Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturday July 30, 11:19 p.m.

Had a rare sunshower as I stepped out today. No rainbows seen though. There was also the sight of young women decked out in their finest kimono and even a few men in their yukata as they made their way to the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. It used to be a yearly destination for me until a couple of years ago. The former student who used to hold the fireworks parties at her apartment sadly passed away last year.

Instead, I met up with The OL and Betty Boop in Akabanebashi for what was supposed to be a broiled eel dinner. Unfortunately, though Eel Day was officially on Thursday, the eel restaurants were all packed so no reservations there. Therefore, we walked down to the trendy area of Azabu-Juban to try out some Korean restaurant. I hadn't realized that Akabanebashi was so close to Tokyo Tower. It will make for a good alternative to the usual Shiba Park Station that I used to take...not that I go to that area all that much.

Usually over here when people mention Korean food, the image that pops to mind is yakiniku or Korean BBQ. The BBQ places probably number as much as McDonalds branches. However, the restaurant we frequented didn't specialize...or generalize, if you the usual beef on iron plate cuisine. It was called Grace, a rather unusual name for a Korean restaurant, and it specializes in Sangetan, a Korean equivalent of Mom's chicken soup with all of the health benefits implied. It comes in a bowl in which the broth is absolutely bubbling like crazy. Sangetan includes half a boiled chicken which the waitress cuts up for you along with rice and special vegetables. It is consider to be a healthy dish but I did put some salt and pepper since it was initially a bit bland. Quite good, though. We also had some other dishes such as Chige Nabe and Bibimbap. All very good. I would definitely come back for another round.

The conversation, as I had expected, was a steam-venting session. Both ladies have been having some tough times at work to the extent that both are now seriously thinking of ditching their respective companies in the near future. BB was certainly a different person than the usual bubbly presence of yore. She looked and sounded tired and more hard-bitten; barely used any English tonight, something that she used to do with a passion. And it was the first time to see The OL's snarly side. I can now imagine what her home life must be like. I just told them that if they really disliked their jobs, they should just leave as soon as possible. Perhaps my Western bias is showing since it's easier said than done to just quit a company in one's thirties but from personal experience, one can only get angrier and sicker by just staying in a toxic environment. The OL and BB are already showing the symptoms.

After Grace, we went around the corner to the Azabu Starbucks. As would befit the area, this Starbucks was a bit more classier with its sofas and multiple washrooms. The talk was more relaxed there thankfully. Looks like our next gourmet stop will be Mexican.

I see that I got a thank-you postcard from Speedy for my small contribution to his school (I may have to rely on his good graces in terms of my visa if Plan A doesn't work out) and I got a set of photos and postcards from my friend up in Karuizawa. Plus, The Jazz Singer has actually contacted me and left her new e-mail address. Seems like the hatchet, if there had been one, has been buried.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Saturday July 30, 8:45 a.m.

Went off to that welcome back party for the Beach Girl. It was a stylish place called Wanosho (trust me, the name looks better in Kanji). It was one of those neo-izakaya...a Japanese pub done up in dark wood and dim lighting with jazz playing in the background. The waitress took me up to the second floor. I was surprisingly the first one there although I'd arrived there just at 7:30, supposedly the official start time. It would be another 5 minutes before another soul came. It was The Carolinan. She told me that her sister would be a scratch since she got saddled with a sudden shift change.

Then, it would be another 10 minutes before the actual organizer of the party arrived. And finally everyone else came around 8. At least with this crowd, being fashionably late was taken to heart. The guest of honour herself, The Beach Girl, has done well in her 2-year life in California. She was just bubbly and babbling in English and Japanese...she'd be great on a bilingual gossip show. SR also showed up along with a lot of familiar faces from BG's wedding a couple of years ago including one American who had wowed everyone at the karaoke party immediately after the wedding. But I was surprised to see Jazz Singer appear as well. I thought she was still sore at me for comparing her rendition of "Lollipop" to a Puffy Amiyumi tune. Well, if she still was, she hid it pretty well last night. She's now working at a jazz bar in Tokyo looking for that big break. Hope she gets it.

