Monday, March 12, 2007

Changing My Schedule

Changing My Schedule

Usually, our lives here in Japan follow a standard pattern, with routine very much the order of the day. Occasionally, however, we do something different, such as going to the Niigata festival which was staged recently in Yokohama.

The photo above is a souvenir of the festival. It was taken at Minato Mirai, a spectacularly modern part of Yokohama, with extremely un-Japanese streets, wide and uncluttered and spacious.

The photo shows, I think, today's Japan, a mix of the modern and the traditional, with taiko drums seen against a background of skyscrapers.

What the photo doesn't show was the wind, which was biting, and I think we were glad when we all got home again.

Maybe on account of the expedition, or the park-going on the following day, Cornucopia came down with the flu. My wife took three days off work, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, to care for Cornucopia. Then, on Thursday, my wife having come down with the flu herself, I took a day off to help out at home.

Saturday we ended up going to a local hospital, Great Mouth Hospital, which is at Great Mouth station, on the Yokohama line. Here we were seen quickly and cornucopia got more medicine.

We had planned to visit Meijin Hospital, but that hospital is shut on weekends, apart from emergencies. By contrast, Great Mouth is open, and Cornucopia was already a registered patient with her own hospital card, having been there on an earlier occasion because she tore a fingernail off and her mother wondered if perhaps a finger had been broken.

In fact, my wife tells me that Cornucopia has an entire collection of hospital cards, though precisely how many I do not know.

At the hospital, my wife had me help by waiting for Cornucopia's name to be called while wife and daughter went off to forage for food. I was not at all confident that I would hear the announcement. But when the long of my daughter's name started sounding over the intercom, "Nishikawa Aiko Cornucopia Boadicea," I had no trouble at all on picking up on it.

If Cornucopia has some future need to go to hospital, then it is entirely possible that I will be the one to take her. Fortunately, it's a simple journey. Take the east gate, exit the station, cross the pedestrian crossing, turn right at the first traffic light, and the hospital is on the right.

On account of the fact that Cornucopia was not going to the daycare, on three separate days I left home early and ended up going to work on an earlier train.

Since I started working at Waniguchi Gakko, my ongoing problem has been a lack of time. I don't have time to find files and prepare for lessons, so I'm always under stress.

The obvious solution would be to show up at work earlier, but I never seriously considered doing any such thing, since the Japanese staffers who are the key holders are erratic, and, sometimes, do not arrive until it's almost time for lessons to start.

However, on the three days on which I arrived early, I found that a staffer had opened up before 0930, and I was able to get into the teacher's room, find my files and prepare my lessons.

I discussed this with my wife and she suggested that I make it a regular habit to leave a quarter of an hour early. We can drop Cornucopia off at 0830, and usually that is the hour at which I leave home.

So, today, Monday 12 March 2007, I decided to give it a shot.

Cornucopia usually watches the morning NHK television novel from 0815 to 0830, but I switched off the TV before the program came on, and she made no protest when we left earlier. Today her temperature was normal but she was still a bit subdued.

Because of brain damage, I find it best to keep my life running on tracks. I have extreme difficulty in learning new routines, so I am not keen on change. But, when I leave early, I get on the same slow train, which, like the one I previously caught, leaves from our home station, which means that there are always plenty of seats.

So I anticipate, from now on, a more orderly life.

Cornucopia will go to a different class and a different room from the start of the new academic year, which begins on April 2, so I will have a slightly different routine to learn, and my wife, who understands my learning difficulties, believes that leaving earlier will help me cope with those changes, and I think she's right.

Today I found another change when we exited the daycare center in the evening, me and daughter Cornucopia. Just before we exited, I saw a model in the hallway. I took it to be a model of the playground equipment in the small park near the supermarket. But, no, not at all. Rather, it was a model of equipment which is now actually in the daycare grounds: a platform to which you ascend by a set of steps then descend by way of a slide.

The little kids, Cornucopia included, were set alight by this new toy, and were going crazy. I noticed that those of them who were running around like maniacs, which was most of them, were running in a clockwise direction, and I recalled that the kids in my tiny tots class also went clockwise when they did their steam demon racetrack thing.

And that's pretty much all my news for the moment, except that I should correct one thing. I indicated that, in New Zealand, if a kid gets a prescription from the doctor then you have to pay the pharmacist for this. But my wife, who, as a tourist to New Zealand, has done more research on the country than I have, informs me that most prescriptions are free for the very young. I believe, if I remember correctly, she said that they're free until age six.

In other news, I got a letter from my mother going into the ins and outs of magnesium deficiency. One of the things which can hit your magnesium levels, which probably accounts for the fact that, when we last saw my hematologist, Dr Gunma, he inquired into our drinking habits. My wife answered, truthfully, that we are abstemiously, and only indulge, and never to excess, just once a week. (Well, sometimes once or twice.)

Magnesium deficiency can do a whole bunch of horrible things to you, including cause kidney stones. These have the reputation for being the most painful medical condition going, so the last thing I want is to have my own collection of these little gems. Dietary advice came with the letter, and eating raisins and various kinds of nuts seems to be part of the answer. I think some of the nuts mentioned are in our deluxe muesli, which comes from England and which we buy from the Seijo Ishi food shop here in Japan, but I'll have to check that out when I have the time.

Other news from my mother was that Alex, my younger brother, was recently flown from the North Island of New Zealand to the South Island. A film company flew him there to help out with the making of the latest film in the Narnia series. He was down in the south for a weekend, during which time they provided him with a car to run around him and put on a barbecue for him.

My brother's role was to exterminate, if he could, the mosquitos which have been plaguing the location shoot.

As it happened, rain made spraying impossible for most of that time, so his working hours were limited to one single morning.

My brother is currently an exterminator, and his stories of extermination were one of the things which fed into my most recent published novel, TO FIND AND WAKE THE DREAMER. I needed a profession for the protagonist, Ibrahim Chess, and the profession of exterminator (his previous job, before he went for his yacht chartering dream) came naturally to mind.

Here in Japan, the really big news right at the moment is that today the grand sumo champion, the Mongolian yokozuna (top ranker) Asashoryu, lost. Now he has lost two days in a row, which is unheard of. Up until now, he has looked pretty much invincible.

It was only yesterday that my wife informed me that the spring sumo tournament has gotten underway. We have been so busy with medical turmoil that the outside world, the sport of sumo included, has largely slipped our attention.


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