Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stooodenty thangs.

One of my kids, Kento, is about 2 and a half years old. A couple of times, briefly, over the last few lessons we've touched on 'yes' and 'no' as more than just passive language - ie I've been making him use them, rather than just listening to me or just repeating.

Anyway, I've been teaching Kento for about six months now and he's pretty much always listened to me and done what he's told, and never refused to do anything. Great kid!

However - after doing a bit of 'yes' and 'no' stuff with him yesterday, we moved onto a quick bit of 'touch your head', 'stand up', bla bla bla. (The aim being for him to do what he was told, rather than talk.). But talk about shooting yourself in the foot:

me: touch your head
kento: no
me: stand up
kento: no
me: clap your hands
kento: no

By this point, Kento's mother and I were trying so hard to not laugh that I just gave up and we threw a ball around. What have I done????! WHY did I teach him 'no'!


I've decided to nickname two of my adult students the 'uhmm errr sisters', because they will sit there, when asked a question alternating noises between them - the younger sister uhmm'ing and the older sister sister errrr'ing. But they take turns. Most bizarre.


I need to lose quite a bit of weight but, unfortunately, I love food. One of my students today told me about the chocolate diet. Apparantly if you eat chocolate before every meal you'll lose weight.

Sounded very good to me. Then I found out it has to be just 20 to 30g of at least 70% cocoa chocolate each day, and you can't use milk chocolate or chocolate ice cream as a substitute.

What a shame!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Life? What Life?

Right now, I have no life. TESOL has taken over my life. On top of a five-day working week and a whole day of TESOL each week, there's the homework, the assignments, the reading, the peer observations, the preparation of materials for a private student, the tiredness......

Only four months to go!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Sleep in the Life of Jo (aka: Last night I had the strangest dream)

I rarely remember my dreams but those I DO remember tend to be bizarre or epic. Really. In the past I've dreamt would could equate to movie scripts in one setting.

Last night I had the first dream in a long time that I remembered. Some of the bits are easy for me to figure out where they came from but the other bits... no idea. Anyway, this is what I dreamed last night:

Firstly -
the time: sometime before 12pm.
the cast: me and the last ex-boyfriend from the UK
the place: who knows!

So, B., the ex-boyfriend turns up from somewhere to talk to me and take me somewhere mysterious. B has, in the dream, very long unkempt hair and looks like he's on the run or just escaped from somewhere or is trying desperately to look trendy - or something. B owns a freight train.

We had to go somewhere on this train to see whatever he wanted me to see. It was a long, and not very luxurious or comfortable trip, but we were the only people on the train.

I was a little concerned about how long this would all take as I'd made arrangements to meet someone at 12pm and didn't want to be late. [stop laughing]. He said it wouldn't take long and I'd love it.

The train took us to a vast scrap metal / junk yard with giant helicopter rotors made from metal scaffolding like they'd been created from an oversized scalectrix set. I didn't recognise them as rotors until he told me that's what they were. He was right. They WERE amazing and I said I wanted to go back and take pictures of them and that I'd even take my good camera and maybe they'd look fantastic as black and whites.

We left and drove back through the scrap yard in a jeep. We had to avoid lots of low swinging cranes as we darted through.

I noticed I was going to be late to meet my friend but I only had a watch on (funny as I've not worn a watch in more than ten years) and NO mobile phone so I couldn't contact here and I was already five minutes late.

He said it didn't matter and stopped to buy a sticky cake and syrup from a food stall that had mysteriously sprung up in the middle of the site, in front of a big glass entrance, which had also sprung up.

He then said that he had to be at someone's house for 10.10pm that night and absolutely could not be late as it was a very important dinner where he had to be a representative for someone else and tell the people at the dinner some very important stories to further their religious education.

We got back on the freight train, which had lots of backpackers sitting around and returned to wherever we'd come from.

[I didn't remember any more, but I think that was it. And guess what? In scribbling down the notes so I wouldn't forget the dream, I ended up being late to meet my friend!]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Obon Break

Breaks here are always well-needed. In the April break, I decided to have a quiet holiday: it didn't pan out like that and I ended up doing things almost every day and evening. In the June break I, again, decided to take it easy. And again it didn't quite work out that way. This time though I was really determined to take it easy. Especially with all the six-day weeks I have now.

So far I've had:

* one day of TESOL
* three days at home reading lots, studying, cleaning
* one day of a Thai lunch, seeing 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and drinking
* one day of lunch at a friends' house, followed by yakitori and karaoke
* one day of feeling ill and not doing a great deal
* one day to come - of lunch at a friends' house
* one day to come - of TESOL again
and then back to work. Nice! Except I'm very pre-periody right now. Grrrrr!
Oh and I'm catching up on my overdue emails so, if I owe you one, you may be getting it soon!
And on Sunday I drank LOTS of Pimms. For the first time in two years. Good, huh?!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Woh Nellie!

Japanese fruit is expensive. Very expensive. In fact, many of the things I'd buy in England without giving a second thought to the price, such as peaches or strawberries, tend to be out of my price range here in Japan. I see it as a treat if I buy myself an apple AND a kiwi fruit, in the same week, for example.

Melons, unless chopped up and put into a little packet, are definitely way out of my price range. Big time. I mean, really! For example, it's quite common to see them from 2,000 to 5,000 yen or higher (that's about £9 to £22 or US$17 to US$43).

Anyway, I'd heard about the new breed of Hokkaido watermelon, famous for it's, er, square shape, but I'd never actually seen one and wondered if it was a joke or a myth.

