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Saturday Night, Alive!

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It’s a 3-day weekend! What better way to celebrate this greatness than to go to the heart of Japan’s entertainment district and just drink our brains out.

So when Saturday was nearing it’s end, we met up with a close friend who was more at home at Roppongi than we will ever be, and he lead us deep into the neon-lighted streets, steering clear away from the retching people every other block.

He told us we should eat something. Something heavy, greasy, and fatty. Something to line our stomachs with. So we climbed some really steep yet lushly carpeted stairs up into the 3 1/2 floor of a narrow building. It was a Kebab Shop! We ordered a Kebab rice bowl, a Kebab pita bread sandwich, and a Kebab burrito. What? You think you could order anything other than that? It was delicious by the way. Will definitely go back… If we can ever find it again.

We then went out on our way to the legendary drink-all-you-can bar when our friend suddenly disappeared from our sight for a few moments, leaving us panicky and seriously considering going back to that cozy Starbucks we passed by a while ago. Then we heard a familiar shout “Guys! Over here!” from a small doorway that leads down to a basement door. “And bring out your IDs and money! Come on!

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See that neon green light? We went down there… somewhere…

We showed the nice lady that we’re not underage, as if our faces weren’t proof enough, gave her some 1000 Yen bills, and she slapped on us some rainbow colored paper-wristbands. Wish I took a photo of that, but I had no time; loud music and booze was waiting downstairs.

When we went down, what surprised us was not the decor, which is a bit tacky (but what do I know about bars and pubs anyway?) it was how few the people were. I think there were only half a dozen guys there and a couple of girls. And that’s counting the waitress.

Well no matter. We came here not to socialize, but to fill our throats with liquor!

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And fill it we did! Man, the list of all the stuff they have was just amazing. I’ve had my fair share of drink-all-you-can restos, and their Drinks Menu is top notch.

We started off with the typical man-beer: Heinekens, Budweisers, and what have you. Then we tried some cocktails like Salty Dog and Moscow Mule. After that, things got a little fuzzy…

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I think things started getting crazy when we began to meet all those nice gentlemen… Mr. Johnny Walker, Chivas Regal, Sir Jack Daniel, and I just can’t remember much after that.

Hm.

I just woke up and it was Sunday. I was at home.

Where’s my pants?

Gloomy Friday

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The moment I burst out of the door to shout “TGIF!!” it rained.

Well it was just a drizzle, but still enough to make you wear a raincoat. Darn it. I was so looking forward to riding my bike under a bright blue sky, singing happy songs, and scaring bystanders on my way to the station. And my raincoat is moldy too, ugh.

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So I dropped by the local convenience store to pick up some pick-me-up to perk meself up.

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Then I found this milk coffee with maple! Woah, a new flavor!

I plugged my ears with a medley of great nostalgic 80’s and 90’s rock ballads, drank my creamy caffeine, and enjoyed the light drizzle on my way to school.

Oh to Hear Them Sing

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I witnessed something special today. At first I was surprised when right after the usual morning meeting, all the teachers suddenly suited up and swiftly poured out of the faculty room. Okay, what’s happening now?

I cleared my desk of all the newsletters, messages and notice sheets accumulated while I was away and tried to catch up with the fleeting wave of black suits briskly rushing down the hall. They were going to the gym.

Ah, a morning assembly then… on a Thursday? I wonder what this is all about? Then I saw a pile of students coming out onto the stage.

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Sad piano music wafted through the gymnasium and two students came up to the front and gave a speech. Wait, is that a student playing the piano? Wow, she’s good. Then the next pair came up and gave another speech while a different piece of music was played by another student. This went on until the whole group has finished their piece.

I asked the teacher beside me what this is all about, and I was told that the students are presenting to the whole school the music piece their class have been practicing to sing for the Chorus Contest. Each class has chosen a song and practiced it, and today there will be a meeting to decide which one they’ll do for the citywide contest as one whole choral group.

