Monthly Archives: June 2011

Keepin’ up with the Joneses

One of my younger students at the school for the blind has invented a new month, “Octogus,” which comes after June and before May. It is a confusing hell, Octogus, cursed with the onset of autumn winds while facing the dead of summer. I ask him, which month is it now? It is always Octogus, my fate, my curse. For Christmas last year he said he wanted Yui-chan, my fourteen-year-old girl with big glasses who loves dogs, and if he couldn’t have Yui, he would settle for the music teacher, a mere forty years his superior. He is twelve, and when we all play costume dress up for Halloween I secretly put the little chicken hat on him, because it is just too fucking cute.

It is a nonstop barrage of new, inexplicable experiences at the school for the blind, even though I’m going on two years now. On an average day I am serenaded by a young student whose mother forces her to wear glasses despite the fact she is completely blind, then conversed to in endless Japanese by one limited-vision student who has been playing Grand Theft Auto IV for almost 18 months straight. Later I’m made the leader of a psychotic cadre of children on their way to the lunch room, where we are fed somewhat soggy boiled fish paste in a thin soup for cafeteria lunch. They all seem to enjoy it, not that I’m sure a lot of them really have enough experience with non-cafeteria lunches to care much about the difference between soggy goop and something else.

What is less fluid are my normal schools, the ones where I am an actor delivering one of a series of performances chosen from the folder, rehearsed sixteen times a week until my timing is impeccable and I can do it without notes and achieve a 95% synchro ratio between each lesson. Who knows how many hundreds of times I’ve gotten up in front of a class now and done my lessons. I am so comfortable in front of an audience now that it shocks me! I taught a lesson to 300 kids in the gym last year like it was nothing. BRING ON THE MASSES

It’s interesting though that such seemingly disparate types of schools ultimately offer me equally strange daily scenarios, which now pass me by only barely registering on the weird-o-meter–using squat toilets, ending nearly all conversations with “see you,” often writing my last name first on papers even in English, carrying my sweat hanky for mid-walk brow pats, and surely dozens of others that I can no longer differentiate from my former reality in the States.

Even my Nomaday reality fails to grab me as it used to, despite my devotion to the cause: am I so interested in the account of my daily life any longer? I’m writing more creatively, which I suppose is that warm trouble that people who write love and hate to come into: the creep of dissatisfaction, from joy, dissonance. We need it and don’t need it.

– Mountain Dew Grape, a new flavor of Mountain Dew, recently released to vending machines in Kobe despite regular Mountain Dew being virtually impossible to find anyway
– The Japanese Prime Minister, who everyone called to resign, who said he would resign soon, who then passed the no-faith vote to stay in office instead of being forced out, partially due to his statement that he’d resign soon anyway, and who then said “welp not resigning just kidding”
– The local police officers at the Port Island station, who helped me inadvertently file a police report for my missing notebook, which fell out of my bag on my way to the train, and who took a painfully detailed account of the notebook (small, brown-colored notebook, dropped between 7:30 and 8:00 am, containing contactless train fare card loaded with approximately three dollars), and who then called the report into the main station on a rotary phone instead of using any kind of fax machine or computer (I noticed a printer in the back room, it looked unplugged and had all the cords wrapped around it)
– My favorite guilty pleasure electro-J-Pop group Perfume’s new single, which is titled Re-Za-Be-Mu, which means laser beam, and which they say in the song as “laser bea-mu”
– A kid I walked past on my way home the other day, who was riding his bike as I talked to Jessy on the phone, who said, upon hearing me, “IT’S ENGLISH!!” only he said it in Japanese

Sorry it’s been so long, whoever reads this, even if that may be you one day, Brandon. Remember how it was for those couple of weeks? You had the holiday, you were tired, the schedule changed… you were building your arcade stick with all Seimitsu parts! You had that new 3DS to play with and then E3 happened and Nintendo announced the Wii U. Do you still have one of those Wii Us? Do your kids play with it? Do you have kids? If you do, get them something newer than Wii U for christsake.