Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lots to say, but perhaps not today

I've been in a slight funk in the past week or so. It's a normal occurrence, nothing to be terribly alarmed at, just a cyclical thing Jeremy's brain goes through. It's just that this mood has precluded me from putting any serious thoughts down on paper (or on my blog, as the case may be). And now it seems I've ended up with so much to say, it's tough to know where to begin.

For starters, last week I worked at the special education school in the school system I work for. Many schools have special ed classes, but sometimes there are students that can't function in a normal school environment, and that's when they're sent to this place. The teachers there are absolute angels. I spent five days among them, and by the fourth day, I was ready to quit and run out. The students were friendly enough, most of them, but I encountered a little too much stress, not to mention bodily fluids, to soldier on. I made it through, and finished the week with high praises from teachers and students alike, but I have no desire to go back. Too bad I'll head back there in September for another week.

That's not to say it was terrible. The hours were great. I could come in at 10am and leave by 2:30 or so, not to mention being able to wear shorts and a T-shirt in school greatly decreased the sweating that normally occurs. And the kids were truly lovely. They were so happy if you spent any time at all with them. Unlike many of the 15 year-olds I taught who are complete jackasses because they think their friends will respect them more for it. I had lunch with the elementary 3rd-graders. There was one student who loved to just look at me. He would look at me and if I returned the glance, would launch into hysterical laughter. He thought getting to play kickball with me was the greatest thing. Especially because he couldn't walk right and had to wear leg braces and heavy shoes that made him sound about 300 lbs. as he thundered across the floor, chasing a ball.

This experience also rekindled the interest I had in mental problems that left people unable to perform certain functions, especially social ones. The kids were sweet, but they don't always know how to interact with others. But like I said, the teachers were angels. I went to the grocery store to do shopping with high school students, so they could familiarize themselves with money and how to use it. I walked with one kid named "Eight." Literally. It's probably not good to name students, but this is a Japanese name I've never heard before. Anyway, we had to hold hands with our partner students. So I'd hold "Eight's" hand as we walked. Well, it being mid-June with 80% humidity, those clasped palms got a bit sweaty and uncomfortable. So we'd switch hands. Unfortunately, right before that, he'd usually wipe his nose with his free hand and then run to my other side and give me a nice gooey clutch to change hands. Needless to say, I tried to touch as little as possible.

So that gooey experience pretty sums up my time there. I won't mind going back, because I know I have just one more week that I'll do it. I couldn't imagine doing that every day, which makes me respect my mother, a teacher of BLIND mentally handicapped kids, even more.

I'll write some more, but hopefully this weekend.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The heat is on

Well, it's the rainy season now. Which means continuous 80%-plus humidity, constant rainfall, and lots of heat. I did all my washing this weekend, and it's still damp. Soon I won't have any underwear or socks that aren't damp. It's a bit frustrating. Not to mention the sour mood one gets in damp skivvies.

My ankle stopped hurting a few days ago, so for good measure I went to the gym today and yesterday. With all the jumping and hopping around in the body combat classes, my ankle has now resumed its bloated form. Yay. I need to take it easy from now on.

The next Japan game is on in a few minutes, so Julian's gonna pop by. Should be a fun time. Too bad it's a Sunday night. Tomorrow's gonna be rough.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Warudo-Kappu Netsu!!!!

So the USA's buggered its chance in World Cup. 3-0 loss. Oh well, at least it was to Czech, one of the top teams. Japan lost to Australia, which made the aussies here unbearable. The worst part is the earliest game starts at 10pm, just when I go to bed. The USA-Czech match was on at 1am Tokyo time. This means I don't get to watch our boys play. I'll probably stay up til the 4am match this weekend, but I'm not gonna enjoy it.

In other soccer news, I somehow managed to seriously twist my ankle playing 2-on-2 soccer during lunch with a bunch of 13 year-olds yesterday. I never realized how difficult it is to move around this country when it hurts to walk. I bought a brace this afternoon, just in time for most of the pain to stop, but the swelling's still there. Looks like I have a hippo glued to my ankle. Hope it gets better soon, I'm headed to the gym for jumping tomorrow night, and Sunday is my own private little world cup match, when I get to show the guys just how a real American plays soccer (that is, poorly).

