Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the break down of summer

I’ve decided not to come back to the states for summer.

It’ll be five years away this summer and I’ve made it back at least once a year since then. There is a time when people stop sending care packages and a time when ‘real life’ happens away and you no longer identify with the newbies and their culture shock and a time when you don’t go home every year. I’m crossing that line.

Here’s the break down:

A plane ticket back for three weeks, leaving July 30th in time for my cousin’s wedding will be minimum 1,700 dollars. Some quotes look close to 2 grand. Leaving on the 30th also means taking 6 of 10 sick/vacation days off, in addition to our two-week summer break. Since there is no spring break at this school for teachers, taking 6 days now means no spring break later.

So, paying possibly 2 grand for a ticket and then maybe another grand for zooming around from Seattle to Portland to Eugene will wipe out my savings, will wipe out my spring break, and though fantastic to see everyone briefly, unlikely to leave me rested.

And what I need more than anything right now is to invest in my life here.

Though, of course, I want to see you all, 4 days with family, a week in Eugene, a week in Portland and busses busses busses, will give me a taste of everything you are and everything I love but not really be satisfying. It’s always great on one hand, but a painful tease on the other.

Though I thank you all for your congratulations for getting the job and apartment and everything…. but you missed the point of the last blog. The subtext was ‘yes I got what I wanted but no, I’m not happy and so spend a lot of time thinking about wanting to leave.”

I spend my time telling stories about the jungle, the cats, the mud.

I ask myself often, why did I come back?

1*To get back in shape

It hasn’t happened yet. In fact, I am 8 kg heavier than when I left Japan and am pissed. I haven’t been biking as much as I’ve wanted to because of a bike accident with the mean old lady followed a few weeks later with nearly going off the side of a mountain when my tire blew out wounded my confidence and took a lot of joy out of riding for a while. Also, I have to lie about commuting to work by bike, so it’s taken a little while to organize the clothes that I wear when biking, wear between locking the bike and getting into school and actually wear when working. Though I’m getting more organized, I’ve been working stupid amounts of hours rather than exercising.

And though the good weather has passed and the hot humidity has set in, I’m getting this together little by little. I’ve started doing yoga after work once or twice a week. My confidence and invincibility in cycling has slowly recovered. I go from bike clothes to throwing on a skirt (longer than bike shorts) and the right type of t-shirt on over, walking the two blocks to work, changing out of cleats, shorts and sweaty things… repeat going home. I’m also getting a professional fit to my bike as I am still too saddle sore to ride more than 50km on consecutive days, which is not enough.

2* To get work experience while taking online graduate classes and getting my teaching degree.
The work experience part is going well, though the amount of freedom I have with the curriculum is daunting. Or rather, I will be judged later by some standard, but no one has really decided what that is, so I have freedom because of unclear goals. The hours are long but it’s a real job and that’s kind of the way that goes, I guess…

I PASSED my first graduate course! However, even one course was so much work and one of the reasons I was regularly at work 12 hours a day. Though the professor was easy to communicate with, the administration has be really difficult. For instance, I owe them money but can’t log into which ever page that information is on and because I can’t call them for technical help, I can’t fix the problem. Organizing internet for my apartment has proved difficult with my only options at over 60 dollars a month. So, I’m switching to an iPhone. I still won’t have skype without a wifii signal but at least I’ll have maps and internet at home. I’ve ordered books for a class I plan to take in the fall. I hope I can get some of the reading done early thereby manage my time better.

I’m not taking a course over summer because I can’t get the books in time and I just can’t manage…

So, I’m moving to these goals really slowly.

My Japanese isn’t improving at all.

3* Save money.
When I got my first pay check I had less than 200 dollars left, which doesn’t get you so far in Tokyo. I would have just enough saved up to come back to the states but it would wipe almost everything again and it would be back to living pay check to pay check. Now, when my job is so rough I don’t think I can take it, I have options. If I have no money, I’m trapped.

I plan to finish out the contract through to the end of March. If I renew for a second year, I don’t know. On good days, I think sure. But I need a week of spring break. On bad days (and those details aren’t good to go into on a blog), I figure I’ll leave. On bad days, I am so done with Japan, Tokyo, and this sort of rat race lifestyle. My dating life is nonexistent, my life revolves around work, I feel out of place, out of sync, difficult to connect with everyone who is afraid of a little dirt…. And in that case, I want to use the money I’m saving to come back for a few months, not for a hurried three weeks.

Anyway, I’m sorry I’m not coming back. I miss you all and I know I’ll be missing some important events, but it’s better for me to be here, do something that makes me love my life here—rather than count the reasons I want to leave—and then make better decisions come what I want to do in April.

All my love to you all.