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!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

May I Clap?

On Saturday night I went and saw Oasis in concert (thanks again, Beth!). The concert was very good but even more interesting, was the crowd. It's been a long time since I went to a big concert (Getting old and all that!) but my memory of big concerts is that people tend to make a lot of noise clapping, shouting, singing, screaming.... and of course, dancing.

On Saturday though most of the people I could see weren't really doing any of these things. There was a little bit of singing and there was clapping - if someone started everyone else off - but on the whole the Japanese crowd was totally passive. Even the band looked shocked.

I went to a baseball game in Japan last year. People made noise there. But there were people telling them when to.

This kind of restraint seems most odd to me.

On the other hand, oh sod it, there is no other hand. Not that I can remember anyway. I still have a cold; I still haven't been 100% okay this year and so bloody tired. Partly because of the diploma (although I've not remembered any dreams for a few days now) and partly the whole job thing - the taking on of so many new students at once. Oh and PMS.

Today was my final day on this contract. My final day of working in a kindergarten. My final day of working in the middle of Saitama.

Shit, I need a break.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

To Sleep Perchance To Dream. Again.

Everyone dreams. Really, everyone dreams - but not everyone remembers their dreams. Generally speaking, I've fallen into this latter category throughout my life. I've remembered very very few dreams. And they were all very strange - the ones I remembered. Some were like mini motion pictures. And I've almost always been able to figure out what's triggered them off.

I don't believe dreams predict the future. Dreams sort out your unconscious. They try and figure it all out for you. For me, the memory of a conversation earlier that day, a line from a book, something I've seen in a TV show, a noise, all of these can trigger off dreams

This year though has been something else all together. This year I've remembered dozens of my dreams. Most have been, scarily enough, diploma or job related or, not surprisingly, medically related.

Actually, when I was in hospital, I used to get my first IV drip of the day at 6am. I normally went back to sleep as soon as I'd been plugged in. Now, sleeping while strong antibiotics were slowly plinking into my veins gave me some very very odd dreams. I didn't write them down though, so now I can't remember them. Come to think of it, that's probably not a bad thing.

In the last couple of weeks I've dreamed of other teachers testing me on diploma vocabulary and shouting when I didn't know the answers; I've dreamed of another (single, childless) friend lying on the couch, smoking away, with six of so kids running riot around her (too much 'Wife Swap' and kindergarten, methinks); I've dreamt my mother (who I've not spoken to for almost 20 years) was a hooping champion. And then after she'd told me that, she went running into the street with a man and flashed her bum; I've dreamed of teeth falling out a couple of times (I know that's 'meant' to be money related, but I don't believe that); and last night I dreamed I had to go to Glasgow (I worked with a teacher from Glasgow recently) for a radio interview (er, not sure about this bit) and they were trying to send me there by express train (again, no idea). In the same dream I dreamed of gourmet pet food (nope) and of going to the prom (American high school kind, not Royal Albert Hall kind. And no, I never had a prom at my school).

Come to think of it - I can't remember any more. I'm still traumatised by my mother flashing her bum....

Do you remember dreams often? What do you think they mean?

I just remembered another recent one: I was in a doctor's consulting room (yes, I know!) but they weren't sure what was wrong with me (again, I know!), so they started showing me very complicated flashcards and getting me to name things on the cards. They STILL couldn't figure out what was wrong with me but then I suddenly discovered that if I lifted something with my right hand (I tried a stereo and a suitcase - though not at the same time), then I forgot the proper word for something. For example, I called a bear 'a cat'. Everytime I put down whatever I was holding, I could name things properly and everytime I picked something back up, I couldn't.

Again, I blame the diploma for this kind of dream.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yesterday - A Day In The Life Of, Or Something Like That

My brain fried yesterday. Got up early. (Early for me, probably pretty normal for most people). Spent the next 28 hours giving tests to 27,000 people. Or maybe it was the next 6 hours giving tests to 14 people. Felt like the former though.

Listened to the 27,000 people telling me how [insert place name] has much nature and [insert place name] is very convenience. And how their boss is amazing and their hero but they didn't chose their job their company made them do it and how they hate their long hours but they love their colleagues and how ramble ramble ramble I'm going to answer whatever I want to but not actually the question that you asked or the question that is in front of me and in fact I'm the same as one of those Japlish signs that ramble on and make no sense but it doesn't matter because the words are all in English and so that's what counts, doesn't it, I mean the words are English so therefore I'm speaking English and English is cute and oh I have much allergy now....

I could feel my brain cells falling into a deep comatic sleep one by one. Maybe they'll never come around again.

And this on the knowledge that if the candidates got a GOOD English grade (which none of mine did) they were getting a bonus equivalent to about 11 months of my salary. That hurts.

After that I spent several hours holed up in a cafe studying. Cos that's what we do here. They do here? People buy an overpriced cup of coffee and sit snoozing or studying for hours in a cafe. Kind of does justify the price actually. Had a good study session but it sent more brain cells to sleep.

