Oh, Holy Jesus. I have internet. And Happy Birthday.

So, I got the best Christmas gift I could wish for. A Japanese man sitting on the floor of my apartment installing my internet on Christmas Eve. I switched companies LAST WEEK and already had my internet installed by the following weekend! I wish I had done it a long time ago! I'd like to say I'll miss my friends over at the net cafe... but that would be a lie.

Christmas in Japan is weird. People kiiiinda celebrate it. But it's only considered a commercial holiday here and most people don't recognize it's true meaning. And you still have to work. Working on Christmas probably would have felt weirder if it had actually felt like Christmas. But being so far from home and everything I associate with Christmas, it really didn't. We held a special Christmas lesson for our kids where I taught them some dumb Christmas song I had never even heard before and had to learn the night before.

The only time it ACTUALLY felt like Christmas for me was when I video chatted with my family late that night (their Christmas morning) and got to "be there" for the whole opening of presents and whatnot. It really felt like I was there at the time! But now, looking back it doesn't feel like a real memory. Just like having watched a movie. But it was still awesome to be a part of it and have Christmas with the fam in some way. Even if I had to keep jumping around just to keep from falling asleep.

This week was counseling week so we gave only private lessons and special lessons that we had to come up with on our own. I did a music special lesson. One class was called "Music Through the Ages" and taught about the differences of music through the different decades in the 1900s, and the other was about genre. I taught the genre one today and it didn't really work. Stuff I though would be SUPER easy (like classic examples of genre, Bob Marley = Reggae, Dylan = Folk) the students weren't really getting. Surprisingly they all understood Earth, Wind, and Fire as disco though. I guess some things just transcend all cultures. Scary that it's disco.

Now, my winter break begins and I don't have to go to work for a whole week! AND I have a special visitor coming who I am very excited about. All in all, things are looking good. I've got internet, no work, and good company on its way.

I could go the traditional Japanese route and have a quiet New Years Eve full of ceremony, at-home family goodness, and ringing of bells at shrines. Or, I could go to a club the whole night and dance my dice off. We'll see what happens. (try and guess) ;D Miss you all. Happiest of holidays!!



Daft Punk was AMAZING. When I got to the place (Makuhari Messe) I started by waiting in a long line to pick up my tickets. It was pretty much ALL foreigners in the line so I mentally dubbed it the "gaijin line." I guess there was only this one English website providing tickets, so that's where all the foreigners were lined up to get their tickets. I ended up talking to the guys in line next to me and they were really cool! One was from Argentina (Gabriel) and the other was from France (Antoine) and they were roommates in England together, touring Tokyo for the first time. I ended hanging out with them for most of the concert and they were very nice and normal (you never know when you meet random ppl at concerts).

The opening acts were mostly DJs that were pretty good and fun and then there was this one Japanese band, "Boom Boom Satellite," that was pretty awesome! I guess they're really huge here so I may have to get one of their CDs.

So, we decided to get right up close to the stage before Daft Punk came out, which ended up being the most uncomfortable thing ever. About a half hour before they came on EVERYONE started pushing for the front and I was literally being pushed and crushed from all angles. Daft Punk started and it only got worse. We hung out at the front for a few songs hoping the crowd would settle down, but the insanity persisted. I couldn't move and was being pushed and jostled all over. We finally decided that sucked and we wanted to dance, so we moved back about 25 feet and it was fine. We could breath, dance, see better, and enjoy the music. So there we stayed still with an amazing view for what had the be one of the best concerts of my entire life.

I left a sweaty, happy mess. I got a sweet Japanese Daft Punk poster from Antoine who got it free with his CD purchase too. Gonna put a little color in my apartment finally! I also got to walk around the Makuhari area after the concert and explore my old haunts from when I studied abroad. Went the the convenience store I went to daily when I went to school there and enjoyed a beer outside the Sumitomo building, where the IES center was located, in the techno garden.

Harder, better, faster, stronger.


Christmas in the Air

After a brief hiatus, I am back on the blogging scene! I still don't have internet in my apartment and am starting to think that I never will. My punishment for being a foreigner. I called the internet place again and after a long and complicated conversation that was a 3-way talk between me and the English speaking staff who translates and speaks between me and the Japanese cable person. Only the English speaking chick clearly has been living in Japan waaay too long because it takes her forever to say anything and she is annoyingly polite while not actually accomplishing anything I need done. And I can hear her talking to the Japanese person the whole time and can tell she is using super-formal Japanese, which takes three times as long to spit out, and is eating up my phone and break time at work in the process.

