Saturday, January 10, 2004

Sunday Jan. 11, 1:33 a.m.

Well, it was one for the entertainment books tonight. It certainly made me wonder whether I should have even bothered lingering around Shinjuku for 6 hours before meeting up with Movie Buddy and the bunch. First of all, our trip to Shidax, our first choice for karaoke, was short-circuited by one of those young hucksters hawking half-price karaoke around the corner in Kabukicho. I was pretty suspicious to begin with, but MB got hooked by the promise of all-you-can-drink.

As it turned out, the place we went to was no better than the really cheap karaoke box with the dingy walls and the torn-up seats. The karaoke system was slow in responding and had this weird gimmick of being in random selection mode so that we could never find out when we would be singing. Plus, the drinks and food (miniscule and mediocre) were late in coming and some of the orders were never processed. But the worst part of it was that it looked like MB and his girlfriend had been in the middle of a lovers' spat even before tonight's event, and it boiled over in the middle of the session. While some of us were singing, MB and his girl decided to continue their argument in the room itself until MB suddenly stormed out with his girl following. He came back all pouty for a little bit but it looked like the two had patched things up...initially. Finally, when we were on our way back to the station, I was walking beside them when the girlfriend decided that she would give him the cold shoulder with him trying to catch up and make up. I'd had enough and just left them alone...easy enough to do in the usual tumultuous crowd which always clogged the area around the ticket machines and gates. One thing I hate is getting into the middle of a crossfire, especially between two lovers. Mind you, the whole thing reminded me of some of the dicier moments between me and my ex, albeit it was in more private situations. However, I have blown up in the past in public places, so I can sympathize to a certain extent with MB.

As it is, though, I could've avoided all this and just stayed home with a good meal. Ah well, these things do happen from time to time. I just hope that my meeting with Chip Guy goes a lot better.

And as a further conclusion, witnessing all of this ugliness illustrated to me that I'm happier being single again.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Friday Jan. 9, 11:07 p.m.

Always nice to take a shower after a day of eating very spicy food. I went down to Roppongi as scheduled and went to First Kitchen, one of the local fast food restaurants, to meet that acquaintance of mine. I had a chili dog set which added the first aromas to my clothing. We shifted the venue over to the family restaurant, Janathans, across the street. It seems like there was a reason that he wanted to change places. He's a macrobiotic type of fellow so nothing on the First Kitchen menu would ever be chosen by him. He just uses the place as a study hall, much to the staff's chagrin.

Afterwards, I went up to the Iconoclast's company and met up with his boss' nephew. Unlike in my first report, his nephew turned out to be a pretty decent fellow. He asked me a lot of questions about living in Canada which I was happy to answer, and we continued our conversation over to dinner at a tiny yakitori place in East Shinjuku. Of course, the smells of the dishes there managed to permeate my clothing. I was broiling in my own juices with the extra layers on, but as it turned out, my decision was a good one. It was cold walking back home but the layers kept most of it out.

Well, gotta make the plans for the kids.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Friday Jan. 9, 11:14 a.m.

It may be -20 before the wind chill in Toronto but it was still plenty cold here in Tokyo despite it being 22 degrees warmer. I can thank the lack of central heating for that. Luckily, I've had a 10-year-old ceramic heater that's still working. The wonders of Japanese durability.

The salarymen are crying the blues here. Not because of the economy which is actually showing a rise, but because of the ban on beef imports from the US and probably Canada. We have a very popular restaurant among the salaried types here called Yoshinoya whose fare du guerre is GYUDON or beef on rice in a bowl. In fact, there are other similar chains as well but Yoshinoya is the representative restaurant. Salarymen love to go there during lunch or even dinner since the dish comes out hot, quick and cheap. With the restrictions on beef, Japan will deplete its American beef supplies by March which means that all of the gyudon restaurants will have to drastically change the menu. Substitutes include salmon roe, chicken or other stuff on the rice. Some of those salarymen when interviewed cited a lot of regret if that were to happen.

Well, today, I'll be headed out to meet a couple of folks. One is a guy who I only met once or twice back in Toronto several years ago. For some reason, he's tried to maintain contact with me over the years by e-mail, so we've finally decided to meet in Roppongi for a bit of tea. Then, I head back up to Shinjuku to meet The Iconoclast and his boss' nephew. It seems the nephew wants to head off to Canada to study something. His English is not too hot, and since The Iconoclast's Japanese is minimal, I'm being brought in again as intermediary. Oh, man...I just hope he's not one of these young punks with an attitude.

