Thursday, October 28, 2010

bfg on Blue

There is a lot to say. Cat Shit. Montreal Guests. Diseases and iodine. Mid-terms. New bathtub. The list goes on.

I thought I would start with Blue.

Blue made me crack. I mean I teared before. Cried even but I haven't balled my brains out at work yet. "Blue" (her name is Aoi which in Japanese means ... exactly) is not your typical Japanese girl except for the fact that she is chronically shy. She is one of my third year high school students in my Basic English class which means when she graduates she will probably get a job. She has a rounder face and body with short boy-cut style hair and manga round eyes. This is not to say she is fat or ugly - just different from the norm. She does have a little moustache which I notice because so few Asians have hair but still - this is Vanessa hyper-sensitive; 99% of humans would not see it.

For the past two months though, Blue has been opening up. It started with her name,

"Aoi, did you know your name is Blue."
"Uhhhhh... yes."

Yes, I am baka, baka.

But then next class I approached her and two other girls in class who never, EVER talk even if I call their name, "Okay, lets make an exchange (and I make grand gestures of changing of hands). Vanessa (they always seem to understand better when I speak of myself in the third person) will NOT ask ... you... to... TALK (hands move to show mouth moving) ... if ... you ... do... extra... hanko homework... Homework, Shukudai - onaji."

Their faces smiled. "Okay!" So I handed them some Disney stories and about every two weeks these girls have been reading and answering questions and true to my word I never call on them.

Until they started raising their hand.

OMG guys, the joy in my heart when Blue raised her hand for the first time. I had to stop myself from giving her 500 hanko on the spot. I gave her 10 instead.

Mid-terms were last week. A real low point since 95% of my first year students failed. Don't worry - they got the Vanessa-Works i.e. "EVERYBODY in first year MUST correct their exams and hand it in next class. Whoever does not, -5 hanko per day, per student. And that student will spend one week with me after school (I checked with other teachers before giving this threat) doing VERB CHARTS and still needing to hand in their corrected test. DO - YOU - UNDERSTAND!?".

Blue was one of the 30% of my 3rd years who failed. I was so sad because the other girls in the Shy Group did super, duper well.

Today, I handed her back the test before the class bell rang. "Next time, Tsugi tesuto, you come to Vanessa. You ask many questions... Okay?"

She looked at her test. She was sad. "Yes. Wakarimasu."

Then I handed her an envelope. "This is for you." I held it up for her to read.

It took her a good 20 seconds but finally her face genuinely lit up, "Thank you!"

The bell rang and I continued teaching military, Book Mistress style.

After school, I am doing photocopies with certainty that any minute I would die from chocking on the flem in my throat (gross!). I am punching holes wishing the rain would stop.

"Vanessa sensei." I look up to see Blue.

"Aoi! Do you have a question?"

There was a long, long pause. I am learning patience Antonio! For REAL.

"Thank you. Your present made me very happy."

"It was just a candy! Are you having a birthday party?"

"My family will bring me to sushi... Your present is my only present."

Guys man. It took EVERYTHING not to cry there. We talked about the test and three teachers came to see who was talking. One of the male teachers was calling people over, "Aoi is talking." It made it that much harder.

She finally went off to her homeroom teacher and I went to the washroom. How to explain... I was happy that my simple, stupid Birthday letter and candy made her that happy. I felt guilty because when I was writing this weeks batch of letters, I was so annoyed and frustrated at being sick and I didn't put that much effort into them. I was relieved that there was someone who gave a shit about the work I did. And I felt pity because if a Letter written on cutsy 100 YEN Stationary from your ALT is your only present... I don't know.

I just wanted to go home. Just for a little bit. Curl up. Watch Firefly with the bf, petting Sasha and pretending the cats don't exist. Be sick and not have to worry about birthday cards or sending money or if I am driving on the right side of the road (as in correct, not RIGHT right).

So that is Blue. She probably will never know any of this but yeah... she makes me feel like I am not a complete failure.

Todays JTE meeting with 3rd Year Teachers.

"Vanessa, please don't sit on the desks. It is rude."

"Oh sorry."

"You can sit in a chair."

"While I am teaching? I don't think so... No, I am sorry. I didn't think it mattered." After all, the SHIT on the tables in my LL Room is all from the 1970s. The class room is big with EVERYTHING bolted in place. I can't move a chair to sit in when I am sick and sweating and dying. So I sit on the table... didn't even OCCUR to me this would be a problem but okay. I get it. When in Rome...