Overall, I enjoyed the party more than I did the Quarterback's birthday party in the same area a couple of weeks earlier. Still, I have to admit that eating in groups still doesn't hold a lot of appeal to me anymore. I guess it's the selfish part of me but I seem to prefer being in the situation where I have control...such as a classroom. I guess that makes me a bit of a control freak although I don't go out of my way to take over the festivities in a party. Schmoozing was never one of my strong points.

The food at Wanosho was quite good and the price reflected that and the ambience and the location. I shucked out 4000 yen for my dinner. The folks were just about to go to the final stage of the meal with the zosui, or rice soup mixed in the broth of the chicken hot pot, but it was approaching 11:15 and I really didn't want to face the same situation as last Saturday and take an equally pricey taxi ride home again. So I had to take off. As it turned out, I was fairly lucky. I caught the 2nd-last train on the Hanzomon Line and its equivalent number on the Tozai. The Tozai got very packed around Nihombashi. As would be the case, I made sure that I was smack dab in the middle between the doors so I didn't have to face the accordion of people. As I stepped out of the train and walked home through the cooler but still humid air, I looked out for the inevitable Friday examples of vomit puddles or street monja as I like to call them. There was only one small puddle near the supermarket. It was pretty darn hot in my apartment. Tokyo is definitely one of the places where you can wear a shirt for just a few hours without any sort of major physical activity and then have to wash it again.

I finally got that message from BB and The OL. Looks like we are a go for tonight for eel. I'll be meeting those two at Akebononbashi Station in the afternoon.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Friday July 29, 1:34 p.m.

I'm happy at the quickness of the response albeit not with the response itself. I got a call just now from the town hall of my mother's hometown concerning her presence on the family register. I was quietly tickled by the cute Kansai intonation the woman had while she was speaking with me. I wasn't all that optimistic that I would initially make any headway on a first contact, and sure enough, the lady told me that I would need further proof of my connection with my mother. That will definitely mean I won't be seeing that scrivener on the 3rd unless she has a new plan. I've sent a letter to her cancelling the appointment.
Friday July 29, 11:27 a.m.

Another hot one out there but there could be some rain later on in the evening. Well, hopefully I can get some laundry done and dried before I take off for dinner tonight.

Just got the usual biweekly rubdown. I was the only one in the clinic for most of the session. I finally got the clinic head but this time he actually laid a bit of pain on me in the form of a squeezing of my shoulder blades. Not too bad, though.

In sports, Japan must be feeling mighty good about itself. Not only did their expats, Ichiro and Matsui, do their country proud over in the Bigs, but a couple of swimmers got Silver and Bronze at the World Championships in Montreal last night. And even a couple of J-League soccer teams managed to embarrass Real Madrid and Manchester United in a couple of friendlies here. Mind you, in that case, the European teams probably had their third-stringers on the pitch...but so was Becks. He didn't look too happy out there....but then again, if I were a superstar who had just been laid low in a country where I had been treated like a god, I wouldn't be skipping around either.

I guess it would be time for one of my cultural observations. People everywhere often talk about the generation gap. Y'know...the old fogy admonishing his grandkids with "In my day and age, I didn't need a blasted cellphone to amuse myself", and the kids coming back "My old man just DOESN'T understand me!" Well, I think things have come or are getting to a head over here. I wouldn't call it a generation gap, or even chasm. Nope, instead of using geological terminology, I'd rather use geopolitical. It's more of a generational cold war, unfortunately leading to some small hot ones along the border.

