Archive | June, 2014

Just another Manic Monday

25 Jun

This has nothing to do with re-evaluating my relationship with wine (and other select beverages) – you’ll have to click on the link on the right to go read about that. Tis going well though. Day three (pats self on back)

On Monday morning I had to take Marina and Ryu to the city hall to pick up their Japanese passports. Hub had to go too because he filled in the forms. Technically I didn’t have to be there but they had to get back to kinder and school somehow right?

Primary school age and above children are meant to write their own name if they can in the small space provided. The whole process makes me even more thankful for being able to pop an application form in an envelope and send to NZ and ten days later be in possession of two new passports. What do Japanese expats have to do? Do they physically have to turn up at an embassy or something. What a pain in the ass.

Anyway, it all went fine. Payed the $80 each or whatever and away we go.

As I am driving out of the city hall I have to turn left and as I do I decide, at that exact moment, to put the passports on the dashboard. Usually, when I’m driving in a straight line, I put my arm through the top of the steering wheel. But, I was turning left so what I put my arm through was one of the two smaller bottom gaps – the one with fancy buttons sticking out for restart and menu or some other thing I never use and don’t know what to do with. Passports on dashboard, I go to bring my arm out at the same time I start to straighten up, only the wheel wont straighten because my fat arm is in the gap.

We were veering left straight into the curb by this time so I had to slam on the breaks, we all got a bit of whiplash, and I got a skin flapping bruise on my forearm. It looked a lot worse than it felt – so I panicked a bit. Cause I’m the parent and its always good to lose your shit in front of your kids cause it really calms them down.

Marina starts crying. Ryu, who can’t actually see my arm is in the back half giggling over the bumpy ride and wondering if it is in fact Saturday and a holiday, despite the fact he is in his uniform and we are ‘on the way to kindy’.

I usually have my world-end-earthquake-and-tsunami survival box in the car but it got taken out last weekend in favor of fishing rods and buckets, and never got put back in. Which isn’t the end of world in itself as really I need ice and not a seven-way spade and travel toilet. So we stop at the conbini just up the road and I buy  the closest thing I can find –  a small bag of strawberry flavored shaved ice – and tie it to my arm with a towel from the back seat that I ‘think’ was used to wipe a snotty nose.

We then the Japanese and English versions of ‘Let it go’ back to back for the remaining 25 minute ride to school and kinder.

After dropping them off I check the arm and it is lots better. I then check my phone and see three missed calls from a NZ number I don’t know – which as expats will know just puts you into a fuckin frenzy thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could have happened for someone to call you in Japan from a number you don’t know.

Then I calm the fuck down and listen to the voicemail:

Voicemail: this is your friendly neighborhood bank XNZ. There is an urgent matter we need to discuss with you. Please ring back on this number XXXXXXX as soon as possible. You can call us collect.

Collect? Fuck, it must be serious.

  • Gaijinwife: (dials number) ring ring
  • Call center: Hello, this is XNZ, you’re speaking with ABC, how can I help you?
  • Gaijinwife: Yes, hi. I got a call from you this morning and told to ring urgently. My customer number is blah blah blah and the reference code I got given is blah blah and either N or 10 I’m not sure, couldn’t quite catch it cause a tractor went past.
  • Call center: Oh right, that will be N, just a moment, I’ll just put you through to the correct department.
  • ring ring ring ring
  • Correct Department: Hello, serious credit card fraud, this is John speaking
  • Gaijinwife: bloody hell, I got put through to serious credit card fraud? Shit.
  • John: Yes, we must have picked up something suspicious on your credit card. Name and customer number please. (which I give him – everything is quiet while he gets my details up on his screen)
  • Gaijinwife: and? Whats it looking like?
  • John: I’m afraid its not looking very good.
  • Gaijinwife (fuckin freaking out)
  • John: There was a transaction from a suspicious looking account in the US on Friday.
  • Gaijinwife: how much (thinking I’m about to lose all the money I need for our NZ immersion)
  • John: three dollars and sixty nine cents.
  • Gaijinwife: … …..
  • John: So we cancelled your card which is why I presume you used your debit card for the transactions for the Agrodome and the Maori Culture Village bookings on Sunday?
  • Gaijinwife: Um, yes. wondered why my card was getting declined. Good to know your systems are on top of everything and just go ahead and cancel cards though. (am actually relieved as have used visa far too many times on internet after drinking wine lately so having it cancelled is blessing)

So that was the start to Monday!!

