That’s my new title I think… they are actually the same word, as the first cloggers were Welsh factory workers that wore wooden-soled shoes (clogs) to keep themselves off of the wet floors, and the first saboteurs were pissed French factory workers that threw their wooden-soled shoes (sabots) into the machines (or so the story goes).
I’ve found a job, done a couple of clogging gigs, changed houses, and
rehearsed with the Apple Chill Cloggers “di Carrboro” for a
review internazionale in
del Lago, Italy (looks nice from above, doesn’t it?). Our last
rehearsal was Wednesday and it went really well as we have tightened
up as a team. I did a gig with them last week which gave me a taste
of being a performer on the road (the sleeping in a hotel part)…
some of the cloggers I know were in full-time touring groups for six
years straight back in the day. Crazy. I could be into it though.
After Italia I’ll to Scotland to visit folks and the fringe fest. I’m
leaving tomorrow morning and still have to do some packing so ciao for
I had two banjo gigs for the cloggers lasterday, in the morning at VGCC’s cultural fair, and in the evening at Habitat’s square dance benefit on campus. I also played for the dance with The Pickup Ramblers, which was good fun. Jaso called and gets mad props for his multivocalism antics in the walkthroughs.
Post-square dance Peter and I decided to busk for the Franklin Street collegiate drunkards, and made $4 in the fifteen minutes before our hands got cold, which, I realized, is more income than I’ve made since moving here on February 1st. Today I did get a small contract teaching Dreamweaver and Flash classes at the ArtCenter in Carrboro.
That’s not until the summer, and I need to pay some billz now, so if you or your organization are looking for a blog, portal, storefront, podcast, and/or static site you should hire me. Friend rates and friendly rates apply, hosting and everything included. Check out my portfolio and drop me a line.
You continue to treat me well. Since my last entry I have some new regular activities including Sunday “church” singing with the Shape Note Singers of Research Triangle Area, Monday Argentine Tango classes with Tangophilia, Tuesday clogging with Cane Creek Cloggers, Wednesday old-time jams at Nightlight, and Friday contra dances. Chloe has promised to get me lindy hopping too which will be cool, I think those are Saturdays. The irregular activities more than fill in the other nights.
I move to my new place Thursday. I’ll miss squatting at the estate, but will be here much in the future too. Me and the estate boys are starting our own Shape Note quartet.
Oh yeah, it looks like I might have a contract job now too.
And a first date tonight.
This year has been pretty intensely good. I still have not unpacked from Japan (was there until August), but I’m not worried about it. Wednesday I started unpacking stuff, organizing into piles, all that, but was distracted by my own hair and went to cut it. I just chopped the sides down, and the top and back are still longish… I think I’ve wanted my hair to be like this for awhile. So I’m happy with it for now.
I had a good conversation with Ben tonight before the dance. Condensed version: I have no idea if it will be Asheville or Carrboro or New Zealand for this year, but wherever it is I am prepared to be really happy this year. He smiled and replied that I probably have a head-start on most of the people in the word then, and I agree. So that’s my New Year’s Resolution.
The dancing was hard, hot, and a good good time.
If I keep seeing people I might just pop.
On that note, I leave you with some advice for the new year from Delbert McClinton and Chloe & The Oneders, そしてお正月のアドバイスをどうぞ見てごらん、僕はオルガンを弾いている：
It’s been a great few days at home, I wish I were cooling my heels a little more before departure to the next adventure. The Warren Wilson dance was great last night. We stood around for about an hour after it coming down, and making plans for future things. They were pretending to be angry with me for leaving again.
If there is anything better than teaching folk dances to a gaggle of elementary kids jacked-up on sugar, I wouldn’t know what it is. I went surfing at Kanehama before that too, and I think I actually got into the good part of a couple of waves. The speed and touching the smooth part of the wave is incredible, too hard to describe.
I had solo classes today. I think all that teacher does (when she manages to make it to school) is yack with the kids in Japanese, which is really a waste. The classes have four or three students each, and with the right instruction they would totally excel. They are bright and want to learn; we did about five pages in each class today, with all English instruction, and they soaked it up. It took them a few minutes to latch on and get into the flow of listening, but they were doing great by the end. I decided that the textbook isn’t that bad as a starting point for the lesson. I just change everything around to make them use their brains. So yeah, with a month left to go I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things. If I were to stay another year I’d want my own classes. I heard a rumor that Michael M.’s English classes get the best scores in the prefecture, because he doesn’t have a Japanese person constantly spoon-feeding his students.
