Monday, October 25, 2010


I was doing four things at once, this one time, and I accidentally typed the word incorrectly. It’s a fun rendition of the word though, giving me the impression simultaneously of fish, hairstyles, and how busy one must really be in that moment, to not notice the typing error. It’s almost as good as “blasmephy.”

Every time I get snowed under with tasks---

Wait. Let us be perfectly clear about the nature of these tasks, because that’s important too.

Some of it is work. Of course. You gotta work, not just for the rent, but to feel useful in the world. Sometimes, there is more to do at work than other times. Or, maybe there’s just always a lot. Lesson plans and lesson delivery.

Some of it is housekeeping. Because you can’t just let your apartment go to shit while you try to do everything else there is. There’s always going to be clutter, laundry, piles of papers, vacuuming, dust, stickiness, maybe even mold. There may even be the way you aren’t quite satisfied with the furniture arrangement.

Some of it is the event schedule. All the events vary in their demands and fun levels.. some of them are strictly pretty much work. But some things you gotta do, and you gotta do them now while you have the shot at them. So basically, anything that is Japan-only, I should take in before I don’t live here anymore. Also, getting around Japan takes about 50% more time than you think it will. Just sayin.

Some of it is socializing. Because all work and no play makes your life sad and alone. Here (no, actually, for me, anywhere I’d be) it’s twofold… one side is keeping in touch with people around me in the local or semi-immediate area. My fellow JETs, the events there are around involving them, just spending time unwinding with them. The other side is keeping in touch with the important people in my life who are far away. Writing letters and using skype.

Some of it is self-improvement and maintenance. That’s why you take karate class, or study Japanese (or all eight). Because it’s good for you, and sometimes you like it, and it’s rewarding.

All of these things are important. All of these things take time and energy. And every time I get snowed under with tasks of my own creation, I think to myself, man, it sure would be nice if my life were simple and I only had one job to do. I nostalgically project a future time when this will be the case.

Yeah, you can laugh. I do, too. Because I know very well there will never be a time like that. I will never have just one job, will never eliminate any of those categories, really. because it will never be enough for me “just” to be a really great [insert title here]. I’ll still be organizing charity bike trips on the side. For the rest of my life.

To be fair, some things change, and others change back. When I lived with a roommate, I would sometimes find myself thinking, this will be a lot easier when I live alone. And some things are. You basically are responsible for all the stuff you have, and you never have to wonder, what the hell am I supposed to (allowed to) do with this object/food/mess of my roommate’s making?

But of course some things are less awesome. If everything is yours, then everything is your responsibility too. No one is going to wash the dishes. No one is going to complain if you don’t, but really. No one is going to do anything around that place but you. Nothing is going to change unless you actively do it yourself.

So sometimes I think, this will be easier when I have a more permanently settled place to live. And in some ways, yes, managing my stuff will be easier in a longer-held location. But in other ways, no. Because I won’t have the inevitable point in the future where I will get to abandon it all and start over. (But, dude, I won’t have to start over so damn frequently)

That goes for activities, too. On the one hand, I will be less pressed to do everything at once just because there is very limited time for me to do it in. But on the other, I won’t be just quitting stuff because I’m going. I’ll have to quit stuff because I want to quit, and the people on whom I quit will know that’s why I quit.

It isn’t and never was about doing less, exactly (though most of the time, it is). It’s much more about finding the right balance. By the end of high school, I’d accumulated a schedule that was packed precariously just over budget. The stuff I did was all wedged in place like the stones of an archway, and I was only a little bit worn out, and I was only a little bit holding back in my activities (I didn’t try out for Oklahoma! and I didn’t decide to shoot for a black belt).

The advent of college and the clearing of all those activities was the act of jumping right from everything-I-could to nothing at all, so in a panic I filled my extracurricular time quick as I could. It was easier, since there was less of it (I did my homework very fastidiously).

When I first got to Japan, too, I had too much free time. My apartment was always clean and I was pretty on top of every little obligation (there weren’t very many of them). But I wasn’t really all that happy, either. I didn't scramble, this time, though. I know that arrival in a new place, in a new life, necessarily means that for the first span of time, you’ll have nothing to do. Then, for a while, you’ll have less to do than you maybe want to be doing. Of course one thing, then another, and the next thing you know, you’re over capacity.

The problematic pattern isn’t so much the tendency to want to do a lot. I will not always be caught up on my correspondence, and sometimes the laundry will pile up.