All this for her to tell me that they tried to deliver the initial letter to me and it got sent back. For some official reasons the next step in my internet set-up process is getting this official letter in the mail. But I guess because I don't have a "name plate" on my mailbox that might be the problem. But I honestly think that's BS because the girl who lived here before me never had a name plate and neither do any of my neighbors because the mail goes through a slot in the door. But I went ahead and put a name plate on my door, just in case. Anything to get on the grid sometime this year. So, now if my neighbors didn't already know they were living by a gaijin, they know now whenever they walk by my door and see "Barber, Dawn (バーバー ドーン)

Work is going pretty well and I think I get more into the swing of teaching every week. My kids classes are still the most challenging, especially one that I have on Tuesdays of 11 year olds that are blatantly disrespectful, seem pissed to be there at all, and pick on this one poor Chinese girl in the class. I think she actually transferred out of my class this week because they were so mean to her. It really sucks and makes me sad because I felt so helpless. Even if I scold them, it doesn't really mean anything to them in English and they don't seem to care. But I am constantly reminded that I can't use Japanese in the classroom ESPECIALLY in kids classes (which, coincidentally, is where I need to use it the most). I'll fess up that I regularly break that rule. Better they think I can speak Japanese so they're afraid to stay bad stuff about me or the other kids while I'm around.

Outside work, things have been getting a little better as well. Last weekend I went with my friend Tessa, another Aeon teacher at a different school who I know from when I studied abroad here in 06, to a "Mexican party" a bunch of her friends from training were throwing. Let me tell ya, it was pretty nice to eat tacos and guacamole because you can't really find that stuff anywhere in Japan! I continued my consumption of delicious foreign food last weekend by going to an amazing Indian lunch buffet in Shinjuku. I almost missed it because I got super lost because Shinjuku is insane and I always get lost there. Didn't help some British dude decided I needed his help and tried to take me to the wrong restaurant. But I finally found it and it was an oasis! Later, I met up with Allen and Tessa at the Hub in Shinjuku for drinks and reminiscing.

So, interesting thing about the Japanese. They don't actually celebrate Christmas day much and none seem to know what it really means, but they have been playing Christmas music in ALL the stores here since mid-November. It's so strange. They will all be working like usual on the actual day (myself included) but they seem to hype it up with the music and advertising campaigns just as much as we do in America. A lot of my recent kids lessons have been teaching about Christmas. I don't know how many times I had to explain what eggnog is because it was one of the vocabulary words...

But I must admit that despite the music, it's kinda sad to be so far from my family at this time of year. I am so used to being home and doing family Christmas stuff around this time and planning our Christmas break and vacation, and what to buy everyone... it is just weird to not be a part of it this year and to not get to see the grandparents and eat Beth's Christmas cookies, etc... Lately I miss the family a lot.

On a big positive note, I am going to see Daft Punk in concert tonight, which may just be a turning point in my young life. I absolutely can't wait. I will robot-rock and dance my socks off. I am going alone, but I don't mind because this way I don't have to worry about anyone else and can just wander the crowd and dance or take breaks as I please. Maybe I'll even sneak backstage. :D


First Real Week Done

Hello, hello! Well, I think things could only get better since my last post, and so far that has definitely been the case. This past week I was busy working with a full course-schedule now that Megan is gone. Half of my classes are kids, and they are definitely the more challenging ones. Mostly because kids don:t always behave and most of them don:t really want to learn and are instead forced to go to English school by their parents. I think I:m getting the hang of it though. The better you know the kids, the more you learn what works for each class. You gotta trick them into learning sometimes.

The adult classes are a breeze in comparison and most of my students are really awesome. I especially like my high-level discussion classes where I basically just talk about an article or issues in Japan with high-level speakers for 50 minutes. It:s very interesting and I feel like I end up learning as much from them as they do from me!

I also had fun this weekend and am getting out of my lonely slump a bit. Friday was a national holiday in Japan and in honor of the previous day being Thanksgiving in America, I met some friends in Chiba for a pretty awesome all-you-can-eat buffet. Even though grilled meats were the specialty, I did well grilling squid and eating tako-yaki and udon and other Dawn-friendly fare. There was even a waffle machine! Afterwards we all went to an izakaya (Japanese style bar) in Chiba city and played a raucous game of Kings Cup. Only we were all too full from the huge dinner to be able to drink much.

Sunday I went to the last KUIS rugby game of the season. It was an emotional event. Kanda didn:t win, but they played well. Afterwards we all (myself included as a "graduated" player) took our picture together on the pitch and there was a ceremony for the graduating seniors. There was a lot of crying and speech-giving, ending with throwing the seniors in the air. People take the club really seriously and I understand why. Practicing with that team was one of the most rewarding experiences of my time abroad and a huge event in my life. Later, we all met at an izakaya and ate and drank a lot. The already somewhat heavy atmosphere was significantly weighted with the news that a player from their opposing team that day who had been injured during the match and taken away in an ambulance ended up dying in the hospital.

I ended up staying out pretty late with all the ruggers but getting back to my place by around 1:30am at least. Which means I left around 11:30 since I live so far! But since we started drinking at 6, that was a lot of time together.

Today I met my friend Tessa, who was in IES with me when I studied abroad. We went to the new IES center in Shin-Urayasu and caught up with our old advisor Shin-san. He:s awesome and it was so great to see him again. We:ve promised to get together with him soon to get a drink with the other IES people in Tokyo. Afterwards, Tessa and I went to the Hub (sweet English-style bar chain in Japan) to catch up and have some drinks and dinner (yay fish & chips).

