Thursday, February 21, 2008

Friday February 22, 2:07 p.m.

Well, the juku boss did say that this year, my 42nd year, would be one of the most trying ones. And it looks like the omen is coming true. It all started with that letter from my real estate agency stating that I was delinquent in my rent for February. I thought it was some stupid clerical error...I've been very good for the past 14 years when it came to paying my bills. I faxed them proof via copies of my passbook and then called the agency up when I didn't hear from them. Finally, I had to go over to the agency in person to find out what was going on. Let's say I wasn't too impressed with their service.
However, I think it was just as well that I did go in person. The clerk over there looked into my records and found out that there was indeed an error...somehow in the past, I ended up not paying for one month. And so, I've now got to pay that along with the March rent and the lease renewal fee which is 1.5 times the regular rent. Basically, I'm gonna go broke. I asked rather urgently whether there was a mistake in the computer. But the clerk patiently and with some sympathy showed me through the printout that none was to be found. You can imagine that I wasn't feeling too good. With a sense of shock and dismay, I rather moped out of there. I didn't make direct eye contact with her but I could sense that she was also feeling a bit tense; I could imagine that she's had some rather more tempestuous confrontations in the past over these sorts of deals.
I've just had to do something that I really hate to do...and that is go begging hat in hand. I've sent an SOS of sorts to the juku boss herself. She's already volunteered to be my guarantor for the apartment, so I was hesitant to ask her again...but she's also the one who did offer to help me out financially before. It's gonna be a bad year.

Ironically, I then had to go down to Akasaka to the HQ of the real estate agency to find out about the change in guarantor. As I was heading down on the subway, I was just in a bit of a daze; I didn't bother to find a seat...just stood by the door. True to my luck today, I got off at Akasaka since the address said Moto-Akasaka...only thing is that Moto-Akasaka was nearest the Ginza Line station, Akasaka-Mitsuke, rather than Akasaka Station on the Chiyoda Line. So I had to walk another 1o minutes through the ritzy neighbourhood. I got to the HQ. The lobby looked distinctly Kubrickian with noone there. It was one of those reception areas in which I had to go to a phone and dial an extension number to summon someone. So I did so and got someone from the relevant section to meet me.
A fellow who looked like the recently departed Barry Morse came out to meet me. He had that demeanor of a very efficient butler...and had the height to show for it as well. Rather towered over me although he wasn't intimidating. He gave me his card and I told him about my situation. He went back to his office and then returned to let me know that the juku boss needs to hand in a document along with my form for lease renewal. I wasn't in a good mood but I appreciated his level of service as he opened the door for me to exit.

So I'm back here at Speedy's after having had lunch at McDs (I wonder if that will be the fanciest meal I'll ever have for the rest of this year). I have to take over one lesson for the bossman who's had to go in for some emergency surgery concerning his colon. I hope it isn't too serious. He told BC, who's the only other person here, that she'll have to hold the fort for the day. Although he'll be back here tomorrow, he's de facto incommunicado until Monday.
But it looks like that little filming here yesterday has already paid off. The feature on our little school got televised at noon today on the TBS variety show. And people have already started to call in about us. Ironically, I was right in front of TBS when I got off at Akasaka.

Not sure what or how things are gonna shape up for the next several weeks into Spring.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday February 21, 3:54 p.m.

The filming finished almost 30 minutes ago. Pretty painless, although BC just confided that she absolutely hates being put out in public. I just kept my mouth shut, eyes on the screen and fingers on the keyboard. The "student" in this case was one of those PYT (pretty young things..thought I would channel Michael Jackson here) and was pretty loud...I guess they gotta be when they're on TV.

Found out through Facebook that both The Entrepreneur and The Dancer have become members of this huge community. Sent them a little greeting.
Thursday February 21, 2:40 p.m.

We've got the TV guys in here and Speedy's giving them the dog n' pony show about the school. Just prelims right now...the filming should be getting under way in about 20 minutes. No celebs but that's no skin off my nose.

