Archive | December, 2013

Christmas Greetings and Salutations

26 Dec

Belated Christmas wishes, for the half of the world who are onto boxing day anyway. The rest of you I guess I still made it just in time.

Boxing day in NZ would involve left overs and playing with chrissy toys, and as adults, BBQ, wine and a mildly competitive pissed petanque competition at mum and dads. I gather that is still what goes on, just sans the mum and dad bit now.  Here in Japan though I sit with a coffee, trying to muster the strength to clean up the aftermath of kids getting too many toys, wrapping paper, roasting pans, the usual housey shit and then there is sorting through the THIRTY pieces of paper Shou came home with on his last day of school on Tuesday (tomorrow’s post).

I’m getting used to Christmas in Japan. I will never do it the ‘Japanese’ way though, as that involves fried chicken and cake on Christmas eve. Actually, let me rephrase that. As a gaijin in Japan I have the prerogative to do Christmas twice, the Japanese way and the my way. We had the cake and chicken version last Friday, with the European Stylist.

A surprise to a lot of people I saw on the 24th, we were not doing anything that night. But its Christmas and you’re like a gaijin and all, aren’t you meant to do it right? Aha, but having Christmas dinner on Christmas day is the right way, tis why its called Christmas bloody dinner and not Christmas-eve-dinner slash KFC and cream cake wonderland.

Now, if I was truly wanting my kids to have the full NZ experience, I wouldn’t have sent them off to school and winter club. I would have demanded my husband take the day off work and kept the kids home. I used to get upset that hub didn’t think the most important ‘holiday’ for me wasn’t important enough to take a single day off work.

Now?

Fuck, it is SOOOO much easier getting Christmas dinner ready and setting the table, cleaning the house, singing really loud out of tune carols when you are doing it solo. As it happened I picked the kids up at 4 so I could bring them home, and finish the dinner prep with a wine in hand – almost tradition itself. Not sure if its even legal in NZ to prepare Christmas dinner without a drink in hand. I had put in my special roast pork order at the supermarket. I am an amazement to the meat guy there. One Christmas I’ll have to invite him over just so I can feed him some pork crackling. So he knows I’m serious when I say I want a 2kg cut with as much white shit as possible thanks. He did a stellar job this year.

Roast pork, roast vegies, mashed spuds and lashings of gravy. Bubbles, wine, cheese and strawberry and cream santas.

Granny K had asked me earlier in the day if I wanted her to get the rice ready. I said that I didn’t mind if she brought rice to the table, eventhough I would prefer if she didn’t, but under no circumstances was she to bring it for anyone else or to even suggest that they might want some.

So she rocked up to the table with 5 big rice balls and a bowl of mikans. Rice is better for you she said, and everyone should be having a mikan before having the fatty meat and gravy.

If I’d have had a concrete wall in sight I would have hit my head against it, repeatedly, or at the very least hit her head against it. But one must make compromises, so I just let out a really over exaggerated sigh, polished off my bubbles and held my glass out to hub for more please.

Ryu was chowing his dinner back – under the deluded impression that you could start opening the prezzies under the tree as soon as you had finished dinner. Which, to be fair, was what I said – but meant after dinner, for everyone, was complete. Marina inhaled a rice ball without me even noticing, but still ate her real dinner, and Shou looked at me to gage how cross I’d be if he reached for the rice. I gave him the eye.

He ate his spuds and gravy.

I remember a couple of years ago I went mental at Granny K, and the kids. Its one fuckin day of the year I expect you to eat your dinner without rice, to murmur thankyous and nom noms and yum yums, even if you don’t like mashed potatoes or gravy… ??? Anyhoo, I let it slide a bit this year. Granny K ate all her Christmas dinner, the kids ate theirs, I savoured mine, and hub had seconds, lots of wine, and whispered in a very loud voice about it being Wednesday… Business Time….

And thus, Christmas dinner was over for another year. Time to rip into the prezzies. Here Santa arrives in the morning with a few random prezzies, a mikan and some chocolate in a stocking and the family prezzies are opened after Christmas dinner. The Santa favorite was a robotic spider that Shou got. Absolutely hate the thing and can’t understand why Santa would even get something like that. Shou thinks Santa is awesome.