Hope you all started the week better than I did!

SDGH&QL

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That’s what friends are for

23 Jun

Today a dear friend posted something on Facebook. I imagine that, because she knows me so well, she had me in mind when she posted it but couldn’t bring herself to tag me in it because that would basically be like saying to the world that I need to sort my shit out, and, if you’re like me, or the woman in this documentary, all that results in is flippant remarks, sarcasm or denial.

Haha, don’t be silly. I don’t need help. I’m no where near the stage where this is a problem – tis what you would say to people if they confronted you about it. I come from a culture of drinkers. A family of drinkers, with an alcoholic in the family.

Do you know how hard that is to write now? When shit hit the fan with my sister it wasn’t hard to write about at all. In fact it was easy blaming her and almost feeling pleased that it was her and not me and that I would never ever get to that stage where drinking wine in the middle of the day in the car while my kids played in the park was something that would even cross my mind.

And it hasn’t. Drinking in the middle of the day holds absolutely no appeal whatsoever – unless of course its a Sunday and hot as the bloody Sahara dessert and there happens to be an ice cold beer in the fridge.

But it is harder to confront within myself now because back then I was pregnant and breastfeeding and not drinking. It was easy not to drink when I absolutely had to. But now I’m pretty much Mrs D in this video (or rather, who she was three years ago), minus the vomiting in the toilet and dancing round the living room by myself at midnight on a Wednesday night.

Each to their own. I drink, and instead of dancing, I order shit off the internet and pledge money to save the polar bears, or rescue dogs from Afghanistan, or pay a thousand pounds to get obscure artists to sing at universities, or start a bidding war for a really horrible piece of artwork on trade me … … the list is quite extensive. No, really it is.

On the flip side, the drinking means I sleep well, but this is really irrelevant as I never had a problem sleeping before, its just that when you start drinking every night and then you try and stop, its hard to get to sleep. Although, I imagine this only lasts a few days. In fact I know so cause remember I stopped drinking once? For like 10 days. Lost 2kg, had a clear head and was feeling bloody fabulous – after the first three days of bitchiness.

I have a lot more to say on this topic. But I have written ‘this’ post many many times and never published it. I even started a secret blog twice but deleted it after the shame of not being able to last more than two or three days. I usually incorporated it with the whole fat and diet thing, trying to hide the that I knew the booze was the real problem.

But now, regardless of weight, it needs to be an issue I deal with for what it is, on its own, out in the sunny light of day. I also watched that video from start to finish. I was crying in shame and utter hatred at myself after about the first two minutes. I would say I am not alone in this. She was brave going out on national TV and ruining the image she had of being a highly organized, mother of three who had it all together.

Had it all together until 5pm each night when she’d get the wine on – dance round the living room after the kids were in bed, and wake up with a hangover and shame that she’d been unable to go without the night before – again. And again. And again.

Despite the promises to her husband and to herself. (thats me talking there – god the amount of times I’ve made empty promises…)

I very rarely wake up with a hangover, but thats not because I’ve only had one glass the pervious night. Its years of building up to ‘handling’ large quantities. I still wake up with the shame and sometimes utter helplessness that I can’t stop.

Thank you to Mrs D for making this documentary and letting me know that I’m not alone – and more importantly that its not just a ‘couple of drinks’ every night, its a fuckin problem that is ruining my chances to be the best person and the best mother I can be.

And thank you to my lovely friend for sharing it. That my friend, I hope, was the final push I needed.

SDGH&QL

Right, I’m really going push ‘Publish’ now.

No, I am.

(deep breath, I think I can, I think can…)

Can’t stop yawning.

21 Jun

Half ten and I am bloody knackered…

A couple of months ago a woman I used to teach English to  stopped me in the supermarket car park and said we should have a BBQ – at my house. We had one many years ago – like about five, when I might have had three kids even, but I think maybe when Shou was 2 and Marina one. No, no, that can’t be right, cause I would have been pregnant with Ryu and I do remember drinking. Hmmmmm. Anyhoo, years ago.

When I worked here in my days of drunken shennanigans as a CIR I taught an adult’s English class every week and a group of them would often got out together and I’d get invited and we became friends.

