Monday, January 11, 2021


 Dec 3, 2020

It's done. Well it's been done for six days now, and healing up nicely. Taking longer and hurts more than I expected, but on the right track. 

At first, when I read the article on medium and went to the gynecologist, and he told me about the surgery and the surgeon, I felt I was being very proactive doing this, "don't put it off" "get yourself fixed" "don't let shame or embarrassment stop you getting fixed, don't live with the discomfort and problems, go for it". The thought of improvement in going to the toilet, and just, well, feeling more supported and "back to how it was" fueled me and I didn't even have any doubts or fears about negative consequences or side-effects. 

Then I mentioned mesh, that Victoria made the connection, and pointed me to the experience in the UK, where they have stopped trans-vaginal mesh insertion surgeries, actually stopped using mesh at all while it's being investigated, that I finally got scared, and when I started to look up what could happen, pain and mesh protruding through the vagina!! I had serious second thoughts then, backed up by the logistics. I made this list of pros and cons:


remember the daily toilet struggle (and travel issues and going to the toilet when out)

hemorrhoids and pain (linked to the strain of imcomplete elimination)

It might be how I initially imagined it - a quick fix!

It could be tighter, with no bulge of course and a better bum

time off!!! lol. 

Get it done now while I'm younger and can recover quicker



schedule (Amy moving, work, Christmas coming up)

possible painful sex or limited positions


It's not really that bad right now, I could try the other methods - lose weight, exercise, use enemas, put in a pessary. (linked across to Pros column: But why not just take the easy way out?

I'd add as well, another reason I thought was even with those things creating an improvement, it's just going to happen again. 

So, I finally decided to do it, and here I am! 


I got into a bit of a routine - wake up super early - I'm waking at around 5 and unable to get back to sleep, so I read or do things on the phone with the light off, waiting for the nurse to visit. Then the tea comes, about half an hour before breakfast at around 7:30. I am trying to not eat all the rice, for bowel purposes but it's hard to resist at breakfast. Then I lounge for a bit with no aim and when they have taken the breakfast tray I get up. I think it's nice to divide the night and day. I get dressed in day clothes - a bra (bought some new soft up ones), pants (elastic waist only of course), and my new pink sweater or a hoody, and set the bed up with the cover on it, the back all the way up so I can lean back a bit, easier on my stomach, and type easily on the computer which I have on the tray table. I can't fix the height of the tray table, so I adjusted the bed instead! 

Doctor's rounds are at 9, but usually earlier, I get the warning call at around 8:30. He's very quick - no problem? okay bye. After that a walk to the vending machine maybe, or if I have everything, I make a cup of tea. I eat exactly 2 almonds, 2 walnuts, and 4 dried apricots. I'm cycling through the Twinings Best 5 which now includes English Breakfast! Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Lady Grey and Prince of Wales, which I hadn't heard of before this set was on sale. 

Then onto one of my projects - I've been plugging away at things like cleaning up things on my phone - photos, Notes, Safari tabs. Doing some blogging like this. Or I might just send messages and play scrabble, or go on long facetime calls with Amy and/or Lena. Lunch comes at 11:30 and after that I continue the tasks, or read, or play games. I've only managed one nap so far - usually it's too uncomfortable. 3pm is Afternoon Tea. I eat one kiwifruit and one banana. I have afternoon tea over on the chair by the table. Gotta change the scenery! Before or after afternoon I might take another walk to the vending machine and throw away the bottles. Back to tasks. I try to vary which task I'm working on.

Towards evening, I change to Netflix and less mentally demanding tasks that I can do while semi-watching. I'm mostly watching Star Trek because I don't want to have to focus too much. Things like the photo organization and culling are going to take much, much longer than the time I have here. Dinner is a 6, and after lounging a bit, it's time to settle into the night. I shower, get my pyjamas on, and change the bed to nighttime configuration. Official lights-off is 9, it doesn't really matter than much for me because I have a private room, but I tend to turn it off anyway, and use the wall lamp over the bed. 

