Well, after months of waiting, I finally heard back from JET this week about the job. I'm an alternate. That means I'm on standby until someone with an acceptance drops out. I could conceivably be in this holding pattern until December.
I did not consider this option at all. I figured I'd either be accepted outright (I'm just that awesome) or be flat-out denied (I'm just that sucky). But purgatory? It never even crossed my mind.
I have decided to officially accept the status of alternate, to notify the powers that be at JET that I will dutifully standby and be available should my services be required. Mind you, I have no idea where on the alternate list I am. Apparently every candidate is assigned a score based on the interview and this determines where they fall on the list. I just have to hope that my awesome-to-suck ratio is high. Or that lots of alternates decide they don't want to wait and drop off, bringing me up the list.
Of course, I'm not going to just idly sit by and hope things go my way. Come mid-June, when I'll be ready to start doing job interviews again, I will flood private Japanese English schools (known as jukus) with my application. I'm thinking ECC, Geos, Aeon, Amity, Winbe, and whatever I can find on Gaijinpot.
I'm also thinking of applying to jukus in Korea, what they call hagwons. The money is pretty good, they pay your rent and buy your plane ticket, and because the cost of living in Korea is not so high it's apparently easy to save money, something that's on my mind right now. I'm almost 40 with student loans to pay off and no savings. You bet it's on my mind.
Korea would be fun, almost a vacation for me after 5 years of school, but in the end it's not Japan. I'm hoping to go to graduate school in Japan in 5 or 7 years, so maybe sometime before that I'll do a year or two in Korea to make some extra money. Or maybe I'll end up there in a few months, who knows?
From what I've read on JET sites, the times that I'm most likely to be upgraded to accepted status are in the next month, as people fail to get their acceptance forms and such in on time (and as other alternates drop out), and then in June when placements come through and people decide they really don't want to spend 5 years in the Japanese countryside. It's in my best interest to hold out at least until July 31, when everyone leaves for the islands. A possibility exists that I could still be called up after that point (culture shock is a bitch) but it's not so likely, and anyway I can't wait that long.
Now I wait.