"Success is when you feel fewer and fewer regrets."
Toni Morrison...a good interview with one of our wise women. Why do we only get interviews like this one in England? Why doesn't the NYT's run something like this?
Random thoughts, memories, convoluted therapeutic ramblings, a billboard of love.
"Success is when you feel fewer and fewer regrets."
This is not what I really wanted to read in the New York Times today. Ugh.
Some good news from yesterday: my novelette, "The Language of Moths" was accepted for publication in Realms of Fantasy. Really really happy. Out of my own stories, it's one my favorites.
My friend Beth and I took the train into Tokyo yesterday. On the way, we stopped in Ueno to visit the Toshogo Shrine. Toshogu means, "Shrine of the Sun God of the East". This shrine has been in existence since 1616, when Tokugawa Ieyasu was enshrined in it at Mt. Kuno. Later though, in 1650, the shrine was moved from Mt. Kuno to Nikko, to the Imperial Palace, and finally to Ueno, for the convenience of the feudal lords. It's been there ever since. Here are some pics of it. Beth got some really good ones that I'll post in the near future too.
Something I forgot to post was how the women teachers at Numasato were all giggling around me and talking about me, and the head teacher, a man, said, Girls Girls, you better watch what you say, he knows a little Japanese and has a dictionary with him. Then all their giggling stopped and their eyes went wide and suddenly one of them said to me, "I make you second husband."
Another day, another elementary school. This time Numosato Shogakko. My beliefs that the strange Kimiga elementary school in the backwater of Edosaki is unique unto itself with its rabidity has been confirmed. Numosato was wonderful, with exciting students and classical music piped into the classrooms during lunchtime, and the little surgeons outfits were worn while the children served each other. I realized only today that the Kimiga students didn't do that. How uncivilised. (hehe, considering how I'm used to being in American schools where we don't serve each other our lunch but rely on cafeteria workers, and don't wear masks and white gowns to keep germs off, I've quickly become a fan of the Japanese school lunch style...it feels so well, all I can say is we enjoy lunch together...very Japanese, enjoy, together).
My friend Toby's asking for some help with this. If anyone can lend a hand, I'm sure he'd appreciate it.
After lunch each day, there is a twenty minute break at school, and after that break the students and teachers all clean the building. They put on headscarves and take up their brooms and rags and clean all the windows and sweep out the courtyard and wash down the floors. It's really something. I don't actually do anything but watch. Anytime I've tried to offer help, they act like that would be a capitol crime, and if they let me actually clean something, they would all be beheaded.
The new issue of The Third Alternative has my story "A Resurrection Artist" in it. The cover is beautiful, too. I can't wait to get my copy of it.
Yesterday was Sports Day in Japan. What a really cool event. The school split their students in three teams, Red, Blue and Green, each with a different name of course, like Kyodo and Sekanin (I forget what the third team was called), and the kids play games against each other, scoring points until all the events are over, and whichever team has gotten the most points by the end, of course, wins. I wasn't familiar with a lot of the games. Mainly the races were the only familiar thing, oh and tug of war. Other games included Steal the Hat, where three or four kids for a human pyramid, three carrying the fourth like a rider, and this human chariot carries the rider around the playing field, trying to steal the hat off of the opponent chariot riders. Another was the human bridge race, where the kids kneel down on hands and knees and another kid runs atop their backs. Once the runner has run over you, you have to get up quick and go to the front of the line in order to keep the bridge going for the runner. Once up the field, once back. Another game was where a pole with a basket on top was held by a couple of kids, and their team mates had to throw all these balls on the field into the basket in such and such amount of time. Whichever team got the most balls in won, of course. The way they counted the balls was fun, too. An annoucer counts, and a kid from each team throws a ball out of the basket, high into the air for each number. Eventually as the numbers get higher, they run out of balls, and the last team still throwing balls up wins.
Yesterday the Kimiga Elementary school kicked my ass. I thought for sure it'd be easier than the Edosaki elementary school, because it's student population is smaller, but it was hard. Early on in the day, I wanted to just start speaking in English and let everyone just deal with it.
Lalala, at work, twiddling my thumbs, as the students are all practicing for Sports Day this Saturday. Their version of the mini-Olympics. It's a big deal, I guess, as all week long the afternoon classes are canceled so the kids and the teachers can practice whatever their specialty sport happens to be. For hours and hours. It's crazy. And at various times, they get into the three teams that the entire population of Edosaki Junior High comprises, and practice their team chants. I think it's just a form of cheerleading, sort of. But more along the lines of lining up at different places on the field and one group starting a chant that says they're going to win, and then the other teams doing their replies. Sort of like that movie, Bring it On, only no black and white girl class problems.
Well it's been a long week, but I can say that I really do love my coworkers at Edosaki Junior High, and I loved teaching at my first elementary school, though I was exhausted by the end of the day. On Wednesday I came into the teacher's office and everyone was saying good morning to me, and during the morning meeting, I was asked to stand and give a little speech, which I did in Japanese. The first thing I said was Ohayo gozaimus to everyone, which is just good morning, and in unison the entire faculty said it back to me. I sort of blinked, stunned by the communal return of the greeting, and then went on. I was applauded afterwards. Then, later, I was introduced to the entire school in the auditorium, where a selected student came up onstage and welcomed me in english, and told me the Edosaki students were gentle and cheerful and happy to have me be their teacher of English, then they all stood and bowed to me. I gave a speech half in Japanese and half in English, and one of the English speaking teachers translated my English to the school. Everything went swimmingly.