The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Monday, December 20, 2004

Back in Canada

So I'm back in Canada. A brief recap:

My students threw a party for our last day. It was a great time because, in very typical Japanese fashion, everyone who had previously been very formal to me throughout the term was suddenly my best friend and confessing how much fun the class was, and how they thought I was the greatest teacher ever, etc. etc. I don't mention this to be egotistical, but just how it seems to be a standard thing that happens: all these students who you thought d or were bored by your class suddenly start gushing about what a great time they had and how much they're going to miss you. Funny that they only let you know this stuff as you're leaving.

The other funny things that happened were that my students ambushed me, grabbed me, and threw me up into the air a dozen times or so. That was terrifying... but fun. At the end, somebody was fumbling with their camera to take a picture, and so all the guys were standing there trying to hold me up, yelling stuff like, "Hurry up! He's heavy!"

Also, everybody wanted to take a picture with me. And I mean everybody. 60+ people, and every single one of them has a cellphone with a camera in it. So that's (give or take) 120 photos or so. Insane. My face hurt from mugging for the camera.

Anyway, after the party I had a few frantic days of last-minute business to attend to, packing, cleaning up my apartment, saying good-bye, and everything else you can imagine. Well, you'll have to be content imagining it, because I really can't remember any of it.

After that, it was off to the airport and my 12 hour flight. It was actually not so bad. They kept our minds off of our sore behinds by feeding us constantly, and I met a nice Japanese woman on the plane. She didn't really speak English but I was able to carry on a rudimentary conversation in Japanese, which impressed her to no end. I guess in Tokyo, many foreigners get away with speaking no Japanese, which gives them the impression that none of us can speak it. So when they meet somebody who can string together a rough sentence, they are flabbergasted.

When I finally got to Toronto, I was in for a rude shock because the temperature was pretty brisk... This after it had been hot enough that I was sweating while cleaning my apartment the day before in Tokyo. It has only gotten brisker over the last few days. Last night, the mercury was down around -30, and with the windchill, they said it was -41 or something. Today, it's still freezing, but it should end by tomorrow. Good thing, too, because Japan has made me weak! I take back what I said about Japan being colder (in terms of comfort) than Canada. Clearly I spoke too soon.

Less than a week to go til Christmas... does that mean it's time to start buying presents? Why am I such a damn fool? Why do I procrastinate so badly all the time? And why do I ask so many rhetorical questions? Who knows? Who cares?

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

7 Days and Counting

First, as an addendum to my last entry: the day of the storm, Tokyo recorded its highest-ever wind speed, 144 km/h. In Chiba where I live (okay, actually I live closer to Tokyo but I'm trying to score points) the winds were recorded up around 172 km/h. There were 5 wind-related injuries, hundreds of flights were cancelled, planes were re-routed, ships ran aground, dogs and cats living together, etc.

So I officially have one more week in this place. I can't say I'm really happy or sad; all I feel is a low-level sense of dread at having to move all my belongings yet again. And of course, the now- familiar feeling of not having a job or a place to live. I have a couple of offers, but none of them is really satisfactory (there's me looking for the perfect situation again)...

Anyway, I have a week to clean up my apartment. As I've only been here 3 months this time, I haven't accumulated too much extra stuff. I should be able to pack up everything I brought with me, and then mail home everything else I've bought or received since arriving. Sigh. Another box to add to the collection of boxes I am storing in Lindsay... I look forward to that glorious future day when I will finally be able to unpack my boxes and arrange all the useless doo-dads I've collected over the years on my very own doo-dad shelf. What a day that will be!

I have a lot of other stuff to do between now and then, like prepare student reports and grades, instructor reports, contracts for next semester, job applications with other companies, and a million other things I'm forgetting right now. The thing that makes all of this doubly stressful is that I have completely run out of money, and I don't get paid until the 16th, one full day before I leave. That's going to be one hell of a busy day...

Tuesday of next week, my students have arranged a final party for the members of our English class. Of my 65 students, about 40 have signed up so far, so it should be quite a bit of fun. But now my students are hinting that they want me to come up with games or activities for the party. Argh! I have absolutely no idea what to do, particularly not for a Japanese party. I wonder if we can rent a karaoke machine...?

Anyway, as I mentioned, I have been offered a position to come back here in April of next year. I think I'll take it; this was a really fun job, I will be more familiar with the area, I'll be able to jump right back into things with much less of an acclimatization period next time. Well, that's the general idea, anyway. So really, maybe I should say "4 months, 7 days, and counting..."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Talking About the Weather

You know you're boring when you find yourself talking about the weather a lot. But in Japan, it seems to be the thing to do. And besides, the weather here is completely insane, so talking about the weather might be a little more interesting than it sounds.

The last week or so has been extremely chilly. For my Canadian readers, it may be hard to imagine that it's actually colder here than it is there. But the thing to remember is that the walls of my apartment are like cardboard, and my heater is ineffectual at best, so when I wake up in the morning it's really, really uncomfortable. Sure, Canada is colder if you are just considering the actual temperature. But in terms of the amount of time you spend sitting around thinking, "Damn, I'm really, really cold!" Japan wins, hands down.

But the really weird thing is that, after a week of really cold weather, we are here on December 5th, and it's boiling hot again! I was walking around in jeans and a t-shirt, sweating and wishing I had worn shorts! Very, very bizarre. It just goes to show: I'm never happy. No! It just goes to show, uh, that weather is very unpredictable. Or something.

Side story: my friend and co-worker, Mark from Alabama, is planning on going to law school, and to that end has been studying for the LSAT for the past few months. The test was scheduled to run today, but because of a freak storm we had last night, the trains lost power this morning and he missed his test. There was absolutely no way that he could get to Tokyo. He even tried convincing a number of taxi drivers to take him, but they don't go outside city limits. Unbelievable! Damn you, weather! Damn you!!!