Saturday, October 25, 2003

Sat. Oct. 25, 9:30 p.m.

Another bizarrely fun outing with the students today. This time, the mission was to get the Halloween shopping done for the upcoming Friday's festivities. But before that, we all had some lunch at this Hawaiian burger joint just across the street. It was the first time there for me. One of the students who came along swore by it, and we weren't disappointed. The burgers were quite juicy, but the fries could've been more plentiful and meatier.

Then, our squad went into Kinokuniya International Supermarket and picked up three pumpkins along with some goodies for Trick Or Treat before heading down the main Omotesando Avenue to Kiddyland for some decorations for the lounge. And finally, we all went up to this dessert place called Cafe Comme Ca. It really ought to have been called Cafe Decadence. There was a huge showcase displaying all of these unbelievably loaded pies and cakes. For one peach concoction, I wondered how many trees were sacrificed to provide the fruit for this pie. It was all so trendy. And certainly the kept company kept entertaining us with a lot of their non sequiturish English. Some great unintentional double entendres which would've made the producers of Three's Company salivate.

Finally, we took all of our purchases back to the school and took a small break before heading home.

Tomorrow, we may have another large group to catch Kill Bill. Should break my futility record for mediocre flicks.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Thurs. Oct. 23, 8:02 p.m.

A bit tired today after an interpreting session between my friend and his boss turned into a marriage counseling session. The first few minutes were especially tough as I got into some rather technical vocab which boiled over into some frustration from the boss about my friend's poor attitude toward work and his benefactors. It got better toward the end although there were some sparks here and there, once again from the boss who hails from Osaka (an important point when it comes to temperament). But the way it went, it certainly looks like the boss won this round. And I may have gotten a contract to teach some of his guys there although I'm not sure about the motivation factor among some of the employees. I certainly hope that my friend doesn't think I left him out to dry, but often the boss shot my interpretations down as soon as I relayed them. And to be honest, as I had mentioned once before, my friend can be rather iconoclastic.

Looks like there was some activity in front of my school today of a criminal nature. Apparently, as I was having lunch upstairs, my fellow teacher informed me that there was some sort of shakedown involving several police officers and three older men in suits. Probably another company scandal

The Japanese are getting the best of both worlds especially if they are baseball fans. Not only are they glued to the tube to see Matsui bat for the Yankees in the World Series but also they're looking to see if perennial underdogs, the Hanshin Tigers, can take it all in the Japan Series.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Thurs. Oct. 23, 5:33 a.m.

Yesterday was a fairly relaxing empty day for me. It's nice once in a while to be able to spend the middle of the week with nothing to do, although the loss of income is something that I'm always aware of. I was able to catch up on a lot of B5 episodes. When the series came out a decade ago, I, being a Trekkie snob at the time, couldn't believe these upstarts would ever have a chance of succeeding. And certainly, the pilot episode was no masterpiece of acting, especially on the parts of the top two officers. However, I've come to the realization that B5 has gone to places where none have gone before with its 5-year story arc and often very gritty storylines. Plus, the space battles are a lot better accomplished than on Trek.

Today, I have my regular oil class but then I have to step into a negotiation of sorts between my friend and his boss at their company. I really have no idea why he wants me there...well, I should say that I do know. His Japanese ability is pretty minimal...just some badly pronounced Osakan dialectic bits, and he needs to get across his ideas to the boss. His boss (and quietly, me) has wondered why he won't go for Japanese lessons despite the need for it in his job. I chalk it up to stubbornness on my friend's part and that he simply doesn't do well as a student. I can imagine him contesting any teacher on any point of grammar and vocabulary. In any case, I will endeavor to do my best.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Tues. Oct. 21, 4:24 p.m.

Just ina small lull between outings. I'll be heading out for my regular classes in an hour but I had a nice special lunch with my Tuesday morning crowd at one of the student's houses. My fellow teaching partner whom I've only spoken with on the phone twice and had never met in over 3 years of teaching was teaching the students today, and I was invited to finally meet him face to face.

There was a bit of pomp and circumstance when I came in. To the students, this was kinda like the meeting between Picard and Spock on that old TNG episode. So, of course, they let the two of us banter for a few minutes just to witness this piece of history. AFterwards, the whole group of us went over to the student's house where we engorged on a lot of savory homemade fare and a couple of sumptious desserts. There will be no need for any sustenance for the rest of the night. Plus, our hostess introduced us to a lovely green liquor made from bananas and other herbs which goes great with orange juice. Will have to pick one up on Saturday.

My first meeting with my partner was very cordial. He's almost a decade older than me and lives all the way out in Kanagawa Prefecture which explains why we have never met until now. He's a laid back fellow from Minnesota and we seem to share a mutual personality and appreciation of climate.

Looks like this will really be a slow and financiall poorer week for me. Not only did I have nothing for Monday, but it looks like my Wednesday nighter won't be able to make it out due to overtime. Basically, I'll have tomorrow off as well.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Mon. Oct 20, 6:39 p.m.

I see that senility can come quickly with the onset of age. Case in point: I went to my Monday student's mansion to find out that she is on a 3-day trip. Apparently, I had been mistaken in my scheduling which means that I'll have to reconfirm with her. That, and the fact that my airline student didn't make a request for a lesson meant that I had a free day. It wasn't wasted, though. Since I was in the area, I cased out Kinokuniya and Kiddyland to check out their wares before the big Halloween shopping blitz this Saturday.

After that, I just came back home for a rare Monday night. Just did some well-needed cleaning, including a set of curtains that hadn't been washed in nearly 2 years. The dust was probably the only thing holding them together. And got some cooking as well. Made a greasy and delicious fried pork sandwich. Can't be beat!

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Sun. Oct 19, 8:15 p.m.

Pretty tired after a long day in Okutama. It was a good 2-hour trek by train over to Tokyo's last batch of wilderness. One of the teachers remarked that when she looked out from the 42nd-floor observation deck of Tokyo's City Hall, she was flabbergasted at how far the concrete jungle extended.

Well, she needn't have worried. Although it is officially a part of Tokyo, Okutama is just about a rural place of rivers and forests and hills as it can get anywhere in Japan. That teacher who made the remark from the 42nd-floor came with us along with six students. It was a typical Japanese BBQ with Korean BBQ beef and yakisoba being the main menu. The weather was perfect: sunny and that nice little level between cool and warm. It certainly was refreshing to breathe unpolluted air and see a babbling river beside our fire. And the convenience of Tokyo was still there. A lodge by the park supplied us with the knives, colanders, cutting boards and the grills.

Although I had a good time, one of the organizing students had also invited some of her friends from university. Now of course, it is within her right to invite anyone she wants. But I've never been great at socializing with a whole bunch of outsiders at once, so once again, I had to settle for keeping my distance from them. Luckily, the other organizer, Ms. N, is a natural "up-with-people" type, so she had a great time bantering. Me? I just enjoyed my lunch. The only thing was whether if I had offended the inviter by "snubbing" them.