Monday, August 27, 2012

PMS / Travel

Dude I was PMS-ing hard.core. yesterday.  I was trying to find people to talk to so I could bitch about stuff.  I wanted to pull somebody's hair and then tell them they were fat.  I wanted to walk out of work, I was so mad about sitting on my butt for 5 hours with no tasks but for those I assign myself.  I think I feel like telling you this because it serves as some kind of confession and atonement.

I recognized the self destructive qualities of my hopes and dreams of bitching, fighting, and deserting my post of English speaking glory, and I mostly succeeded in sparing myself the consequences of my cranky mood.  My super-awesome friend showed me patience and understanding, and cheered me up.

Today I feel sooo much better, partly cause I did two rounds of Spartacus before school today.  Feeling like a fat ass is about the surest-fire way to put me in a Negative Nancy state of mind.  Haven't been able to shake that since I was 8.  

I have sushi plans tonight, AND it's 10% off Tuesday at Sushi Meijin: Yay. I have an attention deficit right now.  I've been prescribed meditation to strengthen my focus.  I can look at my To-do list on my way out of work, and forget 1 of 3 things on my way home.  Last night I forgot to look at my list, so I forgot the stuff that I was supposed to bring to school today.  When I remember to do something, I do it as fast as I can so I don't forget to do it later.  And if I remember to do two things, I write the other one down next to me so I don't forget about it while I'm doing the first thing.  Sigh. 

I'm going to Korea!!  I haven't left the country of Japan.  Ever.  It's true.  I left America 6 or 7 times, if you count international waters and Canada, but I have never left Japan.  But I will!  We have a long weekend coming up and I'm planning to spend a few days in Korea.  I hope it's cool.  I'm sure it will be.

And I just want to take this moment, for no good reason, to say I never want to go to China... except it would be really cool to see that field of stone guys.     

But I do want to go to every continent.  Yes, Antarctica is a continent and I want to go there.  And yeah I want to go to Egypt and South Africa, but I also want to go to real Africa (I know, how ignorant), like Zimbabwe.  Do I have any middle school friends reading this blog?  ZIMBABWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  And Russia, for ballet and architecture, and Europe anywhereIdon'tcare, but I want to see gardens and castles, and the Galapagos Islands, and Machu picchu, and of course Argentina with Natalia.  Australia.  I wanna fight a kangaroo.  Just kidding I just want to ride in the pouch.  

Sushi in 40 minutes.  Bye bye.

From Japan,


Monday, August 20, 2012

My Child

Last night I lay next to Knox.  He had spent the previous 5 nights at Peter's house.  (Knox was just 2 and we were living in Japan when we decided to separate.)  On the 5th night I missed Knox so much, I thought about going over there and crawling into his futon with him.  Instead that night I went to sleep in my own bed, but last night I watched him sleep.  I really didn't want to close my eyes, cause then I wouldn't be looking at his sweet, radiant face.  One's own children truly are angels... when they're sleeping.  Ha!  

I watched him sleeping; watched him breathing.  I kissed him just gently and infrequently enough so that he wouldn't wake up.  And that Aerosmith song came to mind, cause the lyrics were my thoughts:

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
Cause I'd miss you babe
And I don't want to miss a thing...

No matter how I feel, I can look at him, my baby, my Knox, and fill my heart to overflowing... what is that when you look into a person's eyes and experience so much?  No words, no actions, just BEing.  Maybe it's that a greater portion of the temporal falls out of focus.  Maybe the eyes really are the windows to the soul, and the soul is whole, whereas nothing else is. 

I am puzzled though by the ache... am I alone in this?  I love him so much my heart aches.  Yes, he is important to me, and I miss him when he is away, and I always love him, but it's more than that...  he fills my heart to breaking.

I think I can't say it enough because it's so hard for me to understand:  Having a child is the most difficult and most rewarding thing I could ever have done; ever will do.

I didn't even think I wanted children.  I looked at this world and thought that I didn't want to expose a child to the pain.  I didn't want a child for any of those terrible things to happen to.  I knew that there were many children without parents that I could love instead of creating another one.  I didn't give it credit before, but also linguering in my thoughts was the love and beauty that we get to experience alongside the hurt.

I used to waste hours... days... wondering how to best fill my hours, wondering how to live a fulfilling life, wondering if I would, even if I gave my life to them, ever achieve my goals.  I read books and books and pondered.  These are worthy thoughts, but I think too much.  I would worry myself and despair.  Then I was inspired by a friend to think about having a child, and I knew that it was healthy for a woman to have a child before 30.  And I got pregnant easily.  First month.