Had 90 minutes of fun and joy with an elementary class after that. What's your favourite movie? I like Disney Movies because they are cute (mid-20s female). Where did you go for your honeymoon? [yes, of course we'd covered the meaning of 'honeymoon'] - 3 minutes of uhmming and ahhing but a student who married two years ago before he remembered.

By the time I'd finished the 17 hour lesson with them by brain was fried.

Got home. Flatmate decided to ask me to correct a translation she'd had to do for her internship. That made my brain ache even more. Sentences about how workers were disobedient because they sometimes didn't stay chained to their desks but actually went and spoke to other interns. And sometimes even outside the POSTROOM. Gasp!

And then my head exploded!


Written on a paper cup (and no, I don't understand it either):

The Art of Cold.

Enjoy what you do?

We hit the street.

We hit the high.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yes, Deer.

They like English in Japan. They do. Really. English words are cool. Especially on signs and t-shirts. Hell, sometimes they even make sense. More often than not they don't though. Many a time I've seen some 'English', scratched my head and concluded: yahoo translator? google translator? random words randomly thrown together (in a random way)?

Case in point: 11-year female student, wearing a t-shirt with lots of English ramblings on it about a walk or the countryside or the summer or something. With the final sentence reading:

I am happy to have a good deer.

Suggestions for what this might mean are welcomed.


Mums here are busy with housewifery, running the kids around, bentoing, etc, and sometimes they have to clean their kids schools - if there's going to be a festival on, etc. Dads work. Hard. Long hours. They don't have so much to do with the every dayness of their kids in many cases. UNLESS they are the dad of a kindy kid and then, well....

One of my students told me how whenever his kids have sports days at school (kindy) the dads all go to the school at 5a.m. and start queueing waiting for the teachers to open the gates at 7a.m. Dad can then rush to get the prime spot to watch Aya-chan or Kouki-kun doing whatever kindy kids do at sports days. Mum is probably at home making bentos while this is going on.

This would never happen in England. I'm not saying mum and dad don't give a shit, but a) sports day on a Saturday???? and b) queueing at 5a.m. on a Saturday for a kindy sports day???? and c) they just wouldn't. We always had sports days in the week and there were no parents competing for 'spots to watch from' races, as far as I remember.

Actually, primary school sports days were fun in England. Sack races, egg and spoon, obstacle courses.... Maybe I hated them, but the idea seems a lot of fun now.


Strawberries and kahlua are a very good combination. Thought I'd share that with you!

Friday, March 13, 2009

2.33am Ramblings

I should be asleep. It's the early hours and I have work tomorrow but I can't get the sensible part of my brain - the part that's telling me how tired I'll be at work tomorrow - to take control of the part of my brain that wants to think, worry and be generally anxious about life.

It's been an odd week. It's been a quiet week, actually. Nightmare kindy finished last week - thank fuck - and this week I had just one kindy afternoon and another day where my lessons were observed by a guy from our company. He said he enjoyed watching my lessons. He said I was a good teacher. Oh how easy it is to fool people! - Seriously, it WAS nice to get positive feedback. It's too easy in life to be undervalued or ignored unless you do something wrong or someone wants something more from you. A nice comment or two really means a lot. Shame so few managers seem to agree with that.

Actually, that wasn't the only thing that made me feel good this week. Totally unexpectedly, I was offered a senior teacher position. I'd heard through the grapevine the old senior teacher wasn't going to be replaced, but I guess they changed their minds. That - as well as the kindy comments - kind of gave my ego a bit of well-deserved stroking!

So, why the anxiety? Well, it's all pretty stupid really. I don't really know exactly what the senior teacher position involves for one thing. Another thing is I'm actually getting a totally new schedule in April. I'd expected at least one (if not two) of my days to stay the same. That's like 50+ new classes to find out about. It's totally starting from scratch without any students I have a rapport with.

Thankfully the senior teacher job is in a school I know well and the other two days are in schools I'm working in now - but on different days.

But then it kind of fell apart today when I got a reminder of how bad communication can be in this company.

A to B: Jo bla bla bla. Don't tell Jo you know.
B to me: Is bla bla bla true?
me to A: What exactly has B been told? I thought nothing was definite about anything.
A to me: B shouldn't have said anything to you.
B to me: Don't tell A I said anything to you.

Gaaaaah! It all came flooding back how bad communication can be in the company.

I will miss teaching large groups though. And I'll miss the office lessons too. I won't miss the split days, the running around, the disorganisation in some companies....

And it'll be so nice to be with other teachers again. Most of my current working week is spent in isolation from other teachers.

On the health front - I'm pretty sure all the symptoms from the bacterial infection are gone and all the side effects from the drugs. The flu I caught is gone too. But I do have a cold and a ragingly sore throat this week! One day I'll be okay again!

It's nearly 3am. I've not read back over what I've just written. I hope it makes some kind of sense!

