Belated merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that you had a great day, whether or not you celebrated the holiday.

Things I learned this Christmas:

1 - Much like a car, my sewing machine needs time to warm up on cold winter mornings;

2 - I totally fail at making roll cakes;

3 - Spending the whole day baking is fun, but it's even more fun with a friend there to help wash dishes, measure out ingredients, chop things, etc;

4 - Having Hannah around is the secret ingredient to having the most delicious turkey ever to grace a Christmas dinner;

5 - Having one's hand-made gifts appreciated is totally worth the time and effort that went into making them;

6 - Tabitha will gladly abandon me for someone with a higher core temperature than mine. ;___;

Bits & Bobs

Jun. 8th, 2011 10:31 pm
I most likely will never get around to writing about them otherwise, so here are some of the things I got up to recently. Please imagine these brief paragraphs as the elaborately detailed posts I meant for them to be, won't you?

K-Pop Extravaganza!

Last month, Eda got her hot little hands on a pair of tickets to the huge K-pop charity concert to raise funds for earthquake relief. There were a million or so acts and it was pretty much a sausage fest, as Eda described it; apart from two girl groups and IU (who is beautiful and adorable and I can't decide whether I want to do dirty things to her or watch her play with kittens), it was all boy bands. So just imagine us spending the evening bouncing along while mostly interchangeable Korean boys DID NOT RIP THEIR SHIRTS OFF on stage. It was actually a bit disappointing! The only guy who obliged was the one wearing the hideous skin-tight pants that he'd obviously stolen from the WWF. Also notable was that when ToHoShinKi (all two of them! XDDD) came out at the end, the entire Saitama Arena went red as the crowd got out its official penlights. "We're in Mordor! D:" I exclaimed. Best act for me was BEAST, who had lots of energy. And it's trashy dance music, what's not to love? Sadly (?!), "Every night I SHARK" actually did sound like "shock" when heard live. Oh, well. It'll always be shark in my head! ^o^

Moving Eda

Last Saturday, Sarah and I helped Eda move. It was pretty much the reverse of what Jill and I helped her do last year, in that this time she moved from Nippori to Nakano. It took two trips, same as last time, but the weather was gorgeous! We discovered that Pickled Nasu Lady has a buddy, Pickled Daikon Lady, in front of whose house I most rudely parked. Not in front of her door, or anything, but in front of the frosted glass window that wasn't even open! She came out and glared at me, but I ignored her, since she wasn't congratulating me on my superior backing up skills. And later, when we were getting reading to leave, she came and asked us what we were doing -- it was so worth it to hear Eda say, in possibly the bitchiest voice I've ever heard her use, "We're programming the navigation system." We didn't see her on the second run, but Pickled Nasu Lady was sitting by the side of the street, and told us, as we drove by, "There's no exit that way." I suppose my very loud peal of laughter wasn't very polite, but didn't she remember us from last year? XDDD

In between runs we had lunch at Big Boy, because that was the only place we could think of that had parking. I'd never eaten at Big Boy before (I only knew of its existence because of Austin Powers, to be honest), and the menu was pretty much just large chunks of meat, but I am in love with the salad bar! For Y600 you can eat mountains of salad, which I did. Who knew salad could be so filling! And I've done some research and found that there's a branch in Choufu within reasonable biking distance from my place. :D~~~

Game of Thrones

This series is SOOOO GOOOOOOOD! There are only two more episodes left to go for this first season, but that just means I'll be able to marathon them all. Tyrion is still amazing; Arya is great; Jon (and Ghost!) are finally getting to see some action; Tywin is perfect; I'll just stop there, because I'm too tired to go into details. Suffice to say, you should watch this series even if you don't know the books. Watch it!


Kids crack me up. I taught my advanced class today (all kids who either graduated from our preschool or are returnees) and the word "boss" came up. I asked them if they knew what it meant, and who their boss was. They came up with, "Mummy and Daddy. And my teacher." So I asked them if they knew who my boss was. Dead silence. "Your mummy?" one girl tried. "No, it's Ms. Y." I pointed at my boss, who was at her desk on the other side of the room, and the look on their faces was priceless. I guess until that moment, the teachers were all just teachers on the same level. Which makes sense, since we all, my boss included, go by "Ms. FirstName". XDDD

Later on, I was giving them sentences and they had to tell me what kind of verb I'd used. I said, "I believe the moon is made of cheese." Chaos ensued! Well, almost. It was the little kid version of OMGWTFBBQ?!?!?!?, so I had to explain the joke, such as it was. At least they all knew that some kinds of cheese have holes in them.


