blacklilly: (dean you're soooo sexy)
The weather this morning was amazing.  Just as I left for work, the first rumbles of thunder were heard overhead and the rain came gushing down.  I quickly swapped into my skull-print wellington boots and headed out into the storm.  By the time I got to the station (4 mins) the rain was pelting down and the thunder overhead was AMAZING!!!  We must have been under the centre of the storm as the thunder absolutely ripped apart the sky above us.  It was all I could do not to jump up and down gleefully on the train platform, but I''m sure someone must have spotted the huge grin.  Interestingly, I'm just this minute listening to a lesson on Japanese onomatopoeia and how to describe thunder...

So I booked a holiday to Bali for Christmas.  Much as certain people may feel this is a rather rash decision on my part, given my various financial commitments, I need a frelling holiday, somewhere that isn't Japan.  I haven't had a holiday since last Christmas, and I haven't left Japan since May 2008, so I'm busting to get away.  I want to go somewhere reasonably quiet, in the mountains, and preferably warm.  As it happened, it was rather a spur of the moment decision.  I was at work mulling over what I wanted to do for the Christmas holiday, when the idea of Bali popped into my head.  It has long been on my list of places to go, but I was at a loss for what to do there, as me and beaches don't often go well together.  And then it hit me!  Yoga!!!  There are so many yoga websites I read which have advertisements for overseas yoga retreats, so I googled a few places and eventually found somewhere which people seemed to highly recommend up in the hills of Ubud.  It's a week of yoga and meditation, spa treatments and wandering about in the jungle.  Most importantly, it's going to be really quiet, especially on the one day when they run a voluntary silence for 24 hours.  I'm around for a day and a half after the retreat finishes so I'm planning to go stay in a family compound somewhere in Ubud and check out life when you're not staying in a luxurious hotel room. 

As a result, I'm limiting myself to living on 500yen per day, which is entirely doable, as long as I remember my lunch.  As it happens, I've not been feeling too hot since the weather changed, so not going out or even doing anything suits me fine.

Now, this book has totally bypassed me before, but I have been made aware of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" by Front Row and Women's Hour on Radio 4.  The more I hear about it, the more worried I become.  According to what I've read, Gilbert went to Bali to "find herself" or whatever, thus sparking a flood of "women of a certain age" (whatever the hell "a certain age" is) heading to Bali to meditate and attempt to find love.  Which makes me wonder who I'm going to be on holiday with...  I for one, am not a "woman of a certain age", especially as I'm still passing for 26 years old at the oldest estimates from drunken strangers (beer goggles do me wonders).  I'm certainly not going to Bali to find love.  All I want is some peace and quiet, lots of yoga, and to chill out.  And to eat all the vegetarian Indonesian food I can.  So, I may have to get a t-shirt made which says: "I do not Eat, Pray or Love".  It's a suitably grammatically dubious statement, so could pass for a Japanese creation.  Maybe I could sell it...?
*       *       *
Attention-seeking Parrot

This guy is part of a pet shop in Asagaya.  The shop is full of cats, dogs, rabbits, a giant tortoise, masturbating monkeys (it's a long story), and has a HUUUUGGGEEE dog who lols and slops about the place.  The shop absolutely stinks.  I don't know what animal rights laws Japan has in place for such places, but it would be shut down in the UK.  This guy stands outside and occasionally responds to the call "Banzai!" by raising his wings and posing.  He also loves having his photo taken, as evidenced by the following:

blacklilly: (Angsty)
A friend of mine just called me to see if I was okay.

"I just read on "Let's Japan" that teachers didn't get paid," she said, "so I was just checking on you."

Now, there is an element of truth in this.  Two months ago some of the managers were late being paid because money had to be brought in from a different part of the company, be that overseas schools, or other divisions.  They were 5 days late in being paid.  Then in October, there was allegedly a cock-up in account details between the company and the post office which resulted in some teachers being paid a day late.  However, everyone was paid, even the office staff.

