Saturday, February 07, 2004

Saturday Feb. 7, 10:45 p.m.

Tiring day...after my kids' classes and then lunch at Fufu, I started the shopping for Pancake Day. The big load was at Kinokuniya Supermarket where I bought 9 bottles of 3 different grades of syrup. Luckily, I had the bright idea to lug it back to my school where the coordinator was holding model lessons. There, I met up with an old student of mine whom I hadn't seen in a couple of years. She was in the same year as my ex. She hasn't changed much since her graduation and is now a part-time freelance announcer. The coordinator often calls on her help to sell Berkeley to prospective students. Unfortunately, she had a bit of a weirdo on her hands. We always have one such person in the year-course. Our current resident weirdo has been coming to class in very high geta, supposedly to strengthen his leg muscles for his martial arts. I'm not sure if he is getting strong leg muscles but he is getting attention.

The Cop, one of our teachers, was also there to teach one of the model lessons. He was sporting just a sweater and slacks which apparently sounded a fashion alarm in the coordinator's eyes and a call to the deputy manager. He confided to me that he greatly resented that. I told him that the coordinator is occasionally mercenary and unpredictable in her ways and it was best to keep a certain distance from her. I certainly learned that lesson a few years back.

I got home after my arduous journey through Tokyo and made myself some gratin for dinner. I'm also watching the TV premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring; much to Fuji-TV's credit, they're showing it uncut.

Chip Guy sent me a message concerning tomorrow's activities. I'll give a call in the morning since he's crashing early tonight.

Skippy, one of our soon-to-be grads, sent me a message stating that she got a job as a kids' English teacher at another school. She'll also be taking care of holiday events which pretty much matches what I do at my school. With my old student, the Ballerina and now her, I realize that after their one year with us, they go on their way with their English ability to carve themselves new opportunities. I sometimes feel like a cop at a way station. I get to know them well over the course of a year and then they fly off.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Friday Feb. 6, 10:56 p.m.

Well, it looks like I may have to cut down on my Internet and e-mail scanning. I got my latest NTT bill, and it's still pretty high although it still doesn't even compare to what some of these kids must ring up on their cells. I'll probably keep it to just once a day and see how that goes although that will probably I'll have to filter about close to a hundred messages for spam.

An atypically busy Friday. I met up with the Curry Master at First Kitchen for lunch to talk about her potential lessons. I can squeeze her in on alternating Thursday nights; she also told me about a TOEIC student of hers from IBM whom she would like me to teach on the same night at her apartment. I automatically put out a yellow flag when someone pops me some further information that didn't pop out easlier. She told me that she had been teaching him for 3 years and yet she couldn't recall his family name. Go figure! I also noticed that she kept a laser-like stare on my hands whenever I used them for gestures. Hm.

Then, it was off to my regular Friday afternoon gig at the Tea Room. It was pretty good except that she forgot to pay me. I realized it before we left the place but I didn't say anything since I thought it would be a bit gauche to mention the fact. She did send me an e-mail message apologizing for the oversight.

Finally, it was off to see my regular Wednesday nighter at the Toranomon Starbucks. The class went well and she paid me. However, next week will be a scratch. In fact, I won't have any classes at the school next week because it'll be the final testing week for the students before graduation. Plus, there's the fact that Constitution Day is coming up next Wednesday.

Tomorrow ought to be a busy one with me doing some major shopping for the big Pancake Day festivities on Friday. Happily, I've got a budget and funding to pay for all the syrup. I should be properly exhausted by the time I get home, though. I've gotta entertain 24 students.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Friday Jan. 5, 1:15 a.m.

It's gotten chilly again. No classes yesterday but I went in to discuss the Pancake Party plans with the coordinator. It looks the last party of the year before the graduation has gotten a lot of interest...a good three-quarters of the student body have signed up.

