Sunday, December 19, 2010

M for "Music and Mood"

I sort of knew that music affects one's mood. If you are down, you might want to listen to a cheerful music to infuse upbeat feeling to yourself, or gentle tunes when you are nostalgic. So I expected the live concert I went the other day to cheer me up, and it worked like magic!

The band called "miggy+" is a jazz orchestra. I can't explain it well, so please refer to this website if you are interested. ( That was the second time for me to visit their performance, and it was awesome! The music was full of energy, and the leader of the band is such an attractive lady. Just like the first time, I was totally fascinated. I went there with my old-time friend, and happened to sit with a friends couple. I didn't meet a lot of acquaintances at that concert, but after the show, I was filled with a kind of satisfaction and a warm feeling that I had been surrounded by a lot of friends. I don't know why. But for sure, the music gave me a positive vibe.

At my friends' wedding, which was more like a live concert than a wedding ceremony, I felt like the same. I started to understand my mental system: When I'm with good friends and listening to good live music, I will feel more encouraged, secured, and free from negative constraints. Does that mean the more I do this, the better my life becomes?? Well, I suspect that this theory has something to do with my high school friends because I remember I didn't feel the same when I was with other people who I met after the graduation. Anyway, it's good to find another way to get out of a gloomy circle of my tangled thoughts.

In less than four days, I'm going to leave for Canada. I'm so pumped, but at the same time, I'm a bit concerned about what would happen after it. Well,
my tutoring sessions will start, I will have more work hours from April, and I will start picking up some exercises on weekly basis (...suspicious...). AND I'll try not to give up my "dream." During this stay, I'll meet a lot of people. They will give me lots of inspiration, both positive and negative, that will get me thinking more about my way to follow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

L for "Love You!!!"

This is a very short entry.

I sent my friend an email message to arrange our gathering during my visit to Vancouver. She replied to me in a short text saying "Love you!!!" twice! :) It was really funny because I could see her marvelous smile and outstretched arms behind the writing. It warmed up my heart...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

K for "Kids"

In the third routine, I'm having trouble finding topics that start from each alphabet....I don't know if it was a good idea to follow ABC order to choose what to write. These days, I feel it gets in my way to update my journal. However, it definitely helps me not to mention something too personal.

OK, I'll talk about my students in the English school. I'm in charge of three classes; 3-4-year-olds, 5-6-year-olds, and 4-6-year-old returnees. For the first time in my life, I started to teach children 5 months ago. I had no idea how to treat them or how to get their attention. Teaching very young learners is really tiring sometimes, but I found it very rewarding and interesting. Their English skills develop slowly, mainly because most of them don't really understand they are supposed to learn and speak English in the class, but their growth as humans is remarkable.

They started to communicate with each other, though in Japanese, and they learned to negotiate. They can stop crying in the class much faster than before. I have a new student who came to the class about a month ago. She is 3 years old and didn't like to join the class. Now, she still becomes bad tempered sometimes, but she sits at the table, sings a song with a loud voice, and obey my directions. In just a month, she has changed a lot. It's really interesting how people grow.

I'm going to tutor two more kids soon. This is my side job since my main job is not full-time yet. I went to each student's house to present a trial lesson, and fortunately, they both liked my lessons a lot. That encouraged me a lot. I felt like my teaching is recognized.

It's only two and a half weeks left till I leave for Canada. I'm SO excited!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

J for "jealousy"

One of the ugliest human feelings is jealousy. Also, it's one of the most difficult emotion to conquer, at least for me. If it were not for jealousy, relationships with people around me would have been much better and easier. As I'm an adult now, it's time I dealt with this emotion positively, not negatively. Jealousy or envy can make you motivate to achieve the goal that someone has reached. You can raise the bar for yourself because you have a model who you want to be like.

Long time ago, my friend told me that no one can get everything the person wishes for. At that time, I understood the meaning literally, but not sincerely. But I started to know what it really means these days. Happiness varies to person to person. You shouldn't be distracted and measure your happiness with other people's rules. Also you shouldn't be too greedy. Think thoroughly what is essential for your dream life, and focus on it.

There are somethings that I cannot agree with, even I know I should. This is not only because of being jealous, but my standard of thoughts that I grew up with. I learned to avoid this conflict in myself; just to be indifferent and give up.
It needs time for the idea to sink in, so as time goes by, I might be able to agree with the opinion that I couldn't accept.
...I didn't expect to be troubled with girly friendship problems at this age....sigh.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I for "In the Mood"

These days, I'm in the mood of going out. It's really BEAUTIFUL outside! The trees I see on my way to work have turned colours to vivid red and yellow. I realized how much I love those colours. That's why I like fall. (By the way, I love spring, too. I like "in-between" seasons.)

However, I'm not active enough to go out without a plan. Some kind of plans are always necessary to make me move. Fortunately, I recently got some invitations to get me out to the city. Last Tuesday was Labour Thanksgiving Day in Japan, and one of my friends was participating a concert as an orchestra member. It had been so long since I went to the recital last, so I was happy to visit there to hear her (and the members') performance. It was great. And tomorrow, I'm going to another classical music concert, this time, with my friend. We are going to have lunch together before the concert, so I'm excited to have a chat with her to catch up. Additionally, I'm going to have another outing to my friend's place on Tuesday, and hang out with another on Wednesday the week after next. I have been a bit away from my friends lately, so I'm looking forward to spend some time with nice people.

In the office, I'm now working on ESL materials to teach basic grammar and phonics. These are for the new reading program that will be launched next July, and the purpose is not to make students learn rules by heart but to let them understand English language briefly so that they can read easy books. Teaching tools are mainly made on Power Point, so I'm getting better at using this software day by day. Except the sharp pain in my shoulders, I like creating something on PC. But the difficult part is how to introduce the teaching points "briefly." I'm doing my best to be in learner's shoes, but still, nobody is sure whether the materials are useful enough until we actually start using them. Moreover, it takes time to conjure one material. My boss understands my situation pretty well and let me work more hours. I need to go back to the planning chart again to schedule how fast I have to complete each task.

