Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Moving to the Center Again

Well, I finally did it.

Three years ago I decided I was fed up with the "same old, same old" center-part hairstyle that I'd had since my high school days. I had mucked with it here and there over the years, but it had still been the same, basic story: parted right down the middle. Well, three years ago I took the plunge and had my hair parted on the left.

After making that fateful choice, I received quite a few compliments. However, as it turns out, I received even more complaints.

Part of the problem is that my hair has a mind of its own, and it keeps changing it. I'd chosen a left-part because it had been tending that way naturally. Well, after officially parting it that way, it stopped cooperating after about a year and started trying to curl the wrong way. I tangled with it, fussed with it, put various chemicals in it, and tried to whip it into submission. Sometimes I succeeded. Other times I just looked and felt ridiculous. Meanwhile, the comments of, "You looked better before you changed your hair," just kept rolling in, particularly from my wife.

Well, I finally gave up and gave in. I left work an hour early yesterday so I could get my hair cut (finally...it had been months, and I was starting to look like John Lennon with left-parted hair) in time for today's senior high graduation ceremony. I had the stylist put it back in a center part. I came home last night eagerly anticipating my wife's words of joy when she saw it.

The verdict? She said, "No, that's not quite right." *sigh*

So today, sporting my new hairstyle, I went to ye olde academy for the senior high graduation ceremony. Only one person said anything at all. Oh, well. I had work to do. The graduation ceremony is one of the few times in a year that I actually wear a suit. First, as usual, I worked the reception desk at the main entrance during the first half. Then I went up and directed the orchestra for the second half, which included conducting "Auld Lang Syne" over and over and over again as the graduates marched out. (In American schools they use Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance". In Japan it's a Scottish New Year carol...go figure.)

We were lucky this year. Somehow we managed to time it just right so that I was able to signal the switch to the coda (which is rather long) and hit that last fermata just as the last graduate left the hall. Bull's eye! That's twice in three years that I've managed that!

Time to go back to the music office, have some lunch, and peel off this &%$# suit. The damned thing smelled like moth repellent when I first put it on. Now it smells like moth repellent and B.O.. It's not pretty, believe me. But at least it's BLUE!

Actually, the tradition is to wear black suits at graduation. I'm such a boat-rocker! (Sorry, Unker...don't take that literally!)

Incidentally, we found out our grade assignments for the new school year that starts next month. As expected, I was stuck in Grade 9 again. (This is me yet again in Grade 9, baby! This is me yet again in Grade 9!) That means I get to go on the school trip and do the work training thing again. At least those are fun. I also noticed that Mr. O is in Grade 9 again, too.

The principal knows that I haven't been too happy about having had to work with Mr. O in Grade 9 English communication for the past three f****** years (understatement of the year), and he was prepared to intervene. However, Mr. O went directly to the new Grade 9 chief teacher and begged and pleaded. The grade chief formally requested that Mr. O be put on his staff, and the principal can't easily justify denying that. Apparently Mr. O did all that from the goodness of his heart because he knows that I'll be upset and at a loss if he can't teach Grade 9 O.C. with me (his words...DEFINITELY NOT MINE). I swear...that guy is so totally disconnected from reality. I have expressed my frustration and dissatisfaction repeatedly in no uncertain terms, and he STILL believes I actually prefer working with him! He takes the term "vacuous idealist" to a whole new level.

The English department chief and the chief English teacher of the new grade say that they're going to try to intervene on my behalf, but there are two problems. One is that the rest of the English department (as well as most of the faculty of the school) considers it a given that Grade 9 O.C. will be taught by the (in)famous Moody/Mr. O "team". The other is that Mr. O is, to put it frankly, an arrogant and horribly self-righteous, would-be activist who takes pleasure in bullying people into accepting his "righteous" point of view. He has also shown that he won't hesitate either to involve the Teachers' Union (which he heads), go to the school's owners and give them one heck of a sob story, try to rally the parents to his cause, or threaten legal action if the school tries to impede him in any way without very firm backing. (Yes, he has repeatedly threatened if not actually done all of those things in the past.) I think the odds of my being rescued from another year of ulcers and gray hairs complements of His O-ness are very low...unless I simply refuse to do it, and that could hurt my continued employment at the school.

At this rate, I'll be lucky if I have any brown hair left on my head by this time next year, but at least it'll be parted down the middle. (Then again, it seems to be trying to part itself to the right now...*sigh*)

9 Comments:

  • Hmmm, hairy. Nasty politics you've got there. Ever thought of going bald and outshine His Royal O-ness?

    By Blogger agus, at 8:05 PM  

  • I'm with Agus. If your hair gives you trouble, get rid of all of it. You need small frame specs or contacts if you are going to do that though. You may become a hipster!

