Yukkuri Countdown JAPAN
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
 Eating with the VPs
Today I had no classes. I was able to do just about whatever I wanted!

Last week, all five days I had classes, which is rare. Also rare is having to come to school for the 8:hour to be able to TT first period, which is what I had to do all three days at base school last week. It's taihen to wake up at six everyday in the dark. Seven is, although still freezing, bright. Anyway, the TT wave is over--actually it's not, I have class 1-8 on Thursday--so today I woke up and it was sunny and for now I'm feeling raku. Free and easy.

Today I went to the PO to mail my Month 2 Japanese test, due in three days. It was harder than Month 1, especially because I did not study thoroughly as I did for Month 1. Studying makes me feel good about myself. Having the book open makes me feel like I am a hard worker. When I study at school I flaunt it because usually I feel like I am doing lazy raku things that I shouldn't be doing because nobody else has such time on their hands. I am an under-utilized ALT.

I do have a stack of 600ish 1st year paragraphs--chunks of words pulled from dictionaries and arranged by students who didn't know what a paragraph was before I babbled at them for an hour in English, which means half of them still aren't sure what it is--to read and grade. It was while preparing for that lesson that my efforts to communicate with JTEs hit a very low point.

My mission was to teach 300 or so Ss enough about writing so I could bear reading what they were gonna write, not to mention as a foundation for future assignments and for the sake of the future ALT. I had to work with seven or so JTEs, some who I'd never taught with before. Some claimed to not know how to write a paragraph. I thought, well, they should know what I'm teaching because you can't team teach if only one teacher knows the material being taught. And I wasn't teaching something, such as speaking or listening, that benefitted anyone to be taught in English. I needed the JTEs' help to make the lesson clear to the Ss. I told them this. When time was found for a meeting, I tried desperately to get feedback and make sure I wasn't fighting on my own. It was hard wading through the silence. The scariest part of this ordeal was facing that fact that one teacher wouldn't listen, flipped through the activity I made, said he didn't understand as it was all in English, and decided it was fine since I was going to do all the explaining to the Ss. Today that same teacher was humming Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.

I related a brief account of that situation to the BOE at my (Not) Re-Contracting Interview. Yet I repeatedly answered that things were fine at school. What were they getting at, I thought. The interviewers told me they get reports on me from my principal. No wonder they kept asking me how I got along with my principal. I wonder what he reported about me. I rarely see him. I don't work with him. I told them it was fine when I saw the principal. They suggested I talk to him, so we get to know each other better. Mayyyyyybe someday soon. He gave me a big grapefruit-like fruit once.

In the end, the interview was enough to convince me to try harder to get more out of being here.

chiizu omuraisu
Here's a start: Today I ate lunch with the kyoto-sensei, not just one but both vice principals! They are friendly and fun, and don't seem too busy to interact with. My choice for lunch was chiizu omuraisu, 300yen, and since I ate in the cafeteria, I got miso soup and hot tea along with it. I like the rice and melted cheese under the egg, all covered with hayashi sauce which contains chunks of chicken. Yummm. I was told that the name for hayashi comes from "hashed beef"; quite a stretch, don't you think?

Afterwards, I got a tour of the other cafeteria, the night school one. It's a separate building, kind of mysterious because it looks like a brick wall right outside the glass doors from the hallway. It was dark and empty, but I wonder what the food is like at night.

A nice thing about being where I am is receiving yummy foods from other members of the staff. Sure, Japanese people might eat healthy fish and vegetables and all that, but they do a fair amount of snacking to keep sane. Yappari you gotta be balanced. Today I got a stick of four big dango! I don't eat them very often because I think I would get tired of the thick, sweet and salty shoyu sauce. Today's was a perfect treat, though. Apparently these dango were from a store in front of the City Hall and cost 40yen per stick.

hot apple pie
Tonight the left pocket and I used another Makku coupon for two hot apple pies for 150yen. Crispy, yummm.

Dinner was a sort of sad nabe. The last bit of the whole nappa, or hakusai, or Chinese cabbage I bought so long ago did its part. The tofu did its part, thank goodness there was some in the fridge. The last carrot did its part, as did a nice big onion. The naganegi was unsettlingly gooey when boiled and tasted a bit off. Still, the left pocket and I were filled. I needed a dose of clean veggies.
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Seize the food, for Japan is time-service only! In other words, this blog is to preserve, share, and make the most of my six months left living in Japan. Yes, I am obsessed with food. Cheap food!

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Location: Tokyo/Saitama, Japan

Life is short so I eat fast, lest it get cold or disappear. I'm currently teaching English in Japan for two years. I was born and raised in California, and will be returning there in Summer 2005. I was ovo-lacto-vegetarian for about seven years but decided to let it go during second year in Japan!

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