Friday, February 3, 2012

You Can Sleep When You are Dead

Howdy Y'all! So, there has been an odd side effect of a mental breakdown that I have not been dealing with. In fact, I have pretty much chosen to play it off and hope it goes away. Despite my best efforts, it just will not go away. I think my body has forgotten how to sleep. I know that sounds crazy, but it sure as hell feels like my body has simply forgotten how to maintain a steady sleep pattern. I have experienced this kind of thing before but not like it has been over the past few months.

During my college days, I was known to operate on very little sleep. It was not uncommon to see me show up for class looking pretty ragged out. I would stay up and either study or do drugs for days on end. It freaked folks out sometimes. I remember once I showed up for a creative writing class to recite a short story I had wrote. I looked like the walking dead. My eyes were totally blood shot and my jeans actually had blood on them(bloody jeans due to cutting the shit out my face while shaving before class). I recited a story I had written while on a all night Jack Daniels and weed bender. Everyone in the damn class, including the teacher, just stared at me with a look of horror as I recited a story about a guy who could not remember if he was alive or dead. I pretty sure the entire situation scared the living shit out of everyone. Damn teacher even asked me what as up after class. I told her the cold dirty truth, 'I was up all night smoking weed, drinking jack and writing this story.' She never asked me about my personal life again.

But that was then and this is now....

Now, the cause of my inability to drift off into dreamland is a bit different. One of the side effects of Bi-polar is something called cycling. Cycling causes you to not sleep. This sucks a big green donkey dick but facts are facts sadly. I have been trying to find a way to force my body into a somewhat regular sleep pattern but so far nothing has worked. I usually end up rolling around in the bed for hour after hour until I give up. It is not a constant problem. Sometimes I will be able to sleep pretty well for about a week or two before this shit flares up again. It kind of comes and goes.

I have pin pointed what causes my body to lose a regular sleeping habit. When something happens which I cannot resolve emotionally, my mind just gets stuck in a loop trying to work things out in my mind. Since I am a man, my chemical make up makes my mind attempt to rationalize every damn thing. Unfortunately, my emotions flow free like an untouched river hidden deep in the Appalachian Mountains. So, I can slip into a mental freeze up a bit easier than I really desire. I can compare it to pulling off a balancing act at a circus while tripping your balls off on some mushrooms. It will take some time for me to convince my since of logic that it really is just all in my head.

So, I might as well take advantage of the situation. This whole lack of sleep things actually increases my creativity. My writing is a bit more on point and I can get some pretty deep, and bitch ass long fucking time to read, research done. The kind of things I research tend to take a hell of a lot of time to read though and digest. I can also complete a few things I was looking forward to in some crazy ass computer game I should have never gotten hooked on in the first place.

Although, I should not consider the advantages to be so positive. Not being able to maintain a regular sleep pattern is nothing to take lightly. I will have to come up with a plan to limit these manic periods. I am sure it will fuck up my head and body in the long run. I will give this some thought in dream land as I am finally starting to feel sleepy. If I can get about five hours of sleep I will be just fine for another twisted day in Japan.

What do all of you suggest? Better yet, have any of you experienced something similar? Feel free to share your own experiences with lack of sleep as well as suggestions.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We All Live in A Gaijin Bubble...And We All Hate Each Other For It!

Howdy Yall! I got your attention with the title of this post; didn't I? So recently, I mentioned the Gaijin Bubble in a post and it got some unexpected reactions. It seems few people like to be referred to as living in a Gaijin bubble in Japan. Apparently, the term 'gaijin bubble' is viewed as a negative term among my fellow gaijin. Yet, the truth of the matter is that almost all of us are living in a gaijin bubble. 

I am damn sure what caused the knee jerk reaction was the simple fact that I did not include myself as living in a gaijin bubble. I can understand that; really I can. Gaijin can have just as much of a tight net community as the Japanese can. If someone implies, 'I am not one of you,' of course a strong reaction might be coming. Well, I can assure you that was not my intention at all. In fact, if it is not clear enough by now, I am a fucking gaijin. I am most likely a classic example of a white bread trailer trash gaijin you will ever come across. Despite my best efforts, I still fail to be accepted as being a part of Japanese society. Yet, I still give it my best shot anyway. And this brings me to why I am writing this post. To my mind, all of us are living in a gaijin bubble due to two very key reasons. First, we are silently excluded from Japanese society. Secondly, due to the silent exclusion, we look to find kinship with other gaijin who are also excluded from Japanese society. And one of the things none of us will ever admit is that, deep down inside, we have a sort of hatred and love for each other. I know what some of you may be thinking, 'What the fuck is this hill billy from the mountains of West Virginia talking about?' Well, please allow me to explain in more detail.

