Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Living on the Edge! ... of boredom

I am at a loss for what to write about lately. I have settled into a routine and there hasn`t been anything superexciting to write home about! So, the only thing I can think to write about is this routine that I have settled into!

My alarm goes off at 6:30 and each day it is darker and darker outside (no daylight savings time) and surprisingly, I usually pounce out of bed to get ready for the day. Sometimes I start a load of laundry and I always turn on my shower to give it a good ten minutes to warm up. In the meantime, I turn on my new TV to watch “Good Morning, America” and start up my computer, which thanks to some sort of glitch can sometimes take a couple of tries. I check to see if I have any emails, resist reading them until breakfast, and hop in the shower. After a nice long shower, I finish getting ready and begin breakfast, which has become a sort of art for me. It takes six minutes to make toast in my oven/microwave/toaster contraption and the bread needs to be flipped at the three minute mark. In the meantime, I am packing my bag, making chocolate milk or tea, ironing my clothes for the day, and timing everything just right. Once my toast is ready, I can sit and watch TV and read all of the emails that you lovely people send me.

At 8:00 when Sesame Street begins on TV, I start my ten minute walk to school. On the way down the stairs, I look out at the ocean each day and think, “Wow. I`m in Japan” and then continue on my way. There are beautiful flowers that line the path on the way and I see the same construction people each morning. Once I get to school, I stamp in with my inkan (seal thing that is used for documents instead of signatures) and sort out my desk, saying “Ohayo gozaimasu” to everyone and anyone who walks near me. (Translation: Good morning) At 8:30, the morning teacher`s meeting begins with the piped in music that is used instead of bells. There aren`t enough chairs for me to actually sit where the meeting is, so mercifully I am spared from having to actually listen and can sit on my computer reading the news and checking everyone`s blogs. After the meeting, I sometimes go to my assigned homeroom class and take attendance. I can finally whip through the names with the best of them. In Japan, teachers move to the class, not vice versa. So my homeroom will stay in that same classroom all day and teachers come to them. All teachers have desks together in a communal teacher`s room. There are ten minute passing periods, yet it always seems that the teachers are still standing around when the second chime goes off, thus arriving late for almost every class.

Anyways, after homeroom, I sit at my desk waiting for my two classes that I will probably have that day. Sometimes I do some lesson planning, although I usually get too far ahead of myself. Recently, I did the Japanese language course sent to us through the JET Programme in about one day. It`s supposed to take four weeks. I have also been studying for the GRE and, of course, doing sudoku puzzles to fill the time. I also schedule in bathroom breaks to get a little bit of a stretch in. The vice-principals sitting across from me and watching my every move probably think I have a kidney issue. Mornings are long, especially because lunch doesn`t begin until about 1:15, so I am constantly trying to resist all of the candy and cookies that are always around my desk. Everyone eats lunch in the teacher`s room at big long tables. There aren`t assigned seats and we don`t have to eat a school-provided lunch. We order ours from a sort of fastfood/takeout place and I`m already getting a bit tired of the selection. If I decide to bring my own lunch, I am assaulted with numerous questions about my kiwi, sandwich, yogurt, etc. “Do you like yogurt? Do you eat it every day? Is that enough for you? Oh, healthy.” Sometimes it`s easier just to eat what they`re consuming.

The afternoon usually goes by much quicker since there are only two class periods before the end of the day. The rice at lunch always makes me sleepy, although I have yet to actually fall asleep at my desk. At 3:45 students arrive to “clean” the area, but I`ve never really seen any hardcore cleaning done. Usually they stand around me to talk and beg for candy. Most teachers will stay at school until at least 7 in the evening to show that they are dedicated and hardworking. Not me! At exactly 4:15 I am out the door and walking to the gym. I spend the next hour and a half sweating and moving my legs after a long day at a desk. I used to go later in the evening, but I think I mentioned that there is a crazy lady at the gym who is blatantly using me for English lessons. Well, it`s gotten a bit extreme with her wanting to meet every week and also wanting me to “teach English” to all of her friends too. So, I have successfully avoided her for the last two weeks. It does feel a bit Mission:Impossible some days!

My legs barely make it home after my 7 ks on the treadmill, especially because I have to walk uphill and then climb some stairs. Sometimes, I have to run to the supermarket which is absolutely packed at 6:00 in the evening because Japanese folk tend to shop for their meal on the day of because refrigerators are shockingly small. And this grocery store is tiny and cramped. I usually take out at least three children who are running wild through the aisles and without fail get stuck behind numerous old folks jamming the path. And every time I check out, I have a student there looking to see what I`m buying. “Yogurt, bread, milk. Sugoi.” Once I get home, I get my shower warmed up and start my computer/TV/dinner stuff and prepare for a relaxing evening. There`s usually some crime drama on the TV in the evening and plenty of time to journal, email, and read. And blog. I have no excuse for my lame entries!

And then at about 10:00 another day in Japan is done and I crawl (literally…it`s just a piece of foam on the floor) into my “bed” and listen to dogs barking for about 10 minutes before falling asleep with all of the windows and sliding door wide open. And then – “second verse, same as the first!”

So, yes. No matter where you live, life always becomes routine and monotonous. It cannot be escaped. But there are enough surreal moments here in Okinawa to keep me on my toes.


laura said...

An hour and a half at the gym! You're my hero!

Here is a fun GRE place to play:

Carly said...

Gee. Reminds me of living in Guild. See, if you got up early enough (like I did), you'd be the first on in the bathroom and have to brush teeth, put in contacts etc while waiting for the shower to heat up :)

Anonymous said...

That's a very detailed synopsis. You remain as always healthy and strong. Cute too, even if this is your mother talking.

Regan said...

I love the detailed account!! Gives me such a better idea of what you really do. Good job at working out, now if I could only get up that early.

Rachel said...

Thank you, Laura! I will use those for sure!

And yes, Guild did allow for an amazing amount of multitasking. Those were the days.

Thanks for the comment, Mom. You should comment more often! It's liberating, right?!

And now everyone knows I'm overpaid and essentially do nothing! Secret shattered!