But every time I’ve moved to a new place, I’ve begun with nothing, and built too much. Generally this is not so much because I “cain’t say no,” but rather because I want to do everything. I see some event that needs a leader (like the prefecture bike ride) and think, well I could do that (and I can). And I enjoy it. I can say no.. I just frequently do not.

The problem is just, of course, sorting out priorities. Deciding which are most valuable, which are the most important, wedged as they all are between my work ethic, reputation, curiosity, ego, and sanity.

I’m going to have to quit something that doesn’t make the most-valuable list, is all.. not just do til I leave everything I’ve signed up for thus far.

And shove all the rest into my life wheresoever it may fit. Along with fish and bad haircuts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some days, I feel like my job is not real. This has a lot less to do with its temporary status than with what I am doing at that given moment.

Yesterday, I thought, what the hey, I'll ride my bicycle (which was at Big Elementary, having been left there post-Autumn-festival by me upon being offered a car ride home with another JET) to Small Elementary. It's not really all that far up the valley from my other schools.

It is, however, uphill all the way. I have a lot of leeway when it comes to what time I arrive at Small Elementary, because it's so out of the way, and regular buses don't go up that road. If I make the connections the way I am supposed to, I hit the schoolyard about the time first period is starting. If I'm lucky, they will have left first period free, and I can teach the other five after taking a minute to get my materials in order and have a cup of coffee.

If I'm not lucky, I have to hit the ground running and dash off to third or fifth grade; hopefully I have all the materials in hand, but if I am hoping to dig flashcards out of the textbook flashcard box, I end up feeling lame for running late to class. The kicker is, they generally don't warn me, so I don't know until I walk in and look at the schedule on the front board whether I get 40 minutes of chill time or if I am already late.

If I drive myself there, which is against the rules (but come ON.. on the occasions when they DO warn me that I have a first period class, I can't just show up late, knowing that some of my materials are buried in boxes in their office), I kind of feel chagrined for obviously flouting the rules set down for me. If I get there at 8:20 instead of 8:35, I am clearly disobedient.

Anyway, there I was, red-faced and sweating in the cool October air, pushing my bike up the hill after whatever point I gave up trying to pedal. I couldn't help but enjoy the quaint view of persimmon trees and rice fields, wildflowers and lovely houses along the way. It was basically like taking a stroll when the other teachers are having their morning meeting. Kind of weird. Or awesome. Unprofessional? Maybe childish. But also special.

The weather yesterday resolved itself into perfection just in time for morning recess, so I ignored my physically demanding schedule and went outside to play. During my planning period, I took a walk up the hill behind the school and found the path to the little shrine at which I'm always staring when I use the stairwell. It's kind of like being in your own little world, but taking breaks from that to teach a bunch of classes. Or else, being in teaching world, but taking frequent forays out into something else.

Either way, it doesn't feel like a real job, days like that.

Today, Wednesday, which has rapidly become my get-shit-accomplished day (I generally have one or no classes on Wednesday... every other day I have four to six), my VP reminded me that these reports for CLAIR are due tomorrow. I made a halfhearted attempt to tell him that the reports are optional, and then sat down to do them in true I-went-to-college-and-can-bust-out-reports-like-whoa form. I'm at my desk, makin' outlines and mapping ideas and I feel like this is a lot more like what real office people do. Meaning, I feel like my job is "real." I've got a whole list of things to do. It sort of brings out the businessperson in me, though, and I don't dislike it.

I think the low pressure of yesterday would, were it every day, eventually cause me to explode. While the high pressure of today would, were it every day, eventually cause me to implode.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Silver-Lined Week: Shikoku, roads and rafting

The second half of the silvery week was piggybacked onto the AJET white-water-rafting trip in the Oboke Canyon. This event was just Saturday and Sunday, but since Thursday was a holiday, some of us decided it would be excellent to take Friday off and create a four-day-weekend. Some of us managed to do this without using any actual nenkyuu (allotted vacation time) because they might have had to work on a day they were supposed to be off. Yes I was proud of that engineering of schedule.

We drove to Shikoku through Okayama, like this:

View Larger Map

I was the only driver, and the rainy trek to Takamatsu was not really a big deal. The tolls were lighter than our 30-year-old map book led us to expect (6450 to cross the bridge?!), and the udon was pretty delicious, yes. It was September 23rd, and the first official day of fall. Since we'd spent the previous weekend wearing shorts and sweating through our tank tops, we were surprised to find the air a bit chilly, and wished we'd brought jeans.

