A former student. Good kid. Took to English like a duck to water. Well, I should say that he took to the ABC Song like a duck to water.
It’s been nine months since I left Japan. *insert more grousing about clerical error that kept me here this long* Given his age, he likely wouldn’t remember me if I were to return tomorrow. Few of the kids would, I figure. I’m not on their radar any more.
I have been an ESL cowboy long enough that the first batch of (miserable spoiled rich kid) sixth-graders that I taught would be in their mid-twenties by now. The first batch of pre-schoolers would be in high school. It hasn’t been long enough that first batch of expat assholes I met, nor my first bad boss, have died off. Hope always shines in my heart.
EXIF data claims this was taken with the Hipstamatic app. I toned it down in Photoshop because sometimes iPhone apps overdo it.
I’m going to tell you something I wish I got when I started on The Path of the Expat;
Don’t be afraid to leave if you’re unhappy.
I don’t just mean your job. I mean the nation you’re in as well. I don’t care if it’s Korea, Japan, India, UAE, or even frickin’ America.
Yeah, you’re gonna tell yourself that you’ll miss the kids. Or you love your girlfriend just that much. Or you don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with Immigration. Or that it’s not as bad as you think. Or where else are you gonna get booze this cheaply?
Don’t. Just leave.
If you can do it in a way that allows you to keep everyone’s pride intact by all means do it. But if you find yourself in a situation where the best option open to you is to pack your bags and walk out the door, do it.
It’s like any other sort of relationship. If you both can’t find that balance between give and take, neither of you will be happy. Yeah, some people like being in a codependent relationship. But this advice isn’t for them.
Life is a very short thing. Don’t make it any more miserable than it can be. Both for you and everyone around you. You’re going to drag them down with you and doesn’t that seem more assholish than making someone cover your shift?
This was a Hipstamatic shot, I recall. Taken somewhere on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo.
It’s been about two months since I got back to Canada and my memories of Japan are pretty much like this photo now. I don’t know if that’s middle age or the numbing, timeless-cuz-there’s-no-jobs, sitting around waiting for a doctor to tell me if I need surgery or not, effect of living in rural Nova Scotia.
Let’s talk about the greatest weakness of digital photography: The death of your data.
My external hard drive died two weeks ago. (UPDATE: About 70% of the images were rescued.) This came at the exact same time as I was on the verge of flying back to Japan to strangle the entire corporate structure of my previous place of employment… I tell yah, Japan is pretty good to work in for the most part. But once you’re gone you can fuck off and die as far as they’re concerned… So the death of the hard drive was the shit icing on the shit cake.
My iPhone visiting Brick City was the shit ice cream piled on top of it.
See, photography is only as good as the medium you store the images on. And while film might have a century before the souls escape from it, digital is gone with the next hardware failure.
This happens to my comic files a lot too. I’m generally a nomad. I go where the ESL Edutainment jobs are. Things get shaken, smacked, and lost when you go from nation to nation. And since most non-moving storage devices like memory sticks and DVDs don’t have nearly enough storage capacity needed for today’s high rez imaging they’re not an option. For the most part I can live with my lack of saving things properly, but sometimes I’d like to blog about something and without a decent image to go with it none of you will care.
Long story short: Buy two or three external hard drives and make copies on all of them. Even the terabyte ones are affordable. If you don’t, you’ll be like me and only have what you’ve littered around the web.
It can happen to youuuuuuuu~
This is the subway in Fukuoka. It looks like the app was Hipstamatic. Forget which station I was pulling into here so I’m going to say it’s Akasaka just because it’s fun to say. Try it.
In my dream last night, I was interviewing for an ESL teaching job.
This school was somewhere in East Asia, the dream wasn’t clear on it, and was famous for being very good to it’s teachers. I arrived to find the teacher’s room set up like a kindergarten class. The teachers got free, calorie balanced meals. Nap times, play times, and a story time. By the time I excused myself to sneak out through the bathroom window, they had moved on to singalong time.
Given the infantile teaching staff odds are good that was set in South Korea.
Anyway, the picture was a Hipstamatic thing of some kindy students in Japan wearing their Oni masks for Setsubun. It was the closest picture I had.
For my first two years and final month in Japan I was sleeping on a futon. Once you hit a certain age, the distance from the futon to a standing position gets a bit too far for first thing in the morning and you crave the intermediate sitting position a bed gives you.
And it’s embarrassing to have to crawl over to the wall and haul your creaking bones up like a drunk on a Sunday morning.
I was struck by how dedicated the would be cruiser was to following the contour of the stall’s lock. Shinjuku is a pretty busy station and I can’t imagine the line up of grimacing and sad-eyed salarymen he was causing while he dedicated himself to the task.
I suspect the stall graffiti will be a lot more aggressive now that I’m back in Canada. I have a lot to do here and a lot of photos and memories to process while I do it.
But let tell you one thing I learned while staying in Shinjuku: Pretty, young, and cool people are generally too wrapped up in being pretty, young, and cool to make for interesting street photography subjects. I think that’s why you typically only see photos of them standing around and showing off their clothing instead.
This was a Hipstamatic shot that got trimmed and straightened in Photoforge2.
Abandoned homes tend to be left that way here. Capitalist society. No one pays to have the property cleared, property is left to the elements. Earthquakes seem to do the lions share of the cleanup work. The rest vanishes into the kudzu.
This is one of a number of post war homes in my neighborhood. Interestingly, several of them have been recently renovated to see use as cheap housing.
Originally I was going to go off on certain Internet “communities” and the hypocrisies they spout on the subject of copyright.
Then I realized that was one of those telling an alcoholic they’re too drunk to drive situations and casual snark was a better way to get it off my chest. So instead of a rant here is a Hipstamatic shot of Aoshima in Miyazaki.
Since my current plan has me returning to Canada in the spring for some much needed doctoring, I’ve been thinking about writing some posts about my decade in east Asia, but I’m not sure about what.
The urge to let loose my negativity on aspects of my time here that made me unhappy is an easy route, but it’s exhausting and goes nowhere. And unfortunately, the web has a view of this part of the world so shaped by wishful thinking and internet memes that I’m pretty sure no one would be interested in the real deal…
Here is the real deal about this place, by the way;
1. Look at your boring fucking life.
2. Translate it to Japanese.
Practical living stuff can be found in a lot of places if you look for it. So can warnings about the job situation.