New Year

Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002

Subject: Happy New Year from the Gaijin!

 

Now that I have successfully acquired a laptop - but still no software - I'm starting to collect all my e-mails onto it in preparation for an eventual travelogue of some sort. I don't have a phone line at home, though, so Net access is still unfortunately sporadic, and I don't know if I can plug my laptop in anywhere to get a direct connection.

 

New Year's was fascinating: I went to the biggest shrine in town with some Japanese friends, and we clung to each other for safety while we weaved through the insane crowds and stalls selling food and knickknacks. It's the first time I'd seen anyone being at all wary in Japan: one of the guys consciously left his wallet behind and the police were out to make sure everyone remained orderly. Key activities included chucking ¥10 into a box to make a wish, and trying to catch motchi (sticky doughy balls or cubes) that were thrown to the crowd after the local fire brigade – which apparently has a several-hundred-year history - did a traditional singing and pole-spinning routine.

 

Since I'm turning 24 this year, and the Chinese animal calendar has a 12-year cycle, this is apparently an important year for me, and it would have been very unlucky for me had I not gone to the shrine. I didn't catch any motchi, though. That would have been a sure sign of good luck for the year.

Humility

Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: Missing: One sense of personal responsibility

 

Thanks. Actually, while I do indeed intend to cut back on the alcohol, I've realized that the real problem is that I've been thinking way too highly of myself lately. It knocked me back down pretty hard, and I'm happy for it. I think I've been letting my attitude taint my relationships with my co-workers.

Grousing

Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: merry Christmas

 

All the best to you, too. I intend to send out some notes on my new-year's festivities soon - nothing too crazy, but there's an interesting number of little rituals involving the local shrines.

 

I hope your job's treating you well. I have to go back to mine tomorrow, and I'm not exactly relishing the idea. I think I'm going to start actively looking for new work as soon as my next paycheque comes in. It's not a bad job all in all, but I know I could make comparable money working somewhere else for far fewer hours, and I really need my personal time now that I've got a computer. My job just takes too much time (we have to prep all our lessons on our own time, which is a crock. I don't mind working more than a standard 40-hour week for a job I like and have a vested interest in, but to have to do it for this kind of work really gets to me).

 

Grouse, grouse, grouse. In a white wine sauce.

For How Long?

Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: Missing: One sense of personal responsibility

 

As for my stay here, I'm not sure. I'm not going to stay with Blight any longer than I have to, though. I'm not especially enjoying the workload, and I'm already looking at other options. But as for JET, I would have had to apply in November, and it's a hassle to get all the documentation in. I suppose I could do it if I came back in time for November next year, but I'm not entirely sure if that's even what I want to do. I'm realizing that my Japanese is really lousy and it's going to take a very long time to get to even a day-to-day functional level, and I'm not sure if I'm willing to invest that amount of time in it. My housemate took two more years of Japanese than I did, and while he can read and understand a lot more than I can, his speech isn't much better than mine.

 

Japan is sort of a side-track and a general interest for me, but it's not helping me get where I want to go in life. So if it's just getting in the way, I might come back sooner than anticipated. We'll see. The main thing on my radar right now is getting a job done for Red’s dad as soon as I get the software I need. After that, I'll start thinking about changing my situation again.

Archie's Novel

Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: The moment of truth.

 

Message and massive file received. It'll take me a few days before I can get to a place where I can download the file, and I've got a freelance project to do for the 15th, but you can be sure I'll read it through. I'm looking forward to it. I'm so impressed that you've written an actual NOVEL. I've been mired around the 20-page limit all my life.

 

I've fiddled with some of my work since I got my laptop, but I still don't have Office, so it's all been tentative stuff on Wordpad. I finished the play I was working on in the summer (I think I gave you the first half or so), but I don't like the way it turned out so I've started revamping the second half. I just have to stop playing FreeCell.

 

Oh, and my history is progressing reasonably, but I want to get Excel so I can get back to plotting it on a spreadsheet. I've been doing it by hand since I got here, and I'm not looking forward to inputting it all manually.