The Yogist didn't have any big effusive statements about her first ever marathon on Sunday, but she said that she'd enjoyed it much more than expected. Obviously since it was her first one, she has been suffering the usual muscle aches and pains brought on by pushing her body to the limit. She's not quite sure whether she'll re-enlist for next year.

I dropped a line onto The Entrepreneur since I hadn't heard from him in a number of weeks. He got back to me pretty quickly. Apparently, he had tried to send me a message last week but obviously he didn't make it through. Looks like he and his relatively new bride are still very much in the honeymoon phase...they'd gone to some little inn for Valentine's Day last week. Ahh...a different world.

Right now, the TV crew is starting its dry run for the filming. The rather genki director has recruited BC into the fun...although BC may be rather bemused by it all. I'll have to talk it over with her tonight. Speedy is trying to calm her down although I'm not sure what his state of mind is like, either. I'm just working here.

Rehearsal one has just launched. BC looks like she's holding things together. I think I did get into the shot....and we're about to do another take. I'm starting to understand how these things are being put together. And I wonder how actors and actresses can take this sort of thing for 18 hours.

Anyways, more on this later...
Thursday February 21, 12:40 p.m.

Looks like the flu/cold/hay fever bug has been taking its toll locally. A few of our students and even The Admin's son has taken ill today. So, Mrs Speedy is taking over at the desk today. The Yogist should be coming around here in about 20 minutes. After that, it'll be another five hours of nothing before I take care of BC and her essay. However, during that interval, one of the local variety shows will be appearing here for a bit of filming for one of their segments to be shown. It had been a while since the last shuzai...most of the filming centred around Mr. Influence's project of Cooking in English. So I'm gonna have to primp myself up a bit...or just hide in the closet for the next few hours or so.

BC's got a big English test coming up this Saturday so she's pretty nervous about her written segment, so recently our one-on-ones have been on her essay writing skills. She's not too bad..not too imaginative but she gets the job done. She has the usual structural issues such as omitted articles and prepositions as even a lot of the advanced students do. We'll be having a business dinner of sorts since we'll be going to the Chianti place next door...home of the Chianti Burger...that messy monstrosity that I'll definitely not be ordering tonight lest BC really wants me to leave some residue on her stuff.

Well, I sent my bill to Cozy regarding those first three translation projects I did for him. He had no problems with it and I'm looking forward to a little moola being transferred into my account soon. He's also sent over the next assignment. I've got about a week on that one.

I'm looking forward to the Yogist's tale of her run through downtown Tokyo on Sunday during the marathon.
Wednesday February 20, 8:06 p.m.

001 is quite the tonic....another one of those lessons whose contents could belong to any winning sitcom. She always marvels at how quickly the time flies...despite the fact that we go non-stop for 80 minutes. Her ski trip to Hokkaido was its usual glamourous thrill, except that the flight home turned out to be delay after delay due to various reasons. And yet she'll be gone for another 2 week is just because she unfortunately pulled the night shift but the week after will be the big international trip to Alaska.

Well, now it's just The Diver. She's not nearly as gabby or as confident as 001 so there will be some more effort needed on my part. However, if she shows the promise that she did last week, then I think the next hour will be pretty painless.
Wednesday February 20, 5:06 p.m.

Back at Speedy's again after teaching The New Yorker in Ichigaya. Had the rather surprising happenstance to run into my ol' manager at the ol' school...the somewhat smarmy mealy-mouthed one. Past teachers once told me that you'd know when the manager truly disliked you if he seemed rather pleased to see you. In that case, I can comfortably state that he really despises me.

Before that rendezvous, I had lunch at China (Not-so-) Quick nearby. Service was its usual perfunctory-if-not-so-friendly self. At 750 yen for a good-sized bento, I was satisfied, though.

