Jul 23, 2012

Just Lucky I Guess

I guess the weather took my misery to heart and cooled off considerably this weekend.  It was absolutely lovely, I actually got chilly during the night and had to use a blanket!  And when Roomie and I went to the festival on Sunday, it was perfect temperature-wise, and cloudy but no rain.  I wish it would be like that all summer.  It is cloudy still today but it's definitely getting warmer again.  Have the fan on my right now.
Now some pics from the weekend.  We were watching the mikoshi parade (same one as last year), and I was wondering if the same group that let me join them last year would be there again.  I was looking for their yellow sign, but they had a blue one this year which I didn't see, until all of a sudden the guy leading the mikoshi was running over to Roomie and I, grabbing our wrists, and telling us to "Come on, come on!" before throwing us into the middle of their mikoshi-carrying group.  A few of the people recognized me from last year, and one guy even remembered my name!

Jul 16, 2012

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season- when the giant roaches emerge, the mosquitoes flock to feast upon my blood, my armpits stink, and I'm constantly wiping up underboob sweat and picking sweaty wedgies.  Oh, summer how I loathe thee.
A sane person would stay inside with the A/C on if they're lucky enough to have it, or in my case in front of the fan.  But I was invited by my boss to join in the mikoshi-carrying festivities that happened yesterday, so I layered up in the traditional clothes I was lent and gifted with and shouldered a huge, heavy portable Shinto shrine for the good part of four hours yesterday.  Sweatiness and bruised shoulders aside, it was a fun experience.  You may remember my post from last year, where by chance I was summoned from the sidelines of the mikoshi parade to join in the carrying.  That was fun, but it was even better to actually be a real part of it this year.
Video to follow soon, maybe.  :)

Jul 9, 2012

Pics From the Weekend

Went to see the Tokyo SkyTree this weekend. There was lots to see, and TONS to eat.

Jul 7, 2012

Doctor's Visits and Star Festivals

Spent another enjoyable Saturday morning/afternoon at the women's clinic today, to get the results of my uterine cancer/health check from last month.  I went in shortly after 11am, thinking I'd be in and out rather quickly since I was just there to get the results from the check.  Nope.  Had to sit for an hour and a half before I was called in to see the doctor.  He showed me the paper with my results, told me I had no uterine cancer (yay!) and that all of my blood counts, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. was all normal.  Though there was a little asterisk next to my BMI and he told me I was "ちょっとやせています" (a little skinny), but that otherwise everything else was fine.  Took all of 1 minute, then went out to wait again for about 10 minutes before they called me up to the counter to hand me the same exact documents the doctor just went over with me, and tell me there was no charge for today and that was it.  Woo.

Today is 七夕 (tanabata, Star Festival).  I'll let Wikipedia tell you about it in more detail, but normally one would write their wish on a piece of paper and hang it on bamboo.  However, it's been rainy all day and it's said that your wish won't come true if it's cloudy/rainy, so I didn't make a wish this year.  Tanabata was the first festival I got to experience when I came to Japan for my homestay 8 years ago, so I am quite fond of it.  Though I didn't make a wish, I did make some of the traditional origami to hang on the bamboo sprig I got from my boss.  :)  I don't have a picture, but here's a website where you can learn to make some origami of your own: Star Festival Origami

Now, just thought I'd upload a slideshow of some pics I never got around to putting up here, from the Thai Festival that Roomie and I went to last month.

Now just some other recent pictures:

Roomie and I met up with C-chan at a cool cafe!

Roomie and I made pancakes at home!  In high school my friends and I would always put food coloring in our pancakes, so for old time's sake I wanted to do it again.  The powdered food dye is a lot stronger than the liquid stuff so the colors came out really amazing.  I don't recommend using the blue though, unless you want hunter-green poo for two days.  That was weird..

Jul 4, 2012

Happy 4th! And a Bit of Shit

Happy 4th of July! From a cute little kitty.

And for the fun of it, cakes with some very special rockets.

Didn't do anything celebratory today.  There was a summer festival at my local shrine today (coincidentally... obviously they don't celebrate Independence Day here so it was just a random summer fest), but was too tired after work to check it out.  Today being a Wednesday I was at my second job all day.  Mondays I'm at the daycare from 11am-8 or 9pm; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I do classes with the 2- to 3-year-olds at my second job until 12:30, then go to the daycare from 3pm; and Wednesdays I do the toddler thing til 12:30, then do evening lessons at the school's offices from 4:20 to 6:30.  A huge break in between which is pretty stupid, but I've been making use of it by bringing my laptop and JLPT study book, and studying and eating lunch at cafes in the area or going up to the rooftop park atop the Sogo shopping center.  

Still, I'd rather go straight from the toddlers classes to doing my 2+ hours (one 50-minute class and two 40-minute) of teaching the elementary schoolers then be done with it earlier.  And to be honest I'm really not a fan of doing those classes.  They're scheduled literally back-to-back, and I have to make sure to finish the first class one minute early so I can dash to the next class.  My first class is fine, a private student.  He's a good kid, but he's young and gets bored and doesn't like studying for too long.  I don't blame him and try to make things fun and let him goof off/take multiple trips to the bathroom if he wants.

