Friday Nights

It’s been one of those nights when I know others must envy my life. On Friday night, folks start drifting home on the
brink of starvation around 5 pm. First round of feeding begins at half past 5, Doris has cram school from 6. Drop her off, come back in time to cajole Jim into his tae kwon dou gear.
‘Do I have to go?’
“Yes.”
“How long do I have to go for?”
“Until you’re 44, now hurry up”

Drop him off, come back and Kev is ready for a second feeding.
He goes off for a maths lesson because 11% was what we labelled “not great” drop him off at 8.

Back to the ranch, clean up kitchen, no Grey’s Anatomy, damn!
Watched Modern Family, go out at 8.45 to pick Jim up.
Get there and he tells me, he is walking home with his friend who came for a trial lesson. Thanks mate.

Go to pick up Kev, wait outside for 25 minutes which means he hasn’t finished his worksheet. Get repeated urgent texts from Sunshine begging for chocolate.
Stop off at 7-11 for chocolate.
Get in at 9.50.
Dole out chocolate, get into argument with Jim about why I won’t make him a bowl of pasta now.
10.20 go out for Doris.
Wait outside cram school for 15 minutes because clearly the teacher has no home to go to.
On way home up dark, rainy mountain road, spot dead cat.
Doris wants to investigate, turn around go back, it isn’t a cat it’s a dead racoon in the middle of the road.
“It’s dead”
“I saw it move”
“It’s dead”
“Let me check.”

“It’s dead, let’s go to the police box and tell them”

Go back down, go to police box, tell them. Doris gets a jones on for chocolate and ‘jyagariko’. Go back to 7-11.
Get home, it’s 10.50.
Jim still whinging for pasta and asking why no one ever feeds him.
We have a conversation we’ve had before where he says he is starving and needs pasta and I say there is a pot of yakisoba there and he says he doesn’t want yakisoba and I say he can’t be all that hungry then…..it’s frigging Groundhog Day.
I suppose this is what passes for an exciting Friday evening now.

If you choose to stay tuned I can probably bore you rigid with the whole cram school/high school entrance exam/bleed me dry/pointlessness theme I’m so fond of.

Rain, Camp, Men and Boys

Torrential rain all day today. No one in their right mind would think about going off into the woody wilderness with a tent in this weather.
As it happens that’s just what man and boy are doing. The Man and Kev set off first thing to commune with nature, ‘rassel’ some bears maybe.
They were all billy cans and tuck, The Man letting his tongue run long telling how little man really needs to survive and then took everything from the house that wasn’t nailed down.

We are hoping this man to man, father to son, man V nature experience will be beneficial to young Kev, who has been, of late, as we put it to him, ‘no you are NOT bad, you are NOT naughty, you are just making some poor choices.’
So that’s our current theme, ‘choices: learning how to make good ones’
While we are waiting for that particular skill no manifest we are choosing vodka over milk on the cornflakes.

So one of the girls is at work, the other is at juku and it’s just me and my little one.
I get to blog, he gets to Wii. It’s all good.

Excitement mounts for forthcoming visit to the motherland, Jim’s passport hasn’t arrived yet so he might have to travel on his J one, I think everything is done, hope it is anyway because haven’t got time to do anything else before we leave anyway.
A great schedule planned catching up with lots of rellies, a big fat family wedding, a mini road trip with a great friend and loads of people I haven’t seen in absolutely yonks.
The Man keeps telling me the yen is very strong against the pound right now. I think that is a subtle invitation to go nuts with the visa card, but I’ll probably not get him to confirm that before I go.

Okay, out in the rain to pick up studious child.

Psycho Update.

When I saw the sign this morning I took photos of it and I had read it and got the jist, but then I printed it out and read what I could properly and had The Man translate the rest and it is extremely unpleasant to say the least and quite honestly it reminds me, from what I`ve read, about Cultural Revolution China, where people were encouraged to denounce their neighbours etc.
I got the full translation at about 2.30 and I wanted to go to the police but The Man said he would go to the City Office tomorrow. The he kept popping out and I would get on the phone to one of my gal pals. Eventually at about half past three he said, `you told all the wives didn`t you` (he means the fabulous group of gals that are my support system, also known as the foreign wives. So I say `yes and I blogged it`, so he asks, `what did the wives say?`
I said, everyone says go to the police, so we did and he was glad we did.
They were very sympathetic, actually there is nothing they can do but they did validate our fears and they apologised that they can`t take any action and agreed that this was rather psycho behaviour etc. They also suggested we talk to our jijikai kaicho san ( community leader?).
So we came back and I went to ask my favourite old guy, who was the kaicho last year, to find out who this year`s kaicho is. I told him the whole story and showed him the printout of the sign and a copy of the anonymous letter and he also agreed that it was abnormal and we were right to be concerned.
So then we went to see the kaicho and he read the printouts and said straightaway that she has clearly lost the plot and perhaps her recent bereavement has pushed her over the edge.
he also asked us to just wait a little while, saying that if she is over the edge here we have to handle things very carefully to not make her any more unhinged. Good point.
Overall though everyone agreed that this is way out of line, scary, abnormal behaviour and something must be done. Which was a huge load off, because of course we think it`s outrageous but it`s got our name on, so for 3 other non involved people to see this was a good feeling. The sign is still up right now though but I don`t feel so bad about it, obviously it says more about her than it does about us. The spirit of `shoganai` ( tough shit) is very popular here and it was a relief that no one said that.

