Saturday, March 12, 2011

bfg on ...

What title would be appropriate for this? bfg on the tsunami? Please, that is so...

Uh this whole thing is a mess. I am in Japan. I felt the Earthquake but in all honestly it was exciting and wondrous. I thought I was dying because someone poisoned me then I thought I fell asleep and was dreaming about Inception then someone yelled "EARTHQUAKE" and I realized I needed to get out of my bubble and start living reality. It lasted a long moment. It felt like an hour and a few seconds at the same time. It also felt like my stomach went up my esophagus and into my brain.

There were many warnings and it was scary to see your city highlighted in red on the Japanese Meteorological site but the truth is I feel like I am in another Japan. One that had a little shake and a little scare. This is not the Japan where 1000 people died, houses were swept up, people, cars, planes... THAT Japan is on TV and facebook statuses. It is part of the Lady Gaga bracelets on sale for the relief fund.

I hate this because once Hollywood gets involved suddenly it feels like this is a work of bad fiction. Instead of being engrossed I am removed. Pretty soon Michael Jackson will come back from the dead and sing a song about it - all proceeds going to the relief no doubt. In three years a movie about a dog will come out where he singlehandedly rescued an orphanage of children stuck on a roof by swimming them across to a more stable rooftop and the Government of Japan will make a peace centre for it.

It just doesn't feel real anymore. Instead it is so removed and distant... like a movie. I drove to the shoreline because I had to see it for myself. I was expecting some coastguards or something... but instead there was silent beauty.

So, please stop thinking of me family and friends. Think about Sendai, help them too before Hollywood sucks the humanity out of it. I am off to study at a resto so I don't consume energy (which Shizuoka is providing to Tokyo) and maybe get some homework done.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

bfg on yish!

My intention was that my next post would be large banners that read "FINISHED", "DONE!" and "I AM SO ELATED I AM RUNNING NAKED IN THE STREET!". Oh, the Thesis is coming along and in a week should be completed thank the gods but no it is not done. However today's events... yish. I need to let this out.

I told you about Goto, right? He is, with the exception of Megane Boy, my favourite student. Unlike shy Megane Boy, Goto loves attention. He would make a great actor. To me he does not look Japanese... he has a round face with a strong jaw, dimples, short, fit boy since he is on the running team and a smile that can charm anyone - even a giant foreign English teacher like me.

And that kid knows it. Every time I look Goto's way, even when he is doing something other than what he is supposed to, he flashes me a willing smile. Sometimes I smile back, sometimes I say "Just because your smiling does not mean you can get away with that Goto! Stop!" but it does not have the same bite that I usually put into my Sergeant General statements in class. He listens though. To me at least he listens.

To top it all off he wears glasses. He is not a very good students but in class Goto raises his hand and seems to do well. His speaking ability I think is much more advanced than his writing, not that that is particularly important but so it goes.

I love teaching him and his entire homeroom. They are my favourites and they know it! So today when the Homeroom Hanko Prize was announced none of us were surprised when Homeroom 14 won. However, I was surprised that Goto was not there for he never misses a class. But I set his test and prize aside and did my shpeel.

After was when the bomb dropped, "Sensei! I am holding on to Goto's test and prize so let him know when he comes to school to come see me please."

She seemed uncomfortable. "I do not think you can see him. No one is really allowed to."

"Allowed to see him? You mean he is in school?" Oh God, was he sick?

"Yes... he was caught doing something bad..."

"What?" I know she hated being put on the spot. See if I care.

"He was caught at a store..." she gave me a look saying 'Please don't make me tell you' which didn't work and so finally, "He pick-pocketed."

Now in Japan, this is a mega big deal. I almost made a joke about how I used to steal gum from the local store but I wonder if that would get me fired here. But poor Goto... none of the teachers really like him. He just sleeps in class or disturbs. But this kid is active. He has no outlet for his creativity and humour. He can be great really he can but there are few opportunities to express himself and if there is one kid on this planet that needs to do that its Goto. I know - I was exactly the same! Urg!

"Can I see him?"

Well, I pushed the buttons and it did not take much for them to consent to let me see him. Goto was still wearing his glasses but now his eyes were tiny from having cried so much and his face super round from puffiness. I gave Goto his homeroom prize and then his Student Prize for having "improved" throughout the year.

"Goto... I am sorry this happened."

He said thank you.

"Goto... you are a smart boy. atamaga iidesu" I wanted to say more. That I thought he had so much potential but he has to learn discipline. That tomorrow is a new day and he can start over; just let this go and start anew. But he could not face me. He kept shacking his head with such loathing and self-hatred I just wanted to hug him and let him cry.

But this is high school and I am not his mother. "You are a smart boy who made a stupid mistake." He shook his head. He whispered in a tiny voice. "baka desu." I am stupid.

I gave Goto his papers and went around the table in the tiny room he has to spend the next few days in writing letters of apology to the community, the person he pick-pocketed, his teachers, basically everyone in a 10 mile radius, and tapped his shoulder - a huge thing here as physical contact is not the norm. But man that face, of such guilt... what could I have done? I feel like it was not enough and yet to have done more would have meant overstepping a boundary that I wonder if a teacher should ever cross.

I wish I had him as a student next year. I WANT him and 14 homeroom and so many others. And so I am going to fight this... I am going to fight to teach 2nd year students.

On Goto's survey he wrote how my class was his favourite class. "I am free." I would rather teach Zombie Girl and Giggle Bitch for a whole year if it means sticking with some of these precious gems. See the thing is he is smart... its just that so many people told him he is stupid - all the fuckers he is writing letters to: his school, his community, his peers - that he believe it. And how to make him see... I have to at least try. Nothing is worth much if we do not at least try.