Jason Porath

has a website, i guess

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 26)

I’m telling the boss!

This had me in stitches.

Bang bang you’re dead

Dear world:

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.

  • First off, it’s not a monolithic, single-minded entity, so claiming it does anything on purpose is, shall we say, a bit much.
  • Second, most of us can only see two or three of its heads from where we stand, so it’s not like we have some insider scoop to share with the world.
  • Third, it’s a fairytale construction. It doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense.

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,


One hell of a nightmare

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.

The future

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:

  • Wander around Asia for a month or two until I have to go back to the states.
  • Visit folks in Kentucky for a bit.
  • Go back to California, either LA or San Francisco, and do CG for a bit. I’m open to staying for more than a couple months, but if nothing spectacular happens, I’m planning to go to…
  • Europe for a couple months, to visit folks I know from all over.
  • Maybe settle in Europe for a bit
  • Graduate school for art, perhaps. Or writing. Something creative.
  • ???
  • Profit

Not really thought out, but that’s basically what I’m looking at.

Tids and bits

Okay, I have internet finally, but it’s late and I can’t write much. So I’ll make this brief.

  1. One of my junior high second-year kids made this Ultraman-style bracelet and made me wear it all class. It was kind of fun.
  2. I will never be able to escape this movie, even five years after I worked on it.
  3. Japanese people are cannibals.
  4. Japanese teachers are clinically insane.
  5. Dance Dance Revolution exists nowhere in Japan anymore. When I ask the kids about it, they look at me like I’m asking where the nearest Pac-Man arcade machine is.
  6. And yet, Dragon Ball Z is still inexplicably popular. This anime was old when I was watching it, when I was in junior high school. I don’t get it.
  7. Lilo and Stitch is crazy popular here. Huge crowds of high school boys have pink Stitch dolls attached to their backpacks.
  8. I made this neat map to help my students practice giving directions. For those wondering, Danro means “fireplace” in Japanese, so the “Danro” line means the fireplace line, or rather, teleporting from fireplace to fireplace. The Burrow is the name of the Weasleys’ house, and the small numbers by the rail lines are the platform numbers. I know 9 3/4 is correct for King’s Cross outbound, but I made up 2 4/5 for inbound. Also, I think they got to the Shrieking Shack through the whomping willow, which is off from Hogwarts, but I’ll let that slide.
  9. This is awesome.
  10. As is this.


More to come.

Short update

Couple items of interest:

  1. The school decided to filter internet access, blocking out my blog, gmail, and parts of wikipedia. This stopped me for about an hour or so before I managed to find vtunnel.com. Now it`s just annoying, but liveable.
  2. I have come down with some nasty cold, which knocked me out for 14 hours straight starting around 5 last night. My head is hurting, I`m coughing a lot, and generally I`m kind of irritable.
  3. Japanese teachers cannot understand the game Hangman. At all. I was able to explain it to the guy who`s been studying English for 16 years, and only barely. The others, even with a translated explanation (done by someone who is much better than me at Japanese), did not get it at all.
  4. My kids are friggin weird. Yesterday, at one of my elementary schools, some kids (maybe 8 years old) came up to me and started talking about a man in the sky who was watching them. I didn`t get all of what they were saying, but as far as I could tell, they proceeded to talk about two lovers who had committed a double suicide somewhere near my house (they kept making hanged-person motions and talking about a funeral shroud), and told me where I could see their ghosts. They proceeded to tell me which teachers were mean, and which ones they`d seen using magic. Finally, they took me to the corner of the playground they were hanging out at, and showed me their homemade Ouija Board. They asked if I wanted to play. I said, thanks, I did it a lot when I was a kid, but I don`t do it now. I did teach them the phrase `Ouija Board` though.
  5. That state fair festival is like two weeks away, and I am in the beginning phases of freak-out. Because I`m sick and I have no internet, I haven`t been able to bug all the Team America folks as much as I`d like. The American Embassy sent me, upon my request for `Maps, state quarters, flags, and the like`:
    1. A copy of the Declaration of Independence. In English.
    2. A book about American history. In English.
    3. A guidebook to Amish country. In Japanese.
    4. Some American flag napkins.
    5. A sightseeing guide for New York. In Japanese.
    6. Healthy Cooking with California Walnuts. Volume 2. In Japanese.