In other news, Kev passed out, don`t know why, smacked his hand on a chest of drawers going down and has a green stick fracture of his index fingers, which is all trussed up. He accepted some good natured teasing about how he has to stop pointing at people so maybe they gave him drugs at the hospital?

Latitude Lost.

All sympathy has flown out the window. Was dashing off to the home centre this morning and I saw all these pieces of laminated paper attached to the wall of psycho`s house and I wondered what on earth could they be, the camera has also been hooked back up. Is she warning people not to come in her garage? Why would they? and why such a long long message? 9 pieces of A3 paper? It`s huge.
So when I came back I took a picture of it, I thought, given the recent outburst, it must be related somehow to the stray cat.

I was so not prepared to see our name on it. It basically says that we NAMED IN LARGE LETTERS, have a cat that we are not keeping in the house, we are letting it run willy nilly around the hood and this is preventing a stray cat that she would like to care for, from coming to eat. That she is putting out food for the stray cat and our cat is eating it. If anyone would like to complain about our eating eat food that doesn’t belong to it, or using their garden as a toilet, they are to contact her directly.

I`m sort of spitting feathers and sort of nervous, I mean she has clearly really lost it now and I have no idea if she could be dangerous.

How I`ve Missed You.

Welcome back my friends, hoodie and socks, how I`ve missed you.
Cool days are here again, chilly nights, bring it on. Oh no we have no blankets, they all got tossed in the great flea debacle.
Blanket shopping today….
Sunday morning, The Man is making breakfast, Kev is plugged into his ipod and unreachable, the girls are arguing over a pair of spongebob socks, Jim is still asleep, curled into a gorgeously warm, hair tousled ball.
All well in my world.

IKEA and Psycho Neighbour Has a Meltdown.

Press-ganged The Man into taking me to IKEA, for a few small bits and pieces. Not the wisest of choices given back situation but a success in shopping terms. Bought a few storage items that I am 100% confident will help with the general mess and clutter.
Thought The Man would start assembly as soon as we got back but he decided to make dinner first, damn him. Doris was up for a puzzle though and said she`d get going. I love watching her do stuff like this because she is so unlike me.
My way is to open the boxes, get everything out, take up as much space as I possibly can, have pieces strewn over three rooms. Packets of screws and other small bits need to be opened up and lost at the soonest possible moment.
Not young `switched at birth` Doris. She`s very methodical. Collects tools she might need first. Opens box, takes out manual, reads said manual, begins, following the recommended steps. The Man is the same except for the bit where he harumps around a while demanding to know who took his his screwdriver.
I helped out a little bit but it quickly became apparent that it wasn`t my strong suit even when someone is telling me exactly what to do and how to do it. I don`t care, I have been blessed with so very many diverse talents that if I can`t put `furniture assembly` on my resume I won`t loose any sleep over it.
So I was soon, rather rudely I thought, told to bugger off, that I was in the way, and was I `going out of my way to make life difficult?`

I was saved from further scorn by a loud knocking on the door. I opened the door to be screamed at by the whackjob that lives opposite us.
She has issues with our cat.
To backtrack a moment, I`ll explain. We have had problems with her on and off since we moved in. She blows hot and cold, sometimes she is all chatty and friendly and sometimes she is a nutter. She used to have a dog. her garage is built under her house and faces our house. The dog was kept chained up in there all the time. It barked a lot. People walking down the street would get the fright of their lives when it suddenly barked and charged for them as far as it`s chains were allowed. We didn`t really have a problem with the barking dog, dogs bark, tis life. Then she began her letter writing campaign. One said that leaves from our tree were floating into her garage and disturbing the dog, that the dog had a very delicate, nervous disposition and could we stop our leaves from floating thus. Then it was all Jim and Kev`s fault, they were tormenting the dog.
Now, my boys are without doubt on the feral side, but they do not torment animals and this is years and years ago when they were too young to go out alone anyway. Things came to a head when a letter blames my mother-in-law, who had been visiting, for causing the dog untold stress.
Then we stopped trying to reason with her and ignored her. Years past, she continued with the hot and cold.
Meanwhile she has a short circuit camera rigged up in the garage to catch offenders, she had flood lights on sensors. her brother lives with them and he is possibly a vampire, he only comes out at night, but on several occasions The Man saw him beating and kicking the dog.
years past, the dog died.

