Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What I learned This Week

This week has had some ups and downs.

Ups like my slight bout of insomnia the other day combined with some awesome Facebook friends helped get all my mom's cats re-homed in the nick of time. I also reconnected with a bunch of awesome people in the Metroplex while searching for someone who could help with the cats. I may have alienated some people who don't want that level of interaction with me, but that's alright with me overall really.

But the downs, oh man.

Given how things have gone, I am a bit relieved that this year is the last big GISHWHES. I don't think I want to try to make 15 person teams anymore. Every year, every player has a friend or two they'd love to drag along. The problem is I don't know any of these new people. The problem is that a lot of the names on Facebook do not match the names on the GISHWHES site. The problem is I don't know anyone anymore and trying to untangle the mass of named from one site to the other bothers me.

In my attempt to be open and inviting, back when we had space on the team, I offered one of our remaining spaces to a woman I had just met online, named A for this retelling. She seemed really cool-- in her 40s, living in Canada, studying abroad in Japan but moving back to be with her family. She's excited and wants to participate. I give her the sign up info. Spaces get filled. Days pass.

2 hours before the end of registration, she informs me that she cannot participate this year. I spend 20 minutes scrambling to replace her only to find that no one has left the team. There are two people from the province she lives in that I don't know, X and Y. Y was the most recent signup, so I kick Y off the team and get on a friend I begged to join at the last minute.

Registration ends. I think everything is settled. Nothing really is.

A few hours later, one of my friends on the team asks why her friend was kicked off the team. I freak out, race home, email GISHWHES, and it takes us 2 days of email exchanges to boot X instead and get Y back on the list.

And I think it's settled. I breathe a sigh of relief. It isn't.

Days later, I get a message from X, who was actually a genuine member of the team and not A at all, saying that she doesn't get why she isn't on the team anymore.

I think other people are better at accepting failure than I am. That's a skill I need to learn. I suck at it.

So I explain so confused X about the whole A situation. I went nuts trying to replace someone who I had understood to be signed up when in reality apparently she had done nothing of the sort. I spazzed and freaked and alienated even more people searching for help before finding it when in reality, I did not need a damned thing.

And then I had to cancel an online pre-gish get-together, and by cancel I mean just not show up and feel like crap. Just getting my mojo back up after this is going to take more energy and time than I have before GISH starts. It's probably kinda screwed up that I get that much psychic pain from what many around me are calling an honest mistake.

Even X is saying that shit happens and it's okay.

Now do you see why I'm a Hufflepuff? I mean of course I am! When a mistake I make hurts anyone, especially by excluding them unjustly from something I love so much, I fucking ache.

I've gotta figure out how to bandage that shit up and get it healed before Saturday night, when the big event begins.

So what did we learn from this?

1) Do not trust people you just met on the internet.
2) Instead of guessing, ask what email they used to sign up with when people quit your GISHWHES team.
3) Get to know everyone on the team and double check before doing anything rash.
4) Forgive yourself. You are human. Get over it.
5) Watch for PMS. It's out there, waiting to screw with your hormones and make you crazier than normal.

So this week I used the internet for good and screwing things up.

But no one died. I didn't start any revolutions. I'm ready to do something different. Probably.

I don't think it helps that the next 2 days are crammed full of crap that needs to be done, including feeding a cat in Sendai and walking out to a school to change out books.

Somehow, Saturday afternoon, when the work week is done, I need to heal and recharge in like no time. Good luck, future self.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Take A Cat PLEASE!

So today I did something crazy/brave for me.

I'm not actually good with people, as most people who know me probably know. I get anxious and awkward easily with people I don't have a chance to communicate with relatively frequently. I go quickly from just wanting to say hi to just wanting to run and hide for fear that I might bother them.

Today I shoved that all out the window and messaged literally every person I know in DFW on my Facebook friends list. Why? My mom has 2 cats that need homes right now as she is moving out of her current home TODAY and will leave the continental US in about a week. She's beeing using social media and I have shared her posts and ....not a lot of anything. One of her three has found a home with a friend and GISHWHES teammate. The others? Nada.

Is it the social networking algorithms, making the posts invisible to the people who might be able to help, or the apathy or inability of the people we connect with? Is it just that no one needs a cat right now?

