Saturday, June 19, 2004

Sunday June 19, 1:01 a.m.

Another long day's journey into night. I managed to survive the kids on Saturday although I wasn't too satisfied with my performance with the smaller sister. I just felt too pooped out. Luckily, I won't have them next week due to some family matter with them. My class with the the Little Owl went well enough; I even gave her a diary to start writing down some guided English sentences.

My 2 hours with M + M helped a lot. We got onto some juicy topics such as the phenomenon of GO-KON, or organized dating en masse. We even went 10 minutes overtime.

As it turned out, The Ballerina could only be with us until 8 p.m. since she's stationed all the way out in a hotel in Narita due to the demands of her job as a flight attendant. I wish she could've told us earlier; I would've hurried out of the Tea Room to meet up with them. As it were, I managed to catch up with her, Movie Buddy and Skippy at this underground grill in Shinjuku. We were nestled right by the door but at least we did have an electric fan right over us so we had access to some good airflow. The Ballerina looked like she picked up a couple of kilos probably due to her diet in London and also because she doesn't have to stress out anymore over getting her dream job. Skippy looked to be in even more of an uptempo mood than usual...which is saying a lot. MB thought she was her usual self but I thought that the caffeine levels in her were more elevated. How can anyone be that genki in Tokyo?

Anyways, as per schedule, The Ballerina took off at shortly after 8. Skip, MB and I just went next door to the Excelsior Cafe and had some relatively cheap coffee and dessert. We got into some rather risque topics of discussion such as some of the more interesting shops in the red-light district. Skippy was all for that talk. I think she was acting just like Monty Python's Eric Idle in that "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink" sketch. We even got into planning for the next outing which is the Outback Steakhouse in Shinagawa. It seems like some of the alumni are interested in sinking their teeth into a good porterhouse. I'm not sure how that will chime in with the viewing of Spiderman 2 next month.Skippy also asked about inviting Arwen and 77. But I'm still not quite sure how Arwen feels about Skip.

Skippy had to take off so it was just MB and me. MB didn't feel like going home just yet so he asked me if I could stay with him a spell longer for another round. I hadn't seen the lad for a while, so despite the fact that I felt and smelled rather rank, I decided to go with him one more hour longer. Also, I had thought that he wanted to inform me of something.

As it turned out, he really just wanted to hang out a bit longer so we just gabbed at a Starbucks near Times Square. Among the topics was the fact that MB's girl (a notorious non-planner according to him and the Curry Master) is trying to set up something for CM's birthday. CM had already hinted at such a thing on Thursday. It looks like it's gonna be for the 26th which suits me just fine. It'll probably be in CM's neck of the woods which is also just fine since I'm only two stations away. CM isn't too big on going out to the big city.

On the way home on the subway, I got clubbed by accident by a dimwit who must've dozed off and then initially realized she was at her station with only a few seconds to spare before the doors closed. However, it wasn't her station so she just stumbled her way back to her seat. She must've been rather drunk since she looked somewhat zombified. Surprisingly, I didn't have any particular incentive to kick her but I did take my frustrations out on the laundry drying on the line. I just whipped them back in.

Well, I've got that farewell party for DTE later today so I've got that recipe for Sweet N' Sour Chicken all ready to go when I meet up with Arwen and 77.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Friday June 18, 7:28 p.m.

Hot and humid today. But we've got Typhoon 6 barreling toward us. It'll slam into Okinawa tomorrow and it may cause some havoc on the mainland in the latter half of the weekend and early next week. The one worry is when the meterologist stated that this hurricance is so powerful that even making landfall won't slow it down. That's one mother of a storm.

My chat with The Teacher was supposed to be on Nostradamus but we ended up talking about the movie "The Lover", one of her favorites. It's the somewhat controversial (at least in prudish North America) one from the early 90s with Jane (where is she now?) March and a Chinese actor.

For lunch, I tried McDonalds' newest taste treat, The Grande, which is really a Big Mac without the middle slice of bread and with some zesty pepper mayo. Not too bad but I have one logistical qualm with it which is that everytime I took a bite, the contents threatened to slip out. Too much mayo, I say. And the price is 200 yen more than the Big Mac Set. I probably won't make a habit of buying the Grande.

In between The Teacher and SR, I went down to the Ginza to see if I could pick up a couple of more magazines for perusal. I managed to do so although I had to scour a lot of the bookstores there. Plus, I picked up the text for Jazz Buddy.

By the time I reached the Tea Room, I was feeling distinctly like a wet rag. SR and I had a pretty good talk as well about one of the people she had met during her quick trip through LA a couple of weeks back. She's a teen who has a thing for manga and anime. I offered to introduce her to my buddy, GD, who's the expert on such things.

Well, I gotta have dinner and then plan for the kids tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thursday June 17, 9:53 p.m.

