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Asleep on the Tatami


It has been a long time since I posted in the LJ. It seems like everyone I know has now deleted their journals, but I refuse to do such a thing. There is too much history here to simply walk away. In any case, it is a place that I can post without having to worry about the Facebook crowd.

I don't know what compelled me to do it, but I went on a search last night for this DJ Doboy mix that I used to like a lot in college. I finally found it and listened to it on the way to and from work today. I was glad that I did. I can't remember the last time that I listened to vocal trance. It has prompted me to load up Streamripper and head over to di.fm (Digitally Imported) So, now I'm listened to vocal trance streams. It's nice and relaxing. If I wasn't so concerned with the drivers in Nagoya, I might listen to this while on the bike. Speaking of the bike, Moyashi cannot handle long distances. We've passed the 100 mile mark together and all of a sudden, strange noises and performance issues have crept up. It's not surprising. He wasn't built to train. He is a cruiser. Made for nice, leisurely rides around the city and to work. He's not meant to punished up and down hills, with a stubborn refusal to slow down. Still, I love my bike. It's the only big purchase I have made in Japan, and honestly, he wasn't such a big purchase.

So, what's the update? I don't know that I've posted anything at all about Japan. So, here goes.

March. The first couple of months were difficult. It's funny to look back on only two months ago and remember how hopeless I felt. I really did. It's not easy to say that now, but I was not so sure that I made the right choice in coming to Japan. I remember my first night in this apartment very well. Patrick said that the futon would be coming at 7PM. It never came. I attempted to sleep on the tatami, but it was too uncomfortable. I was awake most of the night. Though, I was proud to be in my own apartment in Japan. Part of me reconciled the fear with the triumph of having finally made it to Japan. That feeling of accomplishment, however, did not sustain me over the next 60 days. I officially would not start teaching in Nagoya until May 18. Luckily, I spent much of April helping out at a school in Komaki. School lunches and work kept my mind from wandering (mostly) to the idea that I was alone in a new country with almost nothing except for clothes and a computer. Everything felt desperate. I desperately wanted to meet friends, I desperately wanted a table and chair, I desperately wanted to speak the language, and most of all I desperately wanted some kind of purpose outside of teaching.

July. If anything has changed, it's only the perception. I actually ditched the futon. The Japanese summer is very humid, and with a lack of AC, mold can be a problem. My futon was a casualty. For the past two weeks, I've been sleeping on the floor of the tatami room (the same one that was too uncomfortable in March). I've been sleeping extremely well on it. Granted, by the end of the day I am very tired. My sister suggested about a month ago that the reason I couldn't sleep at night, was because I didn't push myself hard enough during the day. I used to just excuse it and say that my mind just doesn't shut off, but she pointed out that even if my mind didn't stop thinking about things; if my body was tired enough, it would sleep. Well, as one might suspect, it works.

I missed that feeling. I used to describe it as one of my favorite-- the feeling right before you fall asleep, or rather, the moment you realize you are drifting into sleep. It's as if you can feel the subconscious and dreamworld overtaking reality.

Anyway, as I was saying. I've given up on a bed. I'm convinced that I actually sleep better on the ground. At least, my back seems to feel pretty good. Again, other factors are to be considered, but it certainly has had a positive impact. I still haven't made any friends. Well, that's not entirely true. I did meet a girl who came to my house to see if I wanted to look at apartments for her company. She spoke excellent English. So, I decided that with this new energy and positive attitude, I'd go last Saturday to see this apartment building (which is so expensive, it's ridiculous) So, I took the bike down near the port and met for the appointment. She had actually converted all the measurements into English AND Standard. It was actually pretty fun. I really liked the 2 bedroom apartment. One day, I would like to have that kind of apartment. It was the perfect size. So, when the meeting was over, she asked if I had a Facebook, which I do. She said she doesn't get to speak English that much, and that we should get together for lunch or dinner some time. I agreed. So, I guess you could say, that she is my first official friend in Japan.

