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?’
“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…’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.

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.

Deja Vu

Yes Kev, they are very cute, yes it is sad someone threw them away, yes I know you`ll take care of them, no, I`m not a mean Mama.
yes I`m sure Ryu is lonely since Tora died. No, I`m sorry you can`t keep them. Well because right now one cat is enough. Yes I know we had two before but now we`re used to just having one. No I didn`t say we would get more cats. Yes I can see that there are three and they are tiny. Yes, I agree they need a home, just not ours. Well because I don`t want anymore cats. No it is not mean, I`m just being honest I don`t want anymore cats, I didn`t want the first two. Yes I know I said `no` to the first two. No, I will not change my mind. No it isn`t because of the fleas, well yes it is a bit about the fleas. Well that medicine doesn`t seem to work too well. I`m sorry, who will take them to the vet every month?
Well I don`t want to be crass but yes money is also a factor. That`s very kind of you son, but your pocket-money doesn`t quite cut it.
No we can`t hang on until Daddy gets home. Well because by then it`ll be too late to take them back to where you found them. Yes they might, but such is life darling, survival of the fittest and all that, not everything lives a long time…….
you might need to smush that food up a bit first with a fork. They`ll be okay when they`ve had something to eat. We`ll feed them then take them back okay? Well then let`s not feed them and take them back….no we can`t name them. Yes that one looks like a panda, no you can`t call it panda, no I don`t want to name one, no I don`t want one that is my very own…..

The International Driver’s Licence and Why I Should Have Grated My Head

I had to go to the police station to apply for an International driver’s licence. Should have been such a simple thing.
The first time I went the motor vehicle department was closed to applications for IDL. It was open for regular licence applications but the ‘international’division is not open Sundays.
Fairy snuff, no problem. Went back for my 2nd visit the next day, asked for an application form, thought I’d take it home, fill it out, gather the necessary documents etc.
No, there will be no taking home of forms. Fill it out here and hand in with necessary documents.
So I said I wasn’t at that stage, what are the necessary docs?
J. driver’s licence
Inkan ( seal)
How much is the fee?
2500 yen.
Okay, so I went to the photo booth today but none of the options said IDL, so wasn’t sure what size and certainly didn’t want to waste 400 yen. So went back to the police station a third time and asked what size the photo needed to be.
The man said, ‘5cms X 4cms.
Back to photo-me booth, pouring rain of course.
There is no 5 x 4 option. 3.5 x 4.5 or 5 x 7.
Executive decision, 5 x 7 tis and off we go.
After much rolling of the stool up down up down till I could get my chin, forehead and eye line exactly in place.
Ready to take ooops it took.
Never mind I’ll get another shot, oops didn’t press’ another shot please’ button fast enough, I’m stuck with this picture. The picture would have been perfect.
If I had been auditioning for a part in a film, the part of skanky trailer trash mother of 9 explaining to Indonesian immigration officers how the 3kgs of heroin came to be in her bag because she’d been duped by a hot Dutch lothario, then it would have been perfect, never mind, I was stuck with it anywhere, just hope I don’t get arrested in England.
Now to get the size right. I went down to my school, where I have all the very latest equipment for cutting and measuring, like scissors and rulers.
We have them in the house too but no idea where.
I diligently measured my 5cms and my 4cms, cut perfectly, back to the police station.
I had already observed they closed for lunch, God forbid I should go there unnecessarily.
So visit # 4.
Got the form filled out this time, she asked me what the purpose of my visit is, which I think is none of her damn business, but then wasn’t the time to speak my mind.
She asked me to wait a few minutes.
I checked, I had photo, passport, inkan, 2,500 in exact cash, I’m ready to do this.
She called my name, photo please.
“ Oh Holy Nights, for the love of God what’s this?” says she . ( I’m paraphrasing). She said, it’s supposed to be 5 x 4.
I say, ‘it is, I measured and cut it with my state of the art equipment.”
She says, “ no, no, this is 4 x 5, I can’t accept this”.
Long story short, dash back out in the rain. Didn’t even park the car in the car park this time, just pulled up right in front of Photo-Me, left the keys in the ignition, hazards on.
Took the photo, must have been some harried, blotchy faced, saggy jowled hag behind me, I’m sure I don’t look like that, never mind, marginally better than duped drug mule look. Back I went. I asked the woman for a pair of scissors and she says oh don’t worry about cutting them, they’ll do it at the licence centre, thanks a bunch mate, might have been nice to have known, never mind ,nearly there now. Passport please, here you go, J.licence please, here you go. Fee please, 2,500 here you go. No it’s 2650, okay, never mind, here you are and we are DONE!