On the way back to Ichigaya Station, there was a small group of people dressed in blue coveralls, helmets and white gauze hay fever masks giving out flyers. At first, I thought the ultra right wing was starting to lighten up their fashion statements a bit, but in actual fact, it was probably the other end of the political spectrum. As one lady was exhorting the commuters with a megaphone, the group was decrying yesterday's accidental slice-and-dice by an Aegis destroyer (not the cruiser I had misidentified it as), the Atago, of a fishing boat off in Chiba waters. Their eventual purpose was to demand the dismantling of the Self-Defense Forces. Good luck on that. Unfortunately for the MSDF, it looks like a lot of sailors will be going through the wringer in the eyes of the media and people for the next few days at least. I think the only guys who won out on this one is that Chinese factory responsible for the poisoned gyoza...they've been knocked out from the spotlight.

Anyways, speaking of food, I gotta eat mine. 001 will be here in less than 45 minutes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wednesday February 20, 1:28 p.m.

Almost ready to head out the door to see The New Yorker. It's been one of those lazy few hours between lessons and a malfunctioning computer in front of me. I did plan for tonight's lessons. But I'm feeling pretty tired right now.

Well, the world has seen a few hiccups in the past several hours. Fidel Castro has finally decided to step down officially...Cubans have barely raised a conga line in response. The party of the late Benazir Bhutto may have won the Pakistani elections although I'm not quite sure what Musharraf will do now. How about one more dclaration of martial law for old time's sakes? And the Obama Steamroller is still making itself known after Barrack grabs Wisconsin from Hillary...not sure what Hawaii is thinking quite yet. And of course, Kosovars are holding their collective breath over what revenge Serbia and the USS---er, I mean Russia have in store for them.
Wednesday February 20, 11:26 a.m.

Just finished with The Nurse...another absurdist humour-filled riot. We managed to unravel her problems of contrasting Simple Present with Present Continuous. Looks like this day will be sandwiched with nurses (no snickering in the audience, please). I just had this one now and my night will be over with The Diver...someone who's in more need of TLC. In between, I've got The New Yorker and 001.

Yesterday, much like Monday, promised more than it actually delivered. But it wasn't actually a bad thing. Monday had all these frontloaded classes of which three dotakyan'ed. Tuesday had my last two guys of The Siberian and Jolly can out. For The Beehive, it was just Mrs. Alp, Travel and Jade. There was some talk about their upcoming trip to Croatia. Mrs. Jade, channeling the absent Mrs. Tee, was worrying quite a bit about it considering the current situation in Kosovo. But Mrs Travel, being the veteran adventurer, laughed it off and stating the three months before launch. We ended up having lunch at a Korean bibimpap place in department store near JR Tsudanuma. Good food...and very hot, but not because of the spices but due to the actual heat of the stone pot.

002 was her usual self during my house call. Her husband had done the marathon and struck a personal best. The lass had tried to qualify for it last year but failed so she's gonna go for it again for the next year.

For the juku, only Dale showed up. We worked on diseases for which she did quite well; certainly with a whole lot more oomph than she had shown last week. Her mother and little brother (a bit of a holy terror at 4) came in for the 2nd time in as many weeks. I'm not sure if I should take that as a hint.
Mild Jr. showed up for his regular spot of occupational role-playing. He's gonna be promoted to the position of top of security at his hotel...not sure if he's too thrilled about it, though. For a guy who looks like an enforcer, he's quite mild-mannered like his parents. As for The Milds, I had their last lesson before they take off for a week's tour of India tomorrow. They are going on a typical Japanese tour which will probably mean that they won't get anywhere near anything remotely dangerous...which gave me some relief. As I usually warn my students before they take off on an overseas vacation, I don't want to see their names listed on an NHK News Bulletin.

My newborn adventure with my real estate agency over that misunderstanding on Saturday continues. I tried calling the office to see if my fax had gotten there safely. The young lady on the other end of the line cheerfully admitted no knowledge so I left them my number in the hopes that one of the higher-ups would call. Haven't heard a thing. I may have to visit them personally to get some action. To remind folks, I'd received a letter from them accusing me of non-payment of my rent last month for which I have the proof in the form of a bank statement that I did indeed pay I have every month for the last 14 years.

