I gave in and went to the clinic. In a life filled with humiliation with some embarrassment, that was one of the worst. The doctor spoke some English, but the receptionist and scheduler had none. There are no private rooms, just one big one, so all the staff and all the waiting patients are watching. I don't know if I was the first gaijin patient they've had or what, but everyone was definitely staring at me and for once that's not just paranoia talking. The doctor needed three nurses to help him look in my ear, one apparently had to hold my head down. They whispered among themselves and laugh or gasp, and I tried to think if I'd put anything out of the ordinary in my ear lately. A camera was inserted in it, that led to a giant screen - no one's ear should be broadcasted that large, and no one should have to see someone's ear that large.
As I'd suspected from the symptoms I have otitis externa, also known as "swimmer's ear." I always seem to get the sicknesses that are caused by enjoyable activities without having done anything. First I got mono last summer, and got teased relentlessly for no reason. And now this, when the closest I've gotten to a swimming pool in the last six months is watching the Olympics. But I'm taking my antibiotics like a good girl, so hopefully it will be cleared up soon.
I've heard a lot of complaints from people with jobs like mine about being posted to small farming towns. This time of year, though, we're really seeing the benefit. The other day a sensei put a bag of rice freshly harvested from his own fields on everyone's desk. It's so tasty it needs barely any flavoring, and it's soft and fluffy. This is "eat your heart out" rice, "rice that makes Japan famous for it's rice" rice.
I registered for the Japanese Language Proficiency test in December. I'll try the beginning level, even though in some areas I'm higher than that. It doesn't mean much in an official capacity, but to pass will still feel like a small accomplishment.