Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keeping Occupied

When I mentioned to one of my students that my husband would be in the U.S. for a week while I remained in Japan, she said she thought I'd be lonely (true) and invited me over to her place so I could find some company. Even if I were inclined to hang out with my students while my husband is away, I couldn't because I'm loaded down with extra work this week. During the week he's gone, I've got to:
  • correct 136 4-page homework reports
  • conduct 14 hours of telephone lessons
  • teach 9 hours of private lessons in my apartment
  • re-writing and proofreading (mostly re-writing) a medical research abstract for a doctor
So, I'm keeping plenty busy while my husband is away but it's not really all that entertaining though it is sufficiently profitable that 4 weeks of this type of extra work is paying for my husband's trip. During the time that I spend correcting the reports with their monotonous content, I like to do something else in order to distract me from reading about the same thing for the 4000th time. When I worked at the office and had coworkers in the vicinity, I could conduct full-scale conversations while simultaneously doing my work. Unfortunately, the Japanese didn't appreciate this so I ended up having to listen to music to help cope with the repetitive nature of the work.

While working at home, I'm rather better off on this front because no one is around to tell me what I can and can't do for amusement while reading the same conversations about the weather, buying a suit or Mr. Sato's family for the umpteenth time. When I have this work, I tend to watch T.V. but I can't really watch anything engrossing or that requires a lot of attention because I can only half pay attention to what is on the television while correcting homework.

It's at times like this that I dig out my box of 50 Historic Classics DVDs. This set has a bunch of old movies for about $16.50. I'm a fan of old movies anyway and there's something oddly comforting about watching these types of old movies. They are the sort that would only be played late at night or early in the afternoon on local television stations that are network affiliates trying to fill time between network programming.

In the set, there are 12 discs and all but one have 4 "movies" each (the last one has 5) on double-sided discs though a few of them are "Studio One" T.V. shows. Most of the movies are relatively average fare and all of them reflect the movie-making abilities of their times. None of them are cinematic marvels but some of them are well-acted, well-written and have compelling stories.

They can be roughly broken down into several types - biblical stories (mostly Italian-made and dubbed in English), westerns, classics (e.g, Scrooge, Cyrano de Bergerac), and stories about famous politicians. The historical content of some of the movies is pretty questionable but that's not really a problem since I'm not looking for an educatin. I just finished the 7th disc and so far have only found two movies so unbearable that I couldn't finish watching them, even when all they were doing was droning on in the background while I worked.

I think that these types of movies are more attractive to me because they're the sorts I used to watch back home when I stayed at my grandparent's place. They were the kinds of movies that my grandfather would have on the black and white television (he refused to watch color) while I stayed over. It could explain why I find them comforting, particularly while my husband is gone. Perhaps they take me back to how secure and happy I felt when I was a kid staying with my grandparents. It's funny the associations we form with experiences and emotions that allow us to find comfort (or distress) in the oddest things.

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