Wednesday, September 14, 2005

JR in major

today I taught the words ‘settle in,’ which I described as becoming comfortable with. I think she was too polite to exclaim, “I don’t have a clue what your trying to tell me…”

well, at least the kids’ classes when well. I was really excited when a dad came with the kid. usually it’s just the moms and the kids. and since this was one of my babies (less than 2 years) a parent comes into the class with them. and today there was a dad. I wanted to make a big deal of it, but contained myself. the cultural gendertyping was not what I meant by ‘settling into.’

I meant the trains. (ie JR—Japanese Railway—in a major key (not a sad minor key))

I’m still not thrilled that my commute is so long, but I’m getting into a good groove with it.

On TuThSat, when I go to KM, I get the paper and read on the way to work. I draw some of my high level lessons from the current events and feel more connected to the crazy world.

on Wed/Fri I go to Shinonome (Shnnme) and take a train from my station, Shinkoiwa, to Tokyo station, race from one end of the station to the other (650meters—nearly half a mile) to catch a different line for about 4 stops and get off to switch trains again.

The trains into Tokyo in the morning and out in the evening are packed (that means very crowded, like sardines—or so I explained a few weeks ago in an E class). smooshed. barely standing room. but you gotta go… and I’m not even commuting on peak hours. that’s when the professional train pushers come out, or so I’m told.

so at first I tried other routes that didn’t take me through Tokyo station, to avoid the crowds, but they just weren’t working out. so I started grooving to Ani and random music while packed in between busy Japanese shoppers, business men and women, students, and teeny boppers. but now I have a new special Shnnme commuting mix. It consists of a bright major key from Shinkoiwa to Tokyo station (Paul Simon) and techno for racing across Tokyo station. and then a mix of more Paul Simon plus Great Big Sea, Ani, Commitments, Alix Olson, Better than Ezra… ect.

imagine a packed train. I’m smooshed against the door

watching the laundry of Tokyo blow in the wind as the train speeds by apartments.
watching neon signs advertise NOVA, GEOS, and other English schools
watching the businessman fast asleep, pocket protector with one pen
watching the girl in a JHS uniform send emails on her pink Mickey phone
watching the old lady with died hair fix her scarf, she wears practical heals and carries an umbrella for the sun
watching the impatient, eager, pretty 20 something put on lipstick (she got a seat)
watching the counterpart eager 20something read a comicbook the size of the telephone book (he’s holding onto a strap with one hand and the comic in the other)

I’m watching Japan go about its day
I’m watching a typical day
I’m living a typical day

As Alix Olson says, watching “so many hearts pushed together and beating”

and Paul Simon croons, “why deny the obvious child” and the drum in the background makes me smile. I have a secret soundtrack in a major key. I am carving a place for myself in this strange and beautiful land.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i get a clearer and clearer picture of your new life. me a piece of dust upon the coat you wear on the subway. laundry hanging on someone's line. what will THEY do today?
i have never quite understood the meaning of "seeing the forest through the trees" (is that how it goes?) but it feels as if that is what you are doing as you let japan wrap around you and as you add to other's lives there. as you walk out of your apartment to the street, as you board the train, as you walk toward your classroom, as you say good afternoon.
as you order a drink in a club, as you laugh with new found friends.
so proud of you. love, mum