Monday, August 30, 2010

bfg on horrible-no-good-very-bad days

Yup, today was the day I almost cried.

With most JETs it happens the moment they are first alone in their apartment. With me, it happened where, without realizing it, I was super effected by something but haven't been paying attention to it. And then something small happens and I just want to cry. That was me today.

I woke up late this morning, I guess that was in essence the event that dominoed into what I thought was, though now it seems so pitiful, disasters.

Rushing to school and up the hill, I was only 4 minutes late because I didn't bother to stop at a combini having purchased most of my coffee, morning snack and drink the night before. But I still need to calm down, wipe the sweat off my face and change clothes. That takes longer than you think; every morning it feels like I just did a hard work-out which would rock if I were able to shower and wash my hair after. Instead, ringlets form from the sweat and even after having wiped my lower back and chest a gazzlion times droplets still fall down driving me crazy as they tickle me and remind me that I really must smell.

Not even given the chance to wipe my face this morning before I was jumped on by the super nice and gentle vice-principal whose Japanese is a little to fast for me. Basically he said tomorrow I had to introduce myself to the teacher's so to please prepare a speech. Okay, done. Sure. No problem. He goes on and on but I was like "MAN! Can't you see I am white and stink and sweat?! I know I am late but give a girl a breather." I just shut-up and nodded and smiled. He is after all so nice.

Walking to my desk I saw for the first time in ten days my supervisor Mi and another JTE Na who has helped me a lot in Mi's absense. They both say "Ah Vanessa! Lets go try out the projector."

I ignore them for a second drop my bags, take out a hankie, wipe my face. I put on a smile. "Sure! But do you mind if I change first?"

"Oh ! No gomen, gomen."

I run to the washroom but now that people are actually waiting for me, I can't give my body the thorough wipe down it needs and I am getting a little depressed.

Back with a smile. I desided to take the advice of one of the JET senpais and start my day over.

But all too soon, "Ahhhh! I don't think Japanese technology accepts MAC."

Frustrated. I was going to explode. I hate it when people who don't know the difference between a USB key and SD Card try to talk to me about technology. "I understand that MAC is rare but this is a projector; it doesn't care. The cables are universal. No, its something on my side." But there was no internet in the dinosaur room they call the Language Lab and that has no AC (which should be illegal by the way).

Ninty minutes later and I got the teacher's PC to work but not my MAC. I was too tired to care, "Okay. I will use your PC."

But the problem is that when I returned to my desk not only did I find out that I did not bring the power cord to my laptop but a conversion from Keynote to Power Point is not easy in the least. Much of my slideshow was lost and I couldn't even attempt to fix the problem since the laptop had little juice left (I was watching the 1960s film BUSHIDO in bed last night).

"Na-sensei, can I use your USB key?"

I tried to put the file on it but there was no room. Sigh. World at this point is against me.

Then Mi-sensei calls to me, "Vanessa, here are some papers for you."

It is an application to stay with a home-stay family during the autumn festival for a weekend. I was so happy having felt somewhat disappointed at my like of traditional Japanese life and filled out the sheet and sent it off right away. It is a first-come-first-serve basis with only ten spots and as I flipped through the pages I realized that  she had gotten this paper last week - I probably lost my chance because of her vacation. I could not help but be resentful. I don't care if she takes a vacation but stuff like this should have been told to me. That and the fact that my apartment issues have not even been mentioned by her or the school... well this was the point I = bitter.

Determined to fix the projector problem, I took loads of pictures of of the device and my laptop and sent it to the bf who was, when all is said and done, awesome. He really looked into it but it seems that the Apple site mixed things up as the product they were advertising for the MacBook Pro was not for it as there was no such port on my laptop. I did find the right one but it advertised that it is for the MacBook Air... not the same thing. Even Antonio, the Apple Mania Cult Leader, was frustrated by this. He is going this morning to the Mac store to make sure I buy the right one.

And through it all, I could hear people talking about me in Japanese. Sometimes laughing, sometimes "neing" and in my hyper-emotional state, I started tearing up. I wrote to the bf, "I just want to come home." It was the first time I meant it... how for just one moment I didn't want something new or different. I just wanted Sasha to talk to me in her silent and loyal poodle language and Antonio to bring me a coffee in a Star Trek mug and ask me which episode I want to watch this time.

I would even have settled for just leaving and going back to the apartment and working from there but no. This is Japan. You don't do these types of things and to be honest it was unfair. But with no computer I wasn't even able to do some much needed prep for lessons.

