Thursday, January 13, 2011

Friday January 14, 1:34 p.m.

Had my lone student at Speedy's today. Grandma Dance is a truly special individual. She's an octogenarian who's seen her share of history. She grew up during the Second World War, had to work in the factories as a high school kid but had the rare privilege of learning English in a classroom...secretly, of course, since the learning of English was officially prohibited in wartime Japan. And she even attended the Tokyo War Crimes Trials as a spectator; she remembered seeing the US Army MPs striding in their crispy uniforms in the courtroom. And since then she has continued to learn...or by her own admission. try at least not to lose what knowledge she has of English. She's been a Speedy student for almost as long as I have been there, and I've had lessons with her over the years although today's session was the first one with her in almost 2 years.

It was somewhat saddening and poignant that over those 2 years, age and illness have clearly taken their toll on Grandma Dance. She looks less robust and she has more instances of forgetfulness. And I've been told that she's had her stays in hospital. And yet, she still manages to keep on coming to this school to keep up her language skills. I can only hope that I still have that much fortitude if or when I hit the big Eight-O!

Since I don't have Mr. Swank today, I'll probably head for home in about 15 minutes and crash there for a couple of hours before I head over to the juku.
Friday January 14, 11:40 a.m.

Got into New Speedy's this morning to immediately find out that Mr. Swank had called in to make a rare dotakyan for his lesson this afternoon. So, I just have Grandma Polka in about 20 minutes followed by the juku classes tonight. Helps with the commute. Ms. Efficiency also informed me that there will be a party on the 29th to herald the real departure of her predecessor, Ray. Ray supposedly ended her time with us last summer but the bossman was able to hold onto her for Monday and Tuesday nights over the last 6 months I think Ray had been hoping that this would be the last time for her to unleash herself from Speedy's clutches.

I've also come to a decision about my future as well.

It's not a sudden has been mulling around in my brain for the past couple of years and it was juggling around with more energy over the Holidays to the extent that it was 90% settled by the time I got back to Japan. Then, last night's commute brought it to totality.

I'd finished my usual Thursday lineup of Mrs. Thursday and The Music Man, both fine folks and students. And I was feeling rather exhausted when I left Speedy's at close to 11 p.m. In fact, I rather slept so soundly on the subway on the way home that I ended up overshooting my station by a couple of stops. Normally, that would only be a mere inconvenience but this happened past midnight and was lucky to have caught the very last train heading West. But I was sitting like a limp rag on the bench for close to 10 minutes and just thought about having to do this 3 times a week....coming home past midnight and at least once a week having to get out of bed to head out the door at 6:30 a.m. And it's not as if I'm a senior director of a company or even a middle management drone. I'm just an English teacher and I'm sitting in a deserted subway station at 12:10 a.m. And I decided then and there that it was really time for me to make my farewells to Speedy's, the place that I've been working at for the past 7 years.

And so I'll have a talk with the bossman himself on Monday night and get things into motion.
Thursday January 13, 10:40 p.m.

Pretty conked out after 6 lessons today. Almost fell asleep in front of The Music Man.

I heard from Speedy that MB and his friend dropped by the new school last week to set up some sort of relationship with the high school that MB's teaching at. And I'll be meeting up with The Bohemian this Saturday in Shibuya for dinner.

Thursday January 13, 6:05 p.m.
Over the Holidays, I got to see a couple of flicks, both starting with the letter "T". The first one I saw was the heavily touted "Tron". Three years in the making with a cult following after the original of 1982. After several years of having Japanese otaku capture the world pop culture zeitgeist, it was now time for the American geeks to get some of their own back.
The problem was that the original was not all that great to begin with. And the new flick with a wizened real Jeff Bridges and a sleekly young digital Jeff Bridges ended up also being a bit of a dud. Not sure if it had been the jet lag of 13 hours over the Pacific and most of Canada, but I actually ended up sleeping through portions of the film...yes, even the scenes which took place on The Grid. It was like getting the cinematic equivalent of all icing, no cake which brings back the saying about all the world's best special effects designers cannot a decent story make.

The other "T" movie was quite a bit more satisfying. Strangely enough, it was "Tangled"...the Disneyfication of the Rapunzel story. I never thought I would ever catch this one but my old friend The Dancer invited me to see it with her and her kids, so I went with her to the new AMC Multiplex at the corner of Yonge & Dundas. Not sure if it'll become a classic along the lines of a "Toy Story" but the story, characterization and the humour all got together to make a pretty decent Xmas flick.
Thursday January 13, 5:06 p.m.

