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2006-02-23 9:33 p.m.

part 2: thoughts of spring

Oh, hello. Since I last reported, Iíve gotten two more official grad school rejections. That leaves one that I havenít heard on, but since I was supposed to hear about the interview for that one by January 10th and my email inquiry of the 20th concerning that went unanswered, thereís not much to wonder about. Itís a shut out!

Actually, it barely bothered me at all this time. I think when the first rejection came I realized that it just wasnít going to happen, so I got my pouting done then.

And... I've been thinking. I know I'm up for the challenge of grad school at such places. But really... Does my academic and professional history demonstrate that? Not really. I've got good grades and good test scores, but my research and publication experience is thin, not to mention I've kind of been dawdling for a few years. It makes it look like science is just another hobby I dabble in from time to time, not something I'm absolutely committed to. Which is pretty much exactly what it has been. I've decided to take this not so much as a "No" as a "It's not that easy. If you're really serious about taking this path, you need to do more to show your quality than you have." This could turn out to be just the kick in the pants that I need.

"This thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."

Basically, the way I would need to show my quality would be to get a masterís degree from a lesser school. Theoretically, I still have time apply, butÖ Iím leaning towards waiting till next year. I want to give the interpretation business a try, and thereís WTF to think about. Iím thinking seriously of moving to Osaka this summer. (You see that? Huh? Iím taking my girlfriend into account when making my plans for the future! Not a common sight, people. Not a common sight.)

ďIím sick of following my dreams. Iím just going to ask them where theyíre going and hook up with them later.Ē -Mitch Hedberg

Actually Iíve been really happy yesterday and today. Having had the last of my hope crushed, I am free! Thank you, Albert Camus!

But really, classes at the elementary school went really well yesterday, and my English conversation class went extremely well also, as already noted. (My explanation of just how that class went kind of got a little out of hand, thus the division of this entry into two parts.) Is it strange that I should be made ecstatically happy when a five year old tells me he likes dinosaurs or a seven year old told tells me she saw a table? I donít know, but it did. Iíve been beaming all day. Teaching ESL is so frustrating sometimes; itís so great to see solid progress like that. It makes me feel like my being here is not a total waste of my time and their money. I think this is part of why I prefer teaching little kids to middle school students. At middle school (and often at the upper levels of elementary school) youíre basically trying to teach people something they have no aptitude or desire to learn, which is no fun for anyone. High school is a little more fun, as theyíve got something of a foundation from which to get funky with, but I just love teaching little kids.

Oh, I also found out that I passed Level One (the highest level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Itís official: I speak Japanese.

In other news, Operation: Be Ignored By The Head Teacher has thus far been a smashing success. Heís still getting on the Hawkís nerves, though. All the teachers have to make little weekly reports about the contents of their lessons. Head Teacher decided she wasnít including enough information about my role in class and is making her redo her reports for the entire preceding year to remedy the problem.

She called him "a cancer" and said he should never have been given the job. Ha. She also made the interesting observation that when he's gone the Principal comes out of his office and hangs out and talks to everybody, which he never does when the Head Teacher is here. It's true! Weird. (Bringing that back to my God/Prophet metaphor for the Principal/Head Teacher relationship has interesting implications, as wellÖ)

She and I have a good relationship. I do scarcely more work for her than I did for Matchan, but somehow I'm very content with the Hawk. Part of it may be that I haven't clamored for more work in the first place, as Matchan beat that tendency out of me, and part of it is that the Hawk just seems to genuinely appreciate what I do do and treats me as an equal. She listens to me, and she talks to me. It makes a big difference. (She told me all about the politics that were going last year while Matchan was here, as well, stuff I had no idea about at the time. I canít decide whether it makes me more or less sympathetic to Matchan, though.) She thinks Iím dependable, that she doesnít have to worry about me like she did with many of the other JETs sheís worked with.

She said she was a little relieved to find that I donít like anko (a sweet bean paste that is a common Japanese confection), because I seem so Japanicized otherwise. She thinks Iím a hen na gaijin, a foreigner who acts and thinks like a Japanese person. My response to that? Thanks, butÖ Eww. Certainly Iím far less American than I was, and Iíve adopted a lot of the things I like about Japanese culture (and perhaps even some of the things I donít), butÖ Hell, no. Maybe itís just that Iíve become Japanicized enough to have learned the art of keeping up appearances, to act like Iím supposed to act while giving no hint of what I really think. Itís certainly a valuable skill around hereÖ

The English textbooks used at the middle school all have these recurring characters that do the example dialogues, which are acted out on accompanying CDs. Itís interesting, because there are several Australian characters, but they all speak with an American accent. And whoever does the part of Demi has a really cute voiceÖ

Some dudes broke into my parentsí house and stole most of my CDs, among other things. Well. Letís just say they had good taste, hmm? Luckily Iíve got them all on my mp3 player, but as my mp3 player has been woobly lately, Iím thinking I should back that mofo up.

Iíve been playing Final Fantasy in Japanese. Itís weird that I can actually do that. Iíve been learning all kinds of useful vocabulary, like ďhigh summonerĒ and ďgunmage.Ē

I think Iíve decided I like my brother-in-law. Even if he saved my sisterís soul. (Even if someone else seems to think that, as an actor, heís really good at seeming to be what people want him to be.)

Oh, it seems that everyoneís all upset that Bush is letting an Arab company run certain American ports. Itís a little strange for me to say this, butÖ Iím with The Man on this one, dude. The furor reeks of racism to me. Somehow Iím not all surprised that politicians from both parties are using it as an excuse to bust out the righteous indignation, though.

Signs of spring are popping up. The classic signs in Japan that spring is near are the blooming of the plum and, at least around here, tsubaki flowers. For me, it was finding a mosquito in my bathroom. Ah, the first mosquito of spring! Not long now, and all of his joyous comrades will come and join in the celebration of life! How wonderful!

Another of my recent Japanese vocabulary acquisitions is shishunki. It means ďpuberty,Ē but the kanji that make it up literally mean something like ďthe time when thoughts turn to spring.Ē For comparison, the kanji of the word shunga mean ďpictures of spring.Ē Shunga is pornography. (And the Greek roots of pornography apparently mean ďwriting about prostitutes.Ē)

WTF is coming down for a visit next week.

turning japanese,