Monday, December 20, 2010

The Year In Adam

Photo credit Summer Shetenhelm
What an odd year, this 2010. I cannot recall a year with more ups and downs. Two years prior I was in Japan, studying the language and having what I have since called the best year of my life. And then 2009 I spent back in the Bay Area, depressed at having to come back from my beloved Japan, commuting long distances to school and feeling generally unmoored.

However, 2010 started on a high note. I finally finished at San Francisco State, with my graduation becoming official in January. After more than four years back in school, plus the three years at UC Santa Cruz in the early '90s, I had a bachelor's degree and could proudly call myself a college graduate. I cried the night of my last final. It was such a relief.

And then everything slowed down. For the first two or three months I did nothing. I poked around online, I downloaded music, I watched Netflix DVDs and waited to hear back from JET about whether I would be teaching in Japan come the fall. I stayed generally positive through the application and interview process, and managed to make it past the first round of cuts.

But then the real cutting began. At the end of March I went under the knife for the first of three surgeries on my feet. I had been putting off bunion surgery for years but with a (possibly permanent) overseas move looming I decided it was time to get it done. And then while laid up on the couch, with my feet propped in the air and dosed on pain killers, I got news that I was put on the waiting list for JET.

As the months and subsequent operations went on, and I still hadn't heard either way from JET, I began to get more and more depressed. I hardly left my room—I couldn't walk—and so I put on weight. By mid-summer I had watched all the movies I could stand, read more books than I had in years, and put a permanent, Adam-sized dent in the couch.

With the possibility of JET acceptance moving further and further away I started applying to other jobs, in both Japan and Korea. While lying on the couch, my feet in bandages, laptop balanced on my belly, I filled out application after application. I started obsessively checking e-mail for job interview requests, a few of which I took, suiting up late at night for Skype interviews. At last, I decided on a job with EPIK, teaching English in Korea.

With my feet still sore but declared healed by the doctor, I boarded a plane for Korea. Since coming, my depression has all but disappeared. I still have ups and downs, of course, but that crippling (get it?) sadness of the summer has thankfully stayed away. I am living my life at last, and even though it's not the life I imagined while in school it's still pretty damn good.

Bring it, 2011. I'm ready for a good, solid year.


  1. How do your feet feel these days? I'm in pain just reading about it.

    Also, do you think your chances of getting into JET (or another school in Japan) next year are higher due to this gig? I hope so! Happy Xmas.

  2. They're a lot better although still not perfect. From other people I know who had the same surgery, it'll be a few years before they're "normal." But I've been living with foot pain for so many years now I'm used to it.

    I probably won't apply to JET again because there's an age cap of 40 and I'm turning 39 in a month, plus it's a long application process that involves interviewing in the US, but I sure as hell hope Japanese schools will consider this time in Korea as applicable experience.

    if not I'll just go straight to grad school, although I'd like to save up some more money first.

  3. age limits. jesus! good luck in getting into a private in japan next year. sounds like japan's where your heart is.