Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Teaching Is Not So Bad After All

When I got all settled in Tokyo I knew that I was going into the teaching field. I thought that it would be a chance to get my feet wet in the job market in Tokyo. I also needed a steady paycheck. The need to eat hits a guy real quick. Not to mention that marriage requires me to bring home and bacon. Hell, I like working as much as I can. Work makes me feel good and gives me a sense that I achieved something each day. Although, I did not see myself becoming a teacher I have grown to enjoy the job. While it is not my habit or pleasure to give much of anything to society willingly, I do feel that I am giving a part of myself to a society which expects so little of me. The question in my head is why have I grown to enjoy a profession which is against my nature and why am I good at it?

The image of a teacher in my head has always been someone who spent too much time thinking and not enough time doing. My grandmother used to have the same opinion of me but that was because I thought about what I did before I did it. The cowboy attitude never got correctly beat into my head. For me, teachers have always been the type of authority figure who could red tape and cheat me in and out of trouble rather than having the ability to shape my understanding of the world. Dishing out a long day of never ending beer bongs of information straight to the head was my image of the role of a teacher. Now, that the tables have turned and I am the provider of never ending beer bongs of information I find that I actually enjoy the role.

I think that the reason I enjoy teaching is that I get to share what I know with others. By default I possess a master knowledge of spoken English. Being able to break down how sentences are constructed and showing people how to speak `like the gaijin do` is rewarding on some basic level that I struggle to find the words to express. I get this strange connection with students during lessons which I have not felt before. There are these odd moments of unspoken `wow we understand each other` that is pure in its simplicity. There must be this desire brewing up from inside of me which not only wants to be understood when speaking but also considers it a personal challenge when people can`t understand.

The job itself has challenged me and somehow my brain has taken this as a personal challenge and insult if I cannot teach effectively. I have read all the blogs bashing English teachers in Japan. Some of them are really nasty and mean spirited. None the less, I take no pleasure in knowing there is a group of people out there who consider my profession to be a joke. What drives me nuts is the fact that while there are people trash talking I am experiencing the pure joy of two people sharing a moment of effective communication and understanding. Considering that effective communication and understand can be hard to come by these days I am surprised that people would trash talk about two humans sharing such a rare experience.

So, as my mind pukes out muses about why teaching is not so bad it would seem that my job involves me in many things everyday. I give something to society(which is not done on purpose), I share pure moments of understanding with fellow humans, I make my wife proud of me, I smash the idea that English teachers in Japan are all drunk dumb asses, and I find some personal reward (which I still cannot express effectively) all in one day. Well, that is not so bad at the end of the day.

It is still weird for me to think about where I started and where I am now. Hell, a poor punk kid from West Virginia ends up married and teaching English in Japan. Damn! Now is that some shit or what?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The End of The First Year at the Beginning of The End of the Old Year

As December starts two endings and one beginning are taking place. The end of 2008 is at the heels of the world. Another year is passing by just as fast as the last. The ground shook, many people died for no good reason, the price of tea in China is still anyone`s guess, The US government is still crazy as hell, women still do not trust men, men still think that women are too emotional, sex stills feels great and smoking is still legal. Yes, it would seem that 2008 was just like all the preceding years. The end to another year passed-out on the wild ride that is human history. As the year ends so does my first year in Japan; kind of. By the end of December I will have been in Tokyo for 11 straight months. The one time I have left Tokyo was a four day holiday to my gal`s home town for golden week. The end of 2008 also marks the start of my first full year in Japan. So, as the changing of the guard from the old year to the new takes place, yet again I find myself at a cross road about to play host to a cluster fuck collision of time-space bullets trains.

With all the endings and beginnings happening in December I have almost forgotten the fact that soon the weather will be very unpleasant. The winter season has been easy on Tokyo but I can feel that such mercy is coming to a close. Snow fall has already been reported in some of the mountain regions and Mt. Fuji is already fully covered with snow. The evil chill of winter is lurking over Tokyo waiting for the right moment to rain down ice, snow, and murderous cold temperatures. I have experienced winter in Tokyo before but for limited lengths of time. I wonder what kind of effect it will have on my body. I have already had two nasty bouts of the flu but as of late I have been feeling great. The commute to work is gonna become a little more interesting. I am going to have to avoid setting, or standing, next to anyone who is sick. Hell, I have even considered wearing one of those hospital masks the Japanese are so found of these days. Being sick in this city is no fun at all. It really runs my daily energy down lower than the daily rat race does.

Anyway, as December is the time to celebrate the end of one year and the birth of a new I have started setting up a few things for the early part of the month. On the fourth I am planning to go to the Loft in Shinjuku to see the band Lucky 13. I have not been to the Loft in a while so I am looking forward to the event. Also, one of my friends from college is having a private party at a pub or something. She has invited the gal and me for an evening of sucking an open bar dry and all around merry making.

As the X-mas season is now in full swing I have been thinking of how to celebrate this holiday. As I am not a Christian I feel no religious connection to the season. My lack of a spiritual connection to X-mas is actually a bonus for me as the Japanese also have no `special` feeling for this holiday. I will be spared all the `We love you Jesus` stuff and everyone acting as if they are so religious and love the lord. This X-mas it looks as if I will be at Tokyo Disney Land. This was not my idea nor decision. It appears that the gal has taken over full planning rights for X-mas. I had the thought of eating a great dinner at an upscale restaurant but that was a no go because we did that for Thanksgiving. Yes, Micky will be my buddy on X-mas. All the insane happiness that is Tokyo Disney Land will be mine to enjoy. Well, it will not be so bad because the gal wants to eat at the Pirates restaurant at Disney. The place does actually have some good dishes so at least I will eat good.

So, here I am living in Tokyo in December of 2008. Like every month is should be interesting. I am sure that a few unexpected surprises will occur. Some will be welcomed and others not so welcomed. My work load is gonna be an up and down roller coaster ride this month. I am losing faith in management but I feel that they may have lost faith in themselves a long time ago. None the less my need to eat keeps me coming back time and time again.

My deepest and last thought at this late hour is if I will be able to get my hands on a fine jug of Eggnog in Tokyo.