Day Nine, Friday December 4

Up at 5:30 for the blood test that determines whether I can go home tomorrow. I was already awake. Over in no time, but seemed to hurt more than usual, whether it was the dark and she wasn't very good I don't know, but at the time I was thinking, I am just SO sick of being stuck with needles! I got up and dressed into my check pants and the pink sweater. Doctor came just before 9, with the 2 residents, quick as usual, in and out, but then just after everyone left the room, the older nurse paused in the door and asked about my belly button. I had been reporting to them yesterday about the fluid collecting in my belly button. It was worse this morning, and I could see the hole at the top of the wound. I said yes it was the still there, and she called the doctor back. He took at look at it, said it was quite bad and started pushing around it, trying to press out the fluid I guess. A nurse came in with a treatment table and he swabbed it and then shoved some gauze into the hole! (There were 8 people in the room for this - doc, 2 residents, and 5 nurses! Meanwhile I hadn't had time to pause Netflix so Star Trek was it was playing in the background, making me think of weird alien anatomy episodes in the sick bay). And yes, it hurt. I was wincing, didn't cry out, and practicing all my jaw-and-shoulder relaxing, but mostly hoping it would just be over soon. It didn't hurt as much as it sounds like it would though. That was covered with gauze and taped down, it's a fragile arrangement though so I'm being careful moving. He also said this means I may not be able to go home tomorrow! So yeah I was pretty depressed after that. Blamed myself of course, for moving too much, for sleeping on my side, for being too fat. It's after lunch now and I'm settling into the afternoon, I'm also constipated today so I'll ask the nurse when one comes around for a suppository. Sigh. And another day. 

Doctor came, didn't even look at the wound, just said he would look at it in the morning and it was unlikely I would be out tomorrow. 

I finished tidying the tabs in Safari, and the March set of photos. Tomorrow my plan is to add to this, do April, and cull and organize the folders and albums before moving on. 

Day Ten, Saturday December 5

Sigh. Was supposed to be going home today. Resident dressed the wound, re-inserted gauze, so that's another day of limited motion for me. And another day with no shower. I am internally protesting by having a pyjama day. There really is nothing else to add. Day plan: continue to sort photos (finished tidying my karaoke list Note this morning), watch Dash and Lily for some Christmas cheer, do some more online shopping (golf gear for Kanji), update this!

Day Eleven (sheesh, really??), Sunday December 6

Doctor came around just before lunch, there is still fluid, he cleaned it out, and replaced the gauze so that's one more day. And still no bath since Friday night! My hair is suffering the most, since I hadn't washed it since Wednesday. But I had a towel bath this morning and got dressed into clean clothes so I feel not too dirty. I'm getting worried about work and will start work this afternoon on my schedule and work out when I will have classes and which can be Christmas lessons (ie, goof off) and that should help me feel less stressed. Still plugging away at 'tasks' - started up Spanish on Duolingo again, continuing work on the photos, if I get my schedule done I might start work on my Yahoo mailbox. I can't download anything though until I get my recovery software so I can find that Covid diary document! I'm still so upset I lost that. 

Day Fucking Twelve, can you believe it? Monday December 7

Doctor came, gauze out, antiseptic and a bandaid. And for that I have to stay another night? Well at least I got to a take a shower - a very loooong shower, I really didn't want to get out. Finally washed my hair, though I was going to wash it over the basin if they stopped me showering again today. K brought konyaku jellies and I'm having 2 after each meal, and slightly increasing snacks so I am better able to reject the rice. I eat the morning rice and maybe a little of the other meals' rice, if the side dishes need something to wash them down, but otherwise leave the whole bowl. Crackers and fruit and now cheese to keep me going. Cheese and anger. At least my schedule is lighter than I feared - the Tuesday online class dropped, and only 3 Ryukoku classes in total in December, so my first Thursday might be light - if I can remember which days I agreed to work! 

Unlucky 13

Well the bandaid is off. If I thought staying overnight to monitor a bandaid was overkill, how about staying overnight to monitor no bandaid? To be honest, there is still a hole, and I can see blood inside it. The sides look like they are healing that way - will I always have a second belly button now? Perhaps I should pierce it. And also to be perfectly perfectly honest... I don't mind that much. I know the house will not be tidy and the laundry will not be done, and I will feel pressure to do it. I AM looking forward to opening my amazon packages and checking out my Costco order but I'll have to be careful and take it slow. Then back to work on Thursday! I tried to get Erica to help me find my new OIT schedule but I think I'll have to call them and check, so at least I know and can start to plan. 

Edited Jan 11 to add that I was told on the 13th day that I could go home tomorrow, so I went home on Wednesday December 8th. I got Kanji to come and get me in the morning and I was ready by about 9 but he was busy at work and couldn't come for a few hours. Recovery went well, I had only the 4 Keio lessons on the Thursday. My worst moment was the Monday - I had OIT lessons in the morning but with the open door policy I got cold and just couldn't get warm. I came home and actually cried with the stress, and canceled the rest of my lessons. It's now been six weeks and I have no more pain, the scars are healing nicely, and bowel movement is more normal, but still not all okay, still working out how to use my new body I guess! 


