EARTH, i walk

a photoblog about my feet (a day in the life of dan le)

[9 months; teaching; master cleansing // nisshin city, japan]

It’s been a long time hasn’t it? A few people have been asking me whether I’ve been keeping up to date on my blog and my answer has been “no”. the reason for my lag is a mixture of quite a few things: laziness, “who cares?”, laziness, not wanting to divulge my life to the world, and not knowing what to write about.

Well, after reading a few blogs by myfellow brothers and sisters, I feel re-inspired to write.

So, where do I start? It’s 11:30pm and I’m sitting down in my living room. I can hear the pitter patter of raindrops outside through the balcony door that is slightly open. As the intensity of the rain ebbs and flows I feel relaxation come in waves.

I’ve been living in Nagoya for almost 9 months now and can say that I’m fairly accustomed to the lifestyle although my spoken Japanese terrible and virtually non-existent. I can get by with really simple small-talk phrases like 「あなたの仕事は何ですか」(what’s your work?) or 「私のしゅみはラクライミングです」(my hobby is rock climbing). I also can order food by pointing to a picture or group of unrecognizable characters and say「これをください」(this one please).  I can do basic sentence patterns. It’s difficult to learn to speak Japanese when the work that I do calls that I speak English. But maybe this is just my excuse and I suffer from laziness. Besides the speaking Japanese part, which is huge, I feel so blessed and spoiled to be living in Japan. One word: Quality. The Japanese donot take quality lightly. Everything is done above and beyond expectations. Food is of the highest caliber here. Incidentally Japan holds the record for the most Michelin 3-star ratings in the world.

I get to eat fresh and cheap sushi and sashimi whenever I feel like taking a 5-minute stroll to my neighborhood supermarket. Customer service is overly friendly and helpful. When im lost, strangers will go out of their way to actually walk me to my destination. It sounds like paradise, right? Maybe. I’m still a foreigner here and I don’t know all of the intricacies of life here but in my experience so far, kinship and a sense of community are a lot stronger here than I felt in L.A.
So I’m an English teacher. It’s really different from what I was doing back in LA in many different ways. First off, I was a Social Sciences teacher in a really fucked up school district, LAUSD. God, I’m afraid of going back to that place. Let me break how teachers are viewed here in japan in 3 words: teachers are respected. We are actually treated as professionals here. Administration don’t lock us in school during work hours (yes, this was my daily experience while working at John C. Fremont Senior High for 3 years), the curriculum isn’t scripted, and I’m not harassed because I don’t have content standards written on the board. I usually leave work around 6pm everyday and don’t feel drained! Conversely, I have a lot of energy and usually spend the rest of the evening preparing myself a meal, eating it, and maybe watching an indie film or reading a book.  So what’s wrong with LAUSD and right about Japan?

For starters, students are respected here. Wow! What a thought, right? Students? Respected? Yes, I learned this during my first couple weeks of school. There was a series of thefts that occurred on campus and an emergency assembly was called. The dean, in a dominant tone, spoke to the students about these thefts but did not blame them for it. He never said, “don’t steal” at all. He simply stated that things were missing and expressed his disappointment. Apparently, I learned afterwards, teachers aren’t supposed to accuse students of anything—it’s just not protocol. I guess that good ol’ American saying, “innocent until proven guilty” really holds true here. Boy, was my experience in LAUSD quite the opposite. Students were blamed and charged for every little thing because of the way they looked, acted, talked, anything. I’m guilty of this too, I had the same mentality considering that I was the product of LAUSD. But being here I’m unlearning that. I hope I remember this when I return. I want my students to know that I respect them.

Wow, enough about teaching. I didn’t realize I was going to write about all of that.

master cleansing.

when life hands you lemons…add water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper

So, I’ve always wanted to do a fast since maybe 7-8 years ago. I wanted to try it to see how I would feel, how I would fair, how I could change. My digestion was a little off-whack too. Well, today is day 8 of my 10-day Master Cleanse fast and I thought it would be a lot harder that it has been. Two of the hardest days for me was day 3 and day 7 and they were both related to cravings. I’ve completed two silent meditation retreats lasting up to 10 days and I can say that this fast has a similar meditation quality to it. This fast has been more of a mental challenge than anything else. With the spicy lemonade drink I really don’t feel the pangs of hunger. I actually have a lot of energy and even went rock climbing. The mental challenge has been around habit energy—I want to eat and feel the comforts of eating when I’m performing specific activities or at specific times. For example, when I’m about to watch something on the telly, I want to eat something; when I get home from work, same; when I think about hanging out with friends; when im bored. So many of these cravings for food at specific times really made me keen on the fact that I’ve been eating mindlessly out of habit. On days 3 and 7, I was thinking about food a lot. I wanted  to feel the texture of a crunchy ton katsu curry and rice in my mouth, the sweetness of cashews, and smell delicious phantom smells everywhere. Haha. I know that I’m going to really be present with the food I eat, what I’m putting into my body, and how it affects me. I’m excited for when I get to eat again.

okay, im getting lazy and sleepy. bye bye world.

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2013 by in Japan.
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