Rhinocerotidae execting child and not feeling chuffed about it either

Good morning my fellow lackeys of his Imperial Majesty. Being this is the Monday of the 12th of September 2005 I suppose I am now in control of the literary direction of this page for the next week.

Monday sneakily crept into my consciousness this morning, heavy, hot and grey. Like an angry pregnant Rhinoceros. The Rhino battered gently on the wall of my house, as gently as any expectant Rhino is able to accomplish, which is to say, not really very gently at all, especially as this Rhino tends to sound like all of my wonderful neighbors starting their cars and departing for work on the gravel outside the window behind which I rest my often weary head. I have considered moving my sleeping attire away from the window, however, a part of me suspects my neighbors will only just start their engines at a greater volume and drive away more aggressively.

However, this morning I was able to ward off this vicious, obscene denizen of the working week by setting off my flare of self righteousness. You see, yesterday, I attended the traditional outdoor enforcement of rigorous and painful group orientated activities that comprise the layout of a Sports Day Festival, or Undokai, at one of my Junior High Schools. This gave unto me a coveted day off this morning and that rarest and sweetest of gifts, the self righteous Monday morning sleep in. I set off the flare, placed my Qantas airways blindfold over my eyes and listened to the sound of the Rhinoceros bellowing angrily as she scampered away over the plains to give birth to her cumbersome workload upon some other poor teacher like a heaving mess of warm red meat. I drifted off to sleep, content. Did the Rhinoceros visit you this morning? It was my fault. I am not sorry.

This sleep in lasted only until about 9:30 when I peered out from behind my blindfold, surveyed my apartment and decided that the heaving garbage bags, the quite tastefully flung clothes, compact disks and the odd collection of dishes were distorting the perfect balance of my slumber like little demons that lurk on the edge of consciousness, poking at you with offensively dirty little forks. I arose, triumphant and manly, veritably shining with vigor, like a beam of hope for the nations, from my three extra hours of sleeping to be reminded of one very obvious physical reality.

Yesterday I fell into the trap of ‘It’s overcast so I don’t need to put any sunscreen on’. This was distinctly unwise and resulted in the band of nearly purple skin that runs around my neck like the kind of markings Amazonian poison frogs have to warn other animals of their toxin. I feel secure in the fact that if I choose to bask on some rock or leaf during the course of the day, the only creatures that will bother me will want to carefully rub their arrows over my skin to collect venom to kill monkeys with. Monkeys are today’s evil creature, so I am happy to oblige if anyone needs any neurotoxin. You will have to come to me though, because, horrible monkeys aside, it only took three minutes outdoors in the early morning heat, moving my heaving garbage bags and their dubiously potent contents, to convince myself and my newly acquired tropical markings that today will be spent exclusively in doors sheltering from the vengeful wrath of the sun god.

Sports festivals. Jesus God almighty and his magical pixies I wish they would think up some other chant of encouragement rather than just “Ganbarre!” repeated over and over again to the point at which it losses all relativity and meaning. One of the highlights of the day was Aine Flynn’s example of the total failure of the Japanese national to grasp the concept of sarcasm. Aine arrives, dressed completely in Blue, to support the blue team.

Non-descript Japanese Teacher Slave Drone: What team are you supporting today Aine?

Aine: Red.

Three hours pass like frozen treacle through an eye dropper

A: Ganbarre blue! Ganbarre blue!

N-dJTSD: Aine! Why are you cheering for blue?

Sports festivals. At least the majority of the kids have a good time, which is the main thing. Sometimes I wonder though, is it actually possible for anyone to enjoy traditional Japanese marching? I was told at one sports festival it was very important not to make the students smile during the formal marching as it was not allowed.

One aspect of Saga I often find cloying are the vast amounts of rules and customs that must be adhered to. I suppose its part of the continuing process of cultural adjustment that you experience when you move from one culture that is predominantly focused on individuality, like the kind I lived in previously in Wellington, to one where the concept of the group is more primary to the social fabric that you find yourself tangled in. I have been trying to incorporate the ideals of Japanese society into my own life a bit more, but this often meets with limited success. Why I like living in Japan is that it removes me from my own societal rules or customs, and places me in a society where to a certain extent I am always viewed as an outsider, and not really expected or sometimes even not allowed to take part in cultural practices to the same level as most members of the society. This is extremely liberating. Sometimes. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse.

Sports festivals. There are lots of things I enjoy about Japan. Soccer games, beer vending machines, the acceptance of geek lifestyle, okonomiyaki. Many many things there are that I enjoy about Japan. It just so happens that my first posting to this page is the day after one of the things I am really not so much a fan of.

Sports Festivals. May is a good time to have them. I had one in May. It’s not 30 degrees in the shade in May. It was fun. I spent most of the day either playing soccer with my students and their younger siblings or narrating the races over the P.A. system in an Australian horse racing commentary voice. I was also given one of the school cameras and charged with taking photographs, some of which were actually used in official school publications. I was expected to eat lunch with the staff and was told of the enkai two weeks in advance. I had jobs to do and felt like a useful member of staff. Yesterday I had all the responsibility of, to pinch a phrase from Tim Cooke, ‘A dyslexic kitten’.

This stems from the vast differences I encounter between the two Junior High schools I work at. At the smaller high school I have a lot more responsibility and a lot more interaction with the students. The other teachers all talk to me. I am at this school three and a half days a week, so this makes sense. The other school I am at for only a day and a half, and because the majority of public holidays fall on Mondays and Fridays, along with any other interruptions that piss around with the all important schedule, I am much less of a regular face there. Sometimes I even have to press teachers to get them to teach with me. I often feel, well, weird, at the larger school and have never really settled in at all. I can’t even use the bathroom at the large school. There are no western style commodes. I have a nice torso, but my legs are shot. Not flexible at all. Japanese style bathroom facilities are all but useless to me. Bathrooms aside, there is just something about the larger school that often doesn’t sit right with me. This is doubtless a combination of actual influence from the school and also my own personality. Maybe it will get better this year.

The point is that my working week starts with Monday morning’s at the larger, not so cool, school. I am now 25, and I still have to get up on Monday morning and go to school, and we’ll talk about institutionalization later on in the week maybe, but not only is it school, it is also work. We all have work and school, together, on a Monday morning. Piss biscuits.

Which is why I was so happy to get rid of that Rhino this morning. Stupid animal. It’s lunch time now. Hotdogs and Beer!