Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fancy Nancy or Racey Stacey

The snow is gone. The roads are clear. And, with the advent of spring, Sapporo's bike culture comes back to life. The racks at the train station are filled each morning. Some have orange choppers. Most have the classic light blue/silver Mama Cherie's. As depicted photographically earlier in my blogging chronology, I left my bike out in the snow allllllll winter, and she is now a sad, rusted shadow of her former self (and her former self was also sad and rusted). Being the callous consumer that I am, the prospect of oiling and pumping and prepping her into a state of readiness was too exhausting to even contemplate, and as such, she remains where she has remained all of the last five months, chained to the fence outside my apartment. She will remain there until I get guilt stricken enough to relegate her to my shed, which may be longer than the average lifetime. I have high hopes that she'll be stolen, but I don't think even the most poverty stricken Japanese person is that desperate for wheels.

How shall I get around, you ask? Well. I have a NEW bike. She is shiny and navy and pretty and she doesn't sag under my weight and she's NEW.



I've been riding around more slowly just so people can get a better look at me. Also, because what I thought was gears turned out to be a bell.

The title is, naturally, me floating options for the name of my saucy new bike (not affectionate nicknames for my left and right buttocks, respectively). She's beloved enough to merit a delightful rhymed epithet, and maybe if I give her a good name she won't end her life frozen and rusted and chained to a fence. Thoughts?

What else? School's back. Opening ceremony was Friday, with myriads of little white first years piling in through the doors flanked by nervy parents. I got all the petrified and wary stares I deserved, and not just because while they were all in black and white suits, I was wearing this cardigan:

It's even glowier than it looks, all sequins and velvet. Just perfect for an auspicious occasion. The principal wore a suit tails, after all, and it's important that everyone understands that I'm the second most important person there.

The ceremony consisted of each student's name being read in turn, a lot of ninety-degree bows and about nine thousand renditions of the school song. There were several lengthy speeches, during which the students were told to carry themselves with dignity, study hard and do themselves proud (and/or grow out their armpit hair, perfect the art of the can-can and perform breast enhancement surgery on each other during lunch time, what do I know?). This next week, I'll get acquainted with my new charges. I'm teaching all three grades, with a special focus on the extra smart ones (the so-called COSMO students, the astronauts of the future are in my tender care, should we worry?), so I'm going to have my most convincing teacher pants on. It's going to be a bit rough, getting back onboard with 6am wake-ups and full school days, but I'm ready, and I have the thought of a lengthy vay-cay-shun in Taiwan in 3 weeks to sustain my sweet self.

Manfriend is back in my universe, having completed his Niseko contract. He doesn't start work in Sapps for another 2.5 weeks, but I'm keeping him busy doing housework. No freeloaders here, friends. Dad is coming to stay for a couple of days on Thursday, and I have grand plans for him to clean my bathroom with his own toothbrush. I anticipate a positive response. PhD stands for Probable Housekeeping Desires, no?

In other news, these men exist in the world:

Which I think we can all agree is a relief. CLIMAX, indeed. However, they're not nearly as exciting to Japanese women as... ME. As I took these photos, a little old lady with a lens as long as her leg approached me and took several very-close-up pictures of my foreign face, totally ignoring the Japanese John Travolta's doing their best to bring Grease to Sapporo on a cool Sunday afternoon. What enticed me out of my bed on a Sunday, you ask? I was a member of a group of foreign folk who gathered to scare Japanese people into donating money towards earthquake relief. It was satisfyingly effective. Tsunamis and 9.0 earthquakes aren't nearly as terrifying as foreigners with boxes and matching t-shirts, lemme tell you.

What else? I bought a toaster. Good. Which means that I no longer have to endure the spectacle of black squares of bread being pitched across the room as Manfriend proves himself incapable of sustaining the attention necessary to make toast on our tiny gas grill. What will I do for entertainment? Photograph foodstuffs with dubious names, of course:

Dyslexic people with a tenuous grasp of English should NOT be permitted to name cheese. Just sayin'.

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