Monthly Archives: December 2010

Did you know? I can’t reach my toes…


A training gym opened up in the strip mall near my place about a month ago. All the factory boys were buzzing about it- a real-live Major League Baseball physical trainer had decided to grace our neighborhood with his debut gym. The US has a few Japanese players, and this guy is famous for working with them.  I don’t pay much attention to baseball. But, that didn’t prevent me from seeing the value in being able to walk 2 minutes to a gym. So for the first time in my life, I finally managed to sign up at one.

OK OK, not the first time. When I was still rockin’ the hawk (please don’t mind my nostalgic burp), I had a membership at a Muay Thai gym. I went for yoga and at THAT time, I was able to touch my toes. But one day a new instructor came in, plugged herself up to a speaker system in a small room and effectively got me to spend $50 a month for the next 6 months on a gym I never saw again.

And come to think of it, I admit I did have a membership at another gym in Sugarhouse, but never worked out. I only did sauna and pool.  My skin never looked nicer!

But now, I got my work out buddy (marriage has its perks!) and easy access to a gym that’s well staffed with a few English-speaking physical trainers, 2 of them fluent, one of them female!  They do a diagnostic, ask what you want to accomplish and take photos as a starting reference point. Japanese and their cameras…  I asked for posture correction, general getting-of-exercise, and hinted toward eventually building stamina on some kind of machine, just not the treadmill.  Picky, aren’t I? There are no punching bags! Maybe I’ll ask for one, but this place kinda focuses on baseball, so I might learn to swing a bat with good aim. Could be useful, right?

Anyway now I got a customized program, doing lots of stuff to correct my snowboarding posture. I have never been snowboarding even once in my life, but somehow I got the stance down! I think it started with holding my baby brothers a lot through my early teens. More recently, I avoid touching anything on the trains even while I stand. Trains are NASTY. The few people out here who have the decency to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough in a crowded train tend to use the very same hand they are hanging on with. And unfailingly return it to the bar or handle immediately.  Anyway, to keep my balance, I keep my feet shoulder-width apart on a diagonal with the train, knees bent and hips forward. Actually, I am not sure if it’s really “the snowboarding posture”, but it looks the same to me. Anyway apparently this is overall doing weird things to my spine all the way up to my neck.

Of course I stretch to warm up. And I can’t get anywhere close to my toes. I can’t even sit at a right angle. I’m going to have to ask them to add that to the list of stuff I’d like to be able to do with myself at some point.

When I go home to the US, I’m gonna go swimming, and ride horses, and roll around on my Aunt’s front lawn (after considering the park, I though better of it. Tetanus, ya know.)


Every New Beginning


There’s a tempest outside my window- the rainy, blustery kind. Its nearly 9AM, by some miracle I am awake enjoying the commotion outside and watching my cat attack an imaginary foe in the form of a broken piece of rattan from my whatchamacallit that I use for everything from storage of wire cables to a place to put my coffee, feet or the occasional guest’s derriere. On this box currently sits one of the last cups of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee I will enjoy this year- maybe THE last cup, since I am considering using that last bit in a chocolate cake recipe later this month. The only real Christmas tradition in Japan (that I can speak of without wanting to beat my head into a wall) is that of Christmas cake.  Since my neighbors are Japanese, and since I actually have an oven and the motivation to bake stuff, I’ll be making cakes for a couple of families. And keeping one for myself, of course.

This last month has been non-stop bus-train-teach-gym-sleep and repeat action. I really want to swear to myself, to promise my cat and my husband (in that order) that I will never work that hard outside of home ever again. Today as I enjoy the now with the wind whistling outside my window, it feels like time to think about some changes that might suit me for the future.

I recently signed up for an online course in copyediting. I can not WAIT to begin! I miss being the pupil, learning stuff, having it checked by someone who knows well enough to teach me. This starts in January, and is supposed to take up about 18 hours of my weekly life. Bring it on!  This will continue for all of 2011, so for at least that much time, I feel justified in limiting my work days to 3 a week. The plan is to work long days, of course- resulting in a still-decent income at a most economic effort.  You see, work is not just being in the office- its getting there. Its catching a bus, hoping the bus will not be delayed (or God forbid EARLY!), jostling on the train for a place to stand or sit, keeping one’s balance as it stops or zooms past other stations, waiting around on platforms in the elements, sometimes jogging to the elevator, or even delicately and deliberately plotting the course across a slippery rooftop passage on a rainy day.  By the time I get to the office, I feel like I’ve been working for a couple of hours already!  It is mostly THIS I strive to avoid and minimize. The work itself is a joy, the office is a home, the view is the best in the company, my coworkers and clients are familiar. Commutes a killer.

And so, in January a new way of life starts. For the four days at home, I get to study for a bit over 4 hours, hit the gym each morning- a blessing not unlike the way I met my cat, for an excellent gym opened up not 2 minutes walk from my home and some of the staff are fluent in English! That same strip mall has a video rental shop, a Used Random Stuff store (not what its called, but you get it, right?), a family restaurant which serves western style cuisine, and other possibly useful shops. There used to be a small grocery there, and sadly that moved across town. Very sad, because it stocked Tesco items- I was getting English food items, like baked beans!!  Treasure. I’m hoping for a replacement. At any rate, this all suits me well, as I can live locally, only walking to what I need and want. The supermarket is about 5 minutes walk.

Study, work out, shop for dinner, hang with kitty, play in the kitchen…  4 days a week. And for one or two of those days, I get to add dear husband into the party. HE~~  He gets to cross the street and suddenly he’s at work. There is no commute in his life. Just a weather check.  That’s the plan from January on- work full time 3 days a week (36 hours), and work on myself and my family for the other 4. Save up what we can (which I expect will be most of what we generate), continue living happily off of a little, just like college. Only by choice this time, not necessity. I’m excited for 2011!

And beyond that? Will I ever pick up the linen again? Well, not without a craft room. I loved crafting, but I discovered that I need to be able to leave things as they are and trust they will stay that way until I’m ready to pick it up again. In this small house, I can work off of my kitchen table… my much needed kitchen table, where my cat persists in owning it just as much as I do. To do this, I have to set up and clear up every day. No. I want to leave it and not feel rushed to have to finish something by dinner. The linen will have to wait until I have a craft room.  In the meantime, while still in this apartment, in Japan or in the US or anywhere, I have decided one thing… university Lifelong Learning programs are my friend. I think I am going to keep myself in education at all times. After copyediting, I might take a course on the classics of literature, or Latin. No professional reason, really, but it is the kind of thing that works well with formal instruction, and I am interested! And I can’t wait to find out what else is out there!