One of the surprising things was the fact that each class actually has a designated piano player. Wow. Back when I was still in school, it’s rare to see a piano player in our whole year level, let alone in our class. But to think that in Japan, it’s fairly common to have one or two (maybe more!) students who plays an instrument per classroom! Very well, too at that. Just wow.

The teacher then told me that our school has a reputation of being one of the top contenders in the chorus contest. Well, I’m not surprised. I’ve heard them sing their school anthem before, and they actually had the boys and the girls sing in different parts with their tenor, sopranos, and all that.

I remember as a kid we’d be told to just “sing out as loud as possible“, but here it’s “as beautiful and harmonic as possible.” Now I’ve been a judge at the English Speech Contest, and all of us ALTs had a rough time. They were all good! I can’t imagine just how much better this city’s students will be with music.

I thought it was really nice when the principal spoke to the whole assembly afterwards, telling the students that even though they have their eyes on that trophy and being the champion for this year’s Chorus Contest, it should not be their goal. That winning is not the only thing to strive for. That being able to sing together as an embodiment and representative of the school, blending their voices to become one, and expressing the emotion of the song from their hearts to the audience, is the most important thing this contest.

I agree.

Man, I can’t wait to hear them sing.

Them Shy Japanese Kids

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Japanese students. Ahh, to know what makes them tick. I’m ashamed to say, I too was a bit of an introvert in my “Growing Up” days. I can’t seem remember the reason as to why I was like that, and why I kept on being one till college, but I’m proud to say that I have grown out of my shell and am now a functioning normal human being of society.

But I digress. Now, let’s get back to them shy Japanese kids.

I work at an elementary and junior high school this year, so I get to experience and observe a wide range of different behaviors in the classrooms. And one of the big problems that the homeroom teachers and I have are the children who seem to poop out their energetic genkiness everytime they go to the toilet.

For example, in one of my schools I started out this year with a very fun and lively class full of bright-eyed 5th and 6th graders, their hands always raised so high it’s like staving off a horde of gaikokujin-eating zombies. Wow, I thought, I’m gonna have fun this year! Yeah!

NOT.

Puberty has hit them sometime between June and September, and now almost half the class seem to have decided to make Sadako their role-model. I’m not talking about the hair (although there’s this girl… nevermind), their personality now sucks. Wait, no. Their personality got sucked. By what? I’m guessing their growing body parts.

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Darn it. And here I thought having a full room of ghosts in my junior high school is bad enough.

Don’t get me wrong, teaching at both schools is still very fun. Not everyone has mutated… yet. There are still a lot of solid beacons of hope who are enthusiastic to learn English, and those are the kids that I use to anchor my lessons in each class. I do my best for them, and they do try their best to pull their classmates along with them. Mostly unsuccessfully. But anyway, its those earnest kids that makes it all worthwhile.

It goes on both sides of extreme: I have this ultra-wild and crazy class that you have to shout the whole time and still not accomplish anything. Then I also have this silent and dead fish kind of class that won’t budge even if you fart in their bags.

I guess they all have their own reasons on being the way they are. The rambunctious class I understand, they’re young and they have all the energy in the world to spend talking with one another or just fidgeting in their chair and yelling loudly. It’s the silent ones that trouble the teachers much worse. It’s not just one or a handful of quiet students, it seems to be infectious and affects the whole classroom. You can’t make them to do anything.

I just hope this is just a stage and they’ll grow out of it (like me, hee hee). But I pray they do it fast. Their teachers are going to go crazy pretty soon.

To Work a Hulk’s Throw Away

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I miss waking up at 7:45 and still arrive at school on time for the 8:15 meeting. Last year I went to a school less than just 5 minutes away. I lived a procrastinator’s dream for two years… and then I moved to a new school that’s 2 hours away. Not counting the 20-minute walk from the station.

*le extreme sigh*

Well that was my situation until a couple of months ago. I talked with my girl and we’ve decided that I can’t continue waking up at 4:30 in the morning everyday for a year. Sleeping before 10 PM is already a problem for me, but waking up before sunrise is just torture for a lazy bum like me.

