Thursday, December 4, 2014

No apologies, temples and friends

Okay. So. I’m promising myself not to use the blasted “S” word I’m always using when I update for you guys. Yes I’ve been busy. Yes I could have posted sooner, but I’m going to stop apologizing when I post. : ) I’ll try to be better about updating (seeing other people posting has made me want to start again!), but it is hard sometimes. (Also, skip down a few paragraphs if you want to skip my rant about being tired because I’m being an adult.

I have lived “on my own” before. Or so I thought. For the majority of the last 6 years, I thought I was living on my own. Being a big girl and leading and adult life. But in reality, I always had roommates, or my family to fall back on. It wasn’t until I moved to my semi-rural (I’ve finally convinced myself it could have been worse on the “how rural is it?” scale…) apartment that I’ve found myself truly, honestly and really living on my own. There are no roommates. No one to help run errands, make dinner or clean up. No one to blame for my messes except myself. Though surprisingly, I keep everything, except the dishes and my laundry, cleaner than I thought I would. Okay. Well… except maybe my desk. That will never be clean.

Honestly though, between working my first ever full time job (which I absolutely love and wish didn’t have an expiration of between 3-5 years on it), I’m exhausted 95% of the time. Most days, I go home and I feel like I’m lucky if I have the energy to boot my computer up and play a game. Making dinner and cleaning are waking nightmares. And now, with the weather turned FREEZING, I feel even worse and have even less energy for things.

To make matters worse, all those WONDERFUL students loans are starting anytime between this month and April and my consolidation hasn’t been processed. So every extra yenny (what I call a Japanese penny equivalent) I have is being sent home so I can pay bills when they finally start. Which, naturally, leaves very little for a “fun” fund.

Yes. I know. I’m complaining about what EVERY person has to do on a daily basis. But you know what? My blog. : ) I’m allowed to complain from time to time. *sigh*

However, and here is where it turns around, I am starting to get out of my house. For the last 3 and a half months, outside of work I’ve had only my ikebana lessons three times a week to go to and a Wednesday night dinner about once a month. (I just don’t have money for it most weeks). 

I went to a Halloween party waaay back in October and met some pretty cool people there. One of them happens to live in my town. (Miracles DO happen!) I’ve made friends with him and a couple of his friends who are also English teachers. It’s been WONDERFUL having people to hang out with and I’m starting to feel like I HAVE a life outside of work.

Also, two weekends ago, I was stir crazy. On Saturday I went random bike and adventuring and found this really neat little old shrine. It was on a hill behind a REALLY well kept and new looking temple which, I’m pretty sure, was attached to the cemetery just down the hill.  Overall, it was awesome. 

Then, on Sunday, I went to a nearby temple called Chimanji (智満寺). Now. By nearby I mean about 9 km, or just around 5 and a half miles, from my house. Looked up Google maps time. Okay. 2 hours walking, so about an hour by bike. Hopped on my bike and I went. The weather was fantastic, the perfect kind of warm and I was in a GREAT mood. Well, halfway there (by my calculations) I started riding my bike uphill. On a narrow windy mountainy road that looks a lot like if you’re out Clay Creek area in Oregon. No big deal. The hill can’t go on for long….

Well. An hour and a half of pushing my bike up the “hill” which turned out to be a mountain, I finally reached the top. A very serious cyclist on those insane like, 30 speed bikes or what not, was astounded by the fact that I had come to Chimanji on “the same kind of bicycle that grandmothers ride” and then applauded my “powerfulness” for having done it. At the time, I felt pretty good about myself too.

Then I had to climb these stairs of doom to reach the temple. When I did, there was this really cute little old lady who was soooooooo shocked to see me. She asked me to take a picture with her. (I mean, we’re only at a 400 year old temple, but why not? Let’s take the picture with the foreigner. I honestly didn’t mind. Just thought it was funny.) Afterwards, as I was poking around the temple grounds I ran into a lady from my town. Turns out, we wait at the stop light together most mornings on the way to work and we just had never spoken until then.

Fast forwarding past the photo taking (see my other blog for more photos!) and I found this little trail behind the main temple. 

Thinking it led to another little offshoot temple, I followed it. I wasn’t disappointed on that count. I ran into a temple building under repair and MANY small shrines. This was (eventually) followed by a small sized temple in a clearing. Off to the right was a GIANT tree (by Japan standards) which was a shrine in its own right. Having come 30 minutes up the path, I decided to follow one of the forks to the overlook. (It can’t be far, right?) 

Well. Long story to short. I got lost on the paths. Had no idea how much farther forward it was. It was starting to get late (worrisome as I still had a looonnng bike ride down a steep, narrow winding mountain road to get home). Just as I was about to give up, I ran into this guy who was equally as lost coming from the other direction. We gave each other directions as best we were able (It’s that way… about so many minutes? There’s a turn… A right one maybe? Or was it left? There were a couple of them…) and parted ways. His direction seemed to be closer, so I kept going the way he’d come. 

Regretting my life decisions at that moment.
About 25 minutes later I finally made it off the path and to the viewpoint overlooking the mountains and the city. It would have been gorgeous, if not for the hazy fog? Pollution? That had decided to descend in the distance.   

As I turned to follow the road back to my bike, I ran into the guy who had been lost again. We wound up talking and exchanging info. So now, thanks to being lost in the woods on top of a mountain that, had I not been stir crazy, I would have never gone to, I have a new friend! You remember that hour and a half walk up the mountain? Well. The way down went a LOT faster. Took only about 15 minutes and, thankfully, there were no cars on my return trip. If there had been, it would have been terrifying instead of awesome (and slightly worrisome because my breaks decided to go on the fritz O.O ).

So yeah. Thanks to new friends and random adventures, I’ve started to enjoy living in my town a bit more. I’m not quite used to the solo gig or spending most of my life working. But things are starting to come together. I just had to remind myself that, even last year, it took me a few months before I was FULLY settled into my life and started to branch out.

Anyways. I hope to write to you all again soon. Maybe I’ll tell you a bit more about life here at a Serenity High School as I’m calling it. Can’t tell you the real name, privacy issues and all.

In the meantime, please, please, please. I would LOVE to hear from whoever is still reading these. Do you have questions about Japan? Those crazy snacks, etiquette, language, “that anime thing,” daily life or anything else? I would LOVE to answer questions and help teach people about the language, culture and, the “Japan-ness” of living here. Maybe you’re another foreigner and you have questions about living or working in Japan. Anything is okay and I’d love to help out and maybe answer the same question many people are asking.

Until next time!


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