I don't know, and the why is less important than the how, as in how do we fix this?

Of course, the back of my mind has been screaming that I must be alienating everyone I know and no one wants to help and no one cares and I'm just pissing them off and you know what? If my saying Hi and asking if you know anyone who could take in a cat is that offensive, I am so okay with being unfriended by you. I love having Facebook friends but what I love most is people who are more than acquaintances.

You can't help with the cat? No worries! Thanks for getting back to me and letting me know. Also, really, how are you?

You have a lead on another sheltering company or provider? Awesome! Maybe they can help and thanks!

Dead silence? Whatever! Maybe you didn't see it or know what to say. I've been there. I don't mind and it was worth a shot. Good day to you regardless!

And honestly, if you are that offended by my attempts to keep my mom from having to hand over her fur-babies to people who will kill them (or the elements, which in the Texas heat will do the same), then you should not be on my friend's list, in my news feed, or even kept at a base acquaintance level.

If I am offending you, I am sorry, but do delete me.

Honestly having 300 friend-links who aren't actually friends but someone I met once who doesn't know me or want to know me anymore isn't beneficial to me. Having 5 badasses who really try to help me? That is all I need in the world sometimes. Having all these connections can be helpful, especially for things like GISHWHES, but if I would offend someone so much with the messages I sent out today, they would never have been helpful for GISHWHES anyway. With this being the final year of the hunt, it really isn't worth it in my opinion to maintain hundreds of acquaintance-ships with folks who want nothing to do with me.

So I do apologize if my abrupt and strange message of the day disturbed anyone who doesn't usually chat with me, but it was for a good cause and I don't see myself needing to do that literally ever again. But if it really bugged you, make sure I can't bug you again.

The great thing that came out of this? A number of neat little conversations with people I haven't talked to in ages. Because that is why this is not spam. If you respond, we talk, and I'm not just a robot trying to sell you my mom's cat.

The squeamish part of me that's still a bit pretentious thinks that last sentence is in questionable sanity. The rest of me feels that people in my life know that I saw weird things when I'm sleep-deprived, but they are usually interesting/entertaining.

But the point is that I chatted with a bunch of people, all separately, all interestingly. Not all people I know that well or have seen in years. Some were even people I don't know if I would jump at the chance to talk to if I saw them on the street in DFW (because I'll talk to anyone I know when they're in Japan, but back home, that's not something I'd do), but still, conversations were had.

2 of the cats still need homes. They go wherever they go tomorrow.
It's super depressing.
I woke up at 2AM and spent 2.5 hours trying to track down new homes for them.
I have done my part. For now.

EDIT: Within a couple of hours of this post, thanks in no small part to the assistance of a friend and patron, the cats have been re-homed in foster care. All the cats have homes, at least for now, and we can all relax a bit more now.
Thank you, all and any of you.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Current Thought Soup or You might say I'm a failure, but I'm not the only one...

So, as I embroider details into a felt model of Jupiter that will complete a project I've been working on for months, my mind is fighting itself over fairly inane things.

Like maybe all of my friends from high school seriously doubt my parenting abilities. But 1) they probably don't and 2) what does that even matter? I'm on the other side of the world from literally all of them, no one is coming to visit me from that group any time soon if ever...who cares?
This really relates back to this snarky perspective that keeps coming up in my mental stew and really needs to be put into character form in a novel so I can be done with it. Being insecure about things we've already found the logic to and know there's no reason to be hurt by is a waste of time and emotional energy.
Yet I still get that every once in a while, and it still doesn't matter. Thanks, brain.

Then there's thoughts regarding the project, ranging from how proud I am of the texturing I've achieved on the swirling clouds of the gas giant to how imperfect it all is and how no one would ever want this junk so what is wrong with me for continuing to put effort into projects like this when it is obvious I cannot ever make them work the way I want them to.

