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 Waiting at the cafe where I'm to tutor my next adult pupil in Tokyo, and so I thought it would be nice to put some words out on this blog. Back a couple weeks ago, the very lovely and amazing [personal profile] ser_pounce_alot got hitched and so there's a Mr. Ser_pounce_alot to pair with the missus! Their wedding party was delightful and everyone was beauteous, and so is the food and booze. Also met the amazing [personal profile] drakonlily , and [personal profile] seventhe IN THE FLESH.  

After the wedding party, we went to karaoke until midnight, which was unfortunate because I missed the last train back to my prefecture. But, I scouted down the three friends and groveled to stay the night with them in their hotel room. It was lovely and they have fluffy futons. Also ate breakfast the next day with them~. But yeah, it was the first time I had to spend the day in last night's clothes and so needless to say, my feet were killing me when I finally went home after a full day of tutoring in a party dress and some boots. 

I've also made some progress in doing some grad school applications, mostly in Europe since they don't require GRE test scores to be submitted, but I'm also looking into studying for the GREs after finishing up that round of applications. But I'm also stuck in whether I want to do another year in Japan or just head on home and hope for a better paying job until I do grad school. Though when talking to my parents about it, they seem to bet on me being a teacher for a while just so I can earn a salary, and then once I get a nest egg then I can try and do whatever I want. which is a fair plan, but I fear that this might be something I'm going to settle for for a long time, and I sill have some lingering dreams of being a publisher or an editor, and I don't know spending time to get an education degree would be worth it if that's not my ultimate goal. And I also want to explore more of Japan, or at least try my hand in applying to places in Hong Kong so that I can be with among my people, but thinking of all these applications is such a pain in the neck when I'm trying to figure out interesting lesson plans. 
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Today was a damp 53 degree day in November, and might even rain too. Hopefully when I get down to Tokyo it won't rain on my way down to see a certain someone's wedding, especially when it's after a saturday class where parents and the PTA come down to one of my schools to observe us teach. Parents watching me flail while teaching! Yay! If the chilly weather today is of any indication, it's going to feel much worse in December for this Californian to adjust to. 

One thing I came to notice, and realize, last month was that when I say in my introduction that I am American, a lot of students thought that it means i am half-American, meaning one of my parents is American and the other Chinese. This comes from how in Japan, someone from mixed heritage can only be a Japanese citizen if their father is Japanese, and anyone else have special residency status (infamously, such as when Korean-Japanese are considered second-class citizens here). But there is some obvious smudging of that how mixed kids can be either Japanese citizens or not, so some mixed kids are considered "Japanese citizens" without having the paperwork for it to go through. How that is dealt with can be researched with depth from googling, but it comes under scrutiny for high-profile people such as Renho Murata, whose father is Taiwanese and her mother Japanese, and her eligibility for being elected leader of Japan's Democratic Party was being scrutinized. 

Needless to say, I had to clarify with some classes how American citizenship is obtained, which prompts some "ehhhhh?" From them. 

I didn't do much for Halloween, mostly just spending the weekend tutoring my regular students and also walking around Tokyo on the 30th. There are some people cosplaying and kids in costume, but I think because it was a Sunday there weren't many outside parties around. Then again, I kinda limited myself to just Shinjuku and Harajuku, and I think it's in Ikebukuro and Shibuya where the parties are at. But I also spent the weekend getting new clothes and buying some makeup so I can practice making myself look at awesome as possible. I think I came to a point this time where I want to try thinking about taking care of my body and how i want to present myself, and probably gain some semblance of control out of it. 

 
zen_monk: hiimdaisy persona 4 web video (let's get drunk)
It's already been half a year since I've been in Japan, and how does the time fly by so quickly? Sometimes it still feels like I'm still in the first four months of my time here, but now the weather actually got much cooler this week and trees are bare of leaves already. It really feels like yesterday that the weather was a sticky humid 80 degree hellscape of cicadas, but last night I pulled out the comforter for my futon and actually slept confortably in it last night.

It's actually nice that I've gotten into the swing of things at work, and i think it helps that at one school the English Teacher of the sixth grade teachers wanted me to observe him conducting the English lesson first and then teaching the other classes. I've also since looked for lesson plans online in Japanese, made by folks in the JET Programme, and just using their lessons and talking about it with the teachers in other schools.

I've also made new friends. Around last month, I met [personal profile] ser_pounce_alot and the fiancé in around Tokyo, and we went hiking at Otsuka with her other friends living in Japan. I'm looking forward to her wedding next month and meeting lots of other folks, too. It was also nice to talk about the education system in Japan and learning the ropes, so to speak. As well as what it is like to live in Japan and the trials that go with it.

