Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sports Day and Me

Sorry the blogging has slowed down a little. I feel like I’m running out of stories. Maybe I should have paced myself a little better instead of posting every day.

Anyway, we just had Sports Day last weekend which, is always a bizarre event and usually good fodder for blogging material. Or at least it would be if I wasn’t sick to death of writing about Sports Day. Perhaps another sign I’ve stayed in Japan too long. This is my 5th year here now, and so this is my 5th time watching Sports Day. The first time it was really interesting, but I’m getting really tired of it. The marching, the cheesy music, the flag waving, and all the speeches and bowing…I’ve had it I tell you!!!

So, rather than go into detail about this year’s sports day, I’ll just link to the post I did last year. And anyone interested in more details on Sports Day should check out Chris’ weblog. (He has a entry on Sports Day here and pictures from practice here and here).

I’ll just briefly mention a few things:

As usual, the weeks proceeding sports day were very busy for the students. They were outside everyday practicing marching in lines and waving flags, et cetera. The 9th grade students especially were very stressed out. In my speech class I had one girl collapse into tears suddenly for no apparent reason. The teacher told me she was just under a lot of stress because she was organizing the cheering for Sports Day.

By contrast, I had a lot of free time because many of my classes were cut to give the students more Sports Day practice. That was part of the reason this blog was so prolific in the early weeks of September. (The typhoon was another reason).

On Sports Day itself, many of last year’s graduate students came to observe the festivities. Since last year was my first year in the area, obviously on last year’s Sports Day I didn’t know any of the graduated students. This year I got an opportunity to interact with my former students a bit.

But it is always a little awkward interacting with former students. Many of them seemed cold and aloof and wanted nothing to do with me. (This might just be part of teaching. You’ll notice Hannah wrote in the comment section on this entry that she had similar experiences with here ex-students.) And as for the ex-students who were friendly and wanted to talk to me, I usually embarrassed myself by failing to recognize them or forgetting their name.

That night us teachers had a drinking party as usual. It was good fun as these things go, although to be honest I think I would rather just have had the night free.

As the only non-Japanese person there, sometimes I can get left out of the conversation pretty easily, and it can become a long night. This is especially truer now than it used to be because I have been at this school for a whole year now, and am no longer the object of interest that I once was. Also most of the conversations I did have seemed to revolve around how strange it was that I wasn’t drinking. But to be fair this was not unexpected. When I made the decision to stop drinking in the middle of the year, I knew every following drinking party would be like this. If I had entered the school not drinking that would have been one thing, but to change half-way through was just setting myself up for a lot of confusion and misunderstandings between me and the other teachers.

Not to mention, the $80 I had to pay for the night out was pretty steep considering I was just sipping on oolong tea the whole night. Fortunately my company reimburses me for school related drinking parties. Otherwise I don’t think I would still be going on them. Any business related drinking party in Japan you can expect to get gouged on the price. It’s a frequent complaint among us foreigners. Why the ordinary Japanese put up with it is beyond me. I suppose it’s just one of the many things they accept without questioning or complaint. Like the ATMs which shut down at 6 PM. I mean really, what is the point of having an ATM if it is going to shut down at 6 PM? Do the ATMs need a break? Or is this typical Japanese inconvenience for the sake of inconvenience?

But I’m digressing into pointless ranting. To return to the party:

Later in the night we went out for Karaoke and more drinking. There were a few older teachers in the group, and I was eager to show off how much I knew about Japanese music. Whenever they would pick a song I would try and list off whatever I knew about the song. It didn't go over too well. I guess nobody likes a show off. I think where I crossed the line is when I tried to say something about every song. Even if I didn't know the name or the artist, I would try and make a comment about the era the song was from.

Link of the Day
They say the French Revolution is one of the most confusing events in history. I guess that's probably true. At any rate, it is really funny to listen to this panel discussion on the BBC radio. Listen to the interviewer. He tries so hard to keeps things simple, but then begins to lose his temper halfway through the interview. "Listen, I told you we didn't have time to get into that. Now we're going to do this my way or we're not going to do this at all."

Also enjoyed this program on the assassination of Alexander II. "The People's Will" is one of the most fascinating groups in history.


vegetarian w/ leather jacket said...

...maybe it is just the schools I have been to but it is really funny for me to think of teachers having drinking parties!

vegetarian w/ leather jacket said...

why did you stop drinking again?