Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hold On To That Feelin' - September 2009

The Labour Day weekend was my first free weekend in a month and a half. After my busy August, I decided that the best way to celebrate would be to spend the entire time doing nothing – or, more specifically, sitting in my room in front of my T.V. and watching a truly appalling amount of Star Trek. In three days I saw four of the movies (two of them for the first time) and eight episodes of the original series. Although I feel a strong, if grudging, affection for Next Generation and its sequels, I've always been quite antipathetic towards the original Star Trek, but the recent movie has given me a bit of an incentive to get into it. I'm now actually at a place where I can watch and enjoy it – much as one watches and enjoys Bugs Bunny cartoons, without ever taking them seriously.

At the beginning of the month my boss told me he would have to let me go at the end of September. That actually works quite well for me. I'd been planning to stay in Vancouver only as long as my job lasted, and once I knew it was ending, I started making plans to leave. I'm actually lucky that they kept me on this month. Enrolment has been quite low, and they've already let go most of the teachers they hired to help with the summer surge. Unfortunately, I lost the class I was teaching in the morning, which was at the intermediate level, and was given the beginner class instead. I found teaching beginners quite challenging, and not nearly as much fun as teaching higher-level students. Teaching the very basics of English – how to make five-word sentences, how to count to one hundred – isn't very interesting, and it's difficult to make the class fun while keeping it simple enough for the students to understand. Fortunately, a more experienced teacher was also teaching the same level, and she gave me a lot of advice and ideas about activities. On my last day I brought in icy moon-cakes to share with everyone, in honour of the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. I was really sorry to leave, but I think I've learned a lot over the last four months. My boss had good things to say about me, and my co-workers were really nice about saying goodbye. I hope I can find another job like it in Ontario.

So far my only plan for when I return to Ontario is to apply to the JET Programme again. I didn't get in this year, but I still really want to go, badly enough that I'm willing to go through the whole process all over again! I'll be pretty disappointed if I'm unsuccessful again, but it would be worth it to go to Japan. In the mean time, I don't know what my chances of finding a good job in Ontario will be, but it will at least be nice to be home again.

Movies I've seen this month:

The Visitor – An interesting little movie about undocumented aliens and the challenges of the U.S. immigration system. I thought it was pretty good, although I wish it had focused more on the immigrant characters. (Three stars)

Plays I've seen this month:

Othello – I'd read this play before, and liked it a lot, but this was my first time to actually see it. It's definitely one of Shakespeare's better plays – not quite Hamlet, perhaps, but then, what is? Compared to his other major works, it's not the best-written, but it makes up for that with a pretty strong story. Moreover, the production I saw was really good, with strong performances from everyone, especially the protagonist. In fact, it was the best Shakespeare production I can recall seeing.

Books I've read this month:

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain – I couldn't always tell in this book whether Twain was poking fun with his protagonist, or at him, but I prefer to think that he's doing both, and to see this book as an indictment both of the barbarism of the middle ages and of the "myth of progress" that dominates modern American thinking.

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