sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jan. 6th, 2011 01:32 am)
Some clouds, 7C (2C)

Ahh... I'm officially, by my schedule, ahead of schedule with the packing and whatnot--but I'll just say that I've finally [!?! wtvr, it was me who did no packing for three whole days and wasn't even home for another two over the recent winter holiday..!#%!] barely caught up since that's more what it feels like. Seeing as how I have three nights left to finish everything off, I still might be staying up late Saturday night to be certain everything is sorted away properly.

I'm still debating just how to handle the packing of the modem and accoutrements. I'll probably put them in the big takkyubin suitcase even though I won't be using it until after my second move.... because god knows I'll just *have* to use the Internet half an hour before I leave and my cellphone browser somehow won't be enough...


I'm going to bed, soon, before I think about that (the time constraints and lists of work still to finish) too much.

I've been meditating a lot on prayer, lately. I don't think I wrote it down, anywhere, but "prayer" is a topic I intend to study during the month [and, god willing, not more!] that I probably won't be online after moving... Today I learned at least one very important thing about prayer--well, something I already knew, but an application point. Basically, I'm not going to ask or entrain god to help me anymore : instead I'll just be thankful for it. Oh, but, really... the metaphysical properties of the High Holidays are a cakewalk compared to all the depth and sophistication of prayer... I could (and probably will) study it for a lifetime...

P.S. I'm totally kicking the ass of this "being decent in spite of myself" challenge. And lately lots of students are telling me they think I'm a great teacher. I'm really trying not to get a big head over it, but it does give me a little more confidence that maybe beyond my adaptability, I have qualities and skills that will help me flourish in my new situation. I also hope my work becomes a little more fun, too, though. Y'know... I'll be in high school again. That's so crazy... given my fixation on "normal high school life" it's also pretty fascinating.
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Dec. 23rd, 2010 12:57 am)
Some clouds, 12C (10C)

Moving [obligatory, obviously]
I packed some more, but it still feels like I haven't done much/enough. Messy apartment, you suck. I don't want to just pack the mess (I ended up doing a little bit of that leaving Kobe). But I also don't want to throw away something I shouldn't, or have things that ought to go together packed in separate boxes at separate times--which makes packing slower. So far I've only packed books, anyway ; and only found two to throw out...

I still need to decide/plan my Kobe farewell, including choosing a date for that. And I still want to see Hikone castle before I leave Kansai--which means, basically, this weekend. Meh! These things feel so stressful, right now!

Monday movie
I forgot to write about it, but I went to see TRON : Legacy on Monday. Since Biohazard 4 (the zombie franchise with the blonde chick...), the studios have already gotten better at 3D. I'm excited about POTC4 because it looks like another leap forward--but into the slightly cartoonish. Looks like their 2D-ing all the characters 3D in their environments like cutout animation... I think it'll be next winter before the really cool stuff starts coming out with that tech... Anyway, TRON was so full of allegory and allusion that it was hard to enjoy the effects, though some of them were pretty darn attention-getting. I like that it was intentionally shot in both 2D and 3D to help develop the separation of worlds. Though the contrast seemed off for most of the movie--I guess that's one con of costuming with flexible halogen...

Oh, and I can't use one of my free tickets for 3D movies, it seems, so I'm one stamp away from a third free ticket, now. Tokyo should have Warner Brothers MyCal Cinemas...

Contract for new job
My new contract came while I was at work, today. The soonest I can get it redelivered and be here to accept is Friday morning. That kind of sucks for them ; their first date to have it returned was this Friday--impossible without personally courier-ing it to them. The next date is the 28th, which they'll just have to settle for. I like that it's actually here just waiting to be delivered, since I started breaking the news to students/parents today.

Closing salutation
I think it's increasingly important to have my nightly meditation and prayer these days, so I'm off to do just that.
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Dec. 16th, 2010 12:48 am)
Mostly cloudy, 4C (-4C)

I resigned from my job, today. Crazy. My last working day here will be the 8th. I'm moving on the 9th. I have to reserve the removal service tomorrow... I hope I don't have to change it to the 10th. I'll start my new job on the 11th. I'll be living in the company building as they have an apartment for about one month, while I collect enough money to move into my own place on February 12th/13th.

I have to try to make a phone call statesside, then go to bed.
Rainy, 12C (12C)

First, picture :

Next, it seems I've given every indication of taking that position in Tokyo (it was officially offered about three hours after I left their office). They want me there sooner, though. To do that, I need help with moving expenses (they don't even have to give me money forever, just a loan that would be repaid well before the end of my first contract). If they want to do that to get me there on their schedule, this would have to be worked out so that I can give notice at my current position, um... tomorrowtoday.

That reminds me! I need to ask if transportation is reimbursed... it'd be a real bitch if it weren't.

Osaka interview also went well, but their work is really irregular and they wouldn't have any until June--so using it as a savings account to move is not particularly plausible right now.

