Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Week

I sang "Ten Little Indians" at least sixty times at elementary schools so far this week.

Today I hauled bamboo out of the woods to raise banners on for Sports Day this Saturday. I did something wretched to my thumb. I can feel my heartbeat at the base where it joins the rest of my hand. It feels like a seperate entity at this point.

I spent part of the morning with a teacher who has a sprained ankle talking in Japanese. We both agree we do much better with foreign languages when it's one on one rather than large groups of people, when all the foreign words start to blur together because too many people are speaking at once to understand everything. He's going to New York this December/January to visit his cousins who live there and asked for recommendations as to what he should do there and in New Jersey (where the cousins live). Any ideas? I tried to suggest a few things, but I've usually don't see New York as a tourist when I'm there. Usually I just hang out with friends who live there and go to parties or bars or museums or concerts.

At one elementary school this week, I was asked by a group of fifth grade girls whether I was married. When I said I wasn't, a boy asked what my type is. I told him smart people. He looked around and verbally wondered as to whether there was anyone of that type in the classroom, then he came to the conclusion that the girls were out of luck.

At another elementary school, I sat at my desk in the teacher's office and gave autographs, sometimes several to the same kid. The line stretched from the office halfway down the hallway. Apparently as one kid said, I am daininki. Super popular. Why why why??

Another child asked me why my eyes are blue. I'm still struck deep down in my soul when kids ask me that question. I've been asked it for a year, only the first four or five months I didn't understand what was being asked. But I'm asked often now that I can talk to the kids in their language a bit. I think it strikes a nerve with me because it makes me feel like a freak of nature somehow. So I told him that lots of people in the West have blue eyes. That it's a normal color there. Supplied with this answer, he said oh is that right? I didn't know. And began processing this piece of information quite seriously for a third grader.

It's been over a year now since I started teaching in Edosaki. It's weird to feel like a fixture there now. With Sports Day rolling around again, everything feels strange. It feels like I've lived a lifetime here for some reason.

One of my ninth graders was worried about my family and friends in America and while we were weeding the courtyard asked me if they were hurt in the hurricane. I told him I didn't have any friends or family who lived near it, so everyone I knew was okay. He said it was still good that I was in Japan so I wasn't hurt. He wanted to know when I would go back to America. I told him probably next April. He said oh the same time I'll be graduating junior high then. He asked why I wanted to go back. I couldn't think of how to say what I felt in Japanese for some reason. So he said, "American tomodachi ni aitai?" You want to see your American friends? I thought for a moment and then just nodded and kept weeding the courtyard.

Saturday will be my second Sports Day.

Tomorrow I will sing "Ten Little Indians" at another elementary school at least twenty more times.

8 Comments:

Blogger chance said...

He looked around and verbally wondered as to whether there was anyone of that type in the classroom, then he came to the conclusion that the girls were out of luck.

*snerk* poor girls.

(and your american friends need to see you too)

6:30 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Back to school time! Have fun :-)

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, you're such a tourist when you come to New York! Do you think New Yorkers EVER go to the zoo all on their own?

Rick

10:37 AM  
Blogger haddayr said...

1. You have blue eyes because you swallowed some of the sky. (I get asked by little Black kids why I have freckles all the time and I haven't come up with an interesting response except that some folks have freckles, even some Black folks no really.)
2. Tell your friend to go to the Cloisters, the Bronx Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the East Village, and Wall Street because it's so goddamned quaint. Tell him to be sure to ride the subway instead of taking taxis, to see Ellis Island but skip the Statue of Liberty, and to spend some time people watching in Union Square or Washington Square Park.

11:09 AM  
Blogger haddayr said...

And of course the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's nice to see the Art Museum and then walk across Central Park to the Museum of Natural History, too.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

Yes, New Yorkers do go to the zoo all on their own. Who else would come to New York for the zoo after all? Especially in the BRONX! ;-) Or they invite people from out of town to give them the excuse to go so they won't appear so shockingly demode in front of other New Yorkers. "Obviously her family from Idaho is in town. What else is she going to do but take them to the zoo?"

Haddayr, all great suggestions. Thanks! I'd already suggested MOMA and the Natural History Museum, as well as the East Village, but I'll put a list together for him of the other stuff. I thought about sending him to the Cloisters, too, but worried about trying to explain it to him in Japanese. I'll still put it on the list and he can show his cousins. His male cousin is apparently an art student, so he'll know where all these things are for sure. I also told him to go to a good club. And to wade through Times Square at some point just to do it.

Also, I will try that explain to the kids about swallowing the sky, but I'm afraid they'll look at me like I'm a weirdo. They're an awfully grown up sort of children here in many ways. And skeptical as well, always ready to raise an eyebrow if something doesn't sit right with them. But who knows. I'll say it and see how they take it! It's as good an explanation as any. And honestly, when they ask me, my first thought is always, They might as well be asking me why the sky is blue.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually you haven't been to the AMNH. I can't wait to see your childish delight when you finally get taken there!

Rick

1:02 PM  
Blogger Fish Monkey said...

Did you get a chance to compare earwax with the natives? Very educational. Seriously.

11:09 PM  

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