…And I’ve never felt as good as how I do right now, except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day when I felt the way that I do right now.
Where Have You Been?
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted a blog entry in a while. Some people have been asking me for a new entry, and the truth is, I haven’t really felt up to writing one. For about a month and a half, I was pretty terribly depressed. There were a lot of reasons, and I don’t know if it’s a good idea to go into them. For a while, I was afraid to post, because I thought it might be a depressing entry, and it’s almost time for the new people to arrive, and if they ever read my blog, I didn’t want to scare them.
Briefly, let’s just say I am really unsatisfied with my job and my life and the way things are going.
And writing-wise—well, I wasn’t writing. I would try to force myself to sit down and write, and nothing would happen. Nothing. I can’t describe how frustrating that was. That sort of writer’s block has never happened to me before. Usually, when I get writer’s block, I don’t feel like writing or I don’t know what to do with the characters or the story or what will happen next, but I’ve always been able to just hash out something random, even if it didn’t really help the story along. There was always something to say. But this time, there was nothing. I would just stare at the page and—nothing. I tried to change the medium and the location—I tried to write on a train, in a coffee shop, I tried to write with pen and paper instead of a computer—but it didn’t help. So that was a low point for me.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but eventually I wrote something. I was reading poetry one day, and I ran across Margaret Atwood’s poem “Habitation.” I don’t know why this poem, but it somehow inspired me to write something. The story I wrote has nothing to do with the poem, though I did end up using another Atwood poem—“The Rest”—for the epigraph.
But there. I wrote something. I even brought it into the next writer’s meeting I held, and it went over well enough.
And I’ve been reading about a book a week—and that has helped me feel better. I watched a lot of TV for a long time, but now that I’ve gotten back into reading, I really have no desire to watch TV anymore. Well, and I can’t find a good anime to watch. I watched all the goods ones already, I think. ;)
So maybe things are picking up again.
So We Put Our Hands Up Like the Ceiling Can’t Hold Us
So now I’m back! I feel marginally better. I’m not sure what changed, because there were plenty of good things that happened in May that made me happy. There was a camping trip in Otaki, a barbecue at Kujukuri Beach, I had dinner with some teachers a few times (and I feel like I’m finally making work friends), and I started kyudo (Japanese archery).
I just wasn’t in a state to write a blog post. And I’m still kind of crawling my way out of this funk.
I’m not sure how to approach this post, either, but since it’s been so long, I figure I’ll just give you a few drabbles to catch y’all up on what I’ve been doing. (These aren’t perfect 100s. I’m sorry about that.)
A Few Days Off—May 15th, 16th, and 17th
The students took tests for three days, so I took those days off.
On Wednesday, I met Leslie in Tokyo. We went to a Pokemon Center and an amazing Hawaiian restaurant in Akasaka. The guys there were from Hawaii, and they recommended some excellent dishes.
On Thursday, Hanawa-sensei took me to a car repair shop. Even though they were her husband’s friends and they gave me a deal, it was still expensive (about 500 USD). But now my car is safe to drive!
On Friday, Kim was competing in a horse show! I brought my sketchbook, so I managed to sketch horses a little.
I’m not good at drawing horses.
Otaki Camping Trip—May 18th & 19th
The Otaki camping trip was amazing. Sam gave me a ride up to Otaki, which is the most beautiful place in Chiba, I think. I can see that it would be lonely to live there—there are no other ALTs or other foreigners around at all, and the only train line it has is famous for being the shortest trainline in Japan. But it sure was beautiful. I didn’t take many pictures, which I would say was a shame, but honestly, I was too busy looking at how beautiful it was. I don’t really like to live life through a lens.
JET Meeting & Afterparty—May 24th
We needed one more JET meeting before everyone left, so JETs who were leaving gave presentations about the time they spent in Japan. It was really inspiring. A lot of the first year JETs were like, “Whoa, we have to step it up.” I think it gave us some ideas of what to do while we were here.
Someone once said to me that the first year JETs this year weren’t really active—not a lot of us really traveled or anything. I kind of wonder if it has something to do with the way we feel that we have to pinch pennies now.
