Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sunday February 20, 1:06 a.m.

I've attended about 12-14 graduation parties at my old school since I started there in 1997 since we have two of them a year. I think the one I attended yesterday was by far the most emotional I'd ever been to. There had been warning signs from the students that the restaurant where we would have the party would be awash in lacrymal fluid by the end for some days. They weren't wrong.

I got there in my Sunday finest and started off the party with my co-host, one of the current students. The party went normally enough: the usual awardings of diplomas, the food and drink, and the various games and songs. Plus, it was good to see people like The DJ, Movie Buddy, The Jester and The Satryr among others.

However, the waterworks got started after The Doll gave the first goodbye speech to everyone. After that, the second student, normally one famous for her rather explicit descriptions of her love life, just let the floodgates open and barely tumbled through her speech. Of course, a chain reaction started, and a lot of the women just started weeping like Elvis fans on August 16 1977. There were rumours that even a couple of the teachers got a bit misty-eyed (no, not I..say I). It certainly says a lot about how close this year's gang was to have this sort of thing happen. It's probably one of the few times that I have actually regretted going to freelance status...not being able to see these guys on a more regular basis. But I figure that like in past years, the new alumni will reach out to get people together for a short while before fate, nations and time eventually promote the life drifts. I think it's pretty much happened with last year's group. However, with this group, perhaps this golden feeling may last just a bit longer. But I know a couple of the ringleaders will be heading offshore for the next few months, so it's pretty much wait-and-see.

Certainly, the weather contributed to the somewhat melancholy feeling. We even got a bit of snow in the morning as I headed to teach my kids. However, that all turned to rain by party time. And it never really stopped by the time I got home.

After the main party, there was the usual series of after-parties. Some of us did a bit of karaoke for an hour nearby (it was the first time in recent memory that there were actually more men than women in the karaoke room). and then we joined the main group at an izakaya. It's always amazing how alcohol can change naive as that may sound. The Doll, for instance, had five large empty mugs where beer and other libations had once been located. She got into a running drunken act with the Jester for the duration of the party talking of her "relationship" with the Jester who lives close by. Then the Jester got into a rather intense conversation/argument with the offbeat Oddball which kinda worried the other students. I had a separate talk with both combatants and the conclusion was that it was all much to do about nothing.

Then, after that stage, there was even the final 2-hour stage at another izakaya that we often haunt. The group was far smaller and I was the only teacher left. However, the atmosphere was a lot less fraught with up-and-down emotionalism, and I could actually talk with the kids in both Japanese and English. Looks like if the alumni parties for this group get started, it'll be at Tony Romas. It seems like my engorging of the extra large rib plate there last year made news with the newly graduated.

Naturally, I feel tired after another long Grad Day. But I'm meeting up with Movie Buddy later today to have some Foo Foo ramen and then catch Alexander. MB couldn't make it out past the main party so I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about over lunch.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Saturday February 19, 6:04 a.m.

Yup, another early wake-up call for the kids. Yesterday was a pretty full one for me. Had the Teacher, SR and my ex. The Tea Room was pretty lively since there was another event apparently with a bunch of elementary school teachers. Between SR and the ex, since I had a little bit of time, I traveled up and down the Ginza Line just to see if there were any prep work in store for this so-called televised celeb battle on the subways that was due to have happened last night. Didn't see a blessed thing.

Met my ex in the lobby of her workplace and went to the nearest McDonalds. This branch of the Golden Arches has the distinction of having a drink bar and a special sitting area for people to plug in their mobile phones if they don't want to rely on battery power. Our so-called first lesson was more of a reminiscent talk of our old days as an item....and of her current days with her new beau. Apparently, this is her second boyfriend After Haruhiko, and he's 5 years her junior which makes him as young as my son (if I had an especially bad "accident" during junior high school). She was always a bit of a nurturing type so perhaps the match might work out but she seemed a bit apprehensive about it after 2 months of seeing this guy.

On my way home, I took a look out the window of the subway to see if there were anything going on at the stations. Nope, nothing. Just the usual look of tired commuters on their way home before the drunks take over. No sign that there was even any sort of amazing battle on the subways with Utchan-Nanchan. And by the time I got home, the program had just finished.

Well, today I got my kids and then I have to head out for the big grad party. Could be one laden with waterworks considering what the kids are saying. Awww...mush.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Thursday February 17, 8:15 p.m.

Pretty tired after another "counseling" session with Jazz Buddy, and that first session with my tax consultant. All that nervous energy can really dissipate quickly. However, talking tax with the guy turned out to be pretty educational and lifesaving. I was feeling very much like a student in his tutorial, and he got me on my homework for the next couple of weeks which is to sort out my expenses and revenue for the past year. I'll see how much I can pull off during the next Monday since I could have the entire day off.

The second session with MK turned out well. I even got a referral from her..quick work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wednesday February 16, 9:19 p.m.

Another cold and rainy day. At least I didn't need to leave home that early. There was another kick from Mother Earth at around 10:30 a.m. but nothing to write NHK about. I had lunch at the local Pepper Lunch. Always good for hot hamburger and rice.