The town is already filled with Christmas decorations. I started to think about Christmas shopping, but I won't spill the beans about the gifts! Well, though no one who I'm going to see in December is reading this journal.......just in case. ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

H for "Honestly"

I don't usually use the word "honestly," but probably it's a good idea to increase my vocabulary. So today, let me talk "honestly" what in my mind. (Say it with rising intonation, just like how teenagers say.)

Honestly, I think today's my grammar lesson was quite successful.
Honestly, my first trial lesson as a tutor with kids was fun although I had half expected to fail.
Honestly, I think dad shouldn't have called grand dad early in the morning because it would have just annoyed my aunt.
Honestly, chocolate is too seductive these days.
Honestly, I have bitter-sweet feelings about my visit to Vancouver in December.
Honestly, I really like Emma Watson.
So honestly
, I was delighted when my friend told me that I have some similarities in characteristics with Hermione Granger.
Honestly, I still think about my ex, but honestly, I think he doesn't the way I do. (How sad.)
Honestly, I have to start studying seriously for the test.
Honestly, Dali Lama's words often touch me.
Honestly, my bedroom is far uncomfortably colder than my brother's.
And honestly, I'm VERY glad that tomorrow is Sunday and I have no plans!

Now, you try! ;)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

G for "Gâteau"

OK, I cheated again. This time, it's French. But please understand how hard it was for me to come up with the topic that starts with "g" and also matches with what I want to write about.

Ma maman a fait un
gâteau aujourd'hui. Mom heard about a savory cake called "cake salé", which looks like a combination of an English and French word. She found a recipe on the Internet and baked it today. It was very tasty. It contains ham, cheese, and vegetables. I'm always surprised how her curiosity and interest move her. I mean, she's often busy and tired. I thought there would be no time to do something extra beside her regular routine. But once she thinks that she wants to try a new recipe or make pretty cushion covers, she does it very quickly. (And I just enjoy the result. Hehe.) Cake salé will definitely be one of her repertoire of cooking :)

It's time for preparing New Year greeting cards. (Another "g"!) We don't formally celebrate Christmas in Japan, but instead, we traditionally send New Year cards. This year, I'll have to start sending them out early since I'm going to go to Canada at the end of December. (If you mail them by December 25th, the post office will deliver your cards on January 1st.) Dad has got a book with a CD which is filled with beautiful designs for greeting cards. I've got a hand-me-down printer from Dad, so I can print cards with my own PC! (I used to use Dad's PC and printer to make greeting cards.) I'm wondering when I should send out Christmas cards for my friends in Canada. I'm going to meet them, but I want them to get my card before Christmas. I think Canadian people started to receive cards early in December, so probably it's OK if I mail them way before Christmas....I'll check the Internet if I can get the right knowledge.

I'm starting a tutoring job. I don't really like tutoring since I have to visit the student's place. But I'm generating too little money that barely covers my monthly budget and a bit of savings, I can't complain. And nothing will be wasted for sure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

F for "Fugu"

I kind of cheated because "fugu" is Japanese. Is this word used in English as it is? According to a translation dictionary, it's called balloon fish, puffer fish, swell fish, or some other names, so pick one that makes sense to you.

This weekend, we had my sister for a night. Dad was delighted and took us to the restaurant to eat balloon fish. This fish is now in season, and it's not something we can eat everyday. It has very dangerous poison, so the chef has to be licensed to deal with balloon fish. Since this is the food for special occasions, this was my only second time to eat this fish in my life, and the first time in a proper restaurant.

We had sashimi and hot pot, and they were really good. It was kind of tricky to eat balloon fish in the hot pot because it was chopped in small pieces with bones inside. And the meat was really white as bones. We had to be careful not to bite into the bones. But the meat was tender and moist, and the skin was gelatinous, which was the texture I like. It was a fun evening.

This has nothing to do with "fugu", but I'm now reading a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (since I finished reading Jane Eyre!!). A friend of mine recommended this book to me long time ago, and I finally got one the other day. So far, I have read two-thirds of the book and found it really interesting. This story is about a super-smart autistic boy, and the mysteries and incidents around him. This is written in a journal style so that readers can experience how this boy looks and feels the world. But I learned how hard it would be to live with autism, for people around the person and also for the person himself. If you had so many limitations when you try to live safely and comfortably, you would have to feel anxious and nervous all the time. The author wrote really well how the boy is confused in busy places or unfamiliar surroundings, and that makes me really worried about this main character. (Am I too absorbed into the book??) Anyway, I can't wait to finish reading this story!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

E for "Elusive"

Hi there :)

It's Halloween! Are you enjoying dressing up in costumes? I got some candy from my mom's Halloween party's leftovers. She held a party with 10 elementary school kids, and it ended successfully! Good job, mom! I know how hard it was. All I did to help her was to pack snacks in small packages for trick-or-treating. How unhelpful I was :p
At the school I'm working for, we decided to take down all the Halloween decorations on 29th due to our convenience. (We wouldn't have enough time and people to do so until Monday, Nov. 1st.) Then I found a student came in with a witch hat tucked in her bag. She was too shy to wear it with all the decorations gone. (And no others wore any piece of costumes.) I felt so bad for her...

OK, today's topic.
I currently have a few goals which are highly elusive.

1. Get PR in Canada
2. Pass Eiken grade 1
3. Learn to SPEAK and HEAR French

About 1, no question should be asked. 2, Eiken is an English test recognized (probably) only in Japan. It starts from grade 5. This "grade" doesn't correspond to school grades. I don't know the proper name for this in English. Grade 5 is about the English level for the first grade of junior high, which is Grade 7 in North America. I took Eiken for the first time when I was in Grade 7, then I passed Eiken grade semi-1 when I was in university. This time, I'm going to take grade 1, the final and the most difficult one, in January. It's been quite a while since I took Eiken last, and it seems that the test has become harder than before. I heard there is a huge gap between semi-1 and 1, and it is really tough to get through grade 1. But if I want to prove that I'm really good at English on the resume, I should definitely pass this test. I have tons of time now, that's why I decided to try. There is a thick workbook in front of me. I'll do it.

