Heavy Suit; Gentleman

Time for another update, I feel, and this one has a good bit of Japan about it.

First up is a poem I took to that creative writing group I mentioned last time. This was one of the things that the group as a whole liked, and I’ve made some adjustments, following their advice… and then a few more adjustments that might or might not work.
I wrote it in Japan, when I was first getting used to the concept of getting up at 7am and not getting home ’til 8pm and working the whole time between. I suppose being an English teacher is quite an easy-going career at times. I often get large stretches of a day with nothing to do, and I often get to pick my own timetable. In Japan, it was work work work, 5 days a week, and this poem was the result:

Heavy Suit

My suit is heavy today.

As I shrug it
on to my shoulders,
it pulls them
down into a hunch.

As I slide
my arms down the
cool black sleeves,
they grow tired…

My fresh shower legs
crawl into
stumbling trousers

I yank on socks
suffocating,
restricting,
and bolt my toes down
under leather and laces

In the end,
only my head remains
unclothed, shackled
to this endless suit.

Soon, at work, that
too will sink.

Today, my suit is heavy.

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On Sunday night, I was on stage performing something that I only had about 24 hours to prepare. This was OK, because I wasn’t performing stand up. I was telling a story – a true and personal experience from about this time last year in Japan, when I had a run-in with the fox spirit statues of Ikari Shrine. The event was called VENT! ,  which is all about telling stories from the heart, and I’ve attached a link to the Facebook page for those who are interested.

These are some of the malicious fox spirits

I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it turns out that even though the material (restricted by truth) wasn’t that shocking or gripping, I delivered it very well, and it was an enjoyable listen. At least, that’s what I was told afterwards.
I have a written version of this story that I’m working on now. The problem with that is that now that I don’t have to be entirely truthful, and I can be creative, I’m tempted to tinker with it a lot.
In the end, I’ll probably  publish here a refined version of the truth with a couple of flourishes but no drastic changes, and then use the scenario as a scene in a story I’ve been plotting on and off (mostly off) since November.

I’ll close with a silly haiku:

Gentleman

Remind me why I
live between Spain and Japan
when I prefer blondes?

Back to Japan; The Nothing Days

Hello! I’m back in Japan,

Osaka in the rain

and the place is much the same, only colder and a bit wetter. I’ve been told this rain is to get all the humidity out of the air at the end of the summer, and then autumn gets much nicer. It’s my first day at my new campus tomorrow, and any news you want on Japan can show up later.

I’m in a position where I’m behind. Now I’m always behind on the blog. But what’s great about this behind is that it’s the other way as well. I have a huge backlog of half written materials sitting in notebooks on buried on this computer that I need to find, write, re-write, edit, and post online. With a bit of perseverance, I can scrub this stuff down and get some interesting stories and poetry out of them.

Bizarrely, looking through my notebook, a lot of the stuff I wrote while working was a bit depressing, and almost entirely poetry. I’ve hesitated to fix it up and post it because I feel it looks like I’ve had a really sad time. Well, I haven’t – if I had, I wouldn’t be back here, you know? Then there’s the stuff I wrote on holiday, and a lot of it was story ideas and things that happened to me. Finally, near the end of the book, there’s some surreal fiction and poetry. Some of this could take months to get written.

Continue reading “Back to Japan; The Nothing Days”

“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.

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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”