Backstory Begins Here

Day One, Thursday November 26

We arrived with my many bags, feeling like I was going away for months. Can't be that unusual though, as we were immediately offered a large shopping trolley to put them all in! I had one more blood test, then it was bye bye Kanji and upstairs I went! He couldn't even go up to help with the bags and say goodbye. He had instructions to come back at 12:45, when I would be entering the OR, and then he could leave again and come back at around 4 to see me once more before I was taken to recovery. Of course he would not be allowed in recovery. 

I was taken to a four-person room. They had said I might not be able to get a private room at first, so that was okay. I busied myself finding places to put all my things. Said hello to my roommates as they woke/entered. Two older ladies, no one in the bed opposite me. Lunch was awful, not a good start to the stay! Bread, but no butter, just some jam and I do not like bread and jam. And awful, tasteless tofu and ?daikon patty things. So depressing. I was glad I'd brought the sachet of chili sauce from Asiana airlines last year that Erica didn't eat, that had been in the fridge since then. Victoria suggested I bring tabasco sauce, but I couldn't find any. 

But just as lunch was being served, the nurses came back to tell me a private room was available, so I packed everything back up again, and moved to the other corridor. In the meantime I'd met my roomies and one had brought us all a can of zenzai. I had saved it for after lunch, but the nurse came in after lunch to tell me I would not be eating anything more that day, clear liquids were fine until midnight. Well, I wasn't that keen on the zenzai anyway... The not eating was easier than I expected. I just distracted myself, and with no access to food, except the fruit and nuts I'd brought, which were hidden in the fridge, and no need to prepare it for anyone else, I was able to forget about it, just not think much about it. I filled the bathtub and had a nice-ish bath (it got a bit cold and ran out of hot water), which I knew would be be last for a while. 

I was more worried about going all morning without food. It's one thing to sleep on an empty stomach, quite another to have to go another six hours in the morning. Why couldn't the surgery have been in the morning? 

Day Two, Friday November 27

During the morning I was changed into a yukata type robe with an over-robe, got more blood tests, got a drip put in at 9, and the surgical nurse came to take me through the procedure and recovery. I would spend an initial period of time in recovery before being taken back to my room. 

Before heading to surgery I had to remove the over-yukata, they passed the drip bag through the sleeve, which seemed rather awkward, and put on pressure socks and a cap. I walked with my drip, nurse beside me, through the corridor, past the nurses' station at the hub, past the TV corner and down the Tunnel of Light. I thought it was a rather inapt association... Kanji was waiting at the other end. I stopped, I thought he was coming with us for a pre-op consult, but that was it, just say Hi and off I go to the OR and he to the waiting area. 

Typical OR except for the booth and big machine, presumably the robot arms, but standard table. I climbed up, the staff were so careful of my modesty, only to immediatly remove my robe - I did have a large towel placed over my body first though. Blood pressure cuff, pulse ox monitor. Someone asked where I came from, and when I said NZ they said, Oh, where koalas are. I just laughed and said No, Kiwis. Eee? the fruit. No, a bird. Another nurse chimed in, yes the miniature ostriches and had a good laugh at that! Next came the epidural, and I had to curl inwards to get my spine showing. I was careful to stay very still but it really didn't hurt much. I remember the anesthesiologist popping his head over to say hi at one point. He explained what he was going to do, what the drugs would do. Then the mask came down - but not touching my face. I don't know why, I don't mind it touching my face. He told me to breathe deeper and deeper and eventually the edges of the room started to darken, the voices fade...

Woke up to people calling my name, telling me it was all over. Gotta love general anesthesia. Literally took 2 seconds in my head. So I was awake, but very drowsy, they told me the time but I couldn't make sense of it - 6:30? It was meant to finish at 4, so that just confused me. There were Kanji and Erica and I managed to say Hi Sweeties as the bed rolled past, not sure if they could even hear me. I was aware of where I was and where I was going, and I was rolled into the recovery room. I was not comfortable. 

I had an oxygen mask, a blood pressure cuff, a drip, a pulse/ox, the epidural, a catheter, and blood clot massage machines on my lower legs. The catheter bothered me the most at first, I just felt a constant My right leg was numb but felt restless and like it had been placed on pillows, elevated. This bothered me the whole time. But I was pretty stoned so I just told myself stories in my head, amazing, interesting stories that reeled out like movies and that quickly got me back to sleep. The blood pressure cuff kept waking me but I learned to use the leg massagers as a kind of kinetic white noise, just waiting for, then feeling them - left leg, then right. It was the only thing relieving the restlessness in that leg. I was asked if I was in pain, and given more through the pump when I said yes. 

While the initial plan was for me to back in my room Friday night, because the surgery had gone on longer, and it was late (plus the longer you're under the longer it takes to recover). So I stayed there overnight and was brought back to my room in the morning. 