Ms. Tee of the Beehive was witness to a heated exchange on the train a few days ago between a gyaru (Shibuya gal) and an older woman over the usage of a cellphone. Of course, the young lady was punching away at the tiny keyboard like a pro sending and receiving messages like a post office while the older woman was huffing and puffing away at the girl's antics. Now, it is technically illegal for anyone to communicate via voice on a cellphone (although I've seen boors of all ages and genders flaunt the rule occasionally) so the girl really wasn't breaking the law. However, the older one, who was sitting beside her, finally confronted the younger and told her that it was rude of her to use the phone. The younger one just laughed back with a sneer and ignored her. But the older one wasn't one to give up without a fight; she then sternly told her that she had a pacemaker inside of her which could be affected by said use of cellphone (Ms. Tee wasn't sure whether or not the older woman was bluffing). The girl again just ignored her. Well, Ms. Tee didn't go any further than that although I can assume that the exchange probably got a bit more lively. My student's conclusion was that both women could have used some slapping upside their heads.

The above incident is just one little case of this generational cold war. I read in an article a few years ago about how much some of these young folks despise the older generation. One young tough...maybe a yakuza wannabe...spat out how much he wanted to beat up some of these smelly old sots who regularly hit the bars and hostess clubs on a Friday night in Shimbashi. And in fact, there have been cases in which a few of these thugs have fulfilled their wishes and pummeled some hapless salaryman...for being older. A recent survey illustrated that most people would not admonish a group of kids (or even one kid) sitting on the subway or using their cellphones for fear of retribution; and I'm assuming that the retribution wouldn't be in the form of making faces or having the accuser's house covered in toilet paper.

Mind you, a number of the older side don't make it any easier for the kids either. Yup, I've often come across on a crowded subway some besotted salarymen reeking of cigarettes, beer and sweat. I'm sure that I haven't smelled like a bed of roses either after a dinner in Shibuya or Shinjuku. But that is not all. A number of these old guys have also come across as belligerent bullies...the ugly Japanese, if you will...using that traditional corporate tactic of berating the younglings to toughen them up. And of course, there are some of the lecherous types who believe that sekuhara (sexual harrassment) was just a buzzword from the early 90s. Then, there is the ganko papa who seems to always yell at the kids or the wife during his rare moments at home with the family. And older mothers and housewives just have this genetic ability to nag kids to an early grave. No, not much to endear here either.

As for the blowups along the border...well, there have been the cases of boys knifing or bludgeoning their parents to death and on the other side, parents doing the same to kids while dirty old men pay up the funds to teenage prostitutes in Shibuya. We've certainly come a long way since those quaint old "Sazae-san" cartoons of the perfect Japanese family. If the adventures of Sazae-san were transferred to the realities of the 21st-century, Sazae-san and her hubby would probably be involved in their own affairs and the grandparents would either be crated off to a nursing home sullenly resenting their kids. Sazae's brother, a high school kid, would probably be part of some gang roving around the highways on a motorcycle, while Sazae's sister would be turning tricks at a love hotel for good money to fund her Chanel/Hermes habit, and Sazae's cute son would be the victim of bullies.

No, I'm not painting a very happy picture here and perhaps...just perhaps...most families are well-adjusted with the occasional differences of opinion endemic in every household on a generational level. The family whose daughters I teach, the Beehive and The Teacher all seem to be on the good side of things. But I think the generational cold war is still quite real. Maybe Japanese society is at a crossroads. The first postwar generation who worked hard to get Japan to its current economic level now consists of grandparents so their immediate descendants are the immediate benefactors of the "Economic Miracle" (what a quaint expression that is now). While this generation was the first one not to have experienced a war and gained a lot of affluence, the people here were still given the education of being hard-working and well-mannered folks. That's not to say that everyone took that education to heart, though. By the same token, not all of the kids who go to Harajuku or Shibuya or Odaiba are these brats who tan their bodies into leather and brazenly mouth off at anyone who even hints at being authority. Still, there's enough turmoil here that I think future generations will have set into a new social paradigm that will be quite different from the first two postwar generations. To finish off, I just want to wonder aloud how these Shibuya kids (some who do have babies: yan-mama, or Yankee Mothers) will look at their offspring in 10 or 15 years. Will they be a lot more relaxed in their upbringing or will they somehow revert to the ways of their parents and unleash the discipline?
Thursday July 28, 9:51 p.m.

