Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dislike of Doctors

I dislike doctors worldwide. Now, in this case it may not be their fault. But it doesn't matter. A couple of months ago, before my trip to Thailand, as a matter of fact, I woke up and my shoulder hurt. I just thought I slept funny. But later in the week, when I was looking into the mirror, I noticed that the sore shoulder was 3 inches higher than the other. I was hoping a couple of Thai massages would miraculously cure it. Well, that didn't happen. But then I came down with chicken pox, so my shoulder had to wait. Then my mother had a heart attack, so I really forgot about the shoulder. But I still have a nagging ache, and just recently my hand started going numb, especially when I was driving or riding my bike. So I finally told Mr. M. he had to take me to the doctor. And he said okay. But man, did he flip out when they said they wanted to take an x-ray. So they took the x-ray, and everything looks normal. So he prescribed me steroids and anti-inflamitories. The numbness hasn't reappeared, but the nagging ache continues. And the next step is an MRI. You can just imagine what Mr. M. thinks of that. Maybe I'll try a reflexologist or acupuncture, cuz the doctors don't know what's happening. One part of me knew there was little chance that the docs could help. And yet, there was this other part of me hoping he'd look at it, give me a good whack (like a tv on the fritz), there'd be a little pain and then everything would be back to normal. Wishful thinking.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Turning Japanese

I had one of those moments, where you know you are not in Kansas anymore. That was last night when I was riding my bike, while carrying an umbrella. They do this all the time here, and I think it's pretty crazy. But shortly after I started off to meet a private student last night, it began to rain a touch. Not enough to make me turn around, but enough for it to be annoying. Now, most of my trip is on the river path, so it's not quite so dangerous to ride with your umbrella up. If I had been returning home, I would have never used the umbrella. But I didn't want to turn up looking like the proverbial drowned rat. So I used the umbrella. I never thought I would do it. I guess Japan is rubbing off on me. At least a little.

Disco Bowling

Sunday night Michelle and I went Disco bowling with a couple of friends of hers. Turns out they both used to live in Athens. Big coincidence. At 9:00 the bowling alley turns out the normal lights, turns on black lights and starts dance music. Everything white starts to glow, like the pins. And the balls all turn flourescent pastel colors. And of course I was wearing a thin t-shirt, so my white bra was glowing in the dark, too. Japanese bowling alleys don't serve alcohol. No, really, they don't. Crying shame. But we had a really good time anyway. Mike has a lot of power, if not a lot of finesse, so he trounced the rest of us. Michelle squeaked past me in the first game, but I was victorious in the following two games. And, Joel, well he had a good time, if not good games. Gotta do that again. But I think we'll take our own booze next time.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Ocean is Now Open

Today is a national holiday. A holiday to officially open the ocean, as far as I can tell. You can now go swimming in the ocean. Of course around here people don't actually swim in the ocean because the surf is to rough. Or you can go swimming in a pool. Better do it fast because they close the pools again in early September. But let's celebrate it anyway. I always have Monday off, so it's not exactly a treat for me. So, how did I celebrate Marine Day in the drizzly weather? By doing what everybody else did and went to the hyaku yen store, of course.

Legal Again

I didn't say anything before because I didn't want the Japanese Visa Ninjas to come get me, but my visa lapsed a little. Mr. M. said he would take me down to get my visa in April or May. Well, finally a little after the first of June he said "Here is your contract, go get your visa. Take your passport and foreign registration card". Well, that wasn't a lot of help, now was it? I didn't exactly jump right on it. And when I did finally go down, they were closed for something as silly as lunch or Ninja appreciation day or something. Next day Mr. M. asked me, did you go get visa? I told him about my aborted attempt and that I would go the next day. And I did, and they were open. But the form wanted my work history for the last 6 jobs. Well, I don't have all that info in my head, so I took the forms home. I get a call from Mr. M. asking me about the visa, and I informed him of the latest developement. Well, he starts to freak. He will take me down on Tuesday and help me get my visa. Okay, okay, whatever. I have the form filled out already, don't know why I need his help now? So we take it down, the form is correct, I will get a postcard in the mail telling me to come back and get my visa. This is 2 weeks before my visa expires, and the postcard took a month to arrive. So for two weeks I was in limbo, living on the edge. But it's all in order now, and once again I'm boringly legal.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Who Stole My Cookies?