Afterward, me and a couple of the students went off to the local Tully's for a couple of hours to chat. During that time, one of them tentatively asked me about the possibility of teachng them after they graduate. It is possible but I'm gonna have to scour the schedule.

Then the three of us went downtown to COCA where we met our 4th member for dinner at Yurakucho Station. The talk was flowing very easily as we spent a good 3.5 hours there while we munched and drank away on good food and drink. We got into some rather bizarre, certainly unsuitable topics over the dinner table for some reason. We got into that German cannibal case which sparked speculation on what humans taste like. I also discovered that the husband of one of the students is a fellow Trekkie so I sent him a simple Trek test over the e-mail. I also advised another student about her interest in joining NOVA once she graduates from the school.

Well, I should hit the hay since I've got a fairly busy day later today. I'm meeting up with that high-level lady in Urayasu. Then, I'm meeting my regular Friday afternoon student and then I have to rush off to Toranomon to see my regular Wednesday nighter. Plus, I gotta get ready for my kids on Saturday morning. Perhaps if I've got time, I may drop in on the school and give my fellow jazz buddy the Diana Krall DVD and my own Bill Evans CD.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Wednesday Feb. 4, 11:45 p.m.

Another long day comes to an end.

I met my newest student at Oimachi Station, just next to the hotel district of Shinagawa on the Keihin-Tohoku Line. It's one of those typical sleepy centers that got roused by the building of the station so that there is this hub of commercial activity surrounded by little shops and restaurants. My student is the owner of a tiny beauty salon recommended to me by my current Starbucks student who also happens to be the owner's regular client. I did my usual level check/interview with her. Her knowledge of grammar is quite good but her structure is shot to hell. She'll need lots of drills, that's for sure. What also struck me is that she looks quite young but she told me that went into hairstyling straight from high school and that she's been doing it for 20 years. This would peg her around my age which floored me.

After her inaugural lesson, I started looking around for some lunch. I went up to the restaurant floor up on the top floor of the Marui department store by the station but since it was 12:30, not surprisingly, all of the places still had lineups, so I ended up patronizing the Golden Arches again, and then taking a pit stop at the local Starbucks for an hour before heading out to my regular Wednesday afternoon kid out around Shinjuku.

After I was done with the Shinjuku assignment, I had to drop by my Monday company to pick up a package that I had inadvertently left in the Iconoclast's fridge. That's all I meant to do, but I ended up doing some impromptu translations when the President and one other staff member wanted to bend my ear along with my friend. So although I just had two classes, I still ended up snoozing on the subway home. I seem to be doing a lot of my napping on the subway recently.

It was good to get home early, though. My Starbucks student moved her lesson to Friday because of overtime tonight so I was able to hit the apartment around 6 p.m. so that I could get some home cooking into me. I started getting some of that Pancake Day planning under way; I'll be heading into school tomorrow to talk with the coordinator about it before I meet up with some of the students for dinner at COCA.

I also got a call from Movie Buddy tonight to talk about next week's plans to catch The Return of the King. It'll be opening day when we see it so we figure that we'll be waiting for a few hoursat the theater in Shinjuku, but it'll just remind me of the days when my brother and I waited 2 hours at the old University Theater in T.O. for The Empire Strikes Back. Also, in our conversation, I found out that the teachers may be lacking classes this week. We sure will be lacking classes next week because of the final testing of the kids and the Constitution Day national holiday next Wednesdays. I joked that some of us will be panhandling outside of the train station with signboards saying, "Will Teach for Food". Never a dull day.

Looks like the government computers have been having a bad day. One guy in the tax office got nailed for hacking into government sites. Apparently, he got a bit carried away while he was trying to prove to his bosses that there are holes in the computer security systems. Also, there was the laughable situation of a malfunction in the Internet-based income tax return system which caused personal information to be sent to other people. Your tax yen at work, I see.

