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!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Get up. Early. Quick shower. Leave. Realise I've got to work EARLY. On a Saturday. Drink coffee. Eat sandwich (Doutor). Prep for lessons. Try and get some answers from reception. Fail. Drink another coffee. Rearrange room. Teach two kids. Have another coffee. A bit more prep and some clear up. Rearrange room. Teach two kids. One kid. Rearrange room. One adult. Back to back. Drink a coffee while teaching adult. Adult has come to lesson depressed for last three weeks. Have to act as a counsellor. Am not a counsellor. Am not an entertainer. Am a teacher. Who wants to teach. Not entertain. Not counsel. At least this week she didn't burst into tears. Progression. Am still talking about adult here. Listen to her problems for 30 minutes. Have a decent sized break. Thanks to a cancellation. Eat lunch. Drink coffee. Try and get some more answers from reception. Mainly fail again. More clear up. More prep. Rearrange room again. Try and get some answers from reception. Fail again. Teach a nightmare class. That used to be a great class. But whereas I see students, other people see only money. It's not as important to other people as to me that they cannot disrupt 3 and 4 year olds as much as they are. That they need routine. Not important. Made my job impossible. Lesson finished. Five minutes to rearrange room / tidy room / grab coffee / mentally psyche myself for low level elderly adult. Listen to how much she likes old J.Pop. Especially Leona Lewis. Patiently explain Leona Lewis isn't Japanese and therefore not J.Pop. Granny surprised. Explained Leona Lewis not an old singer. Manage to not burst into tears. Listen to more bewildering comments. Spend about 5 minutes getting granny to understand 'go to work' and 'go home'. Clear out granny. Grab another student. Teach. Eight minute 'break. Tidy room a bit more. Rearrange room. Grab coffee. Grab student. Students first lesson. Say: how are you? Students said: how are you? Smiled. Said again: how are you? Student eventually got it. Wondered if student had been allocated wrong book. Struggled through lesson. Finished lesson. Cleaned up. Tidied up. Put away. Left. Got home. Salad and muffins. Collapsed. Watched American Idol and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Struggle to stay awake. Decide to crash nice and early as can hardly keep eyes open. Turn off light. Snuggly. Relaxed. Put on eye mask. Nice and dark. Drifting. Drifting..... SNAP! Brain turns back on. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Worrying. Worrying. Stressing. Stressing. Mulling and mulling and mulling. Too much going on. Light back on. Do a Sudoku puzzle. Normally helps me drop off. Didn't. Decide to jot down things I need to tell my boss next week. If the words are on paper they won't mull around so much in my head. Will they? Didn't work. Gave in. Took pill. Put on computer. Know I'll be fucked again tomorrow. Know I won't be able to drink so much coffee tomorrow. Know I drank too much today. Know I had no choice. Tomorrow have to work. Early start. Exhausting day. Possibly very lucrative day. Fun evening planned. Looking forward to that. If I'm still awake by then...

Saturday, February 27, 2010


2.35am. too late. should be sleeping. saturdays are early starts. too tired. too awake. heard if you can't sleep you should stop trying and do something else. waking for brain to quieten. hoping typing the words will help. or the pill to kick in. something. don't want to take two. not enough sleep hours left. i hate insomnia. it's my on-off constant companion. right now too much going on. a few interviews coming up. yes, a few. had an almost 100% success rate on applications to interviews so far. not many more to wait on just now. need to get my head straight about which is which. and which i want. too much diploma to do. too much work stress. anxiety. last post. anxiety. tomorrow. i'm dreading tomorrow. really dreading it. anxiety. unavoidable anxiety. tiring young child day ahead. and going to feel so exhausted from this weeks anxiety. sigh. and moving. co-ordinating my things to go when i go. and where. and what after. and knowing i'll probably not have the autumn sorted when i leave for the summer. because that's how it goes. and weight. putting on weight. not sure why i'm putting on weight. suddenly noticed. and tired. tired. always tired. need to stop. need to sleep. need to have a clear head. not so much anxiety, worry, stress and shit. sleep deprivation. coffee. sleep deprivation. pill. tired. coffee. endless. endless. endless. shit weather. one day of spring yesterday and it's turned to cack again. energy. low. so low. motivation struggling. house okay. quiet. strange. anal. the house. not me. strange. but quiet. clean. weird. tokyo. exhausting. trains. crowds. predictable students. getting out. can't wait to get out. i need to get out. i've gotten all i can from here. so tired. so much to do. pill kicking in. relaxing. feel myself sinking into my futon. will feel so crap when my alarm goes off. when i face tomorrow. when i face the consequences. and there will be consequences. there will be. and i'm not looking forward to them. no wonder i've slept so badly this week. it's all just too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Freaking Out

Something I did is making me freak out.