On the upside, Julia's asleep and the week is over, save for teaching and Julia's music class tomorrow. This week I didn't realize there was an event that required her sports uniform Tuesday, so she went out in the wrong uniform. Wednesday was extremely busy for me (run to Sendai for a private lesson, then take the train halfway home and stop to refresh the book selection for a private family lesson, then home in time for Julia to come home followed by a private lesson that had to be moved from Thursday to accommodate a fancy dinner with my in-laws) so I goofed and sent her out in the sports uniform for Thursday, which was of course wrong. Then Thursday came and my husband had the day off and I was so distracted by him and all the other stuff that had to be done to prepare for the dinner that I put her in the regular uniform instead of the sports uniform and my husband did not understand why I didn't make a bus of children wait 10 minutes while I brought her up to change instead of just sending her off on the bus in the wrong outfit as I had.

This morning, Friday morning, we had the right outfit, save for the hat which I completely forgot. But hey, fitting end I'd say. I then treated myself to a little coffee and Greek yogurt from the grocery store before meeting up to go to teach at a different kindergarten as part of yet another part-time job.

Thursday night's dinner went really well. It was meant to commemorate the death of my grandmother-in-law, who passed last year. We had to go get Julia a new dress and shoes for the affair, since we were meant to be in formal black attire.

The restaurant was an upscale place in Izumi, the rich suburb of Sendai, and offered Kyoto-style food served by kimono-clad staff in fancy separate dining rooms. This was nice, but I don't know what the staff are thinking in regards to dish placement.
Traditional or fancy Japanese meals tend to use a bunch of different tiny dishes, and we arrived 5 minutes late, so everyone was already seated, with our spaces open on the other side. My daughter sat between my husband and I with my in-laws, including Grandpa, on the other side. It is important to note here that Grandpa is from my mother-in-law's side, not the husband of the deceased. His wife is also deceased, but that's a different story from some time ago. As I recall from 2011, when we all shared a living space for a few weeks, the two of them did not get along too well. They didn't fight like anyone in my family, but things sometimes came out with a snarky tone, not that I could understand everything but I have been around enough family drama in my time to be able to get the idea of what's going down to some extent.
At Thursday night's dinner, Grandpa made a point of reading a little something (that I understood none of but seemed heart-felt and somber) regarding the deceased before we ate, and I felt that was really special.

So anyway, back to the dishes. They bring in drinks- orange juice for everyone in tall glasses with fluted mouths, and proceed to place them at the very corners of the table, so mine is right off of my right elbow. Then they place a bunch of smaller dishes around. Then they bring the children's bento for my daughter and ask that my husband and I move all the shit they just put into the place in front of my daughter so that they might place the bento box down. There isn't space and as my mind decides I am troubling the poor waitress, I rush a little in moving all of the things. I barely feel a nudge at my elbow and turn to see the fluted glass falling in slow motion, knowing I'm powerless to stop it as it empties its contents on the floor. Lucky, the room was not carpeted and my mother-in-law apologized as I was too embarrassed to speak while also being pissed off at whoever's stupid idea it was to place the glasses at the damn corners and then ask us to move all the shit they put out.

So I spent about 10 minutes feeling like a massive failure, but I did not cry. Instead I focused on the messed up task of trying to feed the fussy child while she climbs out of the chair and attempts to play with everything she can find before spitting rice directly onto my made-up face. I never wear make-up, so this was especially unpleasant for me.

The food was beautiful and some of it quite delicious. Everything was made better by a few small interactions. No one freaked out when I scooped the tiny fish from my rice bowl onto my husband's portion or when I openly handed him the chunk of iced tofu they served in the first course. In fact, my father-in-law made it a point to give me the au gratin dish from his specialty meal so that I could enjoy something they knew I could eat. Also, there was laughter.
They served a soup, and like many fancy places that do this, the soup served in a bowl over a candle, which you were to then ladle into your own separate service-ware despite everyone having their own soup-and-candle thing. After serving myself, I was unsure of the temperature and checked by licking a large chunk from the soup. My tongue darted back in as the soup was too hot, and then my father-in-law started laughing. I laughed too, acknowledging it was a little bit of a silly gesture, licking the soup. He then said that he had done the exact same thing, and suddenly I didn't feel like such a failure.

So this week was long and tricky and my brain is trying to jump in a dozen different directions, but for now I am going to sit back and relax.

And maybe finish Jupiter.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 8, 2017

And it ALL SUCKS again. But I'm Still Here.

