Sunday, October 30, 2005
I'm having difficulty getting Blogger to post more than 5 pictures per entry, and since 5 simply is not enough for an affair like this one, I am forced to post more separately...
Catfight! Tress & Yuka cheek-to-cheek.
Chris & Jody. Jody was nearly unrecognizable as a brunette. Jody proved that brunettes can have fun too; apparently wigs bring out her wild side!
Chris, me and Budder (sp? his last name). I do like my menfolk... although, I must say, I was very well behaved.
Clockwise: Daichi, Hideki, Yuka, Hidenori, Mie. The Nihon-jin do like their cigarettes and beer. Cigarettes and beer... isn't that a song?
Me and my Travypants. Trav went as a cheeky monkey and I, incase you didn't know, went as a black widow; (murderous wife) although I was commonly mistaken for a flapper. Eh, they were cute too, so whatev.
There are so many more pictures (over 200 between Jody and myself) but I am too tired, too ill and too frustrated to keep re-blogging this event. Sorry.
First, a note on some comments I've been receiving regarding my posts:
I AM NOT A DRUNK! gawd! I like to keep you all updated, especially about what I think is interesting... if that happens to be the times when my friends and I get together, and some of us happen to be drinking it cannot be helped. I try to intersperse tidbits about daily life and teaching, but at the end of the day most weekday events are just not that noteworthy. Futhermore, I don't take gazillions of pictures of day-to-day crap, and I like my blogs to be spiced up with pics. If you would like me to write blurbs regarding the cleaning of my toilet and the shaving of my legs, I will: just say the word.
In other news, Jody hosted a fantastic halloween bash this weekend. It was the first time I've been to her HOUSE (yes, an actual house; brand new to boot) and I have to admit I am extremely jealous! It is BIG, clean and a HOUSE. Actually, Jody lives about 5 minutes from the school I teach at on Tuesdays and Wednesdays... in the middle of nowhere!
Approximately 20 people attended the party; half my friends, half Jody's, (many of whom we share) half gaijin, half Japanese. Everyone was is costume!! The party started fairly early (8ish) and as such, ended fairly early as well... with help from 4 litres of Sho-Chu. Tressa and I crashed at Jody's.
Mie, Hidenori, Yuka and Hideki were all in attendance, and as predicted, the party officially began upon their arrival; they are so hilarious!! Yuka and Mie were dancing from the minute they walked through the door and didn't stop until the walked out it again! Their costumes (Bunny, Michael Jackson, Cheetah and Japanese gangster anime character, respectively) were fabulous and in Yuka's case, handmade!
I invited my private student, Yoshiko, who drove up from Tsukuba (1 hour away) with two friends. Yoshiko came as a nun (hilarious!) and her friends, Mari and Yasuko came as cats. All three of them could speak English quite well; smart girls, all masters students at the University of Tsukuba. I think they all had a really good time. After a night of dancing and spin-the-bottle-playing (yes, even I wondered if we had warped back into the sixth grade!) the partiers thinned out and makeshifts beds were sought. Jody, Tressa and I spent the majority of Sunday dozing and gossiping on Jody's queen-sized Aerobed. Let me tell you, that Sho-Chu packed a wallop!More pictures to follow...
Panda Sensei Strikes Again
Finally have a chance to post more pictures of my kiddies! Most of the parties were a blast, although some of the older kids understood my jovial spirit to mean they could act like shits... slightly stressful.
Masami and Rina (pronounced Lina) made these costumes themselves and were very excited about them; plastic bag princesses? witches?
Riku, (Liku) 3-age, is one of my favourite students - he's always so affectionate. The youngest kids didn't dress up, but he borrowed my panda face for a while. Soooo cute!
Airi, (prounounced "eye-lee") 3-age, is such a sweetheart; she loved decorating the pumpkins I spent about a million hours cutting out.
These are my 5-7-age kids at my Friday school. Obviously they've had some experience with Halloween parties before because they went ALL-OUT!! My favourite costume here is the bear-hats on Kouji and Daichi.
Yuki, 6-age, came as a cowboy! In many cases, I think the mothers were more excited about the opportunity to dress their kids up than the kids; most of their noses were pressed to the glass doors all class!
I would have to say that this has been the most festive and enjoyable Halloween to date! What with numerous parties, and not one costume, but two, I celebrated the shit out of my favourite holiday of the year!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Teacher of the Year!!!