The rain dampened our ambitions to explore Takamatsu's offerings at first, but as it let up we did manage to get to Ritsurin Koen, one of the largest garden parks of its kind. We missed out on the Shikoku Mura museum, and only caught the sunset from the 84th of the 88 temple pilgrimage, Yashima-ji.

We made our way back to the city below, re-found our hotel (which was conveniently located just across from the station... except that we were driving), and sought out some awesome yakiniku dinner. We crashed fairly early and hoped the following day would be clear.

It was! Armed with my driving skillz and my expert navigator Lester, we headed south for the Iya valley, home of the vine bridges, our next target. The more touristed (and accessible by bus or train) west Iya valley had some vine bridges, yeah, but WE had a CAR and damned if we weren't going to see the less accessible but more-awesome sounding east side of the valley. We picked out the most direct-looking route on the map and headed east.

Do me a favor and look at how squiggly this line actually is (zoom a bit maybe):

View Larger Map

...Yeah. Turns out, this treacherous mountain pass road winds and switchbacks up and up a mountain (at the top of which we took lovely photos). It was unbelievable and took forever. Then when it was time to go back down, the road became a loosely assembled collection of potholes. When we finally, finally reached east Iya and picked up a tourist map, it labeled our path as "National route but treacherous; recommend prefectural route." We laughed at that, but it was seriously the worst road I have ever seen. My little kei-SUV held her own, though, and we didn't even need 4-wheel drive!

The vine bridges of east Iya were awesome and scary, and I encourage you to look at those photos (link forthcoming). We pulled on our warmer clothes as it had clouded up.. in my case, the only pair of sweatpants I brought, and the only light jacket I brought, both of which would see much more action than I had anticipated. Seriously, I thought Shikoku was to the south of my town.

On the drive back, while we made for the prefectural route, I was startled/creeped out by what I thought was a person, which turned out to be a mannequin. Suddenly, we were surrounded by them, and Lester cried, "Pull over!" We had pulled over many a time during the trip so far, to admire a waterfall, to examine an oddity, or to let another car use the road. In a surreal and otherwise deserted-looking area, we mingled with puppet-people. I bought a couple mugs from the table in the center of this strange artist's haven, and we went on our way.

Adina and I were signed up to stay at the guest house associated with the rafting company to which we would be patrons the following day. Our fellow JET group members were coming in that night in a couple of rental vans; it would be very late and they would be sleeping in those vans overnight. Adina and I agreed that this was a hideous idea and were glad not to be part of it.

The photos for this weekend from my own camera are here. We also got our hands on the waterproof camera photos, which can be found here. (Yeah, still too lazy to post them one by one.. treat yourself to a slideshow moment and enjoy them en masse?)

What follows is my writeup of the JET event for the Hyogo Times:

Kicking It in the Canyons

It was my first AJET Shikoku raft trip, and I had an absolute blast. My traveling companion and I decided to take Friday off and make an extra-long four-day weekend of it, so I can’t speak to the transportation experience of the other riverbound JETs. But the three of us north Hyogonians spent Friday night at the Happy Guest House, an affiliate of Happy Raft, where we cooked ourselves breakfast-for-dinner and enjoyed the company of some Germans (who assured us we were in for a real, albeit chilly, treat) and some adventure guides employed by Happy Raft.

Saturday morning, dressed in the only-pairs-of-long-pants-we-brought (we didn’t anticipate the immediacy of fall in such a southerly place as Shikoku), we met up with the rest of the Hyogo group (there were thirteen of us in total) who had apparently slept in the vans which had carried them to Shikoku. Saturday was our full day raft tour, so we sipped on the provided tea and then suited up in our provided wetsuits, helmets, and lifejackets. One raft seats six to eight people or so, and we were sharing the river with several other Happy Raft groups, as well as some boats from other companies. The rafting guides were from all over the world, but there was a predominance of Japanese, Australian, and New Zealander guides. It was a lot of fun to talk normal speed (and often curse-word-laden) English in the visible middle of nowhere Japan.

The bus trundled us downriver to the load-in point. The guides explained that this late in the season, the water level is far below what it is in July, and while this makes some of the rapids more technical and less “fun,” it also reveals some awesome rock formations usually covered by the water. In any season, though, the waters of the Yoshino river are an astonishing clear-green; I could have spent all afternoon just taking in the scenery.