I also got to do Folkdance Fun with all of the elementary kids. During the 感想 (when students share their impression of the activity) they all said they want to do it every week during recess. I’ll have them contra dancing in no time! Cute video clips to come.
Long time, no big email… how ya been?
Last week’s enkai was fairly entertaining. Enkai are a Japanese phenomenon where everyone in an office is obligated to spend lots of money, eat a pile of food, and drink – the later seeming to be the main goal of the evening. Some of my coworkers don’t even eat that much, just so they can save room for beer, nihonshu (sake), and shochu (Japanese liquor). There needs to be an excuse for all this revelry, and last Thursday’s was in honor of the Superintendent leaving his position.
April first is the start of the fiscal year in Japan, and it is also tenkin season, where employees are traded around like so many Pokémon cards. I think that the higher-ups actually do have smoky meetings in dark back rooms where they speak in hushed tones and shuffle their employees around. At least that’s what I imagine. The students are on spring break now, so I’m at the Board of Education for a couple of weeks. Every day a group of transferees will come in and give the standard greeting one by one: “You have taken care of me for X years, thank you very much,” followed by a deep gracious bow. Then the top guy in the office says some stuff, and we all bow some more. The teachers often look like they are on the verge of tears, but maybe they are trying to look stoic. Either way, the last bit of the exchange always seems so wrong to me: a forced, curt, painfully awkward round of applause. (Yay! I’m being involuntarily transferred to somewhere totally new and random! Exactly what I had in mind for the next three years! Thanks for the applause guys, it’s all I needed.)
Anyhow, with the superintendent on his way out, there is only one person in this office that has been here longer than me, and for all I know they could be on their way out as well. The end of March is a crazy time here. There is a nervous tension in the office, with everyone trying to go about their everyday jobs but unsure of what those could be come April.
I guess the primary function of these official drinking parties is to relieve some of this the tension. I told Nori, a friend from the town hall, that I’m not too sure about August, and I’m thinking about trying to stay in Taneichi for another year. We started talking about that, but just then Mayor came up and sat down on the floor with us. The mayor is an interesting character, elected (?) good-oldest of the good old boys, he speaks with a clip that is pretty hard for me to pick up on. Japanese men are more difficult to understand than Japanese women (the exception being women from Tsugaru, who have the most overwhelming accent I’ve heard yet). There is a macho staccato that has taken me a couple of years to be able to get into the flow of. People that have had contact with foreigners generally know how to slow and dumb it down enough for me to understand.
The Mayor doesn’t dumb it down, so at these functions an office friend will usually translate what he is saying into Forrest-accessible Japanese. Tonight Nori was the man for the job. Apparently the mayor wanted to give me a piece of land with one cedar tree. I’m not sure about the significance of this gesture, or whether he remembered it the next morning, but we shook on it and had a good laugh. Then Nori spilled the beans that I’m considering trying to stay for a third year, and we shook and laughed on that too. The Mayor has a good handshake. He is also good at sumo, from what I saw….
So yeah, I’m thinking about staying. It doesn’t hurt that I got to put together and call a contra dance last Sunday. That was a lot of fun. About seven English teachers showed up for the whole thing, and a bunch locals floated through during the two hours. We had enough for three hands-four, which is enough. After my contra thing there was a swing thing, which was good fun as well. All and all, it was daiseikou (a big success). We’re planning another swing event for next month.
I practiced calling at Yamato, the combined Elementary / Middle school that I go to on Fridays. I love going to that place. We did “Sasha” and “Seven Jumps” as part of the elementary pre-graduation celebration. Everybody was having a blast, students and teachers. The one boy was pretending to be too cool for a little while in there, but I saw a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth by the end of it. He’ll move up to the world of formal middle school English education in April, along with two classmates. I’ve played with them every Friday during recess for almost two years now, so hopefully we can skip the whole shy part of the first year of English.
Two middle-schoolers graduated from that school on the 15th, and their future paths have been decided by the tests they passed. They included Claire in the graduation ceremony, saying “REMEMBER THE TIME… WE TAUGHT FORREST’S SISTER… ABOUT OUR TRADITIONAL DANCE.” This was one of about twenty “memories” that the students memorize for this part of the ceremony. They belt these out to each other in a specific order in this even monotone yell. The whole thing was off-putting when I saw it last year for the first time, but now I find it sweet and endearing. I’m turning Japanese I think I’m turning Japanese I really think so….
Anyhow, if I decide to not stay, I guess I’ll be looking for gainful occupation come August. Any ideas? Kids, dancing, music, film, outdoors, environment, surfing, information technology… if one or more of these are involved it would be bonus.
Tell me what you think,