Stopped off at Speedy's today to pick up some name cards and flyers. The winds were really flying by then. I thought that the rain would turn to sleet.

The Hawaiian made about as perfect an essay as she could outside of a few silly errors. I don't really think she needs much of an education in writing. She almost fell out of her seat in laughter when I told her about my brush with sterility thanks to the long ordeal on the bike the other day.

Now I know I'm on the slippery slope downhill to senility. Just went straight to sleep on the Oedo. I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. Might as well forget about bringing the crosswords and magazines.

I got another present...this time from the OL. However, it wasn't a belated Valentine's Day one but a souvenir from her trip. It was a couple of packages of rather elaborately packaged udon with bonito flakes for the stock and some special miso. Well, my breakfast seems to be set.

The current trend of psycho attacks in schools continues unabated, I'm afraid. Well, at least today's attack was thwarted before anything serious happened. Some guy managed to breach the grounds of some elementary school when he was quickly spotted and nabbed by some teachers. The guy just said that he was looking for someone. Now, that wouldn't usually merit an emergency response, but when the rest of the guy's talk turned out to be understandable by Andorians...well, can't take the chance. As for that 17-year-old loner who murdered the teacher and seriously injured two other adults the other day, he confessed that he had a huge grudge against a teacher at the school for some sort of bullying years ago that went unnoticed. He said he would've settled to hurt any of the teachers.

Now, as a result of this and past attacks, a number of schools in Tokyo have hired security for their grounds. A sad sign of the times although it still doesn't approach the metal detectors of some of the schools in the States.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Wednesday February 16, 9:00 a.m.

Well, got rocked OUT of my sleep at 4:47 a.m. this morning when a M5.4 quake struck the Kanto. Of course, it was straight onto NHK. The announcer went on loop mode telling people to watch out for falling objects and to calm down. Not sure if one can do both, really. My living room is already a mess, so it took a few minutes to discover that a few of my CDs did fall off the shelf. Otherwise, no other damage...I think.

Getting back to REM sleep was pretty much out of the question. Still, further insult to injury occurred just after 7:30 when one of the Class Act gave me a surprise call to request a schedule shuffle. At least, I will be able to sleep in a lot longer on Monday. MK did a similar request by the more civilized e-mail for an earlier time.

I'll be hitting the lesson planning as of now and try to get a couple of chapters done before sending the package off to Speedy.
Tuesday February 15, 11:27 p.m.

Finally made it back to the gym after two weeks of eschewing it due to various reasons like disease and other events. Pushed myself a bit harder than usual...a bit of self-flagellation and penance as it were. I think I did pay for it; I feel rather achy all over right now. I did try a few new machines out and instead of the treadmill, I finished things off with a 25-minute stint on the stationery bike. I probably won't do that again anytime soon...let's say that I know why the possibility of sterility rises with longer exposure to a bike seat.

Thought I might continue the punishment by hitting the gym again tomorrow but it looks like that won't be happening since I really gotta get through those lesson plans. I may still just drop by Speedy's to touch base on my way to see the Hawaiian.

I added another chocolate box to the collection today at the juku. The Beauty Pair contributed theirs to my Valentine pot. However, it was a solo act by Yuri since apparently Kei was conked out on account of her visit to the dentist. The Milds also ended up just being Mrs Mild since the hubby was out at a wine-and-dine with some clients. And then I had the new guy, The Siberian, for his second lesson. Pretty good but still has some of those teenage elements in him.

I noticed that the posters are going up for that big subway variety show on Friday. The posters have Utchan and Nanchan punching each other out. I kinda wonder how this is gonna pan out. Friday nights are not usually known for the usual staid commuters on the other weekdays since the end of the week is known as the drinking night. Could be rather tumultuous having a bunch of celebs running into a bunch of garrulous drunks on the subway. However, the possible saving grace is that the show will probably end before the big exodus of sots for home.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Tuesday February 15, 6:47 a.m.

I've never been a huge fan of people suddenly disrupting my schedule, no matter how good the intent was. Of course, I can't really reveal that to those people. This happened to me twice by phone last night just when I was about to prep for today's lessons. And I actually had the naive thought that I would be able to tackle my ironing. Ah, well...I still have two days' worth of trousers.

The first call was from PN who wanted to have my ear again on her future. That lasted a good half-hour. Then, a few minutes after that, I got a call from my tax consultant who just happens to be the son of one of the Class Act. I was able to catch somewhat more of the jargon from him than I did from that motormouth at the local tax office. Still, after half an hour of that, I think both of us would have been better served by just arranging a face-to-face right off the bat. So we finally did for this Thursday.

As an aside from visiting that student at ChocoCro last night, she mentioned that she'd seen Movie Buddy and The Ballerina at the school yesterday. It was one of her "Hi-Bye" stops. Once again, she was in her full flight attendant regalia and makeup. LOTS of makeup, my student said which got an internal knowing giggle from me.
Monday February 14, 10:36 p.m.