But that would never do! The wind was strong and actually managed to push us upriver if we remained inactive, so there was paddling to be done. In calm areas, we went swimming, tried boat stunts under direction by our adventure guide, or attempted to pull other JETs out of their boats.

Lunch was an all-you-can-eat bagel buffet, after which the sky unfortunately clouded over and left us all shivering in our various soggy forms of footwear. Some more paddling warmed us up, though, and by the end we were climbing the cliff face to jump into the river. Some JETs may or may not have faceplanted off the highest possible jumping rock. My own jump was only like 12 meters or so, which I assure you was Scary As Shit.

That afternoon, we all bus-napped back to Happy Raft for some tea, snacks, and slideshow before setting out more or less en masse to find an onsen to clean and warm us up. From there, we drove to that night’s accommodations, which surprised me both by being on some ridiculous mountain roads barely accessible to even my kei-SUV, let alone the buses we later saw, and by being perhaps the most kick-ass place I have ever stayed.

Due to some misunderstandings, the owner of the beautiful log cabin had expected us the night before. We drove up the narrow, winding switchbacks and joked about how this place better be worth it, and on our arrival, we were presented with plates and plates of meat (from the meat cows) and vegetables for our grilling, and half a wheel of homemade gouda cheese. There was fresh milk in the fridge for the morning, too (from the milk cows). And a flatscreen TV, and a karoke machine; beer cost extra, but we were just glad she had some, because we were NOT going back down that mountain to get it. The lodge slept the 12 of us comfortably, and because of its layout, is better suited to groups of about that size.

Day two was the half-day canyoning excursion in the Musasabi canyon. I had never been canyoning and did not even know what “canyoning” was. Canyoning, it turns out, is awesomeness distilled to a crystal clear purity. We suited up in extra layers of wetsuits (against the chill) and scrambled down over the rocks to begin treating the waterfalls as waterslides. We jumped, slid, and ziplined our way through part of a gorge few people get to see. More rocks, and trees, and moss, and of course, ridiculously awesome waterfalls and crystal-tinted water.

Canyoning is sort of a one-person-at-a-time thing, so the groups for this are much smaller than for rafting. Our JETs had to split between the morning and the afternoon canyon trips to fit into the other bookings with Happy Raft.

I definitely want to go again, perhaps with more careful planning, and maybe in the higher summer when it’s warmer and the waters are high. Happy Raft gets a thumbs up from this happy camper.

After lunch with our canyon group, Adina and I hit the road home, thoroughly worn out and happy to have gone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I’m looking at my calendar and I can’t really believe my eyes again. It looks like a second silver-lined week is headed my way, and I didn’t even realize it.

Well, kinda. The first silver-lined week was September 18th to 26th, wherein we had a 3-day-weekend, followed by a two-day work week, and then I had myself a four-day weekend right after that (I created this by taking Friday off, but Thursday was a holiday).

This coming weekend is another 3-day lovely, then there’s good ol’ Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I’m off to Tokyo for the conference, which is work, but it’s not at all like work.

I’m still under the weather, pretty as the weather has been. The dollar dropped some MORE against the yen and I sent home all my extra cash.

That’s about all for now. Shikoku stuff is almost ready to be posted. Then I can get back to observing life in this my little trainless town. Hopefully you’ll get to hear about speech contest and taking walks real soon!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Silver-Lined Week part one: Forest Therapy

A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend passed along an article with the caption “not sure Emily’s into traditional Japan”.. just for future reference, I am always into ancient stuff. The older, the better. Old buildings? Sweet! RUINS? Absolutely.

Just today, another friend sent me this Smithsonian article about the same place!

Anyway, the first article was about some well-preserved little towns somewhere in Japan, which still looked more or less like they had in the Edo period hundreds of years ago. They are outposts along the old Nakasendou, or inland highway that led between Tokyo (then called Edo, a’ course) and Kyoto. People used to have to walk this route to get between the two major cities.

Little towns like Magome-juku and Tsumago-juku were places for travelers to rest, eat, wash up, find a place to crash, and nowadays, purchase souvenirs. The Kiso Valley boasts some of the best preserved of these little post towns, as well as some pretty nature sights and mountain views. Kiso is located in the Central Japan Alps, sort of north-east of Nagoya.