She gave me a receipt and a sacred piece of paper that says I can pick up the licence after the 20th of this month
She said, ‘ Only the applicant can pick it up.”
I said, ‘gotcha’
She said, ‘ it must be you.’
‘It must be Miss Behaving San’
‘I hear you.
‘Your husband cannot pick it up for you.’
Why would she think he would, he hasn’t been there for the first five visits, why is he going to come out of nowhere and pick it up for me?
Never mind.
‘ Okay, I got it, I understand, I am fully comprehending the ‘applicant only’ aspect. Thank you.
Roll on September 20th.

Although I am aware I haven’t yet got around to explaining why we were in the forest with a priest in his boxers, it must wait.
My head is not working well, I have a cold. Let’s all say “ aaah”.
Yesterday started off with two chicklets down with a cold. Kev’s feet were also hurting and he couldn’t walk properly. They’ve been hurting on and off for a month or so, which we thought was probably due to growing pains.
Despite repeated requests to go to the doctor and have them checked out, he refused, but yesterday he finally agreed so I said I’d take him yesterday evening.
Strange things going on with the boy, he has been quite calm of late. He’s probably knackered from all the handball practice, and the heat also I signed him up for a summer course in cram school. He claims he is happy with the handball, the heat and the summer course.
So off we went. Now sometime in the afternoon my throat started hurting and then my joints so I figured I was probably getting whatever had felled my chicks in the morning. Kev had made a remarkable recovery by lunchtime, but Doris had slept most of the day and had no appetite.
While we sat and waited for Kev’s x-rays to come back, I did wonder why I wasn’t killing two birds with one stone and seeing the doc myself to get a drip. I wouldn’t normally bother but I have a lot of classes this week and if I can’t do them re-scheduling will be a nightmare with everyone’s summer commitments.
Anyway, didn’t really get past the wondering stage so I am definitely under par today.
Doc says the problem is Kev’s achilies tendon, the combination of sudden intense sports and his recent growth spurt have left the tendons behind.
Nothing to be done but compresses, not to force it when they hurt and to stretch a lot before and after handball.
Off we go. I thought this would be a good time to insist that Kev gets some new shoes. His toes are poking out of the ones he has but he has been refusing. He didn’t really want to but the shop was near the hospital and I was quite insistent. It is almost impossible to buy him any clothes. I can’t just chose something because it will be wrong and he will not go in a clothes shop with me.
So we get to the shop and he says he doesn’t want to go in, ‘too many people’ ( so now we have issues with crowds? Is this new?) and I should just get some and bring them out. I point out that I don’t know what size he is, so how about he comes in, gets the shoes and then leaves immediately, while I go and grab something from the bookshop. He agreed to this, oh how very flexible he is.
So we get to the shoe shop and he says ‘ those” to the very first pair of shoes he sees. So I say, don’t you want to look around a bit more, see what else they have. No, he doesn’t he wants those, and he is going back to the car now, can I just get them.
I say, hang on buddy, let’s measure your feet, make sure we get the right size. Okay, we pick up the box, I say, look they have the same ones with green or black on them too… no, he wants the blue ones, the first ones. We get to the cashier and she suggests he tries them on, he isn’t into that and says he can’t he hasn’t got any socks on.
She says we can borrow some socks. The boy is persuaded. They fit. We pay. He leaves.
I say, hey look, there is a sports outlet there, shall we get some T-shirts and shorts? No thank you. He stares at the ground and exits the building.
I dash to the bookshop and on my way in I spy oh the finest, the very finest notebook I ever did see.
Hard cover, spiral, squared paper. I bought similar ones earlier in the year, but this size was new, B5, yum, in turquoise or pale purple, not a pale purple fan but am working on stepping out of my comfort zone.
I know that notebook would have changed my life, transformed me into an organized, go-getting, achieving, dynamo, possibly even world domination, but I let it go. I was strong. I visualized my bookshelf, ( the very set of shelves that was supposed to change my life a year or so ago), crammed with all the other notebooks that failed in their mission to transform me, surround by pots of pens and pencils that failed me when I needed them most, and I let that perfect notebook go.
Oh how I’ve grown.

I can always go back and get it tomorrow…