Friday, January 30, 2009

Saturday January 31, 1:25 p.m.

Well, it's still pretty busy but it's turning out to be not as nuts. Mr. TOEIC kept it to a single since he was going out to meet his buds in Yokohama for lunch and stuff, and I found out that Mr. Pronounciation has dotakyaned. As for The Bostonian, she had the mask on and was suffering from a really froggy throat. I needled her that she was going through a second puberty (tastefully, of course). Instead of hitting the text, she picked my brain (what little there is) about some of her work stuff. At that point, I was grateful for the Cozy translation assignments since I was able to explain some of her stuff due to the vocabulary I picked up during translations. She also confided that she was nervous about her corporate future due to the massive layoffs that have been taking place. Her old company, NEC, is now giving its axes full reign to lop off 20,000 jobs over the next year.

Ironically, the sun has come out after that mini-typhoon wracked Tokyo this morning.
Saturday January 31, 8:51 a.m.

What am I doing? That was the question I asked myself a few minutes ago. I woke up at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m., got dressed and battled a small typhoon to get here and teach Mr. TOEIC at 9:30 a.m. I got the impression from Bay yesterday that she probably wanted to ask me the same question since both of us had been under the impression that we would open at 11 a.m. Well, since Speedy himself will probably be teaching him next week since I'm off next week and he's asked that TOEIC be available for 11, not 9:30, in no uncertain terms, I'll make sure that TOEIC will be back at 11 and no earlier.

Feeling pretty tense right now...hope I can keep it together for the rest of my lessons today.
Friday January 30, 7:25 p.m.

Well, the question was floating about what could top the event of the first African-American to become the most powerful man in the world. It's apparently been Iceland. Just read that a woman is set to become the world'sfirst openly gay Premier. I would've said it was time to put on the ABBA CDs but that's back in Sweden, isn't it?
Friday January 30, 6:48 p.m.

Just returned from The Restauranteur's place where I had my dinner; it would seem that 1 or 2 of those Fridays will now be dedicated to Sauteed Garlic Chicken. The restaurant always seems to be empty or largely devoid of customers; it makes me wonder how The Restauranteur and her chef-husband manage to stay in business. Still, I can't complain about the service or the food.

Beforehand, I stopped off at the juku. The boss is still ailing from the flu; she even left a note on the whiteboard in her classroom for The Ace and The Restauranteur. The Restauranteur was asking about her at dinner tonight

I bought a couple of Kyotaro Nishimura novels for Dad since his birthday is coming up. I have to get cards for both him and for The Matron since her b-day is next week. Next Monday, The Lady is supposed to take her and me for lunch at some nabe place in the heart of Shibuya. Hard to imagine someone as polished as The Lady walking through the grunge of Teen Mecca but she was originally born as an Osakan.

It's gonna be a pretty intense session at Speedy's tomorrow with The Bostonian, Mr. Pronounciation, The Businesswoman and The Publicity Agent all smashed in a few hours. Luckily, Mr. TOEIC had decided to go with a single lesson instead of the doubles he's been pulling off recently. At least, I'll get a 90-minute respite before the tidal wave comes in, and I can get some stuff started for Cozy's next translation. I did get that last one in right at noon. I've got a feeling that Bay isn't too thrilled about coming in early in the morning for Mr. TOEIC; well, I can guarantee that I'm not all that excited about having to come out from Chiba on a weekend morning either but there you go.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday January 30, 8:16 a.m.

Well, I see that the Illinois lawmakers voted unanimously to oust their governor, Blagojevich. Not surprisingly, it's Breaking News on CNN. Everyone should have their day in court, but to be honest, this guy always struck me as being like Robert DeNiro's take on Al Capone from "The Untouchables": cocky, smarmy...and perhaps dangerous. And it didn't help that he and his wife were caught on tape stating some pretty "Godfather"-like stuff.
Friday January 30, 7:52 a.m.

It looks like the first month of this year will be ending on a depressing note. Experiencing Vancouver weather right now with the rains coming in today and tomorrow. So much for the customary tourist info about Tokyo Januarys being cold but clear and sunny.

