Saturday 28 January 2012


Teaching English in Japan can be really frustrating, there are certain patterns to do with study and learning in Japan that are hard to be broken. It often ends up with kids being like little robots beaten into submission by years of: Teacher talking. Student listening/dozing, until the words somehow seep through and are drilled in so they stay there. Forever.

I'm not for this kind of learning, which is why none of the kids I teach may not be able to score 100 in their next drills test, but fuck, if they go to another country they're going to be able to speak a bit of English. The exam study is what the J-teachers are there for, so this system works well, but it's not always just about exams and answers, it's sometimes about changing the way that the kids think. I'm a big fan of creativity, I think that creativity is a big part of language acquisition, so this week when we were studying the totally thrilling topic of 'clothes' I decided we would make puppets. And they started making the same type of puppet, boys did boys puppets with generic clothes, girls did cutesy girl puppets with AKB-ish outfits.

Exhibit A- J-kid's puppets.

They were all happily puppeting away, and as they glanced over at my puppet they either gave me weird glances or just kind of hovered, trying to figure out what kind of creative nonsense I was up to. Again.

Exhibit B- My puppets.

"Yes, that is an alien wearing pink pants! So what!? Yes, the old weird dude is wearing pink swimmers even though he is really hairy! That's the beauty of it! And I know it's not December, but there's no law against making a Santa puppet in January, even if he is holding an umbrella!!! Get it kids!?"

And then FINALLY today, a little boy came through with the goods for me!!!

Exhibit C- Success! In his words, 'Dirty terrorist likes sports'.

Ummm pure brilliance, no!? And the proof of the pudding is totally in the terrorism, because this kid's English is pretty damn good, I never have to say anything in Japanese, because even if he hasn't a clue of what the fuck I just said, he just guesses and hopes he's right, which most of the time he is. If more kids were less cautious and made terrorist puppets like him, I'd be out of a job.

So my puppet making was a success, I wanted the kids to get their creativity on, so they could take some kind of life lesson away, however, apart from dirty-terrorist boy, I fear they will only take away the memory of the mental English teacher who made tranny puppets...

Friday 27 January 2012

Does it just come naturally?

Or do Americans try and piss everyone else off on purpose??

As I suspected, I've been flooded with desperate American soldiers at the school this week, the best was the group of black guys who came in from the freezing rain and said in such a desperate tone "Please tell us you know where McDonalds is!?" And to be fair, most of them have been polite and grateful for my help, but tonight a group of massive white guys came in, (obviously before reading the huge sign that says "ENGLISH SCHOOL") and asked, "You speak English??" After saying I did, they asked where they could get sushi, so I start drawing them a map and giving them directions, when one of them goes "That's so Australian, you just said 3 vowels in one word!" (The word was 'go')

Ummm, people who know me, yes, please take the piss out of my accent, I will gladly accept this ribbing and probably agree with it. Fucking random American soldier looking for my help? Keep your big mouth shut buddy! I'm not actually that pissed off, they were probably nice guys, but fuck, bit cheeky if you ask me.

Maybe I'm on edge after a dog-fucker incident that has resulted in me refusing to ask her to go pick up Ash from kindy ever again. Will have to write that one up, I totally fucking hate the in-laws at the minute. Must stop bitching and teach.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Life-altering. Part 2.

Before I get to my life-altering moment, thank you for all your contributions on the last post. Some of you have AMAZING moments, it’s interesting to see what has really affected us all.
And on the topic of life-altering moments, my friend gave birth and said goodbye to her little boy who she named Kotaro, the kanji for his name is tiger and I can only imagine it’s because he put up such a fight to live. I’m heartbroken for my friend and tried to offer her my condolences the best I could. She refused the pain relief they offered her (epidurals are rare in Japan) because she wanted to remember every moment of what it was like to give birth and be a mother...Life-altering indeed.

My life-altering moment was only life-altering after the fact, years later, when I realised how things could have gone had the moment actually turned into what it was heading to. At the time, I knew it wasn’t normal, it was scary, really scary, but I never knew how close I came to what would have turned my life upside-down causing a chain-reaction of guilt and remorse for not only me. Most people are affected by what happened, but luckily I was affected by what didn’t happen.