Recently around two weeks ago, on October 1st, i was at the Tsuchiura Fireworks Festival and saw other ALTs from my company there. We caught up and talked a lot of new things that happened in the second semester, particularly the new batch of ALTs that came by for the fall term. I already met some of them over the summer when I ran into them in Tokyo, which the odds in doing so are so random that it almost seems like divine intervention, and I wasn't too impressed with some of them. One of them, largely, was someone who is more fluent in Japanese, but is also a type of know-it-all. Worse still, he acted as an authority on facts that are incorrect, and he raised my dander up when he interrupted me on my spiel on Yasukuni Shrine and implied that there weren't actually war criminals enshrined there and that it was the assertion by the US or whatever. Yeah, sure, that'll totally go well explaining it to a Chinese person whose family had had Japanese soldiers occupy their hometown, and then he had the gall to say that what happened in the past doesn't affect the present.

The worse of it tho, was what I found out during the fireworks festival when I caught up with the rest of the folks. I found out that they mostly distanced themselves from him, and in large part because he was stalking one of the new female ALTs, who happens to be Asian and that raises some red flags since there's the usual type of people who sign on as temporary workers in Japan, and also because he enjoys arguing his point of view to the verge of antagonizing everyone he meets. The fact that the place he is stationed at, Ishioka, makes it worse because the folks who work there told me that there's a lot of organized crime families there and general scofflawery that I think implies that he might be getting more attention attracted to him. Most outrageously, when he and some of the ALT friends I know went to a nearby city, he got in trouble with actual Yakuza who threatened him in a bathroom.

Not that I actively wish ill upon people who ran into dangerous crime families, but I wouldn't bat an eye if he really got into serious trouble.
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 Apparently me reblogging to agree to the sentiment that one should be critical of how fanworks and fandom can produce some fucked up shit that is blatantly blind to real world repercussions means I'm deep in the discourse and warrants an unfollow which I only found out about through their Twitter account by casting shade.

like, okay man I know we haven't talked in months but I guess that broke the camel's back and not articles being critical of other fucked up things fandom does or being critical of alleged democracies funded by America.


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 So I made it to Japan safe and sound. Spent about two weeks back in California starting in August, and I felt super refreshed from it. Didn't do much of anything except eating burritos and watching American Netflix, which is all I needed apparently.

but now that it's about the end of August and when I was thinking about one last trip around Japan for myself,my Grandpa got a stroke and is hospitalized, so now I'm in Narita airport again to see him this weekend. My dad and little brother are also flying so hopefully I will see them later tonight if this plane isn't delayed too late. 

Gramps is 85 and got a host of other ailments so preparing for the worst is kinda already a feeling I'm used to but it's not very easy with lingering regrets for a man I barely communicated with but wished I did.
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 It's summer vacation in Japan and right now I am in a plane heading to Yerevan, Armenia while stopping in Qatar for a long layover.

YAAAAY!!!
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 Acclimating in Japan has been going okay so far. I think I`ve gotten past the point of being accustomed to a new environment where i cannot read labels in supermarkets or on public signs (which confuses me, because that is kinda everywhere in Guangzhou and here was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wanting to `internationalize` Japan which apparently doesn`t start with public assistance). 

I also think I`m getting better at getting kids to do stuff and planning out a class, even though it still feels like I am working by the seat of my pants. Teachers at my schools complimented me on my progress, and the corporation coordinators check up on me from time to time and give me consistently good reviews, so I think I`m doing all right. I also like to work out some katakana and hiragana on the board so that the kids can sound out certain words or understand some concepts, like for `I can` or `I can`t`, since otherwise they would just not quite get it. 

My previous entry talked about this one guy I tutored, but he turned out to just want to recruit me for his start-up projects, which includes an English language learning service app that initially sounded good until he divulged more details into it. Basically, he wanted me to generate content, like monologue scripts or summaries. When he showed me samples of some people who`ve done it and he wanted me to proofread, I had to tell him that the quality is not great and that just getting me to check grammar isn`t enough to improve it. Then he went on and on about how maybe it`s just `my style` or that I should consider the fact that other people worked hard on it and that they had their own styles, and that English itself isn`t a clear-cut language and everyone has their own understanding of what constitutes correct English...