Oh, yeah! And my period is 5.5 days late (ahh, that's actually a little less than I was thinking--for some reason I was thinking it was eight or ten days already! maybe 5.5 is still okay but I still eagerly await the godawful cramping and inconvenience right now) and it's freaking me out! Could be the diet (sudden changes in eating/sleeping often throw my cycle), but also with the diet there's no point using a DIY test because the diet is based on a hormone released during p-condition (which shall not be so much as named until I'm bleeding again!) so the test should come out positive even if nothing is there and my body also doesn't think there's really anything there.

It could also be that hickey-incident because the wimmen-folk in my family are notoriously fertile and shit happens every day even though we used common sense--I just hopehopehope it's not that shit these days. That shit can't happen until I'm Jewish and have had a Jewish wedding to a nice Jewish man, and not an instant sooner! So even if it's not that shit and there's nothing there, there's still the chance that my body will *think* there's something there and react appropriately (I know it wants something there and I've been denying it all these years...) and I just can't deal with that strain as well.

I won't go as far as saying I'm never having sex again (see above about the Jewish man), but I'm officially abstinent [on purpose, not accident!] until such conditions are met! I'm not really sure when I should really start worrying, though--I'm guessing right about the time I'm moving if Tokyo is going to work out. Great way to meet a doctor. No, I won't keep any such thing (see above about that shit not happening right now). Just FYI.

Anyway, I went to see Robin Hood tonight to escape reality. Several portions were quite fun. Some were beyond ridiculous--like the make-out session in the middle of the landing battle between the French and the English. Come, now, ppl, get a sense of the situation!

Ugh, I should call my mom--and mention that second thing and that fourth thing but definitely not that third thing. Then I should go to bed. But I also feel/hope that getting up at 09h00 will be easier than getting up at 06h00, like I have been for the past three days....

Oh! And Katanagatari : whoa.
Some clouds, 11C (11C)

For the next few moments it is October 43rd or Kislev 5th.

I really only have two points I'd like to share tonight (I'm denying the other three or four right now, so they won't feature).

1. This is the state of "academic research"?
So, I've recently joined a real-live professional association and that means I get their real-live professional journals. One paper is called "Learning to be a Teacher : blahblahblah". Now, I've known since that what-his-face nobel laureat in economics wrote that book about how being poor sucks and is oppressive that academic writing is about stating the painfully obvious in even more painful detail and often with fancy words which are [ideally] bigger than the point they're used to make (extra points for un-obvious obfuscation!). I give you this excerpt :

This longitudinal study examined how two teacher trainees [d00ds A and B] developed their classroom interactional practices in terms of assessments [typically feedback] and directives [instructions] and constructed their identities as teachers over a period of 19 months.

Emerging from the microanalysis of the data, observable changes were manifested by the two elementary school English teacher trainees in deployment of assessments during classroom activities. Initially, Shota [d00d A] aligned with the assessments given by the ALT [Assistant Language Teacher, the foreigner] and JHTs [Japanese Homeroom Teachers, the authoritays] by joining in with applause and producing embodied assessments in the form of head nods, but without participating in any verbalization of the assessments. Makoto [d00d B] also echoed assessments deployed by the ALT and JHTs through his alignment with the applause they initiated, and also echoed their verbal assessments but only in the same form. By Time 2, a year later, Shota verbalized assessments when interacting individually with students, when translating the JHTs productions from Japanese to English, and when taking charge of whole-class activities. Makoto manifested change through deployment of a greater variety of assessments, and occasionally bt deploying some assessments sequentially earlier than the ALT or JHT. Finally, over the period of 19 months covering the data collection analyzed here, both Shota and Makoto deployed assessments in a greater variety of sequential environments, many self-initiated or sequentially prior to the other teachers, while their follow-up assessments were always upgrades.

As the trainees' interactional practices evolved, there was a change in their social orientations as teachers. Initailly, the trainees articipated peripherally and orientated mainly to themselves as assistants. However, as they were socialized into classroom culture and changed their interactional practices, they frequently displayed characteristics that are conventionally associated with teachers....


This paper was 23 pages long and included a list of 48 references. Under"Data" the authors explain that they went through 30 hours of film (although they only actually went through and analyzed 120 minutes for each of the two teachers, but there was 30 hours of film taken to be at their disposal...) of veeeeery beginner-level classes (in one, the target, apparently, is counting to seven--I will, however, concede that this was a 4th-grade class (9- and 10-year-olds) and being a Yokohama public school probably nobody goes to eikaiwa).

Under "Method", we have one of my favorite moments in the whole piece :

Initially, the data in this study were transcribed, then a number of general observations were framed about the interaction through analysis of both the transcribed and recorded data, following which an interactional phenomenon of interest was identified through reanalysis of the data.

(my italics)

Interpretation : they were looking for something to practice their conversation analysis application on that could possibly get both authors another publication.

