Wednesday, September 27, 2006

everything's great until it sucks

this morning i'm feeling remarkably cheerful in an "F-you" kind of way. this has been a challenging week. i had some really great days followed by some really depressing now i'm coming back with a combative friendliness. the days are gorgeous, and it's torture that i don't get to spend any of it outside. teachers are pretty much expected to even eat lunch chained to their desks. they have a lovely coi pond right outside my window, so yesterday i finally did what i would do naturally and went and sat by it for a very few minutes in the sun. the constant noise of thirty teachers having thirty different conversations in japanese faded away briefly in the sunlight. ahhhhh.

when i got back inside, everyone was concerned that i was "ok." sometimes it's really difficult to tell how much of myself i'm giving up in order to learn how to be here. i feel like i'm being myself until i do something like that and realize i've been holding myself back because i don't want to offend anyone. so today i'm standing firm on who i am. i even wore a sleeveless top to flaunt my american-ness. shocking! the tops of my shoulders have been hidden long enough.
just for kicks, i'll tell you about the morning meetings here at kinomoto senior high. all the teachers gather in the main teachers room (where most teachers' desks are, including mine). this is my one opportunity to scope out the three or so cute, young, male teachers with fabulous style. for a few minutes, different teachers speak to the group, and without fail, the skinniest, puniest guy (don't know what he does) always has a massive coughing and hacking fit near my desk. thanks for sharing. as the big meeting wraps up, there is about ten seconds of silence (everyone's taking a deep breath, no doubt) and then everyone explodes into chattering at once. this lasts about ten minutes, the bell rings, and then there is complete silence once again as all the teachers rush to their homeroom classes and i just sit here.

there are so many random scraps i want to tell you about, so i'll squeeze them in when i can.
on the 12th we had a fire drill. in the u.s. this just consists of everyone going outside in a more or less orderly way and waiting till they tell us it's ok to go inside. in japan, it's much more exciting. the fire department actually sets a wooden and cloth structure ablaze outside, and students get to practice using the extinguishers to put it out. this was fun to watch until a huge chemical cloud (from the extinguishers) enveloped the crowd and rained on my happy.

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