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Getting up to speed (Nissan 5772 edition):

I'm an American living in Japan. I teach English for private junior and senior high schools in Tokyo. I just moved to Tokyo in January 2011 (after leaving the employ of a many-times bankrupted Big4 conversation school), and before then lived mostly in Kansai. But I've been a teacher for well more than a decade and can't seem to escape being one, even in other lines of work..

My schedule is pretty wild : Mondays I teach at schools K1 and K2 in the morning and afternoon, respectively ; Tuesdays I teach at a private university, OU ; Wednesday and Thursday mornings I teach at school S, in the afternoons, school M ; Fridays I'm at school S from the morning all the way through the night school section as well. Saturdays and Sundays are my days off. But Saturdays I study French, and I squeeze in Hebrew lessons online wherever I can. Helps me keep things real with my students, and enjoy my life more.

I am studying in an MA TESOL program offered through Birmingham University (in England), which I can complete while working here. I seem to have passed my first module. On to merit, and then distinction!

I'm currently dating a guy who is exploring Judaism with me.

My drama usually involves fiscal insecurity and navel-gazing. Also, I need a savings! And to be more serious about giving tzedakah! This year's Jewish mission : be more machmir about tzedakah.

I try to bear the good grace of a universe that knows better than I do what's best for me with patience and serenity--my mother has always said I'm impatient and the sages say serenity is the secret to joy. Thank god, since I essentially never panic or get lost, with much practice this is becoming easier.

Dieting :
In frustration and irritation at the lack of control over my life (esp springing from the series of episodes which began in the spring of 2010), I did what many have done before me and, in the winter of 2010/1, turned my wrath on myself--but I could stand it.

Round 1 (Nov-Dec 2010) Complete!
Round 2 (Feb-Mar 2011) Complete!
Round 3 (May-Jun 2011) Complete!
Round 4 (Oct-Nov 2011) Complete!
STABILIZATION (Nov 2011-Mar 2012)
Round 5 (Apr-May 2012) Phase 2 In Progress!
Round 6 (Jul-Aug 2012) (Planned)

Watch my progress, here :

You can do it, too!

Begin Journal Writing Activity

Sano - Post Zanbatou Zanza
Clear, 8C (3C)

07h00 : I woke up, it took longer than usual getting out of bed, checked my email, brushed my teeth, my stomach was also quite upset from some beef burgers I had yesterday (Japanese beef and therefore extraordinarily fatty... glad that was the end of them) etc
08h00 : I made breakfast (oatmeal), called my mom, and got dressed
09h00 : I was out the door, on the way to my lesson
10h00 : I was teaching, my student wanted to check some supplemental work I gave him and also a speech he's giving next week
11h00 : My student was tired, so he chose to end class a little early and I headed home.
12h00 : I made and ate lunch--some small-chopped chicken breast and mixed vegetable (mainly sprouts) stir-fried
13h00 : I shopped online for some American OTC drugs--Pepto Bismol, Advil, and TUMS
14h00 : I completed a Lift program for counting the omer
15h00 : I did some random other surfing and email handing, I also applied the Hebrew keyboard layout stickers to my new laptop keyboard
16h00 : I felt unsatisfied with lunch so I ordered some pizza for dinner and had it early--I watched Time Team while I ate and checked my archaeology grade
17h00 : I looked for work and worked on the class on Happiness and Judaism I took with Jerusalem U
18h00 : I finished all the lectures, homework, and tests for the Happiness and Judaism class
19h00 : I had my IvritTalk reading session and did homework for my Hebrew class, checked my email once more
20h00 : I had my Hebrew class
21h00 : Hebrew class ran over, after which I applied for an elementary teaching position in the US and started checking off my Lift lists, hopefully I'll finish by the top of the hour
22h00 : I plan to read--probably Grain Brain and Jewish Meditation
23h00 : I plan to sleep

The Saga Continues

Sano - Post Zanbatou Zanza
Partly sunny, 12C (7C)

I am a miserable wretch. I have been rejected too much, and now I cannot stop feeling sorry for myself.

