blacklilly: (Default)
So... the past week has been pretty intense.


After the posting of Thursday at 2am, that day myself and a group of people went to the Hello Work office in Yokohama to find out about unemployment benefit.  They were useless.  That afternoon I got two phone calls asking my to come in for interviews.

I spent Thursday night sleepless, then got up at 6.30am to go on a stealth mission to gather my belongings from school, just in case we were not allowed into the building for some reason.  That was a success.  I went back later to look at the contract, was forced to wait for an hour to look at it, while students were waiting in the lobby ready to be taught,  I didn't sign it.  So i went home, jobless, payless and soon to be homeless.

Friday, I spent in a bit of a miserable funk until my friend Mikey called me and cheered me up. 

The weekend.  I had a job interview on Saturday at the British School in Omotesando (near Shibuya).  They offered me a job teaching at elementary school one day a week, a at the school two days teaching IELTS and TOEIC classes.  Interestingly, none of these classes is running at the moment, so I'll have a hand in planning and implementing them I hope.  They did offer me full time, but I thought for the mean time I would do 3 days and find work elsewhere to cover the rest.  I'm loathe to put all my eggs in one basket, as it were.

Saturday night, I had an impromptu date.  We went to a fabulous little wine bar which I would never have known existed, and will probably never be able to find again.  The wine was good, and so was the company.

Sunday I had a well-deserved day of bumming around. 

Monday - job interview and private classes.

Tuesday - training for teaching Grade 5, private class

Weds - training for teaching Grade 6, voice test (for more better-paid work).

Today, I spent getting the bulk of the packing done.  I've been doing bits all week, but I needed a solid day to get things done.  My friend Audrey came to keep my company and motivate.  Then later, two other friends came over to help off-load some boxes.  They've got a big navy house down in Yokosuka, so have plenty of storage space.  So I'm left with kitchen, bathroom, clothes and a sofa to deal with.  Will pack most of the clothes tomorrow, do the bathroom and most of the kitchen.  Then I'm away for a day or so in Ina (free car ride) to get away from everything.

I have a suspicion I may crack once I get away.  While I'm here, I'm stupidly motivated and constantly on edge.  I haven't had time to do anything but what needs to get done, so I've not really let the reality of the situation sink in just yet.  But, at least I'll be among friends.

Housing wise, still nowhere to live, but I have temporary places to stay.  Am looking to move in somewhere around June as I need a month with no rent, otherwise I will have no money left to feed myself before my first paycheck.  Am considering a shared house in Ikebukuro.  It might be nice to have people to come home to, rather than just an empty room...
blacklilly: (A Vad Day)
First, a little something on physical responses to emotions - something I seem to be particularly sensitive to.  After I split up with Gideon I spent the following days vomiting  up anything I ate, and dry-retching the rest of the time.  The poor guy even took a special trip to the chip shop to get me chips which I just pushed around a plate, ate a few of and then promptly met again in the bathroom.  (In fact, the heartbreak diet helped me lose almost a stone in 2 weeks.) It still happens now - that horrible tugging on the metaphorical heartstrings, may not be so metaphorical after all...

"When people have their feelings hurt, what is actually happening inside the body to cause the physical pain in the chest?

Robert Emery and Jim Coan, professors of psychology at the University of Virginia, reply:


Terms such as “heartache” and “gut wrenching” are more than mere metaphors: they describe the experience of both physical and emotional pain. When we feel heartache, for example, we are experiencing a blend of emotional stress and the stress-induced sensations in our chest—muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. In fact, emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the two are inextricably connected.


But how do emotions trigger physical sensations? Scientists do not know, but recently pain researchers uncovered a possible pathway from mind to body. According to a 2009 study from the University of Arizona and the University of Maryland, activity in a brain region that regulates emotional reactions called the anterior cingulate cortex helps to explain how an emotional insult can trigger a biological cascade. During a particularly stressful experience, the anterior cingulate cortex may respond by increasing the activity of the vagus nerve—the nerve that starts in the brain stem and connects to the neck, chest and abdomen. When the vagus nerve is overstimulated, it can cause pain and nausea."


From Scientific American Mind


The reason I'm on the website is because I taught a lesson tonight on scientific research on how people fall in love.  We teach the Headway Advanced text book, which has a whole sick-making chapter on love, and which I am completely and utterly bored by (as are some of my stoical students, bless 'em), so I come up with my own stuff - usually a mixture of older lessons and free stuff from Macmillan Publishing.  Today, though, I was hoping to get them to do some soul-gazing and hugging, but we ran out of time.  Next week, instead of struggling through a sonnet by Shakespeare, I've promised them some Keats and a bit of "Bright Star", which ties in nicely with the idea of love making you more creative.  