My stint with The Carolinan at the Excelsior Caffe last night turned out to be the last one. Not that The Carolinan is leaving me or anything; it's just that the Caffe itself closed up its sliding doors for good at 8 p.m. That would explain the full crowd; I had to have my coffee al fresco at one of the outdoor tables. Luckily, I've been weatherproofed from my years in Toronto. The Carolinan came by a half-hour later, looking somewhat alarmed that I had been sitting outside. I reassured her that I was perfectly warm in my long coat. I'd spent that half-hour looking over the latest Cozy translation. Doesn't look great but today is the deadline. The Carolinan and I ended up going a few doors down to the Caffe Veloce...not the greatest place to have a lesson in her estimation because of the crowds, but I never thought that the late Excelsior Caffe branch was all that peaceful either. She seemed a bit moody at points in the lesson; I'm not sure if it had been the fact that her recommended coffee shop was going belly-up or the fact that she saw me supposedly freezing outside but she's gotten that way at times so I'm used to it.

For dinner, I ended up going to Foo Foo for the first time this year since it was only a 5-minute walk away. I can always get a seat there even if it's the height of rush hour and even if it's in JR Shinjuku. I had the regular tan tan men, and not the pai ko tan tan men (with the added slice of deep-fried pork). And actually, I appreciated the relatively lower-calorie ramen better. Maybe I'm getting older. But then again, I switched from rosu tonkatsu to the less fatty hire tonkatsu some years ago.

Managed to zip through all of the remaining eps from Season 2 of "Robot Chicken" before bedtime last night. It was fun to watch, or hear to be more accurate, Scarlett Johannsen and even Charlize Theron just swearing away with abandon.

I was back up with the cats and crows to head over here to teach Miss Prissy. I got the word from our newest staffer, Bay (goes well with Ray and AK), that Swank had cancelled her lesson. Well, I'm out a hunk of money then but I get to not panic about getting that Cozy translation handed in today, and I can also work on tonight's lesson with The Restauranteur.

Looks like that honeymoon for President Obama didn't even last as long as a real honeymoon. All of the Republicans rejected his economic stimulus plan, although it still passed the House due to the Democratic majority. I think that the slap in the face was a show that the Republican Party is trying to get its act together and to tell Obama that they aren't feeling cowed by the cult of well they shouldn't, although they may want to be careful about the electorate. And the journalists may also be starting to get on him a well they should. I saw CNN's Campbell Brown hammering at him for reneging on his pledge not to use lobbyists in any shape. Apparently the new Treasury Secretary has been clamoring to have a former lobbyist as his chief assistant. I think the problem for the new Prez is that all of the appropriate guys in the government probably have had to dip their hands into the pie at some time or other. Again, my biggest worry is that Obama may end up being like Jimmy Carter or some other form of paper tiger.

Anyways, Speedy's student should be coming in any second now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thursday January 29, 12:23 p.m.

Trying to get through a translation assignment while prepping for Miss Sedona's class in about 20 minutes. Then, there are those 3 high school essays that I have to comment on. I can't even touch the 2nd half of Swank's lesson until tomorrow since there's been a cap put on the number of hours put on a day.

Ray informed me that Mr TOEIC has decided to go with just a single instead of a double (this is lessons I'm talking about, not whiskey) on Saturday. Ahh...I see he's seen the light. Well, a bit of respite.

MB tried calling me last night but I was frankly too weary to pick up and insist that I come on out to his school for a look-see. So, instead he called me this morning...says that it would be a personal favour to him if I came out to the school and see what I was missing. I internally sighed and said that I would go in a couple of weeks. But the school had better offer me a darn good apartment if I were even to get slightly interested in teaching teens again. And the potential cost to the rest of my private business would be enormous. And I know that Speedy and the juku boss wouldn't be very happy.

Looks like The Bohemian and I will be getting together for a yakiniku dinner on Sunday in Shibuya.
Wednesday January 28, 7:17 p.m.

I made some good progress on the latest of the Cozy translations. Hopefully, I may be even able to have it ready to go just before I head on out to see The Carolinan tomorrow afternoon. I was even able to go through some more high school essays and plan for The Diver's lesson in an hour. She's on her very last paid lesson, by the way. Not sure which way she's gonna go...she was making noises about not having too much money to scatter about.

Grandma FON called up to state that she's cancelling her lesson tomorrow morning due to a cold...which means I'll have the rare situation of just two lessons and the ability to get home early. So, it'll just be Miss Sedona and The New Yorker.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wednesday January 28, 1:38 p.m.

