After the Last Train, it’s Ramen, Amen

After the Last Train, it’s Ramen, Amen

So somehow it came to pass that I found myself in Ikebukuro at 3:30 a.m., drinking malt liquor, eating kimchee and a really fabulous grilled mackerel, helping this random izakaya owner translate his signs into English.  If you go into a bar there and see a “Customers must pay when they order” sign, then yeah, that was me.

Though I’m happy to finally be teaching in Japan, I’m certain that hummingbirds on crack lead more relaxing lives.  Students rush in and out of my classroom while I madly prepare for the next lesson and remember that I left the notes for it in the men’s room stall.  In an average day, I teach seven classes, plus give tests, do interviews, and carry out the garbage.  I have neither a desk or a chair, which is fine, since I have no time to sit anyway.

My first week here was spent in “Training,” during which time somebody reads all of the rules in the company rule book at you, while overlooking anything about how to actually teach classes. One thing the instructors were clear on was the fast pace of eikaiwa life. One guy suggested pursuing hobbies as a way of relieving stress. His hobby: doll collecting.

Since I’m generally receptive to advice, I decided that instead of building a personal doll collection, I would simply put more effort into my existing hobbies, namely drinking and womanizing.  Thus I began a steady regimen of hobbying that has grown in force like a tornado to include drinking and making out with teachers, students, and various other unsavory remnants of Tokyo’s nightlife.   Now due to circumstances almost beyond my control I seem to regularly miss the last train and wind up in some dingy ramen shop, staring into salty broth and wondering why on earth it has come to this.  My existence has been reduced to a blur of classes, seeking sustenance, buying clean underwear from convenience stores, and booze.

As I step over a pile of Japanese guys in suits passed out in a doorway, I realize I’ve lost the ability to distinguish day from night.  Right from wrong of course went by the wayside long ago.  I still haven’t gotten a bank account, a cell phone, or the Internet, nor have I figured out how to even take out the trash at my apartment, and plus my washing machine freaking exploded this morning and blew water all over my patio.  My fridge is as barren as Antarctica.  I’m vaguely aware of working nine or ten hours a day and commuting another two.  If it weren’t for sleeping on trains, corn soup from vending machines, and my steely resolve, I’d surely perish.  At least there are only twelve more months to go, right?  And now the staff at this Net cafe is saying something in my direction.  Jeezus.  I’ll just pretend to be dead and maybe they’ll leave me alone.  If anybody asks, I’m not here.



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6 Comments

  1. Great blog. I particularly liked the nihongo related posts. I get serious about my Japanese studies like clockwork. Yup, every 2 years or so for the last 10-12 years I get real serious about that. I get all caught up on my Anki backlog but I never feel like I’m making progress. I’ve been putting off Kanji but after reading your posts I think I’m going to move that onto the front burner. Thanks!

    • Thanks much. Yeah, I’ve got some more 日本語-related posts that I’m working on, along with everything else. Gotta whip the elves harder. And bake me a batch of them delicious Toll House cookies while you’re at it, you little bastards. So yeah, learning the most frequently-used kanji is what pays the biggest dividends in the long run, and I really recommend you focus on that. Speaking and listening are of course essential for everyday conversation, but to get beyond the where-are-you-from and what-are-your-hobbies stage, you just need shit-tons of vocabulary. That’s a technical term. Kanji is what makes all the vocabulary make sense, and makes it easier to memorize. Trying to work avoid kanji was easily the biggest mistake I made when I started learning Japanese.

  2. Random comment on a random page: amazing content, but those double spaces after every period are so off-putting and ugly that I almost want to stop reading your (great) blog altogether, punch a wall and throw my laptop out the window. Maybe I should go see a doctor.

    • I’ve never underestimated the power of words to incite violence,but apparently I badly overlooked the power of spaces.Do you mean that no one other than me uses a double-space after a period?I honestly never noticed.I have achieved my goal as an artist.Years ago I had this typing teacher who was about a million years old, but he could type like mad, and he said either was fine.Is it possible an old person could be wrong?I’m gonna have to go to around the net and check out this new phenomenon.(Edit:After a comprehensive survey of four sites, I see that you’re right and now I feel like punching a wall, flushing my laptop down the toilet, and rewriting everything I’ve ever written.)Thanks for letting me know.Hopefully this comment can repay you in some small way.

      • Not true. Double spaces after periods are correct and I know because I work with someone who finds it “therapeutic” to correct hundreds of English reports every term…and not only is her boyfriend someone who has actually written books about grammar (agh the thought of it!) But she also has an English accent as in from England and everyone knows when it comes to this stuff, the English know where to put the spaces and the periods and even how to use those bloody semi colons.

        So double space on, dude. I never really liked that rule until I read this post and saw how yuk it looked with single spaces.

        I hate grammar…I am possibly the sloppiest language lover of all time – I am a slap dash woman – who have NOT ONCE edited my work…I get distracted too easy, get bored by the details and want to always move on to something else…

        And yet your posts inspire me to rise up and edit something some day…polish something…I like the way you care about the correctness of your writing (probably why you have a great blog and I don’t!!)

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