Saturday, January 17, 2004

Sunday Jan. 18, 1:12 a.m.

Well, the horrible storm that was supposed to hit us is so far a bit of a bust. We've been getting steady wisps of flakes coming down all day and night but nothing has accumulated. Methinks that this whole thing will quickly become a meterological memory by the morning. However, the pundits did forecast more white stuff for Monday. Now I'm really hoping that there will be a huge whiteout then so that I can avoid that interpreting session between the Iconoclast and his bosses. Quit, already!

The kids were OK today along with my lesson plans. I managed to keep things relatively fun but I made sure that they got a good grounding in past tense. At this point, I'm willing to sacrifice some fun for some solid work.

For the next 6 hours afterwards, I had free time so I made my semi-regular stop at that great ramen shop in Shinjuku Station that the Iconoclast had introduced me to months ago. It not only has a great ribsticking ramen with roast pork cutlet, but it's non-smoking and it even plays jazz in the background. Perfect! Then I went on a bit of a spree and picked up another movie mag along with the Diane Krall DVD of her concert in Paris and a CD of an old semi-successful 80s band, GO WEST. I popped on the subway and headed down to Omotesando to scope out the restaurant for that New Year's party later in the evening. It was just across from Aoyama Gakuin University. Intriguing name...SYDNEY BLUE. Sounds like a female detective.

I then spent a better part of an hour searching high and low through Omotesando, Harajuku and Shibuya for a cafe. But given that it was a Saturday and it was cold, there was no chance that I would get a seat. I ended up at Towers doing some browsing all over the floors before I made my way to the corner McDonalds. I ended up having a snack there. That particular branch had a bit of a fascinating schizo interior decor. The front half was decked out in an off-white Grecian decor while the back was decked out as a 60s pop art mondo lounge. I think some photographer ought to take a few shots.

Finally, I made my way up the road in the gently blowing snow back to Sydney Blue where I already found a few familiar faces...and some surprises. Within a few minutes, I found out that a couple of the folks sitting there had gotten engaged. One of the two, The Big Guy, was eliciting some shocked looks when he made his announcement. He had known his newly-minted fiancee for a few years but only dated her officially for a week before he decided to pop the question.

Over the next several minutes, more of the gang arrived. As I may have mentioned before, i was never a great fan of mingling in big parties, and things didn't really change to make me change my mind. However, the good thing was that they were willing to let me just listen in on the conversations with a few chances for me to insert some comments. It had been close to a year since I'd seen any of them. I met Spunky for the first time in ages. She was always the mother hen of the gang...making sure everybody was OK and holding annual Thanksgiving parties at her apartment. Although the name and some pamphlets on a table may have pointed to some vague reference to Australia, the food was most definitely Meditteranean. It was good and very plentiful; in fact, I rather gagged after munching on smoked salmon, pasta and stuffed shells to see platters of glazed fried pork come out as a last course.

The strange thing about the entire evening was that Chip Guy, the man who had told me about the party in the first place, was a no-show. Spunky alluded that it's possible that he and the missus may have had a spat. But I think that's unlikely since he was supposed to have brought two Canadian friends in tow. In any case, I sent him a query about his absence.

Well, I'm glad to be home after a long day, and if this snowy weather continues into Sunday, I'll be just as happy to stay here as well.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Friday Jan. 16, 11:05 p.m.

Enjoyed a highly unusual wakeup of 12 noon. Don't know how long it's been since I woke up that late. I think the last time I did that was back around Xmas 1987 after a major hangover. Nothing as painful as that today.

Since I had no classes today, I just focused on getting some ironing done and prepping for my kids' classes. I also started watching the second season of 24 on DVD. Still a visual pageturner. Unfortunately, my sinuses decided to clog up as well, which provided me with several hours of sneezing and other misery until I bought some medicine tonight along with the fixins for dinner.