    As far as O is concerned. Are there any other reasons he might want to be teaching with you, political or otherwise? It is possible.

    iloqc - Apple's apparatus for preventing iPod theft.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 12:21 AM  

  • hehehehe hair problems now u know how u girls feel..try having hair down to ur waste!!! thats just annoying...brushing it takes ages, washing it takes longer..styling it in the morning ...*sigh* need i say more?

    By Blogger saba, at 4:04 AM  

  • Get in touch with your hair. It is sending you a message. Let you hair be itself and it will become you and you it. Peace, love, and groovy tie-dye.

    Another year in Seishin purgatory. Ogawa-san is a crafty bugga. Perhaps you need to work off the sins against your hair before you are released.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:07 AM  

  • Pandabonium, you mean groovy tie-dye hair? Wow! MM, that's something to be tried. Oh, by the way, you know the cliche: a picture is worth a thousand words. So how about it, eh?

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 5:59 PM  

  • Snabby
    As far as O is concerned. Are there any other reasons he might want to be teaching with you, political or otherwise?

    It all goes back to his chronic activist hero complex and/or his being a total narcissist. He team-taught Grade 9 O.C. with me for one year because no one else that was available at the time wanted to do it. From the very first lesson, he immediately hijacked the project and took it over, insisting we do everything his way (and loudly calling me an "inexperienced, irresponsible amateur" when I told him I disagreed), but then he started going on and on about this "wonderful, new direction in our school's English program that (Moody) has pioneered" at staff meetings. He became obsessed with it and started putting all his effort into it...all but shutting me out of the creative process (and sometimes even telling me I didn't have to come to the lessons). He also didn't hesitate to put his work in the spotlight as much as possible by either filming classes or inviting observers, try to be the hero at every turn, take all the bows and all the credit, and occasionally even demonize me to try to make himself look good.

    Yet, all along, he kept dropping my name as much as possible and insisting that the whole thing was the result of my "genius".

    At the end of that year, I made a big stink about it, so he agreed to a 50-50 compromise, i.e. half the lessons would be my approach and half his. Gradually, however, it all somehow wound up being his standard lesson format...conducted exactly the same way every time using the same procedure and even the same stock phrases as if we were robots. This went on over the next two years, and all along Mr. O never wasted a chance to publicize it.

    It's at the point now where, if one student gives him a compliment about O.C. class, he makes a big theatrical presentation out of it at the next staff meeting, saying, "This goes to prove that the work I am doing, based on (Moody's) excellent ideas, is totally right and achieving a very high level of success." (He doesn't bother to say that Moody has very little to do with it anymore...or that a far greater number of students are complaining about the monotonously mechanical lesson procedure and uncertain objective!)

    I have to wonder. My name has long since been established as the chief of English communication at the academy, but Mr. O has effectively turned it into another version of his (controversial) reader class with my name attached to it. Am I being used as an advertisement?

    Saba
    Even so, I'd definitely wear my hair long if I thought I could get away with it! I think I look better that way. Short hair makes me look too much like a geek. (Shh!)

    Pandabonium
    Careful! I'm not talking about Mr. Ogawa! Mr. Ogawa is the chief of the music department, the chief director of the music club, and basically "dad" in the music scene, as far as I'm concerned. I have nothing but respect for Herr Maestro Ogawa!

    Mr. O (whom you haven't met) is an English teacher. He is a veteran who has been at Seishin for some time (which only adds to his ego). He was chief of the English department for a while, and he drove three teachers to quit and was generally hated by everyone till he finally relinquished the position to someone else (who he continues to bully to force his own views). He is an extremely notorious figure, particularly for shoving his nose into others' business. The radical leftists on the faculty think of him as a hero, not only because he's basically a Marxist in disguise (or so it seems), but because he's ready and eager to turn every molehill into a mountainous crusade. The rest of the faculty wishes he'd do them all a favor and go embrace a speeding train.

    When I first started working here in Japan I was told (by my "handler" at the time) that I should dye my hair blond. Otherwise, the students wouldn't respect me. Considering the reputation of blonds, I find that extremely ironic.

    Happy
    What...are you suggesting I paint pictures in my hair???!?!??

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:14 PM  

  • "O" my bad

    It sounds to me like Mr. O has you coming and going. He takes credit whenever he can, while giving it to you. At the same time, by tying your name to everything, if HIS ideas go sour, guess who gets the blame?

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 7:38 AM  

  • Aye, be thankful you have hair to part.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 4:12 PM  

  • I had trouble with my hair also.
    Parting is such sweet sorrow.
    Isn't it?

    By Anonymous Wm Shakespeare, at 9:34 AM  

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