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 days...no, 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!)