Japan Time

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A wonderful night.

My birthday was on Saturday, and to celebrate, I threw myself a going away/birthday party. I sent out the invitations about a month ago in hopes that many people could save the date in their calendars. And, I'm happy to say that there was a wonderful turnout.
It was at The Stables, a classy martini bar and cigar lounge. Years ago, it contained actual horse stables, which are now converted into private lounges with furniture and TVs.
At one point in the night, everyone from the party got up and sang "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and I definitely shed some tears. It really set in right then that I wouldn't be seeing all of these wonderful faces for a year or more.
I was so touched that so many people could make it to my party. It was a wonderful night and I felt very blessed to have my friends and family there to celebrate my birthday and my upcoming adventure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sushi revisited and training alone.

Tonight, my friends Beth and Mike took me out to Genji as an early birthday gift (which was amazing - thanks, guys!). They are into the sushi scene, so they ordered some various things to share.
Now, I've never really cared for sushi. I've tried, that's for sure. When I was in Japan before, I tried very hard to develop a palette for the dish that seemed to be everywhere we went. But, I just never liked the taste of it. It wasn't the raw fish that got me, either - it was the seaweed. Not a fan. Like licking the bottom of the ocean.
BUT, I did give it another shot tonight, since I know that I will be faced once again with the ever-ubiquitous sushi very soon. And, to be honest, it wasn't as bad as I remembered. I really enjoyed the spicy tuna roll. But wasabi...yikes. That's a taste I don't think I will ever get used to!

On a completely separate note, I found out yesterday that I will be the only person in my training session when I get to Japan. Normally, my first ten days in Japan would be dedicated to training with other new teachers. But there won't be any other incoming teachers in my area when I arrive, so my training session will be completely solo.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this yet. On one hand, my training session will be shortened (since I will get such individualized attention, we can get through each topic faster) - so that's cool. I'll get to move into my apartment and meet my co-workers and students faster.
But...I was really looking forward to meeting some other new teachers and having some people in the same boat as I will be when I get there. I thought it would be cool to meet teachers from other countries and hang out after training.
I have no doubt that the trainers will take great care of me and make sure that I get well adjusted to my new life in Japan, so I know that even without other newbies around, I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"And the girls in their summer clothes..."

So, after receiving some information about my training schedule in Nagoya during my first week in Japan, and rearranging my clothes after giving my mom my dresser (which inevitably resurfaced a question that has been weighing heavily on my mind since I got this job: "How in the world am I going to pack my life for a year into two 50 lb. suitcases?")...
I checked the weather in Nagoya.
I'm sorry - what? Does that say mostly 70 degrees all week? Could it be that this winter-worn, snowpant-owning, four-wheel-black-ice-driving, doesn't-blink-an-eye-when-two-feet-of-snow-fall-in-one-night Michigander will be enjoying 70 degree weather in November?
*shhhhh - if we say it out loud, we just might jinx it*

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The transition has begun.

With about three weeks to go to my new chapter in Japan, I have been trying to prepare myself as best as I can. I've been reading the training materials from my company, staying in contact with my school and the teacher I am replacing, and trying to wrap things up at my current job for my own replacement.
Last night, some friends came over and helped me move two chairs, two bookcases, a dresser, a lamp, and a mattress into a big ol' van that I borrowed from Greg. I will be driving said van to my mom's today, where she will be the new owner of the aforementioned furniture.
(considering the van is jam-packed and the dresser is in the passenger seat and about one-third on the driver's seat, it should be interesting)
Now all my books are on the floor and all my clothes are in a laundry basket. My apartment is starting to look...emptier.
I will miss this apartment. I never intended to live in Saginaw, but I really do like my cute little place above a photography studio.

(P.S. - Is it weird that Styx's "Come Sail Away" is playing on the radio and I'm kind of identifying with it? I'm such a dork.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Now they'll let me into the country for sure.

My passport came back from the Japanese Embassy this week with a freshly stamped visa in it. Woot!

I've been dreaming a lot about Japan lately. About my apartment, my school, and the friends I will make. And every time I wake up, I feel content, like my subconscious knows that it's going to be a great experience.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Even though I won't be walking to Japan...that probably wouldn't work out so well anyway.

I saw an incredible documentary film last night at the Hell's Half Mile Film Fest in Bay City. It was called "More Shoes" and it was written by Lee Kazimir. In it, Kazimir takes some advice from his favorite film maker literally and walks on foot 5,000 miles from Madrid to Kiev. He encounters many different people and experiences along the way. And at the end, he realizes that it wasn't the movie he was making that was the most important. It was the relationships he built and the small wonders he saw.
As I watched it, I saw a lot of myself and my time in Japan in it. Lately I've been feeling stressed as my departure date gets closer; I'm busy worrying about cancelling this and paying for that and training my replacement and oh-my-gosh-am-I-really-ready-for-this-did-I-get-myself-in-too-deep.
But seeing Kazimir discover the kindness of complete strangers and the beauty in the little things reminded me of my love for Japan.
It made me thankful, not stressed, to go back.

If you get the chance, watch "More Shoes." You might be inspired to go on an adventure.