And now I am blatantly going to plug one of the prezzies the kids got – well, actually Marina and Ryu both got one, slightly different varieties. They are AWESOME. And the only negative I can think of is that the radio channels for the remotes are the same, so for a good half an hour Ryu was in hysterics cause he wasn’t even using his controller and his car was flipping and walking sideways and shit – thanks Marina.

light up stuntmicrodrive

They both cost about 2500 yen (30 dollars) and are part of the Fast Lane RC series – the green one is a Microdrive and the red is a light up stunt. Those wheels flash different colors and the front wheels can criss cross over each other. It can move just on its back wheels and basically can almost walk sideways if it hits a wall. It is the absolute bomb. Marina’s one, the green one can drive upside bloody down. It hits something and flips over and just keeps on bloody going. The red one is age 6 and up and the green one is 8. The tiny remote controlled helicopter Shou got is age 15 up. Obviously I don’t take much notice. All three of them have good controller skills. Thanks Mario and Luigi.

Can’t wait till the weather clears up and they can take them out onto the bumpy lawn.

Right, and thats the Christmas post. I got hub a new leather bag for work and he got me a kettle…

Merry Christmas to you all. Have a fabulous festive season.

 

SDGH&QL

 

 

 

 

Need to get back into it.

23 Dec

This whole stopping FB regime has basically meant I spend less time on the computer full stop. It’s a good thing but the blogging lags so appologies.

Had the European Stylist staying all of last week. She is on a plane back to her homeland, boy, and awaiting festives festivities as we speak. Was absolutely fabulous having her to stay. Bar the ARASHI concert (separate post), we just hung at home, she helped with my three English parties, we had ladies lunches and caught up on the last three years.

Which is a silly thing to say really as social media and the online community mean we keep up with shit all the time and are just talking about shit we all ready know when we catch up in real life. Its kinda sad. Imagine in the old days – when people who hadn’t seen each other in person for three years ACTUALLY didn’t know what was going on with the other person. Man. EPIC catchups right there. Kinda want to ditch all my FB friends just so I can have EPIC catch ups later 🙂

The latest news around here is that as of 4.34pm, we have NO WATER. Our house has its own well, 100 ft deep. Solar Panal Man’s company put it in – cause they are originally a well and water works company. He came round tonight and tried, but it was getting dark and he didn’t know if it was the computer part of the well or the pully part of the well. Today is the Emporor’s birthday so a public holiday.

FORTUNATLEY, Japan doesn’t holiday on Christmas. In fact by the 25th Christmas is over for most Japanese people. They have fried chicken and cake on the 24th -followed by prezzies for a lot of them. Today I took Shou ad Marina to a ‘Christmas candle decoration making’ thing at the town hall. The teacher said she hoped we would put them on our ‘Christmas table’ tomorrow night (24th).

Thats just how it is here. Christmas is a school day, a work day, a kinder day…

and therefore a great opportunity to get the REAL Christmas dinner ready without kids in face. Wahooo.

If, we have water…..

SDGH&QL

Really not much to report

12 Dec

Very normal in the gaijinwife house this week. Formatting, teaching English, trying to wrap and hide Christmas prezzies without kids finding out, stopping fights over who gets to open that days homemade advent calender slash envelope with awesome drawing of reindeer or similar – cause I’m such an artist, and of course trying to organize the chaos in preparation for the European Stylist’s visit.

Two more sleeps. She arrives on Saturday evening to much loud noise and fanfare at the airport. Then I imagine it will be a frantic 7 days of learning part B of the Arashi dance so we don’t let the side down in Fukuoka next weekend.

Have three English parties next week so if anyone has any Chrissy game ideas that I can use to decide the order of who picks first in the secret santa then please do comment. I stormed the 100 yen shop today to buy 24 prezzies, wrapped them up in newspaper cause wrapping paper is more expensive than the gift itself, and then promptly forgot what the fuck I wrapped up – and there are three groups ages ranging 5 to 10. Ah well. Should be interesting.

On the dance front I was at Marina’s usual Wednesday class last night when a mum asked me (we were in the loby of the city hall not in the actuall dance room) if I had the white outfit sorted for the hip hop Christmas song – for the December 21st recital. I said no, there was no need as Shou wasn’t dancing it. She looked a bit startled – for sure the lad was dancing it.

I told her I’d cleared it with the teacher when we first found out about the recital. Shou has only been to like five classes, the first three of which he apparantly pissed round doing faff all. He can now do a very retarded running man – well, if I’ve had enough wine and squint thats what it looks like. Bless him. I do have faith he’ll conquor though. He has quite the talent for shit so its just a matter of time.

Anyhoo, the other mums all piped and said they thought Shou was dancing too so I threw up my hands and said right then, I’ll go and check with the teacher. This is Marina’s dance teacher -the overall owner of the company and who is always at the hip hop classes too, collecting money in a tin.

