September 2000

Subject: gotta be the shoes.

Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2000 3:34 AM

The DC shoes help. But you are right, the big ring has got to go! Grindgrindgrind! When I get back from Tokyo, I’ll try the Northwave gay red shoes and see if they work at all.

Still no back tires hops. Can get up and over curbs with no back tire kisses, so someday. Actually found dirt today. I think it was an abandoned Japanese secret giant robot base, or at least that’s what I think the sign said. Maybe just “keep out”. Please pass on that the hammock was the crown jewel in Dave’s crown. Who needs a table when you have a hammock?

Chris

Subject: my furst daye at skool

Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2000 3:37 AM

“My name is Chris Halsall. Today was my first day at school. It was fun. the best part was when the bully only gave me a super wedgie, not the super atomic wedgie. I drank all my mile at lunch. The mystery fish was okay. I didn’t throw it up. I learned how to count to two.”

Yup, my first day as an English language teacher at Tomari Koko (Koko is Japanese for senior high school). It was damned interesting. This school seems to be fitting into the theme that my life in Japan is not that of the typical JET. I have to explain the school, there’s no way I can make this sound better then it is. As one of the teachers told me, that is if the students come to school “X” times, they pass. This is a second (and final) chance for kids to graduate. So classes are not strict, to say the least. Nor do all the students show up (less then half). Nor do all the students stay awake for class. Wait, and some of the students are almost as old as I am, had some older ones! A couple of the girls have kids, and lots of the girls don’t dress like high school girls (no uniforms) should. Lots of the guys didn’t even have any books/pencils/etc. I get the impression that it’s difficult to teach like that. Making time. So there is little stress to perform. What the heck can you do? If the kids don’t want to be there, they simply get up and leave. Which I saw. There goes all my wonderful ideas on how to spread the glorious English language around the world. I’m not going to pick any battles here, what with the sleeping kids or lack of attention. I’m saving my fights for when I’m the name tag wearing stud cleaner/hatchet man of the almighty Kencho. Yes, I actually do have a plastic pocket name thing to wear that is supposed to cower people and get me all the women and cheap bike parts I need (not working, let me tell you). Walk softly and wear a big piece of plastic? And yet there is something at the school I like. Don’t know what, maybe it’s the few faces I actually saw looking at me when I was speaking, or the girl (are women my age still girls if they are in high school?) who came up to me and wanted to sit with me in the teachers room to practice her English. The library is bitchin’. Nice smell (no stinky homeless here!), and very neat. The rest of the school is in bad shape. All the teachers are very nice, I mean, how can you not like people that are discussing whether or not you look more like Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford? (Hi-d, stop laughing,okay? 🙂 So, should be an adventure, one of uku-billion currently on my plate. Not in fear of my life and well-being, like I was at Hale Kipa, so it’s all good. I can be a little more laid back and rascal in a school like this. Totally blows that Japanese school stereotype away.

I get to fly to Tokyo Wednesday morning. Let’s see, I’m leaving my place at 0700, and I will get back roughly 23:00 (11pm) on Thursday night. Yup, the conference trip from hell. Only one thing I’m looking forward to. Oh yes, I’ve been told that I am going to eat dinner at the Mecca of all hamburger places Wednesday night. Who the hell cares about the stupid conference. I just want my burger! Haven’t had a good burger since, well, July. I think if I order a 1/3 pound one I’ll confuse the people. I don’t want to mention any restaurant names and bachi the whole thing, but there are two on O’ahu. Hehehehe.

Talk to y’all later, have fun, and what not. Chris

Subject: start laughing now!

Date: Friday, September 08, 2000 2:31 AM

The first Prefectural Advisors conference of the school year 2000-2001. What did I learn? It actually went well. Superbly organized and education.

Got to talk bikes with an old customer from McBike (Davin Ogino, friend of no-deodorant Paul), and that’s always good.

I learned some crucial Japanese language skills. Not surprisingly this is also a lesson about life, thou it will be different for everyone.

I learned that “bakon-eggo-sandwicho” translates into “fried death on greasy toast.” Yes, my captive reading audience, that was my lunch the first day I arrived in Tokyo. Hungry after the flight and lugging luggage around, myself and my intrepid colleagues needed someplace to eat near the conference site.

