Sorry for my lack of blogging lately. My friend from home, Lauren, is visiting me, so we’ve been spending most our time catching up and what not. We still crack up when we think about how we became friends and how happy we are that we kept in touch. Lauren was my roommate in London 2 years ago when we were studying abroad. She just so happened to do another study abroad program in Tokyo and came all the way to the ‘Guch to visit me. What have we been getting up to? The same antics as usual. Taking day trips, eating lots of good junk food (strawberry Pocky and I’ve got her addicted to my fave Indian restaurant), teasing each other..yaddi-yaddi-yadda.
I think that she’s liking how much more laidback Tokuyama is compared with Tokyo. We went to the beach and watched some Japanese people windsurfing until some Russian guys invited us for a friendly game of volleyball. Random, huh? Another JET in that area, Tammy, took us to a little sandwich joint and later that night, we met up for a beer garden (all you can eat and drink) and karaoke. This is exactly how I remembered Japan to be like when I first got here last summer. Lots of eating and drinking at izakayas and beer gardens, being outdoors, and just being around lots of good people. I love being here in the summer! Besides lounging around, we watched Japan play Croatia at a restaurant around my place. Just like many other things, most of the Japanese there were FANATICAL about the game. War paint, jerseys, flags, air horns, chanting and all. It was funny to watch them until the game ended and we all realized that team Japan sort of blew it. No score. No glory. It didn’t end our fun though because we all went outside to the big square and laughed at the drunken guys.
The stereotype is true: Japanese people cannot hold their liquor. 2, maybe 3 drinks tops, and their off their red faces, yelling, grabbing each other and making hilarious fools out of themselves. It’s not uncommon to see nudity at some point, as we did that night. As Lauren put it, there were, “Man-ginas.”
Last weekend was the soccer tournament in Awajishima (an island close to Kobe). About 12 teams from Western Japan came out to compete, and what do u know??? Yamaguchi girls placed 2nd (only to be beat by those biznatchies Osaka..i am a good sport most of the time, but they were such animals on the field)!!! As my luck goes, I sprained my ankle on the very first day, during the very first game on a team that wasn't even mine (i was helping Shimane team by subbing..i guess this is what i get?! hehe). The weekend was highlighted by some good onsen action overlooking the longest suspension bridge in the world (the one connecting Shikouka island to the rest of mainland Japan). The little cute naked girl following me to speak English was a cool bonus too. As usual, we spent Sat. night hanging out, and playing dubious drinking games where some secrets were revealed, some nasty concoctions were drunk, and pool tables were danced on. Even if my ankle puffed out like a hot marshmallow by the end of the weekend, it was well worth it!
P.S. Can you spot "the hairy caterpillar" in the picture?
The recontracting conference is for JETS all over Japan to meet in Kobe for 3 days of unrestrained mania and I suppose there's some workshops squeezed in there somewhere. As everyone knows by now, I was lucky enough to go even though I'm not staying on the program for a second year. I quite possibly could be the only person in JET history to pull off such a scheme, but I still stand by my alibi: I was innocently forced! You see, I canceled my 2nd contract a couple of weeks before the conference, leaving my boss, in true Japanese fashion, apprehensive about changing the original plans. He sent me off anyway.
I'm really glad I did because if nothing else, it was the best and probably last chance I will get to see everyone, from my prefecture and all others from Western Japan, at the same place and time. Even better as it was El Diablo and Hannah-channah's birthdays. Good convo, long nights, stolen wheelchairs, indoor fountain swimming, Japanese cheerleaders, over-priced Indian food, missed workshops, bad karaoke, spastic dancing...oh dear.
Why did I quit? Long story short, I cant pay my bills back home and travel at the same time. It's hard for me to justify another year here, in my non-descript town (remember, no trips), while the rest of my life is on a backburner. Especially when they're other things I'd rather be doing than teaching, and other places I want to go to other than Japan. I'll be going home to take care of business ASAP so I can do another adventure like this, but more specific to what I want, while I'm still young, single and crazy. :) Ironically, the conference only made me that much more confident in my decision because a lot of the 'Guch JETS approached (read: interrogated) me about my rationale for leaving.
Sidenote: I found it interesting that not only did some of these people rarely/never talk to me any other time of the year, but also insinuated that I was making a bad decision b/c it's too responsible for someone my age--kinda like, "Don't worry about that, take care of your bills after the 2nd year finishes." To add insult to injury, a rumor spread that I'm going home b/c of my family. FALSE!
I was left having to defend and explain myself for a choice that leaves me quite satisfied and resolved. Yet, there have been a few who have expressed genuine regards in me leaving and not questioning my motives. My sincerest "thanks" to those. To the others, well....
I'm normally a big advocate of not fueling the fire by publishing a scandal on a blog (so my apologies for the emotional diarrhea), but I had to make an exception for this one. I don't want to leave the country misunderstood.