Friday, November 5, 2010

The Freeze

'Tis the season for sickness. I woke up this morning to find a gauzy white cloud over my face, thickest at the peak of exhalation. Negative 2. Stripes of my body warmed by the coils of a blanket left on all night. Toe tips not registering, but probably still there. Fully clothed shower? But of course, the clothes would have to be changed eventually. Relieved I took some precautions the previous evening despite my lethargy to purchase kerosene and test my heaters. Left it running in the frosty morning kitchen. Changed into business casual for a welcome party finally happening after work today, with city hall employees. Another precaution to avoid the unnecessary removal of warmth later in the day. Sat eating cereal at the kitchen table, patting at the glands in my neck. Imagined white blood cells splitting multiplying swimming about in circles, each gland a lap pool, water level rising as more swimmers pack in. Repulsed a little by myself.

At work. No classes today, school-wide testing. Just tea. Lots of tea, and more dizzying kerosene.

I haven’t written in a while because things are stable. Not much to update. Halloween happened, it was lightly celebrated a week early in a city two hours south of Iiyama, called Ueda. I dressed myself as Woody Allen’s Annie Hall to have one person recognize my costume. Others guessed Charlie Chaplin. But where’s your mustache? Many said reporter. A microphone may have helped, though. And bigger hair. Either way, some time with a few of the best people I have found here, well spent.

Two weeks prior, a night out with uncle Toshio and his college era friends. Twenty minutes up a mountain from my house into Madarao Kogen, where another college era friend owns a pension (lodge). Blown away by the volume those men could put away. Enough to kill a small rhinoceros. Delicious nabe full of things I used to hate; perhaps I’m growing up. A multitude of pictures taken that have yet to emerge.

I returned to this pension two weeks later, day after the Halloween party, at the request of the lady pension owner in a friendly letter, ‘There is a festival happening, won’t you stay a night? Eat some food? We have artist and musician friends we’d like you to meet.’ And so I went, not for a night but for a few hours on the Sunday, long enough to eat some food, meet some of the pension owners’ friends, and make a musical aluminum can water instrument.

The water instrument instructor, a fifty-something world-traveling sort-of-hippie musician, called a few days later to invite me to a music festival happening a few hours south in, now, two weeks. A long, never-ending train of contacts in the inaka. I told him I’d consider it, though my marrow reminds me that many, many years ago, my parents or a public service announcement on television warned me against accepting invitations from old male strangers, especially when a car is involved. It doesn’t help that the invitation came in the form of asobou, ‘let’s play,’ for lack of an equivalent to ‘let’s hang out.’

In other streams of life, say, school, which is why I’m here, the only notable comment to make is, I think, I am adjusting. Responsibilities slowly inflating. Teachers have been more regularly disappearing, leaving but a small note behind, cover for me. A full week of ALT-led Halloween lessons, most done solo, and still more occasions to lead, including days when a teacher, present, hands the class over to me and watches me teach new grammar all in English to a group of thirty I can’t determine is getting it or not. ‘You are a very good teacher,’ he says later. It’s something.

Highlight of the last month, perhaps, where school is concerned: I finally got in on a PE class yesterday, gymnastics, was used to demonstrate basics for the first graders (seventh graders in American terms) to try. Front rolls went well. Back rolls and cartwheels were a challenge for the girls. PE teacher said come back again. Certainly, PE teacher, I will, though I worry I’ll eventually hear something along the lines of, she’s here to teach English, not cartwheels. Clear for now. Peculiarly, next day my arms are sore, but I don’t think it could be from the few cartwheels and rolls I did yesterday. Day before was a holiday, spent at a five-story adult entertainment center bowling, playing pool, testing arcade games. No Skee-Ball, to my dismay. Badminton after a few years away is satisfying, though. Settling for Denny’s after a twenty minute Mexican restaurant, any restaurant, isn’t there anywhere to eat around here? search is satisfying, too, though in quite a different way.

Not much else to discuss here. I am almost out of American peanut butter. I can see the bottom of the jar in some spots. I panic. Two more throat coats to last until Dad can bring more beginning of December. One awkwardly shaped hooded sweatshirt that mostly only warms a strip of my forearm where the wristband is. One last window without curtains. All windows in need of plastic cover insulation. Warmer slippers. More sweaters. Scarves. Socks loose and warm enough so my toes feel warm but not too cramped while I sleep. Another heater? More baths. First bath, I mean; It’s been all showers up to now.

I had big plans for this weekend, two days in Saku for a Nagano-ken JET ‘Naga-Yes’ cook-off and volcano climb. How good movies in bed sounds, though. I wrote a limb of a story for a writing group I’ve committed myself to, composed of JET friends in/around Kyoto, I’d like to develop. Maybe I’ll paint my nails. Draw. The options are really endless, and all may be done from my bed. A sleepy productive weekend, prodding my swollen glands.