Monday, May 12, 2008

Murphy's Law

Today, my day followed Murphy's Law...

It actually began last Friday night, after a night out with friends. I was sound asleep when I woke dead up to remember that I had accidentally scheduled a Japanese lesson with my NEW Japanese teacher on the same day and time that I had scheduled a make-up tutoring session on Monday (today). Since neither are part of my regularly scheduled weekly routine, I hadn't realized the prior arrangement when I scheduled the Japanese lesson earlier that day.

In a panic (and in the middle of the night) I realized that I would not be able to cancel on Japanese for two reasons: 1) Because it's Japan, and you just don't do that, and 2) I don't have the vocabulary for it. So, I decided to just cancel my tutoring session for this week. Except that I didn't actually e-mail my student's father until just this morning. He is very flexible, and didn't mind the cancellation. I told him that I would tell Mikaela to get on the bus instead of staying after school, and to expect her at the bus stop at the usual after-school time.

Arriving at school feeling like I had accomplished quite a few e-mails before even beginning my day, my principal dropped in to remind me of my 4pm meeting with him in the afternoon. Realizing that I had not only double-, but triple-booked myself for that afternoon, I bowed and apologized (and swore at myself) profusely, and caneclled yet another meeting, as I realized again, that I would not be able to cancel on (my apparently troubling) Japanese lesson (see above reasons).

Before school started, my Japanese teaching assistant, Mrs. Adachi, walked in to let me know that some tickets I had purchased for an out-of-town trip I am taking next week (and taking two more unpaid days for) were actually to the wrong station. The cancellation fee, plus handling fee are going to cost me about $40, not to mention that my ACTUAL destination costs twice as much to go to. I am supposed to leave on Sunday, and am still awaiting tickets to my desired destination.

Mid-morning, the HS Softball coach came to talk to me about this weekend's upcoming MS softball tournament in Osaka, which, I am of course responsible for taking 15 girls to. It had not been mentioned to me, in a previous meeting, that I would have to miss a day of school for this, which, of course, requires finding a sub, planning plans, and making advance preparations. All of this on three days notice. Which, coupled with my two days off next week (see 'out-of-town trip' above), means I now have three sub days in a row to plan for. What also wasn't mentioned? That the tournament in Osaka would not only take me out of school on Friday, but would eat my entire Saturday, leaving me NO time to be at school to plan the last two of these sub days.

Then, at the post office, I had to wait THIRTY minutes (thus wasting a good hour of my lunch time) to pay two bills. I suppose because they were not busy and I am American. It just doesn't work in my favor most of the time. They had to make 37 phone calls to verify my existence, and were reluctant to even let me go after it all. I just wanted to scream 'Just take my money, bitches!'. But of course, I haven't learned THOSE words in Japanese either.

Discipline problems during school, coupled with having one hour to find all of my softball girls to hand out permission slips (while tutoring a student at the same time) made my afternoon a busy one. By about 3:45, though, I was breathing a little easier, and packing up to be at my (troublesome) Japanese lesson at half-four.

I thought all might be well...

Then I looked down and noticed my little Mikaela's stuff still sitting at her table. Immediately, my life turned into a slow-motion movie. I looked up to see her playing outside with her friends, and slowly reached my hand up to slap my forehead (while at the same time silently yelling 'No..o..oo.oo'- seriously, like a slow motion movie).

I had COMPLETELY forgotten to tell her to get on the bus.

(post script - all was well that ended well. mikaela's dad was contacted, and a neighbor, still at school, offered to take her home. i reached my japanese lesson right on time, and am currently STILL apologizing to mikaela's dad for my blunder...)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Huey Lewis and the News*

*where 'the News' = Wendy Foreman

Long awaited, the picture finally arrived. I wonder, though, does Huey choose to make his face look like this in all pictures? Like a joke or something?

Oh, and Gary - the head(s) behind him? Chicago...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Worth posting...

Don't ask questions. Just watch it.

We Are The World

(Mad, mad, mad props to my friendy Jen for forwarding this to me...)

Look how cute my students are!

A week or so ago, the students of 2nd grade culminated a unit on Japan by trying their hands at various things about Japanese culture. My teaching assistant, Shuuko, took these pictures of the little kiddos (and one big kiddo) making origami, practicing calligraphy (with real calligraphy brushes and ink, and yes, I did draw that all by myself), and participating in a traditional tea ceremony (with super bowing and all).

So much fun. So much cuteness!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Background information for this article:

In Japan, there is a monthly magazine, printed nationwide, called 'Japanzine'. Inside are trendy ads, local restaurants, music scenes, and fun articles, all geared towards foreigners.

