30 Day Shred


Be afraid.

So I went home in August for over a month. It was the first time I had put on cold-weather clothes in four or five months.

Now, I’m a jeans girl. I wear jeans a lot. At home it never gets cold enough to not be able to wear jeans, but in Japan, jeans are off-limits for the whole summer.  I was really looking forward to wearing my jeans.

But, (butt?) they didn’t fit. As in, I couldn’t get them over my bum. Closing them was out of the question. I had somehow put on about 15lb. In 8 months.

I can always buy more jeans. And it’s not that being 15lb heavier is all that bad, it’s just that I’m here for another year. I don’t want an extra 30lb of ass to be my souvenir from Japan.

I’d been reading motherhooduncensored for a while. She had some baby weight to lose and chose Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, starting a new shred blog to document progress. It worked. Her before and after pictures are amazing.

I went and got the video. I bought workout clothes for the first time ever. (Gym clothes for school don’t count). Shorts, sports top, anti-friction socks and running shoes.  I own over 40 pairs of shoes and not a single pair could be even loosely termed trainers.

I started level 1 mid-September. It nearly killed me. Needless to say, I’m hideously unfit. Stairs give me problems. I am the girl who “forgot” her gym clothes every single week for four years in school. Eventually they stopped giving me detention. I just hated PE.

The Shred consists of three 20-minute workouts. Levels 1, 2 and 3. You do each one for ten days and then move up. Jillian isn’t the nicest trainer. In fact, she’s fairly abrasive. She really pushes you though, and does seem to get results. The only negative reviews the Shred gets on amazon are whiny “It’s too hard!” posts or “She says ASS!!” complaints. As far as I’m concerned Jillian can say “ass” as much as she likes. Every time she says it my own ass shrinks a little in fear.

On the difficulty level, yeah, it’s hard. I just had to get over it. I can imagine that if you weigh 250lb it will be difficult. There is a lot of jumping. Knee problems will make this next to impossible. But, there are modifications. Personally, two pushups is my maximum. I do them from the knees.

There’s no getting around it. The Shred is rough for a total beginner. If you’re really unfit, even level 1 will make you want to puke (raising hand). Six or seven days in, it got easier. I was getting cocky. Level 2 was a shock. These shoulders were made for carrying handbags, not lifting weights.

Today I start Level 3. I am afraid. In fact, I’ve been putting it off all day. This post is a delaying tactic.

What will make me do it is that I am seeing results. I haven’t lost any weight, not a single freaking pound, but my jeans are looser, my stomach is flatter and I’m hella fitter. I’m pretty sure that if I had been following some sort of healthy eating plan I would be losing weight. Maybe next time.


Kanji Progress Update II

kanji update 30.8.9

I was doing pretty well for a while, but since coming home I’ve slacked off a lot. I haven’t added any new cards in two weeks now. It’s tough enough to keep up with reviewing.

605 down, 1437 to go.

Kanji Progress Update

RTK 15.7.9

I’ve just finished Lesson 18 of Heisig’s Remembering The Kanji 1. It was an absolute monster of a lesson with 80 kanji.

As for the SRS reps, I’m finding it really tough to keep my percentages above 80% correct. As in, I can’t. I’m consistently in the 70s. I don’t think I’m going too fast time-wise, but maybe I’m not spending long enough making the story for each kanji.

Anyway, 475 down, 1567 to go.

Slow Posting

Lately I’ve been less than regular in posting here.

I’m in Japan on a one year working holiday visa. It runs out at the beginning of August.

Back in December, my boss asked me to stay another year. She said she would sponsor the visa and take care of all the paperwork. In February, I agreed to stay.

It turns out though, that the visa process isn’t as easy as she made it out to be. I’m not really sure what caused it, but there was delay after delay in actually sending in the application. It was finally sent off two weeks ago.

The Department of Immigration gives estimates of how long it takes to process visas – between two weeks and two months. So, possibly I won’t know if I have the new visa until after the old one runs out. I have a return flight to Europe booked, leaving in early August, returning mid-September. Whether or not I’ll be coming back, I won’t know for a few weeks.

This leaves me stuck in a strange kind of limbo. I don’t want to leave Japan just yet. I don’t want to leave The Boy. I can’t get excited about going home and seeing family and friends, because it might be the end of things in Japan. Work and daily life press on under the assumption that I’ll be here another year.

In the meantime, I have to start preparing to leave, permanently. I’m going to have to pack up all my things and leave most of it here. If the visa doesn’t come through, The Boy will have to ship it all back.