I was 10 years old at the time, not a young 10, but 10 all the same. A kid. A child. I didn’t think it at the time but I now look at a 10 year old and see that I was still a little girl. Despite being a little girl, I desperately wanted to be a teenager, having a 15 year old sister will do that, she got so many more perks than I did: make-up, boys, late nights… I wanted it all, so I tried so hard to ignore the urges to still play with dolls and instead followed suit and plastered my walls with New Kids on the Block posters and put beads in my hair. My sister wasn’t particularly fond of my efforts but she tolerated me all the same, some times more than others.

The day in question, my sister was going to the movies with her girlfriends, and I decided I HAD to go too. She didn’t want to take me but her girlfriends thought I was cute, like a little adoring puppy, and along with my mum, who no doubt wanted a kid-free house for the afternoon, (don’t blame her now I have kids!) encouraged her to take me along. So my sister decided if I was to tag along then she would be my stylist and put me in a skirt way shorter than I would usually wear and did my make-up so I didn’t look so incredibly dorky. I felt so grown-up and beamed with pride as we all made our way through the shopping mall to the movie theatre. When we got there my sister informed me that they were going to see a movie that was rated 15+ so I had to lie about my age.

 Now this is when I started getting nervous, I’ve probably mentioned before that I was an extremely nervous kid and I hated breaking or even bending rules like this. I’m totally the opposite now, I’m not sure how I grew out of it, but I did! So my sister made me recite my fake date of birth a few times and then shoved me up to the counter. The ticket lady didn’t ask my date of birth but she looked down on us over her glasses and said “You know this movie is 15+ ladies don’t you?” I must have looked incredibly guilty, but luckily my sister grabbed the tickets and we were on our way into the theatre. Just how mental I was as a kid now starts to really come out, I got so paranoid that the ushers were going to come in during the movie and remove me by the scruff of the neck, I got more and more nervous imagining what was going to happen and started to feel sick. How fucked up is that?! We’d been through the hard part but I still couldn’t shake the fear of getting in trouble and left the theatre about 10 minutes into the movie. I tried to whisper furiously to my sister that I was going outside but she was so angry at me for being a pain that she ignored me.

I walked out feeling better being out of the jaws of trouble, but then had an hour and a half to kill by myself in town. A few years later and it would have been a nice relaxing break at a coffee shop, but remember I was 10, I had no money, no phone, nothing to do, nowhere to go. So I sat on the steps of the movie theatre for a while, until a man came and talked to me. It wasn’t that unusual for a man to talk to me, I lived in a smallish city and people are pretty friendly, but something about this guy gave me the creeps. I can see him in my head now, he was an ethnic looking (am I allowed to say that!?) guy who seemed really old to me at the time but now I think about it he was probably in his late 30’s or early 40’s. He was fat, and wore lots of chunky gold jewelry. His horrible fake-looking gold watch pushed in to the roll of fat cushioning his wrist, it looked like a fat Italian sausage. He had an accent too, but I can’t really remember his voice. He talked to me for long enough that I started to feel uncomfortable, there was nothing to talk about and he started telling me I was so pretty, why was I alone? Like a 10 year old does, I told him the truth that my sister was inside the movie theatre.

The details are sketchy, it was 18 years ago, but I remember that some kind of warning bell went off in my head, he was getting more and more pushy, and said that we could go to his car and wait for my sister somewhere warm. How could I have known it at the time, that this sick cunt was trying to lure me away to do fuck knows what. I sometimes dream that I’ll see him again, which would be highly likely if I lived in my hometown, but I still have the image of him as he was burned in my brain, I almost definitely wouldn’t recognise him.

After I kept refusing to go with him, he touched my leg with the back of his hand, the way you stroke a pet that you’re not quite sure is friendly, we were still on the theatre steps in plain sight so I still felt safe, but not safe enough. Not quite enough in danger to scream either, I wasn’t really brought up to be hysterical, not a good thing as it turned out. My instincts were taking over though; I had the sense to tell him I had to go home and stood up to go. I remember he grabbed my hand and said “Nooo, not go yet, we still talking!” But I was getting really scared and pulled my hand away and started walking. I didn’t want to look behind me as I went, if he was following me I would have panicked, so I said a prayer in my head as I walked briskly up the hill, ‘Please Jesus, let him go away. Please Jesus, let him just go away…’ I went into the nearest department store, David Jones, and hovered in the perfume section, but I felt so awkward, a 10 year old doesn’t browse the fucking perfume aisle. I was still so scared, and my heart stopped as I saw the fat guy in the lobby of the department store looking around for me. He’d followed me, and now I was fucked.

