Chu(gakko) = Junior High
6:43am: Alarm goes off. Check email on phone, hit snooze.
6:51am: Snooze goes off, drag myself out of bed, wash up, make breakfast and tea, pack up school bag.
7:40am: Leave my house, travel tea mug in hand. (So not Japanesey. Everyone has since gotten used to it. Though it took them months to ask what was in it. Black tea? With soymilk? Incredulosity.)
7:42am: Roll into school as the last of the students do, greet kids and teachers with a big smile and a friendly Ohayo-gozaimasu! Change from outdoor to indoor shoes. Continue to teachers room where I stamp my hanko on the books. Boot up computer and start making the rounds of email, facebook, and then the daily blogs and NYTimes.
8:00-8:10am: Teacher’s Meeting. Refrain from typing while others are speaking, and keep my ears perked for anything that might be possibly related to me. Don’t want to get caught oblivious. Mostly, scroll quietly and continue reading Jezebel, glancing up occasionally.
8:30am – 12:20pm: If classes: Discuss morning classes with JTE. Usually have between 2 and 3 classes. For especially hard or slow weeks, (and if I get my way), we eschew the daily boring Warm Up game “Criss Cross” with activities with a little more pizazz. Feel triumphant if kids actually seem to be having a good time. Pace the room while robot repeating, or use their worksheet time to cruise around, and start small conversations.
If no classes: Wonder what the hell I’m going to do at my desk for four hours. Expand my internet perusal to some other favorites: McSweeney’s, ApartmentTherapy, HuffPo, NYMagazine, 101 Cookbooks, Salon. Participate in the modern-day version of clipping articles and sending them by e-mailing links to all my favorite people. (Likely irritating at times. Sorry, friends!) When this grows old, update the ol’ blog. Respond at ridiculous length to emails which weren’t that long to begin with. After thoroughly exhausting my English, turn to my Japanese text books and study.
12:20pm: While reheating leftovers in the kitchen, get pulled into a conversation with the school nurse about my lunch. Always along the lines of What is that? No, I’ve never heard of pita bread.
12:45pm: Hear kids getting rowdy out in the halls. Wash my dishes, and saunter out to the main hall and watch as they play ping-pong. Thoroughly embarrass myself with my poor ping-pong skills. If the weather is nice, cruise outside and sit with the 3rd grade girls while they watch their crushes play baseball. Recent question alone with the young ladies: Do you like pitchers or catchers better?
1:20pm: Back at the desk. No more excuses. Start thinking about lesson planning for the Sho (Elementary school) the next day. Devise a method of attack. Armed with Kid’s Songs and enthusiasm, I am impenetrable. Most days.
2:00pm: Force myself to study. Intersperse studying with replying to emails.
3:20pm: Cleaning time! Go out to the Main Hall and putter around while kids sweep, mop and dust. During the Cleaning Time end meeting speak English to keep them on their toes.
3:40pm: Cruise around the school during grade-separated Chorus time and listen to them sing. Thoroughly enjoy this part of my day.
4:15pm: Pack up and excuse myself with a polite Osaki-ni Shitsure-shimasu. Feel slightly guilty to leave so much earlier than the rest of the teachers. Get over it on the walk home.
4:30 – 9:30pm: Possible activities could include: making a snack; going on a run followed by stretching overlooking the water; my weekly yoga class; my weekly ikebana class; a trip to the post office, bank, or grocery store; making dinner and lunch for the next day; watching whatever HBO series du jour by streaming illegally on the internet; tidying, studying.
9:30pm: Wash up. Have turned into a night shower-er since coming to Japan, mostly because it was one of the only ways to get warm during winter.
10:00pm: Climb in bed. Skype with loved-ones in the States. Read a bit. Unless completely addicted to the Stieg Larson books (like now), hopefully asleep by 11 o’clock.
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