I've been aware of this since it happened back in September, but I kind of steeled myself for the worst and carried on.  Anyone else would be looking for a job elsewhere, but there are so many teachers who are doing the same thing as me - hoping to ride things out, and that money will start coming in again - that we've lulled ourselves into forgetting about it.  My situation, however, is slightly different from other teachers.  A quarter of my salary goes every month into paying off debts, which basically leaves me with very little money to do other things.  I've got pretty good at budgeting in order to get through the month and still have some kind of social life.  I could definitely be saving more money, and with the recent move, and having to get my computer fixed, I'm left with very little in the way of emergency cash. 

Here are issues with finding another job:
  • I can't afford to find somewhere else to live, what with deposits, key money etc. I've also just moved to a very nice, perfectly located apartment and am loathe to move again.
  • Most other jobs at a similar level, in total, pay less than I get now, if you factor in the housing subsidy I get along with bonus payments (when they're good).
  • The job market is pretty stagnant, if not declining.
  • Moving to another job may mean having to join the National Health scheme, including pension payments, which totals around 30000yen  per month (that's £200 or $300) coming out of my paycheck, a massive increase on what I pay now as my company covers private insurance premiums, and my working contract means I don't have to pay into the pension scheme.  This may also make me liable to make back payments which could come in at 500 000yen or so, an amount of money I have no way to pay back.
Basically, I feel trapped, but with the threat of losing my job, and ending up homeless in a foreign country, I need to do something.  Fortunately, the same friend has already put in a good word for me at her company, and I'll be forwarding my CV to them tomorrow.  I'm glad she thought of me, but I also wish she hadn't brought the subject up!

All I seem to do is worry about money.  The same friend wanted us to go out for dinner but I had to put her off until next month, as I don't have the money budgeted to do it.  Another friend suggested we go to Korea for a short break at Xmas.  I really want to go as I haven't left the country for over a year and a half and I need a break from this craziness, but with the threat of unemployment looming, is it really such a good idea?

Only a another year and I will be debt free.  I can't wait.  I feel like my life has been on hold the whole time.  One thing I will be doing once I've got rid of everything I owe, is work my hardest never to get into debt again, even if it means going without things.

There's a week and half until the next pay day and I will be waiting with baited breath for it to arrive. 

I don't think I'll be sleeping much tonight.
blacklilly: (Default)
It seems like a good while since I actually made a proper post about anything other than what my favourite colour is, or what kind of mythical creature I may be. I'm not going to promise one now. More a brief summary.

Firstly, I guess some apology for the absence of excitement going on here. I left you hanging with the "getting kicked out of the gym" story, but you're gonna have to wait. One of the reasons I've been quiet for so long is that I have been frantically studying for my Japanese exam for the past couple of months. It took place yesterday, and as I walked out of the university building back to the train station a considerable weight was lifted from my hunched shoulders. I've spent much of the past couple of months trying to get verb and adjective conjugations into my head, along with some kanji, and the pesky katakana which still continues to evade my brain despite looking at the damn stuff for over two years. The past two weeks I banned anything but Japanese books as train reading, and pretty much everything else got thrown to the sidelines as well. So, I am now determined to get back to some kind of normality. If my paycheck had been anything other than blisteringly disappointing this month, I would also be attempting to have some fun. But we can't have everything, can we?

The other reason for the silence and the hunched shoulders is the "slump" I've been having for the past month or two. Life alone and abroad has peaks and toughs, but I think this is the longest and deepest trough I've had to brave. I think it all actually began with getting kicked out the gym, and since then I've been feeling rather defensive and grouchy about everything. I don't wish to trivialize it, as it's not really very funny having to get up in the morning and immediately deal with a barrage of abuse from my own brain; nor do I want to be dramatic, as I'm not exactly about to throw myself in front of the next Keikyu Line train either (though I am tempted to get myself a shotgun and take out some old-ladies on bicycles). That's why I made the post a few days ago asking for someone to remind me about some good stuff. I've learned how to get myself out of these things, even if it does take me a while to realise what's going on. Anyway, thanks to the TWO people who could think of something nice. You reminded me of a couple of things I'd forgotten about, so I'll be taking that all on board.

As usual, I don't seem to have any money. Last month I saved 30000yen towards my emergency money fund (just in case I need to get out of Japan). However, last months' highly unusual paycheck, a whopping 40000yen more than this month, gave me a false sense of solvency which has been rudely squashed this month. (My friend in Nagoya, who also seems to never have any money, has it worse than me, though. She told me the other day that her weight goes up and down by half a stone every month depending on whether it's the start or the end, as this dictates how much money she has for food - and she has more money than me!). It sucks that it has to be December, when most people are partying hard and I need new things like socks, and new bed sheets and pillows. Maybe Santa will send me some stripey socks?