I can't talk about it.

Though I wish I could.

But it's freaking me out.

It was unavoidable.

But shit timing.

So I'm freaking out.

A lot.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh Shit!

Two of the kids I teach R & S have lovely mothers. I'm sure a lot of my kids have lovely mothers but R & S's mothers are particularly nice and we always chat before and after R & S's lesson. R & S are 6 and 7 and a pretty good level. Especially R, who attends an international kindy.

Anyway, today, R's mother put her foot right in it: there are work experience ladies at some of our schools at the moment and a couple of them were standing around with me, the mothers and R & S before the lesson, nattering and gossiping.

S, the boy, was upset. Doesn't really matter why - nothing to do with me anyway - and R's mum (R's a girl) suddenly said - in English - I wish I had a son. Poor little R nearly burst into tears (like I said, her comprehension is pretty good)

The mother tried to backpedal as quickly as she could but it was hard.... as we were all pissing ourselves laughing.

R got over it pretty quickly!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not bad for one day

Today I...

... had a long chat with my DoS about stuff that's been bothering me.
... got an email from a company who wants to interview me next week for a summer job.
... booked a flight to Seoul.

Not bad for one day, I think!

WHY would you say that?

In one of the groups I teach, H is the only man in a class of 5 students. H is in his 60s and a bit of an odd character. Maybe I mentioned H before when he said his mother was very old and he was probably going to have to look after her for another ten years as she was so 'healthy'. He said it with a lot of bitterness.

Yesterday I gave the learners some question dice (each side had 'who, where, when, what, how, why' on) and got them to use them to talk, in pairs. As an activity this generally works pretty well, especially when they're not given any guidance about what to talk about. Now and then one of them would ask me how to say something or I'd throw some errors onto the board to sort later.

Anyhoo, M asked H why he studied English conversation and H said he didn't actually like English.

H is self-employed, doesn't use it for his job, has no company making him use it... so you do have to wonder WHY he's studying it, don't you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Applications...

To be honest, I'm a bit hopeful for a couple of the things I've applied for for the summer. The not-so-hopeful-paranoid part of me isn't taking it lying down though and today I painfully churned out a few more applications. On forms. Took AGES. Am sure I wrote a load of twaddle...

But the thing is...do I know stop and wait, or continue applying?

What's making me even more nervous is that chances are I'll be starting a summer job without having anything firm lined up for afterwards as a lot of the October recruiting isn't done until August or September.

This really does make me rather nervous as I always need to think two or three steps ahead. I have no 'wait-it-out' plan. I can't go back to a parental home and figure things out... It's not an option and it makes things like this rather complicated.

Oh well.

My Weekend

Some drinking. Actually rather a lot of drinking of Friday, some on Saturday, some on Sunday.

A lot of room sorting. YES! I've almost finished unpacking. It's important that everything goes in the 'right' place. Takes time to figure out where that is.

A lost of runny nose and coughing. Enough said.

One job email; one job application; one application started and given up on (I donno what to write in my 'greatest achievements' section. Especially when they want TWO! One I could cope with. And one more I'm definitely planning to do today.

Er, that's it. Big supermarket shop. Full fridge. Happy.

Olympics. I got around to plugging in my TV for the first time a few days ago. Now hooked on the Olympics. Am fascinated by the curling. I wonder how the decision was made to include curling in the Olympics. It's not a sport. Although it's strangely fascinating to watch!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Anyone got any idea how I change the monthly archive to yearly tabs?

I've hunted around the blog tabs but can't figure it out.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just Get On With It Already

Subtlety. Not one of my strong points. The fact I'm leaving - planning to leave - has become something that I've not exactly been keeping secret.