About 3, this is not going well. From May to September, there was a very fun radio program of French. But now, the old program is rerun, and it's very boring... Even the textbook is plain. There are lots of new vocabulary and grammar points all over the pages, but the contents are not very appealing. Well, I shouldn't be picky.
There is a proverb saying "Endurance makes you stronger."

My most recent and urgent goal get rid of this cold by Tuesday! I'll see my friend and her newborn son. If I'm still sick, I will have to postpone the plan :(

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

D for "Dalai Lama"

I feel a little guilty for using this big name in my blog because it fools some people who Googled this holy name looking for real information about Dalai Lama. My previous entry of B attracted some new visitors from Europe, but I'm sure they seriously wanted to know some academic source of this historic author. Sorry those people! But anyway, this is my daily journal. I'll keep writing.

Today, I went to a local secondhand book store. It was recently renewed and huge! Not having been able to find the book I looked for, I went upstairs to check out the foreign book section. I was surprised how well stocked it was. Carefully, I read the titles of the paperbacks one by one. Winny-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne and The Magician's Nephew by C. J. Lewis were good finds. Then I stopped at the cover saying Dalai Lama.

I went to his public speaking in Vancouver in 2006. I had no idea what kind of person he was, and my English wasn't good enough to catch all the words he said. But I understood that he thought much of compassion, and I liked his way of thinking. I liked his attitude (in my understanding) of not trying to convert you to believe in Buddhism, but trying to spread his way of being peaceful and forgiving to others.

I opened the book called An Open Heart and turned a few pages. It looked simple enough for me to read. And it was priced only 250 yen, which is the equivalent of $3 CAD (and it was as good as new)! I bought this book wishing it would open my heart :) (And wished that I could read this through without giving up.)

C for "Canada and Czech Republic"

There are a couple of things that starts with "C" and I could write about, such as cold, career, or cats, but I chose those two countries.

I have spent three and a half years in Canada, and now my baby brother is spending precious time in Czech Republic. I sometimes exchange email messages and knew he is experiencing similar things that I did in Canada. The city I stayed was filled with Asian people, and you could get almost any oriental food or products if you spend a few extra bucks. In a way, I was really spoiled. But a foreign country is of course different from my mother land. Many things shocked me, but at the same time, I was very excited to expose myself to the new culture. I learned a lot from not only Canadians but from international friends around me. It was certainly a life-changing experience. My brother seems to be in the city with less (compared to Vancouver) Japanese people and very few Asian products. But he is surviving and enjoying encounters with people from other countries. In his case, moreover, he has to learn Czech, which is not at all common or popular language in Japan. This must be a big challenge for him, but I'm sure that will make him tough mentally and physically. This experience, for sure, will boost his self-esteem to find his own way in the future.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

B for "Brontë"

I read a column on Salus, a free monthly magazine distributed in the stations along Denenchofu Line. It was about Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Brontë. As a graduate of English major, of course I knew the name of this literature and the author, but I had never thought about reading it. I had just assumed that this story was about an unfortunate lady's life which was filled with misfortune and grief. But according to this column, Jane Eyre describes Jane's deep solitude and her mind which seeks for freedom. She wants to be loved, but more than that, she wants to be truthful to herself. She craves for a change, and that drives her to take actions.

Sounds interesting.
I felt like reading this book for a while, but soon after that, I forgot about it. Yesterday, I was rummaging through my mom's book collection for a book about handmade soap. Then what I encountered was....Jane Eyre. Mom got this book long time ago, probably more than 5 years ago, and never got to read it. It's a sign! (If you haven't seen the movie, Sleepless in Seattle, check that out. It's a good one.)

OK, I started to read this book last night.....hmmm, this is difficult. I'm good at skipping and ignoring words that I don't know and guessing the meaning as I read. But this time, there are so many unfamiliar words. I don't know how long I can hang on, but I'll try.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A for "Adventure and Reunion"

Daibutsu (Big Buddha) in Kamakura

Two guests have flown to their home today.
I've been waiting for L&T's visit for half an emotional year (sob), and the time we spent together was wonderful! :)

After travelling south part of Hokkaido, they arrived in Tokyo. For three days, we looked around Kamakura, Kichijoji, and Kawagoe. They've been to Japan before, so they seemed to be quite used to what they saw, but I was honored to be their translator when they were in trouble. My parents and I had dinner with them, and this time was more successful than the last time, which was in Vancouver. Both sets of my 'parents' (haha) had a great time, and my Japanese parents wished to have more chances to talk to them. (This is a huge improvement for my very reserved parents!)

Kurazukuri Street (Kawagoe)

The place that impressed me the most during our sightseeing was Kawagoe. I had been there twice before, but this was the first time for me to actually look around. We visited a big historical temples, candy store street, and the street of warehouse style buildings. A friend of mine lives in this town and told me a lot about where to visit. It was very helpful. And I also learned why she is very proud of her home town ;) We had another member in this trip. She is L's and my mutual friend who took TESOL course at Vancouver Community College like us. I hadn't seen her for probably more than a year, so it was very nice to see her again.

L&T gave me some ideas to try to get a job offer in Canada. That's too bad that I won't be able to have any interviews or business talk during my visit since that's during Christmas Holidays. But still, I'll meet my friends and people who are cooperative to me.

I'm very lucky to have met so many great friends in Vancouver(as well as I have in Japan!). I read someone said something like a family is not only biological connections, but the bond you create with people you meet. (Agh, it was much better phrase, but I can't remember!) I think it's really true. Five years ago, I didn't dream of my world becoming so wide....

Toki no Kane (Kawagoe)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Y for "Yesterday's Event" or Z for "Zillions of Congratulations"

It was a long day, but very joyful and exciting day.

I attended my friend's wedding yesterday. Technically, it was my "friends'" since both the bride and the groom are my high school friends. They first started as high school sweet hearts, so many of the guests were my(and their) high school buddies. It was like a reunion! Some of them have been distant, and I have been distant, too, so there were endless catching up and chattering. My speech went OK, and the bride liked it. Whew... The party continued, changing the location a few times, until...I don't know, this morning? I came back at midnight.

