Saturday, August 23, 2003

August 23, 11:50 p.m.

The summer is definitely back....regrettably. It was over 30 by 9 a.m. this morning, and we hit a good 34.2 degrees by the afternoon. Those unbelievable days of coolness are just increasingly fading memories now. Maybe the only good thing was that I may have lost a kilogram or so through sweat.

After my kids today, I went over to Nakano to meet my newest student. But since I had a couple of hours before the meeting, I decided to take a look at the malls. One of the oldest ones in Tokyo also carries a great deal of anime stores run by the huge Mandarake group. However, I was a bit disappointed that there was only one staffperson in a costume. But the otakus were there in full force. I was surprised to see a number of Star Trek starship models on display.

At about 4, I met Movie Buddy's friend at the station. By that point, I was feeling pretty drenched. We went over to the shop where she worked, a dive shop with a cafe on the second floor. Looks like unlike the others, she has set a time limit on her time with me: about 3 to 6 months, which suits me fine. And also unlike the others, I will probably be doing a lot of picking and choosing from various texts to concoct my materials for her.

After about 90 minutes, I made it back to the station; the temps cooled down to a relatively chilly 30. Happily, the train went in a straight line back to my home, so I could actually get some shuteye on the way. If there is one thing I'll miss about this country if I do decide to leave it, it will be the ability to sleep on the subway. I find myself doing it without hesitation on the long hauls home. It might be age creeping up with me, but I don't really care. Considering I don't get that much sleep overnight anyways, I consider that time on the subway as quality.

Well, I've been able to relax for a number of hours now, but I will have to catch shuteye once more since I've got another Movie Buddy day tomorrow. This second outing will be a larger group with two more teachers and an extra person to add. I made reservations at a Polynesian restaurant in Shinjuku to ensure that we have a place that can hold all of us.

Friday, August 22, 2003

August 22

Today was one of those lazy days of summer. After a regular class with the oil company, I had 7 hours of nothing before my English circle with a lone person. So, after lunch, I caught up with that lady who had been in New York when the blackout hit. She took it in stride, staying at her friend's house in New Jersey at the time.

Then, it was just a number of hours with one of the ancient computers in the school playing Hearts and Solitaire, a most appropriate game. I even had time to give it a bit of a maintenance check. Afterwards, I decided to indulge at the nearby Chinese restaurant and had a champon, that Nagasaki noodle delicacy with pork bone stock. It was interesting being the lone eater in the restaurant with ol' 80s music playing in the background while I slurped down the soup.

Finally, I spent an hour at the cafe waiting for my student, doing my crosswords, before she came. Luckily, we were able to gab animatedly on musicals and movies before calling it a night. Tomorrow will be another round with the doctor's kids and then....hopefully....I will finally meet up with Movie Buddy's friend after a couple of aborted attempts.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

August 21

Well, the summer is back. I had to put on the air con right now. By Saturday, I should be praying for cooler weather once more.

Feeling pretty tired after doing just one 3-hour class, a leisurely lunch, a shopping trip for textbooks, and then the class with my force-of-nature student. I think most of myfatigue came from dealing with her. I was able to get some shuteye on the subway home, though.

Looks like I'm appreciating my new work life more and more as I hear more of the gripes from the remaining full-timers. Two of the milder teachers were even getting riled up over the various scheduling errors. One of them was supposed to have had a powwow with the big boss this afternoon. I wonder if there could be repercussions. I remember my tete-a-tete with the big boss was fairly laughable.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

August 19, 11:31 p.m.

I've just sent off an e-birthday card to my ex. She hasn't maintained any contact with me for a few weeks now, but I still just wanted to let her know I care. Also on the bittersweet side, that student whom I was having an almost nightly e-mail dialogue with, hasn't sent me any messages in the last couple of nights. I'm just kinda wondering if I scared her off. I mean, Idid give some examples of flirtations to her to see how much she was interested, but I guess I may have already gone overboard. SIGH! And just when I wanted to have a female friend, too....

My little plainitve wail doesn't compare to the current situation in Iraq. Now, the UN gets attacked. How far will this battle go?

Monday, August 18, 2003

August 19

The weather has started to resemble a bit more like August. Still not blazingly hot but warm enough to require my handkerchief for brow-wiping, and a mentholated handy-wipe to erase some of the sweat later in the evening.

It was one of those lazy Mondays. My rich clients aren't back online until next week, so I had nothing until 9 tonight. I just went over to the Grill for lunch...and might I say that it's starting to go into an increasingly downward spiral in terms of the lunch menu. The various meats were all either too greasy or bland, and the desserts were barely there. Looks like the owner is saving up the good stuff for the dinner crowd.

