Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Today was easy and not easy at the same time. No matter what fun I think Im going to be having doing something, it inevitably gets a bit dampened by not being able to communicate properly. Today Hiromi took me to get health insurance (very easy). Then we went shopping at a music/dvd/book store. I had the most difficult time, though, trying to find any music I wanted because I simply couldnt figure out the system of categorization. I recognize all the symbols, and can read them, but theres something off. Its not completely alphabetical here because so much of the Japanese is spelled phonetically and that doesnt mean the character youre looking for is always the correct letter I think Im trying to make an analogue with. American thinking, as usual. I kept asking Hiromi to find things for me, and then she and the workers at the store had a hard time understanding even some of the bands I was asking for, even though two of them were Japanese. Sorry, I almost wrote was Japanese. Sorry all you spelling and grammar freaks, I am quickly losing my mind here, and my language is already really weirding me out. I was writing an email to the Blue Heaven group earlier and sort of got stuck on one sentence because I suddenly just couldnt think of how to phrase what I meant to say. My brain is fried from trying to listen and understand the Japanese surrounding me.

Anyway, I eventually found one of the cds I wanted on my own, ironically. ITs a Japanese group called Nitro Microphone Underground. They rock. Look for them online on Amazon or if you can download a song or something. Really good stuff. Anyway, as I was waiting in line, the good thing happened to redeem all of my frustration. A little boy around ten years old, maybe 8 or 9, came up to me and waved and said, Hello! Then he started talking in Japanese, and Hiromi started to translate. He is studying English, she said, and wants to talk to you. So I bent down and in Japanese would say simple phrases like, Genki desu ka? and then say it in English, How are you? and he would simple and repeat my english and then wed move on to something else. Hajimemashite, I am glad to meet you. We exchanged names then, and how to ask for them. His name was Tokimude, which Hiromi says is a Samurai name. We both agreed he was totemo kawai, cute as hell, and Hiromi said she thinks I am going to be a very good teacher for the children. When we were getting into her car, Tokimude kept watching out the store window, then he came out into the parking lot and waved, and I waved, and then we started to drive out, and I looked over my shoulder and he waved some more, with both hands, real large waves, and I waved back again. It really made me look forward to teaching next week.

Since I moved here, Ive been dreaming about my best friend from grade school, Michael. I dont know why. I havent thought about him in ages, but he keeps popping up in dreams. My friend Beth (who I was in my Masters degree program in Youngstown with, and who lives a few minutes away from me here and teaches English also) said she dreams a lot about being in junior high or high school since she moved here. I wonder if its regression to the womb or some sort of metaphor for feeling childlike again, without as many words to paste all over the things around you. Kevin, Beths husband, says he thinks were just jettisoning old materials to make room for the new. Maybe its both. I hate to think of dreams as garbage disposal.

This morning I woke up with the song Bridge of Troubled Water stuck in my head. Strangely enough, one of the imports they had at the music store was the best hits of Simon and Garfunkel. Dont know what the bridge over troubled water thing was about. I feel really disoriented in a lot of ways.

Highlight from yesterday that I forgot to mention: My boss at the meeting with the board of education suddenly breaking out of his Japanese and looking at me and laughing really hard and saying, In Japan, we have many gods! God for everything! hahahahaha. Then going back into his spiel of Nihongo with the board. I just laughed heheh, and smiled uncertainly. Still dont know what that was about.

Also yesterday, that cheery round cheeked Japanese teacher who said we would drink lots together suddenly breaking out of a Japanese conversation with my caretakers to say, We know where you live. You have to do it with a Japanese accent to realize how scary it sounded, even though I know she meant it in a friendly way. hehe.

Anonymous blog posters, please sign your posts so I can know who loves me. There is the love and the no live list. You should make sure youre on the love list if you know whats good for you. hehe.

I will be posting pictures tonight I believe. See ya later.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Christopher,

Mom has not discovered the secret catnip cache you left for me. thanks bunches!

your pal,


6:42 AM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

hehehe. If that cat ever runs out, I expect you to send him more, Chance.

7:57 AM  
Blogger elad said...


looking forward to pictures!

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your frustration with communicating brings to mind when you were a little boy and learning to talk. I remember your frustration if I could not understand your words. You would keep repeating yourself and become very anxious about my not being able to decipher your words. Be patient with yourself Chris.This is new territory. I loved the story about the little boy in the store. I know you will enjoy your teaching experience and the children will love you.Hobbsie is fine,no bun stealing or bar hopping lately. More later. Hugs! Love ya, mom

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea of dreams as the commands of the gods or the pathway to the subconscious are pretty much behind us these days. The newest theory is that they're the result of some kind of neural housekeeping. That underestimates them. Dreams get evoked and are evocative. You're in a situation where you have some experience of powerlessness. And children are reacting to you in a really positive way. Kind of like being a kid. Anything that lets you feel some of that strange lost world, even the uncomfortable parts, is precious stuff for a writer.


11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, and love too.


11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, you've been there, what, a week? and you've already had two weirder interactions than I can remember having in six years! I think I spent too much time in Tokyo -- I should have got out into the country more. Either that or you're just a better observer than me. :)

If you can think in advance of any more bands you're trying to find, drop me a note and I'll try to help you kana-ize them.


12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. There's a good chance the apostrophe is shift-7, like on an old typewriter.


12:37 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Weird how using a foreign language almost exclusively makes one's native tongue start to atrophy so quickly. When you come back you'll probably have tip-o-the-tongue syndrome for days!

Be good.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

What the hell has happened to my ability to spell? And David, thanks for the key to the apostrophe!! It's working! So happy now. hehe

10:47 PM  
Blogger Dean said...

Chris - The disorientation is really part of things. When I moved to Hongkong, I also experienced a kind of aphasia. My mind would freeze between English, Filipino and Cantonese and I would zone out. But you'll do great, I'm sure. ;)

10:53 PM  

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