him. Around the world, people that cat like is not bad. I like cats and Sato.”
“ It’s able to do many things, for example, to prepare the comprehensible tables, to make sentences, to draw with clear lines and colors, to sing and play my favorite songs, to help to make things, and so on. It’s getting to be able to do more and more things.”
“I want to marry Setouti Jacutyou because she has no hair. I don’t like long hair. When I watched her on TV, I found that she has no hair. Because I love her.”
My dog, Panta!:
“When I am depressed, he comes to me and licks my face. I’m encouraged very much. Panta always of a cheerful disposition. So he has a lot of friends. Everyday, his friend come to my house to see him. He wagged his tail and play together. I love such him. But! He is a dog. Therefore of course I can’t marry him!”
Thursday, October 23, 2008
WHO I WANT TO MARRY VOLUME 1
For homework my students had to write body paragraphs explaining why they wanted to marry a person of their choice. The following are excerpts presented exactly as they were written.
“He is not only pretty, but also strong. He can use electricity.”
Hilary Rodham Clinton:
"I feel activity as her politician great. When I travel with her, I can do a trip without minding a price because she will pay all money. If I marry her, I maybe aimed at my life, and I always care about her. However, she has charm to attract me, it will remove my worry. She will love me like a grandchild. So I want to marry!"
Utada Hikaru by a stereotypical dominating Japanese male:
“I watched her PV. On the P.V, she washed the dishes. I felt she is very family-oriented woman. I like such a woman. In the future, I want my wife to wait me comming home. If I marry to such a woman, she will relax me. She is the type of woman I like.”
Ichiro Suzuki by a stereotypical submissive Japanese woman:
“He is older than I, but no problem. I like him”
Wada Akiko (honest & funny):
“It is known that she is a heavy drinker. There`s nothing we can do when she drinks a lot. And she is very tall for her age. She is in good health. And after all, she does not mince matters her words.”
Takahashi Daisuke (charming):
“He wants to be world champion. So he practices very hard everyday. For that reason he usually lives in foreign country. When he is not in Japan, I may feel lonely. But I can watch him on TV.”
Yosuke Eguchi by a stereotypical catty woman:
“He is manly. My heart thrill to him. But he have a wife and two children! He has already married long time ago. But I undaunted. I will deprive his wife of him.”
PS – I LOVE MY STUDENTS!
Monday, October 20, 2008
My humor has apparently been rubbing off as the other day my supervisor dropped some wonderful joke bombs.
The coffee machine was once again acting up when a colleague was having difficulty obtaining his precious caffeine-enriched liquid. My supervisor turned to me with a serious deposition saying “That is not coffee maker,” pausing and then adding, “It is trouble maker.” Hilarious! I literally dropped to the floor laughing.
He struck later on during lunch, while I was furiously attempting to wipe chalk marks off my suit, saying, “When you wear black...(pause)...you must write with black chalk.”
You must put into perspective that these corny/witty lines are originating from an older father of two who is by far Office Depot's customer of the year. No one is more professionally organized than this chap. I love working with him, and I’m glad that my 'craziness' has been inspiring.
I’ve also been able to take my trademark sayings and teach them as if they are common American expressions. To clarify, over 600 students in one of the most highly praised academic high schools in northern Japan were writing and saying “it’s a party in my mouth” when describing their favorite food. YES!
Then for the school excursion to Mt. Iwaki…I decided to bring a little craziness to the affair by adorning my Daniel Boone-esque skunk hat. While, I received the expected scattering of shocked glances and a plethora of giggles, I had no clue that it would become a conversational piece within the community. When I went to my Spanish class, which is held at a local mall’s community center, my instructor inquired about my mysterious skunk hat. How the hell did she know? Well apparently, the students were so awestruck that they ran around town spreading the good word. And I thought Buffalo lacked excitement.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Gomenasai (I`m sorry), for not posting anything lately. I`ve got the stuff, it just requires a writer`s touch, eventually I`ll get around to it. Lately, I`ve been pretending to be an athlete, downloading thousands of songs, researching Japanese mythology, writing vast pages in my `Muppets` journal on new characters and how I would revitalize the brand, and balancing all things in life all while methodically planning my eventual rise to fame. It`ll happen...remember the turtle wins the race!
"I do my reading in the pages of life"
Friday, October 3, 2008
No my friends, `Hard Off` is not the title of an adult-friendly film...instead it`s the moniker for our neighborhood used goods store. Instead of non-profit entities like the Salvation Army handling the selling of other people`s crap...the Japanese have made it a profitable business. `Hard Off` is a massive store complete with computers, video games, music, clothes, games, furniture, and...diapers. Thankfully after de-frosting from the shock I was assured that they were brand new. But I`m still having difficulty figuring out how diapers come into play. "Hey hunny, this couch looks good, wait I think Junior may want to take a dump later, let`s pickup some diapers." Regardless, Hard Off is a fun adventure for anyone looking for peculiar items. And unlike American thrift stores, you won`t leave the store craving a shower. But in Japan these places are quite pricey. Well...on to the pictures!
A `Japafied` Elmo
Go back to America
Let`s Beer Great
Yours truly guest-spotting this Englishanese segment as I hold a product called "Let`sBeerGreat." I can`t make this stuff up, but I can sure as hell purchase it!
Are you serious?
Apparently the Japanese are Yahoo Serious. But I guess this guy deserves a lot of credit, he did launch a multi-billion dollar search engine site. So maybe that was lame. :)
While, I’ve only been rockin’ the work scene for less than two months I have already tasted sweet-flavored mangos from the Philippines, a granola bar from Germany, and countless other morsels of fun from all over Japan. But today’s omiyage just went too far.
While pretending to be working hard at my desk, a sensei (teacher) cordially presented me with a ‘manju,’ a sweet little pastry in the shape of a Japanese maple-leaf. He then uttered his well-prepared English saying, “Hiroshima…very famous.” While I was thankful for his generosity, I thought to myself, “he’s been working all week so when the hell did this guy go to Hiroshima?” But when my supervisor turned to me and said, “The souvenir has already arrived,” it all made sense. So get this kiddies…ni-nensei (11th graders) are going on a school trip next week to Kyoto and Hiroshima. So instead of picking out luscious treats to bring back, they simplied order their omiyage in advance. Sure I enjoy the thought, but what the hell is the point? Even the others were kidding the ni-nensei teachers saying how they no longer needed to go on the trip. So now I’ve been toying around with the idea of ordering omiyage from Uzbekistan. I’ll just let them figure it out for themselves. But I guess this is just as bad as our made in China ‘I Love NY’ t-shirts.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
One of my favorite places for a leisurely stroll, but be prepared to jump on top of your foes.
In closing, the other day my supervisor turned to me and sincerely said, `You are crazy, and now everyone is getting crazy...thank you!` I am proud that I`ve been able to take my simple but zany approach to fun and apply it to the rigid Japanese working environment. Cheers!