Wednesday, May 02, 2007

joining the discussion

it seems like everyone has been thinking along the same lines lately in terms of the role of blogging in our lives. i would put some fancy links to the numerous blogs where this subject has come up but most of you know what i am referring to and if you don't you can click on any of the links in my sidebar and probably come across others voicing the same concerns.
i don't like the word blog and i am not a particular fan of the internet. sure, it has its uses but in general most of the stuff is unnecessary. i walk around in the evenings and glance at the windows of my neighbors and discover that most people are spending their precious free time sitting in front of the warm glow of one box or another. in our house we have no t.v.. we just don't like the noise or the mindlessness of it. that is not to say we don't watch t.v. sometimes or that we aren't addicted to "the office". i do like well-written programs and maybe ira glass is right and this is the dawn of the golden age of television.


but life is too short. i don't want to look back and reflect on my time sitting passively through horrible advertisements and canned laughter. and this is part of the reason i am not reading fiction these days, despite my reputation as an avid reader. and yet it seems that blogs have stepped in to take over those minutes once spent feverishly reading or scribbling away in my faithful black and white composition book. i have met some amazing people through their blogs. in some ways, i feel like i have made so many friends just by peaking into their world via their blog and for that i am grateful. i am grateful for the time that everyone spends keeping their readers informed and connected. all the people seeking a better way. it makes me feel less lonely. i marvel at those mothers out there that produce enough goods to fill a shop and then still have the time and energy to not only take care of their lovely families but to document the process as well. i know that it is tough because i struggle to find a good balance every minute of my days. my plate is completely overflowing and yet i feel compelled to carve out a little bit of time for this blog because this device has seen me through such a huge transition in my life.

i started this blog (if you look at my profile, you can see the beginnings) as a means of keeping in touch with my students and friends in japan. leaving japan was the hardest decision i ever made and still not a day goes by that i don't harbor a bit of doubt that it was the right decision.
that said, the first year in nara was tough.
i had never lived overseas or taught english or had any interest in japan. i didn't care about tea ceremonies or kanji. i missed my son because i was at work most of the time and even with a budget we had a hard time scraping by. and then i was put in a horrible school two days a week where everyone was overworked and overstressed and i really wanted to leave. the students were the same and in a communication class, that is not the atmosphere you want. on tuesdays and fridays i regretted waking up and at the end of the day, i had to wait at the bus stop only to be harassed constantly by the nationalists in their ridiculous charter bus shouting ridiculous things at me, the little gaijin hired by their government. i was not happy. i was not what everyone at that school expected me to be and i didn't want to be that impossible person, no matter how hard i tried. so i started taking lunch breaks because though that is not the norm, i had a contract that said i could do whatever i wanted to do for forty minutes a day. at that point, i didn't care if i was sacked. so i left the campus and started exploring the surrounding suburban neighborhood. same house next to the same house next to the same house. and then i found a path. it led me through the woods behind the school and at the end was a temple surrounded by glowing emerald rice fields. it was beautiful. there were koi ponds and vegetable and flower gardens and benches and it wasn't like all the temples near my apartment (i lived in the heart of nara city); it was humble and well used. so i started going there. i could sit there and hear the school chimes and know that just beyond the trees, people were scurrying and i felt happy because i wasn't. i gained a good dose of perspective. when i came back from spring break, i discovered that i had been transferred again and this time it was to a school that was a lot like my base school, which i loved. so things changed pretty quick mainly because i was seeing things better. our life in japan became sweeter.
and then i got pregnant. in the end i decided to leave because my students at the base school were graduating and they needed a teacher who would be there to help them prepare for their entrance exams.
they were that terrific.
leaving them was very hard so i set up a blog to show them my life in america and to stay connected. some of them still read it and email me though they have already graduated. over time, this blog has kept me in touch with people beyond those i met in nara. my family uses it to watch the kids grow, as do many long-cherished friends who may not be able to touch base with me on a regular base without it. it saw me through my down period when i couldn't find a job and i was still adjusting to so many things: becoming a stay-at-home mother to two, being a returnee, being unemployed, being indecisive about my direction, being on the run from my student loan officers. i started to sew again because of the many inspiring blogs i have come across by having my own. i started to understand the purpose of creating, the beauty of process, of just making something with my hands. incorporating this into my life has made me more steady.
and so i will keep writing here despite my disdain for the term blog. and yet, like i mentioned, the posts will be infrequent and probably a bit rambling and unexceptional. i sometimes don't have the time for clarity and most of the time i don't have time to even sit here at all. what i am bringing now is what is behind these words.


amisha said...

tiffany, this post was so thoughtful and interesting to read... to hear about where you have been and why you are doing this...i found my own thoughts reflected in yours at many moments. this has been such a time of transition (and also self-doubt at many turns) for me as well and having the blog, the community, the inspiration from others online, has helped me through that. the path is crooked and windy and sometimes doubles back on itself, but it is still the path. xo

melissa said...

thank you for this post tiffany. i read it last week and have been mulling it over since then. i think that like you, my fiction reading has been overtaken by blog-reading, but that's okay with me. it's like reading letters written by my friends, and blogging somehow brings me comfort in this job of motherhood. and it makes the world seem smaller.
i always enjoy reading your thoughts, thanks again for sharing.