Trev's Love Life
Today is Signe's birthday, but I am afraid to say that it is not a very happy one. About a week ago Signe started having acute lower back pain. She went to a back specialist and they told her that she is suffering from a slipped, or herniated, disc. Fortunately there was no need for operation, but she has been
told that she should lay down and not drive for at least two weeks. That couldn't stop us from going on a weekend vacation to a local hot spring resort, though. Signe and I had planned the outing for her birthday for some time and we decided that a hot bath in the natural spring waters would help her. Having a change of scenery was also really good for Signe's spirit.
Laying prone in the living room all day can get really boring. The resort we went to is called Shouen (http://shouen.jp/) and the hot springs in that area are famous for their beautifying qualities and it turned out to be a great birthday trip, despite Signe's back trouble.
Life as an ALT goes on as always. I had a unique opportunity at the junior high school (http://www.town.akagi.shimane.jp/akagichu/) the other day. One of my English teachers was on vacation and the other one had to leave to take care of her sick child on a day with three English classes. The result was that I, for the first time in two and a half years, had to teach English class by myself. The teachers left me with dittos to have the kids mindlessly do, but I thought it would be better if I continued with our lessons, so that is what I did. The kids were all really well behaved and we got a lot done. I was quite proud of myself that day, and the next time I saw my English teacher she even commented that the kids really enjoyed my class. She went so far as to suggest that I take over for more classes, but alas that is not my job here. I enjoyed playing teacher-for-a-day, but I have little desire to take over completely. I am fine staying an ASSISTANT language teacher. There are pictures of me teaching by myself up at the school website (http://www.town.akagi.shimane.jp/akagichu/1802/180208.htm).
Trev's Next Job
I am intending to apply for an Elementary School Only ALT position in Shimane Prefecture, where I live now. Right now I teach primarily at a junior high school and twice a month at the two local elementary schools. If I get this new position I will be teaching anywhere from two to twenty-one different elementary schools depending on where I am placed in the prefecture. Currently there are only a handful of positions open and there will be competition for them, but I am hoping that I will be able to assure myself a spot, which would ensure I have work for at least two more years here. Signe is also applying for a position in the JET Programme. She is flying home to America this month for an interview and with any luck she will be able to get a position near where I end up. That would give us at least three more years of steady employment here. All the better to pay off our looming debts and loans with. The sooner we can free ourselves from that burden the sooner we can look into
other options, namely the two-year volunteer positions in the U.S. Peace Corps.
Despite all this banter of jobs in Japan and the Peace Corps my main sights are still transfixed on a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. The first step of which is to take the Foreign Service Written Exam in April. I have applied and will be traveling to Osaka to take the six-hour exam. The pass rate is very low, so I expect to have to take the annual test more than once to get in, but even when I pass the written exam I will still have to fly to Washington D.C. for a grueling day-long oral assessment. If and when I pass that there are still month and months of background checks and medical exams that have to be passed. If you make it that far you are put on a two-year
waiting list ordered by your score on the exam/oral assessment, so if you didn't do that great on one or the other your chances of getting in before your name is off the list in two years can be pretty low. What it all comes down to is making sure you have willful employment for the interim, which is what I am trying to ensure here in Japan for the time being. Of course I am nervous about the exam, but I am doing my best to keep abreast of the world news and current events (I recently subscribed to The Economist as well as getting streaming news feeds off the Internet) as well as refreshing my high school studies of U.S. History and Politics (last summer I wrote out the entire constitution with extensive liner notes to name just one thing I have been doing). One thing I need to improve upon is my essay-writing skills. There is a section in the written exam where you have fifty minutes to write a well-structured essay for or against a given subject. I will keep at everything and with luck and patience on my side I intend to win the day!
There is nothing much to report on the computer front. Things are running pretty smoothly for the most part. I don't think I will be in the market for a new computer anytime soon. I have been hanging out in #fansubs (http://www.fansubs.org/) on EFnet (Internet Relay Chat) during the day, and some nights when I get home I jump on my favorite MUD, Achaea (http://www.achaea.com/main.html), and play around. I have been trying to use the computer less at home. There is no reason for me to be on it all the time these days.
Trev's One Point Japanese Lesson
So you want to learn Japanese? That is great! Last month we reviewed the polite form of verbs. Let's now tackle the short-form or dictionary-from of Japanese verbs. There are three types ru-verbs, u-verbs, and irregular verbs. Today let's talk about irregular verbs.
The good news about Japanese is that there are only two irregular verbs! They are suru (to do) and kuru (to come). Let's look at how to conjugate these:
Polite Form: shimasu
Present Positive: suru
Present Negative: shinai
Past Positive: shita
Past Negative: shinakatta
Polite Form: kimasu
Present Positive: kuru
Present Negative: konai
Past Positive: kita
Past Negative: konakatta
That's it! Remember these two special cases and you are well on your way. Keep up you studies. Japanese can be a fun a rewarding language to learn!
Well, that is about it for this time. Thanks for reading, and if you get a chance be sure to drop me a line sometime. I always like hearing from you. Until next month, take care.