Life appears to have been eating my life.
I read somewhere that it’s good for JETs to “be the same person as they are at home.” If they’re homebodies, they should remain so, or they’ll come crashing down when they run out of steam. If they’re outgoing and social, they should make every attempt to stay the same, otherwise their boredom will translate into homesickness and depression.
Now, anyone who wants to prove nature rules over nurture needs only to look at me, the offspring of my opposite parents. My dad is shy with a great sense of humor, happy to be the guy telling a joke to one other person at a party in the corner by the chips. My mom could hold her own in the middle of a conversation with complete strangers, and she loves planning and organizing adventures. When I was a stand-up comic, I used to think how funny it was that I was the perfect mix of them — at home on stage, loving the spotlight and being the center of attention, but terrified of the end of the show when I had to stand by the door and actually talk to people from the audience. *shudder*
I think I’m the same way in my social life. Usually. In LA, I alternately looked forward to weekends where I didn’t leave my computer chair and weekends where I dragged Justin or Melissa to some garden or park, or drove through the mountains or along the coast. But I’ll admit…the computer chair weekends won out more often than not.
I feel like I did not heed the warnings of my JET predecessors. I feel like a few months ago, I hit the ground running, and I never stopped. And it’s not just Being In Japan or partying or sightseeing.
My Mondays and Fridays are booked with tutoring English. My Tuesdays are Japanese lessons for me. My Wednesdays are English club after school, followed by Game Night with some friends. Saturdays are usually a train ride to some nearby town to eat interesting foods and sing interesting karaoke songs of the early ’90s. Sundays have become an official home-cooking night, where brave souls from neighboring towns can hoof it to my place 20 minutes from the station to try my simultaneously burned and raw foods cooked in my non-convection non-oven. After THAT, you can pepper in the Being In Japan and partying, and you’re left with one bushed Lauren.
But I don’t regret it. In fact, on the rare occasion I put my foot down and declare some Me time, I inevitably miss out on the Evening of the Century and am consequently left out of a week’s worth of Facebook inside jokes. Which clearly should be anyone’s standard for why they should leave the house.
And I’m not even MENTIONING the time I spend lesson planning, revising, making tests, grading essays, and generally fretting about all the social conventions I’m bungling on a daily basis with my co-workers.
When I first got here, I compared my daily life to feeling like I constantly forgot to put on pants. Now that I’ve been here a few months and, thus, should know better by now, I have a new constant emotion. I feel like that gorilla who had a pet kitten, and he’s trying to be all delicate and tender with it, but everyone that’s watching knows that the gorilla is eventually going to poke the kitten in its eye with his huge finger. Or eat the kitten. That doesn’t really work with the analogy, but it was starting to sound a little depressing, so I thought I’d lighten the mood.
Because I’m not really frustrated, or at least not all the time. I think a lot of people here forget that despite shortcomings in our jobs or situations, back home, jobs and situations sometimes suck just as much, in different ways. And there, we can’t just blame it on cultural differences.
THAT SAID, I have been a Royal Grumpy Grump for the past 2 weeks or so, and I am very happy to have been taken out of my funk by the Inimitable Melissa, who is right now sleeping on my floor. In the 23 hours that she has been with me, she’s reminded me that a) assiduousness plus awkwardness does not equal neglect, b) my students are really awesome, and c) Japan really is fricking cold now, and everyone who says otherwise is insane.
And now, I’d best be off to bed, as she’s been waking up every 10 minutes to give me dirty looks for keeping the light on. And I deserve it because she’s jet-lagged, and I’ve been keeping her schedule jam-packed with IN-YOUR-FACE-JAPAN to fill every waking moment. Plus, she needs her rest because I’m making her sing karaoke with me tomorrow and she doesn’t even know, man. She doesn’t even know.
Life appears to have been eating my life.