So, the Virginia Tech shootings. They’re bad. We know.
However, this does not give you license to complain about society’s this-or-that. You may not pretend that the cause of the shootings can be traced to some perceived iniquity for which you’ve been saving up your soapboxes.
Society, especially American society, is like a giant hundred-headed cat.
Blaming some abstract concept when things go wrong is ignorant at best, irresponsible at worst, and childish somewhere in between. Honestly, it’s not much better than saying the devil made you do it. Just sounds a little better in present company.
So don’t do it.
That is all.
Rainbows and lollipop kisses,
Usually when I dream, I at least have the suspicion that it’s a dream… I just had a nightmare that was unrelentingly vivid, and even now that I’m awake, I’m still shaking.
In the dream, I get a car, and I’m driving around Tokyo. It’s a rainy day, and I’ve been walking around Disneyland. Daryle and Amy are in a car behind me. I’m at a stoplight, and the lane I’m in becomes a parking lane on the next block, so I speed up as soon as the light turns green, merging lanes so that I can get ahead of the car next to me.
Except my foot’s all slippery from the rain and I can’t get to the brakes.
When I run over the cars at the next light, I remember being a bit surprised that I didn’t outright crash into them, but instead went over them. Maybe my car’s lighter than I thought. Maybe no harm is done. I start my fight or flight response… maybe if I speed up, they won’t catch me and everything will be normal.
But I pull over to the side of the road. Good thing, too, because one of the cars there was an unmarked cop car, and it’s pulling in right by me.
As it pulls in, I notice it has a gaijin in the back in cuffs, and he’s mouthing something to me urgently. I can’t tell what it is.
They get two half-Japanese, half-gaijin cops to drill me, the classic bad-cop, good-cop routine. One starts talking about how I was drunk and ran over a kid, which I of course object to — I didn’t have a drop to drink, and there was no kid.
Except there was a kid. Somewhere between 5 and 8. And he’s dead.
Suddenly, nothing I say will matter. There won’t be a trial. There won’t be a waiting period. My visa’s going to be cancelled and I’m going to be sent back, without so much as saying goodbye. And I’m going to have to live with being a murderer for the rest of my life.
What I remember after that is the horrific crying, the non-stop, body-shaking wailing that I collapsed into on the way out of the station. I’d explained my situation, how I just hadn’t driven in awhile, and my foot slipped, and how sorry I was, and it’d fallen on deaf ears. Well, of course they’re deaf ears. I’m a murderer.
I get back home, and for some reason, Shawn is the only one meeting me there — Daryle and Amy are nowhere to be seen. As the cops are walking me along, Shawn is protesting, saying that “You don’t know this guy, he’s got this awesome website he’s helping us make, and who’s gonna take that over?!” and I just fucking lose it and yell and yell and yell at him to shut up, just shut his mouth and go the fuck away.
When I get in my apartment, I fall apart, crumple up in a corner and just cry.
No saying goodbye to Japan.
No saying goodbye to my kids. Who knows what they’ll do for a teacher. Who knows what they’ll say.
No goodbyes to the JETs. Everything I’d been planning to do for them, up in smoke. No plane ticket back. No nothing.
No Golden Week in Okinawa. No saying goodbye to Kana, no explanation to her.
And when I come back, what then? Could I ever live with myself again? I’m a murderer. What could I possibly do that would fix that?
I cried for what seems like hours… then I woke up. It’s the crying I remember and the crying that’s staying with me, even as I finish typing this up. Terrible, gutteral moans, crying until there weren’t any tears.. convulsing like I was dry heaving, until my sides physically hurt. Then doing it some more.
At least I have no classes to teach today.
Still have to find time to post about this past weekend, which was chock-full of cherry blossoms, high school friends, and dancing Elvises, but in the meantime, I figure I should update some of you on my plans for the future.
Since continuing here in Japan would be quite difficult (and because, being a foreigner, it’s a conseqeuence-less fantasy land, which really bugs me), I’m not renewing my contract after August. My (extremely rough) plans are:
Not really thought out, but that’s basically what I’m looking at.
