Monday, November 19, 2007

Retrospective Part 2

We'll return you to your regularly scheduled programming (or lack thereof, what with the writer's strike in Hollywood and my own video-editing negligence) in a moment, but first, a quick rundown of the last couple weeks for me here in Shikaoi.

Life is dull. November has for many years now been my least favourite month, and this one, despite being located on the wind-swept plains of a frozen and foreign island, proved no less tiresome. The best word to describe the 11th month is neutral, or if you prefer, gray. The sky is gray. The ground is gray. The temperature is grey. My mood is grey. November lacks the crispness of autumn and the purity of winter. It's cold, but without the benefits of the cold, like snow and snowboarding. It's a month of transition, which means it's dirty and off-putting, but it's even worse than March because it lacks the promise of new warmth that wafts through the spring air. I hate November with a special passion.

At the same time, I've also stumbled onto my JET-scheduled culture shock. Back in the handbooks they gave us in August, it claimed that between 6-12 weeks we'd get our real culture shock. Not the "wow Japan is so crazy and wonderful" culture shock, but the "why the fuck can't I find whole wheat bread?" kind of culture shock. Of course, I thought to myself that it wouldn't be a problem for me, but right on schedule I've been going through it the last couple weeks. The biggest trigger for it has been my feeling of isolation these past couple weeks. For whatever reason, the people in my town that I used to hang out with just haven't been around. I'd be paranoid if I thought they were avoiding me, but it certainly seems odd. I had a bad experience with a teacher not telling me about an event I was supposed to go to, and myself consequently looking like a complete fool at a bar in town, before getting sworn at by one of my English teachers, so I guess it's just a feeling of getting a little burned with cultural miscommunication. What seems to happen with a lot of JET's is that they either integrate into their community, or they don't quite make it, and retreat into the understanding circle of foreigners in their area. I'm not at all bashing hanging out with foreigners, god knows, without them I wouldn't still be sane, but I feel as if I've lost the balance I used to have. I definitely feel like I've been sliding towards Option #2, and I think it's about time I did something about it. Perhaps that's too harsh an assesment, but I've just grown tired of messaging people in Japanese and never getting a response!

So my game plan for the next few weeks is to have fun in my area with some of my old friends, enjoy the 30cm of snow we just got, and figure out a way to pay for all the things I want to do in the next few months.

At this point I don't actually feel like writing up a couple retrospective points, so look for those in the future!

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