My face must have been bright red, I think I was whimpering slightly too, but I still didn’t have the sense to tell someone. I often wonder why, I think I thought about it but I was too embarrassed, like they would laugh at me or something, which of course they wouldn’t have. I was still thinking about what to do when his eyes met mine and he started walking towards me, my legs just wouldn’t move, somehow I felt that if I ran away it would make it real that he was chasing me and even more scary. He came over and put his arm around my waist. “Heyyy, where you go, silly girl!?” I just had no idea what to say to him, I wriggled out of his hold and said my mother was meeting me here, I just called her from a payphone. Finally! A bit of sense on my part. But I shouldn’t have needed sense, I was fucking 10 years old. I felt it was my fault, I’d wanted to go to the movies, I’d worn a short skirt, I was tall and looked older, so he wasn’t bad, it was me. I saw very clearly how victims of abuse blame themselves, hell, I wasn’t even a victim and I’d made a whole heap of excuses for this sicko blaming myself.

I can’t remember what happened after that, I think he got scared and left, I know I stayed in that busy perfume department for a long time, there was something comforting about all the women around me. I finally cautiously made my way back to the theatre where my sister was waiting for me, angry because she didn’t know where I had been. I told her what happened, probably in a really calm, innocent voice and she had the years of experience to know that it had been a dicey situation. She instantly hugged me and said sorry, followed quickly by, “DON’T tell mum!!”

 And I didn’t, but I often think of that day. What would have happened if I’d gotten in his car? Would I have been so messed up from that experience that I couldn’t function? Would he have actually done anything? How am I going to protect my kids from people like this?? I hate to think about this guy, he had to have done it before, or since then. Scary…

Friday 20 January 2012

Life-altering. Part 1

There are some times when you teach English in Japan, when you just want to take the nearest heavy object, and smack yourself in the head until you’re unconscious. We’ve all had those students; the ones that don’t like structured lessons but won’t even try to attempt making conversation. It makes an hour lesson not only painful but suicidal-thought inducing. I have a few students like this, however running my own school has it’s perks, I can do whatever I want in terms of lesson content, working at a McEikaiwa it’s impossible so I am very thankful.
Of course there are the students on the opposite end of the spectrum that are great conversational participants, they answer questions in detail and ask questions in return. And the funny thing, it has nothing to do with language level, I firmly believe that those who succeed the most at other languages are those who try to make conversation, not those who study the most. It’s these students that make me feel guilty for taking their money, at least if they bore the fuck out of me I have no problem with charging them for my pain, but when they are genuinely interesting people who I would talk to an hour for free if we were at a party, makes me feel bad. Just a teeny bit mind you, we all gotta make a living somehow!

One of these great students asked me a question the other day that really got me thinking, his question was:

“What is the moment that changed your life the most?”

 Of course he asked it more like “Corinne-sensei, ahhh number 1, ahh, shocking… eh, shocking okashii ya na… shocking only bad ne? Shocking ka super good time wa when??”

Once I’d taught him ‘life-altering moment’ and told him not to pepper Japanese so much in his sentences, I thought about it.
My response was when I found out I was pregnant with Ash, and to be fair it was a pretty damn close second, but I couldn’t really reveal my real one because it was just too…personal? Inappropriate? Although the student had just proudly told me that his was when he discovered he was infertile at age 23 and then made the decision to divorce his wife on good terms because he knew she wanted kids. The paper I’d used to correct him was hilarious, little pictures of sperm with big crosses through them! His was pretty personal so maybe I should have revealed, but there was something about a tale of near-molestation that would have put a dampener on the lesson, even more so than male infertility if that was even possible!

So does anyone care to share their most life-altering moment?? I’m working on writing mine so will post it next post!

Saturday 14 January 2012

A tribute

To my husband.

Actually he's been annoying the shit out of me today, but seeing as though ALL I do is bitch about him on here, I thought I should actually list the good qualities about him for once. If some bitching creeps in I'm sorry, I can't help it that he really does manage to balance out the good things with a few very annoying ones!