When I want to leave, where I want to go, and who I want to work for, I know.

A wheel is turning, no breaks have been applied, and I'm not sure exactly where the station is. Plan A is alive and kicking and is now out of my hands.

Plan B though. Plan B. Plan B. Plan B involves a bit more work. I'm not saying Plan A was simple but... okay, it was simple.

Plan B involves application forms. Probably a fair few of them. If I'm lucky a few CVs may suffice, but mainly application forms and this is the week to apply for summer jobs. This is the week they are a ill being advertised. This really is the week I have to get more cogs turning. The longer stretch - post-summer, I can't really do much about now but, if I am to get out of here by the summer, I need to act now.

But application forms and applying for jobs...

Throughout my working life - and certainly post-university - I've filled out very few application forms. And quite a few of the ones I did fill out where a formality rather than anything else. I'd got the job and the application form was subsequent to that.

In television-land, it's all about who you know or CVs. I don't remember filling out a form for any TV jobs.

My CV and a cover letter always got me the job / the interview / ignored. It was enough.

In my current job - well, at the time I applied teachers really were being recruited in droves. I did my research. Well. Very well. I knew I wouldn't have a problem getting this job. That's not cocky. It's a fact. I knew.

One day I decided I'd had enough of London life and working in TV. I decided I wanted to work in Japan. The name of the company I work for came up and I phoned them to see if they were recruiting. They asked me if I had a CELTA or TESOL. I said I didn't. (I got one a couple of years later). They said they only took teachers with TEFL qualifications. I told them I knew that wasn't true. They laughed and emailed me an application form. I knew I didn't need to know anything about teaching to get a job teaching. Shocking fact. But true. To teach English you don't need to know how to teach English. Apparently.

With the help of a lot of waffle, google and teacher friends I filled out the application form. For some reason I had no doubt I'd get the interview.

I read my head off about Japan. The job was mine. I had to get out of London before going crazy. I put on a suit, slapped on a ton of make-up, and got the train to the interview. It was a bloody hot day. All the make-up melted off by the time I arrived. I babbled my head off in the interview. I wanted the job and I wanted them to give it to me. There was no Plan B. And they did. On the spot.

The timing for the job start was perfect. The company seemed good. My escape plan was coming together. I was very happy. Everything then moved very quickly. Visa. A week of training. Packing up house. Goodbye party. And on a plane to Japan. And the rest is history!

In the interests of my philosophy of not blogging anything that'll come back to bite me I've self-censored the story slightly, but that's how easy it was.

In 10+ years, I've pretty much only filled out one application form. And now I have to write about my achievements and other things that I deem to be totally irrelevant to how I am as a teacher.

It's also the reason I've stayed here so long. People have asked why I haven't left Japan if I've not been happy here, well - it's easy to not apply for other things than it is to apply. Or something like that. And now I'm being baffled with questions I don't know how I should answer.

For I believe there definitely IS a way questions 'should' be answered. And I'm avoiding doing it.

But can't keep avoiding it!

Oh well.


Sorry, just to clarify, I believe there is a proper way to answer the questions, I just don't have a clue what it is!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quiz Time!

What do the following four pictures have in common?

No, I have no idea either. Except that Softbank (one of the mobile phone companies in Japan), has called their new range 'Jellybean'. Being Japan, the Jellybeans have 'cute' faces added, which reminds me of Moomins (not sure why but they do) AND AND AND

they have put KNICKERS on the Jellybeans.

I don't get it but lots of smiling Jellybeans in knickers REALLY disturbs me.

On the train the adverts are sort of semi-3D, which make them even worse. I took a photo but, well, you know how crap I am at getting around to uploading photos so you'll just have to imagine.


Oh and I didn't mention but in the TV ads - which I can't see because my beloved computer can't cope with Youtube (it's very old!) - the phones remove the jellybeans knickers. *double shudder* - and definitely not cute. Just WHO are these ads being aimed at?

Anyhoo, Sassymoo, 'kindly' found and posted a link to the ad in my comments. So, here you are.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Well, Obviously.

Sentence to complete:

"If everyone were colour-blind..."

no, I didn't write this, it comes courtesy of a lovely textbook.