I need to go home, but I have no home to go to, etc.

Ix did decide to come to Japan. And now he's decided to leave again. I know I should derive some happiness from the surety of this demonstration that he is not, in fact, my partner. But I had hoped. And it still hurts. I thought I was a pretty good deal.

Just like at work I thought I was doing a good job, and in my applications I thought I was a good candidate.

My life has gone disastrously wrong. And I'm not enjoying Tokyo. And I can't do what I do enjoy because I'm so busy working. But somehow not saving money to actually get out of Dodge. Well, I am saving some--but I feel like I should be saving more.

God help me; at least Spring is near, and that generally lifts the mood... Shabbat shalom.

Jan. 10th, 2014

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Geez... it's only the end of the second day... This is really hard.

Too bad, so sad

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So Imran was supposed to buy his ticket to come here in March by yesterday. Today I asked if he had bought it, he said No, I asked what he was waiting for, he said he was waiting to feel like he wanted to come, I said he should let me know if he ever gets that feeling and I would let him know if he was still invited, I wished him a good life and didn't put on the ring that he wants me to keep because it symbolizes his feelings--of fear and revulsion.

I think, the fewer tokens the better.

I always flipping hold on longer than I should. All the upset I could have saved myself...


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People are far more adaptable than they imagine...
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Lawful Batman
Lawful Batman

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Going to Kobe this weekend. Professional development with the local chapter tomorrow night and networking at the JCC Thursday night. Gotta pack before Friday work because the plan is to get out of Tokyo just as soon as my last class is over. Also working on resisting some bugs I've been getting exposed to. Oh, and typhoons of the wazoo!

In summary

Sano - Post Zanbatou Zanza
Rainy, 19C

I'm watching this documentary by one of my favorite British (Scottish) broadcasters. It's essentially about Japan. About a Scotsman active in Japan during the period that first interested me in this country.

Much and little has happened since I last wrote.

I've received preliminary word that I have successfully finished my degree. And I may just have squeaked by with Merit. Pending the National review later this month, of course.

Then there was the day of work I missed--a prank, the police figure. Though actually the missed day of work was before I got news about my degree being finished.

I am looking forward to going back to Kansai. At least for closure. Like when I went back to NOLA, saw that, indeed, it was good; saw that I would not likely ever live there again.

Later tonight, the plan is to go to the local JCC for trivia night. I'll wear my new rain shoes which arrived just today.

I want a computer I can play games on, but need to save to get the hell out of Tokyo and Japan. And there are no graduation gifts forthcoming--just more grind.

My boyfriend still doesn't have a job. Still, still, still. Not sure how much longer that can last--hopefully I've hoodwinked the universe, though. Last winter when I visited my boyfriend, I brought a gift to be opened once work had been acquired. Well, I told him to open that gift. For nearly a year, that gift's only purpose in existing has been to decorate a new workplace. Now that it's out, it's only right that the universe provide a workplace for it to decorate.

Watching this show, though, I realize that I have accomplished all those things I wished I could do back on those lonely, drunken nights in Shikoku. I understand. Time to move on.

Later this month, I am planning to go on an easy hike to Mt Takao, in the outskirts of Toyko. I've ordered hiking shoes. I miss hiking. I hope I use the shoes well.

The hike comes before the trip back to Kobe for the conference, of course. It'll be my fourth conference--my third time presenting there.

Sep. 11th, 2013

Self - My Castle top view
I wrote some of my dissertation this morning! It wasn't a whole hour, after getting the old laptop fired up (it's five years old, now) and the relevant files opnened, but I got some more done! Maybe I can get a little more done, tonight--though it's a late night for me getting home in the best circumstances...

Sep. 10th, 2013

Sano - Post Zanbatou Zanza
I wonder if maybe I shouldn't adjust my approach to this dissertation... Maybe I should just assume that I am going to fail, rather than try to do a "good job" and "earn" a "high mark"... Also, I am sick of my topic. So sick. Here's a hint: never chose a basic assumption as a research topic. Never. You will only be unhappy and tired because of it--never joyous and envigorated.

