Sunday, June 27, 1999: The Hard Rock

Rain rain rain rain. Howling winds, loud neighbors, thin walls and ceilings led to a very unrestful night and I looked like an undead creature in the morning. Had a combo birthday party at Hard Rock Cafe in Osaka! Without a doubt, the BEST hamburger I've had in Japan.

Finally found Dr. Pepper. Ohhhhhh. Stomach probably couldn't handle it right now so I ended up buying a six pack with a friend and giving it to a neighbor. She's been looking for the Dr. P forever.

Monday, June 28, 1999: Japan: Where Nothing is Certain

Seiwa JHS, first day. At Seiwa, the principal always likes it if I stand out by the gates in the morning and greet the kids as they come into school. I think it's a great idea, but for all my hundreds of "GOOD MORNING!!"s in a bright and cheerful voice, I get maybe 5 "good morning"s back! Many students look so dejected and defeated as they come into school they don't even look up at me, the students, or the teachers who are outside greeting them as well. It's not the most inspiring thing in the world. I enjoy it, but tis kind of like flushing my energy down the toilet. Seriously! I mean, I think it's important and everything, but DARN IT!! You know what I mean? I know they aren't completely ignoring me, but I guess it kind of looks like it. Today that got to me a little more than usual. Of course I had to give a speech. When I said hello to the principal I asked him if it was truly necessary for me to give a speech, after all, hadn't I already given 9 or so speeches at this school alone? Did I really have to? His response? "Hmm. Maybe you have to."

Maybe is a very powerful word in Japan. It is deeply rooted in their social consciousness to avoid contradicting someone, and inadvertently providing a definite answer. It's nigh impossible to get them to say "no". It is considered very very rude to say "no" directly. I've heard this hundreds of times, "that is difficult". But it's all semantics. When a Japanese person says "that is difficult" it means "there is no way that is possible" and when the principal said, "maybe you have to" he meant, "yes, of course you must, it is socially inexcusable for you to consider not giving a speech". The Japanese are a race of vague people. But it helps their social structure stable, so more power to 'em, neh?

One thing I saw a lot of today is women carrying umbrellas. True it is very warm and carrying a parasol would have helped if it wasn't completely overcast. Yes, I know you can still get burned while it is overcast, but ... come on. What really gets me is that they carry them while they're riding bikes. People do this all the time when it is actually raining, but it is quite something else to see a grown adult carrying one when there is not a drop falling from the sky and hardly a ray shining.

Tuesday, June 29, 1999: The Watcher

Test Day. Today is the first of three test days where there are no real classes and I have nothing to do, but of course, I must come to school anyway and sit at my desk. :) haha a little maddening at times, I guess. Today I feel good, though, because it's the first day I've woken up truly rested in weeks. And while it's a drag that I have to go to school and do nothing, it's a relief to have no classes for once.

But then there's "The Watcher". There's a teacher who sits two desks to the right and across from me and all he does all day is sit and stare at me. I've never seen him go to class or leave his desk for more than a half hour at a time, whatever job he does here at Seiwa is one sweet deal. It's disturbing to have someone who just watches you all day and says nothing at all,... what's going on in that little brain of his? What is he thinking? I'm not sure I want to know. Now, it's a common thing at all schools (I've talked to other ALTs about this and so it's just not my schools) for the principal to stare at the foreign ALT. No one is sure of the reason. The vice-principal is usually too busy to do anything more than say hello to you, but the principal stares. But this is the first school I've had which had a teacher who stares. It's like he's expecting me at any moment to leap out of my chair and break out in a song and dance and he wouldn't want to miss that, would he? Hmm. Someday I'll figure him out.

Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Today the only thing noteworthy is an evening of sitcoms, Scent of a Woman, and pizza. An ALT friend and I ordered some pizza and settled down for a few hours of vegging, classic Western entertainment.

Saturday, July 3, 1999

Today I watched a couple of movies, the Big Hit and Lethal Weapon 4, which I recommend if you're looking for a good movie to watch. Pondered going to the Sayanora party, which is a shindig for all the JETs who are leaving this year. Fact is, I'm not too close to any of those JETs who happened to be leaving this year so I decided not to go at the last minute. Talking with a couple of friends today about what to do for the 4th tomorrow. Thinking of buying a lot of fireworks and setting them off. But we're going to Osaka tomorrow and not sure if we'll be in the mood for it when we get back.

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