Friday, April 27, 2007

A hop and a skip down memory lane...

I don't really have anything of note to report. The last few weekends have been simply delightful; drinking alcohol under the cherry blossom trees, spending time admiring natural beauty with the fine-assed Scot, eating good food, going to a sleepover, making two dolls in one day...nothing newsworthy, but everything special. The workdays have been moving along, some more fun than others, but everything has been worth it because of the kids. I was trying to adapt to a new curriculum thrown at me out of nowhere, but asserted myself and said that I didn't spend over a year making my own curriculum (with all the accompanying games, worksheets, bingo cards, mini cards, flashcards, etc) to have everything changed in my last few months and all my hardwork be for naught. Luckily, the higher powers agreed with me, and I'm going to stick with my own plans and save the new stuff for the next ALT. Thank goodness. I was starting to have dreams about it.
So in this post, I decided to write about me, specifically my hair. If you've been reading over the past year, you know that I cut my hair 13 months ago. Actually "cut" is a misnomer. I had my locks shaved off. Poor David got quite a shock when I came back from Montreal with a haircut that was like something out of an early 90's R&B video. Actually, poor me. I'm not going to lie - it was quite an adjustment (you can go through earlier posts if you want to see what my hair looked like). I went from having to style my hair every morning with a comb, brush, product and a prayer to a quick wash and dash. At certain times, I wonder if it would ever grow.

But grow it did and I started twisting it about 4 months after I cut it. Twisting is a good style for me since I work with small children with curious hands who always try to get into my hair. Plus I could just wake up and go without having to deal with hair drama. Also, twisting my hair keeps me from manipulating it and I believe it makes my hair grow healthier and faster.

I really started falling in love with my hair and grew to accept that it was not straight, or even really curly. It's nappy as hell and I can't really argue with it when refuses to swing to and fro in the soft breeze. But it's unique, like me.

This pic was taken the day I tried to put my thick, kinky hair into a ponytail on top of my head. I was shocked that I actually succeeded and awed by how good it looked. When I tried it out at school, the kids told me I looked like a mushroom. I told them that I didn't care, that I thought I looked good.

So here I am, 13 months later, with hair a few inches shorter than it was before I cut it and a helluva lot more healthy. When I learned how damaging a perm (straightener/relaxer) was, I decided that my health was more important that fashion (though being natural is en vogue these days - go figure).
I'll try to post more Japan-related stuff more often, but to tell the truth, I spend my days soaking up the atmosphere and feelings. Sometimes I see such beautiful things and I want to reach for my camera, but then I stop short because I know pics wouldn't really do them justice. Just like the smells, sounds and tastes - descriptions just don't suffice. But as this advetnure draws to and end, I'll try my best to export my experiences so y'all can learn about Japan through my eyes.
Alright. Golden Week is about to start for me in...1 minute! I'll be off for a week - Tokyo for the first half, and camping in Ishikawa/Nagano for the latter half. Damn, I can't wait. I'll be on the bus tomorrow morning. Big city lights, here I come!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Posting interrupted...

I was going to post my thoughts on the differences between Canadian and Japanese cultures in light of the recent visit by a contingency of Canucks, and my students impending visit to Alberta. I was also going to post some pics from my fantabulous weekend doing nothing with someone who means everything. But before I was to do all this, I wrote an email to one of my best friends who just had a very beautiful baby. We talked recently and while I wanted to talk to her again, I was out of money on my phone card, so an email had to suffice. While writing this email, I began to think about the "old days"- when I lived in Montreal and could simply pick up the phone and call one of my closest pals and talk, bitch, moan, commiserate, cry, fact-check and do any number of other important activities. But now here I am, thousands of kilometres away, sending an email to a woman whom I've known since before my first everything, asking how she was doing after the birth of her child. It struck me as kinda odd and a little sad. Then I remembered the other 2 babies whose births I missed, and the weddings that I will miss this year and it made me feel so mournful. I didn't cry (though I wanted to), but I thought about those lovely girls in my city of home as I frantically moved around my kitchen, trying desperately to distract myself (thankfully it worked).