*He has a moral compass.
If I did a survey of 100 men who knocked up their foreign girlfriends after a few weeks of dating, I doubt many of them would have stepped up to the plate as mine did. I shouldn't be thankful for this, because it was officially half his responsibility, but I am because he had a choice to be an arsehole, or to be a man and make it work. And he did. Thank fuck. Otherwise I'd probably be a single mother smoking crack in the back alley of an Osaka street between hostess jobs while my son was in training to be a 'halfu talento' to support us.

*He sticks up for me.
Or anything he actually cares about. He's possibly the most aggressive Japanese guy I've ever met, and while this has negatives when it's directed at me, when he tells Jehovah's witnesses to go wipe their arses with their pamphlets, or bargains down our rent with amazing success, I very much appreciate this quality. Just the other day, I was knocked back for a credit card and while I pouted dejectedly at the rejection letter, he was on the phone quizzing them why it had been rejected, "Is it because she's foreign??" "We make more than enough money, why the fuck would you reject it?!" The card is in the mail.

*He's a good Dad.
Not the best in housekeeping duties (but then neither am I) but when it comes to Ash, he loves him to bits and vice versa. This is a very important quality in a man for me.

*He has dreams.
This goes on the no-no list too, but it's actually a good thing, if I were married to a salaryman drone with no ambition except to stay with the same company sucking his Superior's cocks for the rest of the life, it would be all over red-rover. As long as his pipe dreams stay a little bit confined, it really doesn't bother me.

OK, that's enough for now, too much more and he'll actually start looking like a saint. Nobody's perfect, and as much as I think he's unreasonable a lot of the time, we have to take a step back and appreciate the good things sometimes. Saying that, stay posted, the weekend is still young and I may have some bitching that needs to get out before the week starts!

Thursday 12 January 2012

Foreigner awkward alert

I don't live in a country town, but I don't live in a huge city either. I'd say the immediate area where I live would be classed as a small town and about 15 minutes bike ride away is a small city... It's hard to explain, but I know a lot of the people I see around my area every day, but it's not like we're all best buddies or anything. I have my 'aisatsu group' the folks who are nice enough to have acknowledged my existence before so I always give them the courtesy of a hearty 'good morning' or 'hello'. I don't see many other foreigns around, in the small cities on either side of me I'll occasionally see another foreign, but generally, the supermarket I go to and my immediate surroundings are foreign-free. Sassymoo is probably the closest one to me, which is good, if there has to be another alien in the vicinity I'd rather it be a friend than some arse white guy who turns his nose up to anyone who is not a Japanese fan girl with a willing and open fanny.

I also live right next to an army base. Now if this were an American army base I'd probably have way more stories to tell and way better access to good food. However my army base is only Japanese soldiers. It's good for bringing in students, and as I can see the well-built boys running around the base from my house, makes lovely eye-candy too. Army boys are totally my type: built, sporty and usually up for drinking/adventure. Of course I'd love to flirt with the army boys more, but they usually steer clear of me, an army student once told me some of her friends wanted to hit on me but they were sure I was an army wife and would have a/both testicles removed if they hit on a Superior's wife. Plus, ahem, I'm happily married and all. Damn waste actually.

Anyway, I'm dreaming of army boys when my point is slipping further and further away! This month, a huge influx of American troops are coming to the base to do 3 months of training. This means local shop keepers are shitting themselves as they want the extra business but can't speak a word of the Queen's. Two new students last month were bar staff who wanted a bit of English so they wouldn't be totally lost when a bunch of thirsty soldiers came in looking for a cold one. One of the local bar staff who is one of my students asked me if I would help her translate their menu into English and I said no worries, although it was harder than I thought, translators, how the fuck do I put こんやく田楽 into English, I wanted to say shit smeared in miso shit, but I restrained myself. So we spent an hour writing her menu out in English but I probably should have just done the fried stuff and left "Octopus guts" and the like in Japanese, give them a surprise. There was still half a page left, so nice English teacher that I am, I said I'd finish it off that night and drop it in to her bar, I shall redeem my free beer for this service when I no longer have a tiny human growing in my belly. So I did, but when I walked in, I was instantly hit with a wave of panic as every face sitting at the counter was.... foreign. They all swivelled around and I was lost for words, which is fucking bizarre! Why would it make me nervous?! I gave my student the menus and tried to make a hasty exit but a noisy old man who had been bothering the soldiers was now fascinated by me and why I was bowing and apologising as I shuffled out the door in an extremely Japanese manner. He yanked my arm, his beer breath hitting me in the face just making me want a beer even more and started quizzing me on why I spoke Japanese.