Every time I attend a wedding, I feel so happy for the bride(usually, the bride is my friend), and I'm filled with happiness, too. This wedding was no exception. Even happier. I declare this was the best wedding I've ever joined. Looking at the newlyweds, my friends, and all the musicians who played at the party(the groom is a professional musician, and the ceremony was filled with live music played by the couple, their families, and his band members.), I realized that I'm in such a nice community and surrounded warmly by great friends. I've been with a broken heart, but my memory of my ex looked faded. I even thought about remaining in Japan for good....well, I just thought about it. It's not official.

There are some more that I wanted to say, but I'd like to end this entry with happy note, and I'll continue telling my thoughts in the next time.

I'll start again from "A"!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

X for......"Xmas!!"

Mhahaha! Did you think I wouldn't come up with the word that starts from X? I found it!! Even if it's not a proper spelling, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English says this is another form of Christmas, so I have no guilt about using this word :)

Yes, it's still faaaar from Christmas, but there's an exciting news about Christmas. I've got my winter vacation from December 23rd, which means if I get the plane ticket, I will be able to spend this Christmas in CANADA!! I'm so thrilled! I have to make sure to book the ticket immediately. Hope there's still some seats left on 24th. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I finished writing the speech for my friend's wedding. I think it's pretty decent if only I can do it without reading the script. I'll practice tomorrow.

Good night.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

W for "Wedding"

My friend's wedding is coming up next Sunday. I'm so excited, but at the same time, I'm worried. If you have attended an wedding ceremony in Japan, you realized that everyone is dressed up to the perfection. I have taken part in many weddings parties, but I often felt that I was underdressed. I did my best, but my best didn't seem enough... This time, I'm going to wear a plain black dress, and I thinks that's pretty formal. The problem is hairstyle. The main reason why I had my hair permed is this formal occasion. I hope I can make do. Whew....I'm glad to be born as a girl, but being a girl takes a lot of work!

Moreover, the bride asked me to give a speech representing her friends! OK, I was a member of the speech section in the English club at university and I talk in front of students. But I'm never good at public speaking. Never. There's no panacea for nervousness, but I know the key; I should prepare and practice thoroughly. Wish me luck!

This wedding is not only my best friend's, but also one of my high school friend's. They first met in the high school brass band, and the bride played the flute with me then. She has been my great friend ever since. I wish ever-lasting happiness for her, and the success of this special day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

V for "Vapour"

These days, this helps me to sleep well. This is an aroma diffuser. I got it for myself as a birthday present. I'm not a specialist of aroma therapy, like my sister, but just I like the idea that natural herbs have some effects of making us feel better. I didn't use to like lavender scent, but I started to like it after I got this vapourizer. It doesn't work very much as a humidifier, but good at spreading the aroma in my small bedroom. I don't know if aroma oil itself is working for me, but at least I can fall asleep in fragrant atmosphere.

I went to a hair salon today to have my hair permed. It's been a while since last time I did this. 3-4 years ago? I'm quite satisfied with the result, except the smell of the chemical that still stinks on my hair. It's nearly toxic. My head has been aching probably because of this smell... Anyway, this time, I found a coupon on the Internet that allows me to have my hair cut, permed, and nurtured for about 10,000 yen. While a hairdresser gave me a treatment, my head was gently steamed in a special helmet-like equipment. I felt like the vapour also had my skin moisturized. (And I also felt like a steamed pork bun...well, it was relaxing.)

I had asked my friend to have dinner with me tonight to hand a wedding present to her. I'm glad that she like it. We have a good chat and had nice food.

Now, I'm heading to the bathroom. I'll wash this stinky chemical away!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

U for "Unwind"

My high school days are OVER!
No, I've been out of school for so long. I mean, today was the last day for me to work at a high school. I'm anxious about losing one of my jobs, but I'm happy that I've finished this job. Of course, the students said, "I'm sad, teacher!", "Don't go!", but, as you well know, most of them are making fun of me. I was really annoyed by some of those who didn't stop talking DURING THE CLASS TIME even one moment. They are in Grade 11 and 12, mind you. The reason of them not being quiet is, I learned recently, my voice. I can't make myself heard. No matter how hard I tried, my voice is never strong enough to draw their attention. Sigh.... I don't dislike teaching at high school, but this experience just discouraged me a lot. I don't know, should I take a voice training class?

Monday is always busy, but today was even crazier. Today was my last day, but I couldn't stay long after the class as I had another two kids' classes to teach. They I had to deal with 12th graders' test result and marks, which I had never done before. I troubled a few teachers and ask them to help me. When I finished everything, it was half an hour later than the time I was supposed to be on the train. I made it for the kids' class in the nick of time! But, whew....what a day. I had breakfast at 6 in the morning and didn't have anything (except for a cough drop) until 6 in the evening.

I fell asleep after dinner, so I'm still awake at 1:45 in the morning. I'll go to bed soon. Tomorrow is my day off, so it's my time to unwind. Ahh...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

T for "Twelve Days"

It's been twelve days. I mean, only twelve days? It feels like a month for me already.

Dear readers, you have my apology in advance. When I started this blog, I swore I would not make this journal depressing, like posting empty-out-my-mind entries. And, believe it or not, I tried. But today, please forgive me to scatter what is in my mind.

Knowing that you are single is better than doubting if your relationship with your supposed-to-be boyfriend still exists. But it's always awfully hurtful whether you put an end or he does so. It was shocking, but I'm surviving, and my life is carried on as nothing has happened. At first, I thought I had tried well to maintain the bond, and it happened only because he had become tired of this remote situation. But as time passed, I started to realize that it was also my fault of not being a patient and compassionate person whom he would find valuable enough to keep beside. What I fear most is that I doubt myself if I really understand the meaning of breaking up. That means, the next time he sees me (by any chance), I will be just a friend, and he won't even give me a hug. And if he's with another girl with his arm around her waist, I have no right to be jealous (ugly word!). Probably in his mind, I have a huge "DONE" label on my forehead.

....Yes, I'm being sarcastic to myself. I wish those were lies.
You know what? This "I want to go back to Canada, but I can't" thing ruins everything. How can I deal with this??

Sigh... I'll read.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

S for "Strange!"

I woke up this morning with a little depressed feelings. I couldn't get up and stayed in bed until 11 in the morning! I didn't see any dreams. Why was I blue? Strange.