Well, met up with The Admin for the first time in over a year at the nearby restaurant at about 11. She was doing as chipper as usual although she admitted to some stress due to the rigours of her business. She may no longer be a colleague but she's now one of my students; she wanted to upgrade her vocabulary and general practice in English. Paid me in advance for the next several weeks, too. Not bad.

I got a rather terse reply from Movie Buddy about his "offer" of employment at his high school for which I'd declined. Just a thanks for my reply. I know he's disappointed but I hope he's not ticked off about it. Again, I would rather go back to the late, unlamented NOVA than teach a class of teenagers.

I'm here several hours early before my lone class at Speedy's with The Diver but I'll be busy not only preparing for her but also getting through some Cozy translations and prepping for another round with Swank. Hump Day is back.
Wednesday January 27, 9:28 p.m.

Finished another round at the juku tonight. The boss' husband did the honours of bringing over the night's coffee since the boss herself was conked out with the flu. Pretty good, may I add. The Traveler didn't show up at all and hasn't called in to say anything...which could mean anything at this point. The Milds did show up; their nephew had just had his wedding at Tokyo Disneyland of all places, which must've thrilled the women no end. They told me that Mickey, Donald and Goofy all showed up in an epic backpatting session. Mr. Mild's post-retirement education continues apace. He showed me photos of his brick and cinderblock walls from one of his DIY classes. He also has a kanji test coming up next Sunday. I showed him my 25-year-old kanji dictionary. He said that he could read the final, most difficult kanji in my book. His stuff, though, would put most professors to shame in its complexity. I asked him to bring that test in....I think this would be the environs for The Siberian...probably the King of Kanji in this country.

Heard that Heath Ledger got his posthumous awards for The Joker at the SAG and Golden Glober awards. Hmm...I think it's now possible that he could grab the Oscar; would be the first posthumous win in one of the major categories since Peter Finch in 1975 for "Network". This could be the year that superhero movies may finally get its legitimacy...Best Supporing Actor is probably gonna go to a supervillain while the show itself is being hosted by a superhero. If only Robert Downey, Jr. had been nommed for "Ironman".
Tuesday January 27, 7:08 p.m.

Well, The Traveler has yet to show up and it's now almost 10 minutes past the hour. She's only been with us for a few lessons but she's usually been on time or early. And the juku boss just called but couldn't reach her on her cellphone. Hmmm....not a good sign. Usually I would think that she's flown the coop like a number of others like Miss Disney or Seven, but I didn't get the impression that things weren't going well. She usually comes by motorcycle, so I'm a bit worried there.

Suzanne did come in for her 90 minutes. I almost put on the counselor's cap but it didn't quite that deep today. However, she will be heading for Australia once more in a couple of weeks to have another thinking time about her future. As for the juku boss, it ended up that she'd caught the flu from a kid yesterday which explains the visit to the hospital. She had the mask on and seemed rather frail today when she came in halfway through Suzanne's lesson . She's now sleeping downstairs although she was kind enough to try to make contact with The Traveler.

Well, I guess at this rate, it'll just be The Milds and then I'll be off for home.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tuesday January 27, 4:17 p.m.

Took my shower last night and did the laundry this major cursing from downstairs, no emergency visits from Friday and Gannon. It looks like the new system is holding. The duct tape around the veranda tap has managed to keep the hose on, and the extension hose to the drain seems to be working well as well. It's just that the bottom of my washing machine is leaking...may have to get a huge sponge to lap that up.

At the Beehive session today, I told Mrs Travel and Mrs Alp of the mishap on Sunday. Mrs Travel, like the Full-Timer last night, also had a similar situation years ago. But unlike The Full-Timer, she and her family were lucky to have some very patient neighbours downstairs. We never got to the Obama Inaugural Speech; ended up just gabbing about Mrs. Tee's jewelry and how she doesn't show them to her husband.

Ended up coming home for lunch since I wanted to give Cozy's latest translation assignment the once-over. I also had a chance to take my first gander at the "Robot Chicken" DVD set that I'd bought last year. It had the gem of a "Dragonball Xmas" and the downright nasty "Unicorn and Nerd" sketch. Really haven't seen anything of regular Japanese TV since I got back here, with the exception of NHK news...after several years, I think I've finally weaned myself off of it, although I could always suffer a relapse.

The juku boss left me a message stating that she had to go to the hospital again, and so I let myself in. I hope it's just a regular check and not something of an emergency. It's been a bit eerie how some of the close people I know have ended up in the emergency ward over the past few months.
Monday January 26, 7:24 p.m.

