Saturday, April 20, 2013


Written November 15th 2012

This past year has shown so much change. I’m typing this as I sit next to our new little baby. She’s wrapped up in a blanket and sleeping with her hands behind her head, just like her daddy likes to do. It’s cuter when the baby does it because she doesn’t elbow me in the head in the middle of the night. So, anyhow—changes—Jon and I had our first baby, Coralyn Corrine in October. That’s enough change for any family, but we’re getting ready for even more changes soon. Jon and I have lived in Japan for over two years now, and the entire time I’ve been here, I’ve wanted to teach at a University. Well, now that dream is about to come true! After working at a day care for 2-year-olds, four different middle schools, teaching online courses, night business classes, and countless private lessons, I’ve finally gotten the job I really want. I’m going to teach English at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. Here’s the University’s website.
The journey to get this job was a long one that started over a year ago. I’ve known about this University for a while and I wanted to apply to work there last year. However, I missed the application deadline like a dummy, so I didn’t even get the chance to apply. At first, I was pretty bummed about making such a ridiculous mistake, but then Jon and I decided to have a baby, so I couldn’t be sad about anything. (Because I was so excited about the baby.)
This year I applied to the job in August—as soon as the job application details were posted—painstakingly filling out the application in both Japanese and English, copying the pdf files to a cd, printing out a photo of myself (standard resume requirement in Japan) and mailing the big application package nervously. I got an e-mail about a month later that said they would like to have me come down to the University for an interview….on November 3rd. Our baby was due Oct. 25th. That was cutting it pretty close. What if she went late? What if I needed a c-section and wasn’t healed enough to travel to an interview? What if I was too tired to make myself presentable and leave the house when our baby was only a week old? I decided to try to do it. I planned my mock lesson in the days leading up to Cora’s birth and made some business cards on the computer.
The day came, and Cora was born on Oct.23rd with no complications except a few stitches. I spent a few days in the hospital and went home. I spent the next two weeks practicing my mock lesson and rehearsing some common job interview questions. I readied my most professional outfit (I need to buy more of those, by the way, I only have two.) and put some makeup over the bags under my eyes and left the house at 9:00, leaving our baby for the first time in my life. It was a bit strange taking the public transportation, no one was standing up so my pregnant self could sit down! I couldn’t automatically take the priority seats. I had to actually stand and no one was staring at me! It was my first time out in public without a huge pregnant belly.
The trip to the University cost about 7,000 Yen round-trip, (about $90 USD) and took about 5 hours. The commute was a little longer than it would be normally because it was a Saturday and there were fewer trains running, but it was still a long trip. I had initially toyed with the idea of commuting to this job if I got it. I thought the commute would be 3 hours round-trip, and cheaper….but after getting motion sick on the train, and realistically budgeting for time and commuting costs, I realized that it would be really impractical to try to commute.
I arrived at the University very early, I had wanted enough time to miss my bus and still make it, get lost and still make it, wander around the campus and find the right location and still make it on time….well, I didn’t miss my bus, didn’t get lost, and found the interview location with two hours to spare! I wandered around the campus. It was beautiful, located at the top of a mountain, surrounded by trees with an amazing ocean view. I was pretty nervous though, and couldn’t really relax. Also, the book selection on my kindle was sparse because all the good books have a three week waiting list from the library. Finally, my breasts were killing me. It was the first time being away from my baby, and I had fed her at 8:00 am. She eats every three hours, and I wouldn’t get home till 5:00….so I had already missed one feeding and would miss a second one before getting home. My breasts were as hard as rocks. I felt like they would pop if I bumped into something.
So, after killing time and having a snack, I got to the interview, filled out some paperwork and met the interview board. There were six people interviewing me. I did my mock lesson, which was slated to take 20 minutes. They stopped me after 12 minutes. That really threw me off and made me doubt myself. (Was it so terrible, they couldn’t sit through another minute?) Then they asked me a bunch of questions. I felt like I answered their questions really well, I remembered a lot about pedagogy, methods of evaluation, authentic communication, English as a global language, etc, etc, etc. But, I kept second guessing myself about what I should have done differently in that mock lesson and why they cut me off so soon.
Anyhow, the interview ended and I rushed home….nearly getting stung by a Japanese giant hornet on the bus ride to the local train that I would take to catch the high speed train and then one more bus ride to our house. (This particular species of hornet is the size of my thumb and kills more people than any other animal in Japan.) But I digress. I got home and fed Cora as soon as I walked in the door.
A few days later, I got an e-mail asking if I would be willing to conduct a follow-up interview over the phone. I said sure and planned for 3:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. As the time approached, I started to get more nervous. What would they ask me about? How was Cora going to behave during the phone interview? Our house is tiny with flimsy Japanese doors. What if she decided to scream during the interview? She had been fussy and fidgety for an hour, and changing her diaper, burping, holding, rocking, singing, pacifier, nothing seemed to calm her down or help her sleep. I hadn’t told APU about my newborn baby. Japan is a country still dominated by the “mom stays home with the baby” mentality and I didn’t trust them to hire me knowing my baby would be 5 months old when the job started. I had a flash of genius. I would feed her during the interview time! Then she would be silent for sure!
3:00 o’clock rolled around and Cora started eating happily and, more importantly, quietly. I got the phone call and propped the phone up to my ear with my shoulder as the interviewer and I exchanged some pleasantries about the weather and then Cora let out the loudest toot. Then she did it again, even louder, and then she filled her diaper. Then she spit up all over herself. Then she peed….and as she had just completely filled her diaper with the other thing, I felt liquid spreading over my hands and arms. I was frozen in shock. I couldn’t touch anything because my hands were covered in pee and poop. How was I going to explain these noises? They had been completely audible over the phone. Should I just burst out with, “That wasn’t me?” The interviewer also remained silent.
Then Cora broke the silence and started crying. The person interviewing me said, “It sounds like you’ve got your hands full there!” Little did he know exactly what was in my hands. I answered, “Yes, that’s my baby, she’s three weeks old.” He quickly congratulated me and said he just wanted to offer me the job and was calling to make sure I was still interested in the position! Yay! I got off the phone as soon as I could and dropped the phone on the couch without touching it. I then immediately put Cora’s clothes in the sink to soak and Cora in the bath to get clean. Here are her thoughts on the situation.
"Sorry I was naughty during your important interview mommy." 
I’m excited to work at a University. I like working with University age students, I like working in a University environment, and I like planning and teaching English classes. I think Beppu is a beautiful city, with beaches, hot springs, over 100,000 people, and it’s surrounded by some beautiful camping and hiking areas. However, I love living in Kitakyushu. We have made some amazing friends here, and I will be so sad to say goodbye to them. I know we’ll stay in touch, and we’re only moving two hours away, but we won’t be able to get together on a Tuesday to watch a movie, or meet at Momotarou for some chicken and a beer for an hour.  I'll miss you, friends!