The big news right now here is that crash between an Aegis-equipped MSDF cruiser and a fishing boat off guesses needed to find out who won. The father and son aboard the little boat are still missing, and I can't really expect them to be found alive after all this time (more than 24 hours ago) and in this weather.

Feeling pretty tired after two nights of just 11 hours of sleep. I'm rather happy that I don't need to come in until The Yogist's lesson tomorrow afternoon. I'll be interested to find out how she fared in The Tokyo Marathon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday February 18, 9:22 p.m.

Well, this is one for the record books. I had been expecting a very heavy, Admin-sympathizing night schedule. But as it turns out, I've ended up with a long intermission between SIL and Medicine Man...who should be arriving any minute now. First, The Full-Timer and The Diver cancel. Then, Mr. TOEIC outdoes himself by not only calling in to delay his arrival but then calls a second time to cancel outright. Such is the lot of a staffer in eigyobu (Sales Division). Speedy has reassured me that I will be paid in full for sudden cancellations. Easiest pile of yen I've earned all month. The Admin will be falling off her chair in laughter tomorrow, I bet.

I got another quick little order from Cozy. I just translated his little sliver of wording right in Gmail.

As for Medicine Man, this is his fourth and final lesson so far if he doesn't renew...hope he does; although I'm well aware about what happened to The Judge.
Monday February 18, 8:00 p.m.

It looks like The Diver may be amenable to a Wednesday night slot, so I don't lose any income; it'll just be transferred. So I'm just waiting for Mr. TOEIC. Ironically, he's usually the go-to guy for dotakyan...apparently, since I haven't heard anything from him yet, I'm assuming he'll actually make it tonight.

Luckily, with the unexpected free time, I have been able to concoct something for the kids. It'll be on the wonderful world of disease.

It'll be a typical busy Tuesday. The Beehive and then 002 followed by the juku crowd. Perhaps Jolly may opt out. I know that The Milds will not be coming the following Tuesday due to their trek through India.

Had a little chat with Speedy. Officially, then, the search for The Admin's replacement is now on. BC's name did pop up. Over the past few weeks, I've been hearing some of her complaints about Speedy's ways, so it was no surprise that he told me a bit about BC. And never the train shall meet.
Monday February 18, 6:42 p.m.

Well, so much for the heavy night. Not only has The Full-Timer opted out today but The Diver just called to cancel as well. So my next class won't be til 8:30. A bit of a drag, perhaps, but I can still use the time to concoct something for Chip N' Dale tomorrow night at the juku. Speaking of the li'l munchkins, I'm not quite sure how much longer I'll have them. I haven't exactly been pulling them along too quickly and Dale certainly looked a bit lax last week. I only get 1600 yen for the two of them, so I may start suggesting that they look for a proper kids' teacher.
Monday February 18, 5:10 p.m.

It's only a Monday and yet I'm already feeling run down. Maybe it's the onset of the flu...although I haven't had the flu in nearly 30 years. Let's say this, the last time I had influenza, I distinctly remember missing that episode of the original "Battlestar Galactica" in which Starbuck's father was played by Fred Astaire. No...I'm not imagining this...Astaire did play Starbuck's father.

Or perhaps it's some lingering stuff from the kerfuffle surrounding my apartment and the real estate agency. Yup, it's renewal time which means paying the renewal fee of oodles of yen plus getting the guarantor to sign up. I've decided to change the guarantor (which is mandatory in most cases) from my uncle to the juku boss, since I rarely have any contact with him. Another big headache is that when I came home, I got a form letter from the local branch of the real estate agency gently accusing me of not paying last month's rent. Well, I just let out a huge "WHAT?!" in surprised outrage and ran out to the nearest ATM...nearly 10 minutes on foot away and updated my passbook. Sure enough, there was the proof in the pudding...I did pay my rent...and so I made some photocopies of the passbook and sent off a politely worded counter message by fax (despite the fact that I was feeling far from polite at the time). I haven't heard anything since then so that may be a good sign. In any case, I'm in the clear so it's up to them to let me know what they did with my money.