Under "Analysis", we learn that "Emerging from the analytical practice of unmotivated looking, analysis revealed developments of the trainees' classroom interactional practices over time in two areas: (a) provision of assessments to students, and (b) initiative in giving directives."

"Looking"? Really? And "unmotivated"-ly, at that...

I suspect it may be unprofessional or at lease discourteous to write out my full reaction, but, basically, if I understand this research properly, they're saying two d00ds who were training to be teachers were stand-offish and not really fulfilling their roles at first but with experience came to behave more as they are supposed to by gaining some sense of the environment and therefore confidence to act in it. >_o Um... o_< This is news? Ppl get used to things through exposure and becoming acclimated increases their effectiveness is new information? And acting in a certain role often generates the same responses as those in the role?

Although, for stating the obvious, they [the doctorate-holding authors] do do a really good job of backing it up with actual transcriptions of specific instances of obvious and gloriously extrapolating profound obviousness. Which is at once graceful and horrific.

From now on, I will read mainly conclusions. And certainly conclusions first.

This whole endeavor I'm attempting may be challenging on levels I had previously failed to predict.... To those already experienced in any field which involves the reading of "academic research", please accept this as a humble apology for my n3wbness. The stuff I read for my BA thesis wasn't so... clearcut. I'll try to get over it quickly.

2. More on literacy!
I totally bought a book tonight on Amazon for kindle pc and started reading it. This could well be the beginning of something very beautiful, folks...!
Clear, 19C (18C)

Heading seem to be working...

This story describes the situation well enough. YaY front-page news items! So I'm a retirement fund, now. Huzzah! Although it lies like a lying liar when it says both brands will be maintained. Otherwise, why would my school employees be throwing around such smarting remarks about having a bonfire at which we consecrate the former logo to a heated finish for the next forced school event--conveniently enough on "Culture Day"..?

What that story doesn't say is that changes in lesson format/system (only a few of which are really clear at this point, but at the very least ALL lessons will now be 40minutes, however almost all of my textbooks--kids'--should remain the same) are going into effect at the beginning of November. Presumably also changes in teacher contracts, whose terms may have to be re-written in a few instances, will be made, but I've seen no indications of whether, whither or how--the only guesses I'd like to hazard are that they will be for my betterment--and benefit (no need to send out negative energies, god help me...)!! All of the Japanese instructors for adults got notice of their firings today. The new list of schools remaining open was also circulated today and my school is on it--for now, anyway.

I've been assigned to re-training in Osaka on the 25th and 26th (it would have been the 20th and 21st, but the manager asked that it be changed for halloween lessons... the other native-speaking instructor at my school is going to the earlier session but he's not really good with details so I don't expect much to come from him in the way of accurate information). Since one of those days is my day off, I asked them what other day they'd like me to take off in it's place (I didn't think they'd want to pay me since they're not reimbursing students for their missed lessons for re-training but giving them credits towards next months' lessons), so I have this Saturday off (which also doesn't require any additional reimbursements or credits to be given since my classes were already canceled for lesson preparation... though, surely, you can see where this week will probably be for naught). Huzzah!

Changes in plans
Due to high levels of uncertainty regarding the future, joining a gym has been postponed. Also, my latest Amazon order has been canceled.

Halloween costume quandary resolved
It occurred to me last night to dress as a kappa. So I do believe that that is what I shall do. Tomorrow I hope to complete preparations for the costume. My preparations involve a headpiece, fashioning a beak-like appendage, and possibly creating some kind of armoured backpack for the containment of children's souls.

Should be fun!

I think this is all I have to say for now. I may add stuff, later...
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Sep. 27th, 2010 11:19 pm)
POURING, 20C (17C)

So I went to see 十三人の刺客 (The 13 Assassins), today, which is just an insane movie. While I was at the theatre I saw the flier for Russel Crowe's new Ridley Scott gig, Robin Hood. Can anyone explain to me how this will be any different from Gladiator? Other than the fact that Crowe is nearly a decade older, now, and therefore less agile? Anyway, back to Jyuusan-nin no Shikaku. Crazy movie. Since nobody reading this is likely to see it, I'll spoiler it by noticing out loud and publicly that the only d00ds to survive are the ones with girls they want to screw**. Thank you Japanese men-find-women-to-make-your-babies propaganda machine.

I just had a really hard time remembering that word, "propaganda". And I've been reading a ton of English recently (high English, too, not pulp English!), so that's really uncalled-for.

Before the movie, I thought I'd try what looks like it's supposed to be a German-style restaurant. But it wasn't. Like, it totally looks like a Stadthaus or Hoffenhaus or Staffenhaus or whatever (I can't remember much of my German at all, lately), but the food is definitely very Japanese and they were playing some crazy '50s and '60s Cuban music. The aesthetic discord was too much and I left before finishing my meal.

