Thursday, June 29, 2006

a first rejection.....

Today I received the first rejection of this job season.

RE: Application to PPB, Asia Middle Office (JOB ID 13221)

Thank you for your application.
I have confirmed at this stage that unfortunately your work experience does not
match the skill set required by the clients we are representing. Our client is looking for those with less working experience.
Once again, thank you for your interest in seeking a new position through
Robert Half International; we hope to be able to help you in the future.


Well, first of all, I wasn't aware that 2 years of assistant teaching and one summer internship was exactly a lot of working experience. This was written by a Japanese person, so I'm hoping it either reflects a) poor English ability or b) an easy let down. Otherwise, this doesnt bode well for my job search. This job is one that I applied for through a Japan job site search. I've been applying this week for a few jobs in Tokyo, so that just in case something works out, I may have the option to stay in Japan for another year and improve my japanese skills. Otherwise, I'll be back in the US, no worries. Just thought I'd share my amusement of the day. Off to go buy a yukata (summer kimono)...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Distracted, torn, and unproductive.

It's been a long month. Though the charity show is over, there's still a lot to do. I'm still teaching 5 days a week until July 20. Nothing is much different, but my mindset has done a 180 in the past week.

I can't focus on anything other than going home. I can't focus on studying Japanese, even though I'm still planning to take the 2-kyuu test in December. I couldn't care less about preparing for class. I haven't spent more than 5 minutes on a lesson plan since March. I cant be arsed to speak Japanese unless I'm really in the mood to speak Japanese, which is almost never. If I had the itch to travel, it's been totally supressed by the fact that I'm just not travelling to save money to go home. To top it all off, I've been spending at least 3-4 hours a day online. I am the definition of unproductive.

Basically, I feel like I've already left the country. I'm not happy with that. I think that things will improve once I get my boxes packed. I have two large empty boxes sitting on my floor, and at least three or four more to pack after that. I still have to get the situation worked out with my successor, who is wide-eyed and bushy tailed to be moving into the hole that is my apartment and into my life in 6 weeks. I have thousands of goodbyes to say, and no idea how to say them.

Yes, I am zoning out a bit. I know that this is partially because I'm can be an avoider, and putting off the inevitable is what we do best. It's also because I've been connected with people from home way more than usual lately. I've been discussing where to move and what to do and planning. (By the way, the decision is between Chicago and DC, and I'm torn.) I'm also zoning out because I'm in denial. My life now is probably the most comfortable that it's ever been, daily and financially. I dont want to leave this, but I know I have to.

I have to find a way to face the fact that in less than 2 months, I will move countries, continents, and everything about my life will change except who I am. I can't come back to this, even if i want to. I have to find ways to say goodbye one day and hello the next. Am I being a little overdramatic?  Yeah, you're right, I am. Forgive me. Or you could sympathize. :)

* On a positive note, I CAN say, whereever you are, I will probably see you in the next 3 months!

Monday, June 12, 2006

postcard exchange

With only 2 months left in my time here, I've acquired a huge pile of postcards that I've been meaning to send. So, i'd like to do a postcard exchange. Send me a postcard from whereever you are, and I'll send you one from Japan. Even if you've gotten a postcard from me in the past, I'll send you another. :) Even if you dont send me one, chances are you'll get yours. So, either email me or send me a comment! I'm waiting!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

May, May, go away

Ok, it's gone. Welcome June. Sorry that I've left you hanging with a single picture all month. That wasn't very nice, i realize. It's just that the more I think about posting here, the more I don't want to bore everyone with the inane details of my daily life. Though my life here in Japan seems mystical to those outside, it has become at times mindnumbingly routine to me. I think that this is a problem, and i need to get over my getting bored so easily syndrome. (Note to self: find ADD medication)

So, yeah, May. Toyama's version of May was somewhat sunnier than other months, so there's not much complaining from my side. The spring flowers have been in bloom and the rice has been planted. The distinct summer smell that comes from the sewer system has returned, and spirits are high.

Though I spent my first few days of May on vacation in Nagano, visiting Japan's castles, art and ninja museums, I was quickly thrown back into reality. I've been back to my normal teaching schedule, but have lost the zeal that i (think) i used to have. With only 2 months left, i just dont have a lot of energy to teach. I'm making an attempt to adjust to teachers that i just started teaching with in April, but at the same time, having a hard time caring too much.

During the middle of May, I had a hunch to look for a temporary internship in Tokyo for the fall, and was searching the internet everyday for a week or so. That desire has faded (for how long who knows), and thus, so has my job search activity. I'm trying to come up with the best way to deal with it all right now, without stressing and guilting myself for the next couple of months...

Also occupying my time has been the charity show. Every year, a group of ALTs in Toyama put on a modern, comic rendition of a movie/play, sell tickets, and give proceeds to three charities. Last year I was in charge of finance, which was a hassle, but this year, I've been silly enough to assign myself the title of assistant producer. This means that a good friend of mine has been wrangled into being producer, and together, with our combined incompetence in japanese, it has been quite a struggle. I love planning the details, bringing people together, and having the experience to meet people I never would have, but hopefully while pulling my hair out, i won't pull any friendships apart in the process. Yesterday, for PR and to raise money for our charities, we rented a stand at Toyama's biggest festival of the year, the Sannou Festival. The "real" purpose of the festival is somehow related to the shrine in the center of toyama city, but we all think it's ploy to boost the city's economy and yakuza population. For three nights straight, all of the citizens of Toyama are out on the streets drinking local brews, and stuffing themselves with cotton candy, okonomiyaki, candied apples, and any other carnival-like food you can think of. We sold tacos. Tonight I'll be out to imbibe again.:)

Ok, thats all i can eek out right now....I'll share more later.