Had a bit of a mystery with my first student of the day...Grandma FON. I haven't seen her in over 6 months and today was supposed to have been her first lesson. She turned out to be a no-show, and so both Miss Efficiency and I got a bit worried since she had always been very punctual in the past. I even walked all the way to our old digs 6 minutes walk away. We were rather concerned since she is far from a spring chicken being in her late 70s. Did she have a stroke back at her house? Or did she end up forgetting that we had moved? In any case, the mystery had a happy resolution when she called us up during my later lesson with The Shareholder. Apparently, it was a mixture of a family emergency and the inevitable age-induced memory loss. She had to rush out to Osaka and had forgetten whether she had phoned us last night (she didn't) to inform us of the cancellation.

As for The Shareholder, he was his usual laconic self. Then I quickly flitted out to Shinjuku Starbucks to see The New Yorker for the first time this year. The timing wasn't too good since mid-afternoons usually meant a full cafe, but I got lucky and someone vacated her table. The New Yorker was suffering from a cold but we managed to get through the hour OK. I even got an olive loaf from her. It was a nice exchange for my omiyage of maple caramels from Canada.

I'm halfway through my slate of students. I've got The Carolinan, Mrs. Thursday and finally The Music Man on tap for tonight.

Over the past several days, there has been this rash of Good Samaritanism all throughout the country. Apparently, it all started with a fellow who had anonymously given a gift of elementary school knapsacks to a school. And he just identified himself after some sort of beloved anime character. And from that time onwards, other people have started following his lead and donating anything from school supplies to food to schools. It rather reminds me of the plot from "Pay It Forward". In any case, at a time where the Japanese economy remains stagnant, the Japanese government is paralyzed and bizarre murders have been taking place, it is nice to hear that some altruism actually exists in Japan. How long it continues is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday January 12, 6:56 p.m.

Well, I've nearly completed my first day at the new residences of Speedy, next door to a rather scrumptious bakery that I can't really enter since I've decided to work hard on losing weight (although it didn't stop me from getting my fried chicken bento at the nearby Family Mart). It hasn't been that bad, actually. Along with Miss Efficiency, I've now seen La Fille for the first time this year. And I got to see Grandma Fado and Mr. Overachiever in the now smaller if cozier classroom.

Speaking about Grandmas, I heard from Efficiency that Grandma Dynamite is now officially gone off the schedule since she has to take care of her mother. Incredible that a woman of her age still has a mother kicking around.

With the heavy schedule today and tomorrow, it was inevitable that cancellations would happen. 001 cancelled for tonight, and The Patent Attorney has cancelled his early morning lesson for tomorrow which means that I can get a good night's sleep instead of having to drag myself out of bed and out the door by 6:30 a.m.

I had my first student at the kids' school this afternoon in Naka-Meguro. She's the mother of one of the young charges that the kids' teachers have been taking care of. Very nice lady...not too high on the proficiency level but very willing to speak out.

Just have Miss Sony later tonight. Like so many of our students, it'll also be her first time in the new digs.

As has become the tradition at the beginning of the year, I've been going through the various DVD sets that I'd bought back in Toronto. First off has been Matt Smith's "Doctor Who" and Volume 3 of "Family Guy". As for the former, going through the first half of Season 5, it looks like the youngest actor to ever portray everyone's favorite Time Lord has gotten a firm lock on his Doctor. He's definitely different from David Tennant's portrayal...kinda like the brilliant but eccentric high school nerd from "The Social Network"on extreme caffeine.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wednesday January 12, 1:16 p.m.

This is my first entry of the New Year...rather late, I know, but when one doesn't own a computer...

Lots to talk about but I'll just start this entry by mentioning by saying that I'm back in the professional saddle again. Started with The Beehive and the juku. Got my first and presumably only chewout of the year from the juku boss yesterday when she accused me once more of overusing the Net during my break. It's the back-and-forth once more about how much access I can get with the computer. Well, I've decided to break the cycle and just not use it if I can help it; it's just too habit-forming. This time, though, I just won't say anything to the boss.

I entered the new Speedy school for the first time this morning. It's definitely a new configuration starting with the fact that we're on the ground floor now and that my classroom has no view to speak of. I had my first lesson of the year there with Grandma Fado...luckily, it was just a lot of chat.

And I've even had a chance of coming to the kids' school where I am now. It's taken me 55 minutes door-to-door so I'm a bit concerned about getting back since I've got The Overachiever in a couple of hours after my one-off lesson with a kid's mother in about 40 minutes.