Thursday, February 25, 2010

I, Me, Mine

Wednesday, November 7, 1990

Today is the last day of my self-introductions. The Chikasono Junior High School 1-1 class (class number one, of the grade 7¹s or first year's) actually ask me questions.

The 3-2 class (class number two of the grade 9's of third year's) is my 72nd and last self-introduction. When class ends at 11:30AM, I toss up my hands and say Yee-haw! People look me funnily, but chalk it up to my strange foreign ways.

I play video games on the school's computer, eat lunch again with the principal and vice-principal  - it's not natto, but a very tasty meat and vegetable stew that warms me up from the chilly day. It's about 7C outside
and inside‹there¹s no central heating in these schools. In fact, heat is derived from a boiler moved into each room when it gets really cold - apparently, this is not considered really cold despite the shivering students, teachers and gaijin (me).

After lunch I watch a kendo (Japanese fencing) class hammer a tractor tire with their wooden practice swords to develop good striking technique. Looks like it's working. I'll have to remind myself to never to piss off a
teenager in Japan in case they know judo, kyudo or kendo.

In the afternoon classes, we play'"Guess the word' featuring: "I like to watch ­(blank)".  Unfortunately, it takes 25 minutes for Sasanuma-sensei to explain the instructions to the kids (in Japanese). Hey! At least he tried something different! Apparently, the kids who were unable to answer a translation of the blank word room English to Japanese would be forced to stand until it was their turn to answer again. There were 30 kids in the class. Last kid sitting wins.

I real aloud the questions (about Australia) from a book. Yawn.

After school I join the table-tennis club and hold my own against these Olympic-level athletes whom I am sure are taking it easy on me. After I leave the gym, I can hear the speed of the ping-pong ball suddenly get louder and faster. Yup. They definitely took it easy on me. What nice kids.

I head home with Sasanuma-sensei at 5:15PM. Ashley¹s already there, and so is a package. It¹s from Jeff Seaman, a cool dude from Yuba City, California who accidentally stepped in a Japanese commode on our second night in Japan. There but for the grace of stronger kidneys plod I.

Jeff has sent me comic books. Jeff knows I have a large collection ­ around 20,0000 in 1990 ­ and Jeff, well, he wrote his Master¹s thesis on Batman: The Dark Knight, a four-issue graphic novel that redefined the super-hero as an anti-hero. Besides his choice of thesis material, Jeff is so even-keeled, charming and witty, there¹s nothing there to dislike.

No time to read the books right now, though. I hop in the shower and wait for Kanemaru-san to come and pick us (Ashley and I) up for kyudo. Every Wednesday.

I'm still pretty pissy, however when we go to kyudo. For one and a half hours I sulk as I can't participate because of my still sore ribs. Nothing broke, but I did bruise the bone‹and that always takes longer to heal than a break.

After Kanemaru-san drops us off back at my place, Naoko and Suzuki-san of the Ohtawara International Friendship Association drop by and I agree to start teaching on a full-time basis on Mondays at 7PM beginning December 10 & 17 (before the Christmas break) (Hey! Are they celebrating Christmas over here???!!) doing one-and-a-half hour classes. Ashley declines to teach, but Matthew joins up. He will teach the more advanced students owing to his more advanced Japanese language skills. I'm still not sure where or when he learned that, but even after just three-plus months here, he is light-years ahead of me on trying to pick up the Japanese language and Japanese women.

Suzuki-san gives Ashley and I a Christmas cactus and explains that it is supposed to bloom in Christmas. It's blooming right now, though.

Ashley and I relax, eat pizza, drink Coke and watch videos. Someone phones and hangs-up. Matthew comes over. Drunk. Damn. No sugar tonight. One day, I will get him back by snoring so loud at his house in Vermont that no one there will get any sleep. Hee-hee.

They all leave at 10PM. I call Jeff and thank him profusely for his kind gift in advance of my birthday in a couple of days. He's the only one in this country who calls me A.J., which is what all my friends back home call me. Who's Andrew?

I clean-up and am in bed by 11:30. I¹m too tired to do any ironing though. It may sound stupid, but prior to arriving in Japan, I had never ironed before, but there is something cathartic about it. I do a lot of ironing in
Japan.

Somewhere holding my own (thanks, Matthew),
Andrew Joseph

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