Speaking of sleeping and strange, this is what I witnessed the other day.

While I was cooking dinner, I found our three cats gathering on the dinner table one by one, and they started to doze off forming a weird triangle! Was this just a coincidence? Or did they try to do some "synchronized slumbering" in the table??? Cats are mysteriously strange and irresistibly cute...

Let me tell you about those three cats. The black&white cat on the left in the picture is the biggest male. He is the heaviest, loudest, the most demanding, and the kindest cat. His new favorite these days is to sleep on folded newspapers (as you can see in the picture). The patched cat on the back is our only female cat. She is the most beautiful of the three, but the most nervous one. She loves to lie down on my mom's futon after she gets up. She could easily spend a whole day rolling on the futon and the pillow, completely relaxed. The last one is the youngest boy. For me, he's the cutest and weirdest. He loves bath mats, the thin mattress that you use right after shower to wipe your feet. He also likes to take a nap under the fan (where you can get no wind), in the bookshelf, and on someone's shoes.

For him, life must be good ;)

Monday, September 20, 2010

R for "Rest"

Do you know one of the most exciting things happen in your life? That's getting flowers unexpectedly from someone who is important for you. My Goodness, I did. This morning, a beautiful flower arrangement arrived at my house. Now its sweet scent is filling up my lungs beside me. My appreciation from the bottom of my heart to L & T, my best friends in Canada. How could they order those flowers?? Probably that owes a lot to the convenient Internet services. I know they are skilled at using them. I'm honored to be a good friend of these wonderful people. I'll learn from this manner, and would like to show this kindness to someone who is in trouble in the future.

Anger creates more anger or sorrow, but kindness creates more kindness and happiness. So maybe if I want others to be kind to me, I should be kind to others first.

This weekend is, actually I found out yesterday, a four-day off for me. I'll have to prepare for the next class on Wednesday, but it's still Monday. This long weekend, I allowed myself to take a complete rest from myself. This sounds funny, but I often feel guilt for not doing anything productive (though I spend my day off lazily anyway). The exam is over, the tests are all marked and stored in the drawer in the teacher's room, and I'm going to quit teaching those gangs at the end of this month. All I have to do is to make two more handouts and carry on 4 more classes. In this small vacation, I sleep well, eat well, and feel well. Yesterday was a half working day, but the seminar was interesting, and the outing wasn't too stressful.

Eat, Pray, Love is really an interesting book to read. It's almost scary that I picked up this book at this timing. Although my case is not as serious as the author's and I'm just a little younger than she was (and I don't have a great career and a heavy mental disorder as hers), she's writing about her view of having a family, getting old, and relationships. Since when I hit 25, I've been anxious because I become older every year, but I haven't gained any career, property, and a partner that I can be proud of. (However, I have obtained many great friends and lots of experience that people usually can't gain easily.) This woman decided to put a big "pause" in the middle of her life and free her mind to recover from the tremendous injury in her heart. And she discovers new way of seeing things. It reminds me of the first time I started to live in Vancouver.

Considering the encounter with this book and finding the article (about a lady, who graduated from the same university as mine, went to the U.S., started her career as a piano teacher at the age of 29, felt anxious, found an American husband, and finally had a baby at 39), I think things around me are very cooperative to me to regain my strength.

I'll enjoy my holiday :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Q for "Qu'est-ce que tu fais demain?"

Tomorrow is Sunday, but I have to go out with my colleagues and the president of the company I work for. We are going to attend a workshop of "extensive reading". This is a method of teaching/learning languages through reading, shadowing, and listening to the audio context while you read the book. No dictionary needed. Just keep reading books of the appropriate language level for you. Even though I'm not very confident about developing the curriculum to prepare for this teaching method, I'm curious how it will turn out if we start this program at our school (In our case, we are offering English courses). It is said that extensive reading is a recognized and very effective way of learning languages. (I would love to try it in French! I wish I were in Vancouver where I can borrow various books and audio in French from the library.) It's not so exciting to work (kind of) on Sunday, but it makes me go out to Shinjuku. The workshop will end at 4:00 anyway, so I'll make use of this outing to have some fun ;)

I mentioned that I started reading "Eat, Pray, Love" in the previous posting. Yesterday, I got the audio of this book from British Columbia Libraries. I'm supposed to be able to download this audio onto my PC or iPod, but I can't for some reason. So I have 21-day loan. I'd like to finish reading (and listening) within this period.

My schedule of next week is a bit complicated. Having two jobs is sometimes complicated and not easy to keep track of. We have two holidays, and I have my regular day off on Tuesday. Kids' school has no classes but I have regular work, only one day due to the stat holidays. And I'm going to commute to the high school for two days, I'll have to get my materials prepared.... Ugh.

Good thing is, I don't have to get up early tomorrow morning. I'll study French for a bit, put away my laundry, and read before I hit the hay :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

P for "Pouring"

When it rains, it pours. It's true. After long, too long, hot summer with little rain, it started to rain this evening, and it's still falling hard. Hope it'll cool down the temperature.
I don't particularly like rainy weather, but today, I can't help thinking that the sky is crying for me. Instead of my unshed tears, raindrops are coming from the sky one after another. Why am I so certain? Because the rain started right after I received this shocking email. I'll need some time to nurse my wound in my heart. I just hope that it won't make me depressed enough to go to see a doctor this winter. It has never happened to me, so it should be all right. But as I get older, I become mentally frail more often, or I have more serious problems than before.

I started reading again. This time, I'm reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Someone recommended this book long time ago, and I finally decided to buy one at the book store the other day. I chose this story to look for some insight for my life and mainly for my relationship, but I don't have to worry about it any more since it no longer exists. Still, it might give me some ideas how to live strong and find someone to spend time with. Reading is wonderful. It digs up my old vocabulary knowledge from my brain and also fills me up with new expressions. It's a kind of academic sensation that was forgotten for a while. Englishwise, this book is challenging for me. But so far, I'm enjoying it. This is the first time for me to read a real story of an author. Probably it was a fate for me to pick up this book at the store at this timing. It'll encourage me to look ahead.

