Oh Grow Up!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I finally got my glasses back!!! $160 for a whole new right side. I am so thrilled to have them back on my face! They are so light, they feel like they’re going to fall off!

I can’t believe how busy I am. When I get to school all I can do is run around writing lesson plans and trying to get ahead of the game so I have some time to study Japanese but I end up just making it in time. If I keep up at the rate I’m going, I’m going to fall behind by Monday of next week. I keep thinking that I wouldn’t have such a big problem if I had internet at my apartment but the question is 1. is that really true? Would I be able to transfer my work from one computer to another? The computer at school is pretty craptastic and if it’s not that then it’s the restrictions they put on it when it comes to web surfing. I probably wouldn’t be able to download my work! And 2. Do I really want to be bringing my work home? I don’t like school enough to be doing it 24/7! But at the same time, I don’t want to be worrying about it all the time either. Hmmmm, dilemma.

I found out today that my horrible couch is not owned by the school so the next opportunity I get, that POS is going out the window!!!! Have I mentioned my couch yet? It is big enough for two people (uncomfortably) and has no frame. It was probably worth $30 when it began and now someone would have to pay me to make me keep it here. People have sat on the edge of the seat so much that now it is angled so that if I try to sit on it properly I slide off. It’s dirty and smells and is taking up space! I don’t have time to find a new one though. Nor do I have the option of shopping for it as there are no furniture stores in walking distance from the train station in Kochi city.

My plan: to ride my bike this weekend to Kochi (about an hours ride) so that I have a second bike to pal around with. I can’t wait!

I haven’t really had a lot of time to study Japanese and this stresses me out. I’ve only been here about two months but I want to be able to speak Japanese NOW. I have so much time to learn it but I am missing out on so much! There are so many things that I want to talk to people about! It’s frustrating and I can feel it just at my finger tips I just can’t reach it yet!

I was a little bit immature today. When I noticed it, I abruptly stopped but I just had a moment of weakness. I guess it’s to be expected though with the self imposed stress and all.

Uhhhhh, this is a long story before I ever get to the moment of weakness at the very end. Expect a horse story.

So, yesterday was Monday. I went to Odochi and had a pretty good time. I enjoyed the classes and the students were really fun to work with. That doesn’t mean they did what I told them or actually learned anything but we all had a good time which in the end is the point. (in the very very end) I learned that Wednesday will be a day without any classes though I still have English club at the end of the day. (now that is a short story all on it’s own. There is only one girl and she can’t speak any English. Do you know how difficult it is to have an English club with someone who can’t say anything? I’m going to play Uno with her tomorrow. I just don’t know what else to do for now. I can’t plan anything with her or communicate in the least. She knows absolutely nothing and I can’t speak enough Japanese to compensate.)

I thought, GREAT I don’t have to really worry about lesson plans because I’ll take my time writing them on Wednesday when I have the whole day to just goof off.

I then get a ride home with Ikuo, Kae’s 22 yr old son.

On my way up to the apartment I actually took the time to look at some mail boxes that I was always a little curious about. Lo and behold, I had a mailbox that no one ever told me about! In it I found letters advertising those stupid candidates, letters to my predecessor, advertisements that I actually would have liked to have read (discount furniture) and finally a letter telling me that a bill was due. It happened to be due yesterday. The day I got it.

I went up to my apartment trying to remember if I had set up direct payment for this particular bill. If I had, then there was no reason to worry about it. If not, then I was screwed. I decided to call my supervisor to figure out what I was supposed to do. It was at this moment that I realized my cell phone had fallen out of my bag in Ikuo’s car.

It was about 5:20 and I had my English Language class (private lessons) at 6. I got on my bike and rode to Adams place. Poor guy was sleeping but I was trying not to freak out so I think I was justified.

I got on his computer and emailed Kae telling her what had happened. I then showed Adam the bill and asked him what I should do. He yawned and told me not to worry. The bill could be up to 2 months late before they ever think about turning off the service. There is no such thing as a late fee in Japan.


My jaw was on the floor.

Eh, crisis averted. I then went home and watched crap TV for about 10 minutes before I had class. I was just hoping that they didn’t change plans on me and tried to call my cell phone to tell me about it…because I never got the message.