"Well, the students are not allowed so you should not do it."

Okay, now I am pissed off. What the fuck. "Well, the students are not allowed to wear anything but their uniform but you don't see me in a white shirt and red tie!"

Silence. Me coughing and dying to blow my nose.

"Yes, well cultural difference. But it is rude."

"Oh, I am not arguing that point. I am sorry I didn't think of it and probably should have. But don't tell me it is because the students can't that I can't." I hate it when they treat me either like a student, teacher or OTHER when it is convenient for them.

Subject changed.

I have been sick for about a week now (since my birthday), and it has sucked. Having ladytime at the same time does not help (it seems I am always writing a blogpost when I am menstruating?! - anyways). The air here is WET and every time I feel like I am getting better, I feel the wet seep into my clothes and the chills come and ... yup. Sick, sick, sick. The kids have been nice and one of the teacher's MADE me take my temperature. So nice, everyone.

I wanted to choke them all to death. Fuck you Nice People.

So, NOT in the best mood moi that is. Still worked a little on the thesis but I am far from finished my readings. Bushido 16 mangas to finish and the Diet speeches for primary sources - oh and some Japanese movies though  I am saving those. I also bought more translated manga for me to read of the two series I really enjoyed so far and WANT to write about: Bamboo Blade and Shinobi Life. The last is a Love Manga about some Ninja dude who travels to the future and loves this chick. Girl Manga. I LOVE IT. Addicted. Super want to elope with Ninja boy and have babies dressed in black. Also, very relevant to the thesis. Win win.

My friend from Montreal came for two night and one day but I was working and, worst, was sick. I hate it when I am talking with someone and it feels more like a show of watch Vanessa Spit Up Into A Napkin or Other Types of Paper That Come In Handy. The bf sent over some treats, stickers and books for the kids and a winter post card. At least in MTL, it is so cold you don't FEEL yourself freezing. You just don't feel. In Japan, it's torture. And this is fall. sigh.

I posted many the picture on Facebook - my birthday part, my visit to the ex-Tokugawa Grave Shrine which is now a National Treasure in Japan and got me on the local news, dinner with the Unno Family, resto eating with Eri and her kids and the new tub... well the hole in my washroom before the new tub.

I think I will end this long post with my birthday party. I was honestly starting to feel homesick a little then... Last year, I saw my nephew (his name day is close to my bday) and we ate and we did our "thang". Last year, I was dining with my coz, and Tiziana, my sister, Robert and Sarah and the bf to name a few. This year...  it felt odd to do anything with people i had met for just two months.

The party just sorta happened. My friend was having a party for his gf whose birthday is the same as mine so we were celebrating both. but then they broke up but he still wanted to have the party but I was the main attraction... then we moved it to my house... and then I have a big mouth and bing badabom! PARTY TIME. It was great though and I NEED to say that I realized how amazing it has been here so far if for no other reason then being able to meet all these generous and insightful people. Most were uni students, others ECC students helping me with my thesis... Honestly - so kind and giving, they really made my birthday something special. It wasn't the best birthday - I wasn't able to talk to anyone at home and besides facebook, my brother was the only person who emailed me something thoughtful and sweet. But it sure as HELL wasn't the worst. And as much as my JTEs can annoy the fuck out of me, if there is one thing I still haven't been able to get over is how the Japanese people (the ones in Shizuoka anyways) are, to date, for lack of a better word - awesome.

Okay - enough from the big mouth.
bfg off to gargle iodine so she can survive another day of teaching in a Halloween costume.

PS: OMG THE CAT SHIT! I almost forgot. okay, okay. I come home. Sick. About to open my door. Something is not right. Look down. A HUGE pile of shit in front of my door (remember I can't smell). Fuck. I open my door a crack and need to pee something fierce. Fall into the toilet since male guest left seat up (what is UP with that Guys!?). Finally, I pee without injury run downstairs to landlord. Now imagine you have to say in JAPANESE "Sorry, but there is a pile of shit in from of my door I need you to clean up."?

Honestly, I was so proud of myself when I DID get it. So proud. Still some residue.

Okay, so they clean up the shit and tell me how its the stray cats. I couldn't believe a cat could poo so much. (Antonio is was like a poo from all three of your cats x2). Now, I am going crazy listening at every sound to see if it is a cat. A cat... taking a shit... at my door.

This is like The Hill people. It will NEVER get old.