Monday, January 30, 2006


I don't think I've ever blogged about what kind of search engine results bring people to this blog,but I just saw one in my stats that I've taken a shine to-- instantly make your life less shitty.
I like that. That's something worth searching for. Less shitty. Not perfect, just less shitty. And even that's not easy, I mean, look where you end up from the first page of search results...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday Ramble

I met up with my mom for brunch yesterday morning so I could give her the rundown of how the workshops went. We decided to split the difference in distance and meet in Durham, where the university is. Saturday morning at a breakfast place in a college town is a pretty busy time and we didn't get seated at a booth, so sometimes we had to nearly shout to hear each other, but it did give me ample opportunity to observe students outside the classroom. Not a pretty sight. Sometimes I wish one of those stupid makeover shows would come along and makeover the entire campus so the college girls would stop dressing so friggin shlumpy. It's like a uniform-- jeans or sweats and a gray college logo hoodie. And lots of concealer, foundation and eyeliner. Looks crappy, girls. Really.
Anyway, my point here is not to chastise the appearance of college students, or not just to chastise the appearance of college students, but to recall something my mom said to me that I thought was extremely sweet of her. After I had blathered on a bit at warp speed about the corporate training experience, she told me she thought I had really made the right choices as far as my career goes, despite some of the personal difficulties those choices had brought me (i.e, the whole marriage and dealing with inlaws thing). It was nice to hear her acknowledge that she believed that I wasn't simply out of my mind for choosing to live on the other side of the world in a culture so different and difficult to fathom. She gets that there was actual value in it and she also understands that right now my priorities are more about being around to parent my girl than they are about pursuing my career. So many people like to tell me I should go teach down in Boston, but they don't understand that all that commuting would mean less time available to spend with my girl and would also be some kind of nail in my coffin in this still-ongoing custody dispute. In a few more years she's going to be more interested in her friends and her own schedule. I'll still know what I know a few years from now and will still be able to push forward more with my "career".

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Got Through It All

While wearing feminine, yet conservatively tailored suits with jackets that pretty much covered my ass, I survived my two days conducting "Intro to doing business in Japan" workshops. Now I can stop driving everyone in my immediate vicinity as crazy as I was driving them and go back to just the regular, daily level of crazy driving-ness. I really had myself worked into a frenzy, but I think it was a necessary frenzy. Ever since I moved back here from Japan almost three years ago, I had this idea in my mind that I could market myself as a Japan specialist and use the knowledge and insight gained by spending a dozen years of my life in that country to help local businesses improve their odds of succeeding when doing business with companies in Japan. It kind of makes sense, but it's a big leap to go from minnow nibbling on the fringes of academia to cross-cultural consultant who can walk into a room full of international executives, have them recognize my expertise and authority on the subject and hold their interest and attention for hours while I help them learn what they need to know. It always sounded like a wicked cool idea, but now I can say I actually have done it and, judging from the feedback, done a decent job of it.
Getting the material together was not really a big problem because all that involved was sitting my ass down with all my reference materials, my mental stores of accumulated experiences over more than a decade in Japan and then set to boiling it all down into some sort of logical pattern of organization. What to wear was not as much of a problem as I thought it would be. I went out and bought some suits on sale (yeah! for shopping in January) and some nice pumps and stockings to wear with them and I was good to go for a few hundred dollars, which is a reasonable investment for the future and not more than a third of my fee anyway. What had me so worked up was whether or not I would be able to deliver the goods in the allotted amount of time, or more specifically, what they hell would I do if I ran out of material?
The first day I finished what I had planned to go over with 45 minutes still left to fill. I went ahead and started introducing some of the material I had planned to use on the second day. After the first session I went home and beefed up my Powerpoint presentation with more information regarding specifics that had been brought up during the first day. I figured out where the team would be staying when they visit Japan next month and where they needed to go and included info about transportation options. I learned that correspondence was an issue that had already come up and included some tips on how to make that aspect of communication clearer and how to avoid misunderstandings. I shared a lot of relevant anecdotes about real-life experiences-- my own, those of my friends and those I've read about. I went for four hours straight that second day without a break Several of the participants had to leave for other meetings during my workshop, but they all came back, which I think means they felt what I was doing was worth their time. It also meant I never found a good time to call for a break because it was just as one participant had to leave that another would come back.
It started to feel easier the second day. It started to feel more like one of my classes, but possibly even more laid back in a way because I was dealing with other adults and not with young adults who I sometimes feel I should shield from certain observations in order to be politically correct in a university environment. I think I could do this again and do it even better next time. And it won't have anything to do with my physical assets, which it never really did in the first place. I just enjoy having a sense of humor about that kind of thing.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Got Through It