Monday, September 13, 2010

O for "Optimism"

Didn't I just say, "The weather is getting fall-ish"? It was a mistake. It's still hot. At least, this house is hot, especially my room. In winter, this room is the coldest place in the house. How ironic! I've been living in this room for more than 10 years. I could use some sympathy, or I should blame my laziness of not changing my home base to my sister's room, which is right next to mine.

For some reason, my mind has been so optimistic for the last few weeks that I can almost accept any disappointment and misery in my life. But it might have come to an end today. I was told that I'm going to lose my job at high school at the end of this month. Well, I saw it coming. I'm a replacement teacher. The teacher I'm replacing is now feeling better enough to come back to work. Good thing. I didn't like to force teenagers to memorize grammar. But the reality is, my income is going to be reduced to....two thirds? My kids' school job has promised me to increase my working hours, but it's going to be from November at the earliest.

Then the idea starts to nudge me; what if I were alone for all my life without enough income, recognized job, and people around me started to look at me with a you-are-the-unfortunate-one-and-I-am-happier-than-you look on their faces?? People can't stop talking about they are getting married or starting to live with their partners. If only I could be confident about my way of life.


I decided to wipe out those stupid thoughts. If things are going wrong, there's no power in me to stop it. Probably, it needs to go that way. All I can do now is to stay positive and find another way to survive. I heard from my dad that there is a job that Japanese teachers teach Japanese in English. That sounds interesting. I might give it a try. I've had a tiny first step to immigration, though it's not so hopeful. About relationship? Don't ask.

The other day, my friend sent me a book about how to be lucky. That sounds quite fishy, and I didn't approve everything that was written in it. But it gave me some insight. According to the author, you should imagine and even say to yourself what you want to do and be every night. You should believe that your wish will surely be achieved. Then, do anything nice for others and yourself. It doesn't mean you should pamper yourself but do something good such as helping others or working harder toward your goal. That will fill you up with "positive energy" and will lead you to success.

.....Sounds more fishy? But it helps me to stay lighthearted. She also said, after you have done your best to solve the problem, just leave it until it's solved. So I'll just let it be. Peace of mind is the most important thing for me now. Because I feel like it adds a little radiance to me ;)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

N for "No More Hot Days!"

We had a typhoon the other day, and after that, the weather seems to be a little fall-ish, little by little. We have lower temperature, less scorching sunshine, and more wind. Whew, finally! I'll keep my fingers crossed, and I'm hoping this cool autumn weather stays until winter!

During summer vacation, I didn't feel like going out at all due to the burning sun. But after the temperature fell, I suddenly feel like going out. I would like to go to museums, hang out the place I haven't visited for a while, and meet friends. Ah, I love fall :)

I'm not good at stating my opinions about social issues, but I'm really concerned that Japan is becoming more and more un-Japanese. Some mountains and forests are being bought by Chinese business people, Mongolian sumo wrestlers are stronger than Japanese ones (Sumo is our national sport!)...since our government is collapsing too, we might as well import a leader from another country. No, it's a joke. But in the international competition, we are getting weaker and weaker. Japan is still clinging to the past glories and hasn't realized we are beaten by other Asian countries. So what can we do? I don't know. These days, I feel like there's less bright future in this country and much more unsolved problems.

OK, let's change the subject.

My brother having left for Czech Republic, the CD/MD player is mine again. I bought this equipment in the first place, and I gave it to my brother when I first left for Canada. After that, it had been his possession, then it came back to me now. I'm happy to be able to play my MD collection again. When MD was in bloom, I recorded so many CDs into MDs. Since all I had in my room were a radio and my PC, I couldn't make use of them for a long time. Now it's time for nostalgic songs that I liked! What I'm playing at this moment? Judy and Mary, the rock band that no longer exist.

Judy and Mary "Classic"

Monday, September 6, 2010

M for "Monday"

Whew....Monday. Monday is my busiest day of a week. I have three classes to teach at the high school, and right after that, I head to the kids' school to teach another two classes. To be honest with you, I prefer teaching little children to dealing with a bunch of handful teenagers. My throat started to feel sore again after the summer vacation due to the noisy teenage students. I thought it was a common sense that students are supposed to be quiet in the class. But it's not for the youngsters I teach. It was shocking to see them not stop talking or disturbing others even after I told them not to, but now I've given up. They are just a group of spoiled kids.

Well, I should stop complaining. I didn't mean to write such things.

When I got up this morning, I lost the sense of what day it was today. The first thing in the morning, I felt so anxious since I thought I had overslept. I'm too used to two-day off weekend, so this weekend seemed funny for me. Instead of working on Saturday, I have Tuesday off, though only this week, I have tons of take-home work to do. These days, I often feel tired, but I have trouble sleeping. I want to lie down on the bed and fall asleep straight away, but various things start to swirl in my brain, and that kept me tense. Come to think of it, this has been my problem for a few years. It's not as serious as insomnia, so there must be some ways that leads me to peaceful rest easily. I'm trying aroma therapy recently. It makes me feel good, but I can't tell how effective it is for me yet.

In general, my sleeping problem is originated in my mental condition. When I'm down and can't keep my chin up, this matter seems to happen. Yes, I've been so pessimistic for a month or two. However, for some reason, I feel pretty optimistic these days. That's why I wonder why I can't go to sleep soon. Probably, this problem will be over in no time. My state of mind is surprisingly good lately. Not everything is going well, and I still have things that I'm worried about. But now, there is something that lifts up my feelings, and it encourages me to look away from the matters that I shouldn't worry any more. If the time comes, I'll know the result whether it's a good one or not. Having mental burden is tough. You can't see it and you could make it bigger without noticing it.

(Yawn)...Writing this journal makes me drowsy... I'm sure I'll have a good rest tonight ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

L for "Language Learning"

Some people agreed on the idea that language learning needs the ability of accepting ambiguity. From my experience, people who studied English grammar a LOT (and are not used to speaking) tend to obsessed with getting "right" answers. But unfortunately, languages are neither perfect nor permanent. They are changing from time to time. And in many cases, various kinds of exceptions are allowed in communication. (If you want to write a university thesis, that's another story.) Being serious about acquiring a language is great. However, I think it makes things easier if you leave some questions as they are and take it easy.