Also before the movie I went to a coffee bean shop with an extremely and puzzlingly limited array of foreign foodstuffs for sale in addition to roasted beans. For example, they have three kinds of German rye crackers and ten kinds of hard cheese but no soft cheeses and none that could go with the crackers, except perhaps some bleu cheese from Denmark, of all places. Also, they have two kinds of pita bread, but no hummus or even chickpeas in any form anywhere. Crazy. I bought nutella and celestial seasonings sleepytime tea.

I also got Read Real Japanese in what will probably turn out to be a[nother] misguided attempt to become literate. Misguided in that it won't result in literacy. It's been three years that I've been in this country, beating my thick skull against this language with varying intensity (let's not count that time at uni...). I can't help have the feeling that if I were going to achieve literacy, I'd have done it by now. That fills me with dread and disappointment. So I keep trying. Mostly. Because any idiot can see clearly that this is a literate society--maybe even hyperliterate by my native standards. I can't help but feel that I'm missing out on something awesome ; and I'm not about that sort of thing.

So I tried to avoid it but had to ride my bike home in the POURING rain. It wasn't so bad because I didn't have to go in anywhere and I rather like the night and the rain, though it does mean that I will have to dry my hair twice in one day which I find simply excessive.

Anyway, as soon as I didn't have to think about traffic, all I could think about was escape. In fact, I'm thinking about it, now. I want to run away. Far and fast. And I know that my earlier escape should have happened much sooner, if only it could have... meh... so I keep wondering in the background of all this, maybe I shouldn't try so hard to stick anything out...

I don't want to go to work tomorrow. Someone I know today was complaining about being bitter about work so he feels like he needs to take drastic action to keep from becoming mundane, such as becoming a couchsurfing mooch (which he calls "homeless", but I know from multiple experiences that "homelessness" is another beast entirely!). Oy.

So, yeah, this aversion to going to work is interfering with my plans to live every ounce and fiber of my life so it's all used up and gone (granted half in spite of life itself, but let's not squabble over petty details...). And, honestly, I don't get it. I took another skills/personality metric this weekend and, as usual, it says I should be a teacher. This is basically the ideal profession for me according to my strengths and character, and it seems to be one fate that I cannot escape, so I don't get what's so horribly wrong. The job isn't that bad, the kids aren't that bad. It's mystifying, really, why do I want so badly to run away? Where would I go, anyway? I feel like there's nowhere in the world I could go to hide from anything or discover anything, anyway...

I know that fulfillment in life is about using your talent(s) to help others/improve the world and propel your own growth. Theoretically, this is what's happening. But I don't feel fulfilled at all. Then again, I also don't know what my talents are and I'm pretty sure I don't have any. Anybody could do what I do, and most could do it better. Of this I have no doubt.

I watched a lot of TEDtalks this weekend, and saw a Tony Robbins talk. And started crying. Who the hell cries over Tony Robbins talks!? Emotionally unstable mofos such as myself, apparently. I don't get it. So I try to inquire of myself, 'if this isn't what's right or what you want, what would you rather?' And self has no answer at all. Which is frustrating because my reasoning goes : if you don't have any better ideas then stop the whining and contribute, already!

Anyway, perhaps I'll owe an apology for the abrupt ending, here, but I won't give it.

**Though to texturize it a bit more, I think it could be very interesting to understand one of them to actually be a ghost. Also, the survivors' commonality could be parsed as both being somewhat outlier to the "samurai" dogma through which the whole revenge plot takes place--participants rather than members. ...
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Aug. 4th, 2010 12:34 am)
According to my awesome alarm clock it is 31.7C on the loft of my room.

The bed platform is staying up there, but I think I'll sleep on the floor for this month...

On somewhat less than four fitful hours of sleep and essentially fasting I managed to win out my first day, teaching-wise. Here's an update of the score for your ease of tracking :

Partially-developed cerebrae : 0
Fully-developed cerebrum : 1

Of course, it won't always be so clear-cut, but I think I feel a little better going into tomorrow...

I may be able to get Internet at home! I will officially start trying tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Also, I was reimbursed my moving expenses, today! While I know I should get some health insurance, I really want to get a bicycle... どうしようかな。。

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sjcarpediem: (Default)


( Jul. 31st, 2010 04:07 pm)
I am presently in a bit of turmoil...

Come November, there will be an opening at Sannomiya school. Do I try for it? Could it possibly be construed as contributing to the furtherance of my primary goal (achieving an advanced degree)??

Rent would be more than it is, now, the apartment closer to synagogue, my pay the same, the schedule busier, virtually no kids...

I'm not even halfway through the move I'm in the middle of, I can't really waste the mental energy on trying to decide whether or not to push for another one just this moment ; although it's only 4 months down the line so I'd better figure out my position on the matter, at the very least, fast...

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sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jul. 20th, 2010 04:14 pm)
Oh, but I've just noticed that this contract is not even for a whole month due to the new company's policy of synchronizing contract dates and visa dates. In the meantime I'm transfering schools so my schedule will necessarily change and it's anybody's guess if I'll be offered a fourth-tier-or-better contract to take effect in, litterally, 4 weeks...

