Monday, August 8, 2011

When The Levee Breaks

I'm going to combine a couple of days here because not a lot happens

Sunday, September 29, 1991. Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan.

I'm an assistant English teacher on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme, and arrived here back in late July 1990.

... I'm kind of waiting to see what fallout there is from Ashley (my ex-girlfriend but current occasional sleeping partner) and Karen (who wants me for a boyfriend) going to Nikko-shi (City of Nikko) together for a few days.

At this time, I am unaware if either really knows anything about my involvement with the other. Ashley and I had hooked up on our second day here. Karen arrived a year later and hung out with my mother a month ago when she came for a visit. Worlds colliding!

Here's what is going on:

Ashley is from Augusta, Georgia, USA, brunette:

  1. Ashley and I broke up about four months ago; 

  2. We decided two months ago that we trusted each other enough that we could still sleep together;

  3. She doesn't want a boyfriend... or not one who was crowding her;

  4. She always came to my place, so I am unsure what crowding I was providing.

Karen is from North Bay, Ontario, Canada, redhead:

  1. Karen and I met after I was part of Tochigi JET committee to welcome newcomers; 

  2. Hot and heavy to start, she begged us to slow down so that we could first become boyfriend/girlfriend;

  3. She hung out with my mom sewing pillow covers for my couch; 

  4. She traveled with my mom ingratiating herself.

Shoko is from Ohtawara, Tochigi, Japan, raven-haired:

  1. Shoko and I first met at a party hosted by the Ohtawara International Friendship Association;

  2. May have joined my night school English class due to urging from mutual friend Naoko, whom my mom wished I was dating... or Karen... but not Ashley. She never met Shoko. I don't think my mom cares for shy girls for me; 

  3. Tall, slender, shy and cute, she doesn't speak much English, but she likes Andrew. A lot;

  4. She and Andrew have tried to make a date happen, but Andrew must have angered the gods, as the date has not yet happened.  

Andrew is from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, dunderhead: 

  1. Was a virgin, but not virginal before arriving in Japan; He owes Ashley one cherry;  

  2. Despite what Ashley wants, he can't stand losing, and wants her back as a girlfriend;  

  3. Despite what Karen wants, she has some baggage, and he doesn't want a girlfriend;

  4. Thinks he knows what Shoko wants, and thinks he wants a girlfriend.

You know what? If I had just stopped and made a list like this back in 1991, I would have realized just how stupid I was making my wonderful rife! Hell... should we add in Cathy, who just wanted to sleep with me (or maybe wanted a boyfriend)? What about Kristine, whom I adore, she likes me, would have slept with me, but I thought she might have been to good for me? Then there was Christine... she just wanted sex, but I just wanted to get back with Ashley (after we first broke up in November 1990). And what about the two Thai women - gorgeous Tookta and ravishing Boon-mee... I slept with them separately, and together! There was proof that I am good enough for anyone! What about Junko... my hot-to-trot stalker who had the looks and talent to put a Miss Universe to shame, provided the talent was sexual? There are still others, but most were just one-nighters!

Can't we all just get along? Like the two Thai chicks and myself? That's international fraternization!

So... I didn't even mention that I am teaching junior high school English at seven school here in Ohtawara. I also teach an English class to the Ohtawara International Friendship Association for a few bucks once a week. I play kyudo (Japanese archery). I am the editor and chief bottle-washer for the Tochigi JET newsletter The Tatami Times. I am the ear and conscience for many an AET who has troubles, concerns, or just wants to share a laugh. I don't smoke. Started drinking - but never at home. I never sleep, it seems, and when I do, it's not well. I've been hit twice by cars while riding my bicycle. I owned a motorcycle, but it scared the crap out of me so I sold it after only riding it once. I'm growing my hair and have it in a pony-tail. I'm charming, smart and very witty and have a huge ego thanks to all of this. Yet, I don't think I show off my ego, as I tend to be self-deprecating. It keeps me grounded. I love Japan. Japan loves me. I feel like I'm being pulled in a thousand directions all at once. Friends like James and especially Matthew help keep me pointed in the right direction.

Whenever I am in a state of flux, I clean my apartment. Today is no exception. I do laundry, vacuum, iron, go shopping for food at Iseya and then visit a small hobby store and purchase a video game for my Sega Game Gear hand-held system - it's a tank battle game.

I get it home, and everything is in Japanese. The instructions are in Japanese, but so too is the game play! What the hell does it say? 

Oh yeah... I speak Japanese like a six-year-old, and can not read or write the language... at least not at a level worth mentioning. Rather than spending my time studying the language, I am reading history books and talking to the Japanese to get as much data as possible on what Japanese life is all about.  Remember... this is 1991... before the Internet became full of information and porn.

I wonder what the hell Ashley and Karen are talking about?    

Now, it's Monday, September 30, 1991. I'm at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School, also known as Dai Chu /Big Middle). I love this school. yes, it's the largest of my seven schools, but I never feel lost here. I almost feel like a teacher here and less like a gaijin (foreigner) than anywhere else.

I have three classes today, and all of them are second-years... Grade 8 (13-year-olds). It's the same format as with most schools... good but a tad boring. I read the New Horizons textbook at normal foreigner speed, so that the students can hear what a normal conversation might sound like. Then I read it slowly so that the students can hear how the English words should be pronounced. Then the students read it together with me. Then students read it individually with me or with me providing positive feedback. There is always positive feedback. You never want to make anyone suddenly hate English because the teacher or AET was a dick.

Lunch is natto. Natto is rotting fermented soy beans. We mix in some soy sauce and some hot mustard with the natto and then pour the gloopy, smelly mess onto a bed of hot rice and eat away with chopsticks.

From what I've been told... the eastern and northern parts of Japan will eat natto, but the western part - no way in hell. 

Most gaijin won't eat it, but... for myself... I now look at stuff like that and say, yeah... I have to eat it. The Japanese often expect gaijin to not eat or like certain foods or drinks, because they are not Japanese... but dammit! I came to this country to blow away stereotypes! Gaijin don't eat natto? Screw that! I'll eat it and tell you it's delicious!

To prove a point, or perhaps because the natto destroyed my tastebuds and sense of smell, I take home three packets of natto (my natto was packaged in a small 3" x 3" styrofoam package about one-inch deep. The natto had a thin, but thick clear plastic film atop it, and came with a small plastic package of soy sauce and one of hot mustard that sat in the package atop the film.

The school even packs a couple of tupperware containers of rice for me. So... at home... I have two packages of natto for dinner. And one for breakfast.

Since I have night school tonight, I make sure I gargle the hell out of my mouth to wash the bad breath away. And... it's a very good thing I do. I now have 19 women in my class (and five men). The women are getting younger and hotter.

Shoko is there, and man does she look yummy. So I ask her out! I also give her a birthday present (forgive me, but I did not note what it was that I gave her!). She says yes... but I'll call her and set it up!

Matthew comes over and we watch an episode of Magnum PI. When he leaves, I call home and thank my dad for the Spanish phrase book that I can use to converse with a Peruvian student at Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School) the next time I visit. 

Somewhere expecting the other shoe to drop,

Andrew Joseph

Today's blog title is sung by Zeparella: WAITFORIT.

PS: When the Levee Breaks is a Led Zepellin song, but they didn't write it! It was written by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy. I'm unsure if it's Kansas Joe from Kansas or Missouri. Anyhow... Zeparella... chicks rocking out to a Led Zep cover! They're pretty and pretty good!  

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