At kids' school, what we are trying to do is to let children hear, read, and understand English even there are lots of unfamiliar vocabulary. Unlike junior high or high school, we don't encourage them to translate English into Japanese in the process of comprehension. Sadly, only a few kids can manage to keep that ability until they become 4th graders. Due to negative influence from Janglish or lack of practice, many of them loose their comprehension skills and pronunciation as they grow older. When they ask us, "What does this mean in Japanese?", we are horrified.

Language learning is never easy!
(I'll study French harder accepting good amount of ambiguity!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

K for "Knocked Down"

It's hot. TOO HOT!!! Tomorrow is the beginning of September. It's supposed to be getting cooler, but this year, it doesn't seem to be. Is this because of global warming or just El Nino does the tricks? The heat of this summer in Japan, probably not only in Japan, was very serious. So many people were taken to the hospital because of heat attack. Even this late afternoon, the sun was still scorching, and I couldn't do any of my work at home. I'm totally defeated by this harsh climate. Tomorrow, I have to walk to school from the station..... I don't think I can manage that! (@_@)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

J is for "Joy"

These days, I often feel lonely, empty, and don't know where my mind is. If I could be joyous because God loves you everyday, I might as well be in a religion. Kidding, of course ;p But still, my other half of my brain, probably the left side, is working and realizing the school is going to start soon, and I have to finish creating their exam. I might have too much time to think about the think that is not going well. I can't stand being ignored or abandoned, but looking at the bright side of everything might distract me from being negative! (Sounds like I'm deceiving myself :( )

Speaking of joy, I really enjoy teaching children. I'm getting used to their crying and fighting in the class, and they finally started noticing me as one of the teachers! (Hurray!) These days, I'm giving each elementary school student a level-check test, which casually measures their reading and vocabulary ability. Thanks to this test, I'm more familiar with students' names and their language levels. Most of them are returnees (who have lived in English-speaking countries before), but there is a gap among their reading skills. Some are excellent readers while others are not. Anyhow, all of them are having fun in the class talking to the teachers and friends in English. That's a good thing. The joy of teaching is definitely that you'll get to love your students and many of them will love you back. It takes time, but they'll eventually count on you and you'll feel like you have more friends. I know all of this, but how come I'm not attracted to be a (junior) high school teacher? That's the mystery...

I'll finish this entry with my favorite scene of the movie.
This is so great that I can't see it without tears!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I for "Internet"

I think I'm living pretty clean life; I'm not addicted to alcohol, cigarette, nor drugs. But my serious addiction is probably.....the Internet.

After so many hours of indecisive self discussion, I clicked a button to by an aroma diffuser which meant to be a present for myself. Pretty harmless, right? I'm not a heavy shopper, either in reality or on the web. The problem is, I'm spending too much time in front of PC every day.

It takes away so many hours in vain. Obviously, I should read more books instead. The main purpose of my Internet use is communication. Maybe that's what I'm addicted to. People don't usually send messages very often or update their Facebook. I don't need to check them several times a day. But what I do the first thing in the morning is to turn on my PC. I do the same when I come home from work. If I'm at home, I stay in front of this gadget almost all day. Sounds VERY unhealthy.

Since I found that I'm not using SNS wisely, I'll just take it easy and take a deep breath. I need a computer to make teaching materials and keep accounts, but it doesn't have to be connected to the Internet. Be wise and take advantage of this great network throughout the world :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

H for "High School"

September is approaching.... That means the start of the high school is coming up soon. Since I had too much fun at kids' ESL this summer, it's hard to imagine or make myself ready to work for the high school again. I have to prepare some answer keys, exams, and teaching materials on English grammar.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy teaching at high school even though my students are VERY handful. But still, I have this belief that the students should study English in fun environment at their own pace as much as possible. What I do at the school is cramming the students with grammar rules and making most of them hate this subject. It consumes lots of energy and preparation, and my effort becomes in vain too often. Generally, teachers at high schools want to be full-time teachers who can be in charge of the class and take care of their students. But for me, I've never dreamed of being one. Of course my parents and probably anyone would say I should try to get a job at junior high or high school because it'll give me better salary and status. However, what I'm trying to do is to quit the high school job and work more hours at kids' school. It sounds like a crazy idea which doesn't include good research and common sense, but the job I do with young children suits me better. Not only that, in the children's curriculum, I don't have to force them to learn grammar rules by heart blindly. There are many tasks that have to be solved and improved at this school, too, but at least, I think it's more interesting and true to what I want.

Monday, August 23, 2010

G for "Guitar"

Today at kids' school, one of the little ones, students from age 3 to 5, came with a small guitar. According to his mom, he is taking classic guitar lessons. I was very surprised! His hands are soft and small, but he can play an instrument with strings. Also I thought it was very cool. I tend to say "Wow, cool!" whenever I hear someone says that s/he plays the musical instrument (I also play one, but I don't think I'm cool enough), but in this case, I think it was a great idea to let kids start practicing musical instruments particularly when they enjoy playing them. When I was very young, I was forced to take music lessons and I hated them. But I really regretted that I had quit practicing piano at an early age. It can be said for anything that the start is always very important. If you take a good start, you will be able to continue it for long with fun. Even though I hated the lessons, I became familiar with music and able to read music thanks to that. So it was a pain worth taking :)

My brother's departure day is coming soon, but he hasn't even started packing. I've told him hundreds of times he should start organizing his stuff early enough to allow himself to make the last-minute changes. But apparently, he IS in the last minute now....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

F for "Flute"

Not as I used to be, but I still want to be a better flute player. I like to play the flute, but I suck. A person who has been playing it for 15 years should be much better. Probably because I didn't join a university orchestra or an ensemble group. Probably because I'm just an occasional flutist; I play only when the opportunity comes, such as annual concerts of the high school I graduated. Or I don't have the talent for flute?? Anyway. Since I have more free time during summer, I'm trying to practice more than usual. Long tones were my least favorite, but I realized that they are essential for better sound and breathing. Every time I play, I feel my muscles are now very weak to support my posture and the shape of my mouth. I get tired pretty soon. But the important thing is to be patient and keep doing.

