Step Lively

I tried to do a step class at they gym today, with “tried” being the operative word. I used to do step all the time but it’s been a long time, so I expected it to be a bit difficult. Well, the class started out normally enough, but then the instructor exploded, arms and legs flying in all directions, pirouettes, leaps, reverses, chasses. Plus he had a very soft voice and the music was loud, so I couldn’t hear his instructions. Yikes! I’ve done a lot of different step classes with a lot of different instructors, and I know how to do all of those steps, but I’d never seen anything like that. I tried to keep up but after a while just stopped and watched him flail around, and when he called a water break, I grabbed my stuff and fled. I’m not too proud to admit when I’m out of my league. Besides, she who runs away today can run away another day, right?

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The Gyn Odyssey

I finally went to the gynecologist today. It had been a long time. She scolded me, of course, and I promised to be good and go again next year. I explained that my previous doc was kind of scary so I stopped going. When I went to her clinic, she would bark at me in English: “Why are you here? Why did you come to my clinic today?”

“Um…pap test…please? If it’s not too much trouble?” Scary.

But every two years, the ward sends me tickets for an almost free pap test and mammogram and they expire at the end of this month. The new doc doesn’t seem to speak English, but she knows the terminology. My Japanese is pretty fluent, but there are gaps in my vocabulary. Between what she knows and what I know, the visit went very well.

Here’s something interesting. The doc told me that since medical care is so expensive in the States, about 90% of American women get their annual check-ups as preventative care. But since Japan’s medical system is semi-socialized, only about 30% of Japanese women do. She said breast and cervical cancers are the number one killers of women. I didn’t know that. So I will make my annual pilgrimages and maybe even try to learn some new words. Boob test is scheduled for next week.

Going Ape

There’s a building in my neighborhood that has a gigantic gorilla on it. The building houses a convenience store, a bike shop, a kick boxing gym (not mine) and a storage facility. No explanation about the ape. There’s a school girl sitting in the palm of his right hand. I thought maybe he was helping her peep into the gym, but she’s faced the other way and is calmly reading a book. She doesn’t really seem to be aware of her predicament. He does have a twinkle in his eye as if he’s planning to eat her, but as far as I know, gorillas are vegetarians. Maybe he’s a very polite Japanese gorilla and is just giving her a safe, comfortable place to do her homework.

I can’t imagine what his purpose is except maybe to make people scratch their heads and ask themselves, “What’s up with the big monkey?” I was so perplexed by it today that I had to treat myself to the best soft freeze I’ve ever tasted. Aha! Maybe the ice cream guy put the monkey there to make people crave a treat. Is there some psychic connection between monkeys and sugar?

Gratitude Cont’d

I continue to be grateful that this year has been going so well. Maybe things aren’t perfect, but as Ma said, that may be a matter of perspective, and I think she’s right. A year ago at this time, our world turned upside down, almost literally. The epic disaster in Tohoku was followed by an endless string of smaller misfortunes, and losing Plato is something I will probably never get over. But we made it through. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, salt over the shoulder, a shamrock in every pot. Life goes on and we go with it.

 

Gratitude

A couple of months ago, my pal Soness gave me a Gratitude Stone. I was to keep it in my pocket and every time I touch it, I’m to think of something I’m grateful for. Maybe it’s just that this year has been hands-down better than last, but I’ve actually enjoyed doing that, and I find that I’m grateful for a lot of things. Today I was grateful for my 1000yen genuine blue artificial suede fake Ugg boots. As my personal guru Monty Python says, always look on the bright side of life. Thanks, Soness!

 

On Language

Another silly job today. There are some t-shirts. A little boy says “t-shatsu”. Big sister (not me) tells him how to pronounce it correctly, which he does. End of scene. It took less than an hour to shoot.

Language is a funny thing. I had some time to kill at the office yesterday and stumbled across a French translation of the pop-up book “What’s in the Fridge?” It’s a box shaped like a fridge with an accordion pull-out of illustrations of what you might find in the fridge. I was surprised by some of the words that are the same: chow mein, ketchup, sushi, taco, kumquat. Some were almost the same: soupe alphabet, sauce barbeque. Some I could guess: nouilles (noodles), pieds de cochon marines (pickled pigs feet). Some I would never have guessed: cornes de gazelle (fortune cookies), guimauve (marshmallows), pieuvre (octopus, which by the way is “taco” in Japanese), ignames (yams), vers (worms).

My favorite? Miaoum (cat food). Nom, nom!

Work, Work, Work

After hardly working at all last year*, it seems like everyone I’ve ever worked for suddenly has something for me to do, and I’ve got a couple of new clients, too. I’ve got script writing, editing, directing, production meetings, etc., etc.

Fortunately, so far at least, there’s a nice balance between educational stuff and commercial stuff, as well as between kid stuff and grown-up stuff, which is important. After spending a day filming with Shimajiro, I need to unwind with the script for a nice documentary about the mayhem in Fukushima, and I don’t mean that facetiously. When I was working with Sesame Street, someone told me that Carroll Spinney would not have survived sickly sweet Big Bird if he didn’t also have curmudgeonly Oscar. I can relate.

Yesterday, I was asked to re-write a dictionary of technical broadcasting terms, and to make as many changes as possible. This is odd, as there’s nothing wrong with the original text. All I can think of is that someone wants to pirate copyrighted work, but the client is a governmental organization, so that seems far-fetched…or maybe not. But it does seem like I’m going to cost more than it could possibly cost to clear the original copyrights.

Food

It’s been unusually cold recently, so lunch today was a very satisfying bowl of piping hot ramen with shrimp wontons. Yum. There’s an excellent selection of Asian food in this neighborhood, but I’ve had trouble finding satisfactory Western food.

The ironic thing about that is we have MickeyD’s, KFC, Starbucks, Dennys, Baskin Robbins, Mr. Donuts and Subway, and the latter is the only one of those places I ever go into. They have the only good sandwiches in the neighborhood. Plus you get to boss the Sandwich Artists around (More olives! Less mayo!) and they’re always nice about it. Just once, the register lady was slightly rude to me. The manager noticed, scolded her, and gave me a ticket for free beverages for six months.

You’d think that after all this time, I’d be acclimatized but I still need my sandwich fix sometimes. Convenience stores and coffee shops have sandwiches, but they always cut the crust off the bread (the best part!), add wilted cucumber slices and slather them in a nauseating amount of mayo, sometimes mixed with wasabi, which, trust me, does not go well with cheese. Apparently you can’t mix orange juice and milk either. See today’s entry on my new favorite blog:

http://themiddlestsister.com/2012/02/01/the-scientific-method/

Fashion, is it?

Today I saw a boy wearing his jeans so low they were practically around his knees. I really can’t understand why anybody would pursue such an unattractive look in the first place. More so here where people tend to be long in the torso and short in the legs. The low-slung pants make the legs look even shorter. The boy I saw looked like he was hobbling along on little stumps. Such silliness really undercuts the typical teenaged sneer.

Girls, on the other hand, are going for high heels with black tights and mini skirts or short shorts, which combination greatly lengthens the legs.

The problem arises when said  boy and said girl are walking along together.  It looks so odd when she’s doing the Julia Roberts Stride and he’s doing the Hobbit Hobble. The only thing weirder is when said boy is walking along with a girl all done up in kimono, but that usually only happens around Adults Day, so one can make arrangements to stay home.

P.S. Many (relatively) small earthquakes these days. It’s terribly unnerving.

Language Problems

A couple of days ago, I was checking a dancing activity where the kids are supposed to jump up, turn around and clap. It is true that a lot of Japanese people have trouble distinguishing between L and R. Do you see what I’m getting at? Yep, there it was, in big letters across the top of the page:

Jump up! Turn around! Crap!

Sadly, our target audience is older than the diaper crowd, so that sort of activity could get rather messy.

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