Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Yesterday, I did not drink coffee

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t, too. Let’s talk about yesterday, Wednesday, September 1st.

I woke up extra early because it was going to be Opening Ceremony Day at school, which meant some kind of official assembly in the gym at which I was to read my introduction speech while a student read a translation line by line. For such an occasion, I had to class it up.

So I made my hair look extra nice, and put on nicer clothes than usual (since the day I wore just shorts and a t-shirt because I participated in Judo, I’ve kept to a fairly casual style). I checked my email while I ate breakfast, and received one upsetting missive that happened to get my kind of flustered. I got my stuff together, and got ready to head out to the bus stop. As I was getting ready to go, I thought, oh yeah, I should also take my new water bottle I just bought yesterday!

So I got the water filter pitcher out of the fridge and filled the bottle, which I set on the counter. Then I thought, I should also refill this pitcher, before I put it back in the fridge. Then I turned. Knocking the full, wide-mouthed, uncapped water bottle onto the floor, and sloshing the open pitcher all over myself. Ef.

So I grabbed the little towels hanging around the kitchen area, but it was quite clear that was not going to be enough. I got my bath towel too and began sopping up the freezing water, trying to decide whether the amount of water on my clothes merited changing. I opened the front window just in time to see the bus roll by, and I even saw my compatriot Ryan on board looking in the direction of my house.

It’s a good thing there’s another bus in 20 minutes, I thought grimly as I finished cleaning up. The 7:43 bus is the one the BOE showed me to take my first day, but I started taking the one at 7:23 because it gets me to school at about 7:50, instead of 8:10. At 8am every morning there is a teacher’s meeting in the staff room. It’s over at about 8:10, and I like to be there, despite being unable to understand more than 4% of what is said. So far.

So I got my stuff, got out the door, and took the later bus. As the bus trundled along, meeting more traffic than I am used to, it dawned on me that I knew the following things about the assembly:

1. It was to be that day.

2. I was to give a speech.

3. My speech was in the morning.

At this point, I have no idea what time anything starts, nor when I am supposed to actually be delivering words to the gathered students. The traffic is bad, maybe because it is the first real day of school (maybe because it is later in the morning), and the area where the road goes closest to the river is still one lane, and will be for a while yet. When I hear the high-schoolers behind me asking each other what time it is, I begin to get nervous. To make matters even more awesome, I am still obsessing about that email.

I decided to be a good employee and phone it in. I called my contact JTE and told him where I was, and that I was on the later bus. He didn’t seem concerned at all, and told me my speech wasn’t until about 9. Ah. I can relax. I try to focus on my school and the day ahead.

Things went okay for most of the rest of the day. I’d been excited for a while about the day’s special teachers’ lunch, which was a huge and classy bento setup. I took off my watch because a little metal piece on it is liable to catch on things and I didn’t want to hurt the ribbons or embroidery on the skirt I was wearing. When I later tried to pick it up, it fell apart in my hand. When I tried to shove the pieces back together by force, it cut me under my index fingernail.

I managed a reply to the email. I started a powerpoint presentation version of my self-intro, which was a convenient excuse to go through my photos, both on facebook and in my Italy folders. I dwadled on gchat and was generally unproductive.

On the bus home, the side of my leg itched for no apparent reason, and with no apparent insect bite. I considered the possibility that it was just a skin reaction to stress, because I’ve had random itching on my leg before when the going got tough. Sort of.. bumps form, but it’s not really red-toned.

“Maybe you have bedbugs,” Ryan suggested.

Shut the hell up, Ryan.


Once I got home, I took steps to make up the day’s series of events. I went for a jog, which was really nice. The breeze was like silk, as cheesy as that is, and so were my running shorts (possibly because they may have been part of the load I accidentally washed with two kinds of fabric softener instead of detergent and fabric softener—hey, I can’t read, okay?!). I ended up finding a bamboo forest area where I mistook a water gulch for a path and sat and listened to the peculiar sound of wind through bamboo forest. Same leaf-sounds, whole new kind of “clunk” here and there.

I put some rice on and took a bath in my square tub, then made a semblance of stuffed mini bell peppers (I had cooked some beef and onions on a previous night and stowed them for this) and settled in to watch Pirates of the Caribbean III, since I had seen I on Saturday (inspired, of course, by the middle school band), and II on Sunday (I skipped Monday because that is Japanese language class night). And so was my evening relaxing and good.


  1. those bumps are hereditary- "nerve bumps" is the official diagnosis. Several of your aunts suffer from them, mostly on the hands. Plus, your dad was known as "Itchy Brother" in his youth.
    I take it the speech was well recieved?

  2. You poor baby - I was guffawing in my chair when I read the 4% of the language comment. Only because when I spent a year in Holland, the girl who taught me my job didn't speak English, and the first week I understood about 10% of what she said (I had a leg up on you!) But believe me, that whole immersion thing is true - within a couple of weeks, the language will begin to flow over you and after a couple of months - you won't even find yourself translating anymore! I knew I was well immersed when I actually dreamed in Dutch!! You go girl - it can only get better!!!
    P.S. Chinese proverb say screw on cap before add water to picher!!
    Love you!
    Maria Porquita Chiquita Gonzalez
    or in Paris Marie E'claire Gateau de Frommage Chocolat