...And I told him was like: `this story you showed me is basically basically implying that America is dangerous by showing random gunshots outside of a dorm, a vague description of what went down that ultimately led to nowhere, and then saying Japan is safer and he should be more appreciative. This is skirting on some improperly handled problematic content.` 

But go figure, mansplaining has no international borders after being told what English is by a native Japanese guy. Whose background itself isn`t even education, so I don`t have a lot of confidence on this start-up that is one year late and is employed by random people from different parts of the English speaking world contributing hackneyed content via the internet. 

Summer vacation starts July 21st for me, and I will be heading out to Armenia for one week to visit my best friend from college. She`s doing Birthright Armenia by working as a journalist, and she`s also trying wrangle me into going to grad school in France with her. I tend to think that her postgraduate experience is a little more fulfilling than mine since she`s working and gaining experience doing the thing she always wanted to do, has obtained a French-Armenian boyfriend with a 6 pack, and are both living together in a nice apartment in downtown Yerevan where a giant mug of beer is like $1 USD. 

Both excited and terrified that I will be going to Armenia in about two weeks. Mostly because I fear flying, and also because I will be making a layover in Qatar (taking Qatar Airways), and while I don`t think this Arab state will be hit tragically, I do still think that `what if` scenario alongside perishing tragically during an 11 hour flight. 
zen_monk: (Cat on dog smiling)
At a Starbucks in Harajuku, and pretty much waiting around for 6pm when my haircut appointment rolls around. I have what now amounts to a short bob, but the back is much longer compared to the front, and if nothing is being done then I would be forced to sport around an awkwardly layered mullet. I'm hoping to get something that would amount to an undercut in the back but if not that then a nice looking A-line. The hair salon I googled for in Harajuku has some English-speaking folks there, so I'm hoping that the process will go smoothly and that I won't have to just sit in a seat with more awkward silence than usual when getting my hair cut.

But why was I in Harajuku? It was because this morning, I met with a guy named Terry who picked me as his weekly private English tutor to help him be more fluent. He's over 30 and not too bad on the eyes, but he has traveled around a lot before coming back to Japan four years ago. To me, I think he's pretty fluent, but he wants to be so fluent to the point of being like an inspirational TED Talk guy. I'm kinda like, "Getting to the point of being a TED Talk guy takes a lot more work than just being fluent in English, bruh," and he was like "Yeah, but if we practice a lot, I totally think you can help me do it." He also wanted to do more in relation to business, which intimidates me a little since my experience in teaching English has mostly been children, but I think that so long as our meetings is just focused on improving his skill in English and not necessarily in something like free conversation or just practicing, then maybe it'll be okay. 

What's interesting about meeting Terry is that he also runs his own travel magazine thing that acts much like a tourist travel magazine one sees around Tokyo to advertise to tourists and travelers, but his is focused on Kobe. When I told him that I once dallied in SEO writing and writing articles to be published (which never came to be, sadly), his ears really perked up at it and wanted to see if I can produce some writing samples for him. Which I'm like "Okie dokie...?" And he clarifies that if good enough, he would of course pay me. He also mentioned that he's making an English language learning start up company for people in college and in adult life because he wants better resources for them, and he needs a proofreader. So it's pretty weird and serendipitous that my first stab at. Tutoring gig results in more business opportunities for me. 

So.....yay?
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It's the beginning of June, and have taught for two months now as an English ALT in four Japanese elementary schools. I wish I can say that it's because I've been super busy, but mostly I've become more reclusive as of late. It's probably having to be accustomed to all the small things that need adjusting to when being in a foreign country, and maybe the relative isolation that happens when I'm not surrounded by kids or co-workers, but it felt a lot like I'm an island unto myself when being here. And what happens to solitary island persons is the reconciliation of existing versus non existing. 
 
Well, what I mean is that now that I've been living alone and pretty much trying to make it as an adult, it's kind of like I'm no longer a part of that dependent life. Instead of a school, I'm relying on a company that I'm working with to try to tend to my needs as best as I can, but I have to think on my own what to do about getting doctor's appointments, getting a phone service, and even looking up how to get skincare products or getting haircuts here because pretty much everything is in Japanese and very little English forms. Which is also what's shocking to me, which is that even formal applications like for a cell service or for other basic customer service doesn't have an English language form to read from, or even a website for their company. Or even on government forms, for when I had to register myself to the town I'm living in, or the post office needing to verify my address. Or opening a bank account, which is all in Japanese as well. 
 
These sort of things would probably be much easier if I were in a much bigger city with international presence, like in Tokyo or something, but I'm placed out in the countryside/suburbs so that means not a whole lot of foreigner presence either. 
 