And that was the last point in my life that I had time to worry about what I would do with my hours!!  Oh, I'm laughing, cause it's so true and because although parents complain about not having time, the demands of a child answered all of my questions and filled all of my empty places.  What a turn!  What a change!  Like they say, give God the best comedy by making plans.  Before I went to college I thought I would become independently wealthy, maybe get married around 35, and then probably adopt 2 or 3 children. And yet here I am.  I got married at 23, never got wealthy, had a baby, and changed my mind about most of my goals.  The world is such a different place out of these mother's eyes.  It's even more vast in its ephemeral beauty.

I stand in the dark, looking at my boy, wanting to stay where I can love at him, and feel the aching love he ignites in me.  He's so big.  Knox, sleeping, sprawled out and causing me surprise because he takes up so much of the bed.  But he's still so little, too.  His little leg with the big bug bite.  His little hand in mine.  He loves frozen blueberries.  I love that he loves blueberries.  He doesn't really like McDonald's or pizza, which I don't understand, but I'm glad for less things to say no to.  He LOVES ice cream, as I did as a kid.  He is coordinated and funny, and smart... he has a few books almost memorized, just like I did when I was little.  His biggest word is Carcharodontosaurus.  He is emotional and sensitive and gets angry a lot.  When he has been a terror and a stubborn brick of a little boy, I have tried to be gentle, and tried the methods I have read about for loving discipline, and I have been schooled.  My stubborn, angry little man is standing there and I take him to our calm down/talking spot and he expects to be disciplined or yelled at or maybe even spanked, and instead I ask him to give me a hug and snuggle with me, so we can calm down and talk about it... and he crumbles in my arms.  I wouldn't have known if I hadn't tried this.  He needs my love and understanding when he is feeling so sad and angry.  Maybe I think it's stupid for him to be angry about having to leave what he is doing so he can come eat dinner, but HE doesn't think it's stupid.  There is a time for tough love, but for us, that is not every day.  I'm no expert, but I know what my heart tells me.  When he uncrosses his arms and accepts my outstretched arms and I take him into a hug, I feel how alone he felt, and my heart grows ten sizes knowing that I removed that feeling of separation and healed him with gentleness.  I will spare the rod all day to see my child's anger and loneliness melt into my affection.  I lose my temper, get frustrated beyond measure, yell, and use my strength, too, against my own will and better judgment.  I do not want a spoiled child and I do not intend to raise a spoiled child.  But, I do intend to raise a child who knows there is more power in love than there is in pain.

These days feel uncertain to me.  I'm a future oriented person, as much as I try to focus on the present.  I have given my perception of time so much thought and study, but the truth of me is that the future is in my bones.  I live temporarily in a foreign country, I have a growing boy, and my personal circumstances have changed so drastically in the past 3 years... I do not feel settled about the future.  I have many questions.  But, luckily it is also in my nature to know that it will all work out, whether I worry about it or not.  

What I know is that Knox will be with me.  My Kocho Sensei -that's my Principal- started to ask me what my goals after Japan entail, then she stopped and answered the question herself with, "Well, of course, your child is your dream."  Although I would have started to talk about law school or something, she is right.  I do have ambitions, but all of it will come second to him.  I used to think I had to go to a certain law school, but now I'd just go wherever I am.  Thankfully, my reckless ambition has been tamed by the years.  The less important things have fallen away, like they do when I look in his pure blue eyes.   

From Japan,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hofu High School Day 1

OK people, it's a new day.  I'm at a new school.

When I walked in yesterday, I thought it looked... less homey than my school.  Everything is cement, as opposed to Nishi where you see a lot of warm wood when you first walk in.  Not that Hofu doesn't have a welcoming feeling about it, cause it does.  Actually, everyone has been so friendly and helpful so far that I feel very comfortable.  Of course, I am comparing everything at Hofu to Oita Nishi.  The kitchen here is a little dingy; not really a place where I want to hang out.  But the copy room is attached to the staff room, which means I don't have to leave the air conditioned area to use it, and the supplies are nicely laid out and stocked well.  At Nishi you can find anything you need, but you've gotta kinda go on a search for it.  Also, and you may not understand this, but Hofu has an awesome array of chalk colors, which makes me really happy.  

My desk is more spacious, and I have this adorable little lap top... it might be 13in, but do they have 10in?  This might be 10in, and it's so cute.  It's so interesting to see how differently another person keeps their desk... when a JET takes over an ALT position, they inherit the desk of the previous ALT, usually over flowing with crap that you either leave there for eternity, or figure out how to throw away in the complicated system of Japanese recycling.  Seriously, so many JETs don't throw stuff away because they simply don't know how.  I, however, can't stand the clutter.  It takes a little effort and asking questions, but these 50 books in Japanese that I'll never look at if I work here for years just have to go.  Peace out, books n crap.  It's funny though, cause I'm not all that tidy of a person, in my opinion.  I mean, for the most part I try to keep things first, clean, and second, picked up, but pretty much all of my spaces are an absolute mess as we speak.  But I have good reasons... I just changed cars, so I haven't had a chance to organize all the crap that I willy-nilly threw from my former car into my new car.  I just changed schools, so I have messes of papers and books and things to be organized, taken to school, gotten rid of, etc.  My purse is a place that I allow to be a mess, and it is, and that's ok.  On occasion I do what I call "The Dump," where I find a space of open floor and I pour out all the contents of my purse.  I throw lots of stuff away, organize the rest, and it goes back in until entropy again makes the dump necessary.  It's amazing the quantity of stuff that fits into a woman's little purse, and if she has a big purse watch out, there may be animals and small children in there.