Well, it was a Sunday to remember...although not because of the Bond movie and not for a good reason. I was just 30 minutes away from heading out for Shinjuku to meet with the guys there for "Quantum of Solace" when I got two phone was from my real estate agency asking whether there was some sort of water leak in my apartment. The only place I could think of was on the veranda where my washing machine is located since the hose connecting the water supply to the machine often tends to spurt loose. Then 5 minutes later comes a phone call from a home services company which is on retainer with the agency telling me they have to make an emergency check of my apartment for leaks.

Some minutes later, a couple of middle-aged guys in coveralls come up looking like Sgt. Friday and Sgt. Gannon from "Dragnet" and proceeded to tell me the horror story that my downstairs neighbour made a frantic call to the agency stating that his apartment was flooded due to some leak emanating from upstairs. Well, I probably did blanch at that thought since Joe Friday suddenly came out of his "Just the facts" pose and turned into everyone's favourite uncle and reassured me that this wasn't my fault. Still, I got a chill down my back as he was gabbing with the agency guy and quoted a 120,000-yen job. Friday and Gannon proceeded to look at the potential trouble spots. They checked out the veranda and quickly concluded that that wasn't the problem, although Gannon got to work at cleaning up the drain there. Friday took a look under my sink and after a bit of digging found the culprit there as a bad pipe. That bad pipe was apparently responsible for inadvertently turning my neighbour's place into a swamp.

Joe gave me a rather serious and sage look (I could almost hear the first few bars of the "Dragnet" theme) and said that they would have to pull apart the sink for a day's work to correct the problem. In the meantime, they would have to shut off the water supply for the rest of the day and night until they came back the next morning. Joe gave me his card; it turned out he was the president of his little home services company. And he was good about it...I had to go and meet MB. Other folks would've said that there was no time for that and that they would have to get to work on the double. But Joe said that they would be back the next morning; besides, the water was turned off...there could be no more damage.

The craziest thing though..and luckiest (so far)...was that the downstairs neighbour didn't come up to even talk about the situation. At one point, yesterday afternoon, Friday and Gannon and I had to step outside to check out the water line for my apartment, so the guy could've seen me and come out to eviscerate me (verbally or literally). Even though Friday told me I wasn't at fault, I wouldn't have blamed my neighbour if he wanted to use me as a punching bag for dousing his futon (and those are pretty much useless once they get very wet). But to be honest, I'm not even sure who my neighbour is. There was one meeting between me and a downstairs neighbour several years ago...all of one second...when one of my shirts accidentally flew down to his veranda. He was a salaryman who quickly came up to my place, handed me the shirt, mumbled something and then took off in his suit. There was another situation for the same reason but at that time, he just hung my clothing in a plastic bag on the doorknob after I'd left him a note in his mailbox. It's conceivably possible that this was the same guy although aside from me, most of the tenants tend to come and go with the seasons in my apartment block. But it would explain why he didn't bother to come out to talk. Maybe he knows that what happened wasn't my fault and I'm not the type to go around flooding neighbours out of their apartments. In any case, I am very grateful although for the next several days, I'll probably be walking up very quietly to my apartment and getting nervous whenever I do the dishes, use the toilet or shower, and wash my clothes. I still think I might get ambushed.

I was in a bit of a daze as I took the subway over to Shinjuku. I actually got to the theatre ten minutes into "Quantum of Solace"...just when James Bond started his chase of the MI6 turncoat. Surprisingly, I was able to find my seat at the Picadilly in the dark although I may have stepped on the toes of The Satyr, Miss Ivory and Frodo on the way. I now had an enhanced reason to watch the movie since I needed a good dose of escapism to drown (oops, bad choice of words) my sorrows. The movie pretty much succeeded at that...a balance of hard-hitting action and espionage exposition which made it feel even fuller than its length as the shortest 007 flick ever. I felt rather badly for MB since he waited for me down at the ticket booth level until the movie had already started...and he's the biggest Bond fan in the country.

The verdict on the movie was that it was an enjoyable romp although The Satyr pointed out that the herky-jerky editing that seems to be in vogue now for these action movies was plaguing this one as well. MB must've liked it since he said he would see it full. And I may do the same. Amazingly, MB's wife, The Sylph, managed to pull off a nap in her seat.