Golden week is over, and we mostly just relaxed at home, sometimes with friends. We also went out to Sendai once and watched all the Marvel movies we missed courtesy of Amazon streaming with Tomo on his one day off during the week.

Then came today, a day I was so looking forward to. I've noticed that a lack of time spent alone makes me somewhat more irritable than usual. I don't like snapping at my toddler for little reason, so I was really happy about having time to recharge...
And then she was sick,

She had a bit of a fever, so Tomo called off the school bus and I surrendered my plans for the day, keeping an eye on her temperature.
I also needed a walk. I also needed to relax somehow. I also needed a bit of time away from the hyper-yet-feverish kid, and in the end I screwed everything up by not alerting my in-laws the second her temp was over 38 (it oscillated between 37.5 and 38.1, making me wary of our equipment's readings) and rushing to the hospital. In Japan, this visit is free and the medicine is free, but everything must be done before 10:30 AM, which it wasn't.

Around 11, Tomo came home, called his parents, got us picked up and went back to work. Julia was right at 39. We went off to the hospital, which told us we were too late, then to the clinic where we got flu shots before. The doc fit us in just before lunch and took a nose swab, which came back in a few minutes confirming 1) a viral presence and 2) not the flu. He wrote us a little prescription and we went across the street to get it filled.

Because it was our first time at that pharmacy, we had to fill out a questionnaire and I discovered something new: My Mother-in-law is apparently tired of my shit.
Tomo fills out all the paperwork for everything we do. He chose the complex kanji for our daughter's name. I can't even read the questions on this form, and my mother-in-law is just looking at me, asking why I can't fill it out on my own.
I tell her I don't know Julia's kanji. I don't tell her that I spent the weekend filling out submission forms to the grocery store's seasonal write-in contest, where my kanji for my fairly complex address has improved greatly, but is still awkward. I did not explain how little time there is for study when I am trying to do all the other things they want me to do (lose 80 pounds, clean the house, maintain sanity) and take care of the three-year-old. I still don't even know where she caught this stupid virus.
My MIL, exasperated, writes the form in sloppy kanji. She read and tried to simplify the form for me to circle the answers on. A lot of it was not actually understandable to me. By this point, my embarrassment was verging toward self-loathing.
There was a question about allergies.
According to a recent blood test, Julia is not allergic to anything. This is in spite of the fact that she breaks out in hives every time she eats anything with the tiniest amount of peaches in it. Apparently that's not an allergic reaction in this case, and apparently this isn't weird in Japan. Some kids have immune systems that have to get used to certain things (egg whites and some kinds of fruit) which usually happens after a few years. The most you can do is treat the symptoms by having some medicine (not over-the-counter) on hand for those times. All of Julia's medicine for her peach-related attacks has been used.
We marked "No" on the allergy form and went on. We got the medicine, my MIL spent $6 on that and some cool packs for my daughter's head and the back of her neck, and we went on our way.
Under the guise of assistance, my MIL brought the 2 extremely light bags of things up to the apartment where she got to peek into my messy living room and appraise my lack-luster cleaning skills.

In my defense, I couldn't get crap done with Julia home all week and did actually manage to clean well enough to have a decent gathering for Star Wars Day, so I did my best. This was not a hell-hole.

Still I know she would never let anyone she loved live in such a place.

And I am trying my best.

But it just isn't good enough.

I never felt this way in school. Ever. Like seriously, even when I barely studied for Hellenistic Greek at 8AM, I felt more confident walking into that mid-term and final than I have ever felt in this hard-core Japanese Housewife Skills Test that is my everyday life and that I so thoroughly suck at.

And it doesn't really matter what I do, see? If I think we need a walk and we take a walk then obviously we should have stayed home and called everyone we know to discuss the readings on the thermometer. Whatever the situation is, I should assess the answer choices and immediately eliminate anything that makes sense to me, choosing only the most stressful or peculiar option.

I started having time to myself last month, so I started walking a lot and trying to jump-start this weight loss thing, acknowledging that it is probably the longest process in the multi-pronged list that is left between my current position and the expectations I am failing to meet.
Cleaning and organizing has also begun, including finally cleaning off the dining table and building a small book shelf with Hana's help. More salads, fewer carbs, constantly checking my daughter's uniform for spots to clean...I'm not exactly drowning in actual free time. I am trying to do all of the things.

