Saturday, December 06, 2003

Saturday Dec. 6, 11:41 p.m.

The annual Xmas party was pretty much a carbon copy of last year's fest in terms of structure: we had the main party, karaoke, dinner (or some semblance of it) at an izakaya, followed by coffee. Also, as usual, the party venue was once again the atypically classy joint across from the school, and the party itself had the games, music and me in my Santa outfit. And to top it all off, once again, myclothes smell of a tobacco fire.

And also to repeat one other bit of unpleasantness that could have been avoided, one of our students, now graduated, imbibed a bit too much and ended up having a major hangover which resulted in three students having to come to her assistance. Once again, she started wailing away wondering how this could happen to her again. I dunno, I thought while she was splayed on the floor covered in coats to battle the decrease in temperature due to alcohol. I might be seen here as being very callous, but I'm reminded of the "Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you" proverb, and the ingrained cultural trait here of not being a burden on other people. This was the third time she's gone off the deep end, though. And I'm thinking why she can't control herself. She's an intelligent and ambitious lady with a bright future ahead of her, but she can't control her alcohol. While she wailing away like a banshee, I felt like chastising her for all the little good it would have done. However, her three classmates kept comforting her, so I really couldn't do anything. On the other hand, I didn't really pick up a finger to help her out...she made her bed, she should lie in it.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Friday Dec. 5, 10:54 p.m.

Well, I stupidly broke my own rule of ensuring that I'm in good shape to teach class today. I had a major case of the sniffles, but instead of picking up some medicine along the way to my lesson, I decided to skip it, thinking that I was running late. As it happened, I got there several minutes before my student showed up, and my nose was running like a faucet all class. I really have to smarten up one of these days.

My attack was bad enough that I decided to skip my little jaunt to the conveyor belt sushi place at my station. I thought it wouldn't be too good to be among people dripping nasal fluid all over the counter, so instead I picked up that cold medicine and just called in a pizza while catching up on 24.

Should be pleasant tomorrow with that first Xmas party. It'll be another long day of carousing. And it looks like I have a date with the Madam on Xmas Day for a turkey dinner somewhere in Tokyo. I just have to find the place. That should be the easy part; the difficult part will be ensuring a reservation. There'll probably be a ton of depressed North Americans looking for comfort food on the 25th.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Thursday Dec. 4, 11:24 a.m.

I've been doing a bit of savoring. Back in the summer at a wedding for one of our graduates, I came across a former colleague who along with one other veteran teacher had jumped ship a few months earlier to teach at a boys' high school. He spoke of how much better the money and the schedule were over there and encouraged me to do the same. Knowing my feelings for the upper echelons of my school's staff, I entertained the thought for just a few seconds; I don't particularly like kids, especially most teens but I did wonder about how one would be treated and the money that could be made.

Well, the other day I spoke with one of our current teachers who is also assigned to this school; apparently, the high school continues to maintain a contract with us despite two former teachers permanently assigned there. She informed me that she had to endure interview tests with verbally abusive boys. She also told me that that one other teacher who had jumped ship with the former colleague at the wedding was now considering his options about other work. And as for that colleague...well, apparently, he's just going through the motions at the school. He just lets the junior chinpira run amok in the blackboard jungle while he makes the money. After hearing this little account, I'm just thinking I'm glad that I stuck to my guns.

It's a good day today...bright if cool. I'll get some Xmas stuff out of the way. write up some cards and then get them out to Canada and Stateside by tomorrow. And see how many of those DVDs I can race through in a day.

Wed. Dec. 3, 9:17 p.m.

Just one class today but I was out for most of the day. The daylong sojourn was sparked by my need to pay off some bills at the UFJ at the next station. Then, I went over to the Farm Grill for my monthly lunch there. On the buffet table, there were the remains...and I do mean remains...of that inexcerable stuffing that's served on Thanksgiving and Xmas. Almost like a warning label, there was a sign in Japanese which read that the stuff was made from turkey livers and hearts. Geez, I wonder if it is a Scottish recipe...the only thing that platter was missing was the sheep's stomach to complete the haggis.

After my usual 90-minute lunch there, I went out to do a bit of window shopping at the nearest CD stores before trying to get some gift calendars at ITO-YA, the big stationery shop in the Ginza, notable for the big red paper clip which stands over the awning. When it comes to gifts for friends and family, I go practical and cheap...give the gift of calendars, the gift that keeps on giving for 12 months. Unfortunately, when I saw a lineup rivaling that for a blockbuster movie just to get into the elevator, I decided to put my Xmas shopping on hold.

I did my walk around the Hibiya area via the Imperial Hotel before hitting the Starbucks where I usually teach my student somewhat early. The seasonal songs were playing there; I must have heard three different versions of Chestnuts Roasting Over An Open Fire over the 3 hours I was there, and none of them were the Nat King Cole version which was somewhat surprising. I'm just glad that the place was willing to play Xmas jazz. At the CD shops, I listened briefly to techno versions of the Yuletide faves before my eyes rolled into the back of my head.

