Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chutney Is a Funny Word...

It's a weird time of year. It's Spring Break currently - spring being characterised by sudden Flurries of Snow and Lots of Dead Grass, but it's my first one in the northern hemisphere, so maybe this is what it's supposed to be like? ANyway, the rinks of snow that had taken the place of the roads for the last 5 months have begun to melt away, and the remaining piles of ice on the curbs are blackened and old and look ready to depart for cooler climes. I note that today is New Zealand's daylight savings weekend, meaning that ya'll are now only three hours further into the future than I (I'll catch you yet, friends mine), and anticipating drops in temperatures, and I must start to consider what the hell I'll do with my wardrobe when tights become once more defunct.

The changing weather is not the only confusing part - when I go back to school in a week, it will be to a whole new school year and hundreds of unfamiliar faces. Some of my favourite teachers have departed, along with some favourite students, and I will be embarking upon a whole new school schedule which may or may not include - horror - actual work. The last few months have been slow, to say the least, with the wind-down, and exams, and the departure of the third years, and I'm only just beginning to appreciate how good I had it. There was exam marking, sure, but most of days were taken up with marking time, interspersed with movie watching (all six of my first year classes watched the movie UP as part of their final lessons with me (I'm REALLY hard working) so I watched it 6 times in one week (the first half four times in one day), and I cried every time) and sports days.

Sports Day in Japan = not comparable with Sports Day in NZ. As I recall, at my high school, it was only compulsory to enter one track event and one field event in order to have completed all Sports Day Requirements and so I spent the majority of this day sitting on my arse, in the grass, eating a sausage and wearing fairy wings, because nothing says Serious Athlete like a Tinkerbell costume, and the one time I actually took it upon myself to go over and above the TWO compulsory events, I partook in a three-legged race, and there's a reason THAT's not an Olympic event, and when your wings get entangled... well. Exhausting.

This was Serious Business. With the possible exception of this most excellent dude:

The language barrier makes my life a Better Place.

They competed as classes in sports including badminton, basketball, table tennis and dodgeball - it still being more or less Antarctica here, everyday, every sport was one that could be played inside. It was Intense. They wore Matching T-Shirts and Expressions of Intensity. All these kids are phenomenally fit and driven and amazing and I spotted not one single pair of fairy wings.


Not something one ordinarily equates with the humble Japanese, but I saw much of it. Except, here, when one kid knocks another kid over, and knocked over kid loses his glasses, kid who knocked him over picks up the gasses, wipes them off on his t-shirt, and puts them back on his face, while the remaining members of both teams kindly pause and wait until the unfairness has been rectified and play can resume.

Sports Day in Japan = also NOT JUST ONE DAY. I don't know why this surprises me. They do everything more hardcore than everywhere else. Kids are all always at school by 8, and linger on in the hallways long after I make my exit at 4. They're on holiday now, but when I made a cursory trip to school last week to tidy my desk, half the kids were there, running laps around the school or blowing enthusiastically into various instruments. Sports Day at Kaisei lasted three full days, which is my generalized concept of Hell, but which seemed to make them happy.

After Sport's Day came the leaving ceremony, where all departing teachers said their goodbyes and people cried and played guitars and there were flowers and people standing in very straight lines and I was really quite sad because among the leaving was this gentleman:

The poor gentleman, put in charge of me upon arrival, has called my landlord for me, and filled in forms for me, and woken me up on the one occasion I slept through the bell, and boiled the water for my myriad cups of coffee and lent me terrible books and once called me "fashionable" (which in Japan-speak means, "Fairy wings are not appropriate school-room attire") and generally made life easier and will be sorely missed.

In four months time, the JET changeover will kick in, and my new school schedule will commence, which will involve my spending only three days of my week at Kaisei (two at another high school), and so I will be given a whole new schedule, which seems like arbitrary and weird timing, but which I'm sure is explained away in my employment contract which I Haven't Read and What Kind of A Law Student Am I Anyway and Why Am I Eating Chutney Out of a Jar with a Spoon?

Tonight is Ladies Night, which means we are going to drink to much and sing romantic songs to each other and yes, it's a Sunday, but if people down (up? gah) in this hemisphere can decide to change over the school year in April, as if that's a sensible period on the calendar in which to do so, and call the period in between school years Spring Break when it's clearly The Depths of Winter Still then I Can Drink On A Sunday If I Want To and, dammit, I'm bringing my fairy wings.

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