Well, we may have some snow in the forecast tomorrow. I love snow but I hate the fact that it tends to screw up public transportation so badly in this city. And I have to head out fo r the kids' place tomorrow morning and then I've got a New Year's party in the evening. In a way, I hope that the alert is a false alarm.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Friday Jan. 16, 12:49 a.m.

Sure enough, when I checked my bankbook for my montly stipend from my school, I received just enough to pay for a fairly good dinner in Tokyo. Looks like I may suffer my first loss when I do the books next month. Well, I look at it in perspective. Back 6 years ago, I busted my ankle just a few months after having started my full-time gig, so I wasn't exactly filled with money at that time. In fact, because I was out of it for 3 weeks, I was in such dire need that I had to borrow money from a friend for a short while. Naturally I appreciated the help but still, it was an ego-bruiser. Right now, even with the risk of going minus next month, I will still have considerably more in my account than I did at that time. I guess optimism is still good for something.

However, on the good side, my regular Tuesday night gig got expanded to Thursday from tonight with theaddition of a student. And another old student of mine informed me of a friend of hers who wants to enlist for lessons. Well, this could be another potential boost to the income here.

My lone class at the school wasn't a great one, though a few of the students seemed OK and all of them laughed uproariously at times. I'm always rather tough on myself.

Looks like I've got another head start on the weekend. My lone Friday afternoon student cancelled out due to work. And I haven't heard from Chip Guy concerning a possible dinner date on Friday evening. So I assume that I'll just be catching up on some ironing and then working on the kids' classes for Saturday.

I met up with Movie Buddy this afternoon at the school for the first time since that rather foul row last Saturday. He didn't mention a thing about it but did mention about the fact that we had all disappeared in the huge crowd. I didn't bother telling him the real reason I escaped. I told him about the fact that I'm borrowing The Two Towers. An initial attempt to meet up has been dashed due to plans on both ends.

Then, the Iconoclast left a message on the machine, sniping about yet another little snit with a staff member he hates with a passion. So I'll have to interpret that on Monday afternoon. I'm not going to be looking forward to that, though I am mindful that the Iconoclast has given me some very nice food. All I can say is that I hope he will keep his promise to leave the company in 2 weeks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Wednesday Jan. 14, 10:50 p.m.

I did my montly budget check. It looks like even with the lack of income and the heavy expenditures, I was able to still save a nice, if not great, amount. However, I am dreading my miniscule payday tomorrow.

My long day was curtailed a bit when my final student of the day called up to cancel due to extra work. I wasn't complaining too much since I am feeling rather rundown. Perhaps it is some lingering effect of last night's Hirohito's Revenge or the cold bug has finally hit me in earnest. It was pretty chilly out today and much of northern Japan got majorly walloped by a huge snowstorm.

Looks like my social calendar could be shaping up some more. Once again, I got the lion's share of good e-mail and a few former students have contacted me about getting together for New Year's parties in the next couple of weeks. And I thought that the Holidays were finally over.

I made a pickup at the Iconoclast's company today between classes to pick up that massive fruitcake he doesn't like. It ought to be good as a prize for tomorrow's class at the school. At the same time, I also got that Chinese fake meat made from tofu, ZAI, a hard block of maple sugar and even a bottle of Bit and Bites. The ZAI is definitely an acquired taste; I could take it though not exactly savor it. It was a matter of not quite approximating real meat in terms of taste and texture, but I was game enough to devour it with some hot rice for dinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Wednesday Jan. 14, 8:02 a.m.

Rather busy yesterday with classes spread throughout the day. My first Tsudanuma class of the year went quite well along with my first class at the old school. Some of the students had wondered if I had finally cut all ties. During my 4-hour break between that class and my regular night gig, I got into a nice conversation with a student I hadn't taught since Halloween. We share a common interest in jazz, especially Diana Krall, so we ended up deciding to swap some CDs on Thursda y since I'll be teaching then as well.