Speaking earlier of pain, I've been grinding my teeth in my sleep again.

I sent the designs for my business card off yesterday evening, but got a phone call this morning asking me to resize them, as I had cropped them too smal for the printer.  So I tried to resize them, which didn't work.  So I tried it another way, which also didn't work.  I emailed my Adobe Illustrator guru, who was probably still asleep, and then magically stumbled across the correct tool whilst huffily stuffing a piece of toast in my mouth (yes, I was having breakfast and messing about with graphics at the same time - computers and crumbs...)  I got them back in time for the 1pm deadline, so am expecting a delivery on Friday.  They should be pretty sexy.

Wedding photos went in yesterday, so expect pictures and a write-up sometime over the weekend.  I also hit Inokashira Park in Kichijoji for a Hanami party on Sunday, so maybe so photos from that too.  It was freezing cold and overcast, so maybe not so pretty...

blacklilly: (moody)
My week off was great.  I'll tell you more about it when I manage to get the photos sorted out.  I'm guessing somewhere will allow me to get CD copies of my Holga pictures...

Gideon left on Saturday morning and since then I've been moping about.  Saturday was particularly miserable as I had to go back to my empty apartment and remove traces of him from the place.  I've washed everything and hoovered, but I keep finding his long curly hair about.  Sunday was better, but sitting on trains allows me too much opportunity to sit about festering about things.  So it's been a little rollercoaster of having enough to do to forget about things, and then lengthy periods of making myself angry and upset.  We had a really nice week together, and only got grumpy once (we both had hangovers).  In fact, it was rather like old times, which probably had made the transition back to normality even worse.  At least he was always far far away in England and I could get on without him, but now he's been here to visit, it has rather spoiled things, in that it has dragged up a lot of old feelings, which I thought had been nicely buried.  I recall writing a poem a year or two ago about  him and using the old gardening, digging/burial metaphors to express what I was really trying to say.  I think I even sent it off to a competition, but it didn't get anything but a nice rejection letter.

I've had a few things to keep me busy though.  Yesterday I went to a teaching workshop in the west of Tokyo, which took my mind off things for about 6 or 7 hours.  One thing I really miss is having contact with other teachers who have different experiences to me. It's a great opportunity to share ideas and make contacts.  I was quite pleased to see people scribbling down my ideas for a class exercise on numbers and prepositions while I was talking to the group and going red in the face (as someone pointed out later whilst complementing me on what lovely eyes I have).

Today I took my Powerbook to the Apple shop in Shibuya to get it looked at.  Last week it started playing movies covered in green pixels.  It seems it's only the DVD program causing the bother, as VLC works fine.  The guy in the store told me it was the first time he'd ever come across this problem, and diagnosed it as a problem with the video chip in the computer not being powerful enough or something (this was all in Japanese so I'm not 100% on this).  He suggested I get the logic board replaced, and when I balked at the number he quoted me for the repair he wrote it down just to confirm what I'd heard: 51000yen.  I figure seeing as this is one quarter of the way towards a new computer, I'll just stick with VLC and pray nothing else goes wrong until I've accrued 200 000yen for a MacBook Pro.

I did finally get round to getting another external hardrive (the emergency money fund took a significant hit for this) and after spending an hour installing and partitioning it, it seems to be working fine.  Now all I have to do in consolidate my iTunes into it and I can free up nearly 30GB of space on my internal hard drive.


This afternoon I met Kate for lunch and coffee in Yokohama.  I had a bad hankering for tempura, so I had tempura and soba for lunch and Kate amused me for the afternoon. I think I'm very lucky to have made some really good friends in Japan.  Alas, they're too far away - Rachel's in Gifu, Brooke's in Ina, and Kate is (actually not that far away) in Hon Atsugi.  Still, they're all brilliant and do a good job of keeping in touch with me despite the distance.  Rachel was around on Friday and Saturday (having returned from her 6 week holiday) and did an excellent job of keeping my and Gideon's spirits up until the bus whisked him away to the airport.  Then she stuck around in Shinagawa with me until I felt better, and then she went home.  But she's been emailing and calling me to check I'm not moping too much.  They're all great. I'd love to get them all in a room together.  It would be excellent.

After sorting out the HD I had to do the whole bento lunch-making thing.  I cooked up a batch of dahl (which is probably one of the best foods in the world) and some pumpkin samosas, and a huge pan of dashi for soup etc.  I've decided to start up the food blog I mentioned, and I think they'll be one of the first things I'll post on there.  More info on that when I post something.

