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!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Three Years!

September 28th 2004 I was in my room in West Kensington, London - which is DEFINITELY not as nice as it sounds, in case you were wondering. And I was panicking. I was due to fly to Tokyo for my new job and, as hard as I had tried to be organised, I just hadn't been and I had a 1,001 things to do before my 4pm deadline when a taxi was coming to whisk me away to start my new life.

My memory of the stress is still very strong - but it was my own fault. Pay me to organise you and I'm bloody good at it. Expect me to organise myself and, well, forget it really. It just won't happen.

I remember having things all over my room until the last minute though...

And funnily enough, it's pretty similar now. I'm in the midst of a massive clear out and sort out blitz, which means I have piles of things to sort. But I'm getting there, and I have no 4pm deadline this time.

Three years ago I was about to embark on a career change, a new job, a new life. I was only coming to Japan for one or two years. Now, I'm about to start my fourth year here, and it seems just right that my new job is starting at this time. Next Friday in fact. This is going to be my chance to, hopefully, show what I can really do.

And it's all a lifetime away from my bedroom in West Kensington and the daily stress of the BBC.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So - new things.

I WILL still be working for the same company. Kind of. I WILL still be in Japan and living in the same place but I've been given an awesome opportunity at the perfect time -

- just when I was getting bored of classes of mainly 1 or 2 students
- just when I was getting fed up of doing the same kind of classes all the time
- just when I was getting frustrated by the predictability of my students and their responses
- just when I was thinking about the next move and how my experience here would limit me
- just when I was thinking of applying to jobs in the Middle East (impeccable timing with the current situation)
- just when lots of other things.....

My company (who has small language schools) is part of another company (who amongst other things sends teachers to kindergartens, high schools, businesses, etc to teach) and that company called me up, out of the blue, last Thursday to tell me about an amazing opportunity. And HOW perfect is the timing?

To cut a long story a short, I'll be working Tuesdays to Fridays in a Junior College (18 to 20 year olds) teaching a lot of IELTS (exam course) and culture classes. The groups will be of 15 to 25 students. This is SUCH an awesome opportunity to be given. It's going to be a complete teaching change and will be SO good for future applications, increasing my teaching experience and know-how, etc.

The dauntedness (dauntingness?) of it has faded a tad and I'm mainly just really excited by this new challenge and SO happy I was offered it.

I start it in under two weeks (things CAN apparently be made to move quickly in my company!) and will still be at my current Saturday school (which I'm really happy about as it's probably my favourite school at the moment).

The contract is initially for 4.5 months, after which I may continue or I may be taken back into a contract like the one I have now for the schools.

Good, huh?! I'm thrilled!

The only downside is that my Cambodia / Lao trip will have to be shortened by about 5 days, which I'm a little disappointed by, but it's not such a big deal in the scope of the new job.

Now, as for the college - I've been given their 'rules' booklet. It includes such gems as -

- students should be told to clean the classroom if you see any dirt or mess
- the summer temperature of the classroom WILL be 21 degrees and the winter temperature 26 degrees.
- students will not use your first name
- students will stand and say hello when you walk into the classroom (although it doesn't have to be in chorus, apparently). They will also bow to you. Japanese teachers should bow back. Foreign teachers don't have to do so.

Mah. I can't remember any more of the amusing ones at the moment. But it's all good!

Oh, and it involves a bit of a pay increase too :D

The timing really is perfect and just goes to show: something I'm not going into publicly happened that made me take stock of things, and nurture and find positive elements in my life whilst realising I really didn't need the negative ones. Just goes to show what positive energy can achieve. I feel that way about it anyhow.

P.S. Reception rooms are NOT DESIGNED TO BE TURNED INTO PADDLING POOLS. I just had a little accident. I have an old-fashioned washing machine that you fill by turning on a tap and letting water run from the wall into the top of the washing machine via a rubber tube.

Well, I just put it on full- blast and came back into the bedroom, water running onto washing to rinse it (high technology in MY apartment). Suddenly heard a loud, strange noise. Rushed into reception room to see that rubber tube had detached itself from machine and was busy turning my reception room into a sodding paddling pool. Luckily I have a crappy over carpet over my crappy under carpet, and that took the brunt. Unfortunately it also means I now have no clean dry towels. I guess it's the old holiday trick of drying off after the shower with a sarong.

And of course, I've done laundry today so there IS no more room to hang things out on the balcony. Oh the silliness of it all!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ain't Life Funny?

I got my bike back - finally.

Okay, that's that out of the way.

Now for the news: I have a new job......

But more of that later.

Friday, September 14, 2007

If you poke yourself in the eye with a stick, it hurts.

Lesson One

Wednesday. Marker pen in one hand. Lid on. Mug of coffee in other hand. Full. Aim - to suggest to a teacher how he could explain something to a student.

Me: 'I am SO gonna spill this coffee.'
Neil: 'Yes'.
Me (with coffee all down my shirt and over the carpet, after attempting to take lid off marker pen): 'Fuck'.
Neil: [.............]

How blonde AM I?

Lesson 2

Don't mock the system. See the blog entry below this one? The one where I take the piss out of the bike men? Well, guess what happened today? The fuckers took my bike away. That's 3000 yen but hey, I still win as I've gotten free parking the rest of the time I've been here (apart from one other time when they took it away and a few - very few - times I've paid).

Lesson 3

If you climb a mountain. Even a little one, you ARE gonna hurt the next day. Probably. If you're as unfit as I am, then you're gonna hurt a few hours after finishing it. Feet, legs, back, shoulders, butt. Fucking OUCH! BUT, it was worth it.

Jen, my Swedish friend, and I decided to climb Mount Takao today. Being a Friday I figured it would be a bit quieter, and it was. After a couple of weeks of on-off heavy rain, today's weather was beautiful and, as there'd been no rain yesterday, the ground was pretty firm and dry.

