But my new schedule has me writing things, sending emails, pretending to be an Australian host family and explaining what the word sanitary means ("Don't wee on your cheesecake"). It has me learning how to interact with teachers with different teaching styles; explaining grammar to student teachers who tremble when they look up into my face; and manipulating the Japanese love of all things small and shiny to encourage science nerds to develop a love for the English language. The latter is achieved through the simple means of stickers, preferably shaped like llamas. The conversation goes like this:
"What is your favourite subject, Ryotaro? Ryotaro? What kind of a name is Ryotaro? How does one pronounce the syllable "Ryo"? My tongue can't DO that! I'm an English teacher, goddamnit, not a porn star. I shall call you Jason. So, Jason, what's your favourite subject?"
"Wrong. Yuki, what's your fav... Yuki? Yuki? Doesn't "Yuki" mean "snow" in Japanese? Yes? It's spring! I don't want to talk about snow! I fucking hate snow! So... Jennifer. Team Jennifer! Why isn't she married? It couldn't possibly be because she has no desire to wed, everyone wants to be married, obviously. Marriage is what makes us women, don't you think Yu - Jennifer?Wouldn't it be great if she turned out to be gay? And if she and Ange ran away together and left Brad alone with the Baby UN and his scruffy scruffy beard? Yeah.... Yes, Jennifer, what's your favourite subject? "
"Wrong again! Aren't you kids supposed to be smart? I mean, I'm looking at you and you look smart. Don't they look smart, Mr Sato? Yeah, you look smart. So many pairs of glasses! Such earnest faces! Jason, why are you crying? Someone get Jason a tissue. You there. In the front. Daijiro. Daijiro? Are you KIdding me? That's just a collection of sounds! Might as well call you Uhqucknoop. Lol. LMAO. Rofl... No - John. John. A good, honest name. John, give Jason a tissue. Now tell me. What's your favourite subject?"
"$%&#!!!!11 Hurrah!!!!!! Here, John. Have a sticker. Have ten stickers! A llama for each finger! A herd of llamas... *Googles collective noun for llamas* ... Google tells me that is in fact a herd! How dull! But, you, John, you have a handful of llamas!... Look, Jason, if you don't stop that I'm going to rename you Judy. A little sexist humor for you there... Oh look I missed my "U". Look what you've done to me, all this Americanisation - remind me to have a conversation with you about sidewalks when you know more than four words in English... Powdered Sugar. Candy. Cotton candy. Monkey monkey underpants. What were we talking about, Mr Sato?"
(Very) Long story short: stickers = success. Also, your homework is to come up with a better collective noun for llamas. I feel like they deserve it. No one can EVER spell them. Double consonants UNITE.
The weather has shifted. I can feel it coming. I think I'm going to get 0.569 days of actual Spring and then Summer, like the pushy little bitch she is, is going to shove on through and thrust herself on top of me, dripping with humidity, heavy with heat. It's going to be... tactile. Anyway, I am trying not to spend too much time anticipating the sensation of breathing air filled with more water than most swimming pools, because I am caught up in the pure, un-sarcastic beauty of my first Northern Hemisphere Spring (I feel like capitalisation is getting away from me today):
The most famous image of a Japanese spring is, of course, the cherry blossoms. And, to their credit, their beauty has not been exaggerated. The trees themselves are a dark wood, almost black, with thin, crooked branches, and to see them wreathed in blossom and spray is to understand why winter might be worth it. The word most often used to the cherry blossom is "ephemeral", which sounds like something you might take for constipation (and I would know), and it's true: for a mere week, the streets of Sapporo were soft and sweet with blossom, and now, daily, I watch the petals drift.
I had a religious experience the other afternoon: Walking along along the streets of Motomachi listening to Katy Perry (K-k-k-k-kiss me) with the sun low and golden through the houses, I passed beneath a cherry tree at the same time as a sharp gust of wind swept through. I was showered with thousands of petals, in my hair, on my eyelids, caught on my clothes (This is transcendental / on another level). I was finding them in my bag for days afterwards. Moments like that, I believe in... Buddha (when in Rome).
I never picked myself as a nature lover (I don't think enjoying DKNY's Red Delicious really counts) but it turns out I am. My thumb might not be green, but my heart is a tulip. Or something. Buy me flowers, OK? Geez.
Anyway, I write this on a Wednesday with a belly full of sushi, the heater off for the first time in months. Father mine having just turned a saucy 60 years of age, I spent some time this evening Skyping he and his lady friend (also known as "Mum") (mine not his), convincing him that the stickers shaped liked bicycles that I sent him for his birthday were not intended to adorn his business suits. Incidentally, if you like me, but think sometimes I should put a fucking cork in it and/or write something of actual value to the human race, you might want to pop over to his blog. He writes with purpose and belief, rather than as a break between episodes of Gilmore Girls. Give it a try: http://joelcayford.blogspot.com/2011/04/blog-post.html
Right then. That's quite enough of that. I hope this blog finds you well, happy and satisfied. If you lack the latter, well, you can buy just about anything these days.