Anyway, given that I've been silent for so long I'm going to make you a list of things I need to tell you about:

1) Getting kicked out the gym
2) Going to Osaka and having a fabulous time in a forest
3) Some thoughts on books and films and music
4) Err, other stuff - like crazy people on the train, how much I hate old ladies, and why old men love me.

So I promise to get round to all that, as well as Xmas cards ASAP.

A nice thing to finish. I went to the bakery (which also has a huge coffee bean selection) near my house tonight, and after getting my loaf of bread sliced they gave me coffee for no other reason than that I was there. So I sat at a table surrounded by bread, coffee and Japanese crockery, and drank black bitter coffee out of a dainty little cup. Then they gave me calendar on my way out. I'm going there more often on a Monday night.
blacklilly: (Default)
Lately time seems to have flown away from me. Somehow it's almost the end of September and I'm not sure what I've done over the past few months to account for the passage of time. Obviously, I've done a few things - I've been to Ina, had a few nice trips to the beach, and... done some other stuff, none of which I can recall at the moment.

An interesting attempt to test my Japanese ability was exercised a couple of weeks ago when I went to see Detroit Metal City at the cinema. Here's a trailer:

I rather enjoyed it, and the music was not bad either.

Today is a national holiday and I'm planning on doing little more than popping to the supermarket to get some food. I might attempt to scrapbook some of my odds and ends. I still collect random bits of paper and ticket stubs and they've started to pile up somewhat.

I've been mulling over "the future" recently. I'm not sure I can hack much more time at my current company. They drive me slowly mad with their money-making obsession, though that's what you get for working for a psychopathic corporation. They've recently started to "downsize" schools, and our regional office will be moving into the big classroom in my school because they're cutting costs. I also heard at the weekend that the rest of the Head Office staff are moving to Ikebukuro to cheaper offices. All of which sounds rather worrying. I may need to start putting aside more money just in case I find myself jobless.

Anyway, I've been mulling over the PGCE option. I could come back to England and endure 2 years of purgatory teaching at secondary schools and then be able to teach in international schools, which would net me a little more money and a better quality of life. England sounds (from the news and radio reports I've come across) like rather a nasty place to live at the moment, with the whole boom-bust thing going on, shocking energy bills and too much debt. With the bursary and funding I'd get for teaching I would still need to find extra money every month, which would entail getting a job, in addition to teaching and studying. Sounds a little hellish.

Anyway, I'm going to plan my lunch for the week (it's going to be brown-rice and miso for the rest of the month after a mysteriously large phone bill - money I wanted to buy a new winter coat, or save for the approaching job-apocalypse) then go shopping, cook a bit, study Japanese, and attempt to figure out an idea for an SF story my student requested. Or I may sit on my sofa and stare into space, which seems to happen a lot lately.

I might try to cheer myself up, but I've started the day listening to Joy Division, so I don't foresee much cheering going on.
blacklilly: (Default)
I've been in a bad mood for about 3 weeks now. Much of it is related to money. I don't really want to go into the whole situation, but I discovered in this month's paycheck that I now have to pay residence tax every month to the tune of about £75. This doesn't seem like a great deal, but when (after various obligations including loans, bills) you end up living on £350 for 5 weeks, you may understand my misery. I'm a bit pissed off that no one saw fit to actually warn me about this, and that after a year and a half working for this company I still haven't got a payrise, even though I'm well aware that other people have, and despite now being at the biggest school in Japan. Apparently, I'm meant to console myself with the thought of earning elusive bonuses by interviewing new students, keeping the old ones and helping the school make its astronomical financial goal every month. Despite having achieved this for the past ten months we didn't do it this month, which meant one of our managers was in tears to her boss on the phone on Wednesday night, and was receiving serious sounding phone calls from Kaicho yesterday. My birthday window-shopping trip with my friend Kazumi was postponed owing to visits from head-office and I had to miss the first 20 minutes of my Japanese class to entertain a time-waster of a visitor in the hope of making some money. I should work as a hostess for all the sweet-talking I do. I'd be better-dressed and better-paid too.