...or, for those of you who know me a little better: girl who loves Arts & Crafts!!
So, it's Halloween week, my favorite time of year, and it has been a cut-and-paste-athon for days. I think I'm having more fun than the students! My optional classes (after school English lessons) have been a succession of "parties" featuring pumkin decorating, treasure hunts, costumes, and games! Couldn't help but forward a few shots of some of my adorable kiddies!
I spent nearly four hours recreating number flashcards in the Halloween theme... not to toot my own horn, but they turned out swimmingly.
Don't start thinking this little one is as sweet as she looks!! Sakura, 3 age, is a bundle of energy but totally hilarious and adorable.
Natsuki put the most effort into her costume thus far. Harry Potter is an icon in Japan as well; although, can't recall if Dumbledore had metallic hair...
Moe and Mei (pronounced Moe-eh? and Ma-ii, respectively) are identical twins; it took me about 5 months to discover Mei's mole which enabled me to tell them apart. Cute, but LOUD. Their mother always chats me up in English and is constantly giving me presents!
Here is Panda Sensei and Toshiki (not sure what he is dressed as, but at least he had a costume!). I've had children tugging at my ass more than normal this week, what with my furry little tail (crafted from a set of dismantled earmuffs).
More to come... I just don't have the patience to re-download more pictures right now (F%, Blogger is sooo glitchy!!! Grrrrr).
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Love a girl who can't make up her damn mind!
Okay, back to this template. It seems to be working now. I tried out some others that I either didn't like as much, or couldn't figure out how to personalize. I'm just not techno-savvy, so this is all you're gonna get.
For those of you keeping track, my hits counter is now at the bottom the homepage (above Peanut, awwww!) - I couldn't get it on my sidebar without glitching my whole template.
Thanks for keeping track and supporting my blogging endeavours! Love all 'round!
I found this weekend to be full of goodbyes...Thursday I had a little date with a boy I met in Utsunomiya the previous weekend. I know, you're all like: OMG!?!?! Contain yourselves kids - nothing will come of this one. James #2 (since hottie from cabin weekend is James #1, in more ways than one) works for Honda and is frequently sent to Japan for new model design; he basically wanted an opportunity to see more of Japan and I offered to tour guide. We drove around Shimo a bit, went to dinner and watched a movie. Sadly, he is now back in the UK. End of story.Friday Tressa, Trav, Daichi and I drove up to Iwama (homebase for two teachers with my company) for Brad's official going away party. We went to The Drunken Duck in Katsuta (a town about which I have no details to give, but it's thataway) and met up with about 10-15 of Brad's pals. It was good times; alas, I decided to conk out in the car before everyone else was finished partying (what the hell is wrong with me!?!?!). Brad left Saturday afternoon and is now back in Saskatchewan... **sniff, sniff**
Brad, Krista (Brad's replacement) & Trav at the DuckTressa and I picked up some Halloween goodies on Saturday afternoon, and I finally selected a school-appropriate costume: panda (pictures forthwith). Saturday night Tress and I went to Utsunomiya for a drink at the Lion's Head gaijin pub. We ended up running into some friends from the cabin weekend (Barry and Marco) and A drink turned into MANY drinks. Thankfully, Barry gratiously invited us to crash at his apartment, which was the most awesome and well-decorated apartment I have seen in Japan to date (no fair!). Before ending the night, however, we stopped by Birdland again, which was considerably busier than last weekend. Although the owner wasn't around to hand out tequila shots, we did get some good bootie shakin' in. Obviously another gaijin establishment, the club was packed with Africans and Latinos; many of whom looked rather dodgy... I feel awful for upholding stereotypes, but I found myself wondering if any of these fellas had been the stabber from a few weeks past???
A word on Honda boys... apparently the "bachelors" sent overseas to Japan (from the States, the UK, etc.) have one thing in common: exaggerated and drunken attempts to pick up girls! As we have recently learned, the Lion's Head happens to be their short-term lair whereby any female entering is promptly accosted. On the plus side, these boys must make good money because I hardly bought a single drink for myself all night!Today I did a whole lotta nothing, but did have Subway for lunch... MmmmMMmmm, SUBWAY...Tressa & Barry (aka Micheal Barry)
Monday, October 17, 2005
"Crystal needs improvement"
"Crystal needs to be structured, consistent and patient"
"Crystal needs extra special care"
"Crystal needs some protection"
"Does Crystal need seven one-person shows running concurrently?"