Day Three, Saturday November 28

The leg machine and epidural were removed but I kept the other things. They talked about taking the bed but decided to use a wheelchair. Someone found my slippers somewhere. I warned them about my numb leg - I'd been complaining to several nurses about it - and indeed I was unable to stand on it, but I was ready for that and had most of my weight on my arms. Memories of all the folks in wheelchairs I've taken care of, memories of their wobbles, so similar to mine that day. One step to the wheelchair, one to the bed, that's all the walking I did that day!

Back in my room, settled and as comfortable as I could get for now, I finally asked for my phone. I had thought about it several times but just couldn't be bothered! Just tried to relax my body and get back to sleep. I had a bunch of messages of course and it was good to finally catch up. I was allowed to eat finally - a single jelly for lunch, and some tea. I watched TV as it was easier than trying to set up my computer and Wifi. Dinner surprised me as I thought it was just going to okayu only, but I got side dishes too. I did not eat all the rice but did my best with the other dishes and especially enjoyed the soup, wonton soup, and the main dish, karaage. I don't think I had a shower this day... 

Day Four, Sunday November 29

Coming back to life. I wanted to know two things - when could I go home, and when would I get the catheter out. I had stayed in bed Saturday, thinking I was supposed to, not wanted to upset the catheter, or the bandaging on my tummy. But when the resident said I would get the catheter out on Monday, I thought that was in response to me saying I still had a lot of pain and wasn't moving much. I thought I was being punished for not moving much, even though I hadn't been told to move. So move I did, just up and down the room, every half hour or hour or so. I was also constipated so had a suppository. The main thing was learning to move with the catheter, and bandages, and pain. How to lie, how to sit up etc. It took quite a bit of effort. I managed to have a shower that night too. All the while I was hoping I could talk the surgeon into taking the damn catheter out early, it's uncomfortable, painful, and makes it hard to move around.

Days Five to Six, Monday-Tuesday, November 30 to 31

I hit my low this day. My intention to ask the doctor to take out the catheter fell to nothing. Day 5 is standard, it's written on a chart at my head, they were not going to move from that. I was sorely disappointed though, facing two more full days of it. I cried and hit a low - all my carefully laid plans to do tasks went out the window, and I messaged as many people as were online right then. I ended up having a nice chat with Fay, and we planned a New Year karaoke party! Lizzie and Maree answered and the usuals - family and friends. I was kept busy all morning answering messages, it was a good idea. 

Tuesday was basically the same day, minus the depressing low!

Day Seven, Wednesday December 1

Catheter out! I had a huge pimple on the lip, probably from chafing, and what seemed to be a cut or graze near the bottom - the first discovered in the toilet, as it bled a bit, the second in the shower as the water stung it. I did mention these, but just got told not to touch the area. Hello, I have to go the toilet and shower! I was a bit annoyed at that. I was also annoyed at one nurse calling my 'masshiro' (pure white) skin "weak". My skin is not weak. And it certainly isn't weak because it's white! If I'm itchy, it's because I'm healing/reacting to tape adhesive/reacting to anesthesia itself, or WORSE a sign on internal inflammation, don't just ignore all that 'because white skin is weak' Grrrr. I'm also discouraged by the lack of counseling. While I was happy at first with the extensive amount of preparatory paperwork and surgical disclaimers, and the pre-op nurse consult, there hasn't been much apart from single sentences said almost as an aside by nurses. I would like a fully detailed analysis of what is expected, a timeline, and possible pitfalls. I was particularly annoyed that no one had asked how my bowels were, given that that was a major reason for the surgery. But the surgeon finally asked this morning - only for me to say I don't know, since I still constipated! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

(tip: read the *notes later!)

Well here I am again, only 18 months after the last entry! I thought I might have a go at this blogging thing again.

It's Monday night. I'm drinking wine. This is so unusual for a Monday night!! For years, I've been either working, or taking Erica to karate on Monday nights.* But a night free isn't enough, I need to not have any commitments the next day to truly relax - aaaand I don't have any work tomorrow!**

That's a lot more disconcerting than I'm making it sound. The life of a freelance teacher has its freedoms, and its anxieties. I like not being beholden to any one organization, so that if I lose one contract I don't lose it all, but it leaves me vulnerable to random fluctuations, and this April, my luck ran short. I've lost one major contract and am 3-4 hours down on another.

But I remain focussed on silver linings, and intend to use my time to FINISH that bloody spring cleaning***, and work towards different types of jobs more suited to my natural talents. I found the name and address of that calligraphy teacher I serendipitously sat next to at the Beaujolais Nouveau party a few years ago. It's a sign. I want to write more. And create. Watch this space.****

But in more practical terms, the timing is terrible for losing hours. Lena is in New Zealand at high school. She's boarding, and we have to pay those fees as well as her flights home. I took her to NZ at the end of January, and tore my heart out leaving her there. But she will be home in exactly a week from now! I'm so excited!*****

Amy just started her second year of high school******, and Erica entered the 4th grade*******. Kanji is busy at work and PTA********.

Well that brings me to the bottom of another glass of wine, so I shall go and top up, and read some old blogs, I'll leave you to ponder the details in the notes below.

* Erica finally quit this January, a whole year after she really should have, but she wanted to hang on until she had a victory *just once* and she did, she won her first-round match at a meet last year, her only recorded win apart from two years ago, when her opponent didn't turn up! Then Baachan paid the whole year in advance, so we kind of had to keep going, even though she was losing interest, and my work and K's meetings kept her from going as often as she needed to to improve. The coach also dropped the Thursday practice, so she was only going 1-2 times a month. My Monday evening class, which started as a council-operated night class, switched to a 'club' last year, and this year we moved to a daytime slot. It was so good today! Everyone was so genki! It was much better than evening!

** I lost the Yaskawa contract unfortunately, I'm going to miss that pay-check! They said they just didn't need, or have time for, English lessons any more, nothing personal, but you always worry that it was you anyway. My other class on Tuesday was a kindy in Usa, and I thought I was continuing that this year, but there was a mix up in the schedule, and it's the Friday kindy in Buzen I'm continuing. That's four hours less a month... but the Usa one also had entire months off, while the Buzen one is almost continuous, so maybe that's better in the long run. I ALSO lost two evening classes at the juku and haven't heard anything yet about the company class I do through that juku, but am hoping that turns up.

*** I am actually closer to this than I have ever been! At this point, I actually know where everything is, and almost have everything where I want it. I've done phase one, which was throwing out a lot of stuff and moving things to their new location. I'm in phase two now, which is going back over each room, cleaning and tidying. Phase three will be going back over each room again, and deep declutter/organizing - finally getting things like the photos, memorabilia, and computers sorted and organized and trimmed and tossed!

**** AFWJ! I've taken on the Kyushu Rep role this year, so I'm back on the Board. I hope it's fun! We're organizing a convention in Fukuoka next year, I'm on that committee too. I hope I enjoy getting back to the computer screen as much as I enjoyed the escape from it for the last few years!!

***** She was scared of traveling alone, so I also bought Mum a ticket, so she's coming too. She's going to help me pay for some of it though. She's doing okay in school, it's been a huge change and a huge challenge for her, but I admire her grit, and her determination to not quit, and to see this through. For someone with such a high EQ she is finding it hard without devoted friends such as she had here. It's her biggest worry and focus right now, which makes me pleased that we chose to put her in year 10, so she has that year to settle in and find herself before she has to worry about exams.

****** Amy is very happy with her new teacher, as she hated her last one. We all thought she would have that teacher for all three years, but he's been transferred to the dumb classes because her class, the academic class, fell from top to bottom scorers under his 'tutelage'. I put that in inverted commas because she said he often didn't explain things, just saying 'you already know this'. Apparently he was more interested in his sports car than anything else. She's still doing art, piano and dance.

******* Erica is happy with her teacher, but not the class. I don't think she'd be happy with any class though, as she says it's 'the boys' who are the problem. As per typical patriarchal-society young males, they cannot accept her gender ambiguity. I had better not get started on that or on how much I worry about her... She is still doing two English classes a week - and still cannot read. Again I am committed to trying harder this year to teach her. She continues dance, piano and swimming.

******** Kanji is busy busy busy with PTA, he is the city head now, and has to go to Oita several times a month for meetings. He's out nearly every night with primary, junior high, city or prefectural meetings! At least now he can drop junior high - but he hinted that he might be pressured into taking on the prefectural head role... time consuming as well as expensive, just when we cannot afford it...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Aaaaand... still here

We're still staying here most nights a week, I usually spend Saturday night at home, and we all stay home on Tuesday (piano lesson at home, seems pointless to come here at 9 or so). The intention is to spend more nights at home, I need more time there to catch up on cleaning and we all need to be there to just give it a feeling of home again - it now smells too catty! Needs human smells reinjected.

It's okay staying here though, the same benefit of bringing only the work I plan to do and being able to walk away from the rest still stands, plus Baachan is cooking more often, it's not just me now - if I'm working she makes something, so obviously that's a benefit! She often makes something even if I say I'm going to make something, so we end up with a mish-mash of this and that. She's enjoying all the exotic foreign treats - but making sure there's enough of her old favourites too! She fusses a bit over K, which annoys me (he does like my food, and is happy to supplement it with his own purchases of stuff he feels like eating, it works for us, much better than trying to guess and ending up wtih loads of stuff and piling the table up with things he doesn't want to eat, just in case, cos good lord it wouldn't do to just *ask* you have to put everything in front of people just in case they might have been saying no to be polite). And starting to fuss about salads, just let me say here right now, we eat LOTS of vegetables. Say no more...  

It's getting cold. Luckily I found a heater in Jiichan's office, and I've borrowed it to bring upstairs, where I'm using K's old study desk to type.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Still Here

Well it's not going too badly. Obviously being away during the day at home makes a huge difference, and I kind of like how much more organized I have to be, and how I'm free from guilt/distractions in the evenings. Not much more work, since I have to cook and clean up every night anyway, and there seems to be less laundry somehow.

Had a red flag moment the last few mornings though. On Friday morning she was going on about having made K a bento (it was a tupperware container full of rice with an umeboshi in it) and what time did he get up and go to work? He got up and went at 5, I said. He's always leapt out of bed at that hour, not sure what he does as I sleep on, but I think he books things to record and feeds the cats and takes a nap. Then this morning she stomps up the stairs at 5am calling out to both of us, why isn't he up? She wants to make a bento. He got up. I decided not to, despite my curiosity as I could hear them talking, she using her whiny voice, as I didn't want to start a precendent! Everything I choose to do is so calculated, I had no idea I was so manipulative, lol!

I got up around 8 and she had a go at me then, moaning about him not having a routine time to get up and go to work. I think I know what's going on. She has the old-fashioned idea that the woman is supposed to get up before the man, make him breakfast and lunch, and she'll do it until she guilts me into taking over. But he doesn't eat breakfast and I have never made him lunch. He comes home at 9am daily when another staff member comes to watch the shop while he runs errands, and he grabs any leftovers that are there then, or he buys stuff. I sometimes bring him stuff, but his work is 2min drive from home, why would I get up a frickin 5am to give him a box of frickin rice that will be cold and hard by midday when I could just bring it to him fresh? Makes no sense to me. Besides, I also think he's an adult and can take care of himself. I do. My father did. Need I even mention my feminist conviction that we are two equal adults who married each other, not a master and servant. Sigh. Oh well, he did NOT accept the bento this morning, yay!!

Apart from that it's been a nice day, with a nice balance, a little work, moving around, somehow managed to spend time with all 3 kids one on one, even fit in a nap with the cats!

I took Amy to a high school visit this morning, then took K some curry (yes, this is very much related to the above, lol!), and took Lena home for a shower (our nice new one is better than Baachan's old tin pot). I went to work, then shopping and we ate lunch together before I took Erica to the pool with me. She's been wanting to watch me swim for ages, but we just haven't had time, so she was stoked. So I had a little fan/cheerleader, running up and down behind the observation window as I did my laps. I only did 600m, as I miscalculated the times and had to get out when I finished a lap, found the lane marker had disappeared and a bunch of kids doing their stretches. Well, it was a fast 600m - the guy in the next lane was relatively young (ie, under 50) and at one point I realized I was gaining on him and decided to see if I could get past him. He sped up when I caught up to him, and we were neck and neck for 2 lengths, then he lost it and fell back and I WON!! hahaha! I always get a better workout when there is a fast person alongside me!!

Then I drove all 3 to their dance class, and went home home for a nap. I miss my kitties. ALL of them ended up sleeping next to or near me, it was so so sweet! Then off to work for another two hours and home to cook dinner. Lots of leftovers so tomorrow's meals are set too. Baachan is going to a recital tomorrow to accept a certificate on Jiichan's behalf. I was going to go with her, but K is now, and I will stay here in case we have visitors, then go home to clean up at home, and hopefully stay there the night instead of coming back here. I think I need a night chez moi!

Monday, October 05, 2015

New Life

And then suddenly, everything changes.

It's funny because I'd been thinking about the rapid and unexpected nature of change recently, wondering when - if - it was going to happen to me. Wondering if it wouldn't, and I'd be in the same place, doing the same thing ten years from now.

Then along it comes, and never quite what you thought.

Jiichan died. He'd been unwell for some time, so that wasn't so unexpected. Baachan seems to want us to live here - that was, strangely, a surprise, even though it had been on the cards for years - years ago K had said to me he'd want to move in with one, if the other died. But I'd convinced myself that she would not want us to, as we'd be too much trouble and noise and mess and stress. That K would want to stay home where's he comfortable and not hassled by her. That we couldn't - we can't change the kids' schools, and what about the cats? I realise now I've been building my case since Jiichan got sick. But it's a possibility after all. We're in limbo at the moment, staying here, with everything at home. Trying it out. There's so much to consider. First of all we had the funeral and everything, and they are still tying up loose ends there, and organising return gifts etc. Then I guess we'll have to go through his stuff. There's no way we could move in without an extensive clear-out of stuff anyway. As I said, I've been building my case to not move in, and intend to absolutely put my foot down about keeping the other house open. It will be so we can maintain the kids' addresses for school; somewhere for the cats to live of course, and I'll use it as my office and storage for my work things (and personal things, photos and memorabilia). Baachan suggested we rent it. I thought of air bnb. Trying right now to decide if it will work better for everyone to stay here during the week and go home on weekends, or stay at home during the week and go stay with Baachan at the weekends plus Wednesday, say. And how that will affect where we put our stuff! So many considerations.

Jiichan died on October 1. That was also the start date of my new jobs - my other big change. I have seven more work hours to fit into my week, and was just working out how to balance that with work outs and cooking. I was all set to shop on the weekend and prepare meals in advance, or at least plan them, when all this happened. Now I have little idea what I am doing one day to the next. I seem to be the chief cook, no change there I suppose though it would be nice to have some help now that my hours have increased. Baachan however seems to be angling towards giving herself a break after 50 years or so and letting me take over. Hmm.

Finally, October 1 I was also expecting a period that didn't turn up until today. So to add to all that I was considering the possibility of adding a baby to the mix. Imagine that. 

All this going on you'd think I'd be gone quite mad, but I'm coping okay. Just on autopilot at the moment, trying to support Kanji and taking his lead for the time being at least. But something will have to be decided soon. Wish me luck figuring it all out!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Night after the Museum

This being the museum in question. I found the "History of the World in 100 Objects" podcasts several years ago and started listening to them. I found the poster in the station quite by chance, and thought, "I have to go!". I listened to the podcasts again, finishing No. 100 literally as I turned into the museum carpark! I wondered what would actually be there, assuming some of the more precious, irreplaceable items might not be allowed to go on tour. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Rosetta Stone, but it was a replica (the one above is a mouse pad I bought at the museum shop!). Never mind, I saw the real one in the real British Museum in London. Other items I missed included the Ain Sakhri Lovers, the gold cape (they had a similar item of beaten gold to replace it), the Statue of Ramses (they provided a different one), the Warren Cup, and the Holy Thorn reliquary (there was a reliquary of St Eustace to replace it) and the Mechanical Galleon. There were many other items missing or replaced, but those were ones I had been looking forward to seeing. On the other hand, there were wonderful extras, like the marble statue of Mithras, which fascinated me. Things I was thrilled to see there included the Standard of Ur and the Lewis Chessmen. The Ife Head was much more interesting in real life. I could go on!!! But I'll leave it for now...

I met Helen at Hakata station afterwards, and we found the hotel. We stayed at the Washington Hotel in Canal City. We started with some champagne in the room, the NZ Invivo sparkling Sauvignon Blanc I bought for my birthday. 

The we hit the town - a total of seven bars, which I think is a record for me! Especially as our only actual goal was the rooftop wine bar in Nakasu. First, Helen was hungry so we popped into a pub in Canal City and got a margarita each. She had a smoked cheese pizza and I had fish and chips, with the tiniest 'fish' I've ever eaten! And chips that were basically potatoes. I wish they wouldn't mess with the tried and tested formula... there's a reason it works... I bet they think they are improving on it, too, sigh...

We decided to walk, despite the rain, both of us being fairly waterproof. It was further than we thought, but it was okay. The rooftop bar turned out to be full, though we were offered a booking at 10. It was 8:30 then, so we took it, and I suggested slumming it by hitting the street stalls down the road, just for a contrasting experience! The street stalls on Nakasu Island, the party island in the middle of Fukuoka are famous.

Us on fire. I like this photo!

Above, the stall, on one the end and one of the only ones with no queue. It was so-so and the master was damned grumpy! He did warn us that we would not like the chicken, as it was raw. That's it there on the right in front of the girl, they had ordered it as well, and not eaten it! Then Helen just suggested he cook it a bit longer. It turned out quite tough. Meanwhile, we had a few beers so all was good! We heard them insist to some Chinese who sat down that they had to order food, not just alcohol, and wondered if that was a selective rule. They hadn't said that to us.

Finally, we hit our goal, the bar ES, with fine rooftop night views, and splashed out for the Moet - 8,900 but we justified by a) spoiling ourselves and b) it was the cheapest champagne on the menu!