Taught a class at the school today for the first time in a few weeks. No problems there, and then I met up with Arwen and 77 for their regular lesson.

My lesson with the Curry Master had an extra benefit tonight. I not only got paid for the lesson but I also got dinner in the form of taco rice. Taco rice is just all the fixins for a taco except for the shell and dump it on hot rice. We also did our usual gossip updates on people like my juku boss and Movie Buddy.

It looks like it'll be a busy Saturday for me. Not only do I have my regular kids but I have that monthly chitchit with M + M and then I meet The Ballerina and Movie Buddy for dinner. I sent out the call to Skippy but I doubt that she will commit at such short notice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Wednesday June 16, 10:20 p.m.

Well, I lost another student in as many days today. First, it was that stingy, moody one from the juku. Today, I ran over to the Stylist's place of work, trying not to be late and failing by a few minutes. Within a minute of my "gomenasai", the Stylist sheepishly gave me my walking papers.

To be honest, I wasn't either that shocked or all that dismayed by it although it's never great to lose a student. In the past four months that we have known each other, we only managed to cover just four pages of her textbook. Another hint was that surreal class last month. I asked her if she didn't enjoy my lesson. She didn't really answer the question but she just said "Yaruki ga nai." (I've lost the desire).The past couple of times with her, she didn't seem to be too eager which supported her reason to say that. She also pointed out that she wasn't too comfortable with a one-on-one lesson since she had to provide half of the conversation; she simply didn't want to work THAT hard during her day off, and she admitted that half her mind was in day-off mode. Plus, she also stated that she had a lot on her mind about her future, and it seems that not all of it was very happy.

In any case, as soon as she said that she had lost the interest, that was all I needed to pack my bag. Once a student says that, it's game over. There was a natually a bit of awkwardess about those ten minutes I was there, but the two of us were cordial enough although I was initially pissed off inside that she didn't bother to pinkslip me by e-mail or phone earlier; it would've saved me the commute time. However, she said that she felt telling me in person was the right thing to do. I can respect that. And she still paid me for a full lesson which was very maganimous of her. I told her that I could understand her decision; I would rather have her cut me loose now, instead of having to slog through some miserable classes with a student who didn't want to be there. And then, I could use that empty time for someone who really wanted to learn. Finally, I think she's the first student who actually had the guts to tell me the truth about letting me go, instead of feeding me the usual white lie like The Hawaiian and those two real-estate agents did last year.

Still, some of my natural self-doubt returned as I made my premature way back to Oimachi Station. But I didn't let it overwhelm me as it would have in previous years. I know that I'm a good teacher...I just wasn't her teacher or she just wasn't my student.

I took the train out to Odaiba. It had been several weeks since I'd been there and with the sunny weather, I thought it would be nice to have a treat especially after the above event. I attended my usual buffet restaurant there, The Sunset Beach Factory. Of course, the Law of Buffets states that the quality and quantity of food share an inverse relationship. However, it was palatable enough for me to spend more than 90 minutes there with the view of the Rainbow Bridge in the background.

After that, I waddled my way over to the next mall, Aqua City, where I first checked out the movie listings at the Mediage cineplex. As I figured, there wasn't anything there that I really wanted to catch. As I have mentioned before, I wasn't too eager to see "The Day After Tomorrow" and "The Ladykillers" is a Tom Hanks flick but the reviews were rather so-so. So I just went over to HMV and treated myself to a DVD and a Misia CD. The DVD I purchased was that "Bayside Shakedown" movie that I had caught a year ago in Shibuya. It was a good flick, Japanese or Western. The Misia CD is a compilation of her past ballads so I decided to splurge the yen for that although I didn't buy her last original album since I wasn't too impressed. My HMV point card has passed the 50-point mark so when it expires in a month and a half, I'm eligible for a 2000 yen discount. There is no way that I'm gonna reach 100 points for that 4500 yen discount.

When I left the mall, it was still sunny and warm but not humid. I was tempted to take a ride on the free shuttle but it would've just taken me on a loop so I decided to take the bus back to Tokyo Station. At 200 yen, it's cheaper than taking the Yurikamome monorail. I slept a bit in the bus as it wound its way across the bay. I passed through the modernized area of Tsukishima; there was a pretty nice condo setup there. It's always nice to see some new segment of Tokyo.

35 minutes later, I got off at the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station and walked over to the Yaesu Book Centre. It's a somewhat off-kilter bookstore in that the decor was quite old and yet there was a lot of art thrown up on the walls. The first floor had a high ceiling just like the first floors of department stores and there was an open mezzanine/coffee shop to fill some of that altitude up. In another interesting twist, the escalators only went as far up as the 4th floor; then the elevators picked up the relay torch to go up to the 7th floor. I decided to schlep my way up the stairs to 7 where the foreign books were located. There was a section with a sign screaming in blue and white "NUDES". They certainly weren't subtle. However, I didn't see anything English-written which struck my fancy.