My brain is starting to hate me, and I've really no idea how much of an improvement over my last score I can reasonably expect, but at least I'm studying daily! I'll do one of the practice tests this weekend to get a rough idea of how badly I'll do. I wish I were kidding. -___-;;; At least I'm motivated now! I've got less than a month to go, but I'm more or less where I'd planned to be in my studying. Ideally, I'd have been going through the grammar book again as well, but I don't have the time. I can skim through it easily enough, as grammar is not usually my weak point.

Lady Gaga

I spent most of Sunday with Hannah, eating caaaaaake and shopping wandering through stores and not buying anything. Except for Lady Gaga's latest CD, which is even dancier than I expected. I quite like it, though I'm a bit surprised by how retro it sounds. Sure, everyone was going on about how "Born This Way" is Madonna remixed, but I hear hints of TLC in it too, and more than a bit of late '80s/early '90s Bon Jovi in some other songs. I'm not sure whether it'll grow more on me or whether I'll grow tired of it after a while, as none of the sounds sound as unique to me as "Bad Romance", "Poker Face" or "Telephone".


To get back to the caaaaaake, we hit up the Sweets Paradise in Shibuya at 11:00, expecting it to be full of gyarus, but it was mostly full of ordinary folks, including a birthday party of 8-year-old girls. I guess 11:00 is too early for them -- it takes time to apply those five layers of false lashes, after all!


I've finally managed to translate my chronic (when can one begin to describe it as chronic, anyway?) fatigue into getting to bed at a decent hour. Go me! I've been averaging about 11 to 11:15, which is amazing, considering I used to rarely make it to bed before half past midnight. I feel better in the mornings, though I still can't get myself to study then most of the time, leaving it for the evening. On the other hand, I've been lazy with Travelpod. Bloh. At least I've been uploading pictures? XD;

Time for some reading before bed. I'm thoroughly caught up in World of Wonders, so lets see if I can manage another chapter or two before my eyelids shut of their own volition.
Because I'm just like the House of Commons, I am. XD

Before that, though, I want to know why weekends go by so quickly. It's unfair! Yesterday I got mah hair did, went to ballet class, then spent the rest of the day with Jill. We at sushi, we stitched, we bitched, and we drank lots of blueberry wine. It was great. Today, I met up with Jamie, Eda and Hannah to eat burritos. The burritos were very large. I also had yummy tortilla chips and guacamole. After lunch, Hannah and I went to Shinjuku. We spent some time in Kinokuniya -- I immediately went to the porn section, i.e. the travel section. I may have bought a guide to Singapore. ^.^ After that, we waited in line for ages to get a slice of tart (for me) and a glass of air freshener (for Hannah). For what was left of the afternoon, we shopped a bit, got lost, and Hannah imparted some wisdom of the make-up variety, because I know sadly little of such things, and it turns out I kind of care about the state of my face.

Someone needs to tell shop managers in Shinjuku to lay off the fragrances. In Studio Alta, I kept sneezing, it was so strong, and even in Lumine, I had several uncomfortable "ITCHY NOSE!" moments. And I don't even have that sensitive a nose! :P

Since I've gotten home, I've eaten, cleaned up cat vomit, and posted a Travelpod entry. Oh, and I did laundry. Why am I so exhausted?!

Here are some more questions, these ones courtesy of my favourite hobbit in the whole wide world (and that includes the imaginary ones), [ profile] nekonezumi.

1) What flavor or scent do you associate most with winter?

To me, the scent of winter is cold night air that freezes its way up your nose. Or the smell of a cat's fur when it's just come in from outside, a scent that's vaguely reminiscent of smoke and steel. The scent of clementines and evergreens is specifically a Christmas smell to me, not of winter in general.

2) Would you rather give up hotpot or ice cream?? D:

Ice cream. There are other ways to cool down in the summer, and plenty of other desserts to enjoy when craving sweets. And really, one can't boast of having eaten the world's spiciest ice cream, eh? ^_^

3) What vintage fashions would you most like to see become the vogue in the near future?

You were the one who said once that the 1920s were my decade, right? I love the aesthetics of the era: the drop-waisted dresses, the long ropes of pearls, the short hair, the shoes, the elaborate beadwork. And beads are sparkly, and we all know how I feel about sparkly things! :D

4) What language would you choose to study after you've mastered Mandarin and Japanese, and why?

If that day ever comes... Hah. Probably German. I've got the family name to go with it, for one thing, and I like the sound of it. Plus, my youngest brother is learning it now and damn it, I'm the polyglot of the family!

5) What's your favorite way to eat a bagel? (what kind of bagel, toasted or untoasted, butter/jam/cream cheese/other??)

My standard order at Tim Horton's is a toasted blueberry bagel with cream cheese (cinnamon-raisin if they're out of blueberry, as the Ottawa Airport one often is, grr!), and for several years, my usual lunch was a sesame seed bagel with either cream cheese or peanut butter.

