Apparently I’ve been harassing my landlords quietly for some time without realizing it. My balcony is directly behind the living area of my landlords’ house, and my washing machine, which is on the balcony, has taken to rattling rather loudly lately. I ran into my landlady today, who immediately offered to slide some wood underneath it to keep it balanced (which I already thought it was, and assumed it was an issue with the washer itself), and as she did so, she asked me to please not use it after 10 PM, and to be quiet when coming home late (though I usually am, so that’s probably directed more at the others). Still, though, any time I accidentally do something like this, where I’m completely unaware of a case of inadvertent but blatant inconsideration that I’ve caused, it makes me feel really clumsy and awkward.

I also slipped up with my Monday morning elementary school and assumed today was the last class since I have end-of-term classes at all my other elementary schools this week–but in fact they wanted me to come next week, and have now canceled that class. I’m going to call them back and come in on Monday anyway.

At least my day went pretty well, though. My classes at my junior high were good, kids were coming up to me and chatting with me in the halls, my JTE swore she’d be at the final performance of the musical (she didn’t come this weekend because her husband, who’s also a teacher, finally had a free day with no club activities on Sunday), my art teacher was still gushing about the musical, and because I was wearing a salwar kameez (this week I’m doing a combination Indian culture/world music and dance lesson for my end-of-the-year elementary class) I automatically got a lot of comments on it.

At the end of the day, as I was pulling out of our school, I passed three of the third-years and waved at them, and they all grinned and waved back, and one boy touched his hand to his heart dramatically and mouthed, “I love you.” That, combined with the very aptly-timed “Closing Time” by Semisonic coming up on my mp3 player and the rain having let up and the sun having come out for the afternoon, made me smile for the rest of my drive home.

Musical, weekend 1

The musical opened this weekend–we managed to pull it off, though we’re all totally exhausted. This was another of those killer-commute weekends, though unlike last year, there was no graduation ceremony yesterday morning to complicate matters.

Friday night, I rushed home from work, got my stuff together, and headed out at 6 PM with the intent of driving across the entire prefecture for our show in Hiwasa in the southwest–at least a 3-hour drive. I met up with Noam for dinner around 7:30. I rarely ever get to see him, and we hung out for over an hour and a half, just chatting and catching up. We finally cut it off at 9:15 because I still had a long drive ahead of me. I made it to Bessie’s down in Mugi, 15 minutes south of Hiwasa and one of the southernmost towns in Tokushima, about an hour and a half later. James was staying there as well, so the three of us hung out, watched Scrubs (seriously a great show), and then went to bed a little while later.

The next day, James headed out a bit early to visit the Mugi onsen to relax his shoulder (which he’d dislocated again fairly recently), so Bessie and I drove to Hiwasa, visited Yakuoji (one of the Shikoku pilgrimage temples), and had really yummy Indian food at this restaurant there that I’ve heard a lot about, called Anand–it’s like a little hippie cafe with a lot of goods from India and southeast Asia, run by a Japanese couple who’d spent a few years in India (in Madhya Pradesh maybe?). We also just spent some quality time catching up–Samoan and Indian culture have a lot in common in some ways, including being very family-oriented, and it’s really nice having someone else here who can see things in the way I can.

We then headed to the Hiwasa Community Hall, where we finished painting and putting together our props, had a full technical runthrough, and then put on our first show, to a slightly quiet crowd. All things considered, it went pretty well. Noam, both Jims, Sara, and Geneva came out to watch–the whole deep-south crowd. A woman actually came around and got our autographs, too!

We packed out of there about an hour after the show ended, and I actually made very good time driving back, considering I didn’t take the expressway from Tokushima to Ikeda–2.5 hours for the trip, as compared to 3 with expressway on the way down (including city traffic). I got a bit sleepy at the end, but I made it home and was in bed by 1:00.

This morning we had a 9AM calltime, and everyone was truly exhausted and running late, but it was all right because we really didn’t have much to do. We did a cue-by-cue runthrough, which ended up playing out similarly to Star Wars In Thirty Minutes (and included all the obscenities we’d so carefully censored out of the original). The musical went fairly well again today–I had several technical issues on stage (the teeth on the shark keep falling off, since they’re just duct-taped on and I’m actually trying to bite and hold stuff with the shark’s mouth–and the nose extension scene had some major malfunctioning going today, with several parts–including the base–refusing to stay put and two segments falling off, which wasn’t anybody’s fault but the nose prop itself).