Now my eyes are starting to blur because I:ve been in this Internet cafe too long! Miss everyone and hope this post finds you well. :)


In the Trough

Gather round!! It's story time from Japan! This one's pretty good, folks:

Last night was Megan's goodbye party and my welcome party. Tons of students came and we had a great time eating yummy food, chatting, and drinking. At the end of the night I caught the last train back to my station, Obukuro, and was walking home when I realized-- I had left my apartment key in the office. I kinda panicked and had no idea what to do. I went back to the station to check and see if there was another train going back to Kita Koshigaya, where I figured I could check with blind hope to see if the office wasn't locked for some reason. But no trains back to Kita Koshi. So I set out on foot, walking down the train tracks for a solid 45 minutes from Obukuro station to Kita Koshigaya station. No more trains were running, so I wasn't too worried about walking on the tracks, though it did prove to be tricky at times and I got a little nervous when the tracks turned into an overpass, high above and quite far away from any real land. Eventually I got there, and sure enough, the office was all-kinds-of locked. So, I saw no other option than to spend the night in none other than my trusty neighborhood net cafe. Rented a booth and got a few hours of collective zzz's in the recline-y chair. There was even complementary disposable toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom!

I Left around 10 the next morning because I figured nothing would be open on a Sunday before then anyway. AEON was still deserted and on lock down, so I picked up my phone that I had done all the paperwork for the previous day, but not had time to come back and activate. Too bad it was brand new and sans any of my co-worker's numbers. I ended up hanging around Kita Koshigaya, calling and checking the Aeon office with avid frequency, until 3:30pm when I finally ran into my co-workers going in to the building. I had been wearing the same clothes (complete with tights, ugh) for almost 40 hours along with my contact lenses at that point and was feeling pretty bedraggled, helpless, and alone. My co-workers felt really bad for me and I just felt like an idiot. I got my keys headed back home to shower and collapse.

And I will never forget my key again.

The End.


Hard at Work

Here I am reporting from my local internet cafe once again. This time, from my own laptop, complete with apostrophe key. :) These past few days have pretty much felt like all work and no play for me. I suppose that's good for my first week. I have been mostly observing but and transitioning into teaching. Wednesday a taught a kids class of about 11 year olds. Let me tell, you, that might be the most annoying age. It was two girls, one of them refused to talk until her smart-ass friend got there who proceeded to make fun of just about everything I said. Megan says they are just like that, but they'll warm up to me. Yesterday I taught an advanced level class of adults that I think went really well. Today, I am teaching a tiny 2-3 year-old class and then an advanced beginner adult class. Tomorrow, I'm teaching EVERYTHING. 6 classes. It's gonna be intense, but I think I need it to really learn. I will be doing that everyday starting next week.

I have pictures of my apartment! I will try to load them now. I also plan to go back and add some pics to my previous entries. I plan on getting my cell phone today, but lord knows when I'll have internet at my place. Probably not for at least a month. Despite the fact that Japan is so technologically advanced in most areas, hooking up internet to a new residence is an extremely timely procedure with quite a wait list.

It's taking some getting used to living on my own for the first time. It's very peaceful and relaxing in some ways, but I have to admit I'm pretty restless and a little bit lonely. I think the fact that I currently have no connection with the outside world makes it much worse. I get home after a long day to my empty apartment with no phone and no internet and have nothing to do but organize things, listen to music, and go to bed. I know having a phone and internet will improve things drastically, but right now it's pretty dull. Next week I'm also hoping to get a gym membership. There's a new place right by my work that I'm going to check out (but I figure it's much better to have one of my Japanese co-workers come along, lest I sign up for something really dumb or basically make an ass of myself).

This internet place is also right by my work, so I'm able to come before or after work very easily. It's 24 hours and pretty pimp, playing jazz music with a free soda, coffee, and tea drink bar. With my own keyboard it's pretty nice and shouldn't be so bad for while I wait for my own internet.

Saturday is Megan's (the teacher I am replacing) sayonara party, which should be fun and break up the monotony a little. I hope everyone back home is doing well~!


First Day of Work

I don;t have internet in my apartment yet so I am in a net cafe next door to where I work and using a Japanese keyboard with no apparent apostrophe key-- so bear with me. Yesterday was CRAZY BUSY! The manager of my school met me at the station and took me all over to register for my gaijin card, open a bank account, get gas going at my apartment, go to my school, etc. I was pooped! And Mondays are supposed to be my off days! My apartment is really nice and clean as well. Not humongous like I thought, but definitely a good size as far as Japan goes and plenty of space for one person! I kinda live out in the country, but only a 20 min. train ride from the heart of Tokyo. I am a close walk to the train station and there:s a supermarket right at my stop which is great!

I met everyone at my work including the foriegn teachers today. Everyone is super nice and I think they like me. :) Megan, who is the teacher I am replacing、 is really awesome and helpful and I observed all of her classes today. Jason is who I:ll be working with and he also seems really nice and willing to help me out. I would love to write more, but this keyboard is driving me crazy. I should be coming back here tomorrow with my OWN computer. :) Thanks for your comments. I miss you Luca!! Thanks for reading!!!

oh, and BTdubs-- rugby in a huge stadium is AWESOME. Waseda rules.