And I am failing.

So, while Julia ate her lunch and I washed the dishes in the sink, I battled through some dark contemplation. I pulled myself back to the present long enough to get Julia to take her medicine and deliver her a tiny ice cream from the fridge as a reward.
I rinsed and de-labeled the plastic recycling while by brain dove back into less pleasant topics. When the recycling in the house was done, a tiny surge of accomplishment stirred within. Coming out the other side of internalized-garbage-land, I elected to write down some things I would like to see/do before I die. For this I chose the front page of my schedule book, where I will see this list every time I open the book. The biggest and boldest item there is USING THE WHOLE HOARD, which I later realized would of course take more than an afternoon. I hoard crafting supplies and fabric. This is not a short-term goal, but it should be done before I am incapacitated, pregnant again, or dead-- I would be saddling someone else with sorting through or trashing all that junk otherwise and I would rather have it all used.
The goal is to make stuff people actually want or need out of all the things without replacing the hoard.

Julia fell asleep on the couch after finishing her late lunch. I also chose to take a nap, which ended abruptly when Julia woke up after an hour. My mood had improved a bit.
I got Julia to drink more fluids and noticed that her wrist was covered with hives. Thankfully we still have medicated cream and after using it on the splotches, Julia appears to be free of the itchy bumps. Around this point, I decided finally that I could eat something, so I had a bowl of granola. The only way I thought I could even attempt to do what all they want in the time frame they have in mind is through starvation, but with more logic alive in my mind, I know that way lies madness. And fever. Whatever virus Julia caught will kick my ass if I don't keep myself fed and healthy.

So now we're here and I am talking online about things I don't really want everyone knowing but at the same time, if this helps anyone else re-assess and choose life, then it deserves a place in cyberspace.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


This month has been amazing.

First it was the sprint of kindergarten preparation, the last of which occurred only in the midnight hours before the entrance ceremony as I finally got to watch the episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders in which James Kyson appears.

Then it was the first week of school, which meant getting used to the time schedule for the kindergarten's school bus, which is not a public bus-- essentially a long van specific to this kindergarten. Every school in the area has one.
Then Julia wasn't eating lunch so I started waking her up even earlier and setting a time limit for our breakfast so she would be done by 7:30AM, therefor hopefully hungry by noon. Seems to be working somewhat.
Also, when she gets home, I check her silverware for signs of usage (bits of food, etc) and if it comes back pristine, she gets a lecture instead of a snack. And then a snack, too. I'm not a monster.

So then it was Easter and the event I'd been planning for months finally got to occur-- slightly wonky in delivery but fun for all involved and that is the most important part. A friend from college even came up here from her home closer to Tokyo to be part of the festivities, which meant so very much to me.

She is, genuinely, the first person from my college life to see me in this part of Japan. I have had other friends visit, but none from my days at TCU. And truth be told, I wouldn't be here without her and her sister's influence in my college life. Previous to our friendship, I knew nothing of Japanese pop culture. I would never have known the attractiveness of certain male pop stars had they not intervened. Tomo should really send them a thank you letter.

Anyway, so that was pretty wonderful. We got to sit under the cherry blossoms and enjoy Shiogama Shrine with kids and giant plastic Easter eggs (thanks to Hana and Taiyo, who hid them for Julia), and I spent way too long trying to make steampunk outfits for tiny people, but we all for to play dress up for a minute and have a great time, so it was all worth it.

That was Sunday.
Monday was windy and cold by comparison, but I went to bid farewell to my friend and her daughter in Sendai. That visit really means more to me than I can properly explain. The profoundness of the event coupled with my current mental state (mucus) leaves me inadequate to describe the feeling. Grateful is too small a word.

My plan had been to go find some sakura to sit under and read poetry in Sendai that afternoon, but the chill in the wind and my growing head-cold sent me home, though I still read poetry on the train, so it was still a good day for reading.

Today is Tuesday and I had several plans earlier but they had mostly gone to pot under the coughing fits occasionally attacking me now-- the last bits of this head cold thing-- so I elected to stay home and chat with friends. As that finished in the morning, the weather was so nice outside, I couldn't help but go for a walk, and it turned out that Hana was free, too. I put on a mask and we started walking and wound up on an adventure! I hatched two Pokemon eggs, we walked so far!

