Most of the following occurs in Japanese:
Chris sensei, do you wear contacts?
We are sitting Indian style in the hallway on the second floor of the junior high, me, Shohei, Tomoki, Laurence (a filipino student), Shyuzo, Rikiya, Ayaka and her group of girls she's always with. I take out my right contact so they can see my contact, and they point and say, oh look, his eye is still blue. me ga honto ni ao da ne. His eyes are really blue, aren't they? But when I try to put it back in, it's already dried up as I haven't been getting enough sleep lately and my eyes are in need of some serious moisture. I run to the bathroom with my contact to wet it down again, and they all fall behind me. The boys come in with me, the girls moan and groan outside because they can't come in too. The two sides of my contact are stuck together, and I can't seem to seperate them no matter how much I wet them under the faucet.
Chris sensei, says Shohei, daijyobu? Are you okay? I nod and say that I am. Finally I get the my contact rewetted and seperated from itself and back in my eye, and Tomoki says, Magic! Shyuzo says, How long is your penis? I say, We're not starting that again.
Outside, Ayaka is telling her friends, "I love you," and they laugh and say, "Lezubian?" The hallway fills with peals of girl's laughter. They ask me to say "I love you" to them, then to the boys, then to the teachers who pass by. I tell all the students I love them, then they tell the teachers they love them, and the teachers all say, "I don't speak English!"
And it does start, even though I told Shyuza we weren't starting that again. During English Plaza one day, he and the same crowd of boys pile into the room with me and Ms. Fujita and Suda san asks, "Chris, your penis, how big?" Fujita sensei scowls at them and says they are bad, and I ask, "Why do you want to know?" Fujita sensei translates. Suda san says all foreigners have big penises, and I tell him that's not true. He says it's true, and Ms. Fujita asks him how he knows. He says he looked over while we were in the bathroom together. Bikkuri! he shouts, eyes popping wide open. He could be an anime character, he is so over the top. Ms. Fujita says, I don't think so. You are a liar. You didn't see. The teachers and students have different bathrooms. Suda san still insists that he knows what he's talking about.
Sho tells me Ayaka has a head like an egg. He says this in English, and I compliment him because he's a 7th grader and they haven't learned similes such as "like" yet, so he's been studying on his own. Ayaka says her head is not an egg. I tell her she's right, it's not.
Yuta and I pick weeds out of a garden during soji jikan, cleaning time. He asks me when I first had sex and if I made a baby. His friend asks if foreigner's "cream" is the same color as Japanese "cream". I'm not sure what they mean for a few seconds and then I shake my head and my eyes rattle around in their sockets. I wonder if I was as silly at fourteen years old.
Fujita sensei, I think, is telling the other teachers how I've learned enough Japanese now to start having conversations with them. So when I go to make coffee for myself, the kitchen ladies and the older administrations sensei's tell me to sit down with them and sample all the treats they've brought from home and talk to them for a while. I understand everything they ask, reply with some basic answers, but still manage to want to say things I don't know how to say yet. It's hard, also, when you start to speak to new people. I know these things, how to say them, but get a bit shy with new people until I start to feel comfortable speaking around them. They say they could come to America and talk to people like me. They're being nice, but it feels good anyway.
Fujita sensei asks me to teach all of her classes next Tuesday. She's taking a day off. She says Mr. Nagasawa could come to them with me, but if I feel comfortable I can do them on my own. That makes me feel good that she trusts me with the students on my own, so next week it'll be me and the seventh graders being silly all day long. I have some fun games planned for them.
I wait and wait, but don't hear anything. I'm beginning to become accustomed to this, but I still don't like it. You must not either, but you won't say if you do or you don't.
I am exhausted. Not enough sleeping. I can't stop thinking. Even at school I am in a half daze most of the time. I only feel grounded when I'm in the classroom or hanging out in the hallways with the kids. Something is missing right now that shouldn't be.
I am feeling prone to being opaque. Some people may complain, but I say opaque is there for a reason.
Ohama sensei is leaving next year to go to another school. It's natural here for teachers to change schools every seven years or thereabouts. I'll miss her. The 8th graders who are becoming 9th graders are going to need a lot of work. She would have been able to get them into shape. I hope the new teacher coming can handle them. They're way behind and undisciplined. The new teacher is in her early twenties. I hope she's got a strong backbone. I'll do whatever I can, but I'll have to feel her out to see how she feels we should run a classroom together first. With Ohama it was so easy. This coming year will be tough though.
Nagasawa sensei is going too, to Miho, though, where Beth teaches, so I shouldn't lose contact with him. We're already planning a drinking night together.
Hiraga sensei and I teamed up to make ham and bean with dumplings soup with his seventh graders this week. It turned out smashing, and one of the kid's mothers was at school today and said her daughter loved it. Hiraga and I were worried for days leading up to Monday that we would screw things up inevitably, being two bachelors trying to teach a group of thirteen year olds how to cook. But we did well.
And now the weekend is here and I can catch up with sleeping and dreaming. I haven't done enough of that in years, it seems, though it's only been a week.