Everyday Livin'

These Boots were Made for Walking

These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do.
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

Okay, maybe Nancy Sinatra’s break-up-woman-power lyrics aren’t appropriate for this entry. Then again, it’s the first thin in the morning and the weirdest things like to make an appearance in my mind’s eye.

This entry is in retrospect.

Started: September 12, 2016
Finished: September 18, 2016

おはようございます、みなさん。I realize this morning that, in America, everyone is remembering 9/11 and I’m sorry for it. You may want a quiet moment to yourself to remember lives loved and lost. I was ten years of age when it happened and to this day, I know I was wrapped up in the kind of self-absorption only a 10-year-old could manage. There was a part of me however, that couldn’t shake this omnipresent cloud of gloom the adults were projecting.

Because I don’t come from a military family, I can only express sympathy towards the unnecessary destruction of life. Humans are a violent species when their values are crossed and I foresee a constant miscommunicated rut. Labels are a dangerous thing and I’m struck now by a small inside joke: Allah is only another name for God. The waters are too muddied by bloodshed to determine for myself the nature of this beast that has continued for 15 years.

In the meantime, I have more than likely solidified my weirdness by taking a picture of a large snail I found in a drainage grate. I was disappointed that it wasn’t dead. I would have loved to keep the shell and add it to my small collection of All Things Japanese. This mainly contains enough receipts to fill a scrapbook and a hawk feather. I think I have some acorns running around somewhere. This brings to mind all of the things I see on my walks to school.

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I work at two schools but am at one the majority of the time. I teach at the other once a week. The main one is the largest in the area with over 600 students. (When I was doing my self-introduction lessons, I would show my classes a picture of the front of my JHS and explain to them it held 2,400 students. As I continue on my tangent, I think America could learn from Japan. There’s no zoning here. You apply for the school you want to get into and that counts for elementary onwards. Education is almost like a blood sport. These children put their sweat and tears into what they do and the results are amazing.)

My days usually start out like this: every time I leave my apartment, I do battle with an obnoxious spider that is determined to slowly suffocate me in my own living space. Viciously snapping the web from its foundation by opening the door, I continue on my way (though, the last few days have been nice; someone came and cleaned the web off. I have since scrubbed mine and my neighbor’s door. I even sprayed vinegar [EDIT: since I’ve been working on this blog entry, the web has returned but has remained above my door.]). I soon begin marveling at the nature around me. Shrines, flowers, butterflies… aside from the menacing looking spiders I see hanging in mid-air, I do fine. Some days, after it rains, there’s an old man neighbor of mine that likes to rinse his car off. Every time I see him he’s so happy to be out of doors; his smile is infectious.

 

Up one side of the street, I go, around two corners and I’m swiftly on my way to Minami-Gotemba Station. I’m sorry to say that there isn’t even a corner store for me to stop at on my way. All accessible shopping areas are near either school. For instance, by the one I teach at once per week is a 7-11 and Circle K (called “Maru K” here — “maru” meaning circle). My main school is near Family Mart, 7-11 and HAC Drug, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Japan is a network of rivers and streams. It seems like I can’t walk anywhere without encountering some form of waterway. When it rains and stagnant water begins to move, mosquitos are riotous. Walk over a storm drain and you’d swear it had fur.

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Once I get to Fujioka Station, I’m greeted immediately by a grouchy looking orange tabby cat and an equally grouchy Yankee. The definition of a Yankee in Japan is an ambiguous one. This article may help you understand the sub-culture a little more. I’m almost tempted to make friends with him. I see quiet folk as a challenge in getting them to open up about themselves. A few days back, I met him unintentionally at the vending machine and he was very polite in telling me “good morning.” I wish that cat would do the same instead of sitting under bikes glaring at people.

As I walk to school, I’m always welcomed by the local morning glories. There’s even a field of them by my apartment. I read somewhere that hydrangeas change their colors based on the amount of nitrogen in the soil. I wonder if the morning glories do the same. I’ve seen blue, pink, purple, varigated, white-rimmed, and blue-rimmed flowers. I might become poetic here, so I’ll leave my description short and simple. There are other flowers I see, but outside of the cosmos, I don’t know what they are other than cute. Japan seems to be big on beautifying their towns. I’ve yet to go to a place that doesn’t have pots of flowers hanging out on the curb. I often spot swallowtail butterflies paying tribute to the blooms. Other than the nature, my walk to school is fairly uneventful. (Grandma, you’ll be happy to know the grass you hate grows here too.)

Oh! I almost forgot about The House. This house is so overgrown with the foliage that you would think anyone lived there. I wonder a lot of the time how whoever lives there gets into the house. The only reason I know someone lives there is that there’s a white car that parks in the teeny tiny driveway every once in a while.

What really warms me is my interaction with two choice students. They’re in a class I can’t go into too much detail about. Most days, the one student runs up to me and is very eager to communicate. Sometimes, when her friend is there with her, she’ll translate for her. One day, not too long ago, she even told me that she liked me. The lonely gremlin within my heart was elated.

On the walk home, I usually notice a car or a truck parked behind some trees in my neighborhood. I often wonder who they belong to because there is no house and no field around where they’re sitting. They certainly can’t drive forward because the river is there. Maybe it’s a secret rendezvous point for hot couples.

Maybe I will draw a simplified map. It’s a good thing I’m no cartographer.

P.S. There is a rubber working glove that I’ve been paying attention to for the last week or so. It has somehow found its way into a tree. Also, here is a shopping list to let you know how crazy I get at the grocery store sometimes. I should know better than to shop while hungry.

Sponges                    Box cutter                    Chopsticks              Sweet curry

Drying rack for laundry                               Pepsi                         Milk

Eggs                           Bread                             Maple jam               Rice

Chocolate covered almonds                Chocolate covered macadamia nuts

Small Ziploc bags                                   Medium Ziploc bags

Small katsu don with fried egg (for lunch)

Pancake mix           Salad dressing              Croutons                  Sweet potato sauce

Alfredo sauce          Furikake for rice          Katsu breading      Watermelon

Bananas                   Macaroni salad              Asparagus katsu     Marinated salmon

Cabbage                   Potatoes                        Sweet potatoes           Mushrooms

Onion                       Frozen gyoza                Pork chops                   Croquettes

Frozen dumplings                 Cream puffs             Corn dogs         Hamburger patties

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