Even though people apply for visas to every country every day of the year, I never really thought about what the waiting was like. For me, it’s not that bad. I don’t have children in schools. I’m not fleeing persecution. I’ll have a place to stay when I go back.

But still. I just want to know.

Anyway, the point is that blogging isn’t at the forefront of my mind. It’s hard to write about learning Japanese, the stupid things my coworker does or the hilarious things the kids say when I have no idea how long it will all last. But I’ll try. Some things are just too mind-boggling to keep to oneself.

Cherry = Popped


Yesterday, May 25 2009, at 20.26 (Japan Standard Time), I felt the earth move.


It was a strange, nauseating experience.

My head swam, my stomach lurched, sweat broke out.

My face turned bright red.

My heart pounded and I was breathing fast.

I thought I might pass out.


My first earthquake.


I was teaching a high school class at the time, explaining the difference between a dramatic romance and a romantic drama in terms of film genres.


It didn’t even occur to me that it might be an earthquake.

I thought I was fainting, and I started trying to work out how many hours it had been since I had last eaten.

As far as I could tell, nobody else reacted.


Once I had recovered I asked the class – “Earthquake?”

None of them knew the word.

I mimed “earthquake” with my hands.

“Mmmmmmmm. Yes.”

“Phew. My first earthquake.”

“Your first time? Eeeeehhhhh! Sugoi!”


Cue spontaneous round of applause.




(Sugoi means great/wow.)


ETA – Checked online just now – 4.6 on the Richter scale, if you’re interested.

Long Time No Blog

Things have sort of gone a bit… different around here. 


That is to say, things are almost exactly the same, but my mindset has changed. Or something. 


If I was to lay the blame on something, it would be buying the car. (Yes, the car is now parked outside. It’s sweet.)  Having a car (while awesome) has changed me into (bear with me) a real person. Not just a blow-in. I actually live here. I’m not on holiday. I have a job, with growing responsibility. I have a real car and not a rusty bike with a squashed basket. I plan meals. I’m just one step away from a pension and investing in real estate! 


Not really, but things seem more settled somehow. Which is comforting and terrifying in equal parts. I’m still non-functional in Japanese. I’m still illiterate. I still have no idea how to throw out the bedframe and sofa that have been rotting in my garden outside area for the last seven months. But I have satnav. It’s weird. 


Since I arrived my boss has been laying the pressure on for me to stay. I can see it from her point of view – I’m white, I’m “blonde” and I’m already trained. I’m all over the goddamn posters for the school. It’s less hassle for her to just sponsor me for a real work visa when my one year working holiday visa runs out than to import a new foreign teacher.  I thought long and hard about it. The economy in my home country has tanked. The jobs market has faded to zero. I can save a lot of money here. I have a job, an apartment and a car (did I mention the satnav?)


Oh, and I kind of met someone. 


So yeah. One more year.

Ways In Which Japan Has Changed Me


1. When people say that they’ve been to a part of Japan I’ve heard of, I ask if they ate the local delicacy. If I haven’t heard of it, I ask what the local delicacy is. If I’ve actually been there, we reminisce about how delicious the local delicacy was. 


2. I no longer think it’s all that weird that kids here go to school from 8 til 4. Or even that they have to go to compulsory club activities after school most days. I do still find the going into school to play baseball from 7.30am to 5pm on a national holiday weird. There are no classes! No teachers (except the coaches) are there! It’s a national holiday!


3. When talking to superiors (my boss, her husband or people who I want to do something for me) I adopt a weirdly soft, high-pitched voice. I’ve developed hands that flap about in a girly way. When the squealing starts, I know it’s time to leave.


4. I no longer believe in boy-girl platonic friendships. With the kids, all male-female communication breaks down at approximately age 11. It doesn’t resume. At least not while they’re still in school. My friend 2 towns over has a male friend who lives way up in Hokkaido. They sometimes visit each other. I just cannot believe that there isn’t something going on, despite the fact that there has been no evidence whatsoever that there is, in fact, something going on. 


5. I now consider rice with sprinkles on it to be a whole meal. My preferred sprinkle variety is seaweed and sour plum.


6. I love to talk about the weather. I even have a song about it. It goes “How’s the weather? It’s co-old! How’s the weather? It’s co-old! It’s co-old, it’s co-old today!” If you want to purchase the CD version just send an email to humiliation@teaching.com