Monday, May 08, 2006

mmmm wasabi soft serve


mmmm wasabi soft serve
Originally uploaded by amber in japan.
This is my first time blogging in conjunction with flickr's 'blog this photo' tool. Will write more on Golden Week later. For now, check out the link to my photos.

recent checklist accomplishments

For awhile, I've been meaning to make a list of things that I want to do before I leave Japan. Now that that time has come to 3 months, I've decided to.

To be updated periodically:

- Visit Kyushu (Fukuoka and Nagasaki)
- Go to a love hotel (particularly want to try Hotel Amber in Tonami;))
- Visit Hokkaido again and go to the national parks
- Buy and wear a kimono
- Try ikebana or tea ceremony (in the works...)
- Eat horse sushi or whale or fugu

- Visit Matsumoto City (completed: Saturday, May 6)
- See the tulips in Tonami (completed: Sunday, May 30)

- See a Japanese band live in a small venue (in the works...)
- Attend a Japanese baseball game
- Stay in a capsule hotel
- Visit Tokyo Disney Sea
- Buy a nice ukiyo-e print for myself (in the works...)
- Camp somewhere in Japan (Noto Peninsula?)
- Learn to cook more Japanese dishes
- Visit an art museum in Toyama
- Visit Kurehayama and the 500 Jizo statues
- PARTY IT UP! And
- Manage to save some money :/

Friday, April 21, 2006

realizations

This week, I've had a few realizations. Some obscure, some a little saddening, and some, well, just another reminder of reality.


Number one: You should never, ever wear flat shoes with no grip while riding a bicycle in the rain. In an effort to be cutesy (hey, one can try), I wore my brown suede flats to school. Who knows who I was planning to impress. Maybe the oba-chan (grandma) who trims the hedges and tends to her flowers every morning. Those are some pretty flowers. Maybe the high school kids on their way to school. Either way, I obviously was too sleepy to think with common sense. As I crossed the railroad tracks, with cars behind me, my shoe flew off and onto the tracks. I had to stop my bike in order to pick up the shoe and pray that the car would see me and not hit me and/or my shoe. Good news is I'm still alive and I gave someone their funny gaijin experience of the day.

Number 2: People who have a tiny place in your heart often come and go without warning. As I rode my bike to school, I passed the home of the elderly Japanese Mormon guy that I first met in the snow about a year and a half ago on my way to school. On this particular day, along with many others, he was out walking his dog. I smiled at him, as i rode by, in a hurry, so that I wouldn't be late to work. He said, in perfect English, "My dog is so stubborn. He won't get his butt out of the snow." I laughed, said hello, and kept riding, hoping that i would meet this seemingly interesting geezer again. It so happened that after that, I ran into him every two weeks or so on my commute to and from school. He told me about his children in Tokyo, and that he lived alone with his dog. He often asked me about my life at school and North Carolina. As I passed one day, he said "Hey Carolina Girl!" I finally asked him how he had gotten so good at English and where he had travelled. He told me that he was a Mormon, and he had never been out of Japan, but because of his religion, he had started studying English at the age of 8 or 9. He had no desire to travel to a particular part of the world, he had just acquired English ability as a result of his relgion. At the time, it seemed to me such a bizarre event that I would meet this old man who lived right along the path i took to school everyday, and that he would appear at the most random times. I have recently been thinking that I haven't seen him in 4 or 5 months, and wondering if he has moved, or if he is visiting his son in Tokyo. My thoughts were confirmed on Tuesday morning, when I watched his home being torn down on my ride to school. As I passed later in the day, the house had been torn completely to the foundation. I have no idea where he and his dog have gone, and i never got to say my goodbye. I hope that wherever he may be, it's a place where his days will be brightened, the way that he, on occasion, brightened mine.

Number 3: Yesterday completed my time as toyama regional representative. We had our last meeting, and I passed the proverbial torch on. Everyone even said a few words of goodbye, though it is still more than 3 months before we leave. All of this threw me further into the realization that my time here is limited. Yeah, a jolt into the shock of the reality that is sure to increase over the course of the next few months.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Things to Do Before I Pack My Bags

For awhile, I've been meaning to make a list of things that I want to do before I leave Japan. Now that that time has come to 3 months, I've decided to.

To be updated periodically:

- Visit Kyushu (Fukuoka and Nagasaki)
- Go to a love hotel (particularly want to try Hotel Amber in Tonami;))
- Visit Hokkaido again and go to the national parks
- Buy and wear a kimono
- Try ikebana or tea ceremony
- Eat horse sushi or whale
- Eat fugu
- Visit Matsumoto City (castle and ukiyo-e museum)
- See the tulips in Tonami
- See a Japanese band live in a small venue
- Attend a Japanese baseball game
- Stay in a capsule hotel
- Visit Tokyo Disney Sea
- Buy a nice ukiyo-e print for myself
- Camp somewhere in Japan (Noto Peninsula?)
- Learn to cook more Japanese dishes
- Visit an art museum in Toyama
- Visit Kurehayama and the 500 Jizo statues
- PARTY IT UP! And
- Manage to save some money :/