The new iron worked out quite well with the pile of crumpled clothing I had on the couch. I'm sure it'll do just as well with the new pile waiting out on the line.

Yes, it was plenty hot out there as I went to the gym. When I entered the training room, a guy hawking some new energy pills greeted me. Before I could avoid him, he plied me with six of his tablets carping about the wonders of this medicine. I realize I should have known better than take any strange drugs but he was a bit too fast for me and I figure that if he could pass muster with the gym staff, then it couldn't really be too bad. As it turned out, it had zero effect on my performance.

Then it was off to The Tea Room. Just as The Carolinan was launching into her speech about last weekend's earthquake, another tremor, not as strong, jolted us a bit. There was a slow gentle jostling of the tables for a minute or so before things got back to normal. The Carolinan, like her sister The New Yorker, took the major temblor on Saturday in stride; she was at a friend's house when it hit but she didn't really panic or anything. She kept me informed about the plans for The Beach Girl tomorrow night. Looks like it'll be a good-sized crowd for her welcome back dinner...about 9 or 10 including me, SR, and the two sisters. I still have yet to know the time and the place, though, but The Carolinan assured me that I will find out soon enough. Speaking of which, I have yet to find out about what's happening with this Eel Day thing I have with The OL and Betty Boop. I'll have to give them another reminder. In any case, there's a good chance that tomorrow night's festivities will include a karaoke stint so I'll have to get my vocal cords prepped for that. I don't think I've been out to karaoke since that time with The Beauty Pair and Mr. Eccentric a few months ago.

The garbage area outside my apartment is becoming a dangerous spot for festering sewage. Once again, there is a whole bunch of wrongly bagged trash presumably with rotting stuff just reeking outside in the heat. I think some of the stuff is from some very unneighbourly types from the other buildings who want to dump their bags in our area before their regularly scheduled pick-up day. I don't think my real estate agency's notice did any good. It may have to be forced to put up security cams.

Also, I got a slightly annoying letter from the Canadian Embassy telling me that they don't know whether or not I've left Japan and whether I can let them know. Well, I sent them a cordial letter reassuring that I'm still here.

There's been quite a bit of attention on the current, and now only, shuttle mission this year. Not only for the fact that it's the first since the Columbia disaster but also because there is a Japanese mission specialist on board. Considering that another one of those tiles chipped off again during blast-off, there is some cause for concern.

Well, knock on wood, it's a July Thursday but no more bombs in London. Let's hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wednesday July 27, 11:05 p.m.

Well, I went off on my shopping spree to find that iron to purchase with those gift certificates. I stopped off at Nihombashi since there is a Mitsukoshi department store there. Looks like their irons were of the premium kind; they were selling for close to 10,000 yen. A little rich for my blood since that was how much I had in certificates.

Abandoning that idea for a while, I went off to Otemachi to get that letter off to that town hall in Wakayama Prefecture. That was done in a relative jiffy. Then I scooted back down to subway level to have lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Express again. And once again, I got seated at the same place by the counter in front of the plasma TV. The waitress who sat me down had passed me twice initially before getting to me; I thought Puck trained them in American attitude as well. I ordered the same thing in the form of a Classic Puck Burger with Fries. I was lucky in that I could watch some of the Mariners-Tigers game live on the NHK Satellite channel. I was even luckier in that I could see Ichiro pull off another masterful batting display and some fine defensive work in front of the adoring Seattle crowds.

I found myself with an extra ninety minutes before meeting The New Yorker at The Tea Room. So I re-engaged myself to the task of finding that iron. This time, I hopped on the Marunouchi Line and went down to Ginza. I checked out the Mitsukoshi branch there but only found kitchenware in the appliances section so I went down the street to Matsuya. Finally, I found something that could satisfy...a simple steam iron for 4,700 yen. It was sure nice to get an appliance for free.

