A New Job

Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002

Subject: Moving

 

I just accepted a new job. I'll be working in a fishing village on the Izu Penninsula. It takes about thirty minutes to get to the Shinkansen station nearest the peninsula from Shizuoka, and likely forty minutes from there to the town I'll be in.

 

I'll be teaching in three or four elementary schools and one junior high school. I have to rush to get my resignation in and cancel my housing today so I can give the month's notice they require. I'm going to try to take vacation time to get me to the end of the month since I have to do training during the last week of March, so I'm still a little tense.

 

I assured my future employers that, "I may not be the best teacher in the world, but everyone will love me." I'm a little worried that I'm tempting fate there... I was speculating based on my history of producing average work while getting along really well with everyone. We'll see if history continues to repeat itself.

 

The new job pays a bit less than my present job, but there are more days off and my rent will be much cheaper. Of course, I should have just done all this with JET in the first place and I'd be making more money, but we'll let that go. I'm also going to be paid only 75% of my salary in

August, since I have the entire month off, but that's fine since this isn't about money anyway. So it looks like I'll be able to come back to Canada for a little while in August.

 

This will all work out somehow. Ironically, I was just put in charge of a few things at work... I hope my departure doesn't foul too many things up.

Thanks for the Reference

Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002

Subject: Thanks

 

Thanks. I owe you. Ironically, one of the things the recruiter was worried about was that I might tell someone I didn't have time to talk to them at the end of the day.

 

She obviously didn't ask you about that... =)

 

I think I still have my unofficial business card at home that says "mascot."

Gaikokujin Kabuki

Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002

Subject: Re: Moving

      

I'll have to travel back once or twice, but it should be fine... wait. Dammit. I'm going to have to miss the second-last kabuki rehearsal. Ah well. I had good pronunciation last time since I was the only one who'd listened to the tape, so it should be okay.

 

Picture all the sterotypes of raving, high-talking, warbling Japanese men and you have kabuki pronunciation. You can actually get it right almost by guessing and rolling your voice up and down like a wave crest.

The Lord of the Rings... and a sigh of relief

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2002

Subject: AT LAST!!

 

I finally saw the Lord of the Rings movie!!!

 

Wait, that's not enough exclamation points...

 

Once more:

 

I FINALLY SAW THE LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

...and all I can think is that I want to see it again. I've waited three months for the thing to be released in Japan, and I saw it on the second night with some friends of mine, although I almost went back on my agreement and saw it the night before.

 

I am so impressed. They didn't screw it up. And since I read the books six years ago, I wasn't checking off all the little differences and I was even reminded of a few things I'd forgotten.

 

Oh, and an element that will amuse: on the way in, my friends each bought a can of beer from the vending machine in the hallway. Gotta love Japan.

 

Then we had an Japanenglish argument with my friend Grimm’s girlfriend, who said she liked Pearl Harbor better.

Publishing

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2002

Subject: Failed the test

 

Thanks for giving my stuff to your publishing-related friend in any case. I know I ramble on about the details, but hey, I'm also writing to friends who are interested in my exploits and can picture me doing the stupid things I do. My main concern is showing the quality of my work. Of course, I would structure things more if I were publishing this, but that requires having all the important events in a sequence completed by the time I write about them.

 

Still, I include many of the details because I find them amusing, and I'm also trying to give people a picture of Japan as well as explaining what I'm up to. It's "A gripping story of the uncertainty of youth set against the background of travel in a foreign land."

 

Or something.

 

Anyway, we'll see what the future brings. But when you told me you'd given my stuff to someone in the publishing field I was bouncing all day.

Hockey Gold

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2002

Subject: The game

 

Not to worry, I was very pleased to mark the final score of the Canada-US game. Some friends even sent me photos of Yonge street.

 

I've been using the Japan Times report of the game as reading material for high-level students. It talks about Gretzky and includes the words, "Hockey is a religion in Canada," so it's a good primer on Canadian culture.

 

Now I just need an article on beer.