Well, friends to the extent that I quite enjoy catching up but wouldn’t ring them up to go for a coffee.

So, I said yes to the BBQ.

A few weeks later I get an email saying my house has been ditched because the doctor’s wife has offered their place and they have proper Japanese yakiniku facilities – we used to have an awesome big outside table with a lid that opened up to a coal pit to light the coals and put a grill to all sit round and cook meat, drink and be merry. The builder with the Russian porn collection who lives down the road built it for us as a house warming gift. Was AWESOME and I really do need to commission him to makes us another.

Anyway, that day fell through and I just presumed nothing would actually eventuate before we leave for NZ.

And then last week she says how about the 21st? I say OK, but stupidly presume she means the doctor’s house. Fortunately I confirm the next day and get told no, no, your place – oh and we are inviting so and so  and his new wife as a kind of celebration on their marriage – which I might add none of us got invited to celebrate officially.

Fast forward today…

Hub has work and is out from 8am, so I have three kids while I clean the house (the serious stuff got done yesterday though) do the shopping for 9 adults and 5 children, prepare NZ-style BBQ and basically just get ready to play hostess with the mostess.

I told her we couldn’t do the Japanese BBZ so it would be NZ style and we discussed that everyone would give me money for all the ingredients.

The kids were relatively good. I got the shopping done, I marinated spare ribs, chicken drum sticks, shrimps, and beef for the kebabs. I made two salads and two dips. FUCK, and a bacon and egg pie.

I literally spent the whole day organizing this meal while trying to navigate the vacuum cleaner around 6 legs and sometimes six hands, depending on what state of handstand there were in off the couch.

So then 6pm rolls around and they all start rocking up. I’ve cooked sausages for the kids and have the chicken on cause it will take the longest. The spare ribs are in the oven. One guy, who I know is just trying to help, ferries things between the BBQ and the inside table (its pissing down) and then tells everyone to start eating while its hot – which then leads hub to whispering at me ‘why isn’t everything ready?’

FFS. Its a BBQ that is this wide and yay long. Give me ten fuckin minutes and my whole day will come together on that fricken table. Japanese people eat cold food every fricken day. Wait for ten bloody minutes. But I didn’t say anything cause am fabulous hostess.

Before everyone starts eating hub tells me to tell everyone to do a toast. I mean seriously? Its a NZ fucking BBQ and if YOU feel the need to start the Japanese proceedings off then by all means….. so anyway the original woman who wanted the whole meal in the first place said a toast.

Said the whole thing was in my honer cause was going back to NZ and nobody would see me for six months…

I actually said what? This is for me? I thought it was to celebrate the marriage of those two?

When everyone left at half nine (praise the bloody lord) hub said he was surprised at my restraint for not saying something along the lines of …

‘WTF? This dinner is for me? In my house? For which I have bought, made and cooked EVERYTHING for 15 people? This was for me? Oh my, what an honor…. ‘

I enjoy talking with these people on occasion, especially the one couple with kids, but dang the woman that ‘organized’ it … she can be the kind of person that brings up all the news stories where foreigners in Japan do bad shit. That, and she touches me a lot – squeezes up and down my arms and declares how squishy I am. Kind of shit.

I’m a fucking mazed I put up with it.

So they all left at half nine – mainly cause I had put my kids to bed and the one couple with two kids had to get home.  And then I spent at hour cleaning up.

Hub said he thought the $15 per person that we worked it out at was too much – especially as two bottles of cheap red wine and some ice-cream got left behind.

Me? It was originally $20 a head but I knew I wouldn’t spend that much and money wise it was probably more like $10 but fuck it. I spent a good six hours doing the shopping and getting shit ready (did I mention the cheesecake brownie??) and then cleaning up.

And now I’m bloody knackered and need a nice glass of wine in the bath.

Must also remind self to turn down any invitations at own house from this woman upon my return from NZ…

Meh,

SDGH&QL

 

Dousei Muri

10 Jun

どうせい無理やな – Dousei muri ya na – either which way you can’t do it aye / it can’t be done

Husbands of foreign wives who live and speak YOUR language every day, raise children in an environment that is YOUR native language and actually fuckin kick ass doing so – DO NOT EVER say this to your long-suffering wife.

I have a long list of shite that needs to be done before heading to NZ for our six month English Immersion slash NZ wine immersion slash eating all the meat pies immersion slash speaking me some kiwi immersion (but don’t tell hub cause its ALL ABOUT the kids)

Ryu and Marina needed new passports – both NZ and Japanese.

I did the NZ applications and it took about 8 days turnaround. Bloody great service experience.

I wrote half the Japanese application and then in between preparing for English, picking up Ryu, translating and getting dinner ready I had the bright idea to just ask hub to finish them off. Some of this shit, even though I can actually do it, is just less hassle and easier for a native speaker, surely.When I asked in the first place he said he didn’t have time to pick up an application form (he works at the city office) and that I just needed to sort it out.

He hates filling out forms or ringing people for things etc. I get that. My dad hated it. Is it a man thing? Or is it just a wussy pussy shit thing?

OMG, not that my dad was that. He’s bloody dead now so I can’t say that.

Anyhoo, I asked hub if he could finish them off. Wow, the bloody drama, really? It. will. take. YOU. ten minutes. I’m not asking you to get the photos as well. No, I already spent half a day doing that shit.

So he takes the forms to work and comes home last night with extra forms – proceeds to tear my half written one up, saying that my Japanese characters and numbers weren’t written neatly enough and didn’t I know that they had to be good enough for the computer to read them. I say yes, of course, I had tried very hard to write nice Japanese and despite not being born with a calligraphy pen hanging out my ass I thought I had done a commendable job – A LOT better than the scribble I am expected to read and understand from the handwritten notes by the teachers in Shou and Marina’s notebooks.

He starts writing a new application form and as I am putting the kids to bed – yelling shit up the stairs like ‘hey, is September ‘jyugatsu’? (no, it is ‘kugatsu’). yaddah yaddah – there was a section that asked when their ‘other (NZ)’ passport had first been issued.

I get back downstairs and we have a ‘conversation’ over the joys of filling in these kinds of forms. It basically ends in me saying, hey, husband and father of the children needing said passports, some of this shit is just easier for you being the Japanese person and all. And him replying ‘dousei muri ya ne’ – which after the precluding conversation felt like ‘yeah, well you’d just never be able to do it now would ya’

I actually said WTF? You don’t actually think I could fill in the form if I had to? And even if I did wouldn’t  the calligraphy police just deny it anyway for not being good enough?? As it happens the form ‘must be filled in by the person signing it and submitting it’ – hence that would have been a better argument for throwing my attempt away and starting again, as opposed to using the ‘your writing is shit’ card.

What a fucking cheeky bastard. I asked him to ‘help’ me because I was busy and it would be less time-consuming for him and now all of a sudden I am incompetent.

Ended ‘conversation’ with ‘you bloody watch it or this ‘incompetent’ gaijin wife will leave the ten forms a week I have to fill in for the kinder and primary school for YOU.

You fuckin fucktard.

Man I was angry. What a twat.

I tried to be sympathetic (have been reading too many good mom good wife memes lately) by saying hey, I know its hard for you and all and you don’t and will never ever in your life understand what it is like living in a foreign tongue every every single fuckin day – his response – but your Japanese is great and you translate for a job so you understand everything and what are you complaining about again…

Head, Wall, Bang, Wine

SDGH&QL

 

Awkward Moments

8 Jun

After living here for something like 16 years I have gotten used to a lot of the ‘awkward’ moments that come with living in Japan and being a gaijin, and having huge boobs, and understanding more than people think you can, or not understanding enough yaddah yaddah.

But last week I had a couple of moments I hadn’t had before – and actually they had nothing to do with being foreign, language skills, or big boobs – I don’t think.

Ryu and I have been walking with the school walking bus, more often than not. Half way to school there is a fork and if you go  one way you follow the main road with the guard-rail and this is the way the school walking bus has to walk. It ends at an intersection where the principal stands each morning and which all the groups bar one pass through. The other way the road is smaller but there are more crabs, snails, frogs, the odd turtle… it is also the road most people drive down to the school and kinder because it avoids the set of traffic lights.

So Ryu and I have just passed the house of the man who has a pet dove, the one he once took to the supermarket in his car and which shat about ten times over his upholstery while he was shopping, that one, when one of Ryu’s little friends drives past with no seatbelt on and half hanging out the passenger seat window – not an unusual sight in Japan – and yells out they should give us a lift the rest of the way.

I say that its OK because we like walking.

We get round the next corner and she comes running up to us. Her dad has stopped the car in the community hall car park, beside the school, which is then beside the kinder. She comes up and holds my other hand. Just as we round the walk to the kinder car park and up to the gate she tells her dad to hold her other hand so we rock up to the kinder teachers seeing me and her dad kind of half skipping half dancing N-chan along. It was all fine until her dad held her other hand and then it just felt all wrong but she wouldn’t let go of my hand, so we both kind of sent her off to kinder for the day. Mmmm, awkward.

Awkward number two was waiting at the meeting point for the last girl in the walking bus to turn up. She is perpetually late every fuckin single day. HTB’s mum asks me if I knew about the ‘promise’ the boys have for playing together on Saturday – the next day. I say no and then ask Shou what its about. I then apologize to his mum because we have ‘plans’ and he won’t be able to go. In reality it is Ryu’s birthday and this is the first year I said he could invite who HE wanted and not who I encouraged – which up until this year included HTB’s little sister who is the same age as Ryu. Anyhow she didn’t make the cut and even after a few suggestions that he invite her he was adamant that he didn’t want her to come and I had to let it go.

She has come the last three years and HTB comes to Shou’s parties. I mean they live about 500m up past our house. To go anywhere they have to go past our house, kids running round and balloons on the gate.

Then Shou tells HTB that its Ryu’s birthday party and a, b, and c, are coming and mum is making a cool cake and thus he can’t play with him. I mean if I had the reserves in my tank I would have just invited HTB and his little sister but I was anticipating a bit of chaos alone with six 5-year olds, Shou and Marina as it was.

And it was – chaos. Mainly because hub decided to go for a run and then come home and take a three hour nap – which basically meant I had to supervise the inside and outside groups and try not to throttle Shou for completely ruining the treasure hunt for the little kids, blowing out the candles first rah rah.

Anyhoo, HTB’s mum apparently thought it was just boys and that’s why her daughter wasn’t invited – well, until she drove past on the day and saw a girl from the class above Ryu’s. An older woman. Sigh. She was the first name out of his mouth when asked who he wanted to invite 🙂 Lovely little girl though.

And the cake…

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It’s a character called ‘Jibanyan’ off a Japanese ‘anime’ called Yokai Watch. Shou’s birthday next week so here’s hoping this didn’t take all my creative juices. Now if someone could just feel like making me a bloody cake too!!

SDGH&QL

Fly on the Wall

1 Jun

Fly on the wall … thats what my sister said she wanted to be for yesterday’s dance lesson – our last one and after which the teacher wanted all the mums to assemble for a meeting…

We got handed a printout of the ‘rules’ so to speak – put together by the head mum and originally passed round in January – during the time I can only presume was the 3 dance classes I missed because was home in NZ. Hadn’t seen that piece of paper ever before in my life.

The teacher went through the points, every ten seconds praising the mother who put them together for knowing her and the ‘dance world’ so well.

She got to the point about not being at a choreography lesson and therefore being left off the lineup for that dance. She spent ten minutes on said point and included my name and Marina’s name and really at the end of it all I felt was ‘every mother here now thinks I am a spoilt bitch who is pissed off her precious daughter didn’t get the dance because we missed the lesson’.

Despite the fact I have told both teachers I fuckin UNDERSTAND and this was not why I was pissed off.

She then did the other points, mentioned the other girl who is leaving and how sorry she is that a, b and c – all things that are not the reason the girl is quitting but it would seem, words and explanations have been manipulated once again and woe is me the poor dance teacher who puts in so much effort for so little return.

She then added her own point about Marina – who she just ‘loves to bits and quite possibly favored more than the other girls, and yes she is a ‘half’ and super cute and she’s sorry other mums but she couldn’t help favoring her’

BUT, now that the fact she favored her turned into her mother and herself having an altercation she PROMISES NEVER EVER TO FAVOR ANOTHER GIRL EVER AGAIN.

Great, so now its my  fault (again) that the other mums disapprove of this gaijin amongst their mix.

I don’t know if thats how they feel but that is how ‘I felt they would feel’ after the meeting.

I was on the verge of  smacking someone round the side of the head a few times but I refrained and bit my tongue in half instead.

When she asked me directly if there was anything I felt she hadn’t covered I said ‘no, you’ve done a great job, thank you so much’. I have no idea if the other mums will pick up on my dripping foreign sarcasm but.

Me and the other mum of the other girl T-chan who was quitting, were then excused because they were having an introduction time for the two new mums and the old mums to introduce selves to each other.

We went downstairs and hugged it out (quite unusual here in Japan), took some pics of T-chan and Marina together and then departed on the promise we would get together and squiff wine together one day.

I went home annoyed at self for having spent three hours making fabulous high heel sugar cookies and putting in cute heart bags with heart pendant for each individual girl – but then had to tell self that the girls were actually great, the whole year. It’s the clicky dance moms and the retarded nazi teacher I have problem with.

Marina and I then sang a happy dance – or rather I patted the steering wheel enthusiastically while singing ‘dance is over, Saturday dance is over, and Wednesday dance is over, we love hip hop’ the whole way home 🙂

Before she stopped me and said my song was too long and could I put on Buffalo Soldier…

Got home and emailed M-chan’s mum (Marina’s friend who does dance) to say ‘otsukare’ and that we would still love to have M-chan over to play tomorrow and by the way how long did you have to stay for doing self introductions?

She replies with ‘just got home’ (an HOUR later) and says she hadn’t realized that T-chan had had so many problems with the teacher TOO……

And last week I (capitalized ten times) was getting bollocked for talking to other mums – and here sensei is telling us to leave and then talking to the other 15 mums about why we were leaving… bet the word ‘professional’ got thrown round a bit.

I then had a few wines…

wait for it….

so I emailed the dance group – only about 2/3 of the mothers are on it but both senseis are.

I said, more or less, the following…

I really do need to apologize for not saying a proper thank you at today’s meeting. You have all been fabulous this year, thank you. (but really is standard ‘thanks for looking after us’ Japanese phrase – ‘osewaninarimashita). You have a performance coming up that Marina won’t be here for and will be practicing for that. I am also going to be really busy getting prepared to take the 3 kids back to NZ for six months and these are the reasons we are quitting dance now. (i.e. – not because Marina didn’t get to dance a 2 minute hand waving dance). The new mums probably don’t know anything about the ‘dance world’ so please tell them, even the little things you take for granted. Marina did really well this year and that is in thanks to the teachers, the other girls and you mums. Thank you.

I got a few responses and the daughter teacher said she was ‘sorry for not letting Marina dance the (aforementioned dance) dance at the last performance. Her and her mum were drinking the wine we gave them yesterday (which I might add I didn’t lace with arsenic – how very restrained of me)

But again, another ‘hey, I’ve apologized in front of everyone to Marina’s mum’ – again, about the one thing I wasn’t even pissed off about.

There were a few more comments from mums about wishing they had had more chance to talk to me, me sending a few more panda bear holding pink heart stickers…

and then I deleted myself from the group.

And then I woke up  and had to take Shou and six other boys in my car to soccer – including the coach’s 4 year old son.

‘Coach’ is a city gov employee and the FIRST person I ever sat next to working her in Japan. Sat next to him for three years, the office tried to fix us up a few times – to no avail. I also worked with his now wife and we all went on the piss on countless occasions. His son is in Ryu’s class. They are friends. The boy knows me.

Yesterday I got a call from ‘coach’ asking if it was me or hub driving the kids to soccer today. I asked why and he said his son wanted to go but because he (dad) was staying elsewhere over night (cause attending wedding) then he would have to get someone to drive his son and his son specifically said if its Ryu’s mum I’ll go but if it’s Ryu’s dad or anyone else I won’t.

So even though I was planning on getting hub to go I went.

Lordy lord good god.

The other soccer mums were in a frenzy. You’re picking up who? (why the fuck did he ask you? you’ve only been in soccer a year. I’ve been waking up at 4am to put on my makeup ready for coach for five fuckin years… was what I imagined they said in their heads).

Then when another mum came part way through the games I overheard a mum whispering that ‘Katy’ had brought the coach’s son with her….

 

And here I was thinking I’d stopped all the mommy bollocks with dance….

SDGH&QL

 

Mrs D Is Going Without

Too much wine in rural Japan