Now, she is encouraging a stray cat to come to hers. She has laid out blankets ( new blankets that she went out and bought for the cat) on the bonnet of her car, she leaves food and water. She wants the cat to come round, she wants to pet it and talk to it but she doesn`t want to own it, doesn`t want it in her house. So her complaint is that when Ryu, our cat, goes out, this stray cat won`t come round, so we have to keep our cat inside, so that she can pet a stray cat that she doesn`t want to take responsibility for. Then about a week ago we got an anonymous letter. I don`t know exactly what it said but The Man told me it was really bad, the language was very offensive and the choice of words were rude and derogatory to such a degree The Man contemplated taking it to the police. Also he said the author had deliberately attempted to disguise their handwriting.

So, she was at my door, yelling at me, saying the stray cat don`t come round no more, I said, nicely, I don`t understand what you want me to do about it. She said, `keep Ryu inside`, I said ` no can do,` this went on for a while and so I said, `why don`t you speak to my husband (who is hiding under a stool in the kitchen)`, she says, `I`m going to contact the city office.` I said `please do, I can show them that letter your sent`. She didn`t respond to that, didn`t ask `what letter?` just gave me a very long stare.
I had to go out three times after that to pick up and drop off kids and each time she was standing in her window glaring at me.

So we`ve known for a long time that she seems to have mental health issues, but she seems to have really lost the plot now. I am willing to give her some latitude because her mother died about a month ago, and I think this might be what pushed her over the edge, and I have been there with
the dead mother go crazy for a while thing, so I do have sympathy for her, but at the same time, bearing in mind Tora, the other cat, dropped dead for no apparent reason outside her house, I think we need to give her a really wide berth.

On Your Back You Bitch.

Titled inspired by what passed for a chat up line in Yorkshire circa 1980.
Of course I`d hestitate to call myself a bitch, ( though others might not), I`ve been flat on my back since Monday.
I, obviously over strenuously, put my knickers on on Monday morning and my back went out. For anyone who has this happen from time to time, you`ll know, there is a moment, a brief moment, when you think it went, but you`re not sure, because as long as you stay very very still, there is no pain.
the pain doesn`t come until you move a fraction in any direction. as luck would have it, my back brace was right in front of me, so I put it on quickly and thought maybe I could save the day. I walked around a little, very gently.
It was a national holiday and in keeping with my, live life on the edge theme, I was meeting my friend in Starbucks and very much looking forward to it. So I took baby steps around the room in my brace and declared myself `fit for travel`.
I got there without too much pain, got very gently out of my car and into Starbucks. We sat, we chatted, we laughed, I was careful, the slightest movement was a bit painful. Then my friend went to the loo, and I decided to go outside for a fag.
Catastrophe! Couldn`t stand up straight. My back had locked into a sitting position. Couldn`t go up, couldn`t get back down. Decided to shuffle to door. I got myself outside but then could not move, was stuck in a hunched back position with my nose pressed up against the class door.
Eventually my friend came back from the loo and I was able to motion her to come outside and get me.
She gets me back in but I realise I can`t sit back down, so at 8 months pregnant she gets me, my bag, her bag and a large bag of books she was returning, out of the shop and into my car, giving a whole new meaning to `baby steps`.
Many thanks to my soy latte loving friend.
It took a while but I could get out of the car and go upstairs on my hands and knees. Young Jim was home so I press-ganged him into bringing up The Man`s lightweight laptop and a glass of water, laid flat on my back and moreorless stayed there for the next three days.
Tuesday morning was quite liberating when I realised that going into work, shuffling or crawling was simply not an option and I cancelled all my classes. The first time I have cancelled since opening my school, 5 years ago.
Aunty Ritzy made dinner and sent it over with Uncle Brick, and much to my surprise a number of my students popped by and left cooked food in the genkan for us. People are good! Lots of good folk around here and I thank you.
I managed to put my time to good use, and I watched an entire season of Teen Mom, and trust me the message came through loud and clear, safe-sex or no sex, I will not become a Teen Mom.I forced the girls to come and lie down a while with me and watch some of it too.
Then season 9 of Spooks, a documentary about heroin addiction, season 4 of Outnumbered and finally Switched at Birth.
Now, here I am right as rain, standing tall, well as tall as 5`2″ will let me be. Hoping we are going to the Apple shop in Osaka to get me one of these fabulous lightweight laptops.

Yesterday I managed to shuffle to the post office to post off Jim`s passport application which my fine friend Janette Rotund, counter-signed for me. Thank you for doing that.
Obviously that is an alias, due to the confidential and secure nature of the process I feel I must keep her identity secret, might also be post Spooks paranoia 😉