Fire leaps from dark to dark, fear and anger leap to meet it

(The title is a Riverdance reference.)

After the long entry I’d posted in here Thursday, yesterday afternoon really felt like the best and most fitting way to end the week. I spend Friday afternoons and all of Thursdays at this one elementary school where I teach 4 grades now. It’s still a fairly new thing for me, and though the teachers on the whole have been very welcoming (especially the principal, vice-principal, and several of the teachers I work with), but it’s still tough to sort of break the ice sometimes, and I tend to be pretty quiet there.

Well, yesterday, the principal came over and we were chatting for a bit about various things related to the different school systems of Japan and the US and the strengths and weaknesses of the kids (yesterday we particularly focused on their creativity; the kids in Japan are very detail-oriented and methodical about painting pictures as accurately as possible, whereas kids in the US tend to be less precise but more creative. I didn’t tell her straight-out that I think it’s because Japanese kids aren’t really taught to think out of the box and are used to just following directions to the letter (hence a kid asking me if it was okay to use white-out on an ink smudge on some fun activity in class once)…that’s just my view, though.

Anyway, kids and teachers were in and out of the staffroom while we were talking, and somehow three other teachers got involved and we started talking about general educational and social issues and language barriers and the like for the better part of an hour. It was just really, really cool. Even when the conversation dissipated, the small talk the teachers near me and I made with each other felt a lot warmer and more natural. I left with a smile on my face yesterday.

I headed out to Genna’s last night, over an hour each way, because her sister and friend are visiting. Victor, Ange, Kam, Lou, and Eric were also out. We went to an izakaya known for their honey-glazed mochi cheese balls…really horribly awful for you but they taste amazing. Afterwards, with lightning flashing overhead, we went to a nearby onsen for their ice cream and then back to Genna’s, where we watched really shocking humor videos like the one of guys getting paddled for laughing at a video of a comedian screwing up his English (Waratte wa Ikenai) and the library game.

Outside, the rain had started to pour. The others were saying they’d had some bad weather earlier in the day, which was crazy because we had nothing in the west. We were just hanging out for a bit after we finished up with those, feeling the evening out and seeing how tired we felt, and Ange and I both decided we needed to leave soon when it suddenly started hailing. And not just typical hail–it was coming down in waves with a huge downpour of rain, it was beating against the windows, and lightning was flashing every several seconds. Water started seeping under Genna’s front door, and then the doorbell rang several times. The hail was ringing the doorbell. The power went out for a while, and we brought the laptop into the open area in the middle of her apartment to light our way as we waited it out. It was the worst inclement weather I’ve been in in years–Genna and her sister and friend were just surprised it got this bad here, since they’re from Kansas, where they definitely have worse weather than we do in Atlanta.

It finally let up, or at least the hail stopped, though the rain was still coming down. Kam/Lou/Eric ran out and I wasn’t far behind them (they all wished me luck with my drive home, since I by far had the longest drive ahead of me), and the drive ended up being okay, with the weather getting better the further west I went–I made good time and made it home in about an hour.

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