Anyway, back to Hofu:  Here are some examples of strange things left to me in my desk:  There's a little magnetic cactus that holds paper clips, a tiny pan and spatula on a rope, sunflower seeds, and a hippopotamus that sharpens pencils.  I left my replacement some funny stuff too, although I really tried to clean up, including practically-love letters from girls to the male ALT that was at my school before me.  I found them amusing, and I thought my successor might also.  I'm chagrined to discover that the vending machines are more expensive here.  For some reason, one of my great joys during the day is taking a walk to the vending machines and picking out a tea or coffee, or the rare vitamin drink.  (Well, the reason is pretty obvious: It allows me a reason to get off my ass for a few minutes.)  I already spend too much money on bottled drinks, and now that expenditure will rise, and I'll know it's happening, but I'll never be able to see it.

I miss the ladies "take a rest" room.  I fear, really fear, that I may never take a nap during exam week again.  Where will I paint my nails?  Where will I stretch and do crunches?  Where will I cry?  Although, I've done a helluvalot less crying lately and I don't expect to need a cry spot from now on.  Yeah.  That's good.  But where can I take phone calls and laugh raucously with my friends in time zones that make it really hard to talk with them at other times?  There are a bunch of picnic tables outside of the teacher's room, and I feel that things are relaxed enough that I can go there, but perhaps need to cut my calls off a little sooner.  

...I just went to lunch.  On my way out, I asked the nice people in the office if there was an Oita bank close by.  Now, you simply cannot understand the genuine kindness and helpfulness of the Japanese-especially to a newcomer-unless you experience it for yourself.  My mom experienced it on the first night of her travels here, when a cab driver who mistook the address insisted that we pay nothing because he took us a few blocks out of the way.  I put 500 yen on the money tray in the middle of the car and he practically tackled me to give it back.  Today in the office, I got the Japanese treatment.  The direction to the bank consisted of one right turn, bank on left.  After a man drew me a map, writing everything in Japanese and English AND highlighting the way, I had to sort of fend off the lady trying to sit me down with a city atlas.  They are so nice.  While I was out I noticed that the neighborhood surrounding school isn't as cozy as I'm accustomed to.  I had a giant park and residential neighborhoods, and now I have a kind of industrial surrounding.  Instead of Lawson and 7/11 convenience stores, I have Family Mart, which by the way, I just realized the glory of this very day.  I started out a Lawson girl.  There's just something about it.  But I liked Everyone for its bakery and that's the only place I could find the slightly healthier (I intuit) yogurt coffee.  I liked 7/11 for its ATM and convenient distance from my school.  But Family Mart!  So many options!  Mint chocolates!  Dark chocolates!  Choco covered raisins!  A whole line of yummies by that company that makes those awesome brownies!  AND my yogurt coffee.  Like the special chalk colors, there's something about perusing a Japanese konbini that makes me happy.  I guess, just like us, there's something special about each different konbini.  ;-)

New JETs arrived yesterday and I met my new neighbor Mary.  I'm responsible for there now being 5 JETs living in the Jonan Danchi KR, rather than 4, for several reasons.  That I'm not gonna tell you.  But, I did want to say- Oita JETs, there are quite a few empty apartments where I live, and it's pretty awesome up in Jonan.  But getting back to Mary.  She cool.  She down.  I'm quite excited to have a new friend, so excited that I gabbed her ears off last night.  Both of them. She's most likely gonna join me and Knox for dinner tonight.  Good times.   

This is a long post.  And it's maybe boring.  Ahhhhh well.  I've been wanting to write to you from the den.  I'm just occupied in other rooms at the moment.  Like the big mirrored room in Oasis Tower where I took a musical theater workshop over the past 4 days.  That was really fun, and almost infected me with the stage bug.  Almost.  

Anyway, I'm tired and I've got some other stuff to do, even though I feel like I could double the length of this post, I won't torture you.  I hate to do this... but look out for an announcement in the coming weeks.  Or not.  Maybe there will cease to be an announcement due to red tape.  And no, I'm absolutely not pregnant.

On that note...

From Japan,