"Crystal needs a single perfect gift"
"Crystal needs cleaning when (she) appears dull or dusty"
"Crystal needs to be perfect"
"Crystal needs to be positive and pure to serve purpose and to be in harmony with (her) surroundings"
"Crystal needs a committed, loving and nurturing family"
"Crystal needs to be used sparingly"
"Crystal needs to be wrapped and padded"
"Crystal needs to be informed about the purpose for which you intend to use (her)"
"Crystal needs a frickn' terrain park" (actual quote! haha)
"Crystal needs no battery power at all"
"Crystal needs to spend less"
"Crystal needs to upgrade"
"Crystal needs the sacred substance"
"Crystal needs a breakthrough hit this Christmas"
"Crystal needs to be pulled to the correct frequency"
"Crystal needs a doctor" (what type?!?)
Thanks to Sarah, for this idea: "'your name' + needs," google search.
Peanut, my online pup
I adpoted an online pet (there is no end to my geekiness)... his name is Peanut and he can be found at the very bottom of my home page. He barks when you click on him, and don't forget to throw him a bone! Soooo cute!
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Daichi invited us to his sister, Michiko's surprise birthday party. He cooked stew (yummy!) and a selection of other treats; a true chef! Tressa and I got Mi-chan a necklace. We also stopped in at a novelty shop called Bulldog and tried out some potential costumes...
For what seemed like a fairly mellow weekend, we ended up with a BENDER. Friday we went to Utsunomiya on a wim. Made an appearance at The Lion's Head, gaijin bar, and were just about to leave when Daichi started chatting up the folks at the next table... so rather than be good and go home, we went to another pub and got some British boys to buy us drinks. Unfortunately Tressa was harassed by several of them: watch out for drunken Brits. In an effort to defend Tressa's honour, Daichi nearly roughed up one bloke (after kicking a chair clear across the room, which was friggin hilarious and scary at the same time) who, it turned out, was the wrong guy!
After the second bar, the group of us headed to a dance club called Birdland. The club was dead because there was recently a stabbing there - a little intimidating - but, as such, we got to meet the owner who bought us tequila shots all night. We got back to Shimo well after the sun came up.
Slept pretty much all day in preparation for an outdoor rave we were supposed to attend on Mt. Tsukuba... by dinnertime, however, we were well into a nice typhoon and as such the rave was cancelled. The back-up plan came together immediately: KAREOKE!! Tress, Trav, Jody, Nori, Dan and myself sung our hearts out until the wee hours.
**cough, choke** Slept pretty much all day...
My mom: "Crystal, don't you think you're a little OLD to party like you do?"
Mom: "Well, YOU ARE!"
Whatever mama (happy birthday, by the way)!
Tonight Tress and I drove to Tomobe for Brad and Neil's going-away dinner. We met the new teacher, (replacing Brad) Krista, from Newfoundland. Now I'm off to dreamland **yawn** BON VOYAGE, BRAD & NEIL!
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Just want to take a minute to say...
...NA NA NANA NA!
See, for most of the year you all have reason to stick your tongue out while I either melt or freeze in my no-central-heating-or-airconditioning apartment... I've just realized that I am currently experiencing one of the few times of year when this practise is uncalled for.
I love that it's now mid-October but the weather is lovely: between 15-30 degrees daily; no longer muggy; clear blue skies; little pollution... I've upgraded from tanktop to T-shirt, but skirts and sandals are still the what's what. Aaaaah, the good life.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
A Link to Consider
Can't get enough of Crystal's Capers? Want an outside opinion of the events as-they-happen? Check out Jody's blog at:
plenty of un-cut Crystal-pics and Crystal-references... (yikes)
Roughing it in the bush
...well, apparently "roughing it" these days is having someone else cook for you all weekend while you make yourself cozy in a quaint little cabin... Welcome to my montage of our Hallowe'en Cabin Weekend at an Onsen (naked hotspring) resort about 25kms from Nikko, in the beautiful Japanese mountains (Oct. 8-10th).
Maxin' and relaxin' in the BBQ pit infront of our cabins, of which we had three. Note, we were bundled because it pissed rain the whole weekend
Most of the gang (JETs from Tochigi Prefecture)
Here fishy, fishy, fishy. Another guest at the resort gave us these fresh river trout. Someone else gave us a bag of tomatoes; it's not a cruel, but a kind race.
