30 September 2004

Tokyo is No-kyo

My trip to Tokyo got cancelled as my dad is staying in the States. That means a couple of things.
  1. I get to watch the Presidential debate online tomorrow. Maybe John Kerry can stop wearing his ass as a hat and convince the rest of the country what most of us already know: that George Bush has no business… and I’ve lost my will to continue. Moving on.
  2. I get to continue couch shopping.
  3. I’m coming home in December, over Christmas through New Years. Someone plan a blowout party with alcohol.

29 September 2004

Getting out early

And, as a bonus, I got let out school early today. You rule, Taiyuhama Kyoto-Sensei.

In Japan, to save on the pesky hours of parent/ teacher conferences, there are a couple of days a year where the parents are encouraged to come out to the school and see for themselves how much their kid sucks. Well, or more specifically, how much their ALT sucks. It's hard enough trying to get 50 kids interested in my "What time is it?" activity, but add about 15 parents and grandparents watching? Well, the dude did his best. And I think I lost my voice. Regardless, I hope I go down as the first person ever to play Lauryn Hill in an Japanese elementary classroom.

I think I'll nap.

28 September 2004

The body shifting is

You all might remember Jen from Knox. She's the tops because she has her own press and she's really nice. Anyway, you might visit her site and notice that she very often posts work in progress so I thought, you know, whatever, I'll hop on the boat and put something up on the blog. I've got nothing to lose.

So here's my poetry exercise. It's easy enough. Take a sentence. Give each word a sequential number starting at one. Now, construct your poem, making sure to use each word in the line you have numbered it. Today, I did this with a line out of my Interac ALT book. You'll notice I bend the rules a little bit (been to bend, etc.).

"The program contains approximately 72 lesson plans all of which have been translated into Japanese."

The body shifting is
a program ended--meaning
contained, a kind
of approximation like how we
can make 7 from 2 or how
we can lessen anything, a
war, a plan,
. . . . . . . . . . .All
shifting is of God.

which is worse, to shift
or to have been shifted—

The teleprompter bends
its own phrases, translates
the words into
Japanese from English.

27 September 2004

Forgetting important things

There are a lot of bad ways to start a day, but forgetting to put on deodorant has gotta be one of the worst. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. All day long.

My day started with me forgetting to put on deodorant, and then proceeded downhill when I rode my bike to the wrong school and had to haul it to the school I was supposed to be at. I arrived, sweating, just in time to interrupt the morning meeting which had been delayed as they were waiting for me to make a speech. I glistened like a new Volvo, and smiled like a fool and tried to speak in Japanese to the rest of the teachers who were also smiling like fools and nodding a lot.

Things got considerably better as I think I taught one of my best kids’ classes ever today. That’s not saying a lot as the last year has been spent making the youngins color mostly, but I thought it was a nice milestone. Tomorrow, I play Pink Floyd while the kids ask, “What food do you like?”

Also, I can’t eat soup with chopsticks without splashing something on my shirt.

Also, I don’t know what it is with me and ladies named Tomomi, but somebody’s gotta cut me a break here.

Also, today, during the ask Stephen sensei questions about himself period of the class, one little girl asked if I was married. I said that I wasn’t and then asked if she was married. It was more scandalous than I thought it was going to be--the shock on the kids’ faces. They were stupefied. But she, like me, isn’t married.

I’m going to Tokyo this weekend to catch up with the old man and live off the fat of the land for a couple of days. We're going to have a good time and hopefully not talk about religion or politics. Yeah, I don't think we're gonna be able to avoid it either.

Now, where’s our waitress?

25 September 2004


Well, this “job” has yet to pull me out of the proverbial red yet. In fact, after last night when I found out I had, in fact, lost money on my new, friendlier confines, I am seriously considering getting a part-time job to help make ends meet through the Spring. I would be bitter about this (and maybe I am), but since I’m not really doing anything during the evenings anyway, I figure sacrificing two of them to pay for furniture and food for next month isn’t that bad of a deal. Plus, I might be able to make some friends. Plus, I might be able to afford to prepare for this Japanese test I’m allegedly taking in December.

Today, I went to a shrine and I swear, I saw a couple getting their car blessed by the priest. I was standing outside, watching this elaborate whatnot inside the shrine and thought, That’s really beautiful. Those people must be getting married or something. And I wandered away, but when I came back, the couple was standing next to a brand new red Volkswagen, the priest chanting and waving a stick with a bunch of paper on it over the hood of the car.

I'm thinking about getting something of mine blessed. Like my Tom.

There a lot of other things I’d like to comment about: Trent Wilson’s “Beer Man,” John Kerry’s speech at NYU, why I’m always sweating, how my mom gave me a Christian magnetic poetry set for Christmas a couple of years ago and how I just discovered it and how I’ve been using all the words in the wrong ways, Asashoryu’s loss in Tokyo this week, Buddhist hell where you have to eat shit, how great internet radio is — the list goes on and on. That’s right. On and on.

22 September 2004

28 6th graders

A couple of things struck me today as I was trying to get 38 sixth graders excited about my "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity. First, sixth graders, they aren't interested. It doesn't matter what it is that you're talking about, unless, you know, you're some celebrity. Other than that, you're screwed. They don't care. Second, I realized that yelling, "Come on, come on, let's go, let's go!!" can only induce so much excitement (and that so much is minimal, unfortunately). Mostly, you'll get blank stares for twenty seconds before tired and glum compliance. But, I also discoverd, thirdly, that the more you are willing to make an ass out of yourself, the easier it is to get that same group of sixth graders to ::gasp:: smile or, worse yet, actually take part in your "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity.