Speaking of government craziness, I'm rather intrigued to see that Super Channel has started showing reruns of The Prisoner. Welcome, Number Six. If Twin Peaks ever had a father, this show would be it.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Tuesday Feb. 3, 1:37 p.m.

It's Setsubun Day today here in Japan. February 3 is the day when the locals drive out the devil from their homes by throwing small hard beans at him. You might consider a more hands-on approach to the Jack O'Lantern tradition. In any case, you couldn't ask for a "better" day to hold such a festival since it is truly gloomy out there. Not nearly as miserable as it was yesterday with the cold rain/sleet, but I could imagine a lot of SAD sufferers hiding under their futons.

So far, the work day has gone pretty well. I just had my regular Tsudanuma folks where I had my usual little snack thanks to the ladies. This time, it was better-tasting gumdrops. I've just come home for a small respite before heading out for my Urayasu classes. It will be an hour shorter tonight since the last student cancelled his class. No complaints here.

Looks like there was more hoopla at the Super Bowl other than the fact that the game was exciting. Janet Jackson decided to pull off a diversionary tactic for her embattled brother, Mike, and had her breast flap pulled off Considering that she's done a number of risque shots for magazines and CD covers, could one really be susrprised by her antic?

Monday Feb. 2, 11:22 p.m.

I'm not sure if Punxatawney Phil the Groundhog found any reason to extend Winter another 6 weeks back Stateside, but it looks like he may have sent the Japanese weather gods a good indication of what he thinks. It was just miserably cold with drizzle today. About the coldest I've felt this year so far.

To add onto this so-called luck, I came home tonight to see that the hose linking my washing machine to the tap out on the balcony popped, and as a result, water was streaming like a river down to the drain. No damage inside of course, but I do wonder how long ago it occurred. With my luck, the hose probably popped just a few minutes after I had left the house at 9 this morning. I am not looking forward to seeing the water bill.

On the plus side, my little research for Pancake Day came up with some interesting potential realia at Tokyu Hands, the all-purpose households goods shop in Shinjuku. The woodcrafts floor actually had cross-sectioned slices of trees for sale at a pittance. That will definitely help my presentation. They also had plastic tubing as well on big coils but I'll probably see if I can get the stuff at the local Daiei.

My classes were rather so-so in execution. My first class with the ladies this morning again got majorly sidetracked, and my night class was competently handled but with not too much enthursiasm. Luckily, the Iconoclast took me to another great Chinese restaurant deep in the bowels of West Shinjuku. I'll never find it again without his help but I'm sure we'll make at least one more visit before he finally takes off for home on the 26th.

I'm feeling pretty exhausted...I guess with all the walking today plus the extra shivering from the cold tapped my energy reserves even with the influx of food and drink. I got another relatively early wake-up call for my regular Tsudanuma class, but at least I have a huge gap of time between that and my Urayasu classes.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Sunday Feb. 1, 8:57 p.m.

Well, got most of what I wanted to do done. I got the present for my Monday student, a box of cookies from one of the more famous department stores. The trip to the Canada Centre wasn't a total waste of time. I couldn't find any paraphernalia for maple least, nothing that I could purchase. There was a mock maple tree with a spile and bucket as a display. I would've taken a picture of it if I'd had a camera. I did purchase a Mr. Big chocolate bar, though.

It's Super Bowl Sunday back in the US. The Pats vs the Panthers. It ought to be a national holiday there considering all of the parties and the hoopla surrounding it. Now, it's also an official National Security Event, thanks to 9/11. The show also gets televised here either on satellite or on cable, but it's really just for the foreign population. The biggest audience for the game, boys and men, are off on their way to school or work when kickoff begins, thanks to a 14-hour time delay. I did read in the local foreigners' mag, METROPOLIS, that one enterprising pub in Shinjuku will be showing the game live with the offer of a hearty breakfast. If I were really into football, I would take them up on their offer. But I hear that it will probably be another one of those dull outings since both teams are very defensive-minded.