 

Can't wait to read the conclusion of the first book.

Options

Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: Missing: One sense of personal responsibility

 

I did rather forget about the lousy employment conditions in Canada right now... Japan's not doing too hot either, mind you, but there's always a market for English teachers.

 

Part of why I'm writing such long mass-mails is because they give me an excuse to put something down electronically that I can save for later. I've also got a journal - I'm on my second notebook now - that I'm using for little day-to-day events that aren't quite as spectacular as my e-mail stories. I'm thinking that a rambling and amusing travelogue might be a comparatively easy way to break into publication. I'm also considering sending some of my stuff to the Star, but I don't know what section would want it.

 

Technical writing is indeed "blah", but I've thought about it. I could probably make more money doing the equivalent here, though.

 

Have I never told you the story of why I chose engineering? Probably not, since it's rather self-indulgent, but the gist of it is that I decided that I didn't want to pay a lot of money for an education that wouldn't prepare me for an easily-acquired job. Even with an education in English, writing isn't an easy career to slip into. I always wanted to write, but I wanted a backup that would give me a steady source of income. Obviously, I'm not making good use of it right now, but that was the plan.

 

Maybe I'll tell you the whole story sometime in the future... it's about as elaborate as my average mass-mail.

 

My big problem right now is my lack of literary connections, which is where an English degree would have helped and why I want to try to hold the Star's attention if I can. I also just need time to create. I'm working on a few long-term things right now, but I suppose now that I have a computer I should try to produce an article or two that I can send in for some more immediate recognition.

 

Quite frankly, what I really need is to spend less time at work. That's where Blight sucks - longest working hours in the business, and no allowed prep time.

The Chase

Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: Missing: One sense of personal responsibility

 

He’s sweet, but he does the stupid thing I used to do: he lets people walk all over him because he wants to be nice, but he secretly resents the fact that nobody really appreciates the lengths he goes to and feels unrewarded. It's not a good place to be. It starts that whole festering bitterness thing, which makes EVERYbody unhappy when it comes to the surface. Believe me, I know.

 

I'm sure you don't really have to chase boys if you don't want to... the problem is that the ones you actually want have usually already been spotted by somebody else, so you need to lure them away...

 

I'm kinda neutral right now - neither chasing nor being chased. I don't know if I like it or not. We seem to be wired to feel uncomfortable when we're not in a relationship, but I don't think I really want one right now... and yet, then again... argh.

Suck My Bard

Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002

Subject: Thought I'd left Qlink behind me...

 

I've determined that I'm going to try to teach a little of Hamlet in one of my high-level conversation sessions. Interestingly enough, the subtitles on the local version of Branagh's movie take away all of the cool ambiguity: "To be or not to be" is translated as, "Is it better to live or die?" I think I'm going to ask them to speculate on the meaning in English before I show them the movie.

Japanese Girls

Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002

Subject: Re: Missing: One sense of personal responsibility

 

He’s an incredibly nice guy, but just as I tend to do, he thinks being long-suffering is a virtue that justifies itself. He likely believes that he will someday be able to ask a comparable favour and be justified in feeling cheated when it inevitably isn't granted. I used to do righteous indignation a lot, and it took a good kick in the head before I even learned to think of it as a fault. It's very dangerous... kind of like a kettle slowly filling before it's suddenly set to a boil.

 

The girls in Japan... how do I put this delicately? I guess they're just generally bland in appearance. I've yet to see anybody in Japan that I would qualify as beautiful, and I don't know if such people exist. Even the TV and movie stars aren't notably attractive. Couple that with the fact that there are few orthodontists in the country and most people pay little attention to oral hygiene, and it's a little unappealing. I've met a few attractive girls in Japan, but even they aren't immediately striking... I think you'd understand if you came here. Picture a country full of guys who max out at "kinda cute," and imagine what that does to the average.

 

Actually, I think that would be Japan, too...

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