So I guess all these things add up to me not quite assimilating so neatly, and so I do a whole lot of navel-gazing, and what I saw made me really miss being at home and back with my family. It made me think a whole lot of what I'm doing here and if it has some future value whether I really want to make it here in Japan to work in or if I should've done similar work back in the states.
It also doesn’t help that it seems that the life of an ALT is really transitory and that typically dispatch companies and such accept almost anybody who has a college degree and no criminal record to work in. I dunno, it makes me wish that I had come to Japan as a student rather than working in an occupation that looks more and more sketch as I did more research into it as my job. 
 
The bright thing is that I think I like teaching to kids. I wish I would make them do more rigorous work, since English time is once a week for them and certainly not enough time to prepare for trying for fluency (which ought to be the goal for learning a language, but sadly is more for testing despite it being mandatory). All the kids are really energetic, and I’m thinking about what I can do to improve myself and get the teachers to, I dunno, feel more assured of my quality (though I think a lot of them like what I’m doing). 
 
I’m surviving and I think I am doing all right, but I wish I had thought of all this stuff earlier than me being 25 going on 26 and wondering what to do with my life. 
 
 
 
 
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 I am in Mito city for teacher training. Lots of info to absorb but the higher ups giving the presentation and training are engaging and enjoyable. My coworkers who are also new ALTs are a fun bunch too. Two from the UK, four from Australia, and about 6 from the US (three from California), and one Filipina. Pretty fun people and had Indian food last night in an actual Indian restaurant about the Mito station. 

Mito is pretty cold, tho. Especially after the summery weather in California. The trees haven't even gotten leaves yet around the city. But everyone is looking forward to spring and cherry blossoms, and some shops are selling Sakura Mochi and other local things for the event. Also lots of kids already in school uniforms but it might be because they are graduating or finishing their school year, and next week is when school starts. 

Pictures to to come soon!

as a side note: final fantasy record keeper had some soul break events and I got some fine as hell equipment with each of their draw, including FFVII five star equipments and lots of FFX.
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 Still lots to pack and repack. Trying to monopolize space for luggage is a huge pain, since it means a lot of future planning and anticipation. Even way into the night, I feel like I haven't gotten any closer to finishing. 

Welp, at least I finished my taxes on time. 

Also, thanks for all the good wishes to folks who commented on my prior entry. There's lots going on for each and every one of you, and sometimes I just remove myself from the social media radar a lot, but I hope each and every one of you persevere and have awesome days to come this spring.
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 Got job... In Japan. Leaving this Thursday because training starts next week. 

So bye America, catch you on the flip side?

-vibrates restlessly-
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 My first interview with the coordinator in Saitama didn't yield positive results, which resulted me being mentally inconsolable for a couple weeks in the wake of yawning uncertainty towards the future. To make myself feel better, I exchanged my first gen iPad mini for an iPad mini 4, and am amazed at the speed and ease of the processor and how nice a big, high resolution screen is for my games. Then a couple nights ago, the org asked me if I"m down for another interview, and I had a really nice one last night for someone in Ibaraki near the countryside. 

Don't think I can take this roller coaster of internal emotions and expectations, especially since if I do get the position (or any other which as a backup- it's nice to know from a recruiter that they're planning backups for your employment ;_;) I would have to leave the country by the end of next week. 

gahhhhhhhh. 

Why must my conspicuous consumption punish me in the future. 
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 Last night my interview/casual chat with one the coordinators with an elementary school seemed to went really well. So well, that the end of that talk has them saying "We would really like to hire you for the position, but let's talk with your recruiter first," and I'm just like in a state between "Whoopee!" and "What???"

Which is that, I wanna mention that to my recruiter but I also want to play it smooth and wait it out until they message me whether I got the job or not. But also it's like "does that mean I'm hired or that I seem desirable as a candidate?" Because one is much more definitive than the other, and I want to quit my part time job now for that plane ticket!





** I also went on Glassdoor to check company reviews for that recruitment place, and people's reviews are abyssmalllll. The only consistent upside is that it gets people there and that being with children is awesome. I'll just err on the side of caution and keep my expectations realistic, methinks. And keep a stiff upper lip. 

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 Gonna have a casual chat with an elementary school recruiter in Saitama prefecture and if I am liked I would then have to go to Japan by the end of March????

Yes?? I am ready? LET'S DO THE THING.

March 2016

Mar. 2nd, 2016 02:05 am
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 So last I wrote here was in December 2015 days before a  solo road trip to San Francisco, and now it's three months after and in a way lots have been developed.