Before that, I had a pretty good lesson with The OL. She rather surprised me with her book report. A lot of that rust from last week disappeared and she gave me a comparative study of "A Christmas Carol" and its representation of life in Victorian England. Certainly a whole lot more than the usual "I liked it because..." comments I get. So I decided that the next few lessons at least should centre around those reports since it does get her speaking at a mile a minute; it's obvious that she enjoys espousing on English-language literature, her major at university right now. However, I did give her some remedial grammar exercises to cover some of the patches. Her next assignment will be George Orwell's "Animal Farm", required reading in my old junior high school days.
I even got a little present from her via something that her supposedly otaku sister (not the UL but the other one) whipped up from scratch...a fabric bookcover. Apparently, the only sister I haven't met from her clan is quite the whiz at homemaking.

Yesterday, I met Tully and The Coffeemaker for the first time in 2 months...nearly forgetting that The Tokyo Marathon was under way. The Tozai Line was a lot busier than usual for a Sunday and Iidabashi Station was more reminiscent of a weekday at rush hour with lots of folks in jogging gear and with banners. However, Ichigaya was as quiet as usual...the runners had passed the area several minutes before. At least, the weather was far sunnier than last year's drippy inaugural although the chill was still there. I wonder how The Yogist and 002's hubby did. This time around, the organizers and even some impromptu volunteers had whipped up enough bananas and onigiri for starving participants. But there were still not enough porta-potties. But then again, there will never be enough porta-potties no matter how many are present. When one has to wait 10 minutes to take a whizz...
As for Tully and The Coffeemaker, they didn't suffer any rust but The Coffeemaker tends to clam up whenever she's given too much of a challenge such as business idioms. Still, they will be back on March 1.

Today is a pretty loaded day...despite The Full-Timer's sudden cancellation due to work (she's the payroll person at her company....which probably means very busy at this time of year). I had The Class Act (The Lady's chef whipped up a new dessert of matcha mousse with strawberries) and SIL. SIL and I looked at an article on the passing of Maharishi something-or-other, the Beatles' ol' guru in India. Considering his influence on the boys, it could be said that the Maharishi may have been indirectly responsible for the paradigm shift in American pop music. Maybe Paul could have used some of his pearls of wisdom just about now.
Well, I've got a bit of breathing room since The Full-Timer is off today. But I'll have the threesome of The Diver, Mr. TOEIC and then Medicine Man back-to-back-to-back.

In the past few weeks, I've been audience to a lot of deaths...those of a Japanese director, an Australian actor and some tragic ones of students at Northern Illinois Univeristy. So it's with some relief that I could actually witness the birth of a nation....Kosovo...although Russia and Serbia wish that it was stillborn.

Last night, Fuji-TV had its comedy competition for a few hours. A whole bunch of the comic cognescenti descended upon its studios to find out who would get the top prize...and therefore a boost in popularity, and ergo, yen. There were some new ones but there were some of the other vets...such as that Yoshio Kojima, the bikini-pant sporting lunkhead who's been using his lone shtick of pumping his arm into the ground while yelling "Sonanno kankei nai!" I think it's safe to say that his 15 minutes are almost up. Then, there was prettily porky Kanako Yanagihara with yet another one of her salesperson characters....still not sure how long she'll last. And then there was latecomer Edd Harumi...the former corporate etiquette trainer who has climbed up the ranks with her warped version of her job while hissing "Gooooooood!"Now, she's using her talents as a dancer to add to her shtick...she literally kicked up her heels to "My Sharona" by The Clash. I'm sure she's taken Yoshio's place on YouTube.
But the winner ended up being the fellow who has become famous for his impersonation of Dylan McKay from "Beverly Hills 90120". No accounting for taste, apparently. If all this sounds pretty warped...that's because it is.