Upon reading this article, in which the author walks the trail from Magome to Tsumago and stays the night in each, I of course wanted to visit this place. I spent most of the last year kind of going along with other people’s weekend trips because I didn’t really have plans of my own, but finally I decided to plan a venture out on our three-day-weekend. We decided it would be a roadtrip, because out in the middle of nowhere mountains, trains are more scarce, and bus schedules can be harsh mistresses. The guidebooks said that a car would be the “most flexible” mode of transport. It’s actually much cheaper, too, if you get more people in the car to share the gas and tolls.

We got caught in some pretty merciless traffic right outside of Kyoto (go figure.. and if you remember, last year in Kyoto at this time was more crowded than Nami-san ever remembered seeing it!) which slowed our roll tremendously as we pushed toward our destination. I had hoped we would take our walk from Magome to Tsumago on Saturday just after arriving from the drive.

Instead, we pulled off at the first sight within the area that seemed to hold any promise. We followed a little road snaking along beside the Atera gorge, where the rocks were large and white, and the river a crystal blue. We wanted to make the most of daylight, while we had it.

Not content to simply feast on the view, of course, we were soon scrambling into the canyon to clamber over rocks and dip our fingers into the holy-looking water.

Further up the gorge, we found a path to a waterfall we’d seen from the road, so we ambled on down to explore and enjoy the scenery.

By the time we got back on the road, the light was basically gone, and it was about 6pm. I’d tried to book us accommodations in Tsumago or Magome, but everywhere seemed either full or 7,500 yen (including dinner). Then, there was a youth hostel in Kiso-Fukushima that only cost 3,000; I figured we weren’t going to have a $40 dinner, so I booked that one.

It turned out to be incredibly difficult to find, so after enlisting the help of some forest park (?) workers in the dark, we finally found our way to the hostel. The inside was lovely and sprawling and all four of us agreed that the place really “had character.” It reminded me of Centro Due (The Villa Vergiliana) in that it was beautiful and there was farmland all around.. it felt oldschool and homelike while simultaneously rustic and inn-like.

We also felt like we had the run of the place, since we only saw a few other travelers in the common rooms and corridors. We played cards and went to sleep, hoping to be fresh for morning explorations.

Our first stop in the morning was the Nezame-no-toko, a gorge much greater in size than the Atera. It was very pretty, and a lot of fun to climb on, but it lacked the subtle beauty of the more or less deserted Atera from the day before. We underestimated the impressiveness of the Nezame-no-toko from afar, so we were quite pleased once we got down to it.

From there we went on to Magome to start our hike. We managed to park for free, grabbed a noodle lunch (mine was zaru soba, yum!), and hit the trail. The walk itself was really nice, not too strenuous, but still a good challenge. We rang the bear bells set up along the way and labeled “Ring the bell hard against bears.” Some of the uphill portions were a bit daunting.

We reached Tsumago a bit tired, and after the departure of the last bus back to Magome. We knew this was a real possibility and were prepared to take a cab (it was only a couple hundred yen more per person to do that) for our return trip. Ah, the joys of traveling in groups.

Tsumago was very nice, though I’d read too much about how enchanting it was to really appreciate it in its tourist-crawling state. Although one could imagine oneself back in old Japan, it would take a great force of imagination at that time of day.

We returned to our car to finish our evening in Nagoya.

Nagoya traffic surprised us (though it shouldn’t have, perhaps), though we did like the look of the city. Nagoya’s roads are wide and the city lacked Osaka’s tendency to bear over on a person. I’ve heard that clubbing in Nagoya is a lot of fun, but we were pretty exhausted, so we just ate some curry and crashed in our Toyoko Inn.

The next morning we toured Nagoya castle and ate at a Denny’s (which wasn’t serving breakfast – argh!), and got back on the long road home.

Kiso Photos, because I was too lazy to pick out just a few and pepper them into the post.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Create Monsters.

You might have seen this coming a mile off. Or, at least I did. I've got a sore throat.

Which is, of course, often a precursor to something like a cold.

I'd blame the change of season, if it were to blame.

But I'm young and spry, and I almost never get sick without having pushed myself too far outside my ability to function. The monster, this time, is my schedule again. You might recognize it from its predecessor, My College Schedule, which made for an impressive resume but also left me a bit unstrung from time to time.

I'm still working on putting together the blog posts from my last two (long) weekends; it takes a lot of time to get all the photos going, really.

Autumn came right on schedule. I mean on September 23rd, the temperature plummeted. If you look at photos from Kiso (September 18th weekend) you will see us in shorts; it was hot. On the 23rd, down in Shikoku (which is a decent distance to the south), I at least found myself wishing I'd brought more than just my single pair of afterthought-sweatpants.

