I just smashed a roach and when I went back to collect its corpse, there was nothing there. Its guts were outside of its body so where could it have gone? The violence of its death is not something I wanted to engage with at 5 am but it was big and undeterred by vinegar spray. Did it slide under the door? Will I have to see it dragging itself down the linoleum hallway?

Last night, after our very long work week, we went to the downtown foreigner pub. It was really quiet when we arrived at 6:30, five English teachers, two Japanese and three foreigners. My male coworkers were still in their chinos and button-down shirts while my one female coworker had managed to change into something less obvious.

I had a salad and gin and tonic while they ate burgers and drained tall glasses of beer. Then came a few rounds of pool with the Marines, two young lads, one of whom kept getting distracted by the vaping woman with hair to her waist that he enveloped in the shadows while his friend took his shot. I refused to play since I had no desire to play against a pair of drunk Marines who kept getting drunker.

It was strange to be in a smoky pub, surrounded by English and the sound of pool balls knocking into each other. It was both the most adult thing I had done in a while and the most boring, as nothing is worst than watching people play pool badly while drinking very expensive and weak gin and tonics.

My male Japanese coworker who just joined the department asked me what I did when I was a child. He said, “You were a bookworm, right?”. I was surprised that he could see that so easily. He said it is because I am quiet and am always looking around, watching everything. Which is funny since that is how my sister described me when I was a newborn. I suppose I have not changed too much in these forty years of planetary existence.

I watched the two Marines, baby-faced smokers and drinkers, flushed pink, even drunk polite. Their tattoos seemed too mature for them, a large maned lion along the inner forearm of one, a fighter jet on the bicep of the other. They were just a few years older than Sebastian and yet they were trained to kill. Which foreigners were more sinister, I wondered, the military muscles or the English teachers, both of us extending the reach of our country and culture. I thought of Iran and how news of the aborted strike must have been chilling for those boys and their families far away; how nice it must be for them to be able to just drink and smoke and play pool instead of preparing for possible maneuvers.

A crowd of young women gathered behind me, complimenting each others’ outfits. They were there to find foreigners, something I find repulsive but also have to assume is their way of trying to get out into the world using the only method that is readily available. I must suspend my judgment of these women and their futures if they are successful in snaring a foreigner. I must allow for their autonomy, their instincts about what is best for them. What do I know of them, after all, besides for their fondness for tank tops and short shorts?

Afterward, after my Japanese coworkers had gone off in a taxi, we got some coffee and talked of calling people ma’am and sir, of golden handshakes, of the demise and rise of ale. And then, talking about the future, my coworker, who has been pushing me to get a teacher’s license, said, you have to work on your books because there is no future in teaching. Which was surprising, coming from Mr. Practicality.
Then last night, in the seconds between my head hitting the pillow and falling into a deep sleep, I thought of getting up in the morning and writing instead of studying and joy rushed through me, warm, light, and certain.