Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Work, Work, Work

A lot has happened in the past few...whatever. I don't even remember the last time I wrote a blog.

  • Although my work hours are officially from 8:00am to 4:00pm, I've been staying at least an hour later pretty much everyday. Today I had five classes and only one period in the middle on the day to plan and prepare for other classes. Last week was actually worse, because immediately after my last class I had yet another "English conversation" session with a first grader's mom. Thankfully, my former English supervisor from my previous school had cancelled practice with the Rock Band club, so I didn't need to leave right after that, and just stayed at work to...work.
  • Speaking of the Rock Band Club, this past Saturday I performed as their vocalist. That's because they don't have a rock vocalist, and before I transferred I said I'd help them with their performance. The best part of that was that I didn't tell anyone at my current school that I would be there, so the students who came were puzzled about why I showed up, and with students from a different school. They were shocked once I got on stage. Personally I think I did a terrible job singing, but hopefully no one noticed. At least I remembered the lyrics. :)
  • You'd think that, as a fourth year ALT, I'd be spending LESS time on lesson plans. Nope. I recently took a series of online TEFL courses to learn about my job, and actually learned a lot. I've been striving to become a better teacher and design better lesson plans, without it becoming some kind of crazy experiment. And following a recent English teaching conference, I've become inspired to really...know what I'm doing. I want to take my work more seriously. I'm not even sure if I want to continue teaching, but while I'm still in this field, I might as well develop the skills.
  • My grandfather--the only grandfather I got to know in my life--passed away three weeks ago. I didn't get to see him while I visited in August, but I did talk to him on the phone while I was there, and I remember his last words to me: "You know I'm really proud of you. I love you." There was just a tiny thought in the back of my mind telling me that it may be the last time I talk to him, so even though he couldn't see it, I put on my biggest smile and said, "I love you too, Grandpa." His passing led to me taking bereavement leave, which meant that I couldn't teach the students for nearly two weeks.
  • My priorities changed when I came back. I had to finish my online class, redesign previous lesson plans, and take care of other business. Cosplay was at the forefront of my mind, and now I haven't even been able to touch anything cosplay-related. I probably don't have time to order a particular costume that I wanted to get by the time I go to Korea this winter. Oh yeah, I'm going to Korea this winter.
  • Nearly every weekend since October has involved SOMETHING to do. I've been so busy that I actually have been trying to find time to NOT do anything. This weekend I'll be going to a BIGBANG concert with a friend, and then meeting with another friend on Sunday. The next weekend is the school marathon, which means yet another Saturday killed. At least I get Monday off. Meh.
  • My efforts to "do nothing" have involved playing Fire Emblem: Awakening. That game is so good that it's drawn me away from playing Dynasty Warriors AND the new Phoenix Wright for the 3DS. Seeing as those are my two favorite game franchises, you know that means a lot.
  • People still find my YouTube videos, and write comments about them. I'm done making new ones though. I'm finished. Sorry. :( It's just not gonna happen. I'm too busy living life to talk about it. If my occupation was video blogger/journalist, I'd have plenty more videos. But I'm just too fidgety to sit and talk to a camera, and THEN edit those videos myself. Writing has always been my preferred means of documentation.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I've been doing lately.

Cosplay stuff. Waiting for a chance to go to the city and shop for some cosplay supplies, and also waiting for a few things to come in the mail.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Year 3: Complete.

My third year of JET is complete. It was a good year overall--not without its low points, but great nonetheless.

I accomplished quite a few things:

  • Finished my first year teaching at one large elementary school.
  • Got a chance to socialize and hang out more with friends.
  • Completed (well, almost) two costumes for this year's Otakon.
  • Befriended a Japanese person and conversation partner.

About that last one. He quickly became a close friend. I'm not even sure how. We're the same age, we like the same Japanese band, we can joke with each other, he loves learning English, and he encourages me to practice Japanese. I remember words and phrases so much more easily because of him. He also takes interest in everything about me--modeling, cosplay, the music I like, my family and friends back home. I introduced him to one of my favorite fashion brands, Vivienne Westwood. He wasn't familiar with it before but immediately took a liking to the colors and styles. I gave him a Vivienne Westwood coin purse I happened to already have that also happened to be his favorite color.
Needless to say, I took a romantic interest in him. Though I do have Japanese friends here, he's the first that I've really felt close to. That glass wall that I always felt existed between me and Japanese people wasn't there when I started talking to him. I feel comfortable talking to him and joking with him, playing Dynasty Warriors (my favorite game) and I'm even fine when I lose to him in Tetris (anyone who knows me knows that I hate losing). He's like a best friend to me and I've been happier since we started conversation practice a few weeks ago.