I may have another get-together in the works. One of the Tea Room girls contacted me for the first time in several weeks since our disbanding to see if we were up for a New Year's party. Then, another one of my school's alumni who actually has her current job thanks to that aforementioned Tea Room lady contacted me for pretty much the same thing. Hmmm...after that Xmas fiasco, I'm wondering if I should let one of them do the planning.

My weekend will be spent with my closest friends. I've got my first class with the kids tomorrow, but then I'll be meeting up with Movie Buddy and his friend from Oz for a goodbye dinner before Oz takes off for home. Then, I'll be meeting up with Chip Guy and the family on Sunday for dinner with him.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Wednesday Jan. 7, 11:17 p.m.

I felt pretty worn out and limp by the time I returned home tonight. I think one factor in that was my fashion overreaction. Again, I judged the weather outside by how cold it felt inside in my pyjamas, so I threw on the scarf, the gloves and the longjohns. Of course, the temperature today was 7 degrees...cold by Tokyo standards, but for a supposedly coldproofed Canadian like myself, I should've just laughed it off. Instead I lugged all of this stuff on my person like a portable sauna. Without getting into too fine detail, I resorted to peeling off my longjohns. My legs will probably be the envy of a lot of young ladies right now.

I ended up getting a 1000 yen pass since I had quite a few stops today which involved paying bills, doing some shopping and then teaching my two classes. The two of them went by fairly smoothly. But they will end up being the only two classes of my work week, aside from my kids on Saturday morning, since my new class on Thursday nights cancelled out and we've got that Adulthood Day on Monday.

That Starbucks card I got from my Wednesday nighter has been a godsend. No reaching for bills and change for my lattes and cinnamon rolls. Just a swipe and the staff person takes care of that aspect of manual labor.

I gave my afternoon student a bit of a scare when I admitted my past as a former otaku. I had to reassure that I no longer go nuts when it comes to purchases of music CDs and any anime purchases are a thing of the past.

The Iconoclast has returned from his vacation in HK with a nice slab of BBQ pork for me. Now all I have to do is try to secure it sometime this weekend.

Well, now that I have nothing tomorrow, I can just sleep in and just get a few errands done.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Tuesday Jan. 6, 11:55 p.m.

Another smooth night in front of the students, although that one student is once again making some groans about having to work with a less-advanced book. Well, I did offer that she could start a private class with me since I will be teaching 2 Thursdays a month from this week. However, my boss told me that the student had related to her that she is loathe to do that since it would be too expensive. Well, if she wants to paint herself into a corner with her own brush, that's her business.

I still received a few more New Year's cards today, one from a surprise source, The Joker. After a silence of several years, he, or his wife actually, sent over a card. Well, I tried to find some remaining New Year's cards at the convenience store but it looks like the season is now officially over; I couldn't find a single one. I think it's a bit chintzy, but I decided to send The Joker and the two other parties e-mail cards instead. The other ones came from that family whose kids I teach on Saturdays and a couple of former students who had become a married item a couple of years ago. They just opened up a flower shop of their own; it should look very nice since the husband is a former set designer. I must admit that the address of the place is intriguing. Although it was written in the katakana syllabary, I swear it reads as "Phil Collins Musashino". I wonder if the building itself is called "Genesis".

I also received a phone message from the Ballerina. It sounded rather final so I gather that I won't be meeting her at the school after all. I am a bit disappointed by that but at least it saves me an extra leg on my journey and I can get at least one more hour of sleep. Speaking of the school, I guess the staff is pretty desperate in trying to find teachers. I have told the folks there repeatedly that I cannot work on Fridays, and yet they sent me a fax asking if I would be willing to teach at the Funabashi City Hall on Thursdays and Fridays for the next several weeks. For one thing, I said that I would only teach the in-house classes at the school, and for the second thing, when I taught there last year, the organization and the materials for the class were so lame. Nice students, though, so I was rather ashamed about teaching that crap to them.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 11:48 a.m.

Got a good 10 hours of sleep today. One thing about these holidays, I'm very happy for the down time. I also heard the garbage guys come by for the first time in over a week. Looking at the pile that was there last night, it looks like they are going to be needing the Ben-Gay tonight.