The class went fine. They paid for my dinner ($10) and I sat around and helped them out with simple questions. It was really easy and I think I can continue doing this…for now.

I then went home and had some warm Sake trying not to worry about things that I have no control over.

When I got up this morning things were going well. I woke up before my 7am alarm and took my time getting ready. I was early for work and I felt like I was prepared.

Even though I was early, I wasn’t able to read my email until 8am because the computer is so GOD DAMN SLOW that it took a good 10 minutes before I could actually get something accomplished. When I opened my hotmail account I found 4 emails from Kae spanning from the course of 6:30 all the way to 11pm with the same message. At 8am, father will bring you your cell phone. Please wait for him!


I then emailed her telling her I was already at work!!! She knows that I don’t have internet at my apartment yet. But still. This is ridiculous.

In 5 minutes one of the teachers walked up to me and asked if this was mine (the cell phone) I ran to the window to thank Shinji (father) but he had already left. I emailed Kae and thanked her profusely.

Crisis, solved.

Next, I started getting ready for my days lessons. It has been 4 days since I last looked at what I was supposed to be doing so I had completely forgotten if I had actually written anything or made any worksheets. I was totally screwed if I hadn’t. It turns out that I had written my lessons and I was good to go.

Then, one of the teachers that I was working with today told me that she had already finished the chapter we were supposed to do today and she was sure that I had something handy for the next chapter of which I hadn’t even looked at nor did I have any intentions of teaching just yet. Curses were running through my mind and I wanted to do some bodily harm. But instead I kept my calm. One problem at a time. I had other things to worry about and it’s her problem if she wants to tell me last minute that plans have changed in a major way.

I then finished preparing my original lessons for the other two classes I had today. I tried to squeeze in some English Conversation preparation as well because if I don’t do it today, I won’t have time tomorrow.* I also worked on making worksheets for the students who are going to Largo in a month. All the while, the teacher who changed plans on me kept getting me to proofread her hand outs for English mistakes. By the middle of the day she asked me to do the lesson I had originally planned for the chapter that she had already completed (prematurely in my opinion) because she didn’t have a plan either. BAH!

The lessons went well for the most part. It was actually funny sometimes (only for me though)

So the chapter we are on is about fast food. I ended up finding a menu for Rockin’ Robins in my apartment. It’s a sit down restaurant that I’ve never been to before but seems really good!

I brought that and then found a lesson to fit it perfectly.

The students would be give a dialogue: What would you like to eat? I would like to eat a cheeseburger please. What would you like to drink? I would like a chocolate shake…etc etc.

Then they would be given three little slips of paper that looked like an order form. The student would play rock paper scissors and the loser would give up one of their papers and the winner would then take their order. It’s a simple and fun game I think. It’s a good way to practice the same thing over and over again without it becoming boring.

For the most part, the students didn’t listen to a word I said while I was telling them the directions. I’ll admit, they sounded complicated even to me! But all three teachers (three different classes) all wanted me to explain it in English…so I did my best.

It wasn’t until I pulled out some Toostie Roll pops that their heads actually raised from their desks. It was like that AOL commercial where a woman brings a pie into the office of AOL workers in thanks for their hard work and all their heads pop up from their cubicles like gofers. It was hilarious!

I then had to re-explain the directions as now everyone wanted to know exactly what to do to win the game. Get as many papers as possible.

Once the kids got started they actually had a good time. It was a fun game! But by the end of the day I was pretty spent. I wasn’t physically tired but my mind just wasn’t very sharp. I was too busy trying to get everything done and people kept coming up to me all day giving me more work. I have a special lesson to write for Tuesdays class when the Junior High School students will be joining the High Schoolers. I have to finish my English conversation lesson. I need to write a 10 minute speech in English so I can tell the Tosayamada Lions club just how much I appreciate what they’ve done for me. I have to write another few paragraphs in English for the PTA newspaper by next Monday saying what my impressions of Tosayamada are…what a vague question. Geezus I’m too busy to have any impressions that don’t need to be heavily censored! The only things I don’t have to do this week are write lesson plans for my two advanced classes. And thank god for that!