Then, after lunch, I spent the next hour or so looking through yet another monolithic commercial complex just a stone's throw away from the Grill, the Shiodome/NTV Center. This time, it isn't just one huge massive building like Roppongi Hills but three...count 'em three....behemoths of glass and steel: the Shiodome Centre, the new NTV complex and the HQ of the world's largest advertising firm, Dentsu. What used to be a decrepit bunch of buildings and empty lots has now become a very sleek and smooth futuristic nexus of activity. As it is, though, NTV looks to be a clone of Asahi-TV's HQ in Roppongi Hills. There's a lot of those stony winding corridors with lots of cul-de-sacs filled with trendy restaurants and cafes. As the new NTV has just opened, the station is celebrating a month-long opening festival, so there was a CHINDON band playing in the main plaza. A Chindon band consists of a saxophonist, a drummer, a trumpeter and a clarinetist and it originated several decades ago as an advertising medium for newly-opened stores in the Shitamachi area of Tokyo.

Afterwards, I slogged through a couple of CD stores before settling for a respite back on the roof of the Mitsukoshi department store while swilling a couple of cans of pop. That took up about 90 minutes but I still had several hours before my class, so I decided to go all the way down to Jiyugaoka. My Monday students often head out there since it is fairly close to their place of business. Well, when I arrived, I found it to be the usual hub around a small station: a couple of department stores nestled into a mass of small izakaya, restaurants, cafes and various shops. I ended up traipsing through it for almost two hours.

I did find some interesting places including a bookstore selling some pretty old books including songbooks from idol magazines dating back to the mid-70s. A lot of our middle-aged actors and actresses sure looked like Morning Musume back then. Also, there were a lot of interesting small bars and boutiques. Indeed, I think Jiyugaoka is a mix between your usual small Tokyo commercial district and Shimokitagawa, a trendy old neighbourhood for the young. There was even a side street called Hilo Street, named after the Hawaiian city. It even came complete with a speaker playing hula music. Only in Japan. And the neighbourhood also has a Dennys and an Anna Millers, which has a distinct reputation surrounding its short-skirted waitresses. But a Hooters, this ain't.

Well, I decided to go off down a couple of stations where my student lived, and went to the neighbourhood McDs for the next 70 minutes (yes, even after that marathon trek through Jiyugaoka, I still had plenty of time). When I finally came out to head over to the apartment, I came across one of the students just standing in front, apparently waiting for me to get out of the station. It just so happened that the other student's apartment was so messy that they decided to have the class out in Jiyugaoka of all things...the place that I had just spent exploring.

On the train heading for Jiyugaoka, the other student was coincidentally on as well, so it didn't take too long to find ourselves a temporary base of operations. He decided on Dennys, and was rather surprised that I knew how to get there. Good sense of direction, I told him.

The lesson was merely OK. One piece of advice when teaching students...well, actually two. The first one is don't bother trying to teach in a family restaurant....too loud. And don't order anything bigger than a cup of coffee when you're teaching. I ordered a peach sundae and it all turned to mush during my class. I would also suggest not teaching anyone past 9, but unfortunately, in my case, that can't be helped. My students only perked up when I could teach something they could use immediately.

Well, I'm home after my semi-odyssey. All I have to do is get some e-mail done and then get some sleep. Luckily, I'm just in the neighbourhood tomorrow with just a couple of classes in the evening.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

August 17

Well, it was a fairly quiet weekend. August is still pretending to be April or November although I didn't really need the jacket. Saturday was a complete coccooning experience aside from a quick jaunt to the convenience store around the corner. Sunday was almost the same except for a call from Chip Guy who wanted to get a couple of the guys together for a bit of a drink out.

We (me, Chip Guy and CG's friend) ended up first going to a outdoor cafe in the trendy Daikanyama. Some very good BLTs to be had there; instead of the regular thin strips of bacon, I had a slab of what I think was Canadian back bacon with the usual tomato and lettuce between two English muffin halves. Very nice.

We also got some entertainment, albeit on the dark side. Just in front of us on the street, there was a comedy of errors going on with an inept driver and his car. For 5 minutes, we couldn't figure out whether he was trying to parallel park or drive out. Whatever he was doing, he was doing it badly, and he had enough space in front of the Benz parked behind him.

As it turned out, he was trying to get out, and at that moment, the driver of the Benz had the poor timing to come on out to drive away. We weren't sure whether it had been the frustration of the inept driver that fueled his next act, but he decided to reverse his car and bumped the Benz squarely on the fender. Then the fool decided to get into a one-sided screamfest with the hapless Benz driver who couldn't really hold his own against the guy. The yelling continued for a few more minutes while his pregnant wife stood mutely by with an umbrella, and the three of us were providing play-by-play commentary....mostly denigrating the fool. We almost hoped that Mr. Benz would punch his louder rival's lights out, but such was not to be. Finally, the fool stormed back to his car with his wife and drove off. Mr. Benz just muttered back to the cafe next to us and then he brought back out his family (!) and they drove off. As we saw the car go off, I imagined a tail tightly folded between the rear wheels.

We ended up talking about the incident for several minutes before we decided to go down the street to an Italian restaurant for the main event. The waiter had a bit of a laugh as we all ordered somewhat effeminate drinks in the form of two margaritas and a Bailey's Irish Cream, so not surprisingly, we all got into a round of gay jokes....followed by tech talk.

Tomorrow, back to another sparse week.