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Showing posts from March, 2019

The Big Decision and the Long Road "Home"

I’ll never forget the first thing I did when I got to my tiny inaka apartment.

When I woke up in Tokyo on the first day of orientation, I felt a scratchy feeling at the back of my throat, and for the next four days it didn’t go away. The rest of the week was a progressively-worse haze as I faded in and out of lucidity during long lectures and sucked down vitamin C drinks in vain. When I finally got to my placement, I buzzed around town finishing up some minor things, before finally being shown to my apartment. As the doors thudded closed, the silence settled in.

It was the first time I’d been truly alone in almost a week. The apartment was still a bit dirty. The power had been switched off, and consequently I couldn’t turn on the air conditioner or fans in the sweltering August heat. I tried opening the windows, but there was no air and no relief, just a symphony of cicadas in the bamboo thickets surrounding me. My throat was still burning, and I was covered in sweat.

I collapsed onto…

Drawing Pictures and the Foreigner Dusted with Chalk

Not to toot my own horn, but I was the best artist in my first grade class.

For every student’s birthday, our teacher, Mrs. Wurstefer, would have the other students draw pictures in their honor, and collect them in a personalized book. But some kids didn’t want to draw, or couldn’t - they wanted to skip right ahead to coloring.

That’s where I would come in.

Any time our teacher asked us to draw something for class, kids would line up at my desk, and ask me to draw things for them.

“Can you draw a rabbit?” “Can you draw a dog with a birthday cake?” “Can you draw me riding a horse?“

So I’d draw their picture, and the kid would scamper back to their desk to color it. It happened without fail every time, to the point that I’d sometimes spend most of the class drawing for other people and wouldn’t have time to work on my own contribution until the very end, if at all. There’s definitely a few compilations of birthday drawings from Mrs. Wurstefer’s first grade class that simultaneously are f…