Right, well there's more Supernatural to watch now, so I'm going to lust over hot angry men...

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)
Just in case anybody wonders if I hang about in Akihabara, I don't.

Tokyo man goes on stabbing spree.

Weird, as one of my students was telling me last night about a man in a nearby town in Yokohama who was randomly
stabbed in the leg.

Now I have to decide if I stay in and carry on writing an essay for a teaching certificate or I get a life and go out for dinner with a friend. I'm erring towards getting away from my computer and developing some sort of life.
blacklilly: (Default)
It was raining rather heavily as I started work yesterday and one of students came through the door, remarking on the weather:

" Isn't the weather bad?" she said.
" Well, yes, it's cold and wet. But rain in good," I said, pointing at the evidently thirsty trees outside on the street.
" Ah, you are English," she replied. In our ensuing conversation I think I put the idea in her head that English people like walking in the rain without umbrellas.

Next a private student, when I asked him what he knew about London, said: " It rains a lot."

Later that day, teaching a couple of teenage boys( we were learning about superlatives):

"What's the most popular food in England?" I asked.
" Cereal."
" Hmmm, maybe."
" Toast."
" Yeah, we like toast, but so do the Japanese."

I went on to tell them about fish and chips and we looked at a picture in their textbook. Underneath there was an information box in Japanese which told them that English food was disgusting. They found this hilarious and started making vomiting motions. "That's not true!" I said. " うそぅ!" to which they fell about laughing. I shall be having words with the textbook department about keeping their opinions to themselves.

It's still raining today. I have to clock in at work and then (hopefully) pop to Tsutaya and get a video to watch tonight, and then go to City Hall on a work errand. Then I might do the washing-up...

All this rain does make me slightly nostalgic for London.

Rewriting

May. 12th, 2007 12:57 am
blacklilly: (Default)
Yesterday was my day off between travelling around and going back to work today. I had intended to stay in bed late, read a book, and then crawl out at some point and get food. But it turned out I had more energy than I thought as I sprang out of bed and hurtled round the supermarket, then walked into town to drop some manju and mochi gifts off at school. I picked up my copy of "Year Zero" which had arrived in my absence and ran back home. In between all this I also did my laundry and had it all folded nicely away by 5 o'clock.

So I decided that it would be a really good idea to rewrite my story "Exit", the one I mentioned in a previous post about having taken a year to write. I rewrote it in the first person. 2000 words in I wanted to throttle not only the narrator, but myself as well. I cooked dinner and then watched episodes 19, 20 and 21 of "Heroes", before going back to the story and shaking my head at it.

Yasuko dropped over my plants and the new 14 hole DMs I bought in Tokyo, and I played with the o-mi-ya-ge I bought for people's birthday's whilst on holiday. Eventually I called it a night and forced myself to turn the computer off.

So I sat in bed playing with the really cool kaleidoscope I bought in Nagano and thought about the story, wrote down some new ideas, and will attempt to write something a little different tomorrow. I'm getting really quite fed up with the damned thing now. It has been following me about for over a year now and I have expended far too many words on it.

Back to work today. My brain is not in gear, but I hope the very long rest from teaching will inject some new energy into things. Tonight we have Yasuko's leaving party. And then I have two more days off. Hurrah.
blacklilly: (Default)
After the near all-nighter of Saturday and only five hours sleep, I managed a personal sleep record of 11 hours on Sunday night, waking up feeling quite lovely yesterday. Today is when my brain gets back at me for it. "How dare you remain unconscious for so long?" it said at about 4am. I lay in bed for a good hour with a line going round in my head which I'm going to have to use in a story now. I then finally gave in, wrote the line down, and got up to finish reading [livejournal.com profile] docbrite's "D*U*C*K" which I started yesterday afternoon. I fell back asleep at some point and was barraged by strange dreams. I over-slept by an hour and now feel pretty nasty.

The dreams are all bitty and keep coming in and out of focus, so I think I'm going to have to write them down over the course of the day as they come to me. It's a good thing Tuesday's are pretty easy teaching days, particularly if my 8pm cancels and I get to go home at 6pm. Which reminds me, I think I have a kids class today. Nuts.
blacklilly: (Default)
Given that I have come to verbal standstill with tales of my Japanese adventures here's a little something I did with the kids last weekend. Pardon my total lack of artistic ability.

Thumbprint Story )

Apologies for the rather unsightly lines on the pics. I think it's due to the fluorescent lighting, which also tends to give me headaches.

Oh, and to finish, here's a pic one of the kids did for my wall. Note the attention to detail on the cat shoes. I was very impressed.


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