I survived the first afternoon of being a corporate trainer and will go back and do it again today. I guess it didn't totally suck then. Actually, it went pretty well. There were five people in attendance and at the end of the afternoon they told me that the information I provided was valuable to them. I think one or two of the guys didn't particularly like what I had to say about the way things get done in Japan and the way communication takes place, but at least now they have a little insight into how their counterparts in Japan might look at things.
I ran out of material before I ran out of time, so I dipped into some of the material I was planning to go over in today's workshop. Yesterday was more of a macro view about Japanese cultural norms, attitudes and approaches. Today we will be getting into the details of protocol and etiquette. We'll do a little bit of lanugage training for grettings, the infamous business card exchange, go over dining etiquette, drinking etiquette, getting from point A to point B and other fun stuff like that. I'm a little worried I may not have another 4 full hours of information for them, but today I will speak more slowly and see if I can get some of the guys who have been to Japan before to share more of their experiences. I should also throw together a quick feedback questionairre to see if they have any suggestions on how to improve my product/schtick.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


It's snowing again today, but the local school system didn't cancel or delay the school day, so I dropped the girl off and came to my school. I picked up my mail and found the evaluations from last semester. I must have fed them a love drug or something before they wrote those things. I'm like Sally Field-- "They like me! They really like me!"
Someone in the elementary class wrote せんせいはしりがすきです(sensei ha shiri ga suki desu), which translates to "Teacher likes butts." (yes, as in behinds, booty, ass, what have you.) I'm not sure if they are implying that I have some sort of butt fetish or if they're trying to make a comment that they like mine. If it is the latter, it proves me right. I've said for years that one of my main motivations for dieting or staying in shape is because when I'm up writing on the board I don't want people looking and thinking, "Man, she has a big ass." I don't necessarily want them thinking "Oh, she has a nice ass" either. Really, they shouldn't be paying attention to my ass in the first place, but since most of them are in late adolescence, their minds may wander that way.
I have to go teach my first, independent, corporate workshop today. I hope the whole enthusiasm + ass concept works as well on them as it does on the college students. (sarcasm, people, it's sarcasm.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

How To Break an Egg aka One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

A friend of mine who teaches at a women's college in Japan had given his students the standard assignment to prepare and give a presentation using Powerpoint describing a process-- a "how to" asssignment. One particular young lass gave her presentation on "How to make an omelet". She must have done what any typical student would do, type 卵 (tamago, egg) into Google image search and pulled the image of the carton of eggs off the first line of results. Apparently, she wasn't looking closely at what she copied and pasted into her presentation.
You can go ahead and do the same search she must have. She used the third result from the left. (possibly nsfw)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How to Make Homework Fun

The midterm assignment for my paralegal course on the thrilling topic of probate is to draft a simple will for a fictional individual with a family. The teacher named this person Joe and told us simple details about Joe's family. Joe was not holding my interest, so I decided to rename him Homer and wrote a simple will for Homer Simpson. Thanks to Wikipedia I was able to draft a will with the correct names and spellings of Homer's friends and family. So in his will, Homer leaves his Iron Maiden album collection to Bart, or in the case of Bart predeceasing Homer, to Ned Flanders. (Just to piss him off.) He is leaving his collection of books on Eastern philosphy to Lisa, or if she's no longer around, to Apu.
I found it much more interesting once I knew who I was writing it for. I hope the teacher has a sense of humor.

Monday, January 16, 2006

An MTV Countdown Provoked Thought

Nickelback is the Journey of the new millenium.
Treakley, yet annoyingly catchy "rock"anthems? check
Lead singer with bad haircut that makes my skin crawl? check
Makes me want to simultaneously puke and gouge my eyes out? check
Can sing along to most of their radio hits? (unfortunately) check

Say It Like You Meme It

I've seen this meme going around (kinda like a flu) and finally decided to take it from Shannon, evn though he tagged no one.

"Four Jobs You’ve Had In Your Life:

1. Junior high school "correspondent" for the local paper (my first-ever paycheck)
2. bus girl at Rye on The Rocks
3. Assistant English Teacher at junior high schools in Amagasaki, Japan
4. Instructor of Japanese at the college level

Four Movies You Could Watch Over And Over:

1. The Fifth Element
2. Ran
3. The Breakfast Club
4. Wizard of Oz

Four Places You’ve Lived:

1. Portsmouth, NH
2. Boulder, CO
3. Honolulu, HI
4. Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch:

1. Boston Legal
2. American Idol (yes, I'm a big dork)
3. The Simpsons
4. Nanny 911

Four Places You’ve Been On Vacation:

1. Koh Samui, Thailand
2. Waterville Valley, NH
3. San Francisco
4. Holland

Four Blogs You Visit Daily:

1. Be Less Boring
2. Go Fug Yourself
3. 4 Kids, Mom, and Dad
4. Alive in Kyoto

Four Of Your Favorite Foods:

1. Pizza
2. Sushi
3. Cheddar cheese
4. Cookies

Four Places You’d Rather Be:

1. Up in the foothills of Boulder, CO
2. Kailua Beach
3. In a home of my own
4. Actually, I'm really where I want to be

Four Albums You Can’t Live Without:

1. The Who-- Quadrophenia
2. Black Crowes-- The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
3. Rolling Stones-- Let It Bleed
4. Foo Fighters-- There Is Nothing Left To Lose

Four Vehicles I’ve Owned:

1. 1980 Camaro, automatic (bleh)
2. early 80s Mazda MPV, stick
3. Honda HRV, stick
4. 1998 Subaru Forrester, automatic

Sunday, January 15, 2006


It seems like I've somehow come to like winter. It used to be so depressing, but now I kind of enjoy it. Maybe it's just because we've had a fairly mild winter so far. This past week it was in the 50s and most of the snow had melted away. Last night winter returned with snow and ice and today has been one of those leaden sky January days. I stayed in my jammies until early afternoon and frogged the scarf I'm currently working on for the third time and restarted it in a completely different pattern. Then I got dressed and went out to shovel the stairs and the driveway. The snow is different every time. This time it was kind of sherbet-y, but only a few inches of it fell so it wasn't too tough to shovel.
The girl and I had to go to the mall to return a suit jacket I bought for the consulting gig I have coming up in a couple of weeks. I was pleased to have found a nice suit on sale and then when my sister stopped by to check it out yesterday the first thing she noticed was a big stain on the back of the shoulder that I had completely missed. Guess it's better to know now when I can still do something about it then find out about it on the day I need to wear it. Anyway, we did a commando mission to the mall. In and out as quickly as possible. Now we're home, all cozy with the fireplace going. January really isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

C Is Still For Cookie

Cookies are one of the fine things in life. I like to bake them. I like to buy them. Most of all, of course, I like to eat them. I have recently made a wonderful cookie discovery-- Carr's Ginger Lemon Cremes. Wow. The lemon creme reminds me of the taste of Girl Scout cookie Lemon Coolers, but creamy. The ginger cookies are spicy and crisp. These are so excellent with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Do yourself a favor. Buy some. They seriously kick ass over your everyday Oreos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Some Days Are Special. Life is Now

Today is my ex's birthday. I took my girl out to buy a card and a present for him earlier in the week. Last year she didn't want me to take her to do that, but this year we did. I explained to her that it's important to celebrate days that are special with the people you love and that you shouldn't miss an opportunity to let people know you care about them. He was never much one for making an occasion of birthdays or anniversaries and that played a part in why things didn't work out between us. Even if you aren't special to everyone else in the world, you want to feel that you're at least special to the people who supposedly love you.
It's been a year and eight months since we separated and almost a year and a half since I filed divorce papers, but the damn thing isn't over yet and I don't really know when it will be. A year ago I thought I would burst into flames if the divorce wasn't finalized by the end of the year. Surprisingly, I remain un-ignited. Some day it will be done. I'd like it to be sooner rather than later, but in the meantime I'm feeling better about going ahead and living my life without feeling like it will only really start once the papers have been signed. My life is as real now as it's ever going to be. It's probably also as complicated and complex as it's ever going to be. There's really nothing else to do but remember to keep breathing and move forward.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I've Got a Business to Run Here

Today was my first day solo handling bookkeeping and related activity at my uncle's store. I thought I'd be able to cruise in and get everything up to speed in a couple of hours, but of course that's not how it went. I had vendors calling asking what I wanted to do about duplicate payments. I had to deal with a building tenant who called asking for a timeframe on the work being done on the building since the fumes were not conducive to a relaxing and therapuetic atmosphere for her massage therapy business. I found mistakes in the records and notices that new authorization forms are needed to continue the payroll service.By the time I had gotten through dealing with all the surprises the two hours had more than passed and I really only got through opening the mail to see what's waiting there for me to take care of next time.
Suppose I also need to find a few hours to get to school and print out the syllabi for the new semester that starts next week. And only about 80 more pages of probate law textbook to get through for the week. I have to take my car in Thursday morning for an oil change. And make a couple of doctor's appointments for routine stuff. I need a hair cut, too. There's probably more that I'm forgetting at the moment, but the cup is way full at the moment. What the hell am I doing and how in the world do I think I can get it all done? I'll get it all done well enough, I suppose. And at this point, good enough is good enough for me.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Fortune Teller

I see my future for the next five months or so and it looks kinda sucky. It looks like I'll be spending all my weekends keeping up with my paralegal coursework now that the pace has picked up to two classes per term and the courses have a little more meat to them. Oh fun. Oh joy.
I really do hope this is going to be worth going into debt with students loans, having no life and being a grumpy bitch about it.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Night of Firsts

Last night I saw my first Queers show, went to the Stone Church for the first time since it reopened and had my first ride in a cop car. Who said all the fun ends when the holidays are over?
The show at the Stone Church was fun. I really liked three out of the four bands that played and had a good time. The ride in the cruiser was not accompanied by any kind of arrest for criminal activity, public drunkeness or bad behavior. My boyfriend's car got towed because of the winter parking ban in Newmarket and the cop supervising the towing was nice enough to offer us a ride to the tow lot. My observations of the back seat of a cruiser are as follows: hard plastic seats with odd ergonomics; not much leg room; the plexiglass divider looks pretty sturdy; there is a handle in the door of the backseat, but you can't open it from the inside. It was probably (hopefully) a once in a lifetime experience and I kind of enjoyed it, especially since I can now boast that me and my boyfriend have ridden in a cop car together. How many other people can say that?

The Magical Effect My Music has

Odd. it seems that my crappy bass playing must act as some kind of aphrodisiac for my neighbor downstairs (who I vaguely suspect is some kind of crank head whore). It's a weekday afternoon so I figured it was okay to plug in and make some noise now, and when I finished I heard her once again doing her moan show. Seems she and her dude are either on vacation this week or just unemployed. I suspect he might be the unemployed one since he seems to be around here most of the time these past few weeks, certainly more than she is. Anyway, since I have been known to pound on the floor when she's doing her cat in heat thing, maybe she's performing for my benefit. I don't know and I don't really care except that I'm kind of glad she's getting it out her system for the week now, when my girl isn't around to be subjected to it.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back to the Random

The tree is down and the holiday season is officially over. I'm okay with that. It was fun. It was full of thrills and chills. It drove me nuts and gave me all kinds of things to flip out over and now I can just go back to flipping out about the regular things. Two new paralegal classes just started-- probate law and tort law. Oooh, the excitement! Can't you feel it? Aren't you just busting with excitement?
I go back to work at the store tomorrow and within a couple of weeks will take the wheel on the bookkeeping there until April. Hopefully I won't screw it up.
My predictions for my life in 2006:
I will be crazy busy from now until at least May.
It will get cold and snowy again between now and spring.
I will knit like a squirrel hunts for nuts in November.
I'll continue to hate most of my clothes even if I buy new ones.
I'll worry too much for pointless reasons.
Everyone will drive me nuts at some point but I'll still love them.
I'll bitch about teaching.
I'll love teaching.
I'll think my writing sucks, but I'll continue to blog.

Happy New Year!

The second half of the first decade of the "New Millenium" already? How'd that happen? It's not even that new anymore, I guess.
I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.
(Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. Kotoshi mo yoroshiku!)