Happy New Year – Orange and Ferlinghetti

Happy New Year!

And with the new year, my new old life, as I’m calling it. New computer, old city, old friends (but not that old), and new home. New plans, old advice. I could, put probably shouldn’t, go on.

As I mentioned in my last post, this all centres on my return to Barcelona.I lived here from September 2007 to March 2010, and now I’m back. Just briefly, some weird things:

I keep saying (or starting to say) the Japanese expressions for “good morning”, “excuse me”, “just a second”, “thank you” “please” “and”, “but” and “ummm….” (the last one is “e-to”, and I even funnier looks for that one than the rest.)

I walk out of a metro exit and feel so confident in my knowledge of the streets and slopes of Barcelona that I walk the wrong way for a street or two.

I see beggars in the street. Not THAT weird, but then, I only saw two in 7 months in Japan. I give them money, and then remember that I don’t have a job or a permanent house and am living on the goodwill of friends… so I should probably save my cash!

Here’s a little haiku for you:

Slouching by a bin
I peer for pips by streetlight
and tear at orange flesh

I’ve got some short fiction brewing, but rather than rush it so I can post it, I thought instead I would post a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I’m living just outside the city right now, and catching the train in, so I have plenty of time for reading this book my friend Raoul lent me. I’ve yet to read a poem in his collection “A Coney Island of the Mind” that I haven’t gotten something out of. Some of his poetry is designed with jazz in mind, and all of it is cleverly formatted across the page. Usually he’s more light-hearted than this poem that I’m reprinting (without copyright permission – sorry! But it’s advertising, right?). And I apologise; usually a new year poem is more cheery than this.

In a surrealist year
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaof sandwichmen and sunbathers
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadead sunflowers and live telephones
aaaaahouse-broken politicos with party whips
aaaaaperformed as usual
aaaaain the rings of their sawdust circuses
aaaaawhere tumblers and human cannonballs
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafilled the air like cries
aaaaaaaaaaaawhen some cool clown
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapressed an inedible mushroom button
aaand an inaudible Sunday bomb
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafell down
catching the president at his prayers
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaon the 19th green

aaaaaOh it was a spring
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaof fur leaves and cobalt flowers
aawhen cadillacs fell thru the trees like rain
aaaaaaaaaaadowning the meadows with madness
while out of every imitation cloud
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadropped myriad wingless crowds
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaof nutless nagasaki survivors
aaaaaAnd lost teacups
aaaaafull of our ashes
aaaaafloated by

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I chose it because it reminded me of the museum I visited in Hiroshima. Which I suppose I can give a positive spin by saying that I’m moving forward with my new old life, learning from the lessons and experiences of the last year.

‘Til next time!

Breath


a
Merry Christmas y’all!

As I predicted, I’ve been jolly busy doing busy things at home. When I’ve not been busy, I seem to have been ill, twice. Still, I promised a more substantial post in December, so here it is.

A New Year is about to hit us, and for me, it’s a strange mix of old and new. I’m going back to Barcelona, a step that has surprised a few friends and family. They’ve seen me as Matt; International Traveller (I especially like the semi-colon),

Japan

so they find it odd that I’m planning on spending a year or more somewhere I’ve already been. Well, when I was about to go to Japan, a friend asked me, “Where next after Japan?” and I came to the realisation that I only really wanted to visit Japan. I also only really wanted to learn Spanish and Japanese. “Well, there’s other Spanish speaking countries…” Yes, there are, and one day I’ll probably go, but for now, I want a life in Barcelona.

Continue reading “Breath”

“Exotic” Things

So, my time in Koriyama, Fukushima, Japan is nearly up. I have one week left in my teeny room-and-a-corridor flat, and then I’m off on a two-week holiday. During that holiday, I’ve decided I’ll leave my computer safe with the rest of my luggage, and just take books and cards to entertain myself in the evenings.