  • Gaijinwife: Hi ya, we sorted that Shou wasn’t expected to appear in the recital on the 21st aye?
  • Sensei: um, no. He’s dancing.
  • Gaijinwife: no he’s not.
  • Sensei: yes he is
  • Gaijinwife: no he’s not.
  • Sensei: yes he is
  • Gaijinwife: well, he doesn’t think he is, and we both thought he was just practicing the running man cause we are paying for hip hop classes and that he can dance in front of people when he has a bit more confidenc.
  • Sensei: It will be good for him.
  • Gaijinwife: I’ll have to check with him. Otsukare sama deshita. Osaki ni shitsureishimasu.

I came out. Relayed conversation to eagerly waiting mothers – to round of laughter, cause I’m such an entertainer and all. Came home, confirmed with Shou that he didn’t want to dance and then emailed the teacher. She said she ‘understood’ and left it at that.

What I don’t get is that I clearly remember the exhcange of words I had with the teacher, that went something like ‘Shou’s just started and can bearly do the running man, let alone, do it whilst simultaneously turning 360 degrees and clapping above his head. The rest of the girls have been doing this for TWO years, surely he doesn’t need to be in the Christmas recital (in front of thirty hearing and sight impaired vestlings – so probably good chance for first recital but nevermind). She said OK, she wanted him to but she understood if he didn’t want to and that was fine.

I find myself second guessing and I shouldn’t cause I have lived here for nearly half my bloody life and I know what I heard.

Ahh, never the mind. Stay calm and drink more wine and all that.

SDGH&QL

 

 

 

 

On the Work Thing

8 Dec

Remember the University replied to my email a while back by saying ‘oh, that’s a shame we can’t use you for translations all of next year’ – when I was hoping for them to kind of stop functioning at the news ya know, and offer me something really sweet that would mean I could sit in my trackies all day, translating in between having coffee mum groups, doing minimal housework, teaching English and attending the needs of my three children, husband and Japanese MIL. Perhaps a few bon bons and daily episodes of Grey’s and the Mentalist and shite.

Actually I think I might have mentioned it in reply to a comment but anyhoo, after feeling very dejected I decided I would pull some of my trump cards in perhaps February. Call on the people I used to work with who are a decent way up the food chain now. My plan had been to push them to employ me in aforementioned bon bon scoffing dream position from April. But then hub reminded me that the dependant stuff goes from January through to December and if I was to be removed as his dependant I should do it from then.

So I wrote them another email to ask if the previous ‘we’ll try but not sure’ reply actually meant a shit show of anything. A SEVEN agonizing hours later I got an email saying they were working out budgets and would get back to me on Friday – THREE fuckin days away. But still, it was better than a flat out no. They are after all centralizing all translations from April and using an outsourced company – that is on campus but a separate business unit if that makes sense.

So I wake up on Friday – the day after Thursday, the day we got our ARASHI boy band tickets. I can’t work out exactly where we are sitting but it definitely isn’t one metre away from the stage like last time. But its the atmosphere that counts right!

Just before lunch on Friday I get THE email. The university will MEET my minimum requirement. The dependent’s limit is 103 man. To make it worthwhile to go over this, and thus have to pay social security, national pension, local taxes etc, you need to earn 200 man at least. The university did their homework too. And in the email listed all the expenses I would need to pay when going over 103 man in income per year. Totals about 80 man or 9000 NZ dollars.

SO, they couldn’t put it in writing BUT they could definitely SAY they could give me 200 man plus worth of translations per year.

I currently do about a third that for them but with my English classes it takes it up to my limit. SO, if the university can guarantee me 200 man, plus my English and other stuff – we are singing happy songs.

Not happy enough to scoff bon bons but still happy. So hey, persistence works. Now I just need to replace my Mac, cause this piece of shit is well, a piece of shit.

And in other quick news we had the PTA end of year party on Friday night. Hub had a drinking thing on Saturday so I went on my own. All the teachers went and I would say about 8 of the 20 households that make up the Primary school were represented. Got quite pissed, along with Coffee Chiemi and her husband, the PTA head, and a couple of other parents and the Vice Principal – who fortunately, or unfortunately, I’m not quite sure which, did not end up belting out AKB48 songs, complete with moves, at the Kareoke in the hills.

I was feeling a bit delicate for the kindergarten end of year performance show on the Saturday – but got through my kinder PTA head speech OK. Looks like the dance Marina and M-chan do is paying off. Clearly screeds ahead of the others which of course, as a mum, I am allowed to say. Ryu was also very good. He is so serious though. Bows right till the curtains are complete closed. The other kids were poking their head through and shit so I yelled out ‘Ryu, Kakkoii’ about three times and on the last time he shyly lifted his eyes up and smiled. It was super cute and quite entertaining.