Second class though, there are six kids, about 9 and 10 years old.  Two boys, four girls.  The girls are the most timid, soft-spoken things ever and I have the hardest time hearing their responses to anything I ask them, and the two boys are rambunctious little shits- flinging things across the room, flailing around in their chairs, making snide remarks...  Last week- my first time with them- left me quite frazzled.  I knew what to expect this time though, and came prepared.  I ran by the 100 yen shop before heading in to do the classes and bought a pack of little foam balls.  I came up with a game where I had the action words they were supposed to be learning lined up on the board- the one holding the ball would ask "What is he/she doing?", and the other would reply "He/she is ________ing."  Then the one with the ball would have to throw it and hit the appropriate action. There were only 2 of them in the class today, since the others were taking a test in another room, so it was just one Little Shit and one Quiet Girl, and they both seemed to quite enjoy that one.  At the end of the class when the other kids were coming back from their tests for the second half of their lesson with another teacher I heard LS 1 telling LS 2 "Today was fun, we played this game and blah blah blah...", so that made me feel accomplished.  Even if they are terrible I feel bad for them for being there even if they don't like it.  I feel like, for kids their age at least, once school is out they should go home, finish their homework, then go and be a kid.  But it's not that way here, so if I can get them to laugh or crack a smile, while speaking at least a couple English phrases, I feel like I've done my part.

While those classes aren't very enjoyable for me, the private lessons I do for the older kids/adults in the evenings at the daycare are a lot better, and I actually enjoy a few of my students there.  The youngest ones I have there are 1st year in junior high, so 11 or 12 I think.  Either they like learning English, or they're just a lot better behaved.  I do enjoy them though, they're good kids.
But, in the end, I've discovered I'm really just not meant to be a teacher.  I'm a good bull-shitter though, and I speak English obviously, which I think are the only two qualifications for teaching English here.  Anyway, I just hope I can eventually move on to something different.

I realize there was a lot of negativity in this post about the way things are here.  As a whole, I do enjoy living and working here, but not everything is all sunshine and unicorns.  I just had to rant about the little piles of unicorn poo that are lying around.  ;)

Jul 3, 2012

Two Jobs and Tall Noses

Well, i haven't posted anything substantial for a while.  Most of my days just consist of work- not that it's a bad thing because hey, i have a job (two now, actually!)- but it's just not anything really blog-worthy.  I always think about all the things i could write about my kids though, but i could probably write a whole entry about each one of them!  Which, i think i might when i get around to it.
But about the two-job thing.. my boss was having difficulties with being able to get my visa renewed for some technicality or another (it's a small business/new business/daycare-hiring-an-English-teacher?  I don't know... in short, Immigration here is stupid.  Not as stupid as it is in the US but still..).  SO.  I got right online to find something on Gaijinpot.  Low and behold the night i checked the site the company one of my former housemates used to work at a few stations away had just posted a listing.  I sent them my resume and heard back from them by the end of the week to set up an interview.  Last week was my first week with them.  The pay is good, i get paid holidays, visa support, etc... The contract is only until March too, which is fine.  Working two jobs 9am-9pm five days a week is not something i think i can keep up for too long.  I don't know how the salary men here can do it.  I've talked to people who often work 14 or more hours a day...  That's insane.
But anyway, it's fine for now.  My time at University was even more insane than this, so i know i can do it.  I have another game plan for the future which i'm quite excited for and the money from this is just what i need. :)

Aside from that nothing else really.  My weekends keep me sane.  Sometimes i do fun things, sometimes just poop around and relax.  Roomie is back in the States now for a friend's wedding so it's just me.  Last weekend i entertained myself by going around Tokyo (Ueno, Harajuku, Shin-Okubo) to look for birthday gifts and check another DonQuijote for a little travel suitcase i've been wanting.  All the ones in my area were out of the design i wanted, and everywhere else i look didn't have very cute suitcases and they were all very expensive.
By chance, after my day out in Tokyo i stopped by the Donki at my station to look at their sunglasses since mine broke, and much to my joy they had it back in stock!  I've been checking DonQuijotes for probably 3 months now, lol.  My persistence finally paid off.

I just had to have the purple-and-black-checked one

Had quite an interesting encounter at the Donki that night too.  If you read my Facebook posts you've already heard about this (translated):
‎(Today, at the DonQuijote)
Good-Looking Guy: What nationality are you?
Me: American
GLG: American? You're good at Japanese.
Me: Oh, no not really... (Can you tell from just one word??)
GLG: Your nose is tall/high!
Me: .... yeah, so I'm told.
(GLG's friend appears)
GLG: Well, thanks! (To his friend) She said she's American!

I was left just kind of baffled.  Oddly enough i've had strikingly similar conversations before, either having my Japanese complimented after having said something as stupid as 'thank you' or 'one peach and whip cream crepe please'.  And the "tall nose" thing too.  Curse my tall-nosedness.  I am told it is a good thing.  Still, it's funny the kinds of things they notice.  Before coming here i never thought about the height of one's nose.  (If you don't know what that's about, just look at the pictures of an Asian side profile and a Caucasian one.  You should be able to tell).

Enough rambling for now, i'm off to bed.  Might get around to uploading some recent pictures sometime soon.

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