This crowd was a lot warmer and more friendlier, though considering the intensive amount of advertising Jordan had done in Mikamo, we had a very small turnout compared to what we were expecting, and I actually have enough programmes left to get us through at least one show next week. Kazumi and Yaemi, my two really wonderful 30-something eikaiwa ladies, were there with two beautiful bouquets of flowers for me, and the art teacher from my junior high showed up with two bags of sweets for me! I was astonished that she was there, and really touched–as much as I tend to feel that I’m not very involved at my school, she’s just a super-sweet lady and one of quite a few teachers I have a nice relationship with. One of my elementary school students was there with her family as well (the one who froze for 15 minutes in front of the class during her self-introduction way back in September 2005; she’s warmed up a lot since then and has a dear place in my heart now)–I think her mother is either an eikaiwa student of another ALT, or something like that. The Miki Clan was out in full force, and Kumi, a friend of Julie’s who I’ve met a few times, came out as well. As for ALTs, Amy took a train out from the city to see us, Andrew came with his camera, and Justin and Mailena came out of the Iya Valley to watch the show. There were people who had expressed strong interest in coming that weren’t there (my JTE, my boss from my BOE, the groundskeeper lady from my junior high, more of my eikaiwa ladies), but it was all right. I think everyone really enjoyed it, which was good.

For me, this year it doesn’t feel like it did last year–we’ve rushed like crazy just to make this happen, and in the true spirit of every Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra concert, it came together in a very solid way on stage. But we’re already done with two performances and there are only three more left. I think by the time it registers that performance time is here, performance time will already have ended. Maybe it’s that my part last year was more substantial than my four separate parts this year (starting choir member, Asimo the robot, Nose Extension Technician/general all-black-clad doer-of-stuff-on-stage girl, and Monstroa the Shark), but the whole feel of the musical is a lot looser and less involved. It’s nice, because it means we won’t be as burned out by the end, but it’s kind of a shame as well. I miss how emotionally invested I was in last year’s–this year all I can worry about is whether the nose will stay in place, whether the shark is banging against stuff or if I’m bent over far enough so that it’s horizontal and not flailing around, whether people will see Pinocchio and the block of wood he “came from” behind the black cloak we’re holding up. I don’t find myself as invested in the play as a whole. I think if we had another three or four weeks’ worth of rehearsals, if it all came together then in a way that we could actually see because we could sit in the audience during our downtime acts and watch, then maybe I’d feel differently about it.

Still, though, it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to the next three performances. Wish us luck!

One year

It was a year ago that I got a message from Jennifer over my lunch break telling me that they’d found our friend Adam dead in his apartment. It was a year ago today. It was a year ago yesterday (or the day before…I’m not sure on the exact day/time) that he passed away. I still remember the afternoon I received the news in excruciating detail, and the tumultuous two or three days that followed.

It’s been a year, and I’m amazed that this has affected me so much. He wasn’t one of my best friends, but I really respected him and we got a long really well and hung out a fair amount throughout college, even after I switched out of computer science and he stopped enrolling in Japanese classes.

His death has definitely made a difference in how this year has played out. Or rather, his death has affected my perceptions of this year. Any time I see any reference in mass media or from my friends to the cause of his death, I stop smiling or I cringe. Coping with his loss definitely deepened the homesickness I already was feeling and made last spring a true roller-coaster ride, one I definitely wasn’t anticipating. I had very different reactions to situations than I would have if he were still alive–the same would be true if any friend passed on in such a sudden way.

He was just such a truly and wholly good person. Whatever it was that triggered the chain of events that led to his death–he didn’t deserve it. He deserved so much better than that. But then again, who really does deserve that?

It took me months to stop thinking about him daily. I’m not a person who has ever handled death well, which didn’t help, but being here and knowing there was really nothing I could do forced me to stop dwelling and move on, which was really what I needed. At the same time, that wave of emotions came back several times, when I talked to other friends here who lost family members or friends who were very close to them, because it’s happened to several of us. There were all these triggers that brought it back to the surface. And in a way I didn’t mind, because the one thing I was irrationally afraid of was forgetting him.

A teacher at one of my two elementary schools today slid this poem towards me and asked me if I’d read it. I definitely don’t cry anymore when I think of his passing, but this, combined with this somber anniversary, did make my breath catch in my throat for a moment. I hope it’s true for him.

I need to get back to work, but I just wanted to acknowledge this day. I haven’t forgotten about him or the relatively brief but warm and impactful role he played in my life. His life touched so many people’s, and I’m sure there are dozens of people remembering him right now as well.