I've got ten days left until submission, but only 3 of them are reasonably usable. I've got just over 4K of a 12K(+/-10%) words paper. I feel like I'm utterly stabbing in the dark. I literally do not know what I have to do to let them pass me. I feel like I've been told to walk through a minefield mingled with quicksand to retrieve some one's special disposable napkin. This whole experience has been so maddening, frustrating, and crushingly defeating that I feel like my entire psyche is out of whack and I wouldn't know a good path to anywhere if it fell in my lap and spat in my face. Maybe I'm too egotistical, maybe I'm arrogant, maybe I'm really not smart at all, maybe I don't know anything and I can't learn, maybe I am a social/professional/academic pariah or a leper or something like that, maybe there's just no way not to be any of those because somebody has got to be...

Recently, I've been reading Learned Optimism to try to improve my life; the test in that book says I'm already optimistic (not top-level, but second-tier optimistic), but it's descriptions of learned helplessness ring familiar when I consider my life in Japan, and especially my experiences teaching in most of my regular junior and senior high schools, and especially doing this program. I want to finish so I can be done so I can get myself into a somewhat more favorable condition, with some reasonable expectation of stability until I chose otherwise. I feel ragey about "nothing contributing to a positive state of mind" and even the so-called good things in my life being major sources of repeated--and, worst, pointless--upheaval. But I also feel like I can't deal with fallout from bringing things to a head right now. I have the distinct reaction in my gut of wanting to take shelter from a fast-moving storm spotted on the horizon.

I want to feel more secure in what happiness I do have. I want to power my life with the motor of gratitude--but right now my mileage just is not cutting it. I want to be confident in a favorable outcome to my endeavors. I feel like I'm just not as resilient as I once was--like a rubber band that's been left under the windshield for the duration of a summer, and is cracked and dry and useless for anything... I'm so tired of feeling like I've got to scrabble for straws to feel thankful and like trying is worthwhile. Playing to my superiors and coworkers like I'm happy where I am when, no, I don't want the trouble class, and no, I'm not a cheerleader or a game master or a rental friend or any other perversion of substantive and meaningful human relationships or satisfying work. I don't want to have to always wrack my brain for alternatives all the time.

Oh, and I MOST DEFINITELY DO NOT want to be in Tokyo when the Olympics come here.

If I could have the perfect conclusion to this program... I would have a good sleep tonight, during which I somehow clicked something in my brain in such a way that what I'm doing made much better sense to me; how to present that was so much clearer to me. Then I'd have a good, energetic hour in the morning and hour in the evening of productive writing through the rest of this week and next week. I'd get at least four good hours of quality writing and editing in each day for the three remaining full days I have to get this done. I would do a good job, I would feel good about the job I did. I could turn in my paper satisfied the the product balanced the effort which exceeded the demands. I would get a super-high score and be able to graduate with merit, at least (it's just unreasonable to expect to do so, but if I could actually get distinction at this point, I want that). I would have a good presentation. I would have more fulltime job offers in desirable locations than you could shake a dead cat at. I would have a publication and offers for funded seats in doctoral programs (programs that would actually be experientially and factually good for me!). Things in my personal life would suddenly go much, much better relieved from the stress of all this. I could be together with the people who requite wanting to be together, and rid of anybody who doesn't. I could have friends and sociability, pleasant intellectual stimulation and fun...

I guess there are two ways, really, that I can deal with the utter failure of my research: discuss it in terms of action moving forward, and examine it in terms of fundamental assumptions not having been met. I guess...

Time for bed. Morning train tomorrow.

Sep. 2nd, 2013

Sano - Post Zanbatou Zanza
I got results from the student surveys at the trade school I work at. One of my students called me "mean-spirited". :-(

How do you know you're not a shitty teacher??


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