Phil (Johnny Depp, Lost & Loathing style) and Patricia (feline) at the costume party
Tressa and Jody dressed as kitty and beatnik, respectively
Me (black widow; obviously had a little to drink) and James (mmmmmm, dreamy...)
Marco as someone-or-other from something-or-other... you figure it out. He kept rubbing his enormous belly on everyone's heads all night!
Let's see, Tress is a pussy... insert own deductions as to why this picture was taken (and not by me, I might add)
Dancing the night away (Christine, James (uh, did I mention that he is dreamy?) & Ester)
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The Thirsty Dead
So I met up with the aforementioned new client tonight. To my surprise, this "school" consists of my boss's friend's three grandsons endeavouring to learn English in their living room; like a private, only I don't get my extra $40/hour. whaa!
As it turned out, the kids (ages 3, 5, & 8) were cute and very smart; they picked up "hello, how are you today?" "I'm fine, thank you;" "What's your name?" "My name is ____;" and the ABC's in 50 minutes flat. Afterwards I was invited to stay for dinner to celebrate Grandpa's 69th birthday.
The dinner was excellent and thankfully the ladies didn't throw in too much crazy Japanese food... in fact, they seemed to prepare many of the suspiciously Western dishes especially for me. Interestingly, one party partaking in the meal was not actually a tableguest...
Many Japanese Buddhists (?) have shrines to honour their deceased loved ones in their homes... I did not realize that these shrines are treated similarly to those in the graveyards. Here's what happened: the men dispensed some beer (from the TAP in the dining room) for themselves, and then a little cupfull was placed on the shrine. Next, birthday cake was handed to the guest (me), then to the dead, then to the hosts. Finally, the men helped themselves to some sake, but not before filling a small glass for those who weren't with us. Sooooo weird!!
One for me, one for the dead; one for you, one for the dead.
(N.B. please note that I am not judging, I actually thought these practises very interesting, I simply want to share this facet of Japanese culture with those of you at home!)
Guess what!?! Today I read my first word in Japanese!!I've been studying Hiragana and Katakana (2/3 of the Japanese character systems) for about a week, since I found an awesome tutorial book while helping Tressa clean out her closet. The book associates the characters, which formerly looked like doodles to me, with pictures corresponding with the sounds of the characters. I have most of the 46 basic Hiragana and about 1/3 of the 46 basic Katakana memorized. I'm really excited about this because it's the first step to mastering Japanese, or so I'm told!! So, what word did I read all on my own??? TANKATSU! The best part, I understood the meaning!!! Tankatsu is a pork fillet fried Tenpura style and served with a yummy seasame BBQ sauce (the word was on a restaurant sign). Maybe my mom should be recording "Tankatsu" in my baby book??? (NB. the character shown is Kanji for "pimp" - ha!)
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Movie Review: Sin City
With online publishing at my fingertips (I tell ya, the Journalist in me has never had it so good!) I feel I must say my piece on nearly everything; including movies.
Movie Outing #3 was impromtu and fortuitous. Tressa and I saw Sin City tonight; a movie that has been released for some time in North America, I'm sure. Nevertheless, here is my critique:Unwittingly walking into yet another comic spinoff, we found ourselves deciding that Quentin Tarantino had something to do with this film before the opening credits stopped rolling... an art film; Pulp Fictionesque.The characters were overly theatric, the scenes comically perfect, the sound effects, gore, and T&A exaggerated and gratuitous, but only as was necessary to create such genius dramatic snapshots.The cast, including some of my personal favourites, (Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Benicio Del Toro, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Micheal Clarke Duncan, Nicky Katt, Alexis Bledel, Rosario Dawson...) performed well in their stereotypical roles and seemed bizarrely well-selected for their parts, however far from their usual type-casts. One noteworthy observation was that Benicio looked like shit; what was likely the staging, lighting and theatrical makeup made him look like a sallow junkie (which didn't strike me as part of his character). Perhaps it was the combination of nose and chin implants and the creepy demeanor of his character that swayed my opinion of him from heart-throb to weirdo-washup.Overall, I'd have to say the cinematography won me over. I'd give Sin City 3.5/5 and suggest, if you still have the opportunity, you see it on the big-screen for full effect.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Little Japanese Prodigies
My main school, Hikari Kindergarten, invited me to their annual Sports Day which was today. All schools, of every level, host these fun-filled festival-like days once each year; it's a great excuse to have parental interaction! In fact, there are even vendors selling food, snow cones, and novelty prizes at the Sports Days, which cements the festival atmosphere.