That said, the ultimate bagel experience is a fresh poppy seed bagel, toasted, with raspberry jam and either brie or camembert on it. (I know, I know, as if the raspberries weren't bad enough, SOFT CHEESE! XD)
Can I write a coherent post in fifteen minutes? Let's find out!

My resolution to rise early to exercise and/or stretch has been going well, except for Monday. I had a headache Sunday night, went to bed early, called in sick and slept until half noon. Over thirteen hours of sleep, people! I can't remember when that's ever happened, except for sleeping on and off when sick. I went in to teach my afternoon classes, and the worst of the headache was gone by evening. I still went to bed at ten, though. Tuesday I was right as rain again.

This evening I've been productive, sort of. At least I'm ready to hop on the night bus tomorrow night! I made a last-minute decision last weekend and am heading off to Aomori for three days, just to be alone. Christmas back home was kind of exhausting, and I've been busy since I got back. A good kind of busy, with lots of good times spent with friends, but busy nonetheless. I need to recharge. Hopefully, a few days walking around in a new city (and a haunted mountain? :D) on my own will do the trick. I've got a book, plenty of yarn, an ipod full of music and my camera, so I'm sure I'll find a way to occupy my time.

In other news, an old mystery has been resolved! Last year, I had a stamp card from the Berry Café that entitled me to a free slice of cake. Only problem was, when it came time to cash it in, as it were, the card was nowhere to be found. I searched high and low, finally concluding that I must have accidentally put it out with the recycling. It had bothered me ever since, because that was so out of character for me. Then, when I finally cracked open my JLPT books the other day (after not having looked at them since I took the test, over a year ago), what do you think I found? The card! T____T It's way beyond the expiry date, but at least I know that I had kept it safe. A little too safe!

Speaking of the Berry Café, Hannah and I spent a long time there last Sunday. And the weekend before that, I spent a long time with Marianne, Jamie and William at Miravile Impakt, eating lots of desserts. And the weekend before that, it was Sweets Paradise with Alexis! I'll post pictures when I get back. Maybe. And maybe I'll find a place to have sinfully delicious pastries in Aomori, hm? ^_^

These made me giggle: figure skating costume commentary! U.S. Nationals ladies and pairs, and men and ice dancers. I can't wait for them to cover the Worlds!

When are the Worlds? Eda, you want to make a date to watch some of them? :D

Time for bed now, I have to be up early to Get Stuff Done.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!
Hey, everybody. It feels like it's been a while since I've written a post of substance... Will this be the day I buck that trend?!

This weekend I accomplished precisely nothing. Well, I did get my hair cut, ate sushi, walked around Kichijouji taking pictures, and took some more pictures in Shinjuku this evening after having supper with Alexis. We went to the gayer than gay Sweets Paradise, and I was already amused that we were most likely the only non-couple F/M pair there, but given our main topic of conversation over the food, it was kind of funny. Or ironic, I suppose.

Another thing I accomplished was finally finding an acceptable purse and buying it. It's pink! And not the dusty old rose that everything seems to be this season *yawn* but a nice bright one. I didn't have a pink purse yet. Another thing I bought is more nail polish, because I definitely needed more of that! But I can blame Hannah for eliminating any vestiges of shame I might have had left on this particular topic, as she rightly pointed out that, "Nail polish lasts forever."

It feels a bit late to write in detail about my time in Canada, but there are a couple of things that were really driven home while I was there.

The first is that goddamnit, I really miss speaking French regularly.

Those of you I met in Japan might not realise it, but before moving here, my life was mainly conducted in French. I've always spoken French with my mother; all my schooling, except for kindergarten, grade 1, and 2/3 of my university classes, was in French; I studied ballet in French; I taught French full time for three years; most of my closest friendships in Canada were conducted in French; and G and I always spoke French together. As for English, apart from being the language I speak with my father and brothers, it used to mainly be my language of cultural consumption rather than daily life: the television shows and movies and books that I choose have always been overwhelmingly in English (or subtitled in English, in the case of anime), but I never lived my day-to-day life in English until I came to Japan, where I work in English and conduct most of my social life in English.

Juste pour le fun... )

The second thing is that I'm starting to really notice the shift between... living in Japan and having been in Japan for a long time, I guess. Almost four and a half years! The inevitable question of, "When/Are you coming back?" was asked more than once -- not by people close to me, though -- and I found it a bit harder to answer than I used to. While I still don't intend to spend my life here (I'm not ruling it out, but that has never been my intention), it seems that after four years, "I have no reason to leave yet, and I really like it in Japan" is starting to shift toward, "I have good friends there, a good job, a cat, a good place to live, and I'm happy." And isn't that what we strive for when we build a life for ourselves?

All right, that's enough [badly expressed] self-reflection for now.
Let's have some numbers, shall we?