Since the Yamano Music store was just across the street, I decided to take a little poke in. As usual, there was the staff hawking a new CD at the front of the store in the blistering heat. This time, it was the latest "hit" (the quotation marks signify "I term it loosely") by SMAP. They've kinda gone back to their happy, happy style after a few years of ballads. There was nothing on the J-Pop floor so I went up to the 2nd floor which sells the Western stuff. A Huey Lewis & The News medley was playing on the speakers so the wistfullness bubbled up inside of me. Of course, I went straight to the old 80s compilation discs. I was darn tempted to get this 3-disc set but there were just too many songs that I did cotton to from the late 80s so I saved my money.

The New Yorker was her usual shy self although she has opened up considerably in the times we speak Japanese. I can only hope that her English will eventually get better sometime down the line. At the end of the lesson, both she and I were wondering about what had become of The Beach Girl. Knowing us, The Carolinan and SR, she came back from California for a short visit to the home country but she had yet to contact us.

Well, speak of the devil, when I got over to Speedy's and checked e-mail, I received word from The Carolinan that she had made contact with BG and asked if I were available for dinner with them on Friday. Looks like my dance card is now filled. In fact, I had an unusual amount of e-mail for a Wednesday afternoon. Amongst the messages was one from The Madame who offered to meet me on Tuesday afternoon. Now, that the Beehive is on hiatus, I was able to agree. It's just the matter of finding out where to eat.

I've picked up another student albeit temporarily thanks to Speedy. Looks like I'll be teaching 002 just before 001 from next week. They're buddies and 002 is planning to do a homestay in the Great White North in the Fall. So she needs work on Travel English. Well, the extra money will always be welcome. Speaking of 001, the lesson was another good affair but the hilarity started when The Secretary came in after the lesson. Looks like my weekly conversational theme of that dead mouse found at the izakaya on Sunday has been rolling them over in the aisles. As has been the case with the other ladies this week, 001 and S crumpled in disgust on hearing about the rodential incursion. Then the talk shifted over to cockroaches which meant all bets were off as far as I was concerned. For a full 45 minutes, I just gave them an equivalent of an Indiana Jones ride about my past encounters with Japan's most dreaded insect.

Tomorrow, I've just got The Carolinan in the evening but I still have to wake up at the usual time since I've got that O-chugen gift from The Matron coming in the morning. I'll probably use that time to clean things up and put that iron to use. Then after lunch, it'll be the gym before heading out to Tokyo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wednesday July 27, 8:41 a.m.

I'm currently watching Heidi Collins 360 (sorry, Anderson, but you seem to be taking too many vacations). Some guy my height is only 120 lb (I'm somewhat larger) and ingesting only 1800 calories a the hopes he can live to 90 and beyond. My retort is with the world as it is and probably will be, who wants to live THAT long?

My mild rant aside, Typhoon 7 (or Banyan, for you weather forecasting otaku) was the equivalent of a pre-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger bedding down some young lady only to find out there's one "muscle" he can't get up. In other words, this monster storm wasn't. It's now nice and sunny and blisteringly hot out there. I've got the mattress airing out hoping the sun will miraculously destroy any freeloading dust mites. Most likely, the buggers will just pop out, put on sunglasses and bask.

I got a letter from an old colleague at the school last night offering me a possible opening at the high school he's been teaching at. At a student's wedding a couple of years ago, he was also telling me about the wonderful job and benefits at this school. Well, as soon as I saw the word "high school", the position had as much appeal as eating weaponized anthrax...I have enough problems motivating my two kids and The New Kid (part of me was rather happy that the juku classes had been canned last night) without having to tackle a whole horde of boys everyday. And I've heard rumours from others that that old colleague just slums it in class. If the students act up, he doesn't care...just lets them rant and rave while he brings in the money. Well, I'm just not that way. Also, I know that The Songbird had once worked there for a time, often to melt into a puddle of tears at her frustration.

GC was also doing a bit of a hawk job on me, but about the wonders of a Mac computer. Well, I told him that with all of the money that I have pay out in the next number of months, I would be hard pressed to shuck out for a 2nd-tier desktop, let alone a great laptop.