Oy, vey.

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sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jul. 20th, 2010 03:27 pm)
So I just got my contract, thank God, it's the fourth tier, which was the minimum I needed.

My Internet might not work when I get home, though, because of contracts between my company and the housing company changing.

Speaking of addresses, I still don't have my new one, but maybe that will change at some point, today...

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Some clouds, 23C (25C)
T - 14 days

OhMyGosh, I'm so tired. Usually, at the end of the week, as I lock up the school, I get a second wind. Not this week. I just feel worn down, chewed up and spit out. I feel like I've grown very weak and lazy. I need, need, need to be very productive tomorrow. I'll let myself rest tonight, but I need to get shit done tomorrow.

I still have no address. I don't even know what city I'll be living in. I'm two weeks out and nothing is decided. I don't have my address. I don't have my new contract. I don't trust the company. I'm in a bad situation and I can't get myself out.

I feel more and more strongly that this MA in TESOL is something I really need to do if I want to win myself some footing to stand on, to maybe build on. God help me, the road there, though, is so full of potholes and I've already tripped into one... Getting out depends on my new contract. Money, it's always money. Am I really living so far beyond my means? I find it difficult to fathom, but maybe I am... insert other angsty whining about money/-flow issues.

I was able to go to synagogue, again this week, but the new rabbi and his family got stuck in the US for some ridiculous visa bullshit--apparently foreigners now need American visas to change flights on US soil. What a joke.

But this week I gained what could be an insight to my character, or rather, an aspect of my character that needs correcting--which is a boon for me, because while I know I'm really far from anything resembling right or perfect it's very difficult to identify specific things to target and work on. But this week, my coworker asked me to do something that I usually do anyway, and couched it in a phrase such as, "if you have free time..." I did it, but I felt a strong urge to talk back and I felt offended and interfered with. Then I realized that there are kindof a lot of those sorts of reactions. I really feel like I own my time and I am displeased when someone else implies or suggests that some of it might not be. So I'm trying to determine what is the source. What is the character flaw that it springs from? Is it arrogance? Selfishness? Immaturity? Not caring enough for others? I'm still not entirely sure what it is, but I'm working on it.
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jul. 7th, 2010 11:57 pm)
Partly cloudy, 21C (25C)
T-24 days

I have so much I want to write about but nary the time/energy-complex to organize it... Bah...

I hate packing. I haven't even started and I hate it all over again. Last time, packing went really, really well. Surprisingly well. I'm convinced it was because I was moving here, to the place I chose, to a place I wanted to be. I can't quite bring myself to feel that way about Moriyama.

Though, hopefully, rents will be cheap enough that losing my housing subsidy (don't get too excited, it only covers about half the difference in rent from my place in Ehime) in August shouldn't decrease my spendable income. But then again, I still have NOT A CLUE how much that might be...

But I did recently learn that some of the famous Kyoto universities (such as Ritsumeikaikan and Doushiki--bah, I can't remember if that's correct right now) moved their main campuses to Shiga-at-least-and-possibly-Moriyama. So in addition to the Catholic women's college, there may be other places that I may be able to try to get a part-time job at...

Also, recent investigations yielded the fact that my future school, let's call it MYD2 for short (which may or may not be further abbreviated to MY2 or just M2), has a student roster of 59 monthlies--indicating the tuition payment interval, the alternative being yearly (for the moment). Now, starting from this month all codomo (kids') contracts are supposed to switch to monthly, but there are still many on the yearly scheme so all this number tells me is that there are *at least* 59 screaming, shitting brats at that school. Whether they are all mine, I have no idea or evidence. I also don't know if there's a Japanese teacher also there.

But! I have decided that I shall become a master of teaching English to screaming, shitting brats--come hell or high water--and MYD2/MY2/M2 (which shall retain it's designation as Dai-2 here even after being subsumed by the regular [adults'] school to indicate that it's [and therefor my] student body is exclusively composed of children) shall be my experimental population. I will then later use these m4d ski11z to train my own army of multi-lingual and highly-educated adopted-child-revolutionaries who will change the world for the better and also substantiate the second generation of my longed-for huge extended family of ... "professional" people ... raised at my orphanage-boardingschool-castle-complex! BwaHaHaHaHa!!!!

Although first I need to pack. And mostly the reason I really don't feel like packing right now is this stupid ladder which I've been using as a partial shelf-system and this stupid table whose only good place is jammed right in front of aforementioned stupid ladder and has collected stuff underneath it and about it's legs and needs to be moved in order for me to ascend to the loft where my packing boxes from last time are stored. (I'll need to get more of those, too, but apparently I can ask at the grocery...) If I can overcome that, then I can at least pack my books and have that out of the way to organise the other packing. Please, god, please, let my next apartment not be so hateful as this one...