-12 is probably the coldest temperature I got in Canada, and that was only on my first day back. Most vexingly, it got warmer and warmer over my stay, culminating with ABOVE ZERO temperatures in Montreal! :P

1 is the number of weddings I attended. Though, since M-P and Pat have been together for 13 years, a wedding seems sort of beside the point, it was a lovely little ceremony.

2 is the number of times I ate pho at Pho 99, my favourite pho restaurant in Ottawa.

2.5 is the number of socks I knit during my trip.

4 is the number of clementines I ate at my parents house.

5 is the number of new bottles of nail polish I brought back with me.

6 is the number of times I napped between leaving my parents' house and reaching my apartment: twice on the plane from Ottawa to Toronto (I woke up for the snack XD), three times between Toronto and Tokyo (including during both takeoff and landing, as usual XD), and most of the bus ride from Narita.

7 is the number of pets and babies I was introduced to/took pictures of. Merlin and Beulah, the new family cats; Morty and Frida, ASK's bulldogs; Croquette, A-L's bird; Sam, Bashy Boy and Tango Chick's baby; Roo, Anna's baby (this was over the phone, though, and her real name is Keira).

10 is the number of hours of sleep I got last night -- in bed by nine, up around 7:30, with only one trip to the toilet during the night.

11 is the number of books I brought back with me.

13 is the number of movies I watched during my holiday (reviews forthcoming).

25 is the approximate number of glasses of wine I drank in Canada, not including glasses of port and also the copious amount of port my mum poured into the second trifle (seriously, the cake at the bottom was soaked through with it!) and I probably had a cocktail or two at some point.

45 is the number of episodes of Monster my brother and I managed to get through. Out of 74 episodes, that's not too bad, considering we only had one day where we could properly marathon it. Otherwise, we watched it in fits and starts, limited by other activities, me getting sleepy (in the evenings) and B1 not getting up early enough.

500 is the number of grammes less my huge suitcase weighed coming back than it did going. But I guess it doesn't really count, since I had an extra bag!

3475 is the number of different kinds of cookies, chocolates, cakes, trifles, cupcakes, muffins and pastries I ate.

2348907 is the number of jelly beans I consumed at A-L's place and that I still have to eat, because she gave me a huge bag of them.
It's already nearly midnight for my friends in Japan, so I'd better wish you all a happy new year now, before I forget or get too busy knitting/watching silly movies with A-L/eating jelly beans/making mapo tofu for my family.

I'm at A-L's place at the moment, and she told me I was free to wake her up after 8:30, which was five minutes ago. But I'll be generous and let her sleep a little longer. At least until I finish this. ^_^

I've been back a week, and have spent most of that time eating with family and friends. In other words, it's been great! I feel like a blob -- a warm, happy, well fed blob.

A-L and I spent the day together yesterday (we saw Black Swan, which I'll write about later) and went grocery shopping before coming back to her place. We bought... a lot of movie-watching supplies, including several flavours of chips, two different kinds of chocolate chip cookies, two different kinds of cream cheese, English muffins, Habitant vegetable soup, and cretons! I'd forgotten cretons even existed until a couple of days ago, but the recollection of them was enough to think that my trip wouldn't be complete without some.

... I just looked up cretons and it seems they're a Quebec thing, and I guess they sound really unappetizing if you've never had them. XD;;; They're good, I swear! It's like pâté without the snobbiness!

The only thing I haven't yet ticked off on my list of foods to eat is poutine. I had some at Harvey's when we went to pick up B2, but chain restaurant poutine doesn't really count. It's gotta be S&G Fries or Pataterie Hulloise!

All right, I'd better stop writing about food, because no one will ever want to eat out with me again for fear of offending my high-class palate. Anyway, it's almost nine, so it's time to wake up the hostess! :D

The one thing I must do today is post my pictures of Zurich to Travelpod, because that's the very last entry I must make if I want to get rid of my backlog. Now I need to figure out where the USB ports are on this computer so I can upload the pictures!
If I were an insect, I could type and knit at the same time. Imagine how many socks I could knit in a month!

Whatever's been going on with my brain and my body lately, it's made me fantasize about sleeping. Sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. I just want to curl up in a pile of warm blankets and sleep, then wake up, doze off again, and stay horizontal for as long as possible. The thing is, even though I slept in fairly late (for me) yesterday, and was tired last night, I woke up this morning at 8:30, after under eight hours of sleep, and was wide awake.

Bloh. Anyway, I'll start getting ready for bed now, right after I finish my tea.