PS - at least Spain's winning right now. 3-0, but I keep missing the goals. Curse my low-level ADD!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Man, I need to get back into the real world

I came across this article today. Makes me want to get back into the world of science and studying what I really like.

I've been having some serious thoughts lately on what I want to do when my contract's up next year, and how I can go about doing that. I don't know what'll happen, but every time I see an article like this, it makes me want to jump back into the world of academics.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Beach BBQ

Last weekend I went to a beach barbecue in Chigasaki, the next town over from Hiratsuka, with Julian and some other friends. It was a bit cloudy, but that certainly helped my delicate complexion, since I didn’t fry myself. The food was good, the company even better. I got to meet Julian’s friend Phil, an amateur BMX rider. He’s big into the skateboarding and BMX scene here, I guess. Phil’s also got the ideal job. He does the same thing as me, but directly for the school, so he works 3 days a week and gets paid more than I do. I need to find one of those jobs.

Some of Phil’s Japanese friends showed up with some fish they’d caught off the pier that morning. They just tossed them on the grill directly, no gutting or anything. I swear, Japanese people will eat anything that comes out of the ocean. It was rather amazing. One guy devoured the fish, minus head and guts, in under a minute. It looked like it was out of those cartoons where the cat puts the fish in his mouth and pulls it out completely clean. I guess coming from a landlocked state, it’s just not that normal for me. We also got to play some Frisbee, I was glad to see my Frisbee skills haven’t gotten too rusty since my ultimate days in high school.

In other news, Wednesday was my friend Julian's birthday. We had a couple of drinks this evening, and the big bash for him is Saturday night. Should be a good time. Tomorrow night I'll see "Da Vinci Code." It probably won't be as enjoyable as the book, but I feel obligated to see it. Plus, there'll be a group going, so if it's boring, we can just make fun of it.

A tale with a moral

This is a lesson in meeting people, I guess. At the schools So about 4 months ago, I went to a friend’s birthday party in Fujisawa. I met a bunch of fun people, and a group of about 6 of us headed back to Hiratsuka to for a sort of after-party. On the way back, a few of the guys with us ran into a former high school classmate of theirs. She seemed a bit uptight, but they persuaded her to join our group. We went back to Hiratsuka to the local salsa bar. She was one of the few to actually try dancing salsa. We had a pretty good time. By the end of the night, she’d given me her email and told me to write her so we could go out sometime. She wanted to practice her English, and I always need someone to help me with my Japanese. But she never responded to the mails I sent her. I hate getting blown off like that, especially when the other person seems enthusiastic about going out.

So Monday I got to a different junior high school and meet a bunch of the student teachers. By now you can see where this is going. She didn’t recognize me the first time she saw me, and it wasn’t until Tuesday when I called her by her first name before we’d even been introduced. She had a rather shocked look on her face. So the lesson is, don’t blow someone off or be rude, even if they’re a foreigner you think you won’t ever see again, because you never know when they’ll turn up and be able to say embarrassing things about you to the other teachers.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Another brief, slightly inebriated post

So I've finished my week at the school I dread. I met some teachers for drinks tonight, one of them informed me that the school I just finished has a reputation for not being friendly to teachers. So I guess now I don't feel as bad. After the sports festival, the general atmosphere seemed to get better, maybe the teachers didn't feel under the same pressure as usual.

Tuesday was nice. I went to Yugawara city with my friend Kaori. We went to a hot spring resort I know. For $10.50 you get entrance for the whole day to this place. It has a rooftop onsen (hot spring) with a great view of Sagami Bay. It's co-ed too, which makes it ideal for going with someone of the opposite sex (but you have to wear swimsuits...too bad in that respect). This week I got paid, which meant an overindulgence in going out, especially tonight. I just finished a several-hour drinking binge with Julian and assorted teachers, plus some karaoke. Tomorrow is a beach BBQ in Chigasaki, the next town over, and Sunday is a friendly soccer game with the folks I went camping with. It oughta be fun.

I need to conserve my cash. I'm saving up for a trip to Thailand in August. If I can get the cash for it, I want to sign up for some SCUBA diving if I can. That requires some logistics given my sight capabilities, but I'll see what can be done. Anyway, signing off for now. Take care all.