Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Buggin` and Bugs

I just had one of those mornings where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed - or in my case, wrong side of the floor (since that`s where I sleep). At 5:45, I was woken up by a loud television, 45 minutes before I usually wake up. So as my frustration spiraled into annoyed, homesick tears, I went online and my sister managed to cheer me up from misery. Living abroad, whether it`s fairly close or on the opposite ends of the earth, and for no matter how long or how much you enjoy your job, you still get stabs of homesickness every once in a while. You want people who understand you and what you are saying and why you react the way you do in situations. Sometimes, wouldn`t it be nice if we could all just escape for a couple of days back to our home country? Just a brief respite from being "different." For me, it helps talking to my sister and having her send me things like a link to Rep. Anthony Weiner`s apology written on the pictures of sad-looking dachsunds.

But everything is all good now. Nothing cures sadness like giggly games and trying to teach high school students how to differentiate their pronunciation of L`s and R`s. Also, on my walk to school, the previously mentioned student who refused to get out of his mother`s car went sprinting past me up the hill on the way to school. The hill is not fun to walk up so I was impressed by his ambition. Suddenly, his mother`s car pulled up alongside him and he jumped in (like I imagine bank robbers do with getaway cars) and drove on to school. It was bizarre. So I imagine that there was some form of "You can just walk to school then!!!" and a "Fine!" and slamming doors in their house this morning.

Since it has grown hotter and more humid outside, the bugs are making a comeback. More cockroaches and spiders of all sizes. Cleaning the gym last week, I was the bug-toucher. I had to pick up a what-I-hope-was-just-a-beetle-and-not-a-cockroach as I was cleaning the windows. And also I had to free spiders into the "wild" with a broom because no one else wanted to literally touch the insects with a 10 foot pole. We were taking an unofficial break from cleaning the tatami mats in the gym and lying down and looking up, we could see dead spiders the size of coasters in the light fixtures. Pretty nasty to think of all the places those suckers are hidden in the buildings here.

Some of you may be wondering what tatami is. And if you aren`t, too bad. It`s a woven straw mat that`s used as the flooring in traditional Japanese rooms. You are supposed to go barefoot in the room when there is tatami (but you do take off your shoes anyways in every Japanese home). Tatami is also used as the flooring during Japanese martial arts, such as Judo, because it is softer to land on tatami than on a slab of cement. Surprise, surprise.

And here`s an interesting fact. If the mats aren`t kept clean, they attract insects called Dani that bite you. We have adult conversation classes in a room with this problem and those stabs of homesickness aren`t the only stabs you may be feeling.

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