It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for a new blog post.
This week was more-or-less devoted to my gradual recovery and the completion of my script/powerpoint for an upcoming TED talk that I’m due to give in March. Having said that, I also did a bunch of other things (related to both work and pleasure) and paved the way for resuming my dissertation work next week.
On Monday, I took the time to hammer out an itinerary for the next month. I needed a firm start date on which I’d return to my dissertation and carry out my interviews and fieldwork. After completing my itinerary, I met with several nurses who told me that I needed to rest for a while longer after checking my blood pressure, oxygen, and pulse. Not wanting to aggravate the smoldering remains of my pneumonia, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day.
On Tuesday, I finished the first draft of my script and powerpoint for my TEDx talk in March. The event, TEDxFulbright Tokyo, will feature prominent speakers from a wide range of disciplines who have something to say about “finding a new path.” For my part, I’ll be speaking about the communication deficit that has plagued many access-making activities in Japan and the United States as of late and what I think we can do about it. I’d be happy to share my materials if anyone is interested!
On Wednesday, I Skyped with some of my friends and family back home and took care of some paperwork that will allow me to extend my visa. My current visa expires in August, but I’d like to remain in Japan until the fall of 2020 if at all possible. After all, my dissertation starts and ends with the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and it’d be a shame if I could not witness them. While nothing is set in stone (yet), it appears as if I should be able to extend my stay without issue. I’ll keep you all posted. Anyway, I also took some time on Wednesday to look for apartments that would provide a more suitable living environment in the event that I do stay past August. One of the biggest problems I’ve faced since moving into my current apartment in Odaiba is its remote location. Being far away from most residential areas has prevented many caregivers from coming to see me. I suspect that by moving to a more central location, I’ll be able to increase my caregiving hours without much fuss.
On Thursday, I went to City Hall to confirm my suspicions about moving and caregivers. As it turns out, the disability welfare representatives were also supportive of my moving. They couldn’t seem to grasp why I lived in such a remote location if I needed care, and I couldn’t really blame them for that. I explained that my current apartment was the only option available given my physical/financial limitations, and that I had consulted many realtors to no avail. The City Hall representatives eventually agreed to provide me with more care if I found a new apartment in which I could live by myself. Indeed, “living by myself” was key, as living with my fiance meant that my ward would cut my caregiving hours in half (from 700 to 350). Apparently, it doesn’t matter that my fiance has a full-time job and her own life/obligations: the fact that she lives with me is enough to reduce my caregiving hours. With little alternative, I began to reach out to realtors to find an accessible one-bedroom apartment. Alas, I ran into similar complications to those which I encountered before I arrived in Japan: despite calling 10+ offices, I was unable to locate a single apartment. After reaching out to my caregiving coordinator (and her friends) for support, I found three accessible apartments in Tokyo. Three, out of how many hundreds of thousands! Anyway, it’s a place to start, and I hope to view them sometime next week.
Also on Thursday, I delivered a digital guest lecture on accessibility and aging in Japan at the University of Oregon. The audience seemed receptive, and I got some great questions about the preparation required to travel to/from Japan with a disability. How can old age and/or disability affect our ability to secure/file paperwork related to medical clearances and the travel experience? How can they affect our capacity to travel inside of Japan, and what do they mean for the creation/consolidation of kinship networks? Such questions are interesting, but I was most surprised by a question posed by a first-year PhD student: what do I intend to do after I graduate? I paused, and told the student that I’m currently looking into both academic and consulting positions. In an ideal world, I’ll find a way to pursue both kinds of work, but with the academic job market looking the way it is, that dream may never become a reality…
On Friday, I had some trouble breathing and felt a bit under the weather. Knowing full well that my body was still recovering, I decided to spend the day in bed. Still, I managed to get a bit of work done and Skyped with Garr Reynolds, a veteran of the TEDx circuit and my appointed advisor for March’s conference. Garr and I talked through my script and powerpoint presentation, which he felt were in need of only minor revisions. I thanked him for his time and hung up before promptly passing out for the evening.
My weekend so far has been a final period of relaxation and ‘calm before the storm.’ I intend to start working on my dissertation again tomorrow morning…but that’s not all! I also have a lot of other things scheduled for this coming week, including two consulting sessions. The first is for a English-speaking cafe that will open up in Tokyo in the near future. The cafe owner wants to create a non-academic space where Japanese and foreign speakers of English can mingle and learn from one another. He’s contacted me to help him make the cafe accessible for persons with all kinds of disabilities, and I intend to help him to the best of my ability. The second consulting gig I’ve been asked to participate in is for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. The ministry has asked me to join a task force charged with revising the barrier-free guidelines for all hotels and hostels in Japan ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I’m very excited to hear what they have to say!
Stay tuned, everyone, as next week’s post is sure to come with some exciting updates. As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to comment/reach out anytime!