Saturday

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…

Wednesday

This week has been just really long. 12-hour work days and I still feel behind. It is frustrating since it leaves no time for anything else but all the same, I know that I am extremely privileged to be in my position. In the morning, I had to visit the laundromat to dry my son’s school uniform and basketball jersey. And I was passed, at 5 am, by a group of Chinese women, returning from their nightshift at a local factory. They live together, work together, shop together, always wearing colourful cloth surgical masks and baseball caps. I have never…

Friday

Last night, I bought a new copy of Minna No Nihongo, a beginner’s Japanese course book. I bought it because all the local Japanese lessons use the book and our old version was really old. And I bought it because I never have time to go to the local Japanese lessons and so will have to practice with J, for whom the book is an appropriate level. We are going on a trip in two months and want to be more fluent when we run into friends from our old addresses. And yet, I still blushed when putting that book…

Tuesday

The fourth grade curriculum here, much like the fourth grade curriculum anywhere, includes a focus on civic affairs and history. We live in Hiroshima. Students here grow up with a heavy burden, passed along from their ancestors. And in fourth grade, they go to the Peace Park, visit the museum of tragic artifacts, and talk to foreign visitors about war and peace. As a teacher helping students with the talking to foreign visitors portion of the field trip, I attended a talk given by a survivor of the bomb, hibakusha in Japanese. She was just 8 years-old when the bomb…

Tuesday

Raining in the morning, forced to walk in the street to avoid the crowds of umbrella-wielding elementary school students dominating the sidewalk. The news of a knifing rampage in Yokohama came at the end of second period, the teachers called to the vice principal’s desk. School children had been attacked, we must be vigilant, bracing ourselves for copycats. I remembered the incident in Tomio, a girl taken after school by her mother’s long-term stalker, her body found in a ditch the next morning. Back then there were no school gates, just open entrances. There were no ID badges, no security…