Otherwise, teaching and cycling have taken over my life. Public school life is great. I love it. I don't know how I put up with Hagwons for so long in Korea, other than that the money is very good. But to feel so stressed all the time and have terrible hours, I would not go back to that. I really never thought I would enjoy a job that required me to be awake at 5AM, but it turns out that I am fine with it, as long as I get myself to bed at a reasonable hour.

The rest is cycling. MWF I use the bike to commute. It's a 12 mile round trip, and as someone new to the sport, it has been more than suitable, especially with all the hills. I will most likely continue on the MWF routine for a few more weeks. School is out now, but I can find other places to bike. I went out for a long ride last Saturday after the apartment meeting, but this weekend I am going to save it for Sunday. I have not decided where I want to visit this time. I have not yet seen Nagoya Castle, so I might make a trek up that way. It's actually not much farther than my school. The goal of this is that I'd like to actually start training. That's what I liked about running. I pushed myself harder. When I felt like I was stagnating, I stepped it up. I felt like there was a goal. Commuting to work is great. There is no denying it, but it doesn't give me the same rush. Maybe it's because I am going to work. I've decided that in September, I will buy another bike. This time, I was invest in it. I am waiting for September for several reasons. The first being, that I often become obsessed with hobbies, only to leave them after several weeks. Now that I think about it, that extends to more than hobbies. I want to prove to myself that I can stick with it. It's not just important as an athletic endeavor, but important for my physically, and invaluable to me mentally. Being active is the only way that I have found to successfully overcome anxiety. I dislike feeling unhealthy and health is my biggest worry. Therefore, the only way to defeat it is to become healthier. The second reason I am waiting until September is that I am not sure what kind of bike I want. I am certain that I do not want a mountain bike. It just doesn't seem like my thing. I would like to race. I loved Cross Country and the endurance involved in it, which brings me to Touring bikes. I could potentially take trips out into Japan, camp, and really get to see what it's all about. In many ways, it would be the complete opposite of what I did in Korea. But, if I get a racing bike, I could still make trips under 100 miles eventually within a day, which gets me to nearly everywhere I'd want to go. So, I have to focus on what kind of biking I want to do. The third reason, is that my birthday is in September, and buying a new bicycle, as great as that is for me as a present to myself, is only second compared to knowing WHY I get to buy it. If I can look at myself on my birthday and be proud that I stuck with it and can now upgrade and really get into the sport, I will have given myself a healthy dose of self-respect. I can't imagine a present to myself from myself that could be better.

About the perception that I had mentioned earlier. I have been taking the time, both in the morning and at night, to spend several minutes meditating. I don't think that's the right term to use, but I like to spend a few minutes before I go to sleep focusing on the things that I did well that day and promising to continue. I spend the first few minutes in the morning reminding myself of what I had promised and thanking that I get to see a new day. I know that so many people say that this helps. I can often be very cynical, and dismiss this kind of advice; but it actually helps. I think we forget how much time we spend devoting to everything but ourselves. And by devoting time to ourselves, I do not means playing games, or listening to music, or reading; I mean taking a silent moment out of our busy lives, to have a conversation with ourselves. To check up, so to speak, and see how we're doing. It's been peaceful.

So the things that bothered me when I first came here? Well, I still want a desk and chair. I can't deny that. Studying on the floor is not very conducive to organization and extended periods of concentration. Does it bother me though? No, I'll get a desk and chair soon. All the other things, well if I want them, I will get them. If I don't know how, then I will find a way. If I want more friends, I have to go out and find them. And that is basically what I tell myself every night before I go to sleep. If you want something, go and get it. It's my life. It's up to me. And in that statement, in that belief, there is absolute freedom. And that might be why I like cycling so much, because I can go wherever I want to go. It's up to me.

Alright, I'm taking off now. I am actually getting a bit tired. Here's looking forward to many more good adventures in Japan!


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 16th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
you may think that sleeping on the floor is making your back feel better now, but after a few months, your entire body will ache upon waking. invest in a new futon.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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