Student wrote:

"...we'd all wear perfume."

Me: eh?


Japan is so different to England. The Japanese way of doing things is so different to the English way. In so many things. I've come to accept this. Hell, I wouldn't have a blog if this wasn't the case. And it's the differences between people that make them interesting. That make us want to know more about them. And yet I still get baffled by the logic behind lots of Japanesenesses.

For example, a conversation today with a uni student who has some job interviews lined up. One insurance company has a process of about five interviews for prospective candidates. Bare in mind, undergraduates go in their penultimate year to have these interviews and then piss about, I mean don't have to worry or work, in their final year at uni. Also bare in mind (bear in mind? always forget which it is) that larger companies take on new recruits in LARGE numbers. A couple of hundred at a time wouldn't be uncommon for large companies. No, I don't know where they put them either.

Anyhoo, so student R has the first of his interviews in a couple of days time. As there are so many candidates the first step of the process is...

...wait for it...

... to meet and have lunch and be 'scored' by someone from the company, who then 'reports back'.

Sounds reasonable, I guess.

Until you take on board this someone is someone who has been at said company for ten months - ie they themselves graduated last year and started their first ever job ten months ago. And they are being put into the position of making or breaking someones career. Okay, a tad exaggerated, but you get my point?

And to make it even more comfortable, an entire restaurant is made up of these cosy little 'tables for two' with everyone trying to get the right boxes (or whatever) ticked.

I said it sounded like speed dating. R laughed.

Sounds horrendous and ridiculous to me at any rate.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

*cough cough splutter splutter*

Well, I've come down with a full-bodied elves pouring water down my nose, kicking me in the throat and thumping me in the stomach cold. No doubt caught from one of my lovely students. Thanks guys.

Does, kind of, explain the extra shitty mood I was in this week though. Work was a bit trying, to say the least, but things have settled for me in the house. I'm over my 'shall I move before unpacking' thing. People have stopped leaving pathetic notes around and it just feels a bit more... real.

Guess that means, in between sniffles, that I'll be unpacking this weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Place. New Place.

This house couldn't really be any more different to the last one.

I've not yet unpacked most of my stuff and I realised it's because it doesn't feel like home yet. It doesn't feel like somewhere I want to stay. Does that make sense?

The old house - and it was old, falling apart, dirty, noisy... felt like home. From the start. Does that make sense? I've lived in a LOT of places and it generally takes me a while to get a feeling for where I want things to be.

In the old house people whinged through the agency about each other. Here people leave notes. It all seems so much more... anal. The draining board is always cleared quickly - I wonder how often the tea towel is changed - doesn't feel very hygienic to me. If someone 'dares' leave a cup draining, it gets placed on the window sill like god-forbid someone has to move someone else's clean cup into a cupboard.

There are - I kid you not - SIX bins for rubbish here. SIX. And separate containers for used lids, used lighters, used batteries. And people dig OUT rubbish from the wrong bins and pin notes on them... and no, it's not all mine!

I miss having my own kitchen. I miss being able to wander to the toilet or shower room without getting worried I'm going to be doing something wrong.

I miss having a fast internet connection.

I like having a clean, quiet house but I really don't feel that comfortable here.

In the old place, when I had Japanese male flatmates, I found them really nice to live with, really laid-back and, well, nice. Maybe it's a language thing but I don't know how much anyone in the house interacts with anyone else. Certainly upstairs, where they have the dorm room, I get the feeling it's pretty quiet. The Aussie guy here is nice. There's one Japanese guy who scares me and I've not really seen the others.

I know it's only for a short time and I know I don't really have any choice - I can't move again! - and maybe I will feel more settled soon - as I said, I've lived in a LOT of houses and I normally settle very fast - even if my unpacking takes longer.

I also wish I could blog a bit more about what is really on my mind but I promised myself to NEVER write anything on this blog that could come back to haunt me in the future. And no, I'm not going to start another blog for that! Let's just say, in the words of 'Lost' - I don't have a constant right now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Run that by me one more time

A student had to complete some 'recommend' sentences. One was 'if you want to lose weight i recommend ('type of exercise or diet') .

Student wrote: 'drink sweet coffee'.

