From: Peter Rivard
Date: Fri Mar 7, 2003 6:59:36 PM Japan
I haven't been too communicative lately; when I was updating my homepage, I saw how few letters I've written since the first of the year. I suppose there are two main reasons. The first is simply that I haven't had enough energy for either writing or adventures since then--early in January, I caught the Hong Kong Flu, which has so far temporarily closed close to a thousand schools and killed scores of students around the country and knocked down enough of my students that an entire class at Manyo was told not to come to school for three days. After about two weeks, I recovered, but never fully, and by early March the remains of the flu had bloomed into pneumonia. I'm getting back up to speed for the first time in a long time. The other reason is simply that I haven't wanted to think about my experiences too much because I'm starting to feel a little sad because they'll be ending in a few months. While it still seems far away to me, friends and students have been remarking on it (one kid whose parents run a pub I've visited a few times told me his parents are already planning a going-away party for me), and I've had to start thinking about how exactly (and where) I'm going to feed myself once this posh little ride is over. I've found that there aren't likely to be openings at my old job, which I'd rather hoped for, and that the States seems to have few jobs available for which I'd be qualified and which don't involve collating, telephone harassment, or french fries. I'm investigating teaching jobs in Japan and whatever I can find in the States, mostly in Boston and Chicago. It's a little early to apply for jobs I can't start until September, so my future's likely to remain unsettled for some time.
Whatever happens, I've been realizing how much I'm going to miss the life I have now. I can't tell you how much I enjoy teaching and spending time with my students, and every day I feel lucky just to be in this place itself. Today, after the crab lady came, I stepped outside to put my crabs in my cold, cold car, and I was struck again by how beautiful the scene around Go-chu really is. A light rain was falling and blankets of cloud clung to the ravines and under the ridges of the nearby mountains, with just the peaks of taller mountains showing above clouds in the other direction. Every time it rains or clouds come up, I can see something like the view from this shrine near Manyo or this from the mountains over Go-chu. While I've always felt lucky to be out where I am when I find myself in the middle of a scene like this, lately the feeling of good fortune has had an edge of sadness as the good luck seems to be coming to an end. I'll likely soon end up back in Chicago (America's new murder capital!!), where the only thing looming out of the mist is an early-morning garbage truck and the only hills rising out of the flat earth are made of trash.
Oh, well--that all seems a bit bleaker than my mood actually is, and all due apologies to Chicago, a city I do love.