Too bad he's taken. Curses, foiled again.

It's hard living as an introverted, single woman in a foreign country. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't lonely and depressed sometimes. I'm watching my friends on Facebook as they all get boyfriends and girlfriends, or get married, or have children. Well, the children I can do without...but I'd love a chance at companionship.

So I'll grab a drink, sit on my couch, listen to my favorite music, and work on my cosplay. And I'll continue to tell myself that, the reason I'm still single is because God is preparing someone incredibly and unimaginably awesome for me...

In the meantime, here's to a (hopefully) more fortunate 4th year of JET. 乾杯...Cheers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blogging Your Frustrations as a Teacher

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing something just short of an internal meltdown concerning an issue I was having with students at the school where I currently teach English. I was so angry about it that I wrote out an explosive Facebook status about it, coming pretty close to outright insulting them.

My former high school Japanese teacher saw it and sent me a private message warning me about what I post on Facebook, and suggested that I find someone to talk to privately about it. I felt guilty about making my post public and deleted it soon after.

In an age where sharing feelings openly through social media is normal, sometimes it's easy to forget that there ARE consequences. Anyone who knows the story of Natalie Munroe knows this. It doesn't matter how you feel or who sympathizes with you--you can still get fired if the authorities call for it.

Despite being a usually quiet person, I can be very outspoken and have often let out my frustrations in an honest, yet understated way. (The truth is that I can often be much more harsh than I sound, which sounds pretty harsh to some people already.) So being a teacher of English to over 700 children, I'm not going to lie and say my job is without problems. But there is a line that I cannot cross, should I choose to recount a story.

The two most important rules are to 1) don't give names, and 2) don't reveal the name of the school. Sure, I live in Japan and blog in English, but that doesn't mean that I'm immune from being discovered. More and more Japanese people--and even high school and middle school students--are learning English. And they may very well discover you over the internet if they look hard enough.

Another important rule is to simply not be outright insulting. I totally sympathize with you if you have a bunch of jerk kids in a class. I know the feeling. But instead of calling them jerks and a failure to society with no redeeming qualities--even if you honestly believe it to be true--just express your own frustration and difficulty with handling the situation. And if you absolutely must be brutally honest, don't leave your name, or your initials, and definitely not your photo on your blog, like Ms. Munroe did. Instead, tell a close friend, or keep it in a private journal. You might actually end up feeling better after doing so, to the point where you don't think it's necessary to reveal your thoughts publicly.

And while this isn't directly blog-related, do remember that a few jerks in that class means exactly that--a FEW. This is something I forget a lot. When a group of students cause problems, it's easy to use the phrase "bad class," even if there are some good kids in that class, and even when MOST of the class is good and the "bad" group is only made up of 5 or 6 kids. So before you make that Facebook status about how much you can't stand "that class," remind yourself that it's not everyone.

Blogging is one of the many things that teachers have to be careful about. You can argue "Freedom of speech!" all you want, but that doesn't mean that everyone has to accept what you have to say, especially the ones that have the power to fire you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quick Update

Modeling: Recently did some Self-Photography. You can see the latest pics on my Facebook Page.

YouTube: I'm on a video hiatus as of right now. I don't really have time to sit down and talk, and/or I just don't feel like it. I do have ideas, but making and editing videos takes more time than I want it to.

Cosplay: This is what I'm currently working on. My next two costumes are Kasumi and Sailor Star Fighter. I'm pretty focused on getting these done by the end of June so I can spend July getting ready to visit home for the summer as well as doing other things.

So that's what's up. My Facebook Page is updated more often than my blog, so be sure to "Like" that page if you haven't already!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013: Year of the Concert

Last year, I only went to two concerts: L'Arc~en~Ciel's concert at Universal Studios Japan (both days) and "DECEMBER'S CHILDREN" in late last December. The latter one was pretty lame, not because of the performers but because of the crowd. It was the most pathetic, unenthusiastic crowd I'd ever seen. Sorry, Ling Tosite Sigure, your music is really good but your fans sucked. MUCC's fans are so much better ;)

There were a lot of concerts I could've gone to, but didn't just because my weekends were so busy--Bonnie Pink has a concert in Osaka, MUCC also had one...so this year I decided that I would go to as many concerts as I could.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Source: last.fm[/caption]

On March 9th, I'm going to try out exist†trace for the first time. They're Japan's most famous all-female visual kei band, and the only one on a major record label, as far as I know. I actually only liked a few of their pre-major songs, and their recent music is pretty mediocre, but I'm willing to give them a try, as well as to observe their fanbase. Is it mostly female? Do guys listen to them? Is there girl-on-girl fanservice? Are they decent live performers?

I'm also planning a short trip to Tokyo at the end of March to see Bonnie Pink with New Japan Philharmonic (March 30th), and MUCC at NHK Hall for the conclusion of their Shangri-La tour (March 31st). The two couldn't be more different, right? Originally I had planned for the 29th and 30th, but as I expected, there's going to be a going-away party on the 29th for any teachers that will be leaving at the end of the school year. Fortunately, both are 2-day concert events, so I just shifted my plans over by one day. I've yet to buy tickets because MUCC's go on sale this Saturday--once I confirm a ticket for that one, I'll get a ticket for Bonnie Pink's. This is will be my first Bonnie Pink event, and...I've seen MUCC play at least 5 times.

[caption id="attachment_1207" align="aligncenter" width="630"]Bonnie Pink & MUCC Bonnie Pink on March 30th, MUCC on the 31st.[/caption]

A few days ago, a friend invited me to see Korean rapper G-Dragon on April 27th. I'm actually not sure whether I can go, since I just found out that there's supposed to be a school event that Saturday (because Saturday school events never fail to ruin my plans). If I can manage to get out of it, or at least leave early, I should be able to make it.

Another plan that might be derailed is Bonnie Pink's fan club concert on May 25th in Osaka, because...Saturday school events never fail to ruin my life. Out of nowhere, my current school, who usually holds their sports festivals in September, have for some reason moved up next year's event to May. May 25th, to be precise.

I don't mind sports festivals. I usually don't have to do any real work and I get Monday off. Fair enough. But for the past two years, sports festivals have kept me from going to Tokyo to see the Tokyo Game Show (which for the past few years has been held in September, instead of October when I first went in 2008), as well as keeping me from L'Arc~en~Ciel's 20th L'Anniversary Live (thank goodness they did a tour later that year), as well as their last World Tour concert in Tokyo (thank goodness I was able to go to USJ). So I've decided that I hate sports festivals, because I believe they are designed to rockblock me. (See what I did there? Haha...ehh.)

So once again, if I can manage to get out of sports festival (I've already had to go to last year's in September...do I really have to go again?), then perhaps I'll be able to attend Bonnie's fan club concert.

I should probably stop planning concert attendances from there, as I still have a cosplay to work on and money to save. But that doesn't mean I won't try to see T.M.Revolution in Kobe on July 13th.

[caption id="attachment_1208" align="aligncenter" width="354"] Anyone who knows T.M.Revolution knows that he LOVES androgynous outfits and crossdressing. Yup, that's a man, but I'm sure you could tell.[/caption]

Friday, February 15, 2013

Online Dating...ugh.

An exchange of words with a friend got me to revive my two dead online dating profiles. I was somewhat reluctant to revive them, and I don't expect anything from them either...I'm already getting the flood of messages and "Interests" from guys who aren't compatible and/or outside of my age range.

The curiosity of dating a Japanese guy still lingers, but I'm not nearly interested as I once was. I've made up my mind that it's not going to happen. I think it would've been an interesting experience, but meh. That's really all I can say.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stomachaches at Work - Part 2

(Click here for Part 1)

Soon after, the nurse came back and gave me a thermometer and told me to take my temperature as she went to get a plastic bowl in case I needed to throw up again. The thermometer read 34.9℃, but being used to Fahrenheit, I didn't know if that was low or high. I tried to remember the formula to convert it...the temperature multiplied by 9/5...but I couldn't remember what was after that.* So I waited for the nurse to come back so I could tell her, and she exclaimed, "That's low!" She asked if I needed to go to the hospital, and that the principal and vice principal said it was okay if I did. I refused though, since I knew I didn't have a fever and I wasn't throwing up anymore. I just wanted to go home and rest.

I continued to lay there, but my stomachache still felt uncomfortable. I knew then that laying down was actually not helping my stomachache at all. After the bell marking the end of 6th period rang, I got up and told the nurse that I needed to go to the bathroom.
To put it bluntly, I felt constipated. Sounds like an embarrassing issue, but it happens to everyone, right? No big deal. I sat there, feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom, but nothing was happening. My stomach still hurt, and these episodes of sharp pain happened about three times before something happened. As I sat there, my legs were shaking and my face felt extremely cold, as if all the blood had drained from it. After previously learning about how digestion works (it can take up to 24 hours for food you eat to pass through your body), I knew it wasn't the school lunch that made me sick; I narrowed it down to the biggest meal I had before that, which was the curry rice I had for dinner Sunday evening. I ate it pretty fast, and before that I had scarfed down a bag of 7 small raisin bread rolls that I bought that morning. It was just too much for my stomach to take.

