Sunday, October 20, 2013

October...You know what that means

Yesterday was January first, today it's October.

Fine by me. I love October. In North Japan it means School Festivals. All the schools display their handiwork, but even level and school has a different flair. At my techie school, it's jaw-dropping the things these kids make. I mean, a go-kart, really? At junior high there are speeches and a singing contest. And at primary school, it's a day full of cute little plays. Today, the 6th graders did a play they wrote themselves, and it was amazing. Not only because the content rocked, or because a kid beat-boxed (I know, right?), but because two 'random' bits from an early scene were vital to the end of the play.

This ties into the other reason I love October. The countdown to November.

For writers, November is Nanowrimo. If you haven't heard about it before, here's a quick synopsis. You write a novel in November. Pretty simple, huh? They count a novel as 50,000 words. And the only real rules are that you start a new story in November and write 50,000 words of it before November 30. It's not absolutely required that you finish the work, but it is recommended.

I haven't written anything significant since last year, but nano is the one time of year I refuse to ignore my writer soul. If you're a nano-er, or you're interested in joining up, come find me, My user name is muchlanguage.

Enjoy October guys, and be prepared for November. If you're into nano, then...

May the words be with you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Perks of a Crappy Job

Last week, I talked about how my job kinda sucks (more than kinda actually). But the more I think about it - and I'm a real thinker, folks - the more I realise there are perks to a sucky job.

1. Feels like I'm forgetting something

People tend to get all wrapped up in their jobs. Nowhere is that more true than Japan where your average government worker pulls an 11-hour shift every day. And  a 6-day work-week is standard. Not being caught up in my work means that when I roll out of school, I can forget about school/my job until the next time I roll back in.

This frees up so much time to concentrate on other things. Studying kanji. Getting back to writing. Hanging out with my Japanese fam and friends. Being the super designated driver for the ages. Trying to build up my poor dying town.

2. ABC, easy as 123

When I like a job, I push myself to be awesome. But with this, I just want to keep my pookies happy. And considering my pookies, that's not hard. That's not to say I put no effort into my job, I just don't push the way I usually do in the love affair most people call work.

3. It's NOT hard to say goodbye to yesterday

I know I want to be a writer... or at least an entertainer of some sort... maybe both. But to be either of those things full time, I will have to walk away from whatever job I've been wiling away the hours at. That's really easy when you're not loving what you're doing.

So I guess the crappy job is not all crap. Any other good things about a crappy job?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why my job is crap

But Claire, you can't say that kind of stuff of the internet! You never know who's watching!

Sure, I can. Read on and see why...

I'm an ALT - Assistant Language Teacher. Well, actually, I have a more technically correct name, but that's what the majority of the population knows us by. I assist in English class rooms in schools. I used to work for government in kindergarten, primary, and junior high schools. Now I work through a private company in high schools.

So, what makes my job crap. Well...

1. I was not made for schools

A major problem (in my eyes anyway) in most school systems across the world, is the prioritising of testing over learning. I really don't give a salsa monkey what a kid's test scores are. In a way, that kind of works with my current position because test scores are not in my jurisdiction. But testing is more important in high school, and the structure of my current job involves more direction from the Japanese teachers about what I should and shouldn't be doing. So even though I'm not involved in the testing, my lessons are often geared toward it and it drives me crazy.

2. English

I can't explain how much it sucks as a pluralinguist to be constantly forced to exist in your native language, despite being surrounded by a foreign one that you'd much rather be using. I suppose it's still a step above an English-speaking country where I'd never get to use anything else. But I'd still rather be teaching a language that's foreign to me too. I want to grow and learn too.

Also, English is beautiful and all, but I've never been one for technicalities. And a lot of my job involves explaining WHY. I'm not a grammar nazi. In fact, if you're being understood, who cares. And it's not just with English. I feel this way about all my languages. Japanese, the language in which I've had the least formal training, is always broken when I speak it, but I'm never misunderstood. (At least not any more than the natives. Japanese is ridiculously vague.) I think this actually makes me good at languages, the ability to discard why.

3. Climbing the ladder

I just said I want to grow and learn, right? Well apart from using a language that literally comes naturally to me, there's also no scope for growth in my job. My role will never change. I will always be the assistant.

Also, I'm not usually one for practical considerations, but I'm getting a little better about it now that I'm 31. And if I'm not climbing my salary isn't either. Ever. In fact, my old government job was the pinnacle of what you make in this field. I'm capped out.

4. Not really being a part of anything

It's important as a human being to fit in. Not always, but once in a while. In Japan, that importance is magnified a zillion times over. Japan is all about my group versus not my group. As a black girl in an Asian country, I know that I'll never fit completely, but that doesn't mean I always want to stick out like a sore thumb.

At school, I'm very aware that all the other teachers have responsibilities I don't - leading clubs, being form teachers, planning school events. It gives them a sense of camaraderie and makes me feel like Quasimodo in the bell tower.

There are tons and tons of reasons why my job is crap and I could go on and on all day. But I won't. I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that for the first time I am not perfectly happy in a job. Don't get me wrong, I love my pookies to pieces, but this just isn't my calling. So I've made a promise to myself and I'm now declaring it publicly as well. It won't be forever, but I will stick it for the moment.

Did you ever work in a job that didn't work for you?