Well, for a guy who wrote off Valentine's Day as a holiday for the young and hopeful, I managed to score a couple of extra boxes of chocolate from The Class Act. Unfortunately, there was a bit of bitter in the sweet when SIL announced that she wouldn't be able to see me anymore because her mother will need more assistance after she gets her eye surgery done next week. Ah, well...dem's the breaks. However, the time will be open for any other student.

During the break between The Class Act and SIL's final class, I went up to HMV nearby and found that Michael Buble's latest has reached these shores. I took a listen to it at the post. Not too bad but I'm gonna wait a bit before I finally bite.

I got my money from the Prez at The Company tonight which is great for paying my rent tomorrow. I frankly kinda wonder about my future there with the currently lone student as well. However, the student did quite well today. In fact, at the end we had a rather serious discussion about the possibility of North Korea bombing us. Nice little palate cleanser before dinner, eh?

I fulfilled my student's request and went down to Harajuku to her ChocoCro shop. She was behind the counter in her uniform of T-shirt and cap. And she rewarded me with a bag of chocolate-coated croissants which got me 3 for 3 in the Valentine Day's sweepstakes. For some stupid reason, I ordered a black coffee which I never drink; I think I simply fell for the cheap price. I rather sheepishly came back down for a cream; ; my student came up and gave me a good-natured recommendation to order the watery American next time.

I managed to take the JR back up to Takadanobaba Station. I initially had some good thoughts about the ride home since the Yamanote was uncharacteristically not so busy at 8 o'clock. However, that soon changed when I switched over to the Tozai. My first hint of trouble was seeing a larger-than-usual number of commuters on the subway. Mind you, at Takadanobaba, since it's usually the 3rd station from the starting point of the eastbound run, there are plenty of seats. However, what caught me was seeing that all of the end seats (the prime seats) were taken. Then, when I got on, I was seated next to some moron who had a mouthclicking problem, there were a couple of loudmouthed ko-gals (as redundant as that may sound) not too far away. And then I had one of those megadecibel snorers sitting across from me. Of course, from Otemachi Station onwards, the train got considerably crowded so at least I was grateful for the seat, if not the company I kept. By the time I got to my station, the guy who was standing over me either couldn't or wouldn't move so under my breath, I muttered a rather rude but inaudible "Doke" instead of the usual "Shitsureishimasu". "Doke" for you Japanese language learners means "Get your ass out of the way!" I was rather lucky that I wasn't caught in the grip of subway rage.

I got home to see that there was another attack at an elementary school. This time, it wasn't a kid who got hurt but a teacher who got stabbed to death by a 17-year-old loner who had skipped school for a number of years. Where were his parents?! Fortunately, no kids were injured but still they and the parents must be traumatized. I'm sure they must be wondering if there is still a safe place for kids anymore in Japan. Well, not too much consolation but Japan hasn't quite reached the stage of metal detectors yet.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Monday February 14, 7:04 a.m.

Well, it's Valentine's Day...not that it has much to do with me. Mind you, I did enjoy the kids' chocolates and said so in the letter to their Mother.

Once again, the Engineer had a chat with me online. He also once again chastised me for being such a Luddite and merely taking photos of the Quarterback's wedding with just plain film. I said I'll get a digital camera once I find out how much I'll have left after I file my taxes. Then again, I'm just providing an excuse since digital cameras have plummeted in price. I don't even know if my old SOTEC can facilitate a digital camera hookup. In any case, he did get me to sign on to Gmail, this new-fangled e-mail service. But to do so, I had to update my Internet Explorer. Not a bad screens certainly look nicer and even the posting screen for this blog looks better, too.

Speaking of taxes, I did a look-over of the form. It doesn't look all that difficult. I could understand the majority of what to write in which spaces but I'm gonna ask The Class Act today to translate a couple of words. The only thing is that there doesn't seem to be any spaces for deductions for my own little business. As it stands, I can only deduct from my National Health Insurance

Mom called me last night during my chat with the Engineer. She was the who had been ringing my phone without leaving any messages. I knew she did that since she didn't want to incur any costs from her end but I'd already called her last week so I had eliminated her as a possibility. I thought I had some sort of phone stalker on my case. Or it could have been Teddy Bear, my rather bipolar former student from long ago. He usually has the similar custom of hanging up just before he has to leave a message since he doesn't like leaving them.

I'd forgotten to mention during the hysteria of Pancake Day last Thursday that there was a surprise appearance by 77. She wanted to brush up on her TOEIC so she stopped by the school. She mentioned that she hasn't seen Arwen or the others since late last year so she was hoping that something can be arranged for next month. I sent something to Arwen and she said that it's very good. Looks like I'll be aiming for The Aviator.

Not sure what my schedule is gonna end up like today. I've got The Class Act a half hour earlier due to some plans that one of them has to attend. SIL might cancel again and I wasn't too sure about that Company's student evasiveness last Monday. I may just get that call once again for cancellation. Doesn't mean I'll be getting home all that early, though. I did promise one of my soon-to-graduate students at the school that I'd visit her workplace in Harajuku tonight.