Fellow citizens, our long national nightmare is finally over. Let us now embark upon that shining road to recovery. Of course, by “national” I mean Japan, and “long nightmare” as in my teaching English here while everyone else listens to my grumbling about it. In retrospect, I guess I should have read my one-year school contract more carefully. I assumed “one agrees to be poked by devils while drowning in a pool of anguish” was just boilerplate contractual stuff. Who knew they meant it literally? Continue reading “One Really Long Year in Japan”
It’s been a cold winter, but spring is coming. I haven’t yet burned my apartment building to the ground. I cherish the simple things in life.
I recently bought a space heater to help save some yen on my electric bill. Before moving to Japan, I somehow pictured living in a high-rise apartment with a panoramic city view. Champagne and sushi, that kind of thing. The dream did not include sitting on the floor of a dark, four-story building, staring at the factory across the street while wearing a beanie and drinking cans of Chu-Hi in front of a tiny heater. Reality can be so cruel.
When I finally looked in the mirror after a month of eikaiwa teaching, my first thought was—who the hell’s that? My signature dark and flowing locks, which had once glowed with the radiance of a dozen hair-care products, had gone white almost overnight. While it’s true that I might have had one or two gray hairs before, my class load was clearly making me look like Keith Richards before my time. Continue reading “Growing Old in Japan”
Thus far, I’ve succeeded in taking out two of my four types of garbage. Trash is so fascinating to the Japanese that they’ve seen fit to divide it into four types and given each its own special day of the week for pick-up. There’s Plastic Bottle Day, Can Day, Unburnable Trash Day, and Burnable Trash Day. They even have signs printed in English explaining the concepts. And the first time I read the sign, I was like, “burnable?” Man, I’ve been camping and I know that given a big enough bonfire pretty much anything’s burnable. Trust me, I teach English in your country and I know what “burnable” means. Now quit screwing around and let me take out my trash.
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. Continue reading “After the Last Train, it’s Ramen, Amen”