My problem, as Kazumi pointed out to me, is that I'm too nice and am not very good at saying no, as I'm so convinced that everyone will start to hate me if I do. So I get taken advantage of. This may sound like a bit of shock to certain people who think I already am one, but I think it's about time I became a Bitch.

So I've been advertising for private students, which is not something I want to do as I like having weekends. I'm meeting two of them tomorrow for trial lessons. One is an elderly lady and the other is a law student. the former I'm meeting in Yokohama station, the other at Shinagawa (at 10am).

What pisses me off most of all is that I am unable to do the things I want to do. I've been unable to go swimming because I can't afford the gym membership; I can't go to Japanese lessons (I want to take the JLPT test in December and I can't really do it by myself) but I can neither afford them, nor find the time for them since trawling for private students, and I can't go to visit my friends or anywhere in Japan. Moan moan moan.

I've been looking for other jobs but so far there's little on offer with better pay, though the working hours and pressure are a bit better.

Oh, and here's a story about being worked to death.

On a more positive note, and yes I have budgeted for it, I'm visiting the Kirin Beer Factory this afternoon with some students. We're having a factory tour, then a 20 minute "beer-tasting" and finally a trip to the Kirin restaurant, where the food had better be cheap, or it'll be rice and miso soup for the rest of the week. I would like to drown to sorrow, but as I observed in a pub somewhere once, "sorrow knows how to swim".
blacklilly: (Default)

Read some books, did some writing, drew a mandala, did my Japanese homework, listened to music (and my friend Lou performing Vivaldi at the ??? Church in St Johns Smith Square for Radio 3), drank a glass of wine.

As of 17.37 today, I have read a book, walked to the supermarket, tidied up, had a kip, watched yesterday's Strictly Come Dancing on Youtube, and eaten a muffin. Somehow it doesn't quite seem as... successful.

Worries continue as the e-ticket for my plane tickets hasn't come through, nor has the money been taken from my credit card account. I had fun on Friday morning, though, trying to get my RATM ticket from the Loppi machine in Lawson. The shop staff were wonderfully helpful, but had no success in locating the tickets on the machine. Fortunately the person who alerted me to the tickets in the first place bought me one in Tokyo. Yokkata! I think it may well coincide with my first weekend in Yokohama, and seems a fitting way to celebrate.

I still have the miseries. Not sure what the problem is. The lack of daylight?
blacklilly: (Default)
A good thing I got out of bed and "jacked-in" this morning, otherwise I would have missed the email from my sister offering my super cheap flights home in March. So my details are winging their way to her right now. I also got to have a brief chat on Skype with my mum. Which makes for an unusual start to the day.

There are many things to do today, but so far I haven't left my bed for longer than it takes to put the kettle on and the rice in the cooker.

1) Go to the City Office and tell them I'm allowed to stay one more year, and that I have a new passport number.
2) Go to Lawson, on the other side of town, and buy a ticket to see Rage Against the Machine in Tokyo next Feb.
3) Build up the bravery to withdraw 9000yen from my account to pay for above ticket.

And all this on top of going to work.

I hate fucking money. Lately I don't seem to have any by the end of the month. I even sat down and analysed my rather anal accounting sheets for the past year, and cannot account for it. (I even made a bloody bar chart so I could see it visually). My spending is no greater lately. And what really annoys me is that worrying about money has suddenly made me quite miserable, which leads to me getting upset about stuff I shouldn't. I haven't got upset over anything since... Blodin died, and that at least was something to get upset about. I think I'm getting rather obsessive about it. Every time I spend money (like 100 yen (or 50p) for a bottle of water) I wince. I allowed myself a night out last night and it came to more than I was expecting. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. And of course, I get obsessed with things I need, like a cushion for my new-ish chair at work so I can start sitting up properly; new concealer (yes, this is a necessity - I am scopping old Rimmel concealer out of its pot with a Q-tip because I'm so tight.)

On better topics, I was cheered yesterday to receive an email asking for my "Introducing Laura" poster to be sent to the new school in Yokohama. Looks like the move will be the first weekend of February. I cheered me right up.


blacklilly: (Default)

April 2011

34567 89


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 05:00 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios