The Long Lag’s End: A Year in Retrospect

Well, I’m back after about seven months of silence. To first-time readers from Lourdes University who found there way here through an article, hello. You’ve picked a good place to start.

In March, this blog went on hiatus for seven months, partly because of my own problems, partly because of the incredible chaos of life, and partly because… well, I am prone to fits of indolence. But at least my indolence has been interspersed with much studying, knitting, writing, self-examination, culinary indulgence, and… maybe not so many adventures. Because to be honest, living in a country and vacationing there are two animals of a completely different species. When your stay somewhere feels finite, you tend to have the urgency to do more.

Thus it was in Nagoya, where I not only got food poisoning on my first night in a city where you GO to eat, but where I also got allergies so bad that my eyes were watering and my assistant manager had to text me a picture of her allergy medication just so I could get some relief. Despite four hours of sleep and the allergies, that Monday, I managed to see the TV Tower, the castle, and a great many other things. I also ate the local cuisine Kishimen (a kind of noodle) and miso katsu (fried pork with a miso sauce… it’s really sweet and salty, and I still prefer curry, but that’s beside the point).

Thus it was in Hiroshima, where my June visit with a friend was both fun and sobering. Fun because it meant dressing up like a samurai and acting like a dithering idiot in Hiroshima Castle. Sobering because walking through a museum that includes very graphic images of what America did to Hiroshima during World War II, and which also includes a photo-directory of everyone who lost their lives as a result of those actions–in short, sobering because such detail gives the tragedy a face. Ironically, I’m writing this on September 11 (both Japan time and American time), a date in which my own nation experienced its own national tragedy, a tragedy that has a face in my mind, too, but the two are entirely incomparable. I can honestly say that if you walk out of that museum doing anything less than questioning human nature, you are not human. Yet my friend and I marched on despite the sobering experience.

And thus it will more than likely be wherever I happen to go next. I didn’t travel in August despite the summer holiday. I didn’t travel because I finally invested in an iPhone, and may I say that they are delightfully useful when navigating anywhere that isn’t flat and doesn’t have straight roads (i.e., anywhere that isn’t Michigan). However, I’m planning an adventure for November.

Those were my major triumphs. My minor ones include finishing Genki I (a Japanese textbook), rediscovering my passion for knitting, sending off one short story to a publisher (the next one is, according my myself-imposed deadline, due in 21 days. I should probably start on that, shouldn’t I?), and getting featured in a publication at my Alma Mater. This is partly the reason for the entry.

But on August 16, my first day back after a week-long vacation, I realized I had been in Japan for a year, and while I have seen and done a great many things, I haven’t seen or done nearly as much as I liked. Two of the four people I trained with have gone home, and although I have a great many moments where I strongly dislike my job (who doesn’t?), the thought of going anywhere anytime soon is impossible to deal with because of the bonds I have with my students and coworkers. So, this year, I’m going to have more adventures and hopefully do more blogging, especially if the people attending the university that thought I was good enough for a BA in English are reading this.

So, after a year in Japan, have my plans changed? In some ways, yes. But not as much as you’d think.

My plans for the immediate future… in December, I plan to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I don’t know if I’m good enough to pass N4, but… well, they don’t call me “Majime” (diligent) for nothing. In November, I’m going to write another novel for NaNoWriMo. I might also take a trip somewhere (Okinawa? Korea? China?). I plan to explore Osaka and Kyoto thoroughly now that I have a bilingual friend (the iPhone) who can tell me where I am. Intersperse all of this with knitting, working 45 hours a week, cooking, reading, and all those little things I typically do, and you have yourself a sure-fire recipe for chaos. But that’s why the Good Lord gave his people coffee, which I plan to drink a lot of.

My plans for the far future? One day, I’d really like to go back to Writing Centers. But the where and the when and the how are really muddled, and right now, any thought of leaving my current students is too soul-crushing. Call it indecisiveness or a lingering strain of the carelessness of youth, or self-denial. I want to learn enough Japanese to read Haruki Murakami in his native language, because he has done something no American or British author has managed: kindle a growing interest in postmodernism. Above all else, I want to get published. That has always been my goal, and until I see my name on a bookshelf, that’s going to be my ultimate objective.

Perhaps this blog post doesn’t explain everything about my past 7 months on the far side of the world, but I think it explains enough.

Here’s to another year of adventures, and hopefully another after that.

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