I desided to show the teachers, since the two OCI profs were there, my idea for my self-intro. They love my movie, "Please play it at least twice."

"Twice? Why would I do that?"

"You worked hard on it."

"Okay but I was going to talk the second time so the kids have some listening instead of just reading."

"Well, I really like music."

Okay than, twice it is.

I showed them the activities. "No, no. Just fill in the blanks is fine."

"Fill in the blanks!?" I could not help myself. "But, what are they learning by filling in the blanks. Nothing."

But they said how they thought my dialogue excercise was too hard. "Anyways, " Mi-sensei said, "copying is even too hard for most of these kids."

I wanted to cry then. Like fucking breakdown and ball. Is this to be my year? Giving kids fill-in-the-blanks?! How is this educating them...? I actually care and I just feel like I am bring trampled on.

And they all agree to meet me, to include grammar point, are into my idea of Mad Minutes (which I am stealing from my fourth grade teacher who used them for math class) but when it comes down to it, it seems as if they want a babysitter - to survive the 50 minutes and that is it.

I think I could have taken a little more control of the situation... but I didn't I just felt like I was being bitch-slapped and in all reality I may have interpreted their tone and mannerisms much more harshly. These women have both helped me a lot despite being so busy so I feel really bitchy writing this now. But at that moment...

Soon after, Na-sensei said we should go for my driver's license and... first success of the day! Not only was I able to get a rendez-vous tomorrow but I don't need to take an exam! Technically, tomorrow, I can walk into a bike shop, buy a bike and go home. This is where I need to remember all the good things - like how my new, "precious" friend Takako is actually taking time out of her Sunday to teach me how to ride a scooter. When I said I would pay for gas she shook everything that could move, "Nononono."

Actually, she is even helping me with my thesis and when I insisted on paying she wrote to me,

"Any way , I'm happy to help you. It might be my study,too. 

I don't wanna get money from you.
You are my precious friend, so I don't want."

I was so touched! I could not believe she wrote that. And in Canada, well - it is just not done. With the exception on my two bffs, Caro and Rose who for some reason share my "money is meant to be spent (responsibly)" philo, in Canada I would have had to pay. In Japan, in less than a week people I don't even know have volunteered their time and knowledge to help me with my work. I even got an email from an aquaintance who has no sentimental connection saying it would be a pleasure for him to help with a business article I need help with. My jaw dropped... this guy was helping me out in ways that others I knew more intimately could not. It was such a surprise! (and I immediately started budgeting gifts I would buy them HAHA!)

Its not just that though. Its the interest. All who know me know I can get... carried away when taken over by a plot line. My thesis is no different. Mention samurai and the conversation will go from how I still kinda really wanna marry one to why Bushido is bull (quoting Karl Friday here!). Call it politeness or their awesome ability to control their facial expressions but not only have people here, Japanese and non, listened they have offered me a myriad of sources from tv to kids books to cultural events that are all related. It really makes me feel like my thesis is alive sometimes. If only I didn't have to worry about paying tuition. I would just write it for the rest of my life!

But I digress...

Upon returning to school, the AC was not working so well. I was informed that since I was not going with a teacher tomorrows Diver's License visit would be vacation time and that my speech contest student would only be able to meet me at 7pm after school since he is in the tennis club and they have practice three times a day, 5 days a week and most Saturdays (!!!!!). What to do... I said I had my own classes for Japanese and asked if he could just leave a little earlier but that was met with silence. I wanted to pull my hair out. And I have a lot of fucking hair!

Cure for a bad day? Start over. So- I came home after this day and went to sleep for two hours, woke up and did just that.

Worked on thesis with Hiroko for an hour or so and we hung out, had some Chinese dinner and talked. I think the great surprise with having people like her help me is how our conversation turns to how fathers are like samurais or the philosophy behind gift-giving... Conversations like that drive me insanely crazy with happiness at how great it is to be alive.

I basically handled my day really badly... probably due to tiredness or ladytime or just being in a country that is so hot I carry a towel around with me, do double takes and wipe in between my boobs all the time and other embarrassing parts I don't want to mention. Certain frustrations which funnelled today in a bad mood but ended with friends. So all is well. 

bfg goes for a night bike ride in hopes of seeing more cats with half their faces bitten off. 
(and makes a list of things to do when in this situation again like scrub a floor or something and work the stress off).

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