After leaving the bookstore, I walked down to the Ginza and over to Yamano Music to fill up my point card there as well. I decided to buy down Memory Lane as I picked up a J-Idol CD from the 80s and even an old Gilbert O'Sullivan single, "Alone Again, Naturally". It's been getting some major airplay as a commercial jingle over here. I tried to find another Level 42 disc to no avail. But I did pick up another Michael Buble CD. The Canadian answer to Harry Connick Jr. has made some inroads into the jazz enclave of Japan and I can't get tired of his cover of "Fever". Jazz Veteran still has the first one I lent her several weeks ago.

I was feeling just too tired to walk over to the Starbucks in Toranomon, so I paid my 160 yen for the 2-station subway ride. I spent the extra hour there drinking down my chai tea latte with sugar donut until The OL came for her regular lesson. She got me out of my slight funk over losing The Stylist. Her enthusiasm in English and the fact that as my very first student in my freelance career she still stuck by me got me back online. Also the fact that she would rather see me instead of having to go to that farewell party for the exec director of her company next Wednesday was a nice touch too. It's ironic, though. The OL was the one who introduced The Stylist to me; I didn't mention what happened this morning to her but I'm sure she'll find out soon enough.

Well, back home after that long day. Just gotta do a little prep work for Arwen and 77 and then I'm off for bed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Tuesday June 15, 11:37 p.m.

Feeling pretty exhausted and grumbly after classes tonight. That moody student in my middle class just kept that hangdog look for almost the entire class...a new record. She really kept me on my toes trying to keep things balanced between her and her classmates. Well, the other shoe finally fell. The boss told me after all the classes got wrapped up that she has finally made the decision to quit the school. It isn't as if she tried to help herself out; she wouldn't commit to private classes since that would cost her more money, and she just couldn't be convinced that she still had a lot to learn in this class. Well, she'll be leaving once June is up. The boss and I will not be too sad to see her go. But boy, did she sap my energy tonight.

Curry Master left a message on the machine confirming that she'll have my class although the SE will have to cancel out due to work. That'll be fine with me since I do have to give her the omiyage from Sapporo.

Well, tomorrow, I've got the Stylist for the first time in 3 weeks. I hope her attitude is somewhat better than last time. I had been thinking about catching "The Day After Tomorrow" at the theaters in Odaiba but since I'm not too keen on catching half a movie at full price, I'll probably hit the all-you-can-eat buffet there instead. I'm feeling pretty hungry right now but the days of late-night snacks are over.

Skippy actually approved the idea of heading up to Sapporo next February although she's worried about the numbers. Yes, I am too. This could be a rather major undertaking logistically.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Tuesday June 15, 1:32 p.m.

It's another hot one out there. There's something about the high temps that makes the walk home all that much longer. Still, it's nice to have the sun out again after a week of dreariness.

I was checking the books. After all that spending on Hokkaido, I only ended up being a few coins short on balance. Didn't quite miss the bullet but just a nick.

All I really want to do is just to lay back and enjoy my air conditioning, but I still have to plan for tonight's classes and get back onto that translation that the Prez wants me to do for the Iconoclast's project. For a while, I thought that the Prez was just going to write it off as a loss but I'm back on the job. I don't know if I'm going to get paid for it either.

Apparently, today is Chiba Citizens' Day so all of the schools are off. Other than kids and perhaps the civil servants, the holiday doesn't really mean all that much to us since most of the Chiba population end up working in Tokyo. No holiday there.

Tuesday June 15, 12:17 a.m.

About 15 minutes ago, Larry King came on and when I saw the sepia-tinted montage of Reagan, I started groaning, "C'mon...give it a break! Let the guy (and the rest of us) finally rest in peace." However, I changed my mind when the show actually showed the interview with Reagan himself. Why couldn't he have shown those first thing last week?

What was amazing to watch was when the show cut to its first commercial break, and it showed the media footage when the attempted assassination of the President had taken place back in 1981. I remember watching ABC's Frank Reynolds breaking down and the multiple viewings of the actual shooting taking place. However, it bordered on the hilarious when I saw Sam Donaldson nestled against Reynolds reading through the report. Reynolds at first had read that Reagan hadn't been shot...only to be corrected by his Siamese twin. And then Reynolds pulled a Shatneresque gesture. It was absolutely surreal. I would just love to catch that footage again.

In any case, it is nice to actually see the man himself speaking his mind on the attempted assassination and Gorbachev. However, I also agree with the CNN media guy who had earlier pointed out that there was way too much coverage and way too much love for Reagan. At the same time, though, listening and watching him on TV, he is a darn difficult man to dislike.