Also, this morning, a big blue envelope popped through my letter box (onto the huge pile of spam that’s get posted through my door about 1 every 6 hours). Inside, I’m presuming, is the contract and instructor handbook for my next contract in Japan – starting on the 22nd of September. So, to sum up the timeline here:
18th July – leave flat for 2 and a half weeks of Japanese adventures
5th August – fly back to England
22nd September – fly back here again,
this time to work in the  “Tokyo area”, though I’m given to understand that this doesn’t mean Tokyo, or even the Tokyo suburbs, but probably an hour’s train away in Chiba or Shizuoka.

The still thoroughly mind-boggling world of Pachinko

For now, the envelope stays sealed. I’m reminiscing a bit, looking back, as I always seem to do just before I up-end myself and trek off somewhere else.

Continue reading ““Exotic” Things”

Bamboo Blade

"DON!"

 

a
In sweat-summer heat
first the thunder, then lightning
this backward storm strike –

Sharp the rise and fall
this faceless pain inflicted
leaves an evening burn.

a

It’s some haikus, my old friends. I went to my first and certainly not my last evening of Kendo Club today. Had I known such a thing existed on my campus, I would have gone sooner. I even quizzed half my students about it, but I was clearly asking the wrong questions, the wrong students, or questions too difficult for their level. Two thirds didn’t know – one third said they did kendo at high school, but now don’t. Kendo is Japanese fencing, to sum it up briefly, and I was unprepared for the unrestrained aggression and violence, the pounding of the floor, the echoing bone-like thwack of the sticks – respectively the “thunder” and the “lightning” in the first verse. And it is definitely thunderstorm season here – there’s one every third day, pretty much.

Continue reading “Bamboo Blade”

The Spanish and The Japanese

Hey Blog.

Last time I was here, I promised a bit of a scoop on how Spanish students (and people) are different from the Japanese. Well, it’s been over a month since I promised that, so I’d best get down to it.

I’m a very busy chappy these days. I’m working from 9-6, which is a darn-sight harder than I’ve been used to in Spain. It’s also work where I constantly have to think, to focus and concentrate and do it right. So it’s different from the potato harvesting I used to do, where I could just switch off my brain and keep going ’til my arms get tired. And although it’s not as hard work as some of the summer camps I’ve done have been, it’s more continuous. At least at those camps, I got a lot of time off, could properly relax, and then at the end of the month, it was over. Here, it’s three months. When I reached that one month point and realised how much I had to go, I sort of slumped down in to it.

Now, however, the end is in sight again – it’s about a month to go to the end. I talk negatively, but I love my job. I love teaching, and doing a job when I can see a noticeable change and improvement in my students. And I love teaching students at a university age. 18-22s are easier to teach than kids, and more fun to teach than adults. My students – they’re serious and fun-loving, they’re intelligent, perceptive, thoughtful, and friendly. It’s because of them that I’m seriously considering taking another contract out here.

So, I talked a bit about how the place is different out here. But the people? Well, if anything, they’re more different…

Continue reading “The Spanish and The Japanese”

Groanworthy Jokes and 3 Minute Haikus.

Hello, Blog.

I looked back over the past couple of weeks and thought – Oh, I’ve not been very productive. But that’s not entirely true.

First off, I’ve been writing reports. In Spanish. And some reports in English. It’s been moderately time consuming. I’ve also been creating (and marking) my own exam papers. This term, more than previous ones, I made an effort to create a fair few of the questions myself, rather than just cutting and pasting them from teacher book exam papers, and I’m quite happy with the results.

Secondly, I’ve made the discovery that writing poetry on a whiteboard is actually a really good place to do it. I spend so much of my working day using the medium of whiteboards to express meaning, and shuffling things around and making it look understandable that when I taught haikus to my Advanced Class yesterday, I actually found it quite easy to cut and move words around and get what I wanted to say. I think I need to buy a little one for myself.

Here they are.

Continue reading “Groanworthy Jokes and 3 Minute Haikus.”