By FAR, the best part of the magazine each month is the small Q&A section penned by a Japanese man named Kazuhide (Kah-zoo-high-dee). Now, how much of a farce it is, I'll never REALLY know, but the premise is for foreigners to write in with semi-dumb/offensive questions, to which Kazuhide, in an equally offensive and vulgar way, will politely answer, in really bad Japanese ('reary' bad).

The answers are usually mostly-offensive towards Americans, and are ALWAYS laugh-out-loud funny. If you take it with a grain of salt, that is.

Two questions/answers in last month's 'Ask Kazuhide' feature article got HUGE laughs in the staff room, and are worth copying down for your enjoyment (particularly funny - the second one). But, if you are going to read further, please be prepared to be offended, as we are, when reading it, each month (i.e. Becky, this is not for Lauren's eyes!). Just to be safe, though in four places, I have replaced, or added clarification/censorship, using the following marks: []...

'Ask Kazuhide' (Japanzine, April 2008)

Hello Kazu!
Why are some Japanese people reverse-racist to foreigners. I went to a public swimming pool with my Japanese friend, only to be denied entry because I am a foreigner, or I don't look Japanese.
- Beached Swimmer

Dear Swimnner,
Idiot! That is regular racism, not reverse. This low brain ability is dangerous for swimming so we protect you and protect Japan from HIV.


Yo Kazuhide,
I have a question? Why are Japanese guys so hung up (pun totally intended) by the size of their lower parts? I love Japanese guys. After a few beers and dodgy Japlish conversation at an izakaya, I am usually in the mood to feel the motion of their ocean, so to speak.
Which is when they ruin my mood (and their chances of getting laid) by telling me, quite empithatically, that they have really small things. What's the deal? Don't they realize that I'd much rather find out (and judge) for myself than have them tell me. You seem to be an expert on Gaijin [foreigners]-Nihonjin [Japanese] relations! Help a mystified girl out!
- Mystified

Dear Mystified,
Japan is indirect and porite country. Basicarry they say [insert most direct name for male anatomy] is small not to offend. Truth is they fear your large [insert equally offensive term for female anatomy].


Ask Kazuhide online forum

The Best of Kazuhide

Monday, May 05, 2008


When you are teaching (or working at school on a quiet day off), it is seriously frightening to hear Japanese fighter planes go overhead. Now, I don't think they're slim, quick fighter jets, like you'd imagine in America. I think they must be enormous, for the noise they make is like an exploding tornado in the sky.

I fear for my immanent death each time one passes above

'Oh my God, they've found me, I'm a goner!' These thoughts continually fill my head, and I just know, one of these days, they're going to come after me for previous comments on this blog (which, no doubt with my luck, is probably run by the Japanese CIA).

This is probably, seriously, what it looks like, as it descends towards the horizon.

Or, at least, this is how I imagine it...

What A Weekend!


My four-day, Golden Week holiday weekend could not have been more packed. Although the events were numerous, three highlights are worth noting.

1. My new friends: Patrick and Kirsty.

I met Kirsty randomly through a friend* on Facebook (* = a guy I've never even met). We decided to meet for a quick coffee at a local tourist hangout/shopping plaza. We ended up spending the whole day together shopping, eating pizza, and drinking beer and bubble tea with Patrick. Patrick is a new student teacher at our school.

The following night, our (me and Patrick's) brand-new bf invited us to her house for crepes. Yums.

Pretty much, all three of us get along famously.


2. My first traffic violation.

Today, a rainy Monday, I went through a (just-turned) red light, on account that stopping, at my speed, would have been more dangerous. Unfortunately, I went through the light right next to the (fifth ones I've ever seen in this country) cops. They pulled me over real fast like, and ticketed me. I tried to explain myself, but of course, it did me no good (I might as well have been speaking Martian). But, I pulled two over on them... For starters, I'm supposed to drive around with these little magnet dealies that show that I am a new driver, which I REFUSE to have on my car. So, had they turned over my license to see the classification, my fine would have been doubled (dummies!). Then, (after calling the one cop who speaks English), it was translated to me that if I get no more violations for the next three months, the points I lost today will be re-added to my license. Stupid Japanese didn't know that for two of those three months, I'll be out of the country.



3. My latest grocery bill: 3,987 yen (about $40)

I bought:

2 small cans of corn
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 small box of quick oats
1 small bunch of fresh flowers
3 oranges
3 bananas
6 ounces of blueberries
1 package of english muffins
a 4-pack of canned tuna
2 tubs of margarine
2 packages of rice dessert

I kinda wish, when I lived in New Zealand, that someone would have said to me: 'You think living here is expensive? Try Japan.'


For the most part, I think three- and four-day weekends should be a part of the regular work week...