“He meant everything to me. But there’s a new Doctor Who on so let’s make this snappy.”

Hey, so I been thinkin’.

What is the deal with writing “R.I.P.” on tombstones, or wherever else you wish to honor the dead? I mean, if there was ever a time to take the effort to actually say the full phrase, I would think that would be it. Doesn’t it seem like an awfully flippant way to pay respect to your loved ones? Even worse is when people actually carve it into the tombstones, like they’re saving the space for something: “Let these words be immortalized for ALL TIME. Rip.”

I don’t know about you guys, but every time I see “R.I.P.”, inside my head I say the actual word “rip”, or worse, the sound of ripping. And what an inappropriate sound. A man just died, for all we know by being ripped in half by a rogue wheat thresher, but even if he died peacefully in his sleep, or even if he was actually a she, it’s an awfully intrusive sound to have enter your brain when you’re trying to have a solemn moment of silence.

Continue reading ““He meant everything to me. But there’s a new Doctor Who on so let’s make this snappy.””

Twenty-Six in Review

For the last 364 days, I have been, for all intents and purposes, EXACTLY 26 years old. Tomorrow and for the following year, I will be exactly 27 of them. So let us look back at this period of being twenty-six, which would have in reality been several separate periods if not for that unifying number. But I don’t make the rules on how we gauge age (this is handled by a badass rhyming wordsmith).

Now far be it from me to toot my own proverbial horn, at least insofar as that ISN’T a vivid euphemism for self-gratification because I am a humble if not extremely vain young(ish) man, nor will I even toot my ACTUAL horn. Far be it from me to toot my own horn, but looking back, twenty-six may just have been the year that I proved that–just maybe–I am totally awesome.

To be fair, I did so so discretely that even I hardly noticed until just ten minutes ago when I decided to write this blog, but from an objective stance, the age of Twenty-Six had a very distinct arc of awesomeness to it, in which I started by overhauling my life, which had become decreasingly unawesome, proceeded to tour a series of awesome locales, and then buckled down and applied myself to accomplishing the most awesome thing I could immediately think of doing, which I did accomplish without hindrance and now at the end of Twenty-Six continue doing with the full-thrusted gusto of some kind of thinking, feeling rocket, which, if it existed, would be decidedly pretty awesome.

I’m pretty happy with how the year turned out.

But I’d be a filthy liar if I said this had all been planned, and balding guys with glasses can’t afford to also be filthy liars. Or they can, but only if they literally have the money to buy the love and affection they’d otherwise never be getting.

I came back to this country in July, sat in bewilderment for two weeks as irresponsibly enormous pancakes and busty, self-assertive blonde girls occurred around me. Then, in August, I went back home-home, to Virginia. There, I discovered that all my friends, who had already been pretty awesome, had each reached new peaks of awesome, each one deep in exploration of life, each one a true inspiration. Everybody had grabbed their respective reins while I’d been out letting luck and circumstance carry me around for the last. . . . forever.

That visit provided a much-needed push. “If they can do stuff, why can’t I do stuff?!” I said. A profound revelation, to be sure. Now, a few short months later, I’ve got kind of a lot to be proud of, and when I think about how I’m pretty much officially entering my Late Twenties, it doesn’t incite the fear I expected it to a year ago. It feels about right.

So thanks to my awesome friends for being awesome and inspirational. Here’s hoping Twenty-Seven is another year of personal growth.

Remembering Able English Club

About a year ago, I’d just about finished my teaching job, the one at the cram school in Tajimi. Francis, my replacement, had moved into my place as replacements are oft to do, and we’d begun this sort of month-long sleepover. It was fun! In the evenings, we’d walk over to Marukami Udon or the Kichizato, or sometimes even pull a sort of cooperative cooking mission and then watch a DVD–whatever movie one of us recommended to the other. Then the next day I’d give him tips on how to take over my life. We’d go through the classes together and I’d do my best to portray him in a positive light to the kids, which really couldn’t have been easier since we immediately hit it off.

All the same, there’s a certain awkwardness when kids and an adult meet for the first time, and it’s even more awkward when that adult is a foreigner. If I was a kid and had finally gotten used to my foreign language teacher, I wouldn’t want him being replaced either. So it wasn’t hard to sympathize with the kids when Francis’s questions were met with awkward silences.

I could tell by the end of his training, though, that everything would be fine, just as it’d been for me, and that, if my predecessor was to be taken as any indication ,my kids’ memories of me would soon be buried completely by their ever-expanding mass of experiences. I tried not to think about that, instead focusing on how precious I knew my own memories of these kid would always be. In many ways, it was my experiences with them that finally propelled me into “adulthood”, if it can in fact be said that I am there. Sometimes I’m not so sure now.

Whatever the case, the inevitable truth is that even these precious memories have since been buried under the incredible weight of the many new experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have since. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky, and I’ve felt my perceptions mutate so many times in such a short span, it’s all been extremely humbling. With life moving faster than ever before, I thought I’d better make a conscious attempt to meditate on how I was feeling this time last year.

To do this, I present the following, which is a translation of the farewell card I received from my assistant–the one about whom I frequently complained–and all the students she was able to have sign it (that is to say, all my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday students). I thought to make this post private so as not to look boastful (many of the students’ comments were very flattering!), but decided ultimately that things this nice deserve to be shared, so think of it as a little slice of my life and have a look if you’re bored or whatever.

Bye-Bye, Able!