Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Waiting on a Wednesday

I am standing at the edge of a river of sog.

Actually, I am standing at the entrance to our driveway, thankful for the new umbrella I bought just a couple of days ago. It’s a fairly good-sized one. Normally I hate these things, and I’d much rather put up with a bit of dampness than have to deal with lugging one around, finding a place to stow it, and then getting all flustered when it inevitably gets stolen. However, when the monsoon season finally arrives, an umbrella can definitely be a good thing to have.

Huddling against my knee, my son no doubt agrees.

It’s kind of nice to have this one morning every week when I can stand with him as he waits for the taxi that takes him to his kindergarten. In keeping with the recent policies of the prefectural board of education, Seishin Gakuen gives each teacher a half day of “training time” plus a half day off in addition to the Sunday holiday. Ideally, that half day off is supposed to be Saturday, since the Ministry of Mindless Bureaucracy and Meaningless Cliches Technology and Education (monbukagakusho) has been trying to do away with the long-standing tradition of Saturday morning classes. Unfortunately, ye olde academy is naughty; we do have Saturday morning classes, and that is my “training time” (i.e. I’m on call). That leaves my half day off to be placed elsewhere, in my case Wednesday mornings.

It’s bizarre having a morning off in the middle of the week. It can be very convenient, to be sure, since it’s a handy time for going to the bank, post office, or immigration office. However, it gets kind of tiresome having to explain to everybody time and time again that I’m neither sick nor on holiday.

My son doesn’t care. He’s just thankful that I’m there holding the umbrella.
Sporting his bright yellow class cap and Thomas the Tank Engine backpack, he’s not as energetic as he usually is. On most mornings he would be dancing around or enthusiastically engaged in pantomime battles between giant rhinoceros beetles. Today he’s being rather quiet, his banter limited to a few pensive comments about the way the water is flowing in the gravel lot or the flowers in the yard across the street.

I’m sure it’s probably the rain, but those flowers are beautiful. One of the beauties of life in Japan is definitely the ever-changing kaleidoscope of nature and botany here. From March until November, it seems like the landscape is a different color every week. In the yard across the street there are reds, pinks, whites, and oranges. On my right there is some purple flower I can’t identify. Behind me, on my left, there is a cluster of yellow and white camphor. And then, of course, one can’t ignore the rich green bursting out on all sides. Neither the gray sky nor the all-encompassing sogginess can thin the palette.

Another car passes by on the very edge of the road, sending up a spray that once again just misses us. I swear they’re trying to get us; they keep veering over as close to us as they can get on the one-and-a-half-lane road without dropping off it, but the nearest real puddle is just too far away.

Ha! Curse you, white microvan!

Finally, the taxi comes around the bend, and my son perks up. Inside, I can see the curly mop of the driver and a few colorful caps. The driver is always very cheerful and cordial. The kids always stare at me wide-eyed.

Yes, kiddies, this is what an alien looks like. You wanna see something really scary?

I say my goodbye to my son, but he is already wrapped up in the excitement of camaraderie. He especially seems to appreciate the fact that his riding mates, with one exception, are girls. Interaction between the sexes has always been a very touchy issue here. Japanese boys tend to be pretty shy around girls. Heck, in one of my 9th grade classes yesterday the boys had a bet going, and the loser actually had to do one of the practice dialogs with…*gasp*…one of the girls. (Any one of them!) The loser, a big-bodied rugby player, was very embarrassed. Open interaction with girls is something boys here tend to have trouble with. Not my boy. He thinks girls are wonderful. He not only flirts with them, he occasionally tries to kiss them…sometimes including twenty-something-year-old store clerks…


The taxi has disappeared into the misty distance. I quickly head back down the driveway, duck under the carport and pick my way gingerly around the mud back to the house. In an hour or so I’ll take my car in for its three-year mandatory (and obscenely expensive) inspection. I think I’ll just pretend I’m a piece of furniture till then.

I heave a heavy sigh as I step up into the house, which is now only occupied by our sneezy cat. It’s nice to have Wednesday mornings off, but it’s often tough to find the heart to put into my one afternoon class after that. There’s a Rush song in which Geddy sings, “Ah to yes to ah to yes…” In my case, on Wednesdays, it’s more like, “Ah to aw…”


  • I would hate to get up on Saturday to go to work too. Its just not right. But a Wednesday siesta would be nice, if only one could have both...

    By Blogger Pa've, at 6:51 AM  

  • Well, most of the time I can take my Saturday "training" at home, so, in a way, I do.

    On the other hand, sometimes my work with the music program requires my attendance at the school on Sunday. According to the Book of Leviticus, I should be stoned to death.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:54 PM  

  • "Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do" - Oscar Wilde

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 4:19 PM  

  • Why the cat? Why the cat?

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 3:18 PM  

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