Time Away from Home

A little about the RL

Those who know me in-game know that I haven’t been on much for the past month.  The reason for this is that I have a new job, as of late March ’09.  When I graduated from Uni almost a year ago, our US economy turned pretty shite.  I chose to procrastinate from serious life plans and was enjoying my time playing FF and chillaxin while I worked entry level jobs.  The first job of which was a waiting job.  I worked a bow-tie waiting staff job at a luxury dining hall in an old home for the well-to-do.  I really hated that job :(.  But everybody knows that waiting sucks horribly, so that is no surprise.

Then I worked at The Limited, a women’s retail clothing store, as the freight guy.  I got to handle all of the hardware and receive, stock, and handle all of the clothing (yes, panties included).  And for those without inside knowledge, Limited mannequins come equipped with a certain type of gel-filled ass-pad underwear that we have to put onto them manually.  True story.

But while all of this was going on I was looking into getting an English teaching job in Japan.  This kind of thing (in Japan or overseas in general) is becoming a little bit of a trend for recent college grads, I think.  It’s not only an opportunity to experience something new and test yourself, but also a great way to buy more time to postpone your life (don’t we love to do that).

Although I can’t talk about all of the more specific or private details about my job, I can still say a fair bit.  For example, that I’m employed by a company called Interac, and the board of education contracts my services through them.  The board of education in my case is that of Miyagi Prefecture.  I work and live in a little area near the ocean; a place called Tagajo city, which is about 200 miles NE of Tokyo, just north of Sendai.

Soooo.., first impressions
If I could sum up my impression of Japan so far in few words, what would I say, hmm..  It is very clean, and very safe.  Food is healthy and tasty, but they eat more carbs than one might think (noodles and rice).  Actually, sometimes it seems like noodles and rice is just about all they eat.  Public transportation is great, but the bullet train is expensive.  Prices are a bit high, but technology is often a step ahead of us…or to the side.  Think like, public toilet seats with seat warmers, but that start to play a tune when you sit on them.  The western writing system is everywhere, and western slogans and slangwords are common.  There are plenty of beautiful women.  People are healthy.  People are “overly polite” in formal or business matters, but in casual situations (which is much of the time), they behave very much like westerners.  People care about their external appearance and many young people seem to take fashion seriously.  Though when the Japanese are sick it is not uncommon to wear a surgical mask in public, which to me looks rather unfashionable.  The TV is full of garbage game shows, but I guess American TV isn’t really any better.  Hip-hop is popular, both foreign and Japanese.  I still don’t know what to make of Jpop.

As for my particular high school, it is not what I expected.  Firstly uniforms are not required.  I made two speeches to the student body and faculty in the gym on my first/second day, and I was surprised upon looking into the crowd at how “American” they looked to me.  Of course the school is Japanese and neither anglo nor multi-ethnic, but their behavior and dress made me feel like I was at home at an American HS.  A lot of the kids at my school really don’t give a damn, or at least pretend not to.  They skip classes often and some try to sleep in class.  They spike, bleach, and color their hair (some totally frowed out, some with dreds).  They wear torn jeans, thug themselves out, and you also see the occasoinal trenchcoat.  Some girls wear lots of makeup and they seem to be very fond of high stockings, either black or with fancy patterns.  Not all students are like this, but a lot of the body is comprised as such.  And beneath such an exterior, many of them have also turned out to be very shy.  And most of them are really great kids and do try in class when they’re tired of pretending that they really don’t care (well, someof them aren’t pretending).  I should say that is more true of my day students than my night students, though (I work roughly from ~11am to 7pm).

There are pretty much no Gai-jin (foreigners) around here, though in the rare event that I do come across one, there is a likely chance they also work for my company.  A lot of the gai-jin hang out with each other, and can become very close just because they’re fellow gai-jin.  Some of us ‘ALT (assistant language teacher) no eigo sensei (english teacher)’ play as hard as we work.  It is common among the Japanese to book a spot at a bar or restaurant for a ‘nomi hodae'(sp) (all-you-can-drink drinking party) for you and your friends or co-workers.  And we foreigners do the same (some of us; less me than some others).  And I have to say that I was surprised at how great of a time could genuinely be had at the ‘karaoke box’ (karaoke party room).

Many of us, especially new people like me, don’t really have time for much play (like FFXI, for example), nor the money to do so (we don’t get paid anything until the end of the first two months).  Adjusting and getting set up here is rough.  Learning some amount of both written and oral language is advisable, and that takes time.  The work is also not always easy.  For me it is very difficult, but that makes it very rewarding.  I have no previous teaching experience and know (knew) almost no Japanese upon arrival, but my high school expects me to make full lesson plans throughout the year with no real guidance (and the texts here are more like a condiment than an entree), and essentailly teach 45 minute to hour-and-a-half sessions often very much solo, using no Japanese preferably.  So I’m very much in control of what and how I teach at my school (was not expecting this).  If that sounds tough, I can assuredly affirm that it is, haha.

With what little play time I have..
So adapting to this job leaves me with little play time.  I am starting to log on FFXI for at least a short time almost every night though.  I find that I can afk between HNM windows and use the time to lesson plan and study Japanese.  In a week and a half of consistent (though not arduous) study, I can now read and write the 46 base Hiragana.  Oral communication is another ballgame though.

(yeahhhhh durty)

As for current FF goals, I have a few.  I would say that salvage gearing and just having a good time in my new HNM shell (as opposed to getting geared in it) are top priorities.  My most fundamental in-game goal currently, however, is actually upgrading Vajra.  Yes indeed; I’ve had my heart set on this for awhile.  I currently have about 54m in easily convertable cash.  So with current prices that is more than half way.  But gil isn’t the problem.

Right now by “currently upgrading Vajra,” I mean I “currently attend einherjar twice a week.”  I have only about 30k ampoules.  This means that if I go as often as possible, I still have like 7-8 months of ampoules ahead of me.  I’ve just now gotten a regular einherjar shell, but they go at rather late hours so I might not always be able to make it.  Either way I am confident that by the time I have 100k ampoules, I can easily have set out to’ve fulfilled the other arduous requirements ahead of time.

Why would I want Vajra?  Just to upgrade it for completion’s sake really, in the name of my Thief and Thief in general.  I can picture it having use in non-/drk zerging (and maybe /drk zerging above m.kris), but other than that I’m not sure it will be very impressive.  Or at least that’s how it appears so far, though for all we know the SA/TA boost could be rather significant (beyond X’s or Rogue’sArmlets+1).  Mandalic stab is also increasingly useful on opponents with increasingly higher defense, so Vajra might have niche use for such enemies (Ixion, albeit not melee’d, comes to mind).  And at least it can’t poison things.

Random Pix

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