Well, gotta plan for those lessons before heading out to buy a new iron using those gift certificates that the two parents of the kids had given me. Also, The Matron did it again. I already got that wooden bed (useless right now, but the intent was laudable), now she's sent me her usual O-chugen gift. Actually, it's on the way. I got the Failure of Delivery slip again.
Tuesday July 26, 8:48 p.m.

Well, that much dreaded typhoon may end up to be just a close shave instead. We got a lot of rain today and some whistling threats of gale-force winds but it all really didn't amount to much. I could have gone to the juku tonight without much of a problem. Ah, well...that's life. In any case, it would've just been too risky to chance having them tonight anyways. Besides, I could have a rare relaxing Tuesday night at home. Mind you, it's still technically not too far away; something could still happen between now and midnight.

The Den Mother got in touch with me tonight about this reunion some of her old classmates will be having this Saturday. Unfortunately, I won't be able to go since I've already got that eel dinner on the 30th with The OL and Betty Boop. However, I've sent word on the pertinent data to Movie Buddy who has also been invited. I have doubts that he'll go though.

It will be a scorcher in every conceivable way tomorrow. It's heading up to at least 32 C. Well, at least it'll be sunny.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tuesday July 26, 2:31 p.m.

Well, the typhoon is on its way apparently. Almost all of the stations are broadcasting up-to-the-minute news on it with the typical intrepid reporter (read: short end of the stick) braving the stiff winds and driving rains at key locations throughout the Pacific coast. It's certainly looking ominous from my window and the rains are steadily coming down.

We had the last of the Beehive classes before the summer holidays. Again, we were on a skeleton crew with half of the group out on various things. The talk was on the two natural disasters naturally: last week's earthquake and today's typhoon. At the time, it was just oppressively humid with no wind...the virtual calm before the storm. Four of us just went to a nearby pasta place for lunch before we all decided to break up and head home.

I did my part of preparation by getting a bottle of fresh water for internal use and filing up the tub with water just in case the water supply cuts out. I bought some dry food although I still have a ton of chocolate in the fridge. I've got my radio on standby in case the electricity dies. The only thing I haven't done is reinforce my windows. I figure if it gets that strong, it won't matter a whit anyways.

The juku boss gave the call to cancel classes for tonight. That's a good pocket of change I let go but I would rather not have a repeat performance of that huge drenching I got last year on my way to the juku...and that wasn't even from a typhoon.

Well, seeing that I got a lot of time now. I will probably get started on some major ironing, start that letter to check out the family register and prep for 001.
Monday July 25, 10:56 p.m.

With all due respect to the weather forecasters, it sure didn't feel like 27 C today. More like over 30, not including the humidex. It was quite oppressive out there. And the spritzers have been coming on and off during the evening.

Not surprisingly, the theme of the day in the classes was the earthquake on Saturday. It seems as if I was the unlucky guy amongst the folks in my circle. Both The Lady and SIL were in their cars going home when it struck, The Matron was comfortably at home, and Junior and his wife were out in Shibuya and got the shake but they had planned to stay out until late there so everything was free and clear for them by the time they decided to head out. As for the Poppy, she was actually out in a beauty parlour but with a call home, her parents came and picked her up.

I was actually able to shave my food budget considerably lower since I literaly got a free lunch and dinner thanks to The Lady and Poppy. The Chef made me a galette and an Okinawan noodle soup while The Poppy treated me at Dennys. Also, the Lady gave me a package consisting of a bottle of red wine and a box of pickled plums, probably for Dad. Very nice of her...although I had quite the load to bring home tonight. Also, The Matron was kind enough to drive me after The Poppy's lesson to the nearest station on the Tozai. Next Monday will probably be as busy as today but it's nice to know that I can conceivably not have to pay a yen AND get a ride to a convenient station.