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.

Weird stuff

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 “What’s freaking you out most about Japan?” 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:

Continue reading

A moment of introspection

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.

Continue reading

Is this ever going to slow down?

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:

  1. Daryle. Filipino, mid-20s, has already been here a year. Incredibly nice, gets along with pretty much everyone. Pretty good with Japanese, has helped me get my utilities and everything set up already. Very easy-going, pretty much the glue that holds us together. He’s also the only one with a car, so we’re always riding around in it to some bizarro adventure or another. A well-balanced person, and I look up to him in that regard.
  2. Katie. White, mid-20s, has already been here a year. Katie is very excitable; the sort of person who uses way too many emoticons and exclamation points in her writing. Occasionally a bit ditzy, but I can’t hold it against her. She’s really earnest and sweet, and willing to try anything once. Evidence: she’s actually getting into manga, at Daryle’s insistence. She’s pretty new to Japanese, but is trying to get better. A nice gal, and we get along fine.
  3. Amy. White, 22, just got here. Amy is completely insane. She is almost exactly like Eve from Digital Domain, to those of you who remember that whole thing. She has tuberculosis, a kidney disorder, and no immune system. Her upbringing was borderline abusive, she didn’t talk until she was five, she eats something like 8 pieces of cake per day, and she already is well on her way to having a yakuza boyfriend. She has four tattoos and, because of that, can’t go into Japanese swimming pools (they think she’s yakuza, cause only they have tattoos in Japan). She’s incredibly loud and outgoing, knows every piece of Japanese slang a foreigner possibly could, and generally just lives like she is going to die tomorrow, because, in all likelihood, she probably is. Recently she had a friend visit, got her piss-drunk on purpose, and was punished for it by her other friend, Mistress J, who is a dominatrix. Mistress J decreed that Amy could not have any sugary food for a month. She has been complaining about it ever since. Amy is also a drag king. Despite all that, Amy`s a great teacher and awesome with kids. Very good at her job. Amy’s taken the position of everyone’s precocious little sister here. I am counting down the days until she causes an international incident.
  4. Shawn. White, 26ish?, just got here. Shawn is vegan, kind of emo, but generally a good guy. Let me tell you, Japan is about the worst place on Earth to be vegan. You have to understand, pork is a vegetable here. McDonald’s french fries have pork in them. EVERYTHING has meat in it, and they don’t understand the concept of vegetarianism, let alone veganism. Shawn is a nice enough guy, decent at Japanese — probably around my level. I worry that he will have to be shipped back to the States in December, when he can’t get any vegetables (supermarkets are incredibly fresh and incredibly seasonal, so winter means there’s no fresh fruit/veggies). To be honest, I don’t have a great handle him yet.
  5. Don. White, late 30s, has a family, totally fluent in Japanese, has gone pretty well native. Not a JET — privately contracted with the city. Don takes a bit to warm up to; he’s got a very blunt and borderline aggressive manner to his speech, and it feels sometimes like he looks down on JETs. I gather that he’s a bit repressed, and is involved with some clubs/organizations outside of work to vent aggression. All in all, a nice guy, you just have to understand him. He and Amy get along like gasoline and fire.

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:

  • A baby picture of me being about as big as a cat.
  • Jeremy’s picture. I can’t figure out why yet.
  • The fact it takes 4 days to drive from LA to Louisville.
  • The Terminator mannequins in the Stan Winston Studio Trophy Room.
  • The fact that I was even minorly involved with X-Men 3.
  • The size of mom and Henry’s house.
  • Our insane number of cats.
  • The fact that there are deer there.
  • The fact that we have horses.
  • The fact that we have a boat (this one they find quite literally unbelievable).
  • The fact that I climbed Mount Fuji.
  • Some of my weird physical abnormalities (which I showed off when one kid asked if I had any special skills), like bending my pinkies back to my hand.

Bizarro questions I’ve been asked so far:

  • Am I half Japanese? (because my eyes are brown)
  • Does everyone in America wear glasses?
  • What is my blood type? (this one I expected)
  • Do I know Colonel Sanders?
  • Is Colonel Sanders Japanese?
  • Is my brother Ricky a movie star?
  • Is New York in America?

Alright, gotta run, hopefully that’ll tide y’all over.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2022 Jason Porath

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