Getting home, I also got another sign that the end of the year is nigh. Fuji-TV was showing its annual FNS music festival...basically a lineup of all of the big singers over the past year. When I came in, the show was replaying the big singers of the 80s festivals. Watching these idol singers, I had to knock myself in the head and wonder what I was thinking when I first fell for J-Pop.

I also wonder if I'm beginning to show signs of becoming a bitter grump. I think I was a bit snippy to Chip Guy and Movie Buddy about a couple of questions, and frankly, I don't regret it. I'm afraid I might be ending up like one of our past teachers at the main school. He was this burnt out tall tale teller (otherwise known as a sociopathic liar) who had finally had enough of a decade of Japan and shambled home.

Well, anyways, tomorrow is an off day so I will try to catch up on those DVDs and tapes, and just try to keep my sanity until the annual Xmas party rolls around on Saturday.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Wednesday Dec. 3, 12:17 a.m.

A nice long day thanks to my Tsudanuma ladies in the morning, my lone class at the main school in the afternoon and then my series of classes at the juku this evening...all of them replete with their own characteristics and atmosphere.

Speaking of mynight classes, I have picked a new one up at the juku starting from January with a very low student. It took a bit of negotiation with the boss, but everything turned out OK.

Looks like my social calendar has been filling up nicely. I may have as many as 8 parties to go to before the year is up. So much for being lonely at Xmas time.

My recent musical acquisition is a CD by a domestic artist by the name of Sheena Ringo, a young lady who has in her brief time on the stage become well known as a very untypical singer in a world of prefab pretty boys, pretty girls and very little talent spread among them. Sheena is quite pretty but she has talent and range. One of the reasons that I like her stuff is that has dove into genres as far ranging as jazz, swing, rock and Latin. Also her voice is pretty distinctive, swooping from aerie-high nasal shrieks to more dulcet tones, and she has a tendency to trill her R's on a par with the most Scottish of Scotsmen. What I was surprised about is that it seems her fame has gone beyond the borders of Japan, and into countries such as Germany. Her videos are also quite catchy in that she takes on a different persona in each one...the most notorious being that of a lesbian nurse with slutty red lipstick. Her latest video features her in all of her past personae almost as if she's giving a retrospective of her career. Hopefully, that doesn't mean that she's hanging up her guitar although I do know that she now has a kid of her own.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Monday Dec. 1, 10:34 p.m.

It was a dreary beginning to the month. For the first time in recent memory, it just steadily rained all day and night. At least on some days, there was a bit of a respite but not this time. I had to put my umbrella every time I went outside. I rather wondered if Ridley Scott had jumped forward in time from the late 80s over to now to get his vision for Dark Rain. The work wasn't too rigorous today; just my regular Monday morning class with my Shoto students and then it was the company class later on.

In between , I started getting some of my Xmas shopping done, almost all o f which involved getting Xmas cards and New Year's cards. The Xmas cards I'll have to get out within a week if I'm to get them over to North America in time. The New Year's cards should be ready to get out by the 15th. I've had to write some pithy sentiments in past years for the New Year's cards but luckily I bought the ones that have been pre-written. Still, the kanji for those addresses will be challenging enough.

After my class with the company folks, I had dinner with the guy who had first introduced me to the president and got me the gig. It looks like, as I had thought, he's gonna pull the trigger on his departure although he hasn't told the president yet. I feel sorry for both of them, but I think my friend shouldn't have to remain in an untenable situation no matter who's in the wrong here. I just wonder what my status will be once he leaves. Luckily, I may have avoided another stint in the crossfire since I have to see my brother right after class next week, and there's no way I'm gonna mediate things before class.

Well, tomorrow should be a bit fuller with my Tuesday morning class in Tsudanuma and then one last stint with the main school kids for the year followed by my regular Tuesday night classes at the juku.

Looks like I've inherited a new house guest outside of the usual mosquitoes of summer and the odd cockroach. My new roommate is a daddy long legs spider which has set up residence in the ceiling corner above the bathtub. It's a bit disconcerting having it hang around while I take a shower even though I know that DLLs aren't poisonous. I guess fragments of my former arachnophobia as a kid still remain within me.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Monday Dec. 1, 7:27 a.m.

It's a very typically Vancouver-ish December morning. It's overcast and slightly wet outside. That typhoon is just brushing past outside. I don't think we'll be getting any direct effects from it but there should be some intense bursts of rain this morning.

Apparently, all of the main TV channels will be going onto terrestrial digital broadcasting as of 11 a.m. today to link up with its satellite broadcasting. It just adds one more step to media interactivity. It's supposed to be hitting just the three major cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya for now. The NHK website didn't mention if every TV set will be getting this new service but I don't really see how any of my remote controls will be able to access it at this point.

It should be another quiet week and probably quiet month. I'm relatively busy today and Tuesday but I've got only singles on Wednesday and Friday with an empty day on Thursday. However, I believe my social calendar is starting to fill up with all sorts of outings or parties. Just another December in the big city.