Uncle sent me that phone number and address of that town hall in my mother's hometown, so I'll have to make contact somehow with them. I think I'll play safe and write a letter to them. The folks there probably never get any contact from foreigners unless the JET Programme has infiltrated even that remote area.

I sent The Madame a letter. Seeing that Friday is all open for me, I thought maybe she might want to do something. Shot in the dark.

Well, Typhoon No. 7 is on its way up here. As I said before, the rains have been spitting a bit on us. Looks like we may get as much as 350 mm tomorrow so it could be quite a mess heading to the juku in the evening. I guess I'll be packing the heavy artillery then by using a real umbrella instead of the collapsible one.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Monday July 25, 7:28 a.m.

Cooler but still humid, so I think I'll still be sweating up a storm. Speaking of which, we've got a couple of typhoons on our doorstep. The first one won't be due til Wednesday but it's already clouded over considerably. We've got some possible rain coming in. GC mentioned that he's noticed a lot of strange weather phenomena recently. The typhoons are in that category. Ten years ago, they were strictly an early Fall thing and most of them just aimed for Okinawa. But since last year, the Kanto has been getting targeted as well and much earlier. This could wreak havoce with the agricultural industry.

It'll be a busy day today. If noone bails out suddenly, I'll have my usual four classes including The Poppy tonight. Plus, I've got bills to pay. And seeing it is the 25th, there'll probably be tons of people at the bank ATMs.

The Ballerina contacted me. Looks like she'll be in town a bit longer than usual this weekend so she's invited me out with a bunch of her old classmates including The Madame. However, I do have that cooking session at Speedy's at noon on the 31st so I could only promise that I could meet them later.
Sunday July 24, 11:52 p.m.

It looks like Hotmail is screwing up yet again. It freezes on me whenever I want to log out.

I met up with the gang at Hachiko today. The Satryr, Movie Buddy and I were the only teachers to make it out. It was another large group of students including The Barmaiden, The Coffeemaker and The Doll, and of course, the guest of honour. From my brief talk with her on the way to the restaurant, it sounded like she picked up a Californian/Sheryl Crow accent. She's definitely a lot more fluent now.

Our restaurant du jour was just a dozen metres down from the French cafe that The Madame and I had gone to last Sunday. It was interesting right from the doorway which was only up to my chest in height so quite a few of us had to duck pretty low to get in. And then we were treated to an ant colony type of decor inside with us going down a long series of shallow steps with different levels of dining areas. We made it down to the very lowest level to one of the larger areas, the typical tatami mat area with pits under the tables to dangle our legs. But the entertainment didn't stop there. No sirree! Scully put her bare feet (we had a lot of sandaled women in our group) and touched something furry. Since the pits are usually made of wood or stone, there was something not right about this, and sure enough, it wasn't. Poor Scully had stepped on the carcass of a dead rat! Oooh! Did we have women jumping from their seats! I don't think I've seen this woman/rat dynamic since my Mom were setting traps for the rodents back in my childhood days in downtown Toronto. The manager of the restaurant hurriedly came down, armed with a tissue and took out the offending offal. I could see the hairy tail and backside of, I thought it would make a great mount on some guy's wall. I was just surprised that a dead animal could be found in a Japanese establishment (cleanliness is next to godliness, even in this secular country), and even more surprised that some of the group didn't raise a large hue and cry and stomp out. But our group is young and laid back. The manager gave us a good discount on our bill later on for the embarrassment.

The food and drinks were good which made us forget about the rodential intrusion. The Doll was back to her usual verbal non-sequiturs although she didn't get potty-mouthed like the last time. I found out that The Barmaiden will be heading out herself on a 3-month homestay in my hometown from the Fall. A few of us are wondering who will spearhead the parties. But I don't foresee much happening during the Autumn months anyways, and The Barmaiden will be back by year-end party season.

Also, Movie Buddy and I have tentatively set up another session at my place on the 6th. We'll finally be catching Star Wars together near my home and then catching a bunch of DVDs. I just hope that it won't be too, too hot by that time.

Well, it's back to work later today.