Okay. First we need to get this whole silent exclusion thing explained. I know that a lot of us try damn hard to speak the language, learn the basic mannerisms, grow to love the food and all that jazz. Yet, you and I both know that we will always be viewed as gaijin. This is a cultural fact about Japan. It is something almost everyone knows about but few people will admit. So, maybe I am the first one to say this fact openly. Though, most Japanese don't want to be rude about it so they practice a silent exclusion as to avoid making gaijin feeling more awkward then we already do. In my experience, when you get too close to being a 'insider' as opposed to being an 'outsider,' Japan will back away from you and simply shut you out. This is the truth and most people know it.

Alright, we got the whole silent exclusion out of the way. Now, let's mention the kinship thing a bit.

It is only natural for someone to seek out kinship when they are being marginalized. You want to buddy up with people who are going though the same struggle as you. This is natural and healthy. In fact, it is very important part of living in Japan as a gaijin. You must have at least a few buddies who will not drive you insane. I have my little gang of gaijin buddies I run with and I am sure most of us do as well. I also have a little gang of Japanese buddies I run with, but of course it is not the same(we call ourselves the dirty Adachi gang just for kicks). Rolling with each group is a very different experience. When I am with my gaijin buddies the kinship is so clear that it seems as if we have known each other from birth. Yet, at the same time there is an unspoken level of aggression which could turn ugly at any moment. Some of you may have seen me interacting with one or two of my gaijin buddies and the aggression must be funny and scary at the same time. That is were the hate factor comes into play.

Oh yeah! Gaijin do in fact hate each other to a certain extent. It is very rarely talked about but it is there all the same. There is a feeling among many gaijin, myself included, that we must never take a shot at each other for any given reason. Even when we fuck each other over, it seems that if we air that shit out in the open it is considered the ultimate of sins.  Everyone's ego and pride must be protected like a 16 year old's masturbation habit.  Don't believe me, try it for yourself. Call someone out on their shit and you will witness a fire breathing dragon of hate which will rival the likes of even this guy. So yeah, there is always an unspoken level of hate and aggression just under the surface of most gaijin kinship.All that said, I do have a few buddies who I don't feel any aggression toward. I can only think of one or two.

Alright, now that I have explained what I mean by a 'gaijin bubble' in great detail, I hope you found this post very interesting. I am a very social person so maybe I notice these more than other people. I have been guilty of everything in this post at least once. At the same time, I don't like most of the things I mentioned in this post; this post is simply what I have experienced. I am sure the comments section of this post might get a little hot, but that is alright by me because somethings need to be talked about openly. Let's make the most of this opportunity to discuss a few things we don't normally get the chance to talk about. Maybe you see things a bit differently, so please express yourself. And remember, I love you all very deeply.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The High End of Low In Tokyo

Howdy Yall! To be honest, I have been thinking for a while as to how exactly to write this post. I really do not want to be misunderstood. It is not easy to write about living wages because I am aware that there are many reasons which could be given to refuse to provide a living wage for workers. Yet, I think it is time for me to write about this.
  Ya know, it is no secret that being a foreign English teacher in Japan means dealing with being kicked around and exploited. You really have to develop a certain love for teaching English in order to hang in there. It is very hard to get a job teaching English which provides a living wage. For some reason a lot of companies feel that teachers do not deserve to have a living wage. I do not understand this kind of thinking but it is the sad truth. It seems only logical to me that when workers are given a living wage they should be more motivated to try their best. It also seems natural to me that giving workers a living wage cuts down on problems from within any given company. I assume that such logic would be the natural thinking of most people; but as we all know this is not true. Yet, we must still deal with this situation and attempt to make the best if it.

Working out a deal to get something close to a living wage or at least a situation which is somewhat stable is the key. Of course, most of us care deeply about our jobs. To say that we don't is nothing more than an attempt to kick us around a bit. Yet, it is important to come to an understanding which works for both sides(the teacher and the company). The way to go about this depends on the nature of the company you are working for. If you work for a company which is a bit open then a friendly chat about a few issues should produce some results. Although, if you work for a more closed company with clandestine inner workings, it will take some more hard bargaining to reach some kind of understanding.

Let's assume we are dealing with a more clandestine situation. You should expect that there will be a few reasons for knocking you down or not giving you some of the things you want. Some of those reason will be valid and you will have to explain those things. Yet, most of the reasons will be trumped up charges; which you will also have to explain why those reasons, with respect of course, are not serious reasons to kick you down. The most important thing is to remember that you want to work for said company. What you want is to simply get a decent deal and not be fucked over.

Depending on the kind of personalities you are dealing with, you may have to be a bit stern. You got to be careful about being stern because ego and pride is an easy thing to offend. I know no one wants to feed someone's ego so it is best to simply speak very honest and on a human level. It takes a real fucker to not understand you if you are being honest and very human.

As for me, my goal is always the same. I just want to have something of a living wage in order to provide food on the table for my wife. It would be nice to be able to come to work everyday with the understanding that I am in fact trying hard and can be spared all the useless politics that ruin the teaching experience. I really have fallen in love with teaching English in Japan. My passion for teaching should never have to come into question. I find it sad that politics seems to get in the way of what is important; teach English and make a decent living at the same time.

The high end of low is a hard thing to face when you have such simple goals in mind.