I found some videos on YouTube that a girl is playing various songs on flute. Her sound is very beautiful, and she's pretty! That was very motivating. She wrote the website she found sheet music. And this is it:

They have back ground music, too! That's amazing. I had a lot of fun trying out some songs. The author of this web site lives in Canada and wants the viewers to write to her. I might do so :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

E for "Envelope"

"Here, there's a letter for you, very important. And it makes you more uneasy....hehehe"

As soon as I came in to the living room this evening after work, my brother told me. From the look of that thick white envelope, I understood instantly that it was a wedding invitation from my best friend and her fiancé. How rude, it doesn't make me uneasy at all! I knew it was coming, and I'm looking forward to their ceremony. Moreover, I'm going to give a speech representing the bride's friends. But yeah, I have to admit that people on "my side" are becoming less and less. Considering my friends' situations, which are not so different from mine, the "time" should have come to me as well long time ago! I didn't even dream of being unmarried till I pass my 20's when I was young. So these days, I'm confused if I'm being single by choice or I ended up missing the chance to be someone's wife.

Everybody says that finding a spouse is not the goal or safety net of your life, it's just one step forward, and I agree to that opinion. But I don't think I'm not determined or strong enough to accomplish my life till the end by myself. It would be much more encouraging if I had someone whom I could talk about my decisions with. He could support me, and I could help him, too. But people around me also say I'm enjoying the precious freedom which I wouldn't be able to gain if I were married, such as working abroad and going out on my own schedule. Yeah, I know. It might really be a matter of priority since you can't have everything you want. If I focused on just starting a family, there would be various ways to do so. I could use dating services, go to matchmaking parties, or ask my friends and family to find a nice guy for me (well, that's least likely to happen, though). But I'm not willing to try those. There are things that I can't give up even though I have the desire to have a decent living standard. My career, people I met in Vancouver, and the network and relationship I created there. It's hard for me to declare but those things seem to have higher priority so far than settling in a marriage. Wait, that sounds like I choose to live alone! Nah...

So now, what am I aiming at? Ahem, in conclusion, since I can't figure out which to give up, wedding bells or adventure, I'll try to get both!

Greedy?? ;)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

D for "Digital Camera"

Since my brother is going to go abroad to study, my sister and I decided to give him a digital camera. Now he has the newest camera in the whole family. Only thing I'm concerned is that if he keeps the habit of taking pictures at the places he visits. Because I wanted him to have the camera so that he can let us know how the country he's going to live look like. While we were choosing his camera, it was revealed that my sister and I have the same camera. I remember that when I got mine, she told me she likes that brand but didn't tell me specifically which model she had. I compared several types and finally decided on one I own. What a coincident! Although we were born as twins, we don't have almost anything in common. But now it seems "twin power" worked :)

Last year, and a few more years before, I left my brother alone with my parents at home. But now, I'm going to be the one to be left. I'm nervous because I perfectly well know that my parents will start worrying about me even more. They are never happy about what I'm doing and what I want to do. Worse than that, I'm not confident enough about my choice of life path to convince my parents that I will be able to support myself and have satisfied life. This feeling comes and goes occasionally, but again, I began to feel anxious about how I'm going to live. It's not a good sign. Whenever I'm occupied with negative thoughts, I miss or ignore any bright side around me. I'll try to keep my chin up and keep moving on.

My friends are going to visit me in October, and I'm going to visit Vancouver in December, though I'll have to start saving money. I just can't wait for those two heart-pumping events!!

The book I'm still reading and almost finish: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Friday, August 13, 2010

C for "Change"

My sister stayed with us for 3 days. She lives apart from us with her husband, but she managed to take very short summer vacation to visit us. Last time she came back, which was on New Year's Day, I was away. So we haven't seen each other for more than a year, though we sometimes "met" on Skype.

All of my family was looking forward to her visit, and we are all happy to have her. But it's strange and a bit sad to find out that we have grown apart. Each of us has spent a long time living in different surroundings, and that during that time, we have gained and developed some kind of characteristics that we didn't use to have. We are still close sisters, but something has changed between us. That is generally called "growing up", I suppose.

On the whole, we had great time with her. I wish her happiness, good health, and not being any skinnier :(

Monday, August 9, 2010

B for "Bon Courage!"

I can't remember how many times I have failed to learn French since I was in university. I took French courses for two years in vain, and learned almost nothing. Only benefit was I got the hang of how to read the combination of alphabets in French and became able to pronounce "r" sound a little better than before. When I first studied this language, I thought I really felt the limit of my brain capacity. I couldn't put any more conjugations or vocabulary. When I tried to cram another word, it just bounced back. So French was something that I was dreaming of learning but kept giving up studying. But this time, I've been listening to the radio program for 3 months. This is because; one, the teachers in the program is really funny and make things easy; two, NHK started streaming service so that we can follow the program even though we missed it live. Not wanting to be too serious, I try not to make much of what I'm doing. Once I start noticing that I'm achieving something that I haven't done, I'll probably fail. Just I'm keeping it my casual task to listen to the program at least on the weekend. This program is approaching to the end, which is in September, and the contents are getting harder. What I should do is to keep listening and enjoying. Bon courage!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A for "Audio Books"

The very first article of this blog is about audio books. The English school I'm working for is now trying to introduce a new method of teaching; have the students read tons of English books of appropriate levels for each student. There is an association which has established this method in Japan, and they have recorded very successful result. I read two books about this strategy and I'm very interested. They said it is also good if we have the audio so that learners can learn correct pronunciation and rhythm of English. That reminded me of e-book library in Vancouver.

I was worried that I could use that service only within Canada, but it worked! I have my account at the library in Vancouver, so that enable me to access to this on-line library. The only downside of this system is that you can find lots of books are already checked out by others. You can place a hold, but of course you have to wait. But this time, I luckily found "The Golden Compass", which I saw on the movie. I don't have the book, so I can't read and listen at the same time, but anyway I needed something that train my ears and brain to understand English. This must be a good start....if I find time to enjoy the whole story, which last for ten hours.

The book I'm reading: "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"