Since Tressa wasn't official invited to any Sports Days at her own schools, I brought her along to Hikari, where craziness ensued. Understand that preparation for this event has taken months: practising, organizing, choreographing, etc. - it's HUGE. Hikari had 5-6 parking lots FULL of vehicles by the time we pulled up at around 10:30am; likely 400-500 cars! The bus drivers served as parking attendants for the day, and one old chap saw me drive in and flagged me down. He proceeded to lead my car all the way to the front parking lot (steps away from the entrance to the school) where he removed a blockade from a saved spot: the spot, apparently, was saved especially for me!!
Inside the school grounds we were greated by my good friend Mie who promptly handed us our bagged lunches. She then led us to one of two giant sun-tents and asked some men to move so that the Eigo no Sensei (English Teachers) could sit in the shade and enjoy front-row seating (the grounds were packed). After feeling much like royalty, the head teacher rounded Tressa and I up to participate in an event!! OMG!
So, we were gathered together with all the fathers (us, in our skirts and flip-flops; the dads, in their track suits and runners) for a race! hahaha. Actually, it was all in fun (everyone got a prize), but I managed to win out of my group anyhow. We had to strap large baskets to our backs, run a ways, bounce a soccer ball infront of us and duck so that it would land in the basket, and then run to the finish line. Miraculously, my ball landed in my basket on the first try (to which I received the ONLY applause from the immense crowd for the whole event)!! My prize: a tiny totebag that says "clickity-clack" and two boxes of Saran-wrap. Good times.
Back in our special seats, Tressa and I stayed and watched the adorable events for another hour or so. I swear these children are prodigies; the musical number they performed was better than many highschool exhibits I've seen and/or participated in! Seriously. The 5-age kids played three lengthy songs using a variety of drums, electric pianos, xylophones, etc. The little conductor was adorable. Absolutely amazing. I got an entire song on video, which I can email to those who want to see/hear it.
Going in I thought this Sports Day would be boring, but I found myself unwilling to depart; alas, we had to go to Tsukuba this afternoon to shop and so that I could meet my student, Yoshiko. Next year I will definitely make a day of it! I guess the kids' events end around 3, after which there is some clean-up, and then all the teachers and some parents meet at an izakaya (pub) and drink the night away!! Maybe not on a Sunday... :P
Canadian Economic Upturn Screws Expats
I am disgruntled. Now normally, being a patriotic Canadian and all that, I would be quite pleased to hear that the Canadian Econmony is doing so well on the world's scale... not today, my friends, not today.
I went to the Post Office the other day to send money home (the Post Offices here double as banks) and was mighty chagrined to learn that Japan is now offering only 102 yen to the dollar on Canadian monetary exchanges. What does this mean?
Well, upon my arrival in Japan six months ago, 100,000 yen would have netted me approximately $1150 Canadian (a 15 percent exchange rate); now, however, I am getting a total of $1020 Canadian for every 100,000 yen (losing $130 per month; $1560 per year). This is bad. This means that I am suddenly getting paid less at my job even though my salary remains the same (since I send the majority of my income home to Canada). What's more, I fear that if the exchange rate can change 13 percent in six short months I will actually end up losing money through exchange in the not-so-distant future!
I know, I know, you ask: "Why not just save your money in Japan, until the rates are in your favour?" If only it were that easy! See, I have to send some money home for bills each month; furthermore, there are limits to how much you can export from the country at any given time, so it's more difficult than one might think. Grrrr.
Anyhow, that's my beef. Just venting.
THIS JUST IN:
My boss just called. Suddenly I am not only getting paid less (as previously explained), but I will also have more working hours as of this week! Rather than continuing to allow me Thursday afternoons off (because the school I was supposed to work at couldn't find any kids who wanted to take Optional classes; likely because they are two years old and younger) my employers have contracted a new client. Now I will have to work for an hour Thursday evenings (right through dinner time, I might add) with the great possibility that this single class will multiply into more classes with the addition of more kids.
Why is this girl, who is contracted to work less than 26 hours per week so annoyed?? - well, although my working hours are fairly light, I am doing work-related things a great deal more. In fact, without this additional class, I devote approximately 38 hours per week to teaching, preparation, driving, eating lunch at the schools (often with the children), and pissing around at the schools because there are intermittent breaks but I am too far from home to leave, or they are too short to get anything done. This sucks!