Thursday, March 26, 2009

itsumo arigato gozaimasu: Thank You, Always

There is a bakery cart that sometimes shows up in front of the bookstore across the street from my apartment. The brownies are amazing, and I recently discovered that the cheesecake, too, is out of this world. Although I never know exactly when the cart will show up, Monday evenings seem to be a safe bet. Jocelyn, who has been living with me for over a month, has grown to love the little cakes even more that I do; which has caused her her to dash out the door upon hearing the cart’s music, like a small child running after an ice cream truck.

Today, at 9 am, a surge of teachers grabbed their wallets and began running out of the staff room. One woman who barely speaks English saw that I made no effort to follow the others outside. She came over to my desk and said “bakery, come.” Although I was not hungry and have honestly been trying to cut back, I decided to take a break from my computer to see what this was all about.

Right outside of the Junior High School I found my favorite bakery cart filled with an abundance of unpicked-over goods. As I reached for my favorite brownie, I noticed that the teachers around me were loading trays full of breads, cookies, and cakes. These civilized people who quietly sip on green tea had suddenly become ravenous children. Motivated by the hype, I ended up buying three things. When it was my turn to pay the clerk who knows me well, and knows Jocelyn better, he said “itsumo arigato gozaimasu". He then told me that my friend loves the baked goods, and I told him that I was aware.
I walked away from the situation feeling like an experienced bakery shopper; as if I could have impressed my coworkers by saying “I’ll have the regular”.

Hopefully I can resist eating the two brownies and piece of cheesecake long enough to save some for Jocelyn. Maybe my coworkers were on to something... I should have bought more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Vice Principal let me do it.

An hour of cleaning with this

is a lot more fun if one is permitted to blast Kelly Clarkson in the staff room.

Zannen: Too Bad

Last Friday night, after the graduation ceremony at my Junior High School, I joined my coworkers for the proper Japanese work party that is infamously known as an enkai. We drank together, laughed together, sang karaoke and huddled under umbrellas while walking through the rain. I teased my young male coworkers for drinking ZIMA as I sipped on whisky and coke, and I challenged them to try to spell my name correctly. Among the attempts, “Rear” was my favorite.

This morning, everyone is quietly sitting at their desks as usual, and the man who sits across from me is dozed off with his hands neatly folded on his lap and his head slightly tilted to one side. The teacher who invited me over to ride his white pony has yet to say good morning, and another teacher who invited me to a baseball game after bonding over mutual reasons for being interested in teaching, literally ran away from me this morning as I tried to make small talk.

I suppose when people say what happens at an enkai stays at an enkai, this includes not only the inappropriate behavior but the bonding as well.

Zannen. I was really looking forward to meeting that pony.