Good times. Amazing times.

I find the political world terrifying right now, the threat of nuclear war and other disasters imminent as the man-child-monster in power keeps his psychotic tirade going, but every once in a while I have a few of these amazing days and really feel like life has value, that the world can survive whatever is going on out there.
Maybe it can. Maybe it can't. Either way, we've got to enjoy what we can while we can.
And fight fascism. Always.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Julia's Kindergarten Entrance Ceremony

My laziness in preparation was astounding. We bought the uniform months ago, and all other materials needed a few weeks later. My mother-in-law even gifted us a fantastic name-stamp set in with Julia's name in hiragana in 7 different sizes with fast-drying ink, as if she heard the voice inside me freaking out beyond reason about the possibilities when it came to labeling the materials. (Hiragana, right? But it could be kanji, I mean, she has kanji so... Would they accept romanji? No, that would make her look foreign. Family name first, of course...right? Or am I overthinking it? What if I choose the wrong pen? The ink could bleed or wash off! What if it ruins her uniform and we have to spend more money that we have on getting replacements?! What if I bankrupt us over a sharpie!)

Yeah, that's me. Nice to know I didn't lose all the neurotic behavior of my youth when I gave birth, I guess.

So I got these stamps and all the materials, and did nothing about any of it, instead throwing myself into 3 or 4 other projects in the meantime, making baby pants out of socks and sweaters, turning second hand clothing with muted tones in to steampunk-toddler wear, and planning out a solar system themed mobile for my friend's new born...
And not Julia's clothing. Not even a little. Just, like, no.

Friday night, my in-laws drove us back from my evening class and dropped us off at our place, congratulating Julia on the next day's actiuvities and that was when it coccurred to me...
I had not labelled the things. At all.

For those uninitiated to the Japanese kindergarten material labeling system, every single thing your kid brings to school has to be labelled with their first and last name (also which class they are in, if the school is big enough. Luckily ours is not) and I do mean everything. Every crayon, and the crayon carrying case. Every marker, too. Every piece of their uniform, from the bow-tie to the blouse, jacket and skirt. Every utensil in their lunch kit. Each chopstick.
Not every grain of rice, thankfully, but we're also going to a school that provides the food, so yay, no bento stuff for me to learn just yet.

So it is kind of a big deal and I spent more than an hour with that stamping kit out, figuring out what to stamp and where and which size stamp to use. I then had to iron some name labels onto some things that didn't have them.
Then it came to the shoes and I couldn't remember where the indoor school-shoes got labelled. I asked my husband. "Across the strap." he said, and I was sure I hadn't seen that but decided I didn't care enough to fight at the point and labeled them across the front strap.
No one else at the school has their name labeled there. Many do on the back strap- the tiny cloth bit that juts up from the very back of the shoe. Oh well.

So I did all of this and fell asleep holding Julia while reading Dr. Seuss in our bed at 11.
My body woke up to freak out about ironing at 4:30AM. So it began.

I ironed and ironed and finally it all seemed okay. Julia got up and I got her to eat something and use the bathroom. We finally got Tomo up to check what the worksheets said we needed and to label a few things I somehow missed the previous evening.

Then we got ready and went.
It was refreshing to see how much variation there was in the dress and behavior of the moms. Some were on top of their kids and wearing the white suits I was told were standard verging on mandatory for this sort of event. Many were more relaxed in gray and black ensembles. One of the dads even collapsed his fat butt on the tatami in the play room, reclining like he was at an izakaya (traditional style bar/pub), which made me feel a little more presentable as I wasn't lounging around and neither was my husband.
Though my husband tried to listen to the teacher and translate for me, he only got excited enough to bother translating stuff I found obvious and already understood. 

The teacher holds up a small clear plastic bag and says "kusuri" which means medicine. Yeah, this is for medicine. She goes on to explain that you needn't put a whole bottle of any medication in there. A couple of doses will do fine (obviously in some tiny bottle-container you can probably get at the 100 yen store).
My husband turned to me, excited. "This is for medicine."
"Yeah, I know kusuri." I said.
"Fine then. I won't translate anything for you."

