I have been neglecting my blog lately. Mainly because I am trying to regain the tiny bit of Japanese that I knew before I went back to America and forgot it all. I had a great Christmas vacation full of relaxation and family time. I was able to return home for Christmas and visit my family and a few friends. My mother didn’t know I was coming. One of my friends (Erisa) who is from Japan and is studying in America visited our house for Christmas. My mother knew that she would be there but didn’t know that I would too. After two layovers one around 8 hours and the other a 2 minute dash filled with visions of missing my flight, I arrived in OKC. I spent about a day and a half visiting family and a few friends that I could get ahold of and then flew to Lubbock with Erisa. After a short drive to Lockney I was finally home. I wondered how my mother would react. Should we call an ambulance for one or both of us? (I thought she might maim me for not telling her I was coming). I waited for a few minutes for the others to go inside and then waltzed in. It was perfect! She was so surprised. I am amazed that she didn’t find out. Everyone in the family knew and everyone in town (well almost everyone anyway). After some tears and repetitive incoherent questioning she finally settled down enough to understand that I was able to come home to visit for the holidays. I think that she thought I was bringing a wife or girlfriend home to visit without telling her. I told Erisa to expect that so she was a good sport about it. It was great to visit my family and friends and to catch up on everything that has happened in the past 9 months since I have been gone. It was strange to be back in America where I could understand everything that was going on and to be able to communicate so easily and without the nerves that always accompany using my broken Japanese.
After returning to Japan I have been trying to catch up on sleep and working on my chess set. My dad was able to help me put the board together so I feel like I am close to finishing even though I have only finished carving the pawns. I had to clean my apartment and it took awhile to sweep up all the shavings and sawdust. I still have the fresh scent of pine in my apartment (and maybe a few stray slivers of wood).
Last Monday I went exploring in Tokyo with Austin. We had a good time trying to figure out the train and subway system, asking for directions and maps and what not. We went up to the observatory in one of the buildings in Shinjuku and looked aout at Tokyo. Coming from a town of 2000 people it is amazing to me to see a city that has over 12,000,000 people. When I was counting I only saw about 11,432,891 but I am sure that the others were hiding somewhere.
EBC started back up last Sunday and it was good to see my friend and reader. He speaks excellent English and he could teach me grammar if he wanted. He asks some great questions too. You know the kind that make you ask yourself questions. It is great to get his perspectives on the Bible and life in general. He has so much wisdom but it is difficult to get it out of him. I guess that will come with time and patience.
February promises to be a busy month with two ski trips. I am excited to ski in Japan, I just hope that they have boots big enough for my hooves. Well, if I want to play chess soon I had better get back to carving. I will try to post again when I am finished (might be awhile).
So I caved and decided that I should post again before I finish my chess set. I have been convicted of forging foreign currency (there might be any English word for that but I have forgotten it). The Mito city curriculum requires that we teach shopping. I decided we needed a little boost of excitement in class so with some help from a friend or two and a website I created some American money (the 1 dollar bill) with the picture of my principal instead of George Washington. I was ready to mass produce the bills (i.e. make copies) when my principal put the brakes on. I am not 100% sure why he shut it down but I think it was because he didn’t want students to tell parents and parents to tell friends and friends to tell relatives and relatives to tell the Emperor and the Emperor to tell President Clinton (has that happened yet?) and President Clinton tell my mother and my mother insist that I come home because I was breaking the law and in need of a timeout or worse yet a spanking from the splintery ping pong paddle she was so fond of.
If that was the case then crisis averted. He asked me instead to put a picture of a statue in front of the school in place of George Washington. It looks pretty good but I think it would have been more fun the first way. After printing them out I was cutting them out at my desk and every one who saw them told me I was a criminal and I told them I wasn’t and then offered 50% to keep quiet. I don’t think my brand of humor is appreciated at my school. I am moving slowly with my comedy routine instead of breaking out at one time and giving the impression that I am loony. A joke here, some sarcasm there and soon we will have a recipe for funny.
EBC started a couple of weeks ago and I have the same student as before. I am very excited that he didn’t ask for a better teacher. He could definitely teach me proper English grammar and I am a little nervous that he will soon be fed up with my ignorance. In the first few classes back we tackled some tough topics and I learned a great deal from his wisdom. Hopefully I will learn from his grace when approaching a topic or question he knows we might differ on. Bulls in china shops are not good, but bulls in Japanese shops are even worse.
Two weeks ago I caught a nasty cold and had to call in sick. That proved to be a difficult task. I called but didn’t really know what to say. So I described my condition and asked for a sick day. The phone was then handed to my principal who talks incredibly fast and I think he told me it was ok to stay home but then again he might have given me the alternative of staying home and losing my paycheck for the month or going to school. I chose to stay home and chance losing my paycheck. I didn’t leave my bed all day. The next day I called again and jumped through the same hoops, except that I received a call at noon from my vice principal, asking what my room number. I told him and then he ended the conversation with what I thought was a, “Whelp we will see you tomorrow or whenever you can come to school.” (a rough translation). Thirty minutes later my door bell rang and it was my vice principal delivering some much needed survival supplies. I was very pleased. I hadn’t been shopping in awhile and was on my last piece of bread. I was going to have to move on to ketchup and sugar for sustenance if he hadn’t brought me that food. However there was a price to pay (that and he saw how messy my apartment was). He politely requested that I visit the doctor. He brought me the address and working hours. It was very close to my apartment. I after he left I decided to give it a shop. Maybe I would get some medicine; then again I might ask for a appendix transplant if I slipped up in Japanese. I awkwardly shuffled in the door and glanced around. I made my way to what I assumed was the reception desk. I described my symptoms being sure to avoid asking for an extra appendix. After filling out some forms I sat down and waited to meet my doctor. The thought occurred to me that I had no idea what kind of doctor I was visiting. Visions of explaining my fever, ache and cough to a plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist, podiatrist, and others
flashed through my mind. They called my name. I went into the examination room. I answered a series of questions and then had my shirt wrestled up around my neck by a nurse that snuck up on me. The doctor listened to my lungs and heart and then prescribed some medicine and told me to go home and sleep. The nurse then gave me my medicine and told me the times and amounts that I should take. This proved to be the most difficult part of the excursion ( I am convinced that I have taken the correct dosage of everything, except the horse tranquilizer, (I opted out of that one) ) I walked out amazed at how easy that had been. My first doctor’s visit in a foreign country conducted in a foreign language. All that and I was only diagnosed as having a low IQ and a severe cold. The next morning I was still under the weather but began seeing the silver lining later in the day. When I returned to school the next day my classes were all cancelled and I “rested” at my desk all day. During lunch I ate with the teacher’s room staff (vice principal included). It turns out the disarray of my apartment was a topic of conversation while I was absent. When asked if I had a girl friend, a snide remark slipped from someone down the table. Loosely translated, “Of course he doesn’t, he would have a messy room if he did.”