Saturday, December 31, 2005

Izumo's Rockin' New Year's Eve Party

Day Five. New Year's Eve.

Today was going to be a busy day, so I got out of bed early, cleaned up, and was out the door by eight.

First stop, the Yamane household in Yasugi. Hiroshi's parents. They have been really nice to me since I first came to Shimane. They took me to see the sumo wrestlers when they came to Shimane. They fed me when I would go out to Yasugi with Hiroshi to teach English at the cram school he worked at. They made sure I knew what was okay and what was taboo in Japan.

A lot of times, most people will let foreigner goof-ups slide because, hey, we're foreigners. At least that's the logic. So something that we assume is okay may actually not be, but since the people around us let it slide, we never get the chance to correct our mistakes. The Yamanes made sure I knew what was okay and what was "no way".

After I moved back to work here, they helped me get set up in my new apartment, helped me get a kotatsu when it started to get cold, and still kept the offer to feed me open. Hiroshi's mom even came over and cleaned my apartment a couple of times for me. Anyway, they've been really nice to me, and I wanted to go and see them.

The drive out was pretty miserable, as I was still carrying the emotional baggage from the night before with me. But when I got out there, it was good to see them, and I let that other stuff go.

We ate some sandwiches, had some tea, and talked. This was a talk that I needed to have. I talked about my job and my working relationship with Hiroshi, and how difficult things had been for me at Starfish High. I didn't even really realize how much of a rough time I'd been having, until Hiroshi's father talked about his son's attitude toward me.

"You know, he knows you can do a good job. He's set a high standard for you, so there are times when your simple questions about work annoy him. But that's because he knows you can do well, and because he doesn't understand that there are a lot of things you don't know about the inner workings of that school. I want you to understand, though, that he has complete faith in you and what you can do there. He also knows that you have the skills to do your job without a lot of coaching from him. So he'll let you do your thing, but he is keeping an eye on you. If he sees that you are at the edge, that things are too rough for you and you're at a spot you can't handle by yourself anymore, he'll be right there to pull you back. He may seem cold at times, but he will never let you go under. He'll be right there to help you."

I almost started crying. Part of that was probably from the stuff that had been bothering me from the day before, but it hit me that I'd been having a really rough time at work. There were a lot of times that I felt alone...and here was Hiroshi's dad telling me that his son won't let me get in over my head. There were times when I hadn't been sure about that. But I understood. I knew it was something that Hiroshi would never say directly to me, but it was true all the same.

It was a talk I needed to have.

After visiting with them for a little longer, I headed out to my old hometown, Hakuta. There were a lot of people I needed to see out there.

The Miyamotos. I worked with the wife at one of my elementary schools. I also (kind of) helped their daughter get into a program where she could go and study in the U.S. after high school.

The Hamasakis. Another family I've known for a long time. The husband and I were in the same taiko drumming group. The two sons were students of mine at Hakuta JHS. Their daughter was a student of mine at Mori Elementary. The wife and daughter participated in my English conversation class for people in town.

The Nawas. The husband runs a candy store in town that makes some good candy. He was in the taiko group as well. He was drunk and asleep when I went to visit, so I talked with his mother and wife for a bit.

The Yamamotos. The wife worked at the community center and helped organize the English conversation class that I taught. I got to know the whole family through her. I translated the MC for their daughter's wedding ceremony. She and her husband had come back from Columbia just after I left Shimane, but I was able to talk with them as well. Their son had just gotten married, so I congratulated them on that.

The Nagatanis. The wife and the husband's mother run a little bookstore in town, and I ordered a lot of books and magazines from them. I would sneak over during slow days at the BOE and drink tea and chat for a while. It was a nice getaway spot for me. The husband worked at the BOE, and he and his wife are big movie lovers, so we always had something to talk about. Their daughter had just gotten married recently, so I congratulated them, too.

Mari. She had studied at The University of Washington (BOOOOOOO!!!!!) and helped me out a lot when I first moved into town. Apparently she is engaged to get married, so I congratulated her, too.

The Yoshigis. The three children were all students of mine. The wife attended my English class. The husband is an amazing cook. The grandparents are really cool too. I had dinner with them,  and sampled some of that good home cookin'.

The Hadas. I worked with the wife at Hakuta JHS. Their three children were also students of mine. Great kids.

After making this whirlwind tour of Hakuta and visiting all of these friends, I had to get back to Izumo before midnight. Why? Because of the Izumo's Rockin' New Year's Eve Party.

Back in June, a new concert hall opened up in Izumo. It's called Apollo. Tonight was my first trip out there. Nice place, if a bit small. Anyway, this New Year's Eve Party was organized by the Daikan-cho crew (basically the good folks over at Liberate, some others chipped in to help). Live music, some DJs, and a countdown at midnight. I made it there with half an hour to spare.

A lot of folks I knew were there, and it was fun to just get stupid and dance around with everybody. It was an all-you-can-drink extravaganza, which would have been nice, except it was cheap booze. I suppose that's the way you gotta roll when you roll all-you-can-drink.

"Everybody that doesn't have a drink, get one and get back in here!" went the call from the stage. I grabbed a beer and headed back in.



Everybody took a drink, and the show started up again.

As is de rigueur with parties organized by the good folks at Liberate, there was a performance of "Tequila". Usually a DJ spins it, but tonight, it was played LIVE. Also, as is de rigueur with these parties, the song stops right after everybody shouts "Tequila!" and starts over at the beginning. This gets repeated ad infinitum. Why? Because shots of tequila get passed around, and you are required by party law to drink after shouting "Tequila!"

I was called up on stage...umm, I lost count after the fourth time. It was cheap, nasty tequila, not fun to drink. You didn't even get any salt or a lemon with it. Time constraints, of course. The second time I got called up on stage to drink a shot, just as I was about to toss it back, somebody bumped my elbow. Most of the tequila missed my mouth and hit my eye.

Have you ever gotten tequila in your eye? It burns...much like napalm burns jungles.

The party continued on well into the night. I think I left around 3:30. Somehow I managed to get back to Lisa's apartment. Out like a freakin' light.

End Day Five.


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