He says this right after I asked him about some notebooks that I didn't understand the purpose of that the teacher just described, that he did not explain at all.
Whatever, dude. More reason for me to start studying in earnest, when I finally have time to focus starting this coming week.

This was all after the actual ceremony, when all the entering students were made to sit in small chairs in the middle of the gymnasium/auditorium and listen to the principal introduce his staff and give a short speech. 
Some kids cried and ran. A couple had to sit with their parents instead of with the group, while others had their moms right by them, sitting at the edge of the crowd of children.
Mine was okay, in the very middle, until she realized that she wanted to blow her nose. Then she got up and ran out of the group, all the way to the back to get a tissue from me. Then she went back.
Then she did it again.
And again.
And again.
She was by far the kid most in-and-out of her chair in the whole group, but at least she was mostly quiet and as I have learned from our foray into music class last year, this is better than it could be.
At the end, she was held by the son of the principal, who looked after her a bunch and seems a really decent guy. I totally thought he was a kindergarten teacher and was happily surprised to see a male in the role, which is super-rare in Japan. He even walked her over to get tissues from atop the piano while his father talked.
I felt embarrassed and awkward, but not to the extent I would have expected. I also felt like this is a place where they are unlikely to cause Julia physical harm, even when she's being a total jerk, the way spoiled toddlers often are.
I know the staff was on their best behavior, but it still seems like they were nicer than they had to be, but maybe that is also me in this culture of extreme politeness.

But that is a problem we may have for a while. The Japanese idea of killing it with kindness and mild guilt-tripping into conformity may not work well on my spoiled little person. She may not learn anything from that other than who she can exploit the most before they get ticked off. That's what she did later that day at my in-laws house, where we had a lovely lunch with my in-laws and Grandpa Nakamura, after which Julia unwrapped and handed out chocolates to everyone individually, except for Grandma, who is by far the nicest to her. I told Julia she should also give one to Grandma and she responded by handing her one, wrapped, so she had to be goaded into it and still did not give the same respect (unwrapping) as she did for the others in the group.

That's a problem we might have, that this method of instruction may not do much to tame my kid, but then again, maybe the staff are more strict sometimes. Maybe they do have ways of making her conform.

I'm not saying I want her to be a mindless Japanese robot child, but I have accepted that tomorrow she starts a journey into becoming more Japanese than she is American. I am going to have to fight to keep the English up at home, and to keep the American thought process going, too, but there is a lot I have no control over. She is going to be a little Japanese girl. Maybe one with American tendencies.

So now, I need to: Wash the already dirty uniform, finish another project, exhaust Julia so she goes to sleep and wakes up early enough to get on the bus, try to enjoy my last day with my daughter before she begins assimilation into a culture I will always be outside of...

And now I'm sad.
And laughing.
Parenting is a maddening process, isn't it?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

All the Upcoming Shenanigans

So many things going on! Here's a rundown:

Tomorrow I teachmy normal classes, then run off to Sendai for the last class with one of my private students.

The next day I take Julia and Hana to the park at Tsutsujugaoka to hand out free tea bags and cookies for our E4K-- Random Acts yearly fundraiser (for which I have received only one donation) and
I will not be collecting donations as I have no way of putting the donated money into the crowdrise situation-- no debit card or credit card here, only Paypal and not much in my paypal.

If you would like to contribute to some awesome projects, donate here.

Monday I have one lesson and one skype-date with my mom.

Tuesday I have a full afternoon of classes at a student's house and this will be the first time I have taught these lessons this way. It will be interesting.

Wednesday I actually have a day off and might trek down to Ogawara with Julia to see 1000 sakura trees...maybe not. We'll see.

Thursday we have a class in Sendai in the afternoon.

Friday things go back to normal with my evening class.

Saturday will be Julia's kindergarten entrance ceremony.

That Sunday might be a day off, I have no idea.

That Monday, Julia starts kindergarten and I finally get to clean my house in addition to trying to make costumes and other fun things for Steampunk Hanami: Easter Edition which we will be having on Easter Sunday, April 16th.

Fun times!

Too many things to do....

So here I go, off to do the things!