I learned that driving for 8 hours is a long time (which became an additional 3 hours than planned because I did not account for Bay Area morning traffic going northbound from San Jose), and that driving in the dark means I don't see large swaths of farmland and only infinite darkness broken apart by intermittent red tail lights. It's a neat experience. While surviving San Francisco morning traffic and waiting for my room to get ready at the inn I checked a room out in, I walked around a lot. I also Uber'ed a lot, which is a terrifying standard that's very normalized. Part of that normalization also includes Uber rideshare, so sometimes there's the chance of carpooling with silently awkward strangers. 

Walking around San Francisco was fun, and it was never without a whole block of neat cafes and tourists walking about and I walked through the various piers starting from Pier 99 and up north up to the Ghiradelli factory. The hot chocolate there, by the way, was delicious. Met up with a friend, and we spent the evening eating and talking, and that was pretty much worth the trip. Otherwise, tho, whatever romantic ideals I had about SF was a little... not so much shattered, but the romance is kinda gone after driving through it with its slow pedestrians, and that after a whole night of rain, morning full of bright sunlight is not good on hilly roads slick with water that reflects into my eyes when driving out to southbound 101. 

Part of the slight disillusionment also includes the fact that everything there is trendy and expensive, and that when people write about its gentrification, it's really... really...gentrified. Walking through random neighborhoods, which are nice walks by the way, made me realize that there's a lot of the usual city flavor that was lost, namely that it feels like there's a generic flavor to the city and that it feels weirdly safe to walk about alone along the circumference of the city. Not that i expect evil city temptations everywhere, and that i have the self-awareness of rock, but maybe it's just that it's so crowded that everyone really do just keep to themselves.

The drive back southbound was excellent, tho. 

Other things that happened was that I finished my online TEFL program, and now I got my shiny certificate to send to my recruiters in Japan and South Korea, and hope that something is biting in the near future. I think I'm leaning more towards Japan, since I gave all of the required documents for their program and it's possible that all that's left is to wait for when they'll place me in a school. So hopefully I get to go out of the country like all my other fellow postgraduates who blog about this on their facebooks. 

I think what's the most positive thing in 2016, tho, was that I get to patch things up with my best friend and we're talking again. After 6 months of not talking, it's really nice to really talk about why the thing happened that it did and that we're trying to keep in touch while she's in Armenia for the Birthright internship program doing journalism. She tells me that apparently Moscow airport sucks and that Yerevan itself is pretty cool, including that view of Mt. Ararat.

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 I drove at 3:30 AM and arrived in San Francisco at around 10:30 am. Night driving was actually fun and San Francisco is a terrifying place to drive in. Also terrible traffic. How can people live in this place and drive?
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 At 3 AM, I am going to drive about five hours to San Francisco.

Hopefully it will be an awesome drive and that I don't waste Friday by sleeping in my hotel room all day.
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 My parents and my little bro are right now in Hong Kong, leaving me and my older brother alone at home to try and take care of that homestead for a while.

Party!!!

Except not, since all it means is guilt-free eating and gaming while trying to make less waste as possible. Although, I did made impromptu plans to travel to SF this Friday so that I can visit at least one person while having enough time to just get out of town for a while to the more family NorCal area I was so familiar with. 

I have never driven to SF before. Hopefully I will survive that road trip without much mishap. 
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Made an excuse to accompany my brother and his posse of nerdy friends to a movie theater downtown so that I could abscond myself downtown to be within our own respective devices.

Now, I am sitting in a Starbucks after a merry meal at McDonalds's, because I forgot my wallet back home and so I have neither card nor license so that I could imbibe in either food function or drink function. Which is a shame, because I was looking forward to establishing new haunts while there is someone willing to drive around my sorry slush butt. 

In better news, this means I have some time to myself to actually commit to penning down my Kain/Tifa thoughts, because even after a couple of years I still have yesterday to write down anything substantial enough to warrant why my devotion to this OTP is warranted and that I cannot just wallow in old FFVII feelings and opinions while Liam O'Brien just goes around having new voice jobs, so I have the constant reminder of two characters around in my life. 

Another good boon is that I have all of next week free from work, so if I really do decide to go on some whirlwind adventure on the West Coast, I should plan ahead readily and divide my budget to either fit in a San Francisco romp, an LA adventure, or to even travel up to the Pacific Northwest blindly with neither friend nor adversary to greet me there. mostly because I am somewhat tired of a dry winter holiday and also somewhat sick of seeing people traveling about when I am still afraid to go on the HWY 101 for any kind of California destination. 

I'm a poor excuse of a Californian.  

November 2016

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