The night classes went pretty smoothly although my last class was one of those somnabulant affairs, and the past perfect tense is definitely not one of the more exciting lessons to teach. I also learned that there is a reason not to drink orange soda past its expiry date. To wit, I was very thirsty even after the first cup of coffee so I raided the fridge in my teaching room. My boss is not exactly the most conscientious person when it comes to maintaining what's in the fridge. There was a carton of Tropicana which had expired back on December 27th; there was no way that I would touch that, but I did go for the orange soda. Even the expiry date of Jan. 7th, I thought that with soda being soda, there would be no problem. However, I did get a tinge of Montezuma's Revenge later when I got home...or perhaps I should say Hirohito's Revenge.

After several days of very low real e-mail traffic, I rather hit the motherloda last night with a good 20% of my inbox consisting of true messages. One was even from my former girl; apparently, she's moved just a little east of me for some reason. I'm not sure if that means she's gotten her own little place or if she's moved in with her new beau. However, she has invited me for a bit of lunch next week.

I've been going over The Two Towers DVD little by little during my relatively brief periods of free time. It will take some time to get through the extras since there are so many of them. This morning was devoted to the making of Gollum. I think, in a way, it's good to go through the extras very gradually since the self-congratulatory tone can be awfully grating beyond a certain period of time.

Today should be another busy one with three different classes spread out over the day. Plus, I've got another pickup of food from The Iconoclast in between classes. Looks like it'll be another chilly one today.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Monday Jan. 12, 10:35 p.m.

Nice quiet day at home. I managed to get through nearly 4 hours of the special extended DVD of The Two Towers. Much better than the theatrical version. Just kinda wished that Jackson got off that "Longest Closing Credits Sequence in History" kick, though. Now, I've gotta get through the special features which should take just as long.

Well, tomorrow is back to work. Tuesday and Wednesday ought to be my busiest days since I'll have to be out of the apartment most of the time.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Monday Jan. 12, 12:31 p.m.

Well, sure enough, the news this mornng showed a few of those malcontents crashing Adulthood Day ceremonies in Okinawa and Miyagi Prefectures. Although those punks did steam me, I also realized that there are a whole lot more ceremonies going on around the country which were probably a lot more peaceful if boring, and perhaps in a few rare cases, even truly inspirational (oops...I caught a whiff of optimism there...gotta check that).

Forgot to mention that the Ballerina called all the way from London last night and left a greeting. She stated that she tried to reach Movie Buddy on his cell but he wasn't picking up. I recollected that he once said the Ballerina was just a bit too dependent on him (she's had a major crush on him) and that he would refrain from talking to her for a while. And especially with Saturday night's events, I don't think it would help matters having any mention of the Ballerina into their relationship.

I borrowed The Two Towers Special Edition DVDs and the second season of 24 from Chip Guy. Looks like I'll be busy today but I've got some housework to do. Plus, I've got to devour the Iconoclast's BBQ pork that he so kindly brought back from HK for me.

Monday Jan. 12, 12:55 a.m.

Well, another Adulthood Day is here..the time when the new 20-year-olds dress up in their kimonos and suits, drink LEGALLY for once and heckle the mayor during the usually boring speech that he makes to the so-called mature adults. As you might imagine, I take a dim view of any day that celebrates a set border between adolescence and adulthood. Plenty of immature adults well into their 20s and 30s out there.

Luckily, the past evening was a much more serene and pleasant experience than that logistical and emotional fiasco of Saturday night. I made my first pilgrimage to Chip Guy's house this year, and enjoyed his company along with that of his wife and kid. The only source of caterwauling just came from Chip Guy's daughter and THAT I could understand.

Over dessert, I watched one of those "Only In Japan" variety shows. I think this program belonged solidly more in the National Geographic channel than the Food Network. It was about a few celebs who dared to enter unknown lands and find out what some of the natives were eating. Among the "delicacies" were: mosquito patties stewed in cow urine, sauteed termite queens and deep-fried spiders. Chip's wife was marveling at how I could keep on munching chocolates while watching this program. Hmph...I can distinguish between the two things!