Okay, I have internet finally, but it’s late and I can’t write much. So I’ll make this brief.
Couple items of interest:
Can`t say I`m not grateful, but I was left scratching my head.
Oh, also, comments should work now. MovableType confused me a bit, but should be okay.
First up: I updated my flickr page with photos of Nikko, which I went to this weekend. Really beautiful place, lots of temples. I went with my USC friend Ananda, who’s over in Japan for a bit, and my friends Jamie and Sarah.
One of the most common questions I get from you all in email is â€œWhat’s freaking you out most about Japan?â€ The answer is, by far, the fact that they drive on the left side of the road. I don’t know where to look to avoid being run over, I tend to cross by people on the incorrect side, and I have repeatedly thought I was going to die while riding in a car, because other cars were on the wrong side of the road.
But there’s a lot of other weird stuff, too. Here’s a list:
Okay, bear with me, it`s been a long couple weeks, and my brain is very scrambled right now, I need to just blather for a minute.
I am still having massive internet problems; it looks like it’ll be another two weeks at least, maybe more. It blows. But for right now, I have a bit of time and am able to write a decent blog entry.
So, basically, I am living in Ryugasaki, a smallish town, about 80,000 people, 50 minutes northeast of Tokyo. It’s about the size of New Albany. This is a bit deceiving, though, as Japanese towns are almost right next to each other. Ryugasaki actually used to be five different towns, and just ended up merging. This is not uncommon. It’s already really difficult to tell where one town ends and the other begins.
I am teaching at three schools. The main one is my middle school, Nagayama Junior High, or Nagayama Chuugakkou. I teach there Wed-Friday, have 3-4 classes a day, and manage to teach one class to each of the students in the school per week. I also teach at two elementary schools, Nagayama Elementary (Mondays) and Matsuba Elementary (Tuesdays). All of them are really close to each other — Nagayama E is 5 minutes walking from my house, Nagayama JH is 10 minutes, and Matsuba is 15-20. Everyone is incredibly sweet and wonderful to me.
Teaching so far has been very light, because I came just as all of the schools were gearing up for their sports festivals — they are called taikusai for junior high and undoukai for elementary, but I have kind of been using them interchangeably, because I am an ignorant American. Now, these things are unreal. They’re unlike anything I had growing up. Every single student in the entire school gets involved in this giant track-and-field show, forming human pyramids and jumping rope and coming up with their own dance routines. The elementary school undoukais are pretty much a dog-and-pony show, but the junior high taikusai is INTENSE. They get split up into three teams, and compete in around 18 different events, for points. Everything from relay races, to cheer contests, to three-legged races (with around 10 people tied to each other), to forming human bridges and making the smallest classmates run across it as fast as possible. The losing teams cried. So did the winners. They couldn’t even do their speeches. I uploaded some pictures, but I also have video, which I’ll try to upload at some point.
After the taikusai, all the teachers went out for a drinking party, also called an enkai. This was great fun, and everyone tried their damndest to get me drunk. I was getting there, but Japanese alcohol is pretty weak, or at least, the stuff I’ve had. We went to karaoke afterwards, and they insisted I sing English songs. I told them, I really only like to sing angry songs, and they were fine with that… so, in front of a bunch of old Japanese men in business suits, I did my most gutteral Linkin Park. They got really into it, clapping and jumping up and down. Some of the younger teachers moshed a little bit. It was… weird. Fun, but… weird. The rest of the teachers were singing old anime theme songs — like Doraemon, Gatchaman, Fist of the North Star, Akira, and Rurouni Kenshin. It was bizarre.
There are five other foreigner teachers in my town, and they’re all… full of character. In order, they are:
Basically, I have been giving my self-introduction steadily to all my classes, which has been the plan for almost every single class I’ve taught so far. I managed to get almost everything onto my computer, so I do an iPhoto slideshow, with my reel as the final part. Parts that the kids go wild for:
Bizarro questions I’ve been asked so far:
Alright, gotta run, hopefully that’ll tide y’all over.