December:

SDC Conference: My impromptu speech. the crows over Mats castle, buying Young weekenders card, the foreigner. his japanese friend speaking good english. That night the enkai. everyone wanting to talk to me, to congratulate me. to thank me.

Sat Morning: Stopping by David’s to check location & phrases, knocking on his door. Coming in. Dust & dandruff on the coffee table.

running to the library to deposit old books before running to dress up as Santa.

Dressing up as Santa, visiting an Elementary school. That night, busing to Matsuyama. Listening to Susan Boyle. Meeting Kouichi at matsuyama station. Eating at Kouichis friends …restuarant. nabe fondue pots. basashimi, negitamago egg omelettes, beer, “31-san” his birthday, his mother. His young “wakai” mother.

That night, Sora to Mori. sitting in the heat room (looking egyptairan) guests laying on hot granite slabs. Sitting in the tub style onsen, sitting in the electrified water, it hurting my butt muscles in a good way, putting my head into it. Sitting in the tub onsen star gazing. Drinking fresh milk after onsen. Then locking my keys in the locker.

That night, sleeping at Kou’s one bedroom apartment.  because I was too late to meet Dylan.

The next day: the orpganage: Meeting the group: Kou & I showered in the cold water sinks in his dormatory-style bathrooms at his aparmtnet. “Shh., he had said walking up to his building that night.

The orphanage: the kids by the street. picking nose.

Today: teaching at minami the kids running for class president. “Good morning gozaimasu.” ringing the bell on my bicycle. walking with a girl through the cemetery, talking about Tylor Swift, singing “youre friends talk to my firned talk with me, but we are never ever ever getting back together.” Today, Mrs. Kiyama glint in her eye, a genuine, soft, rounded, turtly smile happy to see me. LAter, asking me if I would help her teach kids to sing “All I really Want for Christmas.” And We making a really good team. Mrs. Kiyama writing because I am slow to. the kids interviewing me. Excited and nervous, I switching on gentleman mode and shaking their hands and indicating for them to please have a seat. “Good-high, good-low, good-bye, good-tomorrow.” Santa dancing for the kids. Speaking in an elf voice. I-Heart & Kaho. Yamane, Okabe, Takahashi, …The girls: one girl bent over, holding hands: then flipping eachother over.

Evening: Stopping by Kita elementary. to drop off Charlie Brown, Narnia, LoTR. Seeing the ..man sensei. across from Mori sensei. He seeming to respect me alot. The kids studying English. “Obama-san.” wanting to write him a postcard, so I will. Then, I went to eat curry and wrote a letter to Chris.

Tonight teaching eikaiwa: the Christmas caroling lesson. Mykel teaching the kids a karaoke version of “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.” They took forever. Then I taught the older kids, “Believe,” by Josh Groban.

This tuesday I was really pissed off and fruststrated. A woman had hit my car the night before, though it didnt damage my tires too bad, biking home was nearly impossible in the snowy wind. I had to stop at a Honda repair shop to get my tire fixed. It took nearly an hour & half. I was so exhuasted. I had Christmas errands to run and Undoukai to teach that night, a half an hour early. I would have little chance to rest & re-couperate.

That night Undoukai turned out to be pretty fun. We taught “I can.” Mykel made a worksheet, I taught the kids how to play the leapfrog game. Mykel had the kids make make up animals, “what xan you do.” Taught animals and abilities.

We got dinner at Shokudou after. Me Mykel & David, we talked about things we would look forward to in America. “I probably wouldnt do anything I sachinko wasn’t coming.” Mykel said.

Monday and Tuesday I was late to school. I was frustrated and tired, having just snowboarded with Kouichi over the weekend as a goodbye. I slept little. “like a falling leaf,” Kouichi had told me of snowboarding technique. “Up down, up down.” Jamie had taught me about how my shoulder worlds to follow, my shoulder, a little of my hips. Kouichi racing near and by me doing tricks. Like a blue stitch pixie.

Monday was teaching the kids how to give directions with Mrs. Onishi. She was very excited. Our lesson went okay, bnut got slow and complicated. The kids needed a model to work from. A teacher demonstration. “All must move as phalanxes.” Or chaos insues. “Outside is a storm, there will be casualties. We march together if we wish to make it. Together.”

Tuesday was working with Mrs. Ginno.

Wendesday, yesterday was teaching with Mrs. Onishi again for two classes. Our game got better and better. Finally with Mrs. Koyama was the best class yet. I was allowed to be as goofy as I wanted to be. Singing “Last Christmas,” there were sometimes despite Mrs. Koyama’s niceness, I detected a bitter/frosty edge. Getting to get the studetns to make a speech is difficult. I think you have to warm them up to it. “Talk with your partner, “pair shitsumon.” “What will you do on your winter vacation?” Then have them come to the front & share. Calling it a speech is daunting.

