Sorry for the dearth of posts folks. A killer weekend and 2 days of too much work have prevented me from doing anything.
Friday was port and cheese night with Julian and Koichi. Beforehand, Julian and I stopped off at this little bar I pass on my way home every day. It looked interesting, but since it's out in the middle of nowhere, it was a bit intimidating to go into. We walked in, and tripped over the stools in the smallest bar I've ever seen. There was probably about 8 inches between the edge of the bar and the back of the wall. Those 8 inches were occupied by a row of barstools, 6 in all, with 2 barflies seated at opposite ends.
We took a seat and ordered up some beers. The bartender seemed a little ill at ease at first, but once he realized we could muddle our way through basic Japanese, he warmed up. The drinks were ok, and the 2 other guys in there were quite friendly. We had to sing some karaoke (Julian's idea, because he can actually sing, whereas I croaked out some Billy Joel), and the bartender, Oboke cooked us up some free squid okonomiyake, which actually tasted pretty bad. When he'd gone off for a bathroom break, Shinyu, the guy next to me leaned over and said, "Don't eat that. He can't cook. It tastes awful." It looked awful, too. We dutifully ate half of it between us, then begged fullness due to ramen earlier (mostly true), and sent it back. I'd finished my pair of beers, and was waiting for Julian (ever the talker) to finish his, when Shinyu started pouring me drinks. He had some cheap Jin-ro (sho-chu, dangerous Korean liquor), and was pouring me 3/4 that and a splash of oolong tea. Yikes.
So we finally escaped out dive into Japanese low-brow culture and got back to my place, where Koichi met us. We had a great bottle of port I'd brought with me from the States, as well as a block of Wisconsin cheddar (yum!). We had that while watching the first couple episodes of Long Way Round, the round-the-world documentary I'd just finished the book of.
Saturday I awoke to a splitting headache. That damned bottle of Jin-ro had done a number on me. Julian, who'd had about the same as me, minus Jin-ro, woke up just fine. It had started snowing during the night, and we awoke to a nice blanket of white stuff all over the park under my balcony. We watched it for a bit and tried to warm up in my less-than insulated apartment. I spent the whole day pretty much incapacitated and sitting under my kotatsu doing nothing.
On Sunday I had my first lesson with a private student in Japan. Masako's a nice lady, we met at a Starbucks' cafe. She was a bit lower than I'd expected, so I have to modify the lessons a bit, but it should go well, I hope. That's a nice sum to support my drinking.
This week I'm at O-shimizu junior high school. It's a great school, the teachers are really nice. But they seem to love working me to the bone. No breaks but lunch, really. I think not having slept well the past couple nights has aggravated a busy work schedule. Today, I had 5 classes (out of 6 possible) plus checking papers and correcting a letter the city office wants to send to Windsor, their sister city, as well as helping prepare some of the 3rd year students for English interviews for their high school applications.
You don't just go to whatever high school happens to be nearest you. It's much more like college. You apply to lots and narrow your choices, and then hopefully you end up getting accepted to one that's less than an hour's commute. A few students chose a school in Yokohama that will be 45 minutes by train. This one has a focus on English, so they have to take a special interview in English to assess their abilities. So I sat down with them today and yesterday, and probably tomorrow, to practice vocab and possible interview situations. I really hope they get in. They've tried so hard.
The rest of this week is looking busy as well. I applied for a job (unpaid, of course) as a freelance contributor for Nozomi Online, a website about Japan, particularly J-pop music and anime. I hope it'll force me to write more and actually get something done on that front. For those of you unfamiliar, I have a vision of myself as some sort of writer-type, and I'd like to actually cultivate that. I need the practice. Too bad I picked the one week I actually have to work my arse off to do it. Ah, well.
So that's what's up if I don't write for a while.