If people can be home, then there's no place like home and I'm definitely homesick.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So fleeting (or saying goodbye, part 1)
The sakura (cherry blossom) season is drawing to a close and it will be my last in Japan. Cherry blossoms don't last long at all (about a month) so you kinda have to remind yourself to appreciate its beauty while you have it. I think the sakura is a fitting symbol of my time in Japan. You sometimes take it for granted, you're sometimes underwhelmed by its presence and then sometimes, when you know it will count the most, you are awed by it. I find myself drawn to its trees at my school and I stare intently at it to the point where the colours and textures disappear. It gets me thinking about my life here and its frustrations and joys. Were it not for Japan, I'd be lacking in so many ways: in experiences, in challenges, in love. I came to Japan and fulfilled the cliche: I found myself. Uggh. It sounds so overdone, but it's so true. It's not that I was terribly lost before, but I guess I'm sure now.
I also think about the relationships I've forged and how I know that the future of these unions is not certain. But rather than be sad about it, I've accepted the possibility of growing apart. And that has given me the ability to appreciate what I have NOW.
Conversely, the imminence of the future is so delicious and daydreaming so addictive. When the little annoying things grate at me, I grow and vilify them, lending validity to my mental escape routes. But I try (man, do I try) to stay focused on the present for it too quickly becomes the past.
I've started to say goodbye to places and things. I've soaked in an onsen for what will probably be the last time. I figure that by starting now, and saying goodbye slowly and in parts (or tiers), I might lesson the blow of leaving in July. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking. Ask me in August.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

So yeah, everything is blooming and I feel like I want to get in on the action, so welcome to the new and improved Persimmon Chronicles. I used the previous template for over a year and a half and being the Gemini/Horse sign that I am, I felt like it was time for a change. Like it? Even if you don't, I'm the brains in this outfit, so there.
As I previously mentioned, it's the start of a new school year and that means new faces in the teachers rooms and the schools, and also new seating arrangements. I like that I've moved for two reasons: I'm closer to the door at both schools (making sneaking out during meetings that much easier) and I've got my back to the wall, ensuring that I don't have to feel SOOO guilty about being on the internet at work. But with the good, comes the not so good: my sworn nemesis (in my own head) has moved from the elementary school to the JHS. Oh joy, I get to see his face even more often in the stressful environment that is the JHS. Boo! Luckily, I don't have to team teach with his sickly looking ass anymore. Yay! But the best news is that the teacher switching that goes on every year actually works in my favour, particularly at the elementary school. Hee, hee, hee. I was actually smiling from ear to ear when I heard the news of who is teaching what this year. Could NOT wipe the grin off my face. Soon, I'll get back to teaching and I think I'm going to really enjoy my last semester with all my students, even the asshole-ish 7 year olds. Can't you smell my optimism???

Last week, I was hella busy with the visiting Canadians coming to my town. For some very strange reason, I was entrusted with translating and guiding duties. Luckily, they hired a pro to do the translation of official stuff for all but one of the events. You know, I quit studying Japanese about 2 - 3 months ago, but no joke, I've spoken more Japanese in the last little while than I have in probably forever. I have a lot more confidence and I'm more at ease when I'm communicating with folks. 'Twas good.

Anyway, I went to Kyoto and Takayama with the good folks from Devon, Alberta and wow, I'm temple-d the eff out. No more temples for me please, I'm done! Though the coolest thing EVER happened in Kyoto. We went to visit Kiyomizudera, a pretty famous temple complex and I saw a sumo wrestler!!! I LOVE sumo and I'm so PISSED that I lost the channels that I could watch sumo on, but I'm still a groupie. I plan on going to a tournament in July, right before we leave, and I intend on sitting so close, I can smell their thongs. How hot will that be??? I'm trying to figure out who this bad mama-jama is.

So I did way too much to remember (or care to), but I had a good time talking to new people and sharing my impressions and knowledge of Japan. A highlight was wearing kimono not once, but twice and receiving a million compliments. Spending outside school time with my kids was also wonderful and I must re-iterate, I love these kids so much. I was getting so much love from them and really felt the accumulation of my time here. I even got choked up at a mini-concert they performed for their guests. I had to go to the bathroom and let out a cry that had been sitting in my belly for a little too long. Sheeet, I'm going to miss them so much.

With all the changes going on in nature around here, I was thinking about changes on the personal level and how you can be walking around, doing your daily bizness, and you realize how much you've changed. I've felt like that fairly often lately: when I was listening to the Canadian teens talk about self-designed drama; when I've handled situations differently than I would have a couple of years ago; when I actually stop and think about the best way to act/respond when I did precious little years ago. It's really amazing to me sometimes, these things called life and growth. But on the other hand, I think about the things that haven't changed and how I'm grateful for their maintenance as they equal who I am. I think about the summer and how I'm going to get up to my old trips back home: putting on a slinky outfit and heels and strutting the streets; sitting cross-legged + bare-legged on a beautiful terrasse sipping cocktails, wearing shades and watching the humanity pass by; eating/laughing/making a scene and feeling COMFORTABLE doing so. 'Tis good.

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in this journey (my evolution is being "televised") from the sidelines and right in there in the mix with me. Special shot out to Hot Coffy, whom I don't even know but whose handle I love and whose messages make me feel special. Thanks to those who take the time to comment and to those who read and tell me stuff later. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Dan, don't work too hard. Life's too short.