We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it

I’ve spent chunks of today watching the DVDs Joe left with me yesterday. There’s one of Matsushige, one of Hiwasa, two of Wakimachi, and one “mystery disc”–that ended up being a several-minutes-long promotion/retrospective with clips of the Wakimachi show and a Japanese ticker-tape description at the bottom. All I have to say is…wow, home video is really good at making your hips look HUGE. Heh, I could’ve been two Lost Kids in one! But anyway. The Hiwasa show was definitely our best, and I totally understand why Joe has been leaning towards it. I’ll probably make copies of all of them for myself (Hiwasa for its quality, Andrew’s Wakimachi one for its image quality and the really nice way he handled the credits (and Bessie’s Rasta “Yeah mon!” during the pirate scene), and the Matsushige one for its infamy–read on), but for my friends/family, it’ll be the Hiwasa one for you all. Not like you care, but anyway.

After last night’s showing, I got a little concerned about my overall performance, but then I realized we watched the Wakimachi show yesterday, and I’d essentially hit burnout and just didn’t have it in me to give my all…which sucks, because either that show or the opening night in Ishii got the highest attendance. The others made me feel a little better, though. And I guess I’m not such a bad dancer after all.

Apparently the Ishii show, which the Ishii Kouminkan ran with and marketed as a community-wide event instead of just an ALT event, was aired 16 times recently–4 times a day for 4 days. I hope somebody taped it. We were joking that Christian should go loiter around Ishii, wearing the same green shirt he wore as Pan, and see how much attention he gets. When we were in the elevator heading up to Bell’s Bar on Friday for the Ugly Men/semi-open-mic night, these two random Japanese girls in the elevator with us recognized him out of the blue. (It helped that he was wearing the shirt, though.)

Oh–and I finally watched the infamous Matsushige show. I saw Jordan (as Michael Darling) nearly fall off the stage right at the end of “Night Of Fire,” and I saw his improvisation on the, “But mommy, we’re so tired!” line soon after (he added onto the end, “And my leg really hurts!”). And we didn’t see Christine make her Fall of Fame when she (as Tiger Lily) attempted to climb onto the stage with Hook and Smee (Chris and Noam) behind her, but I heard the shriek and the thump and heard the whole audience simultaneously gasp and go, “Ohh!”–and then, loud and clear, “You bastards!” I was laughing so hard I almost started crying. Poor things!

Anyway, moving on.

My flight to the US is now confirmed–I just received the ticket voucher from No. 1 Travel. I just have to bring it and my passport to the No. 1 counter at Kansai to receive my boarding passes, and I’m all set! I depart a month from the day after tomorrow…it feels like so long, but any time I tell anybody, they say, “Only a month from now? That’s so soon!” Maybe since they see it as coming so soon, it’ll start to feel pretty soon to me as well.

I didn’t mention this, but I’ve also essentially assumed the role of Tokushima AJET graphic designer as well as webmaster. I had no classes on Thursday, so I brought my laptop to the BOE and cranked out a flyer that’s going to the new ALTs with their welcome packets. And we do have some extremely vague details about them–right now, we know how many new ALTs there’ll be, but for obvious reasons, we don’t have details. It’s just so strange to think that this all happened a year ago. I received my e-mail from the Atlanta consulate on May 18th, 2005 (ooh, the 25th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption…wow, I’m a nerd)–ATL has been consistently faster than most of the nation, sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot, and different countries have different timelines, but…yeah! It’s New JET Placement Season now.

This afternoon I went for a 3-hour walk around town–I checked out a small temple, took some photos of the dam, tried to cross a small suspension footbridge across the Yoshinogawa (River), and checked out a larger temple (possibly one of the Other Shikoku 88) right behind one of my elementary schools, and walked a little further to catch a train home 3 hours after I’d left. I say “tried to cross” with regards to the footbridge, because once I actually got to the bridge, I realized that the surface was all wire mesh, and completely see-through. I have a mild fear of heights and a moderately strong fear of falling, so I got maybe 1/4 of the way across the bridge before the bridge’s faint swaying coupled with seeing the river rushing by far below my feet to make my knees start quaking, so I turned around and hurried back off the bridge again, the thin metal mesh clanking loosely below my feet. When I did, I looked back and saw the support cables swaying, and it made me wonder how often people actually use that bridge. It also made me wonder what Kazurabashi and the vine bridges in Iya are like, and if I’d be able to cross those.

This has the potential of sounding contrived, and I really don’t mean for it to. I still have my friends and other people saying that they think I’m really brave for doing this, and that I must have some really strong moral fiber or some really daring sense of courage or something. With all due respect, that’s all a bunch of crap, honestly. I’ve talked to so many JET participants who, in the days leading up to departure, were really nervous, and who, on the night before departure, were panicking and in tears the whole time, and who stayed up all night cramming as much as humanly possible into their suitcases. I was such a wreck the night before–crying into my mom’s shoulder, snapping at my parents when they were trying to be kind and “savor” (heh, oops) their last time with me living at home for months (if not years). I(t) was such a mess. And now that I’m here, I’m just sort of living here and doing my thing. I have a routine. I’m no different than I was at home–except now my Japanese is a lot better, I bow a lot, and maybe my social skills and cheer level aren’t quite as high due to the homesickness and relative isolation of my living situation. But we’re still who we were at home. We still have the same strengths and weaknesses. My having the willpower to let everything at home go and move to Japan for 2 years doesn’t mean that I can do anything–I couldn’t walk over that bridge today, and I probably never can. I still can’t dance. I still can’t find a boyfriend or work up the courage to ask a guy out. I’m still a disorganized and lazy slob. And I’m gaining weight, too! We are who we are, and we bring ourselves here, to experience another country for 2 years, to teach the people about ourselves and learn about themselves and their lives and their country. We aren’t unusually strong–we just have an interest in Asia and the time to spend here, and the interest and credentials to get us through the application process. Being here has taught us a lot–it’s simultaneously humbling and ego-boosting, but hopefully we’ll still remain essentially the same, and just a little “enlightened.” I hope I can come away with more confidence, the drive to do anything and travel anywhere I set my heart to, and a new appreciation of how simultaneously large and small the world is. And a smaller pants size.

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