But it's not just weekends out that'll be kicking in. It's the workaday week, too. I am back to four-to-six classes a day (except Wednesday, on which day I magically expect to catch up on all deskwork.. including planning my next trip and recapping the last one), and I'm still re-adjusting to that workload.

My problem is not new to me. I've always wanted to do/see/try everything. And I've always been too easy to rope into things, too. It may seem like I've only added Shorinji Kempo to my life, which is just one night a week, but actually there is a lot going on.

Autumn is a beautiful season in Japan, and so I want to spend as much time as I can out enjoying it, whether that is traveling to other cities and exercising my inner tourist or taking walks and exploring, observing the more local seasonal change. Also, autumn means that winter is coming. Winter in Japan blows in general, but apparently this year is due to be super-suck harsh (La Nina or something... efff), so my hope is to escape at least for a little while into warmer climes like Thailand or Malaysia. All of which will require planning, sooner rather than later if I want to spend less than 1.5 fortunes on it.

I was totally slacking off on my Hyogo Times duties, so I've tried to get back in the swing of actually doing my editing job. I'm also writing for the HT more than I was before (but not, of course, more than I ought to be.. I want to continue to contribute writing to the HT). What? You didn't know I was the second-editor of the prefectural monthly newspaper for JETs? Come on, of course I am.

I like writing, and I want to keep this blog up regularly. I also want to keep reading the stuff I profess to read on my blogroll (confession: have not read any of that stuff for like three weeks, serious). I was recently given the key to the Impetuous Windmills blog (I guess since I was such a master of highbrow in that podcast ^_~) but of course I have not yet produced any content for that. I also was hoping to write a short story for a writing group I sort of faux joined a while back which never seemed to be meeting on a day when I was free.....

Lots of things interest me. Another is psychology; I'm a pretty good listener. So I signed up as a volunteer for the AJET Peer Support Group back in the summer. Now I'm trained, although they have invited me to a Prefectural Advisor conference in Tokyo in a couple weeks, and of course I'm going. I only man the phone lines for this once or twice a month, though it's an overnight affair.

And I really do want to improve my Japanese. It's not bad, right now, passable. I've been trying to stay on top of solidifying my kanji (still right there at 508 kanji, and since classes started.. a lot less desk time to sit there and write kanji words to learn) so I can, you know, read. I go to Japanese class on Wednesday nights (it includes dinner, so this is a lot less stressful than Tues or Thurs which require me to somehow make dinner before going wherever). Today was the last day to apply for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I looked over the application and decided to let it go.

And there's still ikebana, and my adult class (which is getting better but has been a big stressor, as I want to do a Good Job, and have never been sure quite how to go about that, with this). Both Thursday night. Thursdays are still 5th and 6th grade at big elementary, which are still kind of a bear.

Fridays are four classes, but more relaxed because it's just the same thing four times (all third-years/9th graders)... Mondays are first and second years, so I do two of each (it's tougher to switch because you have to switch materials as well as mindsets).

Tuesdays are six classes if I am at big elementary, five at small. It's a long day, and I like to shock my fellow JETs with those numbers, because almost no one else works that much, and especially not with any regularity. I'm not complaining, really, because I would much rather feel like I am working and accomplishing something than sit around. Part of the problem with the JET program is that schools don't know how to use their ALTs, but I'm pretty sure my school(s) have figured it out. I know I don't really have any place to complain, both because compared to what some people do (and what most people in Japan do), I don't work that hard; also the rest of my beastly schedule is, as you see, of my own creation.

In my spare time, I've been doing things like, you know, dishes, or laundry, and reading before bed and on the bus.

But I went for a walk today in Seino, which is a little hamlet by the river about halfway home from work. It was nice to just take in the smells of autumn and say hello to the old people who seemed totally shocked to have a gaijin-san (yeah they actually called me that to my face ^_^;;) wandering through.

Then, because it was Friday night, I de-disgusting-ed the bathroom full force. Holla.

Keep looking forward to the Kiso and Shikoku posts. They were kickass weekends and I hope to do justice by them.

I have recently considered a career in travel planning/travel writing. I mean, if someone would pay me to do that... well hell.

It bothers me, because I want to do a lot of things. But I also want to do whatever I do very well. And the more things you do, the less you can devote to each thing. It's just mathematics. It's just how many hours in a day, and how many weeks in a season.