So anyway, I'm working on the "Elementary Rock" mix: a cd of inspiring tracks to give those kids the proverbial shot in the arm my shouting, "Come on, let's go, let's go!!" during my "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity needs. I think this could be just the ticket. Appearing on my elementary rock record: Pink Floyd, the Postal Service, The Beatles, Handel, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, The Appleseed Cast, Dave Matthews, and a litany of others. It's a two disc set full of high energy, buildling, not to heavy, not to light tunes to get the kids dancing in the aisles. Also, no scary guitars.

Now, really, how can you not participate in my "Where are you from? I'm from Japan, Where are you from? I'm from China" activity with such great vibes all around?

18 September 2004

Calls are diverted

If you send me an e-mail on my cell phone, a beautiful Japanese woman's voice comes out of my pants.

17 September 2004


Hello, everyone. I now have the internet at home, but only for three weeks as home will be changing after the end of the month. That’s right, I landed new surroundings that are much, much cheaper and much, much bigger. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I won’t have the internet in the new place. So maybe we should all hug now.

Yeah, being an ALT is wonderful. I got to make an announcement over the school speaker system at one place. I was like Hitler addressing the troops amassed along the French border. Then, today, I had to speak Japanese in front of 800 wide-eyed grade schoolers. The principal of the school, kept warmly smiling at me and shaking my hand. I thought this was very nice, until I realized that every time he was doing this, someone was taking our picture. When I finished speaking in front of the assembly, he did the same thing, except it went from a very warm handshake to a hug that lasted longer than five-seconds. I was, of course shocked, my arms wrapped around this 50 year-old, withering Japanese man thinking, Now, I thought the Japanese never did this. As we (the flock of teachers) were walking back to the school, one of the teachers, based on this display, praised the Principal as being very “international.”

This position is very heavy on the LT part of ALT and light on the A part, meaning, I’m basically teaching full time, doing most anything I can think of to get these 4th graders to say, “I’m from Japan!” It’s nice though, as I finally feel like I’m actually learning how to teach. And I love the kids. I don’t know how this happened. I’m standing in the middle of a circle of first-graders, all of us stomping our feet as loud as we can with our hands over our heads, and just laughing. I thought to myself that I could do this for a very long time and be very content. I’m sure I’ll burn out sooner rather than later, but right now, it’s pretty great.

And Niigata, well, it isn’t that bad. It’s still Japan. I think I’ll try to get back to Fukuoka or Tokyo in 2006, but for a year and a half, this place will be pretty darn incredible.

Also, in additional good news, given that it’s about 1/2 as expensive to fly home from Tokyo than Fukuoka and I will save a ox-heap with my new apartment, I will most likely be home from Christmas. It'll be short though. maybe 10 days. Maybe someone will throw the New Years party to end all New Years parties. Any takers?

In additional, uh, additional good news, my plans to go to Europe from July 25th to August 28th ish are also coming together. Anyone wanna take the trek with me? I’m thinking about spending a week in five cities (probably Paris, somewhere in Germany/Switzerland, Rome, Romania, and one yet to be decided.) So. Who’s in? We’re gonna do it cheap. Hostels. Lots of Ramen. Stay with friends in Romania. This and that.

Yeah. This and that.

13 September 2004

Now I live in Niigata City.

Now I live in Niigata City.

It's okay, I guess. I was really in the dumps: lost some money, you know, but then I watched Lost in Translation and went to school today and I remembered why it is that I moved up here. So I'm getting there.

Gotta get out of this apartment they stuck me in though. 70,000 a month for a 1K (DK and all the other Japanese folk will understand that this is HORRENDOUS). I'm trying to move out before another check is due. I hate, hate, hate it there.

But Tokyo. Oh Tokyo. If I had to choose one place in the world to live the rest of my life, I would choose Tokyo. Sitting outside the Imperial Palace grounds  in the rain, smoking a fine cigar... These are moments we will not soon ever forget. I love you Japan. Please, Tokyo, take me into your wonderful arms and love.

Niigata, you are the ugly, red-headed step-child. But I like redheads so you may grow on me.

05 September 2004

Fukuoka to Niigata

Yeah, I am moving tomorrow. I'm honestly more worried about figuring things out this time than I was when I first came out here. It's been wild stressful this week. I hate doing things quickly. Maybe you understand.

I'll have the internet in Niigata so I'm sure there will be pictures this next week.

And I'm sure I'll have something to say when I land. Something stirring.

PS Some of you, the readers of my blog, are ALT's in Japan and maybe one of you knows someone in Niigata ken. Maybe you can tell me their name and maybe I can call them and maybe we can be friends. Help a brother out.

02 September 2004

Niigata City

I guess I’m moving on Monday. After Monday, I will have a new address and whatever, but I can’t really get that to you yet as I’m not sure where I’ll be. I’ll be in Niigata City, I think. That’s all I really know right now.

Next week, I will be in Tokyo, living it up and training for my new job. In Tokyo, I plan to get wild in all the wildest ways. Or maybe just smoke my pipe in a bar that will ridiculously overcharge me for any number of Khalua-based drinks I may or may not order.

Money is a funny thing. I like it too. I don’t like spending it when I don’t have to. I still don't like the idea of spending money on housing.

Nothing to say about the RNC? That’s right. Nothing.

01 September 2004


You know what I hate? I hate when politicians flip-flop. Take, for instance, that flip-flopping bastard John Kerry. On Monday, when asked if the war on terror could be won, Kerry said, "I don't think you can win it.” Fair enough, but get this: after a flood of criticism, just like his years in the Senate, that’s right, he changed his stance. "We meet today at a time of war for our country — a war we did not start, yet one that we will win," John Kerry said on Wednesday. Well? Which is it, Mr. Kerry? Or do you need to go see what the “opinion” polls and "spinmasters" have to say first? You make me sick.