So, as I was saying, by the end of the day, I was pretty much overwhelmed…a bit.

My last class also happened to be the last class of the day. I handed out my worksheet and started to explain the directions in English, as asked. (not that I could have done it in Japanese or anything) Before I could hardly begin the students were already looking at the back side where there is a word search. This is for the students who finish early. You know, if they lose three times in a row they’re out of that game while other students will keep winning and winning for a good 15 or 20 minutes. I then tell them that they are going to play Rock Paper Scissors and before they can even figure out what the point is, they’re already playing and not listening to me. By the end of this class my throat started to hurt from trying to talk over them. What rude little bastards. GUH

So, I started getting angry. I slammed my hand on the desk and masked it as if I was just putting a paper down and said in Japanese “Wait just a minute! Don’t do that yet!” and that’s when one boy started making fun of my accent which got much thicker as I got angrier. I immediately did a self check. Hold up. Who gives a rats ass if these students do jack shit? Let them do whatever they want. The teacher doesn’t do anything so why should I bother? This is only my special lesson that I put some actual thought and time into (though I can’t claim it as mine. It wasn’t original or anything. I’m not that good)

So that was my moment of weakness. I calmed down and left it at that. The class went on without any more problems. I am holding a grudge against that kid though. He’s on my shit list.

After the classes I pulled my papers together, cleaned up my desk and headed over to the meeting room to finally meet in person all 7 of the students that are going to Largo. I had prepared a lot of information for them because I’m really excited! They’re going to have a great time and it’s going to be even better because I’m preparing them for it!

Not only were they 15 minutes late but only 4 people showed up. I was totally nonplussed.

By the end of the meeting I was excited again though. I got out of them some very important information that they should have put on their profiles that are being sent to Largo as I write this but for Japanese Cultural reasons, were left out.

For example: On the profile sheet it asks “what is your favorite food? What food do you hate?

They would write something like “my favorite food is rice and I hate nothing.” Wow, that’s helpful.

Instead, I asked them today what they want to eat and we sat there talking about it so much that I actually found out that one girl loves ice cream but is in fact lactose intolerant. Hmmmm, that’d be helpful to know! Another girl hates hamburgers but wants to eat them anyway…kinda….and I somehow accidentally told them about chocolate fondue so now they want to eat that as well. Oops.

OH RIGHT! The reason for writing about this part of the day was because this isn’t my job.

It’s not my job to be helping with the Largo kids. But I’ll be damned if I’m not seriously involved so I have no problems with doing it almost completely by myself.


There is in fact another teacher in the room with me who is supposed to be doing this instead of me (though I don’t really want him to be). Instead, I decided that I would be using him as a translator for the more important points. There are so many important things that I want these students to know!

Btw, this happens to be the one teacher that I don’t like. And I like him even less now.

So, when he’s actually participating in the class, he speaks in slurred Japanese so I can barely understand him and when I speak directly to him so that he can translate, he thinks we are having a private conversation and keeps the information to himself. I then get irritated and start trying to explain what I just said to him in English to the girls in my poor Japanese and he just sits back and watches. He never ever ever thinks to translate what I say! On top of all that, he sleeps through most of it. This is the same person who I caught sleeping at his desk, sleeping while we were having a conversation that HE initiated and stays after school until 8 or 9 for whatever stupid reasons. The girls made fun of him on more than one occasion this afternoon for his napping skills. I just got more irritated.

All the better that I don’t have internet. I don’t want to go home and work on more school work. At least I have an excuse not to think about it. There’s nothing I can do for now anyway.

*It seems that everything I do revolves around computers and the internet. When I am at Tosayamada, I am constantly on the craptastic computer trying to make it work faster. If I’m not on it, then I’m sitting at my desk…doing nothing. I don’t do anything unless it’s on that computer. I type all my lessons and I find pictures on the internet and get ideas on the internet and blah blah blah it’s all on the net. At Odochi, my day revolves around trying to sneak a few more minutes on the communal computer. I can’t get nearly enough done there because even though the computer is much more up to date (it runs XP instead of 98), I can’t use it for more than a few minutes before I get the idea that someone else wants to use it…even though most everyone has a personal computer at their desk. Hmmm, don’t get it. Whatever.

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