For your delight, I bring you a photo of a square watermelon that I saw today in Shinjuku. It comes complete with a pretty pink bow. Actually, I'd expect it to be put in a gold box as well for the price they are asking....

This piece of fruit costs 20,000 yen. (that's £90 or US$172). I would expect it to taste pretty amazing for that much dosh. Although I imagine it tastes no different from any other watermelon.

Ah, apparantly, you can get square watermelons for a mere 10,000 yen. This one wasn't though. It seems (good old Google!) that the point is to make them easier to store in the fridge or something and they are made by farmers forcing them into square boxes when they are still growing. The watermelons then take on the shape of the box. I think it's a bit freaky, but whatever. Mind you... if ALL fruit were square it would stop it from rolling out of the fruit bowl, wouldn't it? Maybe square chickens should be developed next.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Truly Horrible

A really horrible thing happened to me: I had no internet access for almost TWO whole days. I felt the withdrawal symptoms coming on. But all is, once again, well.

I survived my thirteen day stint without dropping dead. Somehow. And really enjoyed having yesterday off to lounge around and start catching up on things. Today was a normal work day but now I've no more work until the 18th. Good, huh?

Quick noise update: the builders have finally finished. These are the ones who've woken me up almost every day since the beginning of April. The neighbours have also pretty much shut up too.

Ditz alert: When I bought my bike, I got a pukey green colour thinking it'd be much easier to find it looking like that than if it were grey like the majority of people seem to have. Over the months it's got a little bit battered in places, due to being knocked over by people and the wind. I use the dents on my rear mudguard as a quick bike identification, as I discovered a while back that other people DO have the same colour bike as me.

Anyway, yesterday I parked her up outside Starbucks and went in to meet someone. Afterwards I came back out to cycle home, walked up to my bike and saw someone had put a combination padlock on MY bike. (Bikes are self-locking in Japan). Anyway, I looked around to see if locks had been put on any other bikes - police? pranksters? but no. Mine was the only one. I got my key out and went to put it into the bike lock. I thought I'd do that and then see if I got figure out the code. BUT, the bike's lock was GONE.

I had a sudden moment of inspiration: although this bike was the same colour as mine, and parked in the same area as mine, and had a dent in the rear mudguard in the same place as mine... perhaps it WASN'T mine.

Guess what?

Mine was 15 metres away. *sigh*.

An indication that perhaps I've been in Tokyo too long: the other day I was in a store looking at watches. Now, I've not worn a watch for about ten years or so. There was a range of really cute, pretty watches that I was contemplating....

and yes! You guessed it. I was SERIOUSLY considering buying a Hello Kitty watch.

Well, they WERE very nice!!!

And I'm currently working my way through 'Prison Break'. It's okay. It isn't gripping me as much as 24, Lost, Desperate Housewives, etc.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day TEN of THIRTEEN and fading fast

It's been TEN days since I last had a day off and I have THREE more to go. I'm knackered. I'm tetchy. My patience is running very thin and my caffeine levels are running very high.

In the midst of doing my course I was given an extra days work and my whole schedule this week has been pretty heavy and demanding. On top of all this I have ANOTHER special needs student. Aren't I lucky?

On the plus side though, in six days it's Obon holiday, which means nine days of holiday - although the first and last of those I'll be doing the course.

My students wear me out sometimes. As a teacher it's my job to be as lively and enthusiastic as I can muster. Can you imagine how hard this is when, upon asking students this week what they've been up to since the last lesson, the responses included (and you couldn't make this up):

  • My hairdryer broke and I had to buy a new one
  • My bag broke
  • I telephoned my friend
  • My dog hurt it's foot

On another note: let's talk holidays. Not mine. Mine are great. But the holidays the Japanese get. So many of my students have recently told me they don't actually take their holiday allowance.

For some this is because they company doesn't actually allow them to as they're too busy. And I've had this from several students.

Another student told me she's taking leave BUT she'll be popping into the office every couple of days to work so there's not so much flooding over when she returns. And the stories just continue with a few variations of these.

Students don't fare much better. Some of the younger ones, whose parents are working, are being thrown into school all day every day over the holidays.

Of the older ones, I have one young teen, a very bright, sparky kid who I love teaching, who is spending at least two hours at juku (cram school) every day of the holidays. For six days each week! And I'm not even sure what she's being taught because the English she gets at juku baffles her - and takes me about 5 minutes to get her to understand.

Other students, who DO get to travel abroad, and don't go to some Japaneefied country like Hawaii or Guam or Saipan often seem terrified at doing so. One of my advanced students is currently in New York for five days. Of which I am insanely jealous as I adore New York. She's going to eat Japanese food for every meal. She's travelled before. She's just scared shitless to try anything new.

This country is truly nuts.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The weather must be about to get much hotter

This 'little' fellow on the right is, if you don't know, a cicada. Today, for the first time this year, I heard their cacophony. I'd kind of missed it because, as much as I disliked them last year (they scared me) their noise will always be one I'll associate with summer in Tokyo.

If you've never heard their racket imagine a loud hissing buzzing vibratory sound all around you occasionally intersperced with what sounds like a shrill scream. It's quite something.

Generally you can't see them as they're hiding in trees, bushes, grassy areas. Occasionally you do see them though. They fly quickly and are pretty frightening.

Maybe this means though that the erratic weather is going to stop being so erratic and the heat is going to soar shortly.

We'll see....!

It's August 1st...

It must be my favourite Finnish poster, Liisa's birthday!

Happy Birthday sweetie! Have a great one and lets get drunk soon in belatedness of it!