I am going to go to another magazine, where I will be the lead editor on it. I’m not going to say what or where until the day I start, but suffice to say that leaving my old job for this was difficult.
When I left Toronto in July of 1990, boarding a plane to travel to Japan to teach English on a one-year contract in a small rural city known as Ohtawara-shi (Big-Rice Field-Field City) in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), I was leaving behind the only home I had ostensibly know. I was born in London, England, but left when I was three.
No… my current job move isn’t like that, however. I always knew I could go back to Toronto at the end of my one-year contract on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.
Mid-way through my first year in Ohtawara, my Board of Education boss, Hanazaki-san (Mr., Hanazaki) asked me if I had given any thought to staying or going back home when my contract was up.
Considering that I didn’t really want to go to Japan in the first place, I surprised myself by smiling and telling him how much I loved Japan and how I would love to stay another year.
It was all true. I had a girlfriend (an American) I was sleeping with whenever we weren’t arguing and being broken up… so every other week… I had made new friends, such as Matthew, Kristine and Jeff, and countless others on the JET program, and the scores of Japanese people I had met in Ohtawara… oh… and the kids… wow… what a fun place Japan was. Heck… I even had the nicest apartment (three-bedroom LDK with two balconies, and a western washroom area, A/C and heating, and a queen-sized bed…
Besides… there was nothing for me back in Toronto except friends and family. The journalism industry had taken it up the poop chute when the North American economy faltered weeks after I left Toronto.
So I stayed.
Mid-way through my second year, Hanzaki-san asked me again if I wanted to stay. He wasn’t so sure if I would, considering I was officially broken up with my American girlfriend, though we remained friends with benefits. At that time, he had no idea I was dating a Japanese university student who was interested in having as much sex with me as possible.
The fact that she also looked like an AV (adult video) superstar only added to constant bloodloss to my brain. The only hitch was that she didn’t want anyone to know about us…
Anyhow, I immediately said “Yes” to Hanazaki-san, telling him again just how much I loved Japan, and how I would love to stay forever if I could. See… bloodloss to the brain…
What I didn’t know, was that my Japanese girlfriend was a stalker. She was following me everywhere… she stopped going to school… would be outside my schools watching for a glimpse of me… and here’s the best part… I mean the worst part… along with teaching me how to tie her up and screw her brains out, she wanted us to have sex from the moment we were together until the moment I had to leave to go to work at one of the schools I taught at.
After constant abuse, one’s penis because painful to the touch… and trust me… there was constant abuse of my penis… but dammit… it was sex… raunchy, wet, holy crap I can’t believe I’ve been going for 12 hours straight sex. I learned how to achieve orgasm without ejaculation… so I could go forever, as long as I had a lot of orange juice and ice cream as fuel.
Anyhow… after days, and then a week or more of actually NOT getting any sleep thanks to the constant demands for sex… I had to ask for help… because I was feeling quite bad about her quitting school and about how I was now feeling dangerously ill from sleep deprivation… actually… a teacher noticed I was in some difficulty… and when I told him, he told my board of education… and then they proceeded to wait for her to talk, and try and get her to leave me alone, taking her to her parents place… and then—they assured me—making sure she got some help for what was obviously some sort of mental health issue.
Yes… I actually had too much sex. No one ever has too much sex. But I did.
Still, the fates were kind to me, as my third year was spent teaching the kids, working teaching adults in night for extra coin, and in complete debauchery the rest of the time.
And then I met Noboko. A teacher of English at one of my schools... and it was the best six months of my life at that time.
I wasn't asked again by Hanazaki-san if I wanted to stay a fourth year, because at that time, the JET Programme only allowed a maximum of three years... I had to go home.
I had to leave the only home I had for the past three years... the woman I loved and who loved me... my friend Matthew who was getting married... and a pretty damn easy and cool job in a pretty damn cool pace in Japan... to go back to Toronto, Canada to see my friends and family again... my sick mother... but really to a future of complete uncertainty.
No job. No idea what I wanted to do. Journalism? Heck... the industry was still feeling the after affects of the economy... no... I would have to look elsewhere.
I would be losing my independence... my own home where I was the shogun of the castle... to go and live back in my parent's house...
I didn't realize it either, but my three-years in Japan had completely changed me... would my friends still accept me... and would I accept my friends?
Fortunately, I still maintained some things, like my love of comic books, so at least I had one friend I could see weekly to visit the comic store... but the rest... it was difficult.
No one wanted to hear the endless (not quite) tales and adventures I partook in in Japan... not really. How could anyone relate if they had no interest in Japan's oddities and sameness that I found quirky and interesting?
No... it's ultimately why I had to create this blog. In 2009. Sixteen years after I left.
So... leaving my magazine after 13 years... difficult, sure... but at least while there are a few unknowns, at least it wasn't as stressful as the exit I had to do from Japan.
For all of the JETs who are leaving Japan later this month... I feel for ya... but know that at least the future is wide open to you.
Don't fug it up.
Banzai and Kanpai,
PS: Happy birthday Canada!
PPS: Photo at top - yup... that's me... sitting ON my west balcony where I used to sit dangerously on the ledge of my third floor apartment catching the sun while reading a book. I did that every weekend through the summer in Ohtawara. Man... that was some great hair. I miss it all... hair included. Photo by Matthew leaning out from my north balcony. On the plus side, since this photo, 27 years ago, my legs have become far more muscular. The rest of me, too - bigger and wider in the right spots... though aside from the legs, I also got heavier and wider in all the wrong spots as I got older. Sigh.
PPPS: Title for this blog taken from The Beatles song, Golden Slumbers - a medley from the Abbey Road album that goes into the song Carry That Weight, concluding with The End: