Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bad Day, Bad Week

Things that are annoying me:

A certain person in a certain club who is being mean... and all the hand-wringing that results.

Stupid doctor laughing at me - same one who told me off a few years ago. The guy has no respect.

Not being able to find the Rawleighs.

Having done exactly 1, ONE, kitchen task on my Official Kitchen Spring Cleaning Week.

Mess. Particularly the way how once it starts, everyone thinks they now have carte blanche to just throw EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE!

Okay, No. 4, probably the one you want to LEAST hear about, ha ha ha!

On Tuesday, I ended up standing in a cold classroom. Watching Amy's and Lena's observation lessons - Lena's class were doing 'how to make friends/not make enemies', Amy's class were doing a survey. They were both diversity/anti-discrimination/anti-bullying type things.

Wednesday morning I took all the kids to the doctor for their monthly asthma check, which I had forgotten about on Tuesday because of the observation lesson! I had time too, I just forgot - suddenly it was not a normal Tuesday, so my brain died. Lena had some more checks for her sore tummy. She had an x-ray and an ultrasound. I kidded her about her 'baby' - "Oh my God, it looks like a goat!!" (it did too). But I was pretty thrilled to get same MORNING x-ray and ultrasound for a total cost of $30. Moments like this I LOVE Japanese health care! Erica was also checked for her cough - all fine. And Amy asked, and was allowed, to drop one med - the allergy med. Not that she ever has it anyway.

Wednesday night we were BACK as Lena had a major asthma attack. Well, the doctor said it was mild, but he's not her mother. It was HER worst, anyway. Actually I stayed very calm and helped her to not panic - she nearly lost it a few times, stood up to have a panic attack and I managed to calm her down and get her breathing more evenly. It seemed to take FOREVER to get seen, but was probably only 20 minutes. She had a nebulizer treatment and we were sent home with patches, which got her through the night and she's right as rain tonight. Maybe it was just a panic attack brought on by this systemic abdominal pain she seems to have. Poor thing.

AND back again today for the flu shots. YES I KNOW we are late in the season for them, sorry, we just didn't have time/money before. Don't laugh at me meany doctor. Don't tell me it's too late in the season then ask me if I want to continue. Only Amy and Erica got them, as Lena still has a fever. My student gave them to them, I'll have to hassle him about it in class next week (he was not the meany doctor, the meany doctor was the same one who harrassed me several years ago for taking Amy off her meds, which I did after the NZ doctor told me I could).

So much for the week of cleaning. Wanna know what I did? Cleared the shelf above the recipe books of detritus. That's all folks. Well, I still haven't done the colour Journal or Stanley (more about him later) so I have flagged it for this week. Journal and Stanley tomorrow, plus write a gazillion emails re. problem No. 1. Go to work then come home and do more work at home. Skating on Saturday then a movie night with pizza and ice cream (and wine!). Lie on my bum all day Sunday and DO NOTHING. Maybe clean next week...

PS, still haven't found the #&'%&# Rawleighs

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I spent 24 hours two weeks ago searching for songs on YouTube and posting them on facebook, in the Journal, in a Windows document to be turned into a blog post for AFWJ. And I'm not sick of it yet! Wish I could do this every month. I think I should be editing a music magazine.

Anyway, as part of the general search I remembered about the list of songs we were asked to provide as BGM for our wedding in Japan. I worked hard on that list, it was my favorite songs, carefully chosen to suit the part of the ceremony they were to accompany. I chose well I think, as I still love these songs 12 years later.

I'm still annoyed that they turned down my music during the candle-lighting ceremony and replaced it with Celine Dion (the titanic song), who I hated. How dare they!

Here is the list of songs I chose:

Cranberries, 'Linger' for the first "Grand Entrance" into the guest-filled ballroom after the private family-only Shinto ceremony (in another room in the hotel)

I fell in love with this song when I was living in Sydney, over-staying my welcome on my sister's sofa-bed. I heard it on Triple J and remember lying there just listening to it, listening to all the layers of sound so beautifully combined. It's a lovely song and I still adore it.

When I exited the ballroom wearing the wedding kimono, I played this song:

Portishead, 'Glory Box' (click on the link, they won't let me embed it)

This is the first time I have ever seen the video! In the 90's, I listened to the radio, and that's all - thank you Radio Massey and Triple J, but because of you I am only now catching up with my 90's music images!

When I entered the room again wearing the white wedding dress, I played Blanky Jet City, 'Sweet Sweet Days'

Kanji introduced me to Blankey, but older stuff, from the albums Bang and Red Guitar and the Truth. This song came out when we were dating, and I fell in love with it, and even more so with its B-side (if you can call it that on a mini-cd!) - more about that B-side later)

For when I left the room in my wedding dress to go get on the (ahem) "cocktail" dress, I played Smashing Pumpkins, 'Tonight, Tonight'

This video is another new one for me: I bought this CD and listened to it the car all the time during my second year in Japan, but never once saw this video. Interesting parallel: this video commemorates Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon", which just happens to be the first movie in the movie book I got Kanji for Christmas last year. (And the lady smashing the champers in the beginning looks just like Susan Boyle, don't you think?)

We did this candle-lighting ceremony, and I played this: Cranberries, 'Dreams'

plus (they asked me to provide extra songs as the candle lighting would go on for quite a while):

Chara, 'Yasashii Kimochi'

I think if you watch the above songs, you'll get this! Take some Dolores O'Riordan, add in some Portishead and splash over a bit of Smashing Pumpkins visuals, and you get Chara

Blanky Jet City: シェーリー
I haven't found it on You Tube yet, but don't give up on me! It's a B-side, anyway, but I loved it.

Frente, 'Bizarre Love Triangle'

(Another new video for me! She spends as much time with her eyes closed as Ken Hirai does!)

Pixies, 'Cecilia'

No video, just listen... I learned from YouTube it's a cover of a 1964 Surftones song. Makes sense, it sounds like a 60's surfer song!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not so Random Thoughts

Let me take a moment to consider how damn busy I always am on Thursday.


Okay, now that's over, I know you don't want to hear, yet again, about how damn busy I am on Thursday. Instead, here is list of not-so-random thoughts that floated through my head starting from the Supermarket check-out and following me all the way home in my little Green Machine.

It's 1pm, do I have time?
Stupid shoes (egg-on-floor-disaster-scenario-imaginings)
Forgot the test! (getting into car)
Forgot the money! (driving out of supermarket)
My budget and the exchange rate (big road)
Room configuration, or 'Amy's loft project' (turning into Youme Town road)
Flights to Japan (festival road)
Concrete walls - are they Japanese or NZ? (out back of Youme Town)
My kids are still on the radio! Cute! (turning over the bridge)
Erica's amazing start to finish conversation (coming up the drive)

Details later if this day loans me any more time


Well, after canceling one lesson due to Lena's fever AND her need to finish all her winter homework finally, here we are.

I was wondering if I had enough time when I saw the clock at the supermarket at 1pm, leaving me only one hour to eat lunch and finish checking an essay, and I had also thought I might have time to hang some laundry right then. That was not to be...

Then I slipped a bit on the supermarket linoleum and wobbled a bit but did not fall. I had raw eggs in my bag, cue the egg-on-floor-disaster-scenario-imaginings - MAN would that be SO embarrassing!

Thinking Stupid Shoes reminded me of work that morning, when instead of my usual high-heel clip-clop across the foyer, up the stairs and down the corridor, I CLUCHUNK CLUCHUNKed all the way. My winter shoes, with a big thick heel, had lost the rubber sole of the heel, and the resultant clank seemed to echo through the hollow core of the heel - into the ears of every single human in the building. (I tip-toed on a side-trip to the loo on the way to my class because I was so mortified!) Suffice it to say that not only will those be getting re-heeled asap, I will also stuff those heels with cotton wool before I go to the cobbler.

Thinking about work as I headed for the car reminded me of a major oversight I had discovered at work that morning - I actually forgot to test my class. I tested the other three classes! I concluded that it was because it was the last class before the Christmas special lesson and winter break, and they are also my best class, so I would have been doing extra activities. Well, no worries, they are my best class so they wrote it there and then, and all handed it in before class ended!

Thinking about stuff I've forgotten, as I drove out of the supermarket car park, I realized I'd forgotten the cash to send to NZ. Isn't the exchange rate treating us well these days? I'm paying off that card bit by bit...

Thinking about my budget, as I drove down the big road past Wonderland pachinko parlour, got me thinking about the massive house transformation again, which has already been downgraded, with Amy's loft to be put in in time for her entry into Junior High School in 2013, when Erica will begin kindy and she can then take over Amy's desk downstairs. For now, Erica can have the low computer table, when I give the Mac back to AFWJ. Part of the house organization involved housing Mum when she comes in April, so part of the plan is working that out.

Thinking of Mum of course had me thinking, as I rounded the corner and headed toward Youme Town, of the flights, which are yet to be finalized, and my indecision because I don't know if should wait until a month before to see if some cheaper seats become available then, or just go with the $1600 Malaysian Airlines seats now.

By this time I had weaved my way through the back streets to the back of Youme Town, past some very old houses. Two had painted concrete brick walls, with some of the bricks with decorative holes in them. Were they familiar to me because we have walls like that in New Zealand, or were they familiar to me because I've seen them so many times in Japan? A 'you've been in Japan too long' moment.

By that time I was swinging past the cemetery and over the bridge, and Amy and Lena came on the radio, giggling away. They do part of the announcement for the Aroma Cafe lunch-time show, over some jazzy music, you can hear them laughing and giggling, saying Aroma Cafe! Hngh, hngh, hngh, hngh, hngh. (a chuckle. Amy has an adorable chuckle, Lena's is more a tinkling laugh). It always makes me smile when I hear it - and I remember how annoyed I was with them at the studio because they would not settle down and stop giggling! And then that was the only bit he used...

The smile followed me up my drive, where I remembered lunchtime, how I was there to pick up Erica's kindy bag. She now sits behind me in the car, so I could see her over the seat back as I reversed. Hello, how are you? I said, I'm fine, Nice to meet you, she said. We giggled a bit at the formality of the greeting, then she started asking herself the questions I usually ask her when I pick her up from Aiko to take her to Keio. 'What did you do at kindy today?' then started answering it, talking about it being too cold to go outside and eating lunch. I asked what she ate for lunch, and was impressed when she translated it all for me into English, without prompting, though she must have been eating it 'in Japanese' if you know what I mean. It was rice, and soup with tomato, and something with beans.

Which brings me to my front door, and the end of my internal monologue.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy New Year!!

I am sure I will at some point post some photos and stuff about what we actually did...

but for now, it's Friday the 6th, WAY past New Year, if the mess-just-like-oosoji-didn't-happen and lifestyle-sans-resolutions is anything to go by.

1st and 2nd were spent with Jiichan and Baachan of course, but we didn't stay the night for once. We usually do, and I think that contributed to a less 'New-Yeary' feeling for us all. Baachan was not cooking either, except for oozoni, which is great, but different. We went out to dinner on the 1st with Toyoko and Yumi (after seeing and talking to Yuma for approximately five minutes. Shame, as I would love to ask him more about his work in anime, for Amy's sake), then out with Mie, Masamitsu, Soichiro and Mami on the 2nd. I think Amy has more in common with Yumi and Yuma, who are actually Kanji's cousins (though only in their early 20's as their mother is Jiichan's half-sister from his father's second marriage) than Soichiro and Mami. Soichiro was the same, said not a word the whole time, but that's just so normal for us now we don't even notice! Mami was laughing away at us chatting in English, so I think her English has leaped ahead quite a bit at Uni, even though she was too shy to say anything!

Then we spent two days in Beppu with Julia, Rory and Indigo. After a pizza and nut roast dinner, we drank lots of wine and got the kids to bed rather too late! The next day, we had planned to go skating at Kijima, but it started to snow, and I was the one to cancel, much to the kids' disappointment, but I still can't get those images from last year out of my head! Me, the kids, that car, and snow? No WAY!

So we instead spent a lovely and very Japanese day in Beppu: karaoke, sushi and onsen. It snowed while we were in the onsen, only the second time I've managed that in Japan, I LOVE snow in the onsen!

Then it was back to work, bleuch, I like my work but I was just not ready for it, especially Thursday. My students were great and I'm afraid I gave them a rather dull welcome-back lesson due to tiredness and pressure headaches. Today was much better, it was me waking them up!

Bringing me up to now, and my two 'jobs' tonight, to do as much laundry as I can (already done, as I just ran out of powder) and delete enough photos from iphoto to save the photos onto my USB stick. The first step of what is going to be a rather long process of divorcing myself (very sadly) from this lovely big shiny imac in advance of sending it on to the next AFWJ Journal editor. Tammy, you are one lucky lady!

The other thing on my mind is a major household overhaul. At first, I put myself on a strict schedule to get properly spring-cleaned by the time Mum comes. Then, as I worked on that schedule, and worked in our 'plus-Grandma' sleeping arrangements, and the 'Amy-is-a-teen-who-wants-a-room' factor in as well, plus my general annoyance that we have just too much STUFF...

I realized I just have to start fresh. I've been good up to now at making do with what we have, and doing needs-based solutions, you know, Kanji leaves his keys HERE so I place a basket there to catch the keys. Or have a pile of t-shirts, buy a t-shirt-size drawer plastic dresser to put them in. More books? Get another bookcase.

But what I have in mind this time, is to think of the house structure first, think about the best way to maximize the storage in each element, then fit what we have into that - or chuck it.

LOADS of ideas....