Monday, October 27th
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.