Saturday, February 03, 2007

Further Thoughts on Settling In

Here are a few more details on how I've been settling in back in Japan.

As I've noted before on this blog, it’s a hell of a flight over. And I usually find I can’t sleep at all on planes unless I’m severely tired or sleep deprived. So I tried to make sure I was sleep deprived before I got on the plane, by staying up all night before. (Actually it took me about all night to finish my packing and cleaning anyway, so that worked out pretty good). I ended up getting a little soft on myself and giving me one hour of sleep the night before, but I was still able to sleep for most of the flight.

I got into Osaka around 5, got through customs around 6, and was able to make it into Nakatsu around 11, where Shoko picked me up from the train station.

After not seeing her for over half a year, it was obviously a meeting I very much looked forward to. I had long thought over everything I was going to say.

“Hey Shoko, it’s” sniff “it’s nice to” sniff sniff “Did you spill gasoline in your car?”

Another great romantic moment. (It turns out she had actually spilled her kerosene heater in the car. The car reeked for the next few days.)

A couple days later Shoko hired a moving truck to get her furniture into our new apartment. I felt bad having the Japanese movers lift everything because they were a lot smaller than I was, so I tried to pitch in a bit. The annoying thing about doing this in Japan is that they’re quite strict about taking shoes on and off before going in and out of the apartment. So I would be carrying a big TV in two hands, and when I got to the door I would have to figure some way of kicking off my shoes without dropping the TV. And then on the way out I would have to bend down and put on my shoes and avoid clogging up the doorway that the other movers were using.
I asked Shoko a couple times if the no-shoes-in-the-house rule could be dropped just for 30 minutes, but she was quite strict about it. So instead I just talked tried to show my solidarity with the other workers by talking about what a pain it was to be always taking shoes on and off, and how in America they could have worn their shoes right into the apartment.

Since then things have been going pretty good. Shoko and I have settled into our usually routine. I question whether it's healthy for her to always run kerosene heaters, and she criticizes my cleaning habits and personal hygenie.

As for the job:
Another nice thing about this job I forgot to mention about this job on the previous post is that I work with a bunch of other ex-pats out of the same office. It gets a little crowded at times, but its nice to have a built in social network at work, instead of the lonely feeling I sometimes had as a JET because I was the only foreigner in the school.
At 28, however, I’m the old man on the block around here. The next oldest teacher in our office is 27.

I was just in Kitakyushu the past couple days doing training. I was training along side a 21-year-old Australian (in Australia University is only 3 years, so they graduate young), and occasionally in the conversation he would hint at how ancient he thought I was.
After the training was finished, everyone went out for drinks afterwards (well, I wasn’t drinking, but you know what I mean). The trainer, who was British, said “I’ve been dying to ask you, what’s the etymology of your surname?” I’ve long known my surname was a source of amusement to Australians, but it turns out in Britain the name also carries connotations of a robber or a tramp.

Useless Wikipedia Fact
In the Zelda games, Link is described as a young man who lives in the land of Hyrule. His age varies from game to game, ranging from 10 to 18. He is also one of the few left-handed protagonists in video games (with the exception of his appearance in the Wii version of Twilight Princess, where he is right-handed for control purposes).[2]

Link of the Day
Another racist publication in Japan. Check out this beauty.

Every country is entitled to have their racists and nutjobs. Unfortunately that's just human nature. The difference in Japan however seems to be the prominence these publications occupy, and the complete apathy of the rest of the population, as we've noted before on this blog. Family Mart, the conveniance store where this magazine is sold, is one of Japan's most popular stores. You see it everywhere.

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