Writing Progress

Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002

Subject: The Bork of Revelations

        

You're probably right. But I just need a little more time to get things sorted out. I'm realizing more and more that this interest in the Japanese language is purely tangential to my actual goals in life, but I'm going to give it one more year to see if it goes anywhere. By that point, I should be ready to write, anyway. I just finished 3000 years of world history, and I only have 1500 to go. But it's an excruciating process. You can't just sit down and say, "Okay, I'll think of another 1500 years' worth of ideas today." They come altogether far too gradually.

 

I heard back from my friend who sent my e-mails to her friend in publishing. The response was mixed, and made mention of getting caught in the details. The friend apparently recommended that I work on putting it all into a "coming-of-age" story to give it some direction. I'm amused that it's even necessary to criticize e-mails describing random events in my life for lacking direction. I'm sure my personal cloud of irony will take offense to that.

 

As for the friend's suggestion... I have a personal objection to the concept of "coming-of-age": it implies that all psychological uncertainty prior to a given point is insignificant compared to the state achieved as a result. Even ignoring the fact that I'd argue that only the most mundane people achieve a truly stable state, I have an issue with trivializing someone's emotions just because they occur before the point in life at which we're all supposed to be nicely sane and settled. It gives people the excuse to ignore suffering because they write it off as temporary. Life is temporary. We just set an arbitrary line at which we start to think of time as significant.

 

Anyway, I didn't expect too much in response, but that's what I got. No big deal. I'll blow minds with my final product someday, I'm not-at-all-sure-but-I'm-saying-it-to-make-my-sorry-ass-feel-superior-to-anyone-who-has-the-gall-to-criticize-my-genius.

 

Yeah.

 

I'm still waiting for news of my article for the Star. I sent them another but they ignored it, and the person who was the major proponent for my first article has left the paper, so I have no idea what's happening.

 

Oh, and in happy news, the peninsula I'm moving to is supposed to be at the epicentre of the largest earthquake that has or ever will hit Japan. They predicted 40 years ago that it would happen within 50 years. I have been advised in all seriousness to head for the hills in case of such an event.

 

I haven't told my parents this.

Trepid

Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002

Subject: Naturopathy?

 

I'm getting all tense about my new job now... everyone keeps wishing me well and telling me I'll love it and it somehow makes me think something is going to go horribly wrong.

A New Face

Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002

Subject: Gnivol gnivol gnivol

 

I'm a little stressed out about all the changes coming up, and I'm not sure how I'm going to tell some of the people I know here that I'm leaving. My barber asked me today if I was having a farewell party. I wonder if I'm supposed to. It's not the kind of thing that would naturally occur to me. I just tend to slink off.

 

My new housemate arrived yesterday - an Australian. He seems decent, but some of his questions reminded me of just what an awkward ball of flesh I am: when he asked about people spending the night and how much could be heard through the walls, I automatically told him I had no idea because Mr. Brown and I were seldom in the house together before I realized he was asking about the procedures for banging people in your bedroom.

 

I'm actually starting to worry a little what people think of me... I mean, every guy who shows up in Japan either has a girlfriend at home or picks one up shortly upon arrival. I haven't gotten close to anybody. What does that mean?

 

Anyway, I really am looking forward to seeing you. It'll be fun to have someone I can show some of the cool things I've found around here.

 

...I think I just have trouble asking people to do things with me. I mean, I really have no friends I do anything remotely personal with... I'm afraid to have people in my house... and I'm satisfied to sit at my computer and work all day...

 

Is this wrong? Pathetic? I don't know. I think people must have written me off as something unfortunate by now...

 

Random thoughts.

 

I cheered myself up yesterday by buying some new clothes (well, pants - all the shirts around here have sleeves that are too damn short) and the Lupin Cagliostro movie on DVD. Maybe I'll buy the rest of the kendo armour I need next week.

 

Who am I? I'm Jean Valjean.

 

...so Javert you see it's true...

This man bears no more guilt than you!

Who am I?

Two-four-six-oh-one!!

 

And oddly, I don't think I've cracked.

 

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