Japanese words )

Friends )
Say, has anyone been friended by any random Russians lately? I got a notifications the other day that someone I'd never heard of had friended me, so I went and took a look at their lj. It's all in Russian, and there are a bunch of photos of different places, some of which seem to be stock photos (watermark and all XD). It's happened before, though one of them seemed to be an actual person who pmed me asking if it was all right to friend me. I said sure, but that I wouldn't friend her back, since I can't read Russian. Anyway, has this happened to you? *curious*

* * *

Lately, I've been feeling tired, stressed, indecisive, and insecure. Last weekend's Thanksgiving party made me feel at least 100% better, it was so much fun. Thank you, my friends, for making the time I spend with you so memorable. (Yes, there are pictures, I just have to scan our masterpieces and then I'll post everything at once.)

Part of the stress is from my upcoming ballet recital. At least Inui-sensei's been messing with the choreography, so that the parts I wasn't able to remember very well have been reworked, so I'm not lagging behind. I'm starting to think that I won't stick out like a sore thumb on stage after all! Well, I will, but hopefully not because of my dancing. XD;;;

Another annoyance, and I think it's related to the changing weather, is that the flesh around the scar on my back has been... not aching, exactly, but feeling sort of swollen. Like, "Hey! I'm a scar in the middle of your back! Just wanted to let you know I'm still here! :D"

This weekend, I really need to start work on my Halloween costume. I've got all the fabric, and I know what I want to do; I just need to measure myself vs. Brunhilde to make sure I make it my size, and not hers.

* * *

The kids are starting to get really excited about our Halloween party. This week, Hina kept asking all the teachers what their costumes would be. When she got to me, she announced, "Ms. Adele, you'll be a banana!"

"No, I won't."

"Then what?"


"Pineapple!" She stuck with the fruit theme until I told her I wasn't going to be any sort of fruit. Then she switched to "[random object]-man!" Finally, one of the other kids guessed that I'd be a flower. Hina looked up at me with a big smile. "A boy flower?" (This was after it was determined, by my two youngest girls, that I couldn't be a princess because princesses have long hair.)

* * *

In other Halloween news, I received a parcel of sugar sweets from Emily yesterday. She wanted to know whether Halloween goodies are traditionally the same in Canada as in the U.S., so here's what I have to say about that:

Tootsie Rolls: I always got a few of these when trick-or-treating, but to me they were in the same category as the toffee -- what you eat when everything else is gone. XDDD
Hershey's Milk Chocolate: Yup, we have these in Canada, along with the dark chocolate ones and (my favourite!) the cookies 'n' cream ones.
Butterfinger: We have these, though I've never seen/tried pumpking flavoured ones! Small chocolate bars given to trick-or-treaters (at least in my area) tended toward Snickers, Mars, KitKat, Smarties*, and Oh! Henry, though this could have changed in recent years.
PayDay: I had never seen or heard of this before! Very salty on the outside and very sweet on the inside, it's like the perfect answer for a sudden craving. I like this, though one per day is more than enough! ^o^
Pumpkin cookie: You gave us some of these last year, didn't you?
Sugary pumpkins: I might have seen these back home, but I can't recall ever having eaten any.
Candy Corn: The first time I ever ate candy corn was two years ago, because my boss buys seasonal decorations and things from American party supply stores. I'd most likely heard of it before then, but it was probably one of those things, like homecoming dances and temperatures expressed in degrees Fahrenheit, that only came up in American books and that I dismissed as a weird foreign thing.

As far as I can remember, my Halloween haul usually had a good deal of suckers (lollipops), Rockets*, Halloween toffee, various small chocolate bars, a few small packages of Nerds, Skittles, jellybeans, etc., and always some non-candy items, such as pencils or juice boxes.

Now I'm curious as well. How about the rest of you? What are the most popular goodies where you're from? Is candy corn common in other areas of Canada?

* This year, I learned that Americans have this strange idea that Smarties are little fruity candies. I just found out why: oh Wikipedia, what would we do without you?
There are lots of things to be thankful for. Right now, I'm most thankful for having such wonderful friends. Those who came to celebrate at my place today, and those who couldn't make it (being either busy, sick, or Not Here), I want you to know that you make my life a funny, interesting, exciting, fun, and incredible experience. Much love for all of you! <3

(Pictures and scans of relevant documents will come tomorrow.)
Masa, you know I love you, but that colour looks better on me than it does on you.

And in the spirit of linking, here is some random stuff for you to click on:

Top 25 Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians: I couldn't help it, this made me snort with laughter more than once. Especially #8, "Inventors of the 1980s". *snerk*'s lists of top 5/6/15/22 are a way to very easily waste whole evenings away, but damned if they aren't entertaining!

No Sex in the City: While I imagine it must be very frustrating to be putting yourself out there and not getting any takers, this line seems to encapsulate this woman's problems: "and even construction workers, who could usually be counted on for a leer, regarded me with bored, blank expressions, (...)" Seriously, what country did you think you were in? I don't know much about Japanese dating practices, but she seems to have been going about it all wrong. Oh, and having curly blonde hair doesn't mean that all guys will think you're hot, either.

