William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

5. Tokushima

In the week that’s passed since I wrote this, I’ve forgotten a lot of it. It feels like a mini-lifetime ago. Things have improved more than slightly.

January 3rd

5. Tokushima

Oh, mon dieu.

What mess have I gotten myself into now?

I … frig. I can’t even go into the difficulties that there have been. No, really, I can’t.

Thank goodness M. was here. My head would have exploded otherwise. I would have thrown something at someone, then run away screaming. It would have been a temptation to attempt to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean unassisted. Actually, no, scratch that. You see, when I get all stressed out and stuff, I can’t think clearly. No, swimming across the Pacific is a silly thing to do. It is much quicker to swim to Australia instead.

All I ever want from people is a modicum of consideration, and sympathy when it is warranted. I hate being snapped at, too. It’s not Carousel-bad, but it’s not great either. But part of this stems from the fact that I did not completely understand the hierarchy in this particular situation. If I had known, I wouldn’t have been so… myself? Individual? Wanting to discuss things instead of saying the Japanese equivalent of “Yes, m’?” Yes, that. So that got me off on the wrong foot.

Before I sat down to type this I was thinking about shoes and slippers. (Interesting fact: You’re not allowed to haul your things into your apartment still wearing your shoes.) And then I remembered Grandma’s slippers! Eeee! I ran to my carry-bag, reached in and grabbed the wonderful purple knitted wool slippers. I sat down on the bed and inhaled the smell of the fresh wool. That helped. And now I’m wearing them, and they’re keeping my feet warm.

[Update: I’ve since learned that I’m not the only person who’s had the “NOOO! SHOES! SHOES! SHOES!” experience, nor the only one who feels this way about it. (It’s annoying because it’s as if you should really haul your suitcase into the doorway, take your shoes off, haul it inside out of the way, put your shoes on, haul your other suitcase into the doorway, take your shoes off, haul it inside out of the way, put your shoes on, grab your laptop, take your shoes off, etc.. Okay, A) Yes, wearing your shoes inside is a very good habit to get out of in Japan, but B) It’s your zarking apartment. B should trump A. The fact that it doesn’t disturbs me deeply.) Anyway, the others seem to have forgiven the experience, so that’s a good sign.]

A thing that didn’t help matters: the person who was in this apartment before me was a smoker (GAH!!), and the place is reasonably clean but not spic-and-span, like F.’s apartment is. I have a hunch that they keep the girls on one side and the boys on the other, so the women have a much better shot at inheriting an obsessively clean apartment. [Update: However, he left some pretty cool stuff here. Flashlight, fan, umbrella, go board… awesome, dude; thanks! It’s nice that there’s stuff that sort of just belongs to the apartment, if you can imagine. Also, a feminine opinion has since dubbed the place “cozy,” which is definitely an important feeling for me to cultivate – now all I have to do is scrape the red skull-and-crossbones sticker off the outside of my entry door.]

Well, at least I have a real bed. And things WILL be okay once I settle in. This will NOT be another Ukraine.

Actually, even if it is, I just realized that would be okay. I have a real job here, and I’ll get to teach every day, not just when teachers get sick or go off to attend seminars in Poland.

This school is pretty cool, too. There will be a lot of surprises and oddities, as participants past and present have told me, but I should be okay if I stay organized. Being organized can be a matter of personal pride with me, and I have a lot at stake here. As Buddha alluded, the greatest battle I’m going to have to fight here is against myself.

And if I fail, the consequences are really not that bad. I’d just have to explain to my family and friends why I came home early, and I wouldn’t have the gumption to visit Shikoku (or perhaps even Japan) again.

Ah, but there were a lot of little things I really liked. I have a bunch of handwritten notes that I’m going to go back to. I will have posted them before I post this, so that everything will be in chronological order.

And it’s Ko-bay, not Ko-bee.

And yet – not to pick on anyone! – I’m expected to hear “river” from “lilwl” – apparently to the point where people may be are insulted if I ask them to repeat themselves. But I guess this is fair – we don’t all speak the same English – and even when we people-who-speak-English make one of our “rare incursions into foreign language learning,” (The Stories of English, Crystal 2004, p. 219) we expect the French to understand when we say things like “tray bong resterong” – we can’t always pronounce French nasal vowels, and many Japanese struggle likewise with l’s and r’s because in Japanese they’re the same sound.

[R., pourquoi est-ce que vous ne faisiez pas dites-moi elle serait ma bosse? C’est une chose très important, je pense. ;-) Ah, mais choses ne sont pas mal. Merci beaucoup, R. (vraiment). Et, « Merci! » et beaucoup des remerciements à ma “bosse,” aussi, car je comprends maintenant.]

YAY! F. just arrived! (It seems like years!) We’ll all go to the immigration office tomorrow at 8:45am; more immediately we’ll be heading to the convenience store. Already I need a lightbulb. Payday will be the 15th. I’ll be OK until then, but I still need to make a collect call to my bank and get back into my account so I can pay for that extra bag; when I tried to log in from Kobe, the website asked me a bunch of additional verification questions that I didn’t remember, and I was locked out. Efkkkgadseyh.

M. also came by earlier and explained a lot of things to me. It really helped. We went for a walk around the school grounds, too. That little part was important – for me, going to the first day of anything is excruciating, but now going over to the school for the first day of work will be a little more bearable now that I have a partially-formed idea of what to expect. And it’s better than a “three-minute walk” away (although I suppose it still is that) – it’s across the street. I can watch baseball practise from my balcony. Sweet! [Actually, no. It’s not like they go out and have intrasquad games; they usually just hit balls and run around. And there’s not much of a novelty in that, since they do so all. the. time. They also face the apartment when they hit balls (into nets), so I’m always closing my curtains for one reason or another. And you couldn’t even watch them if you wanted to, or at least not easily, because I’ve seen that they notice. Ah, well. I still really want to see a baseball game, though. And kudos to those ball players, too! I have mad respect for them, their high hopes, and how they play their way though high school.]

Catch Ya Later,
~ Will

Tomorrow: Tokushima-shi (experiences in and around the city proper)
Tags: japan, travel, work
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