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So now we live an hour away from my school, still far but at least my travel time’s cut in half! I wanted to move much much closer, as in right next to the school’s entrance gate, but I have to consider my girl’s workplace too. We settled for a city that’s right in the cozy center of where I work and where she works. Yeah, we both travel an hour to work now.

It has it’s advantages. I get to read again.

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*This was taken inside Starbucks, but you get the idea*

I bought a Kindle 4 I think a year ago, and I can’t let go of the computer long enough to actually use the thing. Now that I’m forced to sit in a train for hours everyday, I can catch up with my favorite authors and enjoy travelling to all sorts of advenures again.

I think I still have my Nintendo DS somewhere, I could some gaming time too hehe

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PS: Darn you Starbucks for tricking us! We bought a Chicken Pita Bread sandwich yesterday and it was all lettuce!! Argh. There was just a tiny sliver of chicken meat inside and not even a drop of mayo! To think we paid almost 500 Yen for that!

We’re Drinking Wine Tonight!

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Actually, we always drink red wine every night. Ever since I’ve convinced my girl of the benefits of indulging in a glass or two of this intoxicating sweet nectar of grapes, we decided to celebrate each well-enjoyed dinner by ending it with some red wine.

Problem is, if we only drink a glass every night, the leftover wine would just spoil if left alone in its bottle. Apparently, even if you close the bottle up airtight, the taste will deteriorate as long as there is air inside. The only way we can avoid the wine from spoiling is to drink it all… is what I suggested, but my girl wouldn’t approve. *shrug*

So I searched the Internet for solutions and bought these online:


*Uhh, yep that’s me. Well my hands anyway. My girl was recording the whole thing with my iPhone*

Behold, the VacuVin Wine Bottle Air Extractor Pump!! A handy, inexpensive, miniature pump that removes the oxygen from the bottle. The rubber stopper that came with it will then keep additional oxygen from entering the bottle. It’s supposed to keep your wine fresh for up to a week, although it doesn’t work with all wines.

Pumping wine air out of the bottle is fun. You don’t have to pump much. Just 10 or so pumps and you’ll hear this weird clunking sound that tells you the bottle is now oxygen-free and you’re done! The released “wine air” is intoxicating too.

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Not only that, we also bought a Wine Aerating Pourer!! You just plug it into the bottle and then when you pour the wine, you can see and hear the bubbles mixing in with the wine. So that when you taste it, you’ll enjoy the enhanced flavor and bouquet of a perfectly aerated red wine… is what’s supposed to happen.

Either I’m just not cut out to be a wine connosieur or it didn’t work. I can’t really taste the difference. Or maybe, I should stop buying cheap red wines…

Oh Happy Monday!

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(Written yesterday)

I get to go home early today. Not just an hour early mind you, I’m talking about before we even had lunch! Isn’t it great? On this wonderfully sunny Monday too.

Wow, didn’t think wonderful and Monday would be in the same sentence haha

Apparently, the school can’t pay for the overtime work I did training the speech contestants. Last month alone I’ve worked almost 15 hours beyond my work schedule! The solution? They plan to let me go home early maybe an hour or so every week until I’ve balanced out the hours.

Today’s special though, the junior high kids have some kind of sports competition, and all these other schools have come to play some games with them outside. So all the classrooms were empty. Well there were maybe ten or so left in the classes I’ve taught, but that’s about it.

The baseball, soccer, and tennis club members are all out there in the muddy school ground playing under a slightly ominous drizzling cloudy sky. And the remaining students (mostly girls) are dry and cozily sitting inside the classrooms having their regular classes.

I guess if it was me, I’d rather be outside and playing even if it meant getting dirty, rather than stay and try to study despite all the shouts and racket outside the window heh.

Because of the special schedule, there’s no school lunch today. And since I can’t find any reason to stay after my 3rd class, I asked the principal if I could just go home. He said yes. And so I ate lunch outside…

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Sizzling pork yakiniku in an iron griddle with crunchy fried chicken, corn salad, miso soup, white rice, and a glass of lukewarm water!! Yey!