101 Places Not To Go To: Reading this much negativity really annoyed me, especially the bit about, "OMG, Korean monks don't just sit around all day contemplating the mysteries of the universe, they actually have to work to get food on the table!" Get your head out of your ass, woman. I find myself getting really annoyed reading travel articles such as this one, because it really boils down to, "Hey, foreign people are weird and stuff in other countries is not just like it is back home!" Well, of course it isn't. Isn't that why you travel? What's the point if you're just going to seek to recreate the life you had in your native country? I clicked the link to her blog, though, and I liked the tone there much more; she's going off the beaten track, and has a good sense of humour about it, for the most part.

All right, enough complaining. Here's some fun stuff!

Seal of Approval: Approve-o-rama! *squeal* ^_^

Big Cats on Catnip: They're the same as regular cats, just on a larger scale.

* * *

When Kimberly called me up this morning to ask if I wanted to come over for a pancake breakfast, I realised that never before have I lived so close to a good friend, or to any friend, really, since childhood. The only time would have been back when I was 13, and my friend Melanie moved two streets away, but she changed schools at the end of that year and we grew apart, so we stopped hanging out together. It's nice to be able to just pop over whenever, bring my knitting and chat for a while.
Hmph, I spoke too soon about the heat having broken and it not feeling like summer anymore. Bloh.

The past couple of weeks have been a long steady stretch of blah, at least for how I've been feeling, a combination of fatigue (I think I've finally recovered from China!) and lack of direction. I still lack direction, but I had a nice evening of chatting with Eda last night, I slept until 10:40 this morning -- that hadn't happened in far too long! -- and I got a new bookshelf! Now I have more room to put stuff. I still need to accomplish some reorganisation, but I'll do that tomorrow, on my day of No Plans.

*blissful sigh*

Aren't those wonderful words? Last Saturday was a day of No Social Plans, but I had lots of errands to run. Tomorrow I truly have no plans, except for cleaning up my apartment some more.

Another very exciting thing in my life: I finally got myself a new bar to hang my laundry on! The one I was using before was here when I moved in, and was a cheap plastic one, which over the years had bent so that it hung worryingly low in the middle. Now I have a nice metal one, which means that my drying racks stay in place, though it also means that hanging stuff up means I need to reach higher, and also the sun tends to blind me more.

All right, now to shower, take Tabitha to the vet, then go out and see people. Having a [working] bicycle again means I can wear heels, yeah! :D
This is kind of last minute, but does anyone want to join me and Eda tomorrow night to watch pretty rockets go boom in the sky? We're meeting at Kita-Senju at around 5:00. (These are the fireworks we're going to see, though I've no idea how the site is, since I've never been to them before.)

* * *

Kimberly and I have finally started our long-planned dress-up box for the kids at school. If you should happen to have anything lying around that you'd like to donate, let me know! For example, hideous stuff you might have gotten in a grab bag, or something. XD Hats, belts, ties, scarves, (sun)glasses, necklaces, watches, etc. are all welcome, as well as clothes you think kids would enjoy dressing up in. Basically, anything except shoes.

* * *

A big thank you for the thoughtful and encouraging replies to my last post; it means a lot to me. I'll try to reply tomorrow morning, when I'm not so exhausted!

And on that note, it's off to beddy-bye for me.
Sometimes I'm so dense, I frustrate myself. Like, it takes nearly coming to tears during ballet class (because there's one movement I can't do properly and I make it look awful) to consciously realise how much I love ballet, and how much I really want to do well. But then, five minutes later, I felt that I had nearly nailed an enchaînement I've had trouble with for months, and I was smiling to myself and wanting to pat myself on the back. I know I wasn't doing it perfectly (my arms especially were all over the place), but I was on the proper beat, and I was more up in the air than down, my feet skimming the floor as they were supposed to. That's what I love about ballet: when I'm doing it right, I feel light and weightless and graceful.

At the end of class, there was a little surprise party for a girl who's leaving to study contemporary dance in Germany for two years. Cakes and wine were brought out, and since there were no plates or napkins, everyone was given a fork and told to dig in. It was fun! I ended up chatting with one of the girls who works at the studio, who was very sweet, but after a two-hour class, with nothing but half a glass of wine and a few bites of cake in my stomach, my Japanese wasn't all that impressive. Still, I gambatta, so yay me? XD;

Ugh, cockroach! :P At least Tabitha proved she serves as a warning system? XD Must buy more poison tomorrow. Bleurk.

Anyway, I bought a 4 class ticket for ballet instead of my usual 8 class, both because I don't think I have the time or the energy to make it to eight classes before I leave for China, and also because Sarah came up with this crazy idea to go to Bali, and I'm afraid I'm going to cave and go along... even if it means having no money to spend.

