We had another enkai, work party, last night, and it was great. The venue happened to be a restaurant very close to where I live, so I grabbed my umbrella and made my way through the wet windy night. Walking or biking is always a great option, because the legal driving limit in Japan is zero. If you want to drink at all, you have to have arrangements.
I almost got seated next to Cutie-sensei, but wasn't; that was okay because I sat across from both the principal and the VP. I had a nice long conversation with the principal, for which the VP acted as translator. The principal ("Epic-sensei".. for his hair) has this habit of asking me questions about my life habits. Things like, "Did you eat breakfast this morning?" and the like.. I was sort of confused by it all, although it did seem to stem from a genuine feeling of goodwill and a desire to make sure I was doing alright.
Whenever someone walks by my desk and can see my computer screen, I always feel a little guilty when it's something clearly not work-related that I'm doing. Checking email, using gchat, etc... I don't feel abashed enough to close the window or try to hide anything, but I feel a little awkward. Occasionally when the principal walks by, he'll try to look at what I'm doing. He actually did this Wednesday, and since I had all of ONE classes Wednesday, and that one was the one-on-one special needs kid, and it had been first period, I was naturally on gchat.
As he walked away he asked me if I was doing something "difficult." Or tough or.. I don't know. Something taxing, basically. I said no (although it was a pretty intense conversation! ^_^), confused, until they pointed out that I was hunching my shoulders, a sign of stress. Honestly it was just me being haunt that he was cruising around my desk when I was doing anything but be productive (prepare lessons! make things for the bulletin boards! study Japanese!), but it took me by surprise that he seemed more concerned with my personal health or stress levels than my rainy-day work ethic.
But at enkai, he told me about his three daughters, and how one of them lives abroad in Korea, and that's why he always wants to make sure I'm doing okay, because he knows it can be very difficult to live far from your family in a different place and amidst a different culture. His daughter lives with her husband, so he imagines my situation to be different and more difficult, being spatially and culturally much farther, as well as on my own.
Other things I found out at enkai include that he is probably retiring at the end of this school year, and that I'm not the only one who suspects we're going to lose both Awesome-sensei and Kermit-sensei from our ranks. When VP told me this, I insisted that I didn't want it to be so. There are days when I don't like working with Kermit-sensei and Awesome-sensei, but on the whole, they're pretty good, and far better the devil you know. Plus the sentiment of good-feeling was all pervasive for me at this enkai. I liked looking around the table at the staff members I'd come to know at least somewhat over the last several months, feeling generally quite content and good about being there.
It might have been the three beers and a cocktail I consumed, haha. I told them I was part Irish and that's why I can drink "so much," but I really denied being strong to alcohol. I'm not, really.. they just think I am because I don't get the Asian flush.
Then it promptly ended, and I was walked home by Judo-coach-sensei, and I contemplated the meaning of being home at 9:30, kind of drunk, while the wind tried (and succeeded at) sneaking in through the mail slot in its howling.