In other news, my Monday was the same as it has been for the past few weeks. I had my first class and then my student told me that her sister-in-law couldn't make it for the second class. So I once again had a few hours to kill in Shibuya.

One of the things that I've liked about my bohemian status has been the fact that I can often walk and eat anywhere I please during breaks. So I saw myself having a Doner Kebab while sitting on a stool in front of Tower Records. I had been wondering what I would be eating for lunch since I had already eaten at Volks last week and I really wasn't in the mood for the Golden Arches. The last time the Kebab truck had actually stopped in front of Towers was back in the Fall so I gather I was really lucky today. The Kebab was's just too bad that the truck doesn't provide any drinks,but I couldn't complain about the 500 yen price.

I ended up going to HMV and I bought myself one of those issues of EMPIRE, the UK movie magazine, along with a CD of Gypsy Jazz Guitarists; basically, it's a near-homage to Django. Yup, it is just a day before the 15th, my former full-time payday. I realize that for a freelancer who gets paid at almost every class, the 15th doesn't mean all that much but it's a symbolic date for me just to help me with my discipline. Well, some discipline here.

After my class at the Iconoclast's old company, I saw the old Prez for the first time in a few weeks. So heading out for dinner was pretty much in the cards. At first, he, myself and one other fellow staffer sat at a table in the main office gabbing about my trip to Hokkaido a couple of weeks ago. It just so happened that the other staffer had come from Nemuro, a city in the northernmost prefecture, so he was a fount of information about future trips up there although I very much doubt that I'll ever drive around the province the next time I go. But our talk buoyed my proposal to Skippy a few days about a possible group trip there in February for the Winter Festival. In the intervening days between now and when I had sent out the initial e-mail to her, I'd had some pretty skeptical thoughts about the folly of my proposal. Still, I have yet to hear from her.

I think I ended up waiting there at the office for an hour. The rest of the group was busy figuring some sort of test for one of their projects. I got an up-close-and-personal about how harsh the Prez can be on the "feeb" of the company. He didn't exactly splatter the poor guy all over the wall as the Iconoclast once described. But he was pretty sharp. When the only compliment the feeb can get is that the problems with the project were not his fault after all, then things must be pretty dire for him.

Finally, they wrapped things up as best as they could, and four of us went out to an interesting izakaya in West Shinjuku. Unlike some of the more elegant places that the Prez has taken me to, this place was bargain-basement. In fact, it actually was located in the basement. It was this huge space with tables and counters with mostly Chinese waitresses bringing small plates of various kinds of izakaya food such as fried noodles, fried chicken and sashimi. The izakaya was just a good cheap place to unwind for a few drinks which we all did. In fact, I ended up ordering a good bit more than the others could handle. I made the mistake of being slightly sexist and assuming that with four men, we could handle the culinary load. We left quite a bit on the table but the Prez just paid for everything with aplomb. The trip home was another smelly affair with my clothes filled with every odor in the book.

Luckily, I got the message from the school scheduler that I wouldn't be needed for a class this afternoon although I will be scheduled for a class there on Thursday. At least, I can get another break between classes.

I received a strange message from Movie Buddy. I had answered his request for an outing on this coming Sunday in the negative since I have that goodbye party for DTE then. However, his message hinted that I had answered in the positive so I had to send over another message reiterating my point. I already sent a similar message to the Ballerina.

Well, I should be heading for bed now.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Monday June 14, 7:33 a.m.

After 9 days of straight rain, we finally got a week of sunny weather coming up. At least I don't have to time my laundry days.

I have been on an Internet diet of sorts. After seeing my latest NTT bill, I think the digital fasting was in order although I'm still nothing compared to some of these cellphone-packing teens; my bill has been creeping up a bit in the past few months. However, it's not all that easy.

The big news here is that two of the major Japanese ball teams are thinking merger. The Kintetsu Water Buffaloes and the Orix Blue Wave, both Kansai-based teams, are in negotiations to get hitched to each other for financial survival. I know that the Blue Wave has never recovered from the loss of Ichiro to the Bigs. Plus, thanks to the Tokyo Giants, virtually all of the other teams in the Central and Pacific Leagues have been starved of a lot of the TV advertising revenue. It isn't uncommon not to see anything of these other teams outside of them being merely mentioned on the sports scoreboard. Of course, the fans aren't too thrilled but I think it'll have to be done. There's even been talk of just going to a 1-league format.

Breakfast for me was just a bowl of granola and the remaining half of that Hershey bar with coffee. Not exactly the healthiest morning meal, but it suits me fine enough.

Well, I have those three classes today. I'm just wondering if the second student will be pulling another absence. I would rather not lug around the extra texts if I don't have to.