I think that's all I have the wherewithal to type about just now. Except I wanted to add that a recent favorite snack is comprised of cut pineapple, cow-milk-yogurt (it comes in 450cl tubs!) and frosted flakes. It is yummy and refreshing and just sweet enough. I recommend it to all of you for your gustative pleasure.

ETAs : I know children aren't *only* screaming, shitting brats but calling them that here from time to time helps throw that fact into contrast with occasional perceptions and cetera...

Cleared the path to the loft and readied some boxes. Since I'm trying to be optimistic and encouraging with myself, we'll count that as "packing" for the sake of my organizational calendar tonight.
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jun. 29th, 2010 02:30 am)
Mostly cloudy, 18C (27C) --humidity at 95%

All of that said, since I would never willingly place myself in such a position (the kids' branch business), that makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In which case, the only thing that's left to freak out about (other than the apartment), is which of the 11 tiers of contract I'll fall into--I really need to be in the one of the top 4....

Oy... so much for all that confidence ; two emails on the post-bankruptcy list and I'm back to square one.

Fucking hell, I don't want to deal with this shit ; somebody, make the bad man stop...
Partly sunny, 32C (39C)

So, I'm thinking about putting off Arima until next weekend--to spread out my spending a bit.

In the meantime, I thought it might be worthwhile to explain my position on children.

There are many problems with children, the main one being that they lack complete brains and are therefore inscrutable. You never know what a child will find amusing and they are so completely incapable of reason that everything must be amusing to them. This may be fine for playing or when you have all day to lavish attention on the child and bask in the wonders of it's development but is not when you're supposed to be accomplishing something like teaching a set curriculum on a set schedule at a set time of day every week. Not to mention the constant fight against the environment the child is in for the other 10,030 minutes of the week. 50 minutes is not enough to achieve what is desired but it's also way too long to not achieve anything.

I say all that before getting to the very important task of defining what a child is. For me, a child is generally less than eight years old for girls and less than ten for boys. This can be further divided into infants, young children and old children but we won't worry about that.

I don't remember a whole lot of my own childhood. Well, scratch that, I do remember quite a lot, but it's mostly episodic. Also, I was a strange child. I hardly ever slept and was very independent. I was intelligent and could play well enough by myself as well as with others. My games were usually elaborate--mimicking archaeological digs, cooking five-course breakfasts for my platoon of stuffed animals, or carrying out mapping expeditions in the woods by the river of my grandparents' cabin--and involved adult objects or concepts. I could add here that I never had invisible friends [and have always thought this somehow alienates me from most other people...], although I was taught to consider the "feelings" and experiences or points-of-view of even inanimate things...

My clothes all had bells sewn onto them so that my mother could tell where I was and could guess at what I was doing. All of my clothes had many bells sewn onto them. Even my shoes and shoelaces (my mother could hear if I was lagging behind because I was tying my shoe or because I was getting into trouble). I carried a McGuyver-like collection of items in a baggie in my pocket to help amuse myself when I couldn't run amok (that is, on errands or trips to the bank or grocery store or whatnot) ; it had things like strings, magnets, paperclips, marbles, springs, erasers, a little notepad and a kit of miniature colored pencils. It was part of my training to identify these situations and find a quiet place on my own to not make a nuisance of myself ; the former was encouraged and praised (but not rewarded because it all fell under "expected behavior") and the latter was simply not acceptable because it wasn't in my character. Things were largely different for my little sister--but that is because she is a different person with a vastly different personality and needed a different kind of framework while at a similar age. This is all to express the idea that I was monitored but not doted upon ; I was purposefully trained, long and hard, from my earliest memories. Which is to prepare a contrast with most of the children I interact with in this job...

At the same time I was involved with all sorts of lessons--ballet, tap-dance, karate and such. I could ride a horse, house-train a dog, nurse sick birds and organize playmates. I cooked for people, did crafts and some art. I did things like fishing, camping, and hiking actively--that is to say, I participated in planning and preparation as well as execution, I wasn't just dragged along to where the adults were going. I was asked my opinion and my opinion had some small degree of influence (small when I was still a child, greater after I wasn't ; it was all part of my training in responsibility and in choice in action). This was an inviolable expectation and it never occurred to me not to do as I did, anyway.

When I was seven years old my ears were pierced--which in my family indicates the end of childhood, or the beginning of the end of childhood. Due to various circumstances I was basically an adult by the time I was ten and was expected to make decisions and conduct myself as one in every conceivable way except openly in law (note the use of the qualifier "openly") ; at this point there were no more shields but by virtue of my being young for the world there were plenty of shackles. I think this explains why my cut-off for children I can deal with and children that are more challenging than I want to deal with is where it is. I consider myself to have been a child before seven, something else between seven and ten and an adolescent for a long time after that... I realize this developmental trajectory is not entirely average, but it's the trajectory I know from my life as opposed to a few textbooks.

