So kids, I know it's been a while since my last rant and all. I'm sure you've all spent many a sleepless night, tossing and turning in pools of your own rancid sweat or the rancid sweat of a loved one or random fling, chewing your nails to the quick and eagerly anticipating a new post. And as proof of the fact that I'm still thinking of everyone, even little Jake, here is a gift to you.
Speaking of Jake, thanks for the book. Churning my way through it now. I'm kind of over the whole "amusing" thing in literature these days, but Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates
by your boy Tom Robbins is quite funny, and the humour provides a good contrast to the more profound things he says via various characters. Enjoying it. Does it remind you of a less cynical, nihilistic Chuck Palahniuk? Anyway, I'll send it back when I'm done, and fix you up for your troubles. Cheers for the photos too... there was one really nice one of the whole gang on my birthday out the front at my place, everyone big smile, chummy, chummy. Stuck it up on the wall... Kanako is tanned as black as the child of Robert Mugabe and a(n attractive) piece of charcoal.
So what's going on here, you scream?
Finished my stretch at the various primary schools of Ako. Tiring work, but very easy to keep kids entertained, and much easier than motivating 40 kids in a junior high class, so I appreciate it. Plus some of the kids will graduate to high school next month so I can see them again; makes it easier when you have a previous background with them.
So now I'm at East Ako JHS. The English teachers there are all good people, so it's good in class for the most part. One guy speaks fluent Spanish too, having lived in Bolivia for a while, and he's also on my basketball team, so I know him pretty well. Another guy lived in the Middle East and also Washington for a few years, and he's a real gentleman too. I think one of the biggest issues with English teaching in Japan is that so few of the teachers have ever studied in a foreign country, let alone lived there - thus their English is inevitably textbook-style. Which is OK, because there's not much "what the fuck are you looking at, geezer?" in the high school entrance exams. But I try to be the foil and teach them a bit more natural English. Which I think, essentially, is my job, anyway.
The last regular English teacher at the school is a lovely girl, about 25 I think (got to be careful on that whole issue... it kind of fucks me off when some of the teachers refuse to admit in class how old they are... we're trying to get the kids to be open and outgoing but they clam up like... clams). This girl is pretty new to the whole gig, and the other teachers in her grade aren't particularly helpful, and she cops a lot of shit in class. One kid in particular swears at her and even goes to the extent of pushing her or throwing things at her. Since it was my first class there, I didn't want to get too involved, but I went and stood between them, hoping the presence of a somewhat large foreign male would calm him down a bit. Worked a little, but in the next class he left his classroom and came into ours just to be a cunt again.
The deal over here is that the kids have a "right to learn", which sounds quite noble and admirable, but in reality it means you can't kick them out of class because it violates their "right to learn". Never mind about the other 39 kids who can't learn a thing with a fucking monkey screaming around the class all day. Of course my first instinct would be to grab the kid by his collar and throw him into the hall, but I' m not entirely sure what the repercussions would be for me there. Hence yesterday I went to talk to the Board of Education about it.
Although I know this was not nearly the first case of violence towards this teacher, apparently at the BOE they had no idea anything was wrong. I really hope I haven't pissed everyone off by singing to the fuzz, but fuck, you can't shove it under the lino forever. My boss and his boss were interested to hear the news, and then I paid my rent, and I thought I was pretty much in their good books. Preparing to leave, I made a passing comment about how I was going to Laos over the Golden Week holiday. And shit blew up.
Golden Week, as you may know, is a long stretch of several holidays over one or two weeks in Japan. Ridiculously, right in the middle is a non-holiday, where classes are scheduled. Obviously it would be a little difficult to fly back from Laos for that day and then return the next. So I took one of my allotted 20 annual days of paid leave for that day. The boss at my current school OK'd it, and I thought it would be fine. I mean, it seems pretty standard?
My boss's boss didn't think so. Thundering that "you're not in Australia any more" and "you must learn the Japanese way", he stormed out of the room. I was so sure I hadn't done anything wrong that through his whole tirade I thought he was joking and was laughing. Then when he left in a huff it kind of hit me that something was wrong. My boss obviously couldn't just go "oh, don't worry about him; he's 50 and has never been married, possibly never spoken to a woman, and gets a little tense and pissed off that you get such a sick salary and cushy apartment". So he agreed with his boss, but a lot more restrainedly and conversationally. I made my points: that even though I had had a bad flu during winter, I went to my primary schools every day because at most I was only there a week, so missing even a day cuts a big part of the time there; that I would have far preferred to go during the official school holidays but Kanako doesn't get time off during the year apart from Golden Week and other national holidays; that the principal had said OK; and that, assuming it would be no issue, I had already bought the tickets.
My boss is a very cool, calm guy that is always nice, and he appreciates what I do here. He said he would get back to me next week with an answer, and I can only assume it will be a positive one, because he's that kind of guy. Nonetheless, I am kind of pissed off because the other guy was such a dick about it. It's ONE FUCKING DAY, grandpa!
Anyway, here's hoping we can get to Laos. Intending to ride a motorbike around the countryside there, I have been taking illicit bike lessons from a friend (all that stuff is very heavily regulated here), have already bought tickets/maps/guidebooks etc. So I won't be happy if I don't get permission. I will probably also quit. Maybe after next payday.
Anyway, if anyone read through that whole essay, thanks. I promise I will reply to those of you to whom I owe replies. And post your opinions here, thanks.