After the meeting, we went to Outback for dinner. I had a fascinating conversation with some people about feminism and queer communities. Educational stuff.
Kujukuri Grillout Extravaganza—June 2nd
Some people got together through Chiba AJET for a barbecue in Kujukuri.
Unfortunately, it is three hours on a train away from me. But since I had nothing else to do, and it sounded like loads of fun, I decided to go.
And it was loads of fun! There were delicious cookies and MEAT AND MEAT AND MORE MEAT. There was even a beautiful moment when all the guys ran down to the water together—some holding hands—and frolicked in the ocean. It was magical.
Dinner with some teachers—June 6th
After class, I returned to my desk to find a note in English from Kawana-sensei. It said: “Are you free tonight? Let’s go dinner. Kawana.”
And so, that night, I went to dinner with Kawana-sensei, Tanikawa-sensei, and two elementary school teachers. It was basically a joshikai + Kawana. Haha!
We went to an Indonesian food restaurant. It was delicious, but the fried rice dish we got was really spicy, and one of the women was panting and saying, “Spicy, spicy,” over and over again. It was cute, haha!
It’s been really great getting to know these people more over the last few months. It’s nice to make some work friends. :)
My First Visual Kei Show—June 22nd
This was the most exciting thing that happened, and I’m going to blog about it in more detail at a later date. Briefly—I went to a concert with Melissa! It was a very small show, and it was awesome. I haven’t been to a show in years, so this was great. My ears rang for two days afterwards, which I think is a sign that I had a good time. :)
We spent the entire weekend in Tokyo—Saturday for light shopping and the show, and Sunday entirely for shopping. It was magnificent. One of the best days couple of days I’ve had in Japan so far. :) I’ll be sure to cover it in more detail when I have the space!
And This is When I Felt Fantastic—June 25th
The week following the concert was awesome. I just felt good—probably because I had a great weekend—and then on Tuesday, something amazing happened.
First, I taught swimming in the first year girls P.E. class, which the new Kawana-sensei and I had been discussing for a few weeks. I taught about half the girls—the ones who said they could swim well already. It was great. The students were great, and they listened and tolerated my English. Fucking fantastic class.
And then, when I got back to my desk, there was an envelope in my inbox. I didn’t recognize the name at first, but when I looked more closely, I figured out the last name: Suzuki.
What Suzuki would be writing me a letter?
I couldn’t read the first name, but then I realized that it was my previous principal!
When I opened the envelope, there were four pages. The first was a short letter in Japanese, and I could only read a little bit of it. But the last three pages were the English translation of his letter (haha, English tends to be longer, I suppose).
I almost cried. It was such a sweet letter. Words of encouragement and everything. He heard that I was having trouble at school, so he wanted to write me to tell me that everyone knows that I’m working hard and that everyone is on my side. So. Sweet.
Best. Principal. Ever.
So Things Are Looking Up
So I was depressed for a little while. Part of it was Stage 2 Culture Shock—or at least, that’s what I was hoping, because that means I’d eventually get out of it. It’s hard to describe the way I was feeling. Good things were happening—see the above drabbles—and I felt awesome as they were happening, but afterwards, there would be such a crash…
I still don’t feel satisfied with my job, to be honest. But I feel better. I think I’m finding ways to cope again. I also think that a lot of the dissatisfaction about my job came from dissatisfaction with my personal life. So perhaps if I fix that, work will start to be… well, something again. Maybe it’ll never be fulfilling. I just want to feel good about what I’m doing. I get moments like that—moments when students talk to me during lunch, or I run a game they really like, or I teach swimming lessons and they respond well. I’d like to feel that more often again, like I did back in September and November. Maybe something like that.
joshikai n. literally “woman’s meeting/party.” Like a girl’s night out, basically.
Visual kei n. a Japanese music genre. It doesn’t have a particular sound, just a particular style. If you look closely at the band flyers, that’s pretty much what the bands look like. They all have different sounds though, ranging from hardcore to pop rock. It’s a difficult genre to define.