Throughout this time, it was not enough to be passively taught and it was far from acceptable behavior to not listen and not pay attention.** This is not usual, it seems, for children which makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for me to identify with them--something I have to do to teach effectively. I don't understand the "games" they like or what drives them from one thing to the next. I've tried to study rules for children's games and they're all so nonsensical and meaningless that I can never remember them. I don't understand how one thing can keep a child in it's thrall for ages but something actually amusing on several levels fails to even distract them.

I attribute my confusion in these matters to their lack of sufficiently complete brains. Of course, children aren't completely brainless, but enough is missing that many things are more difficult for them than they need to be when presented the way they are in these classes in order to keep the schedule, to give the parents something tangible to see us doing, etc. And parents almost universally fail to understand this. They have totally unreasonable expectations and totally unrealistic views of how to accomplish them. They don't understand that children's hours of activity vary throughout development, nor that some hours are better suited to some behaviors than others--a child's development, in this sense, is utterly incompatible with modern adult, commercial society. Parents are in the forest--or bricks in the wall, if you prefer. The parents, more often than not, don't really get what's going on with their children or how things are happening and I can't communicate with them effectively/properly, not to mention I have no outstanding qualifications so even if I could the parents would have no cause to heed me. Which brings me to the next point : my company [and most, if not all, like it] suffers major retardation on this matter. They fill the parents with unrealistic visions of their bilingual children and set a schedule and a pace as if this is the way that sort of thing reliably works when what brain the children do have simply doesn't work that way.

Not that I'm an expert on how they do work.... But I do know that children are like rubbery goo with sponge-like elements. They're in constant and elastic transition--considering the proportion of their lives spent in this period versus out of it, the transition is also rather violent. They retain the craziest things and forget the most important--with no rhyme or reason. As the child ages and becomes somewhat more enculturated some issues lose some of their high-relief and the child develops tools to then overcome them as it reaches the ages that I can handle with a level of discomfort that doesn't totally frustrate and exhaust me : over eight for girls and over ten for boys, generally speaking. In other words, at about that age we both become capable of reaching [for] the other, and it becomes worthwhile to do so. Below that age, they don't understand to reach and I am incapable of bridging the distance. As a human being, I don't like children who don't know to reach for me when I can't reach them on my own ; as a teacher, I am not properly trained to overcome this challenge.

At about thirteen for girls and fifteen for boys, I can begin holding them responsible for themselves, for their behavior (though they can't fully be held responsible for their choices until they're eighteen or twenty), and I can begin teaching them how to nurse their own motivation for learning. (This is very late by my own life's timeline for being held independently responsible for such things, but I consider myself to be a relatively flexible person and this is one of the reasons why.) After about twenty for girls and twenty-two for boys (around the same time that their brains become completely whole and totally functioning organs, ironically enough), I can usually no longer teach them about motivation or even very much about discipline. In fact, I can't teach them much of anything, strictly speaking, I can only help them learn and the value of my help is nearly totally dependent on what they make of it. At about this time they are completely adult in every physical and psychological respect, the only question is how much they accept that--and how much they express that acceptance through their actions and attitudes.

Obviously there are exceptions, there are varying personalities and varying levels of awareness, but if I had to generalize this is how I'd do it.

**I should note that "good behavior" was on a scale adjusted to my needs. For example, when I was a young child, if I was told to sit that meant that some portion of my body had to remain in contact with some part of the chair I had been told to sit in--however that obligation was met was perfectly within reason. At night I had to sleep, which meant that I did not leave my bed from the time that I was put there until the sun came up (I could go to the bathroom, of course) because of course I didn't sleep the whole night but other people in the house did (as an aside, maybe this is the only time in my life that I have ever awaited the sunrise...). When I was an older child, the part of the chair was narrowed to the seat and arms. When I was no longer a child, it was narrowed again to just the seat and it had to be the back and lower part of my body that was in contact with it. When I was what I call an adolescent I was no longer told to sit as I could make that decision for myself and was fully expected to.
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jun. 28th, 2010 01:00 am)
Some clouds, 26C (29C)

Oh, yeah, and I don't mean to give myself anything more to freak out about, but I think, maybe, perhaps, it is just possible that the school I'm closing and the schedule I'm taking over is actually a kodomo branch (childrens')....

I guess I can try to confirm or refute it by contacting the one responsible for my transfer when I go in to the school this week... but then what do I do in the case that it is all kids' classes...? In that situation, I'll certainly be too miserable to last long ; and kids really shouldn't be around that...

I'll try not to think any more about it until work on Tuesday ; maybe I can soak it out at the onsen, tomorrow.

Also, on my way home, tonight, I got some tortilla chips and salsa con queso. It's been literally years. I'll snack on it for an early lunch tomorrow before heading out for a bit of a walk and bath. I hope I can see some fireflies...
Rainy, 18C (21C)

About my new assignment... and why July will suck inordinately (is July the new November??) :

So I have to close my current school, meanwhile trying to convince as many of my students as possible to go to Sannomiya school, meanwhile I know the native instructors at Sannomiya are a bunch of half-assed twats and probably won't stick out the year. That ought to be enough, and I think it is.

