The afternoons are quickly draining away with the onset of autumn. It becomes dark much faster because of the mountains which I have probably said several times already. Around 5pm the sun is already heading behind the hills and gray overtones line up flush with the slopes. I don't mind though because the serenity in these valleys is unmatched when night falls. On clear nights I love to go out on my roof and stare at the heavens. Raw expanses of sky are beautiful. I have noticed that lately cloudy weather has made me feel very sluggish and lethargic. It might just be because my free days and weekends have fallen on days with lame weather.
My school existence is interesting. Today my cooperating teacher was gone taking care of some family business which meant I was left to fend for myself. For some reason they wanted to take my picture today and they made me wear a tie and jacket (only for the picture though). I didn't really bother to ask why and just went along with it. I think it is for some memory book. Oh, which great realization by me, is a year book. The PE teacher taking my picture wanted to use the blurry picture that was lighter but I wouldn't let her use it. The problem could have been easily adjusted in photoshop but somethings are better not offered. I spent the day preparing for elementary school lessons and hardly talked to anyone. I sometimes wonder what they really think of me. They probably don't mind me either way too much. I usually leave a little after 5pm each day and most of the other teachers are still hanging around doing who knows what. Most teachers only have to teach 3 classes maximum every day and every now and then 4. Some have after school clubs they help out with so that is understandable but others I wonder about. It is common for teachers to stay late at school yet I'm not convinced the teachers here need to every day. I tend to think it has to do with Japanese values of working working working. Who knows though. I feel a bit guilty leaving before most teachers but I don't have any actual work to do. I would just be eating clock hours that won't make a difference in pay or work accomplished. Plus, I do some of my best thinking when I'm back home. My desk has a smaller shelf unit underneath it that leaves me legs cramped half the day. It isn't the most conducive and product environment so I am glad to vacate come 5 o'clock every day.
Lately I'm thinking about devoting more time to a club after school to get more involved. I can't but help feel I should make more use of what is available. Would I regret it later? I usually deal with regret like I do apple cores. I eat them and receive small traces of cyanide to fight cancer. At least that is the theory some say. Sure I regret things as most people do but I make it a habit not to dwell on such things. I'm generally slow to get myself into things and I'm running that course right now. It's just me. There is a volleyball club that the PTA and local parents organize. While I like volleyball and the idea of playing with people, I don't believe I would enjoy the commitment that would require despite the fact I don't even know that information. Badminton seems to be a good option. It is a nice little workout and its fun to hit around with the students. Speaking of working out I'm still contemplating a mountain bike. I think I might hold out till next spring and see how I feel at that point. I would enjoy a proper bike for cruising (struggling in agony) around the mountains.
I enjoy the kids at school the most. They are the best part and sometimes can be a pain. Isn't that why we want to teach though? The students really make teaching what it is because they are dynamic and thoughtful (sometimes). Business jobs never have interested me much. Spread sheets and data entry only talk to you so much. And if they are talking to you its probably your mind either going comatose or mental degradation. Students always mix my days up and make things different. I appreciate them even when they act like idiots. Japanese middle school students are very good at being extremely immature. We have all gone through middle school and know what it is like but I tend to think Japanese schools are worse. It stems from a lack of direct supervision in between classes when they have 10 minute breaks. Students roam around doing whatever the heck they generally want. The boys might hold hands and hug. They might punch either in the butt and groin. They might be pushing each other around the halls. It is kind of bizarre. But then again Japanese television loves putting men who impersonate women on the air so what really is that strange to anyone in Japan?
I've been looking into 廃墟 in Shikoku. Haikyo means ruins but we would say abandoned probably in English. So far I haven't really come across anything too spectacular but my hunch is that I'm going to have to find things on my own. I found some information about mines which may prove promising in the future. I don't mean labyrinths of caves but the surface structures and buildings left from mine activity. There are probably handfuls of these places hiding in the mountains around here. I don't think too many other people have their minds set on such exploration. Plus, I continue to find more mountains to climb. I would really like to see if I can find some old Japanese roads through Shikoku. I forget what these are called but on the main island of Honshu they are all over the place. They usually run very conspicuously through towns and nobody knows they are even around. I doubt Shikoku has many but I would like to walk some if I can find them. It only fuels my desire to experience the land and its past. My interests most of the time seem so far from most other people but I walk my line proudly.
My house needs some touch up work. The railing on my balcony is so rusted and ugly. I want to be able to hang futons on it so I'm thinking of sanding the worst parts down and then painting it. I thought for a second I should maybe ask someone if it's okay to do some painting. No one checked the place when Lachlan left and they probably haven't done anything because one ALT leaves the day a new one arrives. I'm really doing the town office a favor by fixing up their property. So if that is any indication I'm going to go ahead and do some renovations. There is the old wood paneling that isn't so bad expect for the fact that it is like a wood paper on the surface. Adhesives have pulled various parts of it off around the house from pictures. I would like to do pain some more walls but that would be a little too much. So for now I intend to do the balcony railing and then I'm going to paint my toilet room. The toilet room is like a closet really. It has an entire wall covered in manga (comics) that I guess was pretty decent. However, it is a testament to the legacy of the one who lived here before me. Out with the old and make something new. After that I might paint the shower. I'm not sure what colors would be soothing for a toilet and shower room. Serious suggestions are welcome unless you are Travis. My plans are mostly tentative at this point. I think I just need to buy a broom first and sweep the balcony up. I would also like to find more use for the roof space. I'll have to get creative with bamboo this winter. I should change one of my spare rooms into a workshop. I've tooled around with the idea of building a bed frame out of bamboo or even wood. I have too many ambitious ideas though. I have to curtail some of them in order to realistically focus on more specific subjects. One of the most important is getting my rear speakers working in the car. This probably requires a simple wire fix but getting the stereo out is a potential disaster waiting to happen. In fact I messed up the air control switch for the heating and cooling in the car for awhile yesterday. It magically popped back in place to some great mystery. Anyway, I have a plethora of tasks on my plate and a stack of fleeting ideas lying about my midst. More to come on this later... you can be sure.
As I write I'm listening to a public broadcast from the town office about the local high school sports day. Is this what communism feels like? Better yet, is this how North Korea feels like with radios installed in every dwelling that you can never turn off completely? Just as one message ends a second one comes on as I write this sentence. It is always the same guy talking about town related stuff. Another big question is what he is always doing at the town office till such late hours. His wife must be really lonely or he is one lame bachelor.
I might even talk about sports day soon. But watch a month go past and I won't even bother writing about it. Oh well there is always next year right?
I thought my post was done but the guy came back on for a 3rd broadcast at the town office. I couldn't resist mentioning it. I should do a public opinion survey and find out who gives a care about 90% of the messages they give. Everyone surely loves the annoying echoing voice through the valleys...