The first day was the day that would follow into the night were I was going to go to Kua Aina and get a huge hamburger, because I haven’t had a burger (a real burger!) since the Team Speed reunion tour held in July. I’m not a huge meat eater, but dammit, some times gotta have a burger. With cheese, and crispy bacon, and a big kaiser roll.

I stood at the end of the first days classes and leaned on a chair back while everything stopped moving. My tie felt like it was squeezing my head like a vise. My shoulder was aching from lugging around my couriers bag. Bad things were a happening in my bod.

I tried to sleep the headache and nausea off before my friend and tour guide arrived after her two hour drive. I didn’t want to not go out and eat, as that would ruin her evening as well as mine.

So I slept. Ate two stomach things, went back to sleep. Didn’t have any aspirin, as “Chin Girl” from the conference last week ate it all.

At the appointed meeting time, I got up, staggered down stairs, met my friend, we went back to the room, she turned the TV, and I went back to bed. Did take two Bufferin. I was lying in bed, listening to the food commercials, getting worse. Ever get like that? The stomach and the head were duking it out, in a very violent way, to see who was going to win.

My friend, Yumiko, having know me for a number of years, looked at me, and said I didn’t look well. Oh yes. When turning on your side causes your stomach to make evil noises, all is not good.

I slept.

I awoke. I felt better. I didn’t have to urge to puke or stick my head into the freezer.

Dinner that night, because we did go out, hours later, happened at a little diner near the hotel. Yumiko was hungry, and I needed something in my stomach. Nothing special, no killer hamburger. All that anticipation was for naught.

What the heck can you do but laugh?

The next day, since I was damned hungry, I had a hamburger from Family Stop, it sucked.

In closing, one has to have dreams, often times I have none. My life is aimless and I am adrift on the currents of fate. But now, I do. Oh yes, next time I go to Tokyo (February) I am going to take Friday off so I can play the weekend. And eat a hamburger.

Chris

Subject: Airwalk dress socks!

Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 3:53 PM

How can you not be having fun, when Daiei sells Airwalk dress socks? And you find them on sale? I’ve also found Airwalk ties, but they were ugly and not worth Y 4000. Didn’t know that Airwalk was expanding from skate shoes into dress clothes. That’s a strange leap. Don’t ya think?

How goes the movie? Have you been promoted to be in charge of the Imperial Japanese Garrison? Get to commit seppaku, could get Jason to be your second, if he hadn’t wussied out…

I’m sitting at home today, second day in a row. There’s some monstrous typhoon, named “s-something”, kicking the snot out of Okinawa. I don’t think I’m supposed to be at work, but I’m a little unclear. There’s little to no communication, so I’m sort of making it up as I go. The armed forces weather guy said it was Typhoon Condition 1-Emergency, and that everything was basically shut down. I hadn’t heard of T-1E before, only T-1C, which is a cautionary warning, and then, we were supposed to stay home. I figure we just screamed thru T-1D (doh?) and went right to “E”. I expect I’ll hear about it tomorrow, as to whether or not I was supposed to be here or there today.

Damn. Stomach is getting hungry, so I had better feed it. My eating schedule sucks here, I need to get it more squared away. Chris

Subject: I’m a logger….

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2000 4:54 AM

Maybe I should have turn and left when I walked into the salon and the person with the long purple dreads turned around and it was a guy/boy wearing lots of makeup.

Perhaps I should have removed the apron thing and ran away screaming when they gave me style books with nude men on the covers (I mean nude, like damn! Is that a penis that has a small man attached to it or what?).

I think maybe I should have left when I had the urge to Get Up and Kill! Complements of the Japanese Barney coming into the right ear via the TV and horrible (I mean crappy!) loud static repetitive noise (turns out it was house music) in the left ear.

Should have left long before the hair cutter person, with her super limited English, read me plain as day. Yikes!

But then, I noticed the monstrous Alien replica (simulated foam/slime at the mouth!) entangled in the Xmas lights in the center of the ceiling, and everything was much better.

I have no idea how the hair cut is, I’m going to have to check in the shower. I went to a different place this time, because, well, I wanted to try a different place, and the boogying leather shorts wearing dude last time kinda worried me. How can you dance and cut hair? Snip, there goes an ear (but that would be all in Japanese).

