Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Nothing much exciting from this side of the world. My job hunt in China is beginning to appear successful. Although I don't have anything definite lined up, I've had quite a few responses so the opportunities, at least, seem plentiful.

Received word of a few publications this month, which is always exciting news to me, but not so for the rest of you. Also, received a mystery call from a company who claims I haven't been paying my student loan bill since October, even though I was under the impression that I had been paying somebody. It's a fairly strong impression, as well, since the money disappears from my account each month. Money matters and irregularities like this are quite difficult to investigate when you live on the other side of the planet, because they involve a synchronicity in navigating time zones which can be annoying. As always, I welcome donations which help reduce my headache.

Went to a sayonara party, a farewell party in Japan, for some coworkers last night, so now I'm nursing a light headache and trying to rehydrate myself before working up the energy to get ready for another day on the English-go-round. The night could have ended with a bout of Karaoke and a Taxi, but we opted to catch the last train and forego extenuating our already blossoming state of debauchery.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Here again, another Wednesday creeps to me. I want to read, but I know that would only put me to sleep at this hour. How is it Wednesday again? I wanted to do this, write to you, three days ago. At least, I tackle this in the few new hours of today when I should be sleeping rather than plunking away while the heater percolates and the battery-clock ticks off. This is a cold place when you need more than the warmth of e-mail and text messages.

Japanese people continue to pretend to ignore me while I ride the subway. The subway. A growing obsession with me as I ride it routinely these days. Let me tell you about a ride on a subway train.

Before it arrives, people line up on the platform in the places indicating that a door will open. I stand where I like, leaning on a chrome pillar or tiled wall or, often lately, just walking in front of each line of people while concertedly reading. When the train arrives and finally stops, the people who were standing in line move to either side of each door and form a kind of tunnel for the people who have to exit. Once the people who are getting off funnel out, the entrance tunnels collapse inwardly, and people rush for what empty seats are available or just enter and stare dumbly where they stand, as if no one else would be getting on the train.

And no one offers a seat to an elderly person. They're too busy reading photocopies and books or messaging other messagers or looking depressing because they worked twelve hours again and have to do it again the next day. I've seen a young woman, without taking her eye away from her phone, outrace an elderly man to a seat who was hitching-up his trousers to plant himself in it. In some places I've lived in, other passengers would make a strong recommendation in such a circumstance, but no one would dare raise a fuss here. That would disparage the harmony.

I've compared my observations with, notably, one Canadian, who has witnessed similar events.

Nonetheless, I usually wait for everyone to enter, as I don't generally like bumbling through crowds unless absolutely necessary. Then I simply stand in the middle of the aisle, trying to look obvious. I stand in front of people and read my book in a flamboyantly dispassionate manner, a kind of disinterested show for the disinterested passengers who are pretending to sleep between this stop and the next. I see them peeking at me when they know very well they're not supposed!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It's cold outside. The unfortunate reality of Winter. It makes me slow. I can't talk smoothly. My body doesn't react. I stub my toe on the doorjamb returning from the bathroom. I may just be making excuses for my aging body, which is not as limber as it was in younger days, but I blame it on the weather. It doesn't seem to rain as much during the Winter, which is nice.

I don't want to do anything except stay in bed where it's warm, read books and only get up to pour another cup of coffee. It's too cold to leave the house. And it's a long way to the subway station.

Life goes on. At least, I'm committed to continuing to return to my job on a regular basis, which is a dramatic change from previous versions of myself. I have a goal. There's money to be earned before I make my escape from Japan. I think I learned how to save some of it, too. Every day is another day closer to a long vacation in another country. And I've been working diligently in my free time, studying Italian and scratching-out my poems and other writing, which makes the days pass too quickly.

I'm lucky.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

OK. Back in Japan in my new home. And back to work in a few more hours. I'm a little nervous about getting back to the office. I'm not sure why. I always feel like people look at me suspiciously when I return to work after a long vacation. Call me crazy.

The flight could have been better. I procured a cold, which had been struggling to overtake me during my vacation in the form of an annoying but slight cough, only rearing its ugly head upon my departure. A stuffed and runny nose, airplanes, and altitude don't mix too well, but I feel decent now after ingesting some placebo medication. Not perfect, but serviceable. Perhaps a good night of sleep was all I needed. Still, I'm sure I'll be feeling the lag for a few days.

The service on the flight wasn't terrible, but neither was it spectacular. I began to wonder why anyone would want to be a flight attendant. The fast food workers of the sky. They wear funny colorful uniforms, serve food, and clean up after people. Is the pay that good?

I suppose I shouldn't complain. Whoring English in Japan is a kind of fast food for the mind. The pay isn't spectacular and I have to provide my own transportation.