Mrs. Kinoshita had to bitch out a student yesterday for calling another girl in the class…..”     ” slang for handicapped. This student and bald Ken-san had to get bitched out. I think Ken-san and this student, sly, weasley-looking, nice, but nervous, picked on her because they are senstitive to or feel an ugliness in themselves. They project it. Tsubasa san.

Last night, and the night before, i enjoyed watching a new Woddy Allen movie I happened to see. It was called “Sweet & Lowdown” abotu Ray, a legendary, rascally guitar player. I thought a lot of Ed Hopper’s maladly during this time.

LAst night I ran books to the library, then treated myself to Torikko karage, beer, & pizza as a goodbye. Monday night, I ate at the Niihama ramen shop to enjoy gyoza, ramen, & nama beer before I will return to America. The family proprieters were really happy to see me, and they and the owner of Torikko remembered me by name.

Relationships: speaking in English. I think thyer’e all a bit like having a period. They hurt the first time but overtime, the soreness becomes enjoyed, relaxed. Flexed out. A relationship. streched out like fruit leather.

Yesterday, after helping Ms. Koyama teach, for some reason she decided to start talking to me more. She sat next to me at my desk in the ni-nensei’s teacher room. We talked. “I think Japanese are more prepared she said. AMericans tend to be more “rough, crude.” She said when she went to Wisconsin with the kids this yea,r there was a misunderstanding with the man. She cried. The stress of the misunderstanding was great. Her English was not as good as she had thought.

I asked her how many years had she been teaching. She said three. I asked Mrs. Koyama, what was her first year teaching like. She said she used to worry a lot. My english is not so good. But now she doesn’t worry so much. And she is too busy to think about it. She asked me if I had small worries and I said sometimes I do, not as much anymore. For a time I worried am I being too goofy, or am I being too serious? What is the balance? And I wondered, how to help kids even when I can’t help them?

There was a Davinci-looking like book sitting on the shelf behind us. I asked her about it. She said its a book on how to think, not like philosophy, but that if we have a thought, we should write it in a notebook and let it sit, then come back to it. She said she enjoyed it very much.

I told her my friend Koucichi taught me how to snowboard, he said, “like a falling leaf.” ….It was very Japanese, a simple explanation. I came to understna dit. The impression. Mrs. Koyama got excited and began to ask me if snowboarding was so popular in America as it is in Japan. She said she was going to go to Hiroshima soon to snowboard.

Today I just had a conversation with an older woman, a Japanese teacher…about Virginia, Richmond, the sea, the mountains, the town. the wildlife. Chester, …conversations. “Speaking fire.” grass catching. Ideas. Niihama beach party. I lit, I made the fire from the palm fronds nearby even thought I was nervous to and assumed it wouldn’t work.

Why had Ms. Koyama decided yesterday she would talk to me? I had come to the Ni-nensei teachers room on a hunch that I should spend time there even though I feel most unsuccessful, or even a bit mocked there. Ms. Koyama and I’s relationship truned on its head. I understood her so much better now.

At the end of yesterdays lessons, Ms. Koyama & Onishi & I talked about Mrs. Ginno’s leapfrog game, which started out of a mistake when Ms. Koyama asked how “san-kumi’s class was. I thought maybe she was asking about “san-nen-sei,” knowing I had played the really goofy game with Mrs. Ginno sensei. I was jumping as much, or more excitedly than the students. As an ALT, I am an amplifier for their energy, for their excitement. I was playing Janken over the back of my head. I was jumping and so excitable, that Mrs. Ginno sensei was laughing at me so hard she had to look away from laughing so hard. The look in her eyes was one of adoration, like I was a son that had suddenly grown up and that she recognized as her own.

Mrs. Ginno, her face chicken scratched, but still beautiful i the Sophie kind of way, like from Howl’s Moving Castle. Her small body, plaid green. small-breasted. Mrs. Kinoshita a bit doe-eyed. Ginno says Kino is always a bit unorganized/scattered always running back, forgetting. Ms. Koyama is young like Dezie, apple-round cheeks like just coming from a tooth removal. and ..teeth.

Last week I was at Minami school teaching my Polar Express lessons and teaching the kids how to sing, “Last Christmas.” Ms. Miyamas look of admiration & love of me. Like a family coming. In the office, Ultraman.

Last night, a package of letters came form Mr. Uno’s class. on one of the packets was written. “Dear Jason, I really enjoyed teaching classes with you. …”

Last night I went to the Aeon. I printed 150$ worth of photos and Im proud of it. then I went to the library, dropped off “The Gentleman.” with Eddie Murphy. and the Polar Express. And I went to the Torikko.

Today I taught the kids about Kawahigashi schools’ website, about my own middle school, Carver’s website. It was really fun. They enjoyed it.

Monday I was late to KJHS because I washed clothes sunday night and ironed pants monday morning. I was late Tuesday because I woke up genkyi and snoozed my alarm until 7:40. I went to bed last night at 11:30. happy. thought 11. is best.

:Luxury is being cheap in one area so you can splurge in another. Always, what people deem ‘expensive’ says so much about them.”

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