Monday was the first warm day off for me all year. So I took the opportunity to go to the beach. I stopped by a Circle K nearby and grabbed some lunch. I set up my mat, and book, and lunch and enjoyed a lovely little sit by the seaside. I then took a little walk along the surf. When I came back I realized the grocery bag with the unopened bag of cookies was gone. Well, that's weird! Maybe the wind blew it. So I look around. No sign of it. The people farther down the beach have a dog. He must have taken it. But you think he'd have made a bit of a mess with it, and the people would come and apologize. Hmmmm? So I sit and read some more. Is it odd for an American to sit on a Japanese beach and read about Amsterdam? Eventually the guy with the dog walks over and we recognize each other, having met at Eigo Mura nearly a year ago. After chatting awhile I ask if his dog happened to run away with my cookies. He says it's possible but not likely, especially as they were unopened and his down would have made a huge mess with it and there should be dog tracks (which there weren't). Maybe a person stole them? But my beach bag was sitting nearby and would probably have been a better target than cheap-ass cookies from the minimart. Then he says "I bet it was the crows". And yes indeed there were tracks that could have been made by the large marauding black birds. That makes sense. Mystery solved.

Friday, July 07, 2006

On Fire

Yesterday did not start out well. I was pissy the entire day before (for no discernable reason) and woke up with the same lousy disposition. When I got to my first BabyKids class there were 6 new students. Which was wonderful. The class got to critical mass, where they have to behave better, because it's just too crowded not to. The class is 11 boys and one little girl. I have already dubbed her Princess Ayumi. The next class went well, too. Came home for the afternoon break and finally cleaned off my balcony. This is a project that has been hanging over my head for months now. And now complete. Such a weight lifted off my shoulders. Then I went back to the CC for LG1. And it went wonderfully. They are really getting it! I'm so happy. And it was just an absolute riot. And I was on fire. I was funny, and brilliant, and instructive. I came away from class on a true high. Aaah, that is the kind of day teaching is all about.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mexican Poker Night

Last night I threw a little ichi-yen poker party. I invited Shosei and Yukia to come over Sunday night for Mexican food and to play a little Texas Hold'em. And at the last minute invited Marino, too. Everbody seemed to enjoy themselves and the food. There was lots of accusations of bluffing (in much less polite phrasing) and groaning and laughing. I even threw together some small margaritas. And I came away from the table 40 yen richer. Of course the fact that I bought all the fixin's for dinner and drinks puts me in the red by about 2000 yen. But that 40 yen was sweet.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Izakaya Hopping

Last night Junko, Mika and I were given a tour of some of downtown bars of Hamamatsu. Our guide for the evening was Michelle, and Australian girl who has been living here forever. Totally funny event number on happened before we even reached our first destination when Mika's shoe decided to go all Godzilla and try and eat the town. It was an extremely high heeled shoe, and the soul came away from the front, so every time she stepped it looked like an alligator opening it's mouth. So before we even got to our first bar she had to take off her shoe and hobble, and we were laughing, so we looked like we were drunk already. The first bar was a true izakaya called Bellamy's. It was on the fourth floor and had a terrace where we could sit outside and look at the lights of Hamamatsu and catch the breeze. The owner of the bar found some flip-flops, and gave them to Mika! We also had these tiny delicious goza appetizers with our drinks. The next bar was a No Name foreigners hangout. Junko and Mika were quite amazed to find out that there are actual drinks named "Sex on the Beach" and "Orgasm". We got popcorn as munchies there, and we devoured both bowls in out 4 minutes. The next bar was an Australian bar with the original name of Down Under, but was pretty big (for a bar in Japan that is) and had some live music and we ate nachos and ducked everytime Junko tried to throw darts at the board over our table. She'd already had 3 or 4 beers and her aim was atrocious. Next we went to G-Spot which is rinky dink and was filled with a bunch of rough looking dudes, who were totally gracious and thrilled to have a gaggle of females invade their space for awhile. That's were Totally Funny event number two happened. Mika stated she doesn't want children and it eventually lead me to try and explain a vasectomy to her. She had never heard of such a thing and asked if it was possible in Japan and was absolutely giddy with this new knowledge. The whole discussion was so weird and required some charades action to explain. And the Third Totally Funny episode happened on the way to the last bar, and had to do with Junko trying to explain that her coworker was a twinkle? Turns out he's a twin. And of course it was made all the funnier by the 3 cocktails I had partaken in. The last stop was Groovy Gravy (been there before) and we watched the last half of the World Cup game on the big screen. Michelle was rooting for Germany, and I was rooting for Argentina. And as you know Argentina lost in penalty shootouts. We were exhausted and left seconds after the defining kick was made. On the way down the street Michelle was hounded by a couple of Salaryboys. They were not old enough to be called Salarymen. But we lost them easily enough as they were totally snockered. While we had had plenty to drink, but could still walk a decently straight line. We hopped on our bikes and said goodnight. Thank goodness I didn't have to work today (3 day weekend), because I didn't get home until 3:30. Yep, me! Little miss in bed by 10:30. Only had a moderate hangover this morn, and totally worth it.