Skippy was also there, and she had her own little tale of woe over the Holidays. Apparently, she'd collapsed in her apartment...luckily, while her boyfriend was there...due to internal bleeding (!!). Well, five days later, she was let out but with no clear explanation for the gusher inside...not a good sign. I noticed that she and the juku boss exhibited some similar signs. Both have outsized ebullience, both have had serious medical surprises and both have had their personalities magnify. Skippy was just bounding all over the place during dinner and dessert. I have a feeling that both ladies are just celebrating the fact that they're still alive.

We had dinner at a burger place in Hatsudai, near Opera City, called Base. The burgers there were pretty good although they still didn't quite hit the heights of Brozzers. We ended up going to Denny's for dessert...the annual strawberry festival was on. They talked about one of the trailers which happened to be for the Hollywood version of Hachiko...I'd seen the report of this a year ago on CNN. Richard Gere is supposed to be the kindly-but-soon-to-be-dead professor/master of Hachiko the faithful dog. Surprisingly, only The Satyr groaned.

I started my new life as a waterless person by brushing my teeth in the subway station washroom and then bought a couple of bottles of mineral water from the conbini. I tiptoed up the stairs to my apartment...ironically, my neighbour's lights were on. My slightly disheveled kitchen reminded me of what had to come pass earlier in the afternoon. And what continued to make my day a Sunday to remember was when MB called me up asking if I would consider taking a job teaching at his girls' high school. Apparently, The Satyr has found somewhat more fulfilling work elsewhere. MB and I bantered the discussion back and forth for half an hour, although I made my point clear in the first 5 minutes that I was allergic to teens; he really must need somebody. Along with the fact that I don't like kids, there was the fact that I don't look upon my JET days with any great pride and also the fact that his school is way beyond Speedy's area...and I had my share of commuting hell teaching my two of my first freelance students out where MB lives now. I was considerate to him, though...I said I would mull it over although I already knew I would say NO. I just have to decline it later tonight.

I took my MASH-like sponge bath with half a bottle of heated mineral water...prayed that I didn't need to go to the washroom in the middle of the night and hit bed while playing The Carpenters on the Discman...really needed Karen and Richard last night. "Rainy Days and Mondays" took on an even bigger significance.

Woke up this moring at 6:30 because I had that tingle. Put on the clothes, put the toothbrush and paste in my coat pocket and walked the 10 minutes to the closest public washroom by the station and ended up having McBreakfast. Just thought what the day would bring. 90 minutes later, I got my answer in the form of two new plumbers from the same company as Friday and Gannon. I think these guys were Adam-12. In any case, I was surprised to find out how easy it was to remove the sink from the kitchen wall. I was dreading some sledgehammer work, but all it was just a tug and the unit came out fine. However, there would be a few hours of hammering and drilling as they took out the errant pipe and put in a sparkling silvery one. Friday and Gannon actually also showed up near the end to take a look at the work which actually only took 3 hours instead of the whole-day experience that Friday had warned me about the day before. Perhaps, he was using the Scotty principle of overestimating the work time by a factor of 4. In any case, I just did some ironing and then read through several pages of "The DC Comics Encyclopedia" when at 11, Adam-12 proclaimed the work was done. When I went back into the kitchen, it looked like noone had even touched it. I asked about payment, but they said they didn't know anything about it...sounded ominous, although I've got a feeling that my real estate agency will be picking up the tab since Friday did say that it wasn't my fault. In any case, I've also got insurance so I'm still covered.

The Sunday craziness taken care of (although I'm still waiting for my neighbour to come at me with a Tomahawk), I took off for Daiei to pick up some stuff to add on the cleanup that Gannon had kindly done on the veranda yesterday. I got some electrical duct tape and an extension hose for the washing machine as Friday had advised me. Stuck the hose on and then wrapped the duct tape over the tap and tube leading to the machine.

I actually have classes today. I had The Full-Timer; told her about Sunday. She was surprised that I hadn't gotten a furious neighbour going for my blood. Apparently, her family had been the target of wrath from their downstairs neighbour when a similar thing had occurred years ago. I should be so lucky.

Now, it'll be Medicine Man in less than an hour. I've gotten some more proofreading and translation courtesy of Cozy. And I was surprised to get a lot more in my pay packet than I'd been expecting...since I was off a lot of the last month back home. Well, maybe some of that will be going for an extra futon for my downstairs neighbour if he threatens it. Still, the whole sordid tale will be one for my niece when she's old enough.