After about 20 or so minutes in the bathroom, I managed to go back to the staff room and prepare to go home. I told the homeroom teacher whose class I was teaching that there was no way I could ride my bike back home, so another teacher offered to take me home and pick me up the next morning if I was feeling better. I took her up on her offer, and while in the car she asked how I was feeling, the timeline of when everything was happening, and she commended me on trying to teach even when I wasn't feeling well but that I shouldn't overdo it.

After getting home, I went to the bathroom again and then went to bed. I couldn't fall asleep very easily, so I messed around on the computer and checked for the symptoms I had, and then tried to go to sleep under my warm electric blankets. I woke up about two hours later, feeling hungry but not sure what was okay to eat, or if it was even okay to eat at all. I felt dehydrated after vomiting though, so I drank some Aquarius (sports drink) and then made some miso soup and tofu. I was sorely disappointed that the freshly cooked rice I had in my rice cooker was going to have to sit there, and that the cream stew I planned to cook that evening would have to wait, as I didn't get to bring home the carton of milk from school that I needed. All of my after-work plans were postponed--I couldn't go to the post office to mail a package, I couldn't go to the ATM, I couldn't go to the BOE to sign my re-contracting form...everything had to be put on hold.

I decided to just take it easy and play Star Ocean: The Last Hope until about 10:30pm, which is the time I felt it was best to go to sleep. I normally go to bed around 11:30 and get up between 7:00 and 7:30. But the teacher who took me home said she'd call around 7:30 the next morning to see if I could go to work, so just in case I had to wake up earlier than usual.

I wasn't sure if I still wasn't feeling well or if I was hungry, but I needed to eat something if I was going to go to work, so I had half of an apple and a slice of bread. I also took two packs of dried seaweed to snack on if I needed to.

And so now I'm at work. Half of me is wondering if I should have stayed home. Hopefully I made the right choice. The principal said that I could go home early if I'm still not feeling well, so I might do that.

*The formula to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit is (temperature in ℃) x 9/5 + 32. So my temperature was approx. 94.9℃, which definitely isn't a fever.

Stomachaches at Work - Part 1

I wasn't at all prepared for what would happen yesterday.

As far as I was aware, it was a Monday like any other. It's certainly not my favorite day of the week--not necessarily because it's Monday, but because it's the day that I teach the 6th graders. They're in that "We're too good for English" phase which makes teaching them a little more challenging. Even though they enjoy the games, I feel like most of them haven't warmed up to me compared to the younger kids.

So today I wanted to be a little more energetic. Sure, they might've thought that I was weirder than they already think I am, but I didn't care. Anything that would make them be more alert and responsive.

The first three classes went well. The kids had fun and I was glad. By the end of my third class--which was after lunch--I wasn't feeling very good.

I occasionally have stomach problems at work, after lunchtime. It would be a sharp pain in my stomach, and I'd end up in the bathroom for at least 10 minutes, if my class schedule allowed. I tried to counter it by eating more slowly, chewing my food more, and occasionally skipping the carton of milk that's served to us every single day (because I thought it may be related to lactose intolerance).

After I started doing that, the stomachaches occurred less frequently. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes it didn't.

And then there was yesterday. It was a normal school Japanese school lunch, not one that I hadn't eaten before: white rice, steamed broccoli and crab meat, and a stew of beef, konyaku, quail eggs, and other things (I know it sounds strange, but it really is a typical menu here).

I noticed discomfort almost immediately after I finished eating, but I figured that the pain would go away if I just focused on class. But near the end of 5th period, my stomach was hurting, and as soon as we finished I left and dashed to the staff room to put my stuff down before rushing to the bathroom.

I could only stay in there for 10 minutes though, because I had my last class for 6th period. Once again, I told myself that if I just ignored my stomach pain, maybe it'll go away.

It didn't.

We weren't even halfway through the class when I started feeling really hot, as if I had a fever. My face felt weak but I tried as best as I could to hide it. I rushed our pronunciation practice, told them to practice on their own, and then told their teacher that I wasn't feeling well. She rushed me out of the room and I ran to the nearby sink and leaned over it because I knew what was coming--I threw up.

Despite that, I wanted to continue class, but I knew the teacher wouldn't let me even if I asked. I went to the health room, told the nurse what happened, and she led me to a bed and told me to lay down. As I lay there, I wondered what that 6th grade class must've been thinking, and what their teacher might have told them to do. I felt bad that they couldn't play the game I had planned for them. I was blaming myself for causing such a burden, and blaming myself for these continuous stomach problems.

(Click here for Part 2)