Luckily my student seemed to sense my awkward vibes and told the old guy to stop harassing me and let me go. I really don't know why other foreigns in the vicinity make me feel awkward, maybe it's just that I'm so used to being the only one that I know how to do the routine in Japanese? But it made me realise I'd have to man the fuck up and get over it, at the end of the month my little area will be crawling with yanks, in my conbini, my supermarket, my running course... (I'm blowing into a paper bag as I type!)

Still, maybe a hot American soldier will sweep me off my feet for a lovely fling!? Well, maybe lug my pregnant arse off my feet, sweep would surely be impossible, even for a macho soldier...

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Happy new iyaaa yo!

Iyaaaa yo! is a favorite phrase of my son's and basically means "nooooo!!!!!" he uses it in a variety of situations and at various times of the day, it never ceases to get on my nerves.

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely new year break! We're nearing the end of a week of the 3 of us being together, and do you know, by some miracle, it has been a very peaceful and enjoyable holiday! Usually I dread extended periods of time where Ryota is off work because of the bickering and general annoyance of having an extra body around the house making a mess, but this time has been good! We got into oosouji early and spent a solid 3 days of hard core sorting, throwing away and cleaning. And it was all the cleaning that I usually can't be arsed doing, like wiping the grime off the insides of window panes and stuff, gross, but very satisfying once it was all done. Of course Ryota being the hoarder that he is started to go through my rubbish bags and I kept hearing exclamations of "why are you throwing THIS away?!" and "hmmm I'm sure I could yahoo auction this..." I became a total annoying Japanese wife and made him stop immediately, I enforced a rule that unless he sells or finds a place for the things he wanted to keep that we would never use, it was going. He agreed and stashed a whole heap of crap in the back of the car that he claims he's going to sell. I'm so chucking it out after he goes to work tomorrow.

We didn't do too much over our break, lots of cleaning, a bit of shopping, a temple trip to ask the gods to give my baby 10 fingers, 10 toes and less of a tendency for tantrums unlike his/her big brother, and a lot of relaxing and going out for dinner. Not helping my expanding waistline but loving not having to cook!

As for my stalker, no more phone calls or comments, so unknown, if you're still reading: thank you for your apology, and for you know, not stalking me anymore... Thank you for all your lovely comments and support as well, I seriously considered stopping blogging for 2012 but am very glad I didn't. Let's not be too harsh on unknown either, if it was a genuine apology then I'm grateful, we all go through rough patches and some people take it out in different ways, I've heard this guy's voice and he sounds like he could be an intelligent, articulate person, I just hope whatever he was going through is better. Hell we all go a bit nuts sometimes, my nuts moment was in the midst of my heavy drinking days after I downed a bottle of vodka from the conbini and ventured to my local park intending to kill myself, of course i passed out before I could even give it a crack, plus Japanese parks aren't exactly death traps, but it was a pretty dark moment! So yeah, New year, new start and all that eh!

So far 2012 has started off well for me, not too many resolutions... do a 10km run after the baby is born, here's hoping I'm not still bleeding all over the course! Eww, sorry, but it's true...
One bit of sad news I can't stop thinking about is my friend who was due to have her baby at the end of this month has just found out that her baby won't live after he is born. Heartbreaking, and of course me being a dickhead who had no idea, sent her a happy new year mail saying "our babies will be born in the same year, they can be friends!" you know those times where you just wish so hard that you could take something you said or wrote back? Yeah totally one of those. I really feel for my friend and just don't know what to say to make her feel better.

But apart from that, things are going well, Ash is as genki as ever, Ryota's grumpy level is set on low for now and I've finally got some energy back after months of feeling permanently like I wanted to sleep 24 hours a day.
I hope 2012 will be a great year for you all, I'm looking forward to reading everyone's blogs, hopefully finding new blogs, and writing lots myself!

Happy new year!