William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

123. Writing, Voting, Bicycle, Mondays

I’m getting way behind on my writing. It’s freaking me out, but this weekend has a Happy Monday, and so I should be able to get caught up if I budget my time well. I’d like to be able to get lots of sleep and watch a few 007 movies, too.

It just seems like there’s never enough time. I can’t possibly write, and learn Japanese, and socialize in my all-too-short evenings and weekends. That reminds me – despite the progressive parties’ strong candidates in Halifax West, I might have forgone the Greens, Dippers, or Liberals for these guys, if they’d run a candidate. Actually, maybe I’ll try to be one next time. It’d be an interesting way to meet people…

Speaking of voting, I guess I’d better get on that soon. I’ll have to mail in copies of my identification, and then I’ll get a special write-in ballot sent to me, which I then send … to the riding’s CRO, I think, but I could be mistaken. I did it in 2006, but I forget the particulars.

I have one prediction, and I’m pretty sure of it: Between our election and our neighbour’s, we’ll get sick of hearing about elections. I mean, I probably won’t – I absolutely live for this stuff. But most people will get their fill fairly quickly, I think.

Today was Monday. I mean, it was Monday. Not that I had a bad day – it was just, you know, Monday. It began inauspiciously – after the students’ running time, the outdoor morning meeting was held in the cool shadow of the gymnasium. I was thinking to myself and only kind of listening to the principal speak (it’s all in Japanese, of course), and just as I was wondering if I should have been watching the kids closely like the Japanese teachers were doing, I heard a splat, and then all of a sudden a kid was being hauled away. He or she had projectile-vomited on the pavement. The kids just aren’t built for sustained, hard running on these hot and humid mornings when the sun is broiling. Heck, I can’t do it without becoming a sweaty, thirsty mess. I’m glad I’m not a kid; I’m really glad I’m not a Japanese kid. (The well-to-do ones have access to the coolest toys on the planet, though.)

The tube on my rear bicycle tire has given out almost completely – it won’t hold air even for 10-15 minutes, so this evening I took it to that elderly guy up in Kitajima. When I got there, I discovered to my horror that I’d left my phrasebook back here in the apartment. It was a frustrating scene! He was closing, and after getting my tire pumped he suggested that I go with my bike and come back another day. But I knew I couldn’t make it home on my tire, and I barely made it there, and so after a long while (and a lot of gestures) we came to the mutual understanding that I just wanted to leave my bicycle there now for him to look at tomorrow.

Today was also F.’s birthday. We had dinner and cake at Dear, a hip café-restaurant on the road to Aizumi. F. is using her half-holiday tomorrow morning (I used mine last Friday afternoon), and so we put her on a train to go see a friend in another town overnight.

At Dear, I spent quite a bit of time arguing with K. (and even with Ch. and F. to a lesser extent) – I was for some reason bitter and frustrated about a great many things. I just kept on finding things to be furious about. It was like the punk version of “There’s a Hole in the Bucket.”

Some of my ‘arguments’ reminded me of what it was like at Sainte-Anne when I kept getting frustrated with the language lab (truly, it was the bane of my existence there). After sweating and slaving in the hot lab (usually wanting all the while to go back to my room and write), it was easy to get annoyed with what I perceived to be technical limitations or outright mistakes. Since I was demanding excellence of myself, I ended up demanding perfection from others, and in the end I just looked ridiculous. At one point I was standing in the lab and shouting in the presence of someone whom I later learned was a Rwandan Genocide survivor about how I “just wanted things to be perfect.” Actually, it was a great experience for my language learning – the pure rage and frustration made the French flow as from a faucet. I don’t think it was so great in terms of social relationships, though. =)

One thing I was frustrated with is the inane “questioner” we’ve been given to fill out. Upon further reflection, it was a silly thing to get cheesed about. I just feel that English (or language in general) in any professional setting must be immaculate. Especially the written material. People make judgements based on one’s spelling and grammar. I am sometimes one of those people. And if you’re asking me to do something that I may, or may not, really want to do, the things that I perceive to be errors borne of carelessness are really going to stick in my craw.

Based on personal experience, I know that it is possible to speak and write in a second language at the native level. I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve looked up the staircase and seen the necessary steps. It’s a tough climb, but the way is pretty clear. What’s more, I’ve met people who speak English as a second language at what I might call a “beyond native” level – they have studied so carefully, thoroughly and methodically that they know the nuts and bolts of English better than we do. So I find it hard to be sympathetic towards people in a professional setting – it’s their job to utilize the language in question clearly and pristinely, and if they’re not willing to put in the hard work necessary to do that consistently, then they should probably find another job. K. does not agree with me on this point, and I admit my attitude is somewhat extreme. She pointed out that since I’m so critical of others, maybe I should be more critical of myself. I am. Take this journal: I reread and make little fixing edits all the time, but I’m still sure you can go back through it and find many stylistic and grammatical missteps, and many more outright spelling mistakes as well as simple typos. Please point them out; your input helps me inch closer to perfection (though I know I’ll never quite get there).

QUESTIONNAIRE
Submitted answer / Snappy answer

1. Do you have any hobbies?

- I enjoy creative writing, literature, and trying not to be an
otaku.

- I enjoy sleeping, drinking, karaoke, writing, writing about Japan, writing about my job…

2. Have you been to other country except Japan? [sic, et alibi.]

- I’ve been to the United States, England, and Wales. I have lived in Canada, Poland, Ukraine, and now Japan.

- Yes, there are some!

3. Do you have any favorite words or personal motto?

- I believe that responsibility should lie in the hands of the individual.

4. What would you like to do if you have a time machine?

- I’d go to a time far in the future to see what has changed, then come back here to profit from the knowledge. This would be unethical, but it’s hard to imagine a noble reason for time travel – as tragic as the many mistakes of the human family have been, what would we know were it not for having experienced them?

- I’d go back in time and tell myself not to take this job.

5. What would you like to be if you could be any animal for a week? Why?

- I feel that being a human makes me animalistic enough! We are animals in our private lives, our politics are those of pack animals, and we live and die as any other animal.

- I’d be a bird… so I could fly away.

I think the feeling of being exploited is what’s making me such a crank these days. The banner on the website above these profiles ought to read, “Look at who we’ve suckered into coming here for sub-substandard wages!” but of course it won’t, and the website will go out of its way to imply that we’re all standard, certified teachers. (I thought that didn’t really matter before coming here. I was wrong.)

I often wish I could just stop the world and get off for a bit – one good use for a time machine, and K. had written about this, but she decided that a time machine would be a bother because you’d end up doing many more things in the course of a day, and it would just make life more hectic, not less. Wise. She also spoke about witnessing important historical events. I’d be reluctant to do that unless the time machine came with a phase cloaking device – and even then, whatever you observe, you change. There’d be a chance that the changes would be more than trivial. I’m confident that history would have taken the same general track, but the details could end up being quite different and you’d probably end up not being born. Travelling into the past just doesn’t seem worth the risk. General relativity also offers a plausible one-way ticket to the future (not to mention anywhere in the Universe), but don’t expect to be able to come back and call your broker – the stock market will be an archaeological dig at best.

OK. Hang laundry, go to bed. There just isn’t enough time.
Tags: arguments, birthdays, colleagues, debates, english, french, friends, japan, jobs, languages, school, work
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