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.