But add to this that in Moriyama there are currently two branches : Moriyama and Moriyama-dai2. Well, Moriyama-dai2 currently has no native instructor--that school wants a native instructor yesterday, I'll arrive after closing my branch (dates still not determined, as far as anyone local is aware)--and is supposed to combine with Moriyama (the original branch). I can't be sure, but I think they expect me to move that school--which, if I'm right, will be a godawful pain in the ass, mostly because I don't know that school and so will have to move everything and then sort it and what I bring with me in the new-old building, which I also have absolutely no idea about and won't until I arrive. It's possible I could actually enter the school if I took my pilot trip to Moriyama on Monday rather than Sunday, but I really need to do something about that sooner than later and Monday I want to take a bath at Arima.

In completely other news, I'm getting seishun18 for my trip to Kanazawa, which is a certificate of sorts good for seats for five days on non-express trains. Kanazawa will only require two of those days' seats. Maybe I'll go to Asahi Zoo in Hokkaido with two of the others.... Then all that's left is a one-day trip ; I was already considering Matsue in Shimane-ken or, in the opposite direction, somewhere in Nagano-ken--from Shiga-ken, Matsue would be longer and Nagano would be shorter... I'll have to think on it a bit more.

Seriously, though, today was the first day I was allowed to begin informing my students about the first half of this mess. I only had two classes today but when I got home I just wanted to collapse and sleep for the rest of the evening ; I felt so drained I didn't even go to synagogue, and I'm not even going to be able to so easily very soon... I have seven classes tomorrow [today!]. I hope it is less taxing...
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:52 pm)
Mostly cloudy, 23C (23C)

So, apparently, I'm moving to Shiga-ken (滋賀県, jp, the one with Lake Biwa...) sometime next month (don't ask me when...)--a place called Moriyama (守山市, jp), to be more specific. It's not in my guide book.

I am filled with a very special and inevitable kind of dread. This place has a smaller population than my inaka town on Shikoku. And it wasn't in my guide book, either. But Honshu is completely different, Honshu is completely different, Honshu is completely different.... There are fewer people in all of Shiga prefecture than in Kobe city.

There is a university, at least... and a senmon-gakkou (trade school)... My town on Shikoku didn't have either of those. It serves as a "bedroom town" for Osaka and Kyoto, though, which means it's not likely to be very convenient to live in... But maybe there'll be a movie theatre. Generally, my standards for a "city" are (a) population of 1million people or more and (b) at least one regularly operating movie theatre. I also enjoy public transport. We could count that as a third criterion, I suppose.

It takes less time and is cheaper to visit both Kyoto and Nara from there ; Osaka is just 20 minutes further from there than it is from here.

I'll visit for the day this weekend or next, I hope, and be very pleasantly surprised. I had asked one of my students about jobs at one of the local universities ; but it seems they're not hiring at the moment. That was my feeble attempt to stay in Kobe. I like Kobe. Kobe is cool and has an interesting history and is very convenient to live in. Next month I'll have been here for one year. Universe, stop flinging me into the boonies, please.

I'm too emotionally exhausted at the moment to post anything more. So now I will eat some chocolate, drink some tea, and watch some anime all the while pretending that ALL IS WELL WITH THE WORLD, and by extension/association, me and my life.
sjcarpediem: (Default)
( Jun. 22nd, 2010 10:58 am)
Rainy, 24C (26C) -- humidity is 88%

This week at work is going to suck a lot. But the upswing is that possibly managing other ppls' stress will distract me somewhat from my own... Just as long as I'm not so distracted I don't get done what I need to get done.

Also, I hate packing. I won't put it off to the last minute, but I don't think I'll start this week. Unless I catch wind that the school is closing next week....

I just got my third book at the bank... maybe I should just try going to another country, already. But which one? And if I do that my "plans" for grad school will have to be reworked. Reworked... as they are, now, they're delayed by a year--I need to find some stability that will last another three years. I need a raise, but before then, I need a job.

I watched Detroit Metal City last night. Hilarious. It will be incredibly helpful, this week, to have those memories floating around. :-]
Rainy, 18C (23C)

So, I do believe they call this the other shoe dropping : my school is being closed--whether next week or next month, they're not sure. They're going to try to find somewhere to transfer me to, but failing that my last day with the company is the last day my school is open. To review : I've been laid off for the second time in as many months, but nobody knows any details.

Good thing I didn't make all the purchases I wanted to.

Time will tell, time will tell.... And now it's time to make dinner.

P.S. I will want escapist anime this weekend and am accepting suggestions/recommendations for consideration. You can suggest whatever or check my profile on Anime-Planet to see what I have and haven't seen/liked.