I've been thinking a lot about money recently, and trying to figure out where my priorities lie. Well -- actually, that's not true. I know where my priorities lie, where they've always lain: I want to travel. Ever since I started working and didn't have to save up money for tuition, I saved money so I could travel. Even now, though I spend pretty freely, I feel guilty for not putting more in my travel fund. As it is, China is going to cost a lot, on top of what I've already paid (plane ticket, insurance, visa, medical stuff). Then there's airfare home for Christmas (but maybe I could get my parents to partly fund that: "Daddy, how much do you want to have me home for Christmas? :D"), and the whole Bali thing... not to mention little things like rent and food. Bah, why doesn't someone give me a pile of money to use as I please?

On the bright side, this desire to be frugal is inspiring me to sew, since I won't be getting my jollies buying stuff. Except for when Hannah and I hit up the summer sales, of course.

Hmm, maybe that can be a sticker sheet reward? Haha, maybe I have too many sticker sheets; it's getting that I have too many things I need to reward myself for. ^__^;;; At least that means I'm accomplishing stuff, I guess!

Anyway, good night, gotta get some of that sleep stuff that is apparently good for you!
Today was nice. Relaxing, fun, and the weather turned out better than expected!

To celebrate Canamerica Day, I headed out to Chiba's Edogawa Pool Garden with Kimberly, Jamie, Eda, Emily and Tiffany. Upon arrival, we were shocked to find the place deserted. Well, not deserted, but compared to the other times I'd been, there was barely a soul in sight -- in fact, we had l'embarras du choix when it came to choosing a place beneath the awnings (we'd always had to set up camp somewhere around the edge of the park, in the hot sun, the other times I'd been). Even waiting in line for the slide took only a fraction of the usual time! I'm guessing people stayed away because the sky looked threatening, but though the weather started out overcast, which was nice because it wasn't too hot, the sun eventually came out with a vengeance. I played it extra safe and reapplied sunscreen more than once, and am happy to report myself free of sunburn. My eyes are a bit tired from being out in the bright light most of the day, but that's to be expected.

Bobbing around in the lazy river was nice and relaxing, and it was overall a great day, except for the service at El Torito, which was slow and just... I thought it was standard policy to check everyone's glass of water when someone asks for more, but not according to that one waitress, it seems! At least the other girl offered us all refills when someone asked. But then she forgot to give Jamie's order to the kitchen staff... *rolls eyes*

Eda and I topped the triple challenge at Baskin Robbins, sharing a coconut/raspberry-chocolate/gay tropical island fruit cup. It was yummy. ^_^

Back in Kichijouji, it was raining, so Kimberly and I poked around Yuzawaya for a few minutes while waiting for the bus. I hadn't been to the new location yet, if you can believe it! I wound up finding ballet-themed stickers, because that's what it takes to get me to do my stretching every day. My reward for a month of daily stretching will be a new leotard (which I desperately need), and the following month it will be some new ballet slippers. With split soles, this time! :D

This means I now have about... oh, 800 stickers to use.


On the bright side, on another floor at OIOI I spotted a couple of really cute bathing suits, and I'm thinking one of those can be my reward for completing my first study sticker sheet, because being able to communicate with people in China isn't enough of a reward. XD

One of the bathing suits is actually two bikinis that you can wear together. Yes, because layer bathing suits is what's in, now. Oh, Japan, what will you think of next?!
Happy Canada Day! v^o^v

All right, so here's the deal for Sunday: the majority of the replies I've received have been in favour of the water park, so let's start praying for good weather! The Edogawa Pool Garden is on the Tozai Metro line, near Nish-Kasai station. It's pretty lame by water park standards (one slide, lazy river, a couple of waist-deep pools) but it's CHEAP -- only Y500! It opens at 9 a.m., but how about aiming for 10 so that we can secure a spot for our stuff?

Also, there's an El Torito at the station, as well as a Baskin-Robbins. Kimberly and I were thinking of doing late lunch/early dinner, to avoid the meal-time rush (if there is such a thing at Nishi-Kasai? XD), so I guess anyone who doesn't want to go to the water park could meet up with us around mid-afternoon for eats.

How does that sound? Comments? Suggestions? Death threats?

* * *

In other news, Eda and I have gone kind of sticker crazy. At least it's a rather tame form of? XD More on that later, must go to work now.
Next Sunday, people!

So far, the vote is leaning toward having a picnic in a park. The question remains, which park? Inokashira is closest for me, obviously, but not so convenient for the Chiba contingent. I don't care where we go, as I don't mind long train rides.

Kimberly proposed another good idea: going to Edogawa Pool Garden, then having supper someplace else.

And of course, there were still the options of going to Costco or going to the beach.

What say you?

