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.

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 😉

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…

Thank You Mrs Purple.

So, a woman called Mrs Purple called me, she was very nice, says she has stepped up as our leader and fully appreciates my situation and would be grateful for whatever assistance I can offer, and not to worry about a thing. She said in a very nice Japanese way, that certain individuals have a tendency to be rather pedantic and I’m to just ignore them and do what I can. So that’s a load off.
I’m almost off all weekend, just one pesky lesson to do tonight. Kids are released from sports clubs because the mid term tests start on Monday and they have to revise.
Kev is taking full advantage of the time in front of the TV, and Doris claims to be revising in her room but I suspect she is staring in the mirror and running her tongue over her teeth now released from the confines of her metal braces.
She now has a smile that would stop traffic, I love it, she loves it, totally worth the second mortagage.

In trip planning news, yesterday I bought tickets to Kumamoto, in waay waay south Japan, post ticket buying investigations reveal it’ll take me almost as long to get there from here as it would to get to England, but can’t wait. Young Jim and I will go for 5 days in July to stay with a wonderful gal pal who so conveniently lives by the ocean.
Clearly any trip I plan will go wrong to a legendary degree, so the summer will be the worst weather on record, or there’ll be a bus workers strike or something, but never mind, by hook or by crook we shall get there, because I promised said friend 5 days of watching ‘Miranda’.
Not holding my breath on it but also planning to visit the Motherland in October, because someone rather wonderful is getting married.
Haven’t been to a wedding in donkey’s years, quite excited to say the least.

This morning I am taking young Sunshine to see a specialist about having cell-regeneration surgery. WOW!! not everyday you get to say that.
It’s raining, it’s pouring, and tomorrow I have a ‘date’ with my husband, as part of our new ‘making time for each other’ project.
Wonder if he wants to watch ‘Miranda’.
Have a good weekend all.

Confidence.

So Sunshine’s plan is to get another part time job, evenings, she is working weekends at the amusement park.
( Less time for all these ‘all you can drink party invitations, YAY!). So she called a shop that is in the local department store, the good thing about it being that it closes at 9. A lot of evening shifts go until 11, which we wouldn’t want ( because we are having trouble cutting the cord ). her plan is to buy a moped, a pink moped, a bright pink moped, and then start zipping around town on that. I’d say it’s turning my hair grey but it’s cutting out that stage and just falling out.
The shop sells what they call ‘nikuman’, I have no idea what they are in English but they are a sort of doughy Chinese thing with meat inside, it’s a famous chain.
So she applied through their website a week or so ago but didn’t hear back, so she called them last night and she has an interview this afternoon.
So she says, I’ll go to the interview and tell them I can’t start till next Wednesday, then I’ll work 5-9 some days, 6-9 others, and when I finishd I’ll take the free nikuman they give me to Big Love 2’s house on my moped and I’ll still be back by 10.!!
She hasn’t had the interview yet, and already she has decided when she’ll start, what hours she’ll work and that they’ll be giving her freebies to take home.
Roy Castle was right, “confidence”, that’s what you need.
” if you wanna be the best, if you wanna beat the rest..ahuh, oh no that was dedication wasn’t it.
Don’t mind me, I’m not myself these days.