Well, that was indeed a computer worm which attacked me yesterday. But damage was minimal. It tried to make another attack today but luckily I was able to filter it out now that I knew what I was looking for.

I received a bit more traffic of real e-mail as well. Chip Guy is back in town so I'm looking forward to dinner with him this weekend. GC and another old friend got back in touch as well, so I was able to have somewhat mroe meaningful exchanges other than the usual one-line responses.

Well, I've gotta get prepped for my three classes tonight.

Mon. Jan. 5, 9:36 p.m.

Well, I know that the Holidays are truly over when regular civic services are back online. I had a couple of bags of burnable garbage just hanging around my kitchen for a week until I finally could dump them outside. No problems with smell, though, thanks to the fact that I have no central heating.

Heading out to Tokyo wasn't too bad. I made a stopover in Akihabara today to pick up one last calendar for the Anime King. I must admit that it felt rather weird being in the anime emporium, GAMERS, surrounded by folks who could become my surrogate children. But I was able to find a calendar which should keep the King happy. A lot of people milling through the electronics district.

The class tonight went by pretty smoothly. I got the impression on the way back to Shinjuku Station, though, that there was still a period of transition going on between the Holidays and the regular work week. Not too many people walking outside of the huge hotels in the West Shinjuku district.

The weather has gotten noticeably colder again after a balmy New Year's week. I wonder if there will be a repeat of that fateful Adulthood Day several years back when the kimonoed and suited 20-year-olds got socked by a major snowstorm in Tokyo.

Looks like the BBS traffic has been burning up a streak on the J-Pop forums about the Morning Musume graduations and the Kohaku Utagassen. If I were ten years younger, I probably would jump in instead of being a harmless lurker but considering that a lot of messages have the words "Mom" and "Dad" in them, I would feel somewhat sleazy doing so. I am impressed, though, at the origins of some of those messages: New York, Louisiana, Texas.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Monday Jan. 5, 9:14 a.m.

Well, the first work day of the new year is getting off to an unsurprisingly rocky start. For some reason, my eyes flicked open at 4:30 a.m. so that I only netted four hours of sleep. Plus, my coffee urn decided to vomit its hot contents all over me when I pushed down the plunger, and then some goof decided to send me a potential computer virus under the administration of my server. And now I find out that my application to get a birth certificate to get a new passport will take about 14 weeks MINIMUM. Good grief!

Looks like there have been idol bombshells on both sides of the Pacific. Britney gets married under alcohol, but she will get that annulled. Over here, the fans of the Morning Musume supergroup are reeling on hearing that two of the more popular members, Ai and Nozomi, will be "graduating" from the group in the summer. The otakus are probably crying in their Hello Kitty mugs of beer.

Well, when a day like today starts like it has, I'm just gonna get me a rubdown at my massage clinic, and then enjoy a nice lunch before prepping for my lesson tonight. Luckily, I already set the groundwork last night.
Sunday Jan. 4, 9:49 p.m.

The official New Year's holidays will be finishing as of tonight, although I'm sure that there will probably be New Year's parties all throughout the month. I think this country is the only one in the G-8 that has 2 different sets of major parties with just one week in between. I did my weekly budgetary calculations, and they illustrated how quiet my week was. My total weekly expenditures were a fair bit smaller than the previous week's expenditures on food alone. That certainly is a big relief for me considering that I didn't make any income over the past 2 weeks.

My e-mail traffic, the real stuff anyways, has been paltry. Basically, all I've been doing is sweeping out the spam aside from one or two letters.

But I'll be back at work from Monday. However, I just have that one night class so I guess my holidays will still be extended for a little bit longer. No complaints from this end.

The Ballerina contacted me by phone today asking me if I am available on Wednesday. A couple of old alumni are popping by the school just before she takes off for jolly ol' England later that day.

I actually caught a good portion of that French movie "Amelie" that was all the rage a couple of years ago on TV this morning. I decided to watch it in its original French; I was never a huge dubbing fan although I was able to endure it as a child when I watched those Godzilla movies back in Canada. What can I say? It's perky and typically off-kilter for a French comedy. Mind you, "Amelie" is the first French comedy I've ever seen.

Well, time to prepare for the lessons.