The other day, I bumped into a fellow expat at TAC (Tokyo American Club) who I had met before during my brief attempt at joining a book club. She asked me if I was still going and of course I had to say no. The books were terrible and forcing me to turn to iPhone app games like Plants versus Zombies to satisfy my need for escapism. Anyhow, she offered up an opportunity to join a different group with older ladies but better books. I’m obviously not an age-ist so I agreed to check out the book selections and go. The book for March is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I had heard about this book from several people. Unfortunately, I happen to be one of those people where if I know everyone else is doing something, I don’t want to do it… at least I won’t do it right away. I downloaded the book to my Kindle and within seconds was able to start reading. I love it. Some of my exhuberance may be because I just finished reading Blood Ninja by Nick Lake (I know what it sounds like) and that book was TERRIBLE. The whole way through I found it to be mind-numbing and so much the writing of a white guy who either wants to be Japanese or find hisself a Japanese girlfriend real bad. Anyhow, “The Help” is a lot better. Although, I do find it a little annoying that the author is a white woman. But who knows, maybe she “high-yellow” and I’m just being quick to judge. The beauty of “The Help” is that I can identify with all the characters. Sometimes I feel like an uppity Southern Junior Leaguer and sometimes I feel like a sassy black house mammy. The funny thing I have noticed is the more I read the book, the more I am saying things like: “Ain’t you a sweet one to finish yo breakfast” and “Laws! you gonna go out da house like dat?!?” I have a little money stashed for Chase’s therapy.
The irony of the book is that I have finally decided to let go of Joji (my helper) and find someone new. My last straw was Cliff finding a dirty plate in the cabinet at breakfast. My predicament is that I found her through another resident (the Coke family from Atlanta in fact) in the apartment and then, I recommended her to another neighbor who lives in the apartment next to mine. So she gone be around. For the longest time, I have been wanting to let her go, but she is really sweet and for some reason everyone in her family has been fired from their jobs and she’s the only one supporting everyone. I have a couple interviews set up for this weekend so hopefully everything will work out and the next helper won’t short-sheet my bed anymore.
RADIO & TV
As “progressive” as Japan seems on the outside, let me just inform you as a short-time resident that Japan is where old music and TV goes to die. I have my kitchen radio on the most popular station in Tokyo. Whenever they play a song, I’m reminded of some ex-boyfriend from high school. Then, when I do find myself on the couch watching TV with Cliff or Chase, on the English-speaking channels it’s all from TVLand. The Classics programming. I will admit, I have a new found appreciation for Columbo. He was a really fine detective.
So I’ve hosted a few playdates here in Japan. A couple of things I’ve observed:
1) It is not the easiest thing to do. First, most of the kids here have so many extra curricular activities, finding “free-time” is sometimes impossible. I remember just recently, when St. Mary’s called an unexpected snow day, I called Chase’s friend who lives just up the street thinking, the mom would be happy to have someone take her son for a little playtime when they were supposed to be at school. Nope. I called at 8:00am asking if Ken could come over and play with Chase and his mom said they were busy. I know this may have been nosy, but I had to ask what they were doing. Going to the hospital to visit sick people. Probably trying to pad his transcripts for college applications already.
2) If we are able to coordinate a time together, the kid coming over ALWAYS brings something. This has taken the form of cookies, candies, and books. At first, I was a little surprised, but then it got a little weird when a particular friend came over several times bearing gifts every time. I kept saying it wasn’t necessary, but that doesn’t matter. When Chase goes to someone else’s house, now I make sure he always has something for the host.
3) It’s usually not at their apartment. In other words, it’s usually an outing. Maybe it’s because their flat is small, or cold, or messy. Take your pick. I guess it isn’t so terrible. Whenever we host, we inevitably end up at the club. That is probably one of the best points about being members at TAC. It’s the basement I used to have.
Until next time…