(This is all presuming that the weather will be nice, or at least unrainy. Suggestions for a bad weather fallback are appreciated!)
Let me tell you a tale of long ago, a time when I sported a B cup. I bought one of those "invisible bra" thingies to wear under a backless dress, where you just tape the cups to your chest and there are no straps. The dress I was planning to wear them with never got made, and I never even took the thing out of the box, but I still have it, though it's about 3 cup sizes too big for me now. XD;;;

Will anyone give it a home?

And also, in the Things I Have But Don't Need Department, would anybody like a clock radio? It was given to me by a friend who left Japan, a friend who, like me, was astounded that the Japanese have alarm clocks and radios, but you hardly ever see a clock radio. I know you probably all use your cell phones as your alarm, as do I, but I thought I'd offer.

* * *

I've been sewing ballet costumes for the kids to wear for our little performance on culture day. THEY'RE SO TINY AND CUTE! I showed the first finished vest to my boss this morning, and she squeed. "かわいすぎ!!!" I just have to finish sewing the binding on by hand, and then it'll be more stars for my sticker sheet!

Speaking of sewing, Eda came over on Sunday and I helped her make some pillowcases. They turned out really well! I hope she posts pictures! *hinthint* Of course, since it isn't a true sewing project without some stupid thing going wrong or a dumb screw-up -- my modus operandi is usually sewing pieces together backward, or something similar -- two sewing machine needles were bent and/or broken in the process of sewing on some innocent-looking pink ribbon. The ribbon, which has been sitting in my box of trim for years, must have been plotting revenge for some time! XDDD

Arg, I need to renew my vows to Haenbok-sshi in a serious way, because I'm seriously failing these days: I haven't stretched at home in over two weeks, I'm not getting up early enough to study in the mornings, and I haven't managed to complete any sewing project since my giant dress (the stuff for work doesn't really count, as I have a deadline).

At least I'm posting to Travelpod? ^_^;;;
Before I forget, let's start thinking about Canamerica Day! (i.e. a combination of Canada Day and Independance Day festivities, to be held on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of July) A repeat of last year's Costco picnic has been suggested, but I was thinking that maybe we could go have a picnic somewhere outside the city -- or, at least, somewhere that looks like it's outside the city, such as a large enough park that we're not surrounded by buildings. Or even the beach! What do you think? Do you know of any good places?

(I'd offer up my place, but I have no A/C, so I think a large gathering here in the summer is out.)

Either way, I will provide an encore (pronounced エンコレ, of course) of my butter tarts, which everyone seemed to like. ^.^

ETA: And either way, I have a frisbee and it will be coming along with us! :D

* * *

It's always interesting to see how a day's conversations, thoughts and events get recycled into dream material. Eda, I'm sure, can figure out why I dreamt about having a collection of BL movies -- starring Korean boy band members, no less -- on VHS tapes. The only problem was, I couldn't find anybody who had a VCR so we could watch them! XD

I am in the middle of a large scale cleaning of my apartment. So far, my attempts have been frustrated by my vacuum cleaner repeatedly overheating and shutting off, but I will persevere! Despite the depressing(ly huge) amount of clothes I own. Why is there no St-Vincent-de-Paul here? I don't want to throw away the clothes I don't wear anymore, but apart from the Engrish t-shirts which I'm saving for a theoretically-it-may-see-the-day quilt, I don't know what to do with them all. *sigh* It's at the point where I have no more room in my closet for the clothes I want to make, and I feel bad getting rid of stuff I haven't worn that much, since it seems like a waste. And that's slowing me down, and preventing further progress on all fronts. (Though there has been progress, it's overshadowed by the fact that my floor is strewn with odds and ends of all descriptions.)

But I will not be discouraged! Let's see... I'll clean until 5, then do some sewing, then write (for Travelpod, and for my post on creativity that is still creatively stewing in my mind), then maybe pop in the cracky Masa dance DVD while I get some stuff ready to mail.

All right, enough stalling, back to work!
I'm not sure why, but these past few months have seen me feeling things more intensely. I've always been d'humeur égale, prone neither to extreme highs or lows of mood (not without a good reason, anyway), but today I've been full of so much love for everything that I feel warm and mushy and I just want to hug the world. I don't know if it was waking up to Tabitha being incredibly affectionate, cute and cuddly and purring like a tractor, but the rest of the day was lovely. I got up early to cook lunch and it turned out really well; I discovered my new favourite song* and beat my record time for walking to work; the kids were just so adorable and bright and funny today that I wanted to hug them and gnaw on their cute round cheeks forever; after work I met up with Eda and Jamie and we parked ourselves at Coco's to study (Korean for Eda, Mandarin for me) and draw (Jamie); I got home to a postcard that Jill sent me from Thailand, informing me that even the ladyboys have larger boobs than I do.

Well, if they didn't, I'd say that they'd really wasted their money!

* Lady Gaga's "Optimist" which I love and makes me stomp fiercely through the streets, mouthing the words.



February 2012

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