Chris

Subject: stay in school (once bitten, twice shy)

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2000 4:56 AM

I have decided that Tuesdays are the best day, simply because I get to go to my interesting school. It has nothing to do with the fact that I turn into a whimpering little puppy dog with one of the teachers. Can you say deer in the headlights of a eighteenwheeler? Smack, there goes Chris, road kill on the relationship super highway. Oh wait…

I get to act like a total moron. Well, not really, but I do get to play around a lot. In other words, I get to be me. The students cannot figure me out. When you walk by one of the cool/punk/tough kids and zip up his vest (all the rage in Okinawa) to his nose, it makes them wonder.

I was “teaching” my English conversation class (it’s an after school class) to 16 students today, including one teacher. The head English teacher was “helping” but then he jumped in, and started asking all these serious questions. His tone was loud and aggressive. His intonation and timing was all off as well. “I said, how MANY secoNDS is there INAMINUTE?” When he talks to me, he’s fine. So one of the girls started speaking to him in Japanese, and basically told him “It’s Chris-Sensei’s class, please be quiet”. YEAH! Let’s here it for the orange haired girl (I gave her candy). So he left. Broke my heart. Don’t think he’s well liked. He had already been picked on for his mismatched, puka socks. Hahaha. I like this kids.

Haven’t written in a while. Sorry ’bout that. Typhoon and work and class and sleep.

Damned Japanese class and all it’s writing practice and what not. I’ve learned that you never, ever, get out of Freshman year French. Fourteen years later, it’s still the same feeling of banging your head into a wall (I’m getting this nice squishy spot). Well, it’s sort of different, now I just don’t care if people laugh at my accent or lack of skills. I’m THE special education section for my class. Me, all by myself. I guess that’s enough for any teacher. Worst one in the class. 🙂 There was a Thai lady, as bad as me, but she’s gone. I’m also the only American in the class, so I’m letting the USA down.

Actually went out this past weekend. Several of the JETs had birthdays this month, so someone had a fiesta up north. Way up north. So I went for two days. It was fun. Despite the first beach that we went to was POUNDING! I’m talking 6′-7′ shore break, on a gravel beach (not sand), and the current was monstrous. There were lots and lots of small rocks being tossed about in the water, so all in all, evil. I got in up to my knees, was promptly smashed by a wave, snatched by the current, and scratched by the rocks. Had to work to get back in. Very angry water. The three others I was with thought it was awesome.

The beach the next day was better. Apart from all the trash left over from the previous nights party. The party at which I was bitten (on the back by head butting Aussie girl. Is this like grade school flirting?), and had beer poured over both my feet and my head. Here I am, meeting JETs for the first time, and I stink of beer, and my hair is all over the place, due the wind and earlier soaking/swimming near death beach, wearing the Nike fork shirt (and baggy Fox surf trunks)! Jill, that thing is da supa bomb of good stink!

One of the Hawaii girls (well, Hilo…Yes Ms. Kodama, she knows you) said she expected a little local kid. HA! The other local girl (Go Kalani C/0 94?) told me that someone her Mom knows knows me, but she couldn’t remember the name. Thanks.

Nice to see trees and hills. Not mountains, but hills. Made me jones for my bike and a car to go riding. People don’t understand why I biked in Hawaii instead of surfing or what not. Plus I got to run around with no shirt on (no beer belly here!), and my Dr. Seuess boxers. Always a good thing.

It’s also getting cool here. My bones and sprains and what not tell me that winter is going to be cold. Just a hunch. No snow this far down, but still, cold wind off the ocean.

I’m going to eat, then check out the ‘doo in the shower. Isn’t a bad haircut that gel can’t fix.

Peace out <—horrible mainland USA JET farewell. Kills me everytime I hear it.

Chris

Shoot, everyone remember Miss IP Freely from an earlier segment? All weekend, where ever we were, she went.

Just to let people know that our beloved Man In Japan is still alive and kicking, here is his latest message, edited.

Subject: Oh boy

Date: Sunday, September 24, 2000 4:56 AM


At work on Friday, one of the office ladies comes up to me and asks if I’m busy on Saturday night. I laugh, and tell her no.

The night got better, we drove around, and ate Mexican food.
Chris

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