They got a huge bag of chips and lollies at the end. Marina ate all hers and half of Ryu’s and then promptly declared she had a sore stomach (no shit sherlock), and vomited all over the kitchen floor. Needless to say she did not go to dancing that night!

Right, really want to get this 40 page chapter of editing and formating off today.

SDGH&QL

Well, his mum is a gaijin…

6 Dec

Sometimes along the road of things teachers and other people coming into contact with my children just have to accept the fact that they do shit cause a) that’s how I do it, or b) it’s not particularly what I’m teaching them but because I was not born with an inherent ‘wa’ of knowledge I don’t tell them to do shit the ‘Japanese way’, or c) cause they are kids and it has nothing to do with half gaijin DNA.

Two instances from yesterday, which was PTA at the school day.

Shou’s teacher told HTB’s mum and I that both boys only use one hand when they eat. They try and teach them to pick up which ever bowl or plate they are eating from with their left hand and then eat with their right. Remember Japan is a country where a meal can consist of anywhere from between three and 97 separate small plates or bowls.

I told the teacher that I still use a kid plate for Shou – one of those plastic plates with division on them. Kind of forces me to make sure the kids are getting at least three different things for dinner, even if one usually only has a mikan or a couple of slices of picked raddish. Its easier to wash up and easier to get the kids to bring their own plates up to the sink if they are only taking a plate, a miso soup bowl and a cup, vs a rice bowl, a miso bowl, a pickle plate, an ‘okazu’ plate, a cup, and a small to medium-sized plate for their mikan peel. And of course the chopsticks, which inevitably fall off whatever on the way to the sink.

But anyway, what I was trying to get across was that at home we use one plate – and if I’m cooking NZ food then it usually all goes on one big normal dinner plate – and therefore picking up the plate with your left hand to eat with your right is hard if you have a big heavy plate and a knife and fork. My kids rarely use a knife and fork together cause I’m still on small child autopilot whereby I just cut every fuckin thing up into mouthsize bites. But I was trying to culturally impart on the teacher that not all countries use ten plates per meal and drink their soup straight from the bowl.

Lightbulb moment – of course. It’s a gaijin thing. Sensei hadn’t figured that into the equation.

So what was HTB’s excuse then…

Oh, he’s just going through a stage where he wont listen to anybody. I don’t know why I felt the need to try and defend Shou’s behavior. I mean he’s bloody seven. Its a small miracle they both don’t try and stuff everything in with their hands – although apparently they do try on occasion but the teacher, who sits directly opposite them, puts a stop to those shinnanigins. On the rare occasion at home where I do give the kids more than one plate I aren’t harping on at them to remember to pick up the bowl and then take the food.

Then later, at the after school club meeting they unveiled these very cool banner things the kids had been making. Like one of the scrolls you would find on display by a Japanese altar. They usually have something quite profound on them and are written in traditional Japanese top to bottom, right to left.

Shou was the ONLY child that wrote his from left to right. Hub and the two other women had a giggle as they told me. Quite obviously a gaijin thing that he gets from me. Left to right. giggle giggle, snort, snort. It’s a scroll, hahaha, left to right. LOL and ROFTL.

Embarrassed as I am to say, we do not do much reading of English books at home. Not as much as I would like anyway. I would definitely say he reads more Japanese books  – so I don’t know, perhaps the want to write from left to right is something you learn via the umbilical cord – ya know, kind of like a 100% Japanese person’s want to slurp noodles or inability to run around outside in bare feet.

His scroll was pure awesomeness by the way. It said ‘Mum and Dad and Granny K, thank you so much for all your hard work, I love you, and keep working hard’ and then it had a picture of a tank with about a hundred missiles. They are going on display in the town hall for two weeks so no doubt there will be more people trying to read it from right to left and then realizing, and then they’ll look at who it’s by and some will go ‘ah, well no wonder, the poor boy’s mum is a gajin’…

And just lastly, cause I can’t not mention this. Its such ‘man’ response. I asked hub what he was going to get me for Christmas. And he said nothing. This is in front of the children. So I said that really I needed him to get more on board with this whole jesus celebration involving the exchanging of gifts, roast pork, carols, and champers. So he said OK, I’ll give you, and in his own poetic words…

Ten Business Times

I’m pretty sure this benefits him more than me but hey, can you at least make a little coupon book for our sex darling. Perhaps with a perforation line with a little scissors clipart so I know where to pull it off and give it to you when I’m feeling like some international relations.

SDGH&QL

Mrs D Is Going Without

Too much wine in rural Japan