Tuesday, September 15, 2009


But it's difficult at the moment. Today is a gloomy rainy day that you can't do much of anything. Everyone in this house is "goofing off," postponing most of the chores to tomorrow. For me it's a good chance to bake something, but I've been sitting in front of my laptop all day (except for the time I went to the post office).

On a day like this, everything I've been working on -- including job hunting --seems to be at a halt, and I feel as if I'm trapped in an antlion's hole called "pessimism."

Last week I contacted three translation agencies (two paid jobs and one volunteer job) and heard from two of them. One said they would send me a trial test ASA I fax them a signed confidentiality agreement. I faxed it last Friday, and still waiting to hear from them. The other was the volunteer job: they hired me at once and said that they would send me the original text on Tuesday. Well, it's Tuesday today and I'm still waiting. I also emailed a local support group for SOHO workers to join their group... I haven't heard anything from them yet.

Yesterday I drove for an hour to the neighboring city to go to the employment agency there. There was only one part-time job that was convenient for me, both time-wise and location-wise. Money is not an issue this time, since I live at my parents' house now, but I want to secure enough time for studying translation at home, so I'm looking for a three- or four-days-a-week job, a few hours each. But what I found was not the kind of job my dad would approve of and I'm expecting a big fight. And what if the colleagues at the part time job would be mean to me? I never worried about that when I lived all by myself, but here the colleagues must be my distant relatives and probably know my parents. That makes me feel so... so insecure.

Gee, when can ever I live my life here?

Oh, well. It's just this weather that's making me this pessimistic. I'll be feeling much better tomorrow. They are calling for sunny skies for the rest of this week, and I'm planning to dry goya (bitter gourd) and cherry tomatoes. And I'm baking something tomorrow afternoon. Then I'll be OK. I might even hear from the translation agencies. Yeah, maybe tomorrow is another day. :P
posted by obachan, 9/15/2009 04:34:00 PM | link | 4 comments |

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Last Thursday, I spent an afternoon and night at my aunt's house ALONE. Yes, it's my project of securing a place where I can be totally alone and relax, as written in my previous post, in order to keep my mental sanity. :P

I truly enjoyed the broadband Internet service there, sitting at the desk near the window. This photo doesn't show it very well, but there's a green curtain of morning glory vines right outside the window, and it makes absolutely refreshing green shade. And what was great was that Youtube videos didn't stop every two seconds!! LOL So the afternoon was really stress-free, at least while I was playing with my laptop. I even enjoyed watering the flowers and small trees in the front and backyard in the evening. That was part of the deal with my aunt: I can stay at her place as long as I want and use anything in the house if I clean the house and water her plants.

I have to admit, though, that it was far from "stress-free" at night. You know, using someone's kitchen or bathroom can be awkward and sometimes really stressful. My plan was to have a very Western -- actually Italian -- meal that I can never have at my parents' house. But the pasta completely cooled while I was looking for a fork, and I couldn't find coffee lightener anywhere because my aunt drinks coffee black. The fridge was full of mystery packs, and she didn't have the things usually needed for an Italian meal, such as olive oil, black pepper, grated cheese, etc....

Nevertheless, I had a good time. It was so nice to take a break from the everyday routine with my parents and be myself. I needed it.

Actually my crazy plan included waking up early in the morning and trying surf casting on the beach, but I slept in and had to give up that idea. (Later I was told that the beach wasn't a good place for surf casting because of the hidden concrete blocks under the water. I guess I didn't miss much.)

OK. Now, when will be the next time? Probably after the 20th this month. And I'm going to bring in some stuff to make my stay there more comfortable... Gee, I've got to make a long list.
posted by obachan, 9/12/2009 05:38:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, September 06, 2009


September 1st is National Disaster Prevention Day in Japan. But because the day fell on a weekday (Tuesday) this year, most towns and cities had a disaster drill on the first Sunday of September so that many people could participate. Yes, we, too, had it today. And it was the most laid-back drill I've ever had in my entire life! :D

Since a major earthquake is expected to hit this area in the near future, it was meant to be an earthquake drill more than anything. And having experienced the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake when I lived in Hyogo prefecture, there was no way that I could ignore or skip the drill.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I had been rather reluctant to prepare for earthquake before moving into my parents' house. Fourteen years ago, on that cold morning of January 17th, 1995, we couldn't even stand up during the outrageous vertical shake. Turn off the gas and electric supply? Open the front door? Ha! Most buildings collapsed within the first 20 seconds, for God's sake! It's no use... I had been quite cynical, if you want to put it that way.

But I recently realized that this time I'm with my parents. It's not how "I" evacuate and survive, but how "we" do that. In other words, it's how I take the elderly couple with bad legs to the shelter and help them survive. Mmmm... I definitely need to know where to go, how to get there and what to take with us. So my motivation was already pretty high on the day before.

There was a public announcement beforehand, so we knew that we needed to go to the designated evacuation point at 9:00 A.M. on Sep. 6th. On Saturday, I asked mom where the gas cock (tap?) was -- She didn't know, and I found it outside the house. :O The circuit breaker was inside the house, of course, but way high up on the wall and no one in my family could reach. :O

And the time came.

... I waited to hear an announcement or a siren... Nothing. After several minutes, I thought I heard a weak siren in the distance, but not sure. When mom and I got outside, we saw 3 or 4 neighbor grannies with parasols sitting on a low brick fence. They were taking a break and waiting for their friends so that they can evacuate together. (It's about three minutes walk from their houses to the evacuation point -- if they were young.)

When we got there, 4 or 5 more aunties and grannies were waiting. There were only two men: a young guy from the local "youth fire fighting team" and a middle-aged guy (my relative) living right next to the evacuation point. Looks like my relative was a designated leader for this group; he had a huge antique walkie-talkie with an antenna as long as a fishing rod. He spread two weed mats on the ground for the grannies to sit on, but most of them preferred standing, saying that they wouldn't be able to get up again once they sat. One relatively young woman (at my mom's age?) sat on the mat and joked, "OK. Coffee next?" Everyone laughed.

The leader counted us and tried to report the number to the community leader. The walkie-talkie wasn't working. LOL And that was all. Everyone just went home. No lecture on "dos and don'ts" of earthquake. No explanation of how to get to an evacuation shelter.

I assume that the shelter is the gym of the elementary school which was closed several years ago. The rumor says that some local people wanted the gym to be open to the community so that they could play ping pong or badminton at nights, but the local government said no because it was too old and not safe. :O Could it be safe as a shelter after being shaken by an earthquake? But then, where else? And I really wonder if anyone ever thought about how to actually move the elderly people from the evacuation points to the shelters after the road is destroyed by the earthquake. And how are they actually going to send water and food supplies to isolated shelters in that case?

I'm pretty sure that the answers I get from the community people to above questions will be "I don't know" with a big laugh. Almost everyone I talk to around here says, "There's no way we can survive. The mountains will collapse and tsunami will wash everything away. We've got nowhere safe to go. It'll be the end when a big earthquake comes. That's it," and laughs. Well, it may be great that this elderly-dominant rural place is full of people who already attained undisturbed peace of mind, but it sure doesn't help disaster prevention planning. LOL

Oh well. I guess I'm going to buy an emergency dynamo radio flashlight (which can recharge cell phones) sometime soon. With that thing, my family might be able to at least contact someone without depending on that walkie-talkie.
... Hope the earthquake doesn't hit before my parents learn how to use it...
posted by obachan, 9/06/2009 07:52:00 PM | link | 2 comments |