Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Any Way The Wind Blows

Welcome back to Wednesday, October 2, 1991. I'm Andrew Joseph, an assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan, and I have to give a speech in two days to someone. I'm unsure if it's for the Ohtawara International Friendship Association or if its to all of the teachers and folks at the Ohtawara Board of Education Office (OBOE). It doesn't matter who it is for.

That's one of the drawbacks of not being able to speak Japanese... and one of the drawbacks of the JET Programme when people kind of sort of tell you you have to do things without really explaining the who, what, where, whens or whys of things. Maybe they did, but it sure wasn't in understandable English.

That's not their fault, nor is it a complaint. It's just the way things are here. It's really quite amusing, because although I am out-going, brash and funny, I wasn't always this way. I was shy, introverted and funny... I only reinvented myself before I left Toronto for Japan 14 months ago.

And now... I have to give a speech in a different country in front of many non-native English speakers, and you know what? It doesn't faze me in the least.

Since arriving here, I stand up and team-teach with a Japanese teacher of English every day. I also teach a night school English class for beginners, I've given a team-teaching lesson to other AETs, and spoken in front of other Prefectural (State/Province) people, all while maintaining my sense of humour, if not dignity.

Here as a JET, you adapt and flourish, or you don't and wither away. I don't wither... except when it comes to women. Then I'm putty in their hands. That's probably due to the fact that I had only started dating when I was 22 (I'm 27 now), and had not slept with a woman until about a month after arriving here.

In the 'having sex' department, I am flourishing.

At Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) - one of the seven junior highs I teach at weekly, I write my speech during the 2nd period. Shibata-sensei, a young, hip, good-looking English teacher who has a ton of female students in love with him, translates the speech during the 4th period. He's that good. Or my speech is that bad.

One of the teachers (not an English teacher) comes in at lunch and tries to valiantly translate an instruction manual for Sim City, a video game I purchased for my Nintendo Super Famicon video game system. The whole thing is in Japanese... the instructions, as well as the writing within the game. I'm afraid this will be one game I never play here. Oh well... screw the simulated city! I have a whole country yet to explore here in Japan!

Out of the woodwork, I meet a 15-year-old  girl who wrote a speech on pollution in Japan. She tells me this in perfect English, as she had spent the last four years of her life in England, and... here's the best part... she speaks English with a Cockney accent! I love it!

I was born in London, but after moving to Toronto when I was three-years-old, I only have what is known as a neutral accent. It's clean and clear, and English speakers from around the world will understand me... unlike say me understanding everything a New Zealander or a Scottish person says. I do... but I really have to listen carefully.

Since there's no teacher's meeting today, I can't slip out of work early... but I do anyways. Look... the way I figure it, no one will ever say anything about it to me - as long as I don't make a habit out of it, of course. Besides... people will just figure I'm off goofing around with the students... no one really keeps track of me or what exactly I am doing... and to be honest... this is the first time I have skipped off on my own initiative... and it'll probably be the last.

I head out to my chiropractor and get my spine adjusted. It feels good, but I feel very tired, rather than energized.

It's probably because Ashley, my ex-girlfriend and current friend-with-benefits, is back after spending a few days in Nikko-shi (City of Nikko) with Karen, the newly arrived JET woman who wants to be my girlfriend rather than plain old sex partner. Karen and I made out a lot when she first arrived which in her mind meant I liked her a lot... which is why she hung out with my mom when she came for a visit. That's just wrong, and is probably what has really turned me off her. I'll still sleep with her, though. I'm not that picky. yesI am. No I'm not.

I'm easy to get along with. I just want sex. Except from Ashley, from whom I want more... as I dislike losing (that's the new me... the old me would just have accepted it and worried that he would never ever find another woman to like him again).

Wednesday is usually kyudo (Japanese archery) night, but since my boss Kanemaru-san (he's also our teacher) has the flu, it's cancelled for myself and Ashley. I try  to call Ashley to head her off at the pass, but to no avail. She's not back from Nikko yet, or perhaps she's at Ohtawara Boy's High School where she is an AET.

So.. to kill time, money and brain cells, I buy another video game and go home to play it.

Three minutes later, here comes the buzz kill. Ashley shows up. She's very cranky and doesn't say much to me, and to be honest... I'm afraid to say anything to her. I figure Karen must have asked her about me. And, whether Ashley admits it or not... whens another woman is interested in your ex, it gets your hackles up.

At least that's what I hoped has happened. For all I know, Ashley gave her her blessing. Or maybe they discussed having a threesome with me.

Probably not. Ashley is pissed at me, or at the world. Whatever. She always seemed to be in a snit 47 per cent of the time, which would put me in a snit.

She can be in a snit all by herself, though. While I could care less about what she and Karen talked about (okay, I do care), but the main thing is that while I have to give a speech on Friday about a foreigner's views on Japan, I actually have a date with a beautiful young lady named Shoko from my night school English class tomorrow!

Ashley goes home in a snit after I make us dinner and an episode of McGyver. I swear... I think that aside from the awesomeness of my sexual ability, she uses me for free food. Trust me... I notice these types of disparities. And I keep track of them.

Hey... I'm not perfect. But then again... we're just friends. If she was my girlfriend like for the first 10 months, I have no problem in blowing all my hard-earned (yeah, right!) cash on her.

regular readers will recall that she broke up with me because I was always around her - crowding her - paying attention to her - lavishing her with as much affection as I can muster (except when she pissed me off... which was often).

Regular readers will also recall that I rarely went to her place (not invited), as she preferred my more westernized apartment with the sofa, chairs, dining room tables, carpet and Queen-sized bed, western toilet, washer AND dryer, shower... of yes... a real shower. She had a square box you squatted in and washed yourself with whatever water it was you were sitting in. Sorry Japan, but blech!

When she leaves - she no interest in my video game - I stay... and stay up late trying to figure out how to survive in my simulated world.

It's been a busy but relatively uneventful day. the important thing is that I still have my testicles intact.

Somewhere life is a video game,

Andrew Joseph

Today's blog is by The Mothers Of Invention (featuring Frank Zappa): YOUBLOW

PS: Today just highlights either how wishy-washy I am, or how I just take everything in stride. Stuff happens. You just have to deal with it. And you'll notice no alcohol was harmed in the making of this blog.

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