I stopped taking photos after that. I suppose it's a good thing really that I leave my phone alone after I've had a few! That's got to be the better choice on balance, right? Next we tried to find an Irish and/or foreigners bar. I was trying to find the one I'd gone to with Candace, which was a good Irish bar, quite friendly. The one we found was a pastiche, a modern Japanese place shaped like a pub, even with sports playing on the TV, but missing the soul. Helen meanwhile had had a spectacular fall over the road from the pub, not long after we'd got out of the taxi. She spotted the pub, got excited, and slipped down a step in the rain. I have not included the photo of her knee... we dosed her with brandy (half on the knee as antiseptic) and fed her up with onion rings and chips (real ones at least this time). BUT it was not the right pub, so I tried again.

Another short taxi ride through the small streets of Tenjin and we found a very very small 'Irish' pub run by a grizzly old American. There were a few foreigners there for Helen to talk to (she said she felt like talking to people). They left soon after, and then she fell asleep! I sat talking to the bar owner while she dozed, and at this point thought he was an interesting fellow.

Then some more customers bowled in, a lovely lady from the Philippines called Grace, married to a Japanese man like us, so we were happy to natter away with her. Helen woke up when they arrived. Then at one point Helen and I decided to change the music. The bar owner was really slack about changing it and if we asked for someone, he'd put on whole concerts. We went behind the bar to get to the computer keyboard (it was YouTube) and apparently knocked the beer tap open. Anyway, he came back awfully angry, too angry, seeing as the beer thing was a total accident, and we would have graciously paid  for it. But he grabbed me by the arm to pull me out 'no one goes behind my bar' kind of thing, and has left me with a huge bruise! I bruise easily, but still

It hurt, and I was moaning about that, so we all hightailed it out of there fairly soon, and Grace must have felt sorry for us, because she took us to another great bar, on the second floor with windows overlooking the street. She had two other friends with her, so we made a great bunch of noisy ladies, and ordered more Moet! There were a couple of young Philippine guys there, and next thing, they were taking Helen and I to a dance club! Wohoo! dancing still exists in Fukuoka. Helen had some G&Ts but I think all I did was dance, which is why I was slightly less ill than her the next day!

We also lost each other, but both got back to the hotel. I had the devil of a time finding the elevator to the hotel! I had to do two circuits of Canal City to find it! Then I could not wake Helen and had to get the staff to open the door for me. THEN the lights were out, as she had not put the card key in the slot, so I had to go to the toilet in the dark, and could not find the bloody door handle! I was just tapping all over the door to find it when the hotel staff knocked on the door. We overslept and missed check-out, resulting in the staff angrily knocking on our door at 11am.

We were both so shot that after checking out we both slept in the car. Parking was so expensive! We paid extra for going overtime! After upgrading and paying for that too! I think next time I go to Fuk, I'll get the first train home in the morning instead of bothering with a hotel.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beach Fail, Beach Joy

I don't think I've ever had such a failure of a beach trip as I had today!

1. I forgot my rashie, AND waterproof sunblock. This meant I had to severely curtail my swim time to avoid my lily white skin being burned to a crisp.

2. The tide was out, WAY out, further than I'd seen it before at that beach, meaning we had to choose between swimming in kelp, or through sea grass.

3. My body board's cover was partly torn off in the pool at the weekend, and I had to tear the rest of it all, revealing the polystyrene board. Never mind, the one I had as a kid was just polystyrene! I did lose a few bits of it though, when I tried to sit on it and it popped out behind me!

4. The tent bag's zipper was rusted, and I could not open it. I had to tear the bag open with my teeth, actually I did quite a good job of it, a clean tear, and even managed to fold the tent back into it when we finished.

5. Amy and Lena finally found a way around the kelp/sea grass problem, by walking down the breakwater and entering the 'deep end' down the concrete steps. The only problem is that the lower steps, exposed by the low tide, were covered in sea weed and shellfish. It was icky getting in, and almost impossible to get out - I skidded off it on my way out and got a cut on my leg.

It tells you something about my love for the beach that I had a wonderful day anyway! I normally swim the whole time, and snorkel, so today was different, with more time spent in the tent on the beach, just watching and enjoying the sky, the sea and the sand. I didn't even WANT to check my phone, except to play some songs. Everclear's Santa Monica then some Bob. Tapping my toes, I leaned out of the tent to feel the sun full on my face. A little slice of paradise.

Highlight of the day had to be watching Erica flop through the shallow water in enormous flippers, laboriously squelching each foot out of the sand and water and smacking it back down again. Out by the net trying to sit on our boards and falling off them. The sunflowers and the gorgeous mountains. Checking out the rocky beach outside the breakwater. The perfect sunset, beautiful full moon, and shooting star we saw on the way home. Brilliant day. So glad I didn't sweat the small stuff, and persisted, despite wanting to quit at one point. A lesson in patience, persistence and focussing on the joy.