Friday, June 22, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
There are many words in the Japanese dictionary that are difficult to translate. One that you can hear on an almost daily basis is ganbaru, which according to the dictionary means to persevere or do one's best. Often, when I tell my kids to "ganbatte kudasai", I translate it to English and tell them to please do their best. Similarly, when people tell me that, I reply "ganbarre imasu", which means I will try my best. However, irregardless of how many times people are told and taught otherwise, the most common translation of ganbaru is fight! Or in katakana English, fa-i(ee)-to! You'll here it at competitions, before tests or when someone isn't feeling too hot. I've decided to adopt this ill-translated word as a personal mantra for my final 8 weeks here. See, I've been feeling amazingly underwhelmed and understimulated during working hours, which means I'm a lazy sack of shit after I'm relieved of my duties. A growing sense of apathy started to take over my mind during my hours of solitude and I began to look at my remaining time as a cold, desolate desert that stretched before me. It sucked. I would awaken for the weekend and then return to a semi-catonic state sometime around 8:15 a.m. Monday morning. But today, I said enough is enough. I don't want my final weeks in Japan to be filled with disdain and blinding anticipation so that I would forget my nearly 100 weeks here. So I will reach down into my spirit and savour the lasts of everything. I WILL FIGHT!
I had a good weekend and I felt like I accomplished a lot without over-exerting. I shipped four boxes of my belongings, got a quote for my return plane ticket, tried out a new recipe, saw Pirates of the Caribbean, ate at one of my favourite restaurants (mmm, miso katsu, how I'll miss you), thorougly enjoyed watching Snakes on a Plane (Samuel L. Jackson, you are still the shit), walked around near a brook and saw dozens of fireflies (tres romantique) and spent 8 hours making the Samurai doll that you see here. I royally messed up this doll and had to make the pants all over again, plus I forgot to not glue one side of them in order for the samurai to hold his swords in his belt, but it worked out well because my guy is holding swords in each hand and looks like a total badass. I love happy accidents. This doll took a lot out of me so please forgive how used up I look in the first pic. This doll will be my second to last and I'm going to miss these classes that infuse Japanese culture with laughter and conversation. Truly one of the best things I've done here.
I received a newsletter that contained information about reverse culture shock, which is something I might encounter when I return home. Basically, it's a phenomenom that affects people when they return home after they've lived abroad for an extended period of time. I felt culture shock when I moved here (and how!), and I anticipate feeling its companion when I go home. The newsletter suggested doing a few things to prepare for this inevitable part of living internationally. For example, it suggested making a list of the things that I like about Japan and thinking about which things I can take home, which I can try to recreate back home, and which things I must honour and say goodbye to. This is something that I'll be working on over the next little while. It's extremely important for me to say goodbye to this place properly so that I can close this chapter of my life and move on to a brighter future. The newsletter also suggested writing a list of the 5 people I will miss the most and thinking of the most meaningful way to say goodbye to each of them. Thinking about it makes me want to barf. Saying goodbye is truly the most difficult and painful thing for me. Lord have mercy, it's going to be miserable. Gotta remember my new motto though - FIGHT-O! You can just sense my false enthusiasm, can't you?