So, in the cold light of day, after some five hours sleep, I think the conclusion of this is that I'm a worrier. I like worrying about things. It's totally irrational, but that's me. Irrational. And not so secure within myself that I feel confident about what I do - hence why it's so nice to get comments on my teaching. Otherwise, I go from day to day thinking that if a lesson went really well, then I'm a really good teacher. Likewise, if something didn't work out the way I wanted it to in a lesson, I tend to think I'm a really bad teacher. Maybe every teacher feels that way. I don't know. I think the main anxiety here though can simply be summed up by saying a total change is both very exciting - clean slate and all that - and quite scary. And all of those getting to knows to go through!

Right. I'm off to do some studying now before going to work. Catch you later.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Am feeling deeply sorry for myself.

I had to cancel drinks Beastie and co last night and I had to cancel lunch with a friend today - and I love going out for lunch on Sundays (Saturday nights are often much more of an effort because of an early start on Saturday and working all day)...

because I have a nasty cold. Glands in my neck/jaw (!) are throbbing, nose is running, head is thumping, temperature is running (not too badly though) and I just generally feel like cack. Other times when I've got a cold, I've managed to sleep it off not feel cacker the next day. My immune system is just a welcome party ground for any germs that want to come and play I think since all the medicating started for the bacterial infection. By the way, I've been off anti-biotics for almost a week now.

My house is causing a slight dilemma. The woman who owns it - an Swiss woman who belongs to some religious cult - is a bit of nasty c*nt, imho. She doesn't give a shit about the house or the condition/state it's in and she was very rude when I asked her about getting compensation for lack of earnings caused by the condition of the house making me sick. I didn't actually expect to get anything but you don't know until you try and there is a good chance I got ill before going to India, but that just worsened the condition (long story but other members of the house had a
very very minor version of my original condition). Anyway, she was a c*nt about it.

So, here's my dilemma: move or don't move. It may seem like a no-brainer - bad house = leave (and there are a fair few reasons to go) - but the reasons to not go are pounding away too - the location is perfect, I really like my room, I have my own kitchen and I'm not going to find anywhere else for this price in a decent area with a private kitchen, looking for somewhere and moving takes a LOT of money and time - neither of which I can spare, and recently the house has been deathly quiet a LOT - which has been perfect for chilling out and studying. HOWEVER, the communal areas ARE in a bit of a state, many of the other people in the house are lazy fuckers (luckily, as I said, I DON'T have to share a kitchen), the agency either doesn't send a cleaner, or sends one that does fuck all. Then there's the mice, the damp, the list that could go on...

But then AGAIN, the area is pretty quiet too and SO convenient and, even if I did find somewhere that the price was okay, maybe it wouldn't be quiet and studying.... ooo dilemma!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Students, eh! What'd We Do Without 'em?

So. It's that time of year when kindies start finishing. I've had three kindies a week for the last year (well, two from last summer). One of them can take up to two hours to get to or from if I get my timing wrong. I teach classes of 25 four and five year olds there and have loved it. They're all great kids and it was a fun year teaching them. When I go back to full-time eikaiwa I WILL miss those kinds of classes. Another one was much closer and pretty easy but I didn't get the same buzz from the kids as at the first kindy.

The third kindy was close to here but was an absolute nightmare in terms of the disorganisation of the school. I hated going there and was thrilled on Thursday when I finished the final class.

Yesterday, a student in her late 30s (I think) told me her mother keeps hassling her about not being married yet (she's a flight attendant - not exactly the ideal job to marry and settle down...) and had set her up with a date. He'd turned up with a wig. A curly wig. And a very bad complexion. But she'd kept an open-mind on her first opinion thinking he may have been nice inside. He wasn't. She told me she'd never let her mother set her up with anyone again.

This is actually a pretty common thing here, for unmarried 'kids' in their 30s or 40s to get 'introduced' by their parents to 'suitable' marriage potential. In some cases I feel it may be as much desperation to get the 'kid' to leave home as to get grandchildren...

It's funny how students really can express themselves well, whatever their level, when they really want to. Today a very low level student explained to me that she was married but she wanted a boyfriend. She'd told the same story to another teacher last week. He told me he'd taught her lots of useful language like 'extra-marital affair', etc. I explained what 'serious' or 'fun' in a personal ad meant, what a 'classified ad' was, what JM meant and we talked about speed dating, parental interference, etc!

Today, with a very good level 16-year that I teach, we talked about things you can do to live a long life. There was a listening exercise that talked about the importance of knowing about you families health. I asked her if she knew about her families health and she said, 'I'm going to die of cancer and so is my mother'. At the sight of me doing an impression of a slightly stunned goldfish she clarified that there was lots of it in her family. I hesitantly asked if her mother was okay, and thankfully (as in I didn't want to deal with an awkward situation) the mother is absolutely fine, gets checked once a year, bla bla bla.

Students, eh! (I've mentioned before the joy of studentS telling me their friends/relatives killed themselves, or that their kids have anorexia and what should they do, or how boring they find their husbands, or how they hate their husbands being at home because of how much extra hassle it is for them, etc).

All in a days work though...!