We got the cable car up to half way. The going was steep but I got very excited anyway - because I do get excited at silly things like that (I'm SO easily pleased) and the view up and down was pretty cool.

The walk to the top was cool. It wasn't too steep, it was pretty easy going and there were shrines and bits to look at on the way. There weren't heaps of people so it was peaceful and pretty and the cicadas were in full song.

We got to the top and chilled out for a bit and then took a longer more exciting path all the way down to the bottom. There was a steep drop from much of the path, sometimes on both sides, but the tree-lined walk was so beautiful and relaxing and the weather was perfect for it. There were a lot of steps in places and some bits would have been hellish had the ground been wet - but we were really lucky.

We popped to Hachioji to find some food and wine and by the time we'd left the restaurant the aches and pains had started setting in.

I'm now at home and since I've got back the AGONY has set in. I've taken two aspirin and almost finished a bottle of wine. I'm hoping I'll stop noticing the pain soon.

BUT, the day was awesome and we had a great time and it was totally worth it.

Just hope I can move tomorrow.

Fuji-san is far off the cards but Mitakesan isn't. That's the next challenge :D

(Photos will be uploaded when I'm able to move enough to figure out where the cable is!)

Lesson 4

When you HAVE a bad memory, and you know you have a bad memory, and especially when memory for places is concerned, then don't try to rely on said memory.

I woke up this morning feeling okay. The bottle of white wine I'd had to blot out the fact my limbs were aching, hadn't given my a hangover and I wasn't aching.

So, I set off on a mission to find my bike. My bike's been taken away once before and a local friend helped me to find the place they take confiscated bikes to that time. I thought I could remember where it was. Suffice it to say it's a HOT day today and after more than two hours of fruitlessly wandering to the area where it was, and wandering up and down countless streets, I was unable to find it.

Now, I'm bright red and have a headache from the sun and I'm aching from the extra walking after yesterday.

Serves me right I guess. I should have taken a photo of the map that says where to go to retrieve it. Oh well. I'm currently sulking and hope I'm able to stand up again to go out tonight!

More lessons from the School of Blonde:

Lesson 5

Just because it's mid-September that doesn't mean the sun can't burn you. If the idea of lathering yourself with protection and a t-shirt hits you before you go for a long walk, then ignoring that idea is rather silly. This is especially so when you are wearing a vest top, a bag slung diagonally across your chest and a large necklace. No prizes for guessing where is red and where is glaringly white. I have photos, but they're not particularly good. I'll put them up when I get around to it.

Lesson 5.1

Taking too many photos at close range, with a flash, WILL hurt your eyes and make you see splodges.

Lesson 6

If garlic normally makes your stomach hurt somewhat then avoiding it is a good idea. The next thing you try, that you know contains a lot of garlic, is just as likely to make you feel bloaty and windy and in pain, as the last times...

Lesson 7

Leaning towards a glass of water to reach something past it often results in said glass of water being knocked over. To avoid such a problem occurring (yet again) simply DON'T DO IT. (Carpet is soaked AGAIN).

Lesson 8

If it's hot, ice cream melts. Think about this before buying an icecream on a stick.

Lesson 9

Opening times and days. It's a good idea to check these out before going all the way, again, to find get your bike back. As it happens, even if I had found it yesterday, it wouldn't have been open. It's shut on Saturdays and only open Monday to Friday 10 to 6 and every 2nd and 4th Sunday. Daft, eh?

Oh well, at least I know where it is. And it's another scorcher of a day today :D

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Japan: Interesting Place

Typhoon number nine hit a few days ago. To Brits, that means a storm, basically. I've been told there's a difference between a storm and a typhoon, but heavy rain and strong wind = heavy rain and strong wind, by any other name. Still, it meant basically that things have been wet and there's been a few nights of going to bed with the sound of the rain thundering down.

Bikes. I find it slightly ridiculous, but mainly just funny, that wherever you see bikes illegally parked (ie everywhere) you see two sets of workers, depending on the time of day I think. The older employees whose sole job is, it seems, to make sure all bikes are in perfect alignment to each other to maximise space for other people to illegally park their bikes. Remember, most people have self-locking granny bikes here, that don't necessitate anything to be chained to.

The second group of bike employees walk around putting 'do not park your bike illegally' signs on bikes. This group tends to be a bit younger and have a look of boredom crossed with 'serves-you-right' about them. The first group tends to look very satisfied with their meticulousness.

There's a third group that comes and takes them away.

Now, tell me to shut up BUT surely something isn't right here? I mean, I don't think I've ever seen the three groups working on the same day. I guess that if the second group interfered with a bike the first group had lovingly arranged then the first group's job satisfaction would suffer or something.


We're coming, sadly, into autumn. They typhoon has blown many leaves off the trees, obviously, creating lots more work for bored council workers. I wonder if they use the second group of bike guys to do this for a bit of variety.

In previous years, I've been gutted to see council workers on ladders up trees, hand-plucking leaves from the branches so they don't fall down. This really upsets me. My inner three year old LOVES crunching through piles of crispy leaves. My inner eight year old loves finding neat piles that a bored council worker begrudgingly swept into a heap - and kicking it to the wind. It's SO satisfying. I love autumn. I'll miss summer though.


Oh, P.S. I found a lump. But apparantly it's NOT a lump. Although it feels lumpy. So, can anyone tell me what a lump is meant to feel like? And, yes, for everyone who knows how much I HATE doctors, I did go and see one. I must be imagining the pain too, I guess. Still, at least cancer doesn't hurt, apparantly, so that's one good thing. And [quote] it 'didn't feel like a cyst'.

Must be old age. Or a stupid doctor.