I asked her wtf, I mean what she meant exactly, and she informed me about the latest Japanese fad, er, diet where drinking only three cups of sweet coffee a day helps you to lose weight. Like, no shit, sherlock.. Further 'investigation' clarified you are allowed breakfast OCCASIONALLY. And this was all recommended by some scientist or other on TV. Apparently.

Japan seems to thrive on these bizarre diets. A couple of years ago some celeb or other apparently advocated eating gravel as a way to suppress your appetite. A small number of people died from this.

And then there was the banana diet, as recommended by some other celeb on telly. The result of this (and this was a few years ago) was that bananas flew out of supermarkets and couldn't be found anywhere, such was the demand.

I've also had skinny students telling me their parents told them they were fat...

Bizarre country.


I gave a 15-year old girl some written homework a couple of weeks ago. She had to imagine herself 10 years from now looking back on the last ten years. I nearly burst into tears when I read the last couple of sentences where she talked about how she had an office job but couldn't wait to get married so she could leave her job.

So so sad. And yet so indicative of the attitude many women have here. But to have that attitude at 15 when you're on the cusp of starting high school with everything being possible and so many avenues lying ahead of you. It broke my heart a little bit.


I'm reading 'The Language Instinct' by Steven Pinker. I now know all about octopus sex. In fact I may never get the image out of my head. *shudder*. Okay, if you're interested, mr. grey octopus sees ms. female octopus and turns stripey in his excitement. seven of his tentacles caress her grey voluptuousness and - if she lets him - the eighth slips into her breathing hole (i guess this is the same as the mouth. do octopi have mouths? do they have noses?) and shoots some sperm into her and then glides away, greyly.

I don't really like having the image of octopus sex in my mind. Thanks Mr. Pinker. I'm now heading to some very bizarre dreams I think!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

One Week

I moved house last Monday. Naturally I was still packing at the last minute and, after a run of dry days, it rained. Heavily. Which wasn't the greatest weather to be hauling boxes and bags around it, but at least it was over and done with before it started snowing!

I've been here a week now. The house is quiet, clean and not falling apart. Bit of a change from the last place. It's taking a bit of getting used to having to share a kitchen again and I'm a bit paranoid about separating the rubbish properly - if it's always been done properly and suddenly isn't, they'll know it's 'the new girl'. We have SIX different bins to separate into plus separate containers for used PET lids, etc. Before I kind of figured things were basically 'burnable' or 'recyclable' and kind of left it at that. Bad, I know.

The house has 8 beds but only 7 people live here right now. There are 4 single rooms and a dormitory with 4 beds. 5 of the people are Japanese here.

The location is nice. I've not had a lot of time yet to explore but it's quiet with lots of food places and lots of hairdressers and I'm nice and close to the station.

As for unpacking: I haven't really yet. Part of this is down to laziness, part of it to not having had time / being too tired and sleeping badly, and part of it down to figuring out the best place to put things. I think mentally a part of me doesn't want to unpack either but just wants to be out of here.

On the subject of which, I've started looking at summer jobs and need to buckle down with applications now.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


On Sunday I happily succeeded in not actually getting any packing done until about 5pm, or thereabouts. After I got to a reasonable stage - ie exhaustion - I had to stop as I figured it wouldn't take me the long to complete the next day. Right. Naturally what actually happened was I got up later than planned, packed a lot, went and go breakfast/lunch from the conbeni, came back, faffed and ate, tried - and failed - to complete the packing before the guy from old housing agency arrived.

It also meant he did a LOT of the carrying from room to van while I continued faffing.

As he arrived he told me it was due to rain heavily later - and then to snow. It had just started raining as we left and knowing my things were on his open topped (albeit covered by canvas) van meant I also knew unloading would not be fun. Anyhoo, I have more stuff than could fit on the van, so we ended doing two trips as the rain slowly got heavier and heavier.

Later that night it started snowing. Thankfully I was already in my room - having found a local supermarket, shopped and made food, before it started.

I found out about 90% of the old house elected to move to the new premises with the agency. I am so happy I'm not one of them

The station is very close to get to from home and very straightforward. Thankfully!

Am still a little disoriented though as I'm trying to figure out which box or bag has things lurking in them.