Success of the Japanese Blog

Hello to all,

Hope everyone is doing well. I had plenty to eat today for those of you who are worried about the food situation. Everything is going well. As of now, I have about 5 privates and every week it continues to grow. If I get 10, I will be able to stay, not living a fancy life, just able to survive. But, right now, that is all I am worried about. So, I am half way to my goal.

Part of it is due to the blog as well as the fliers I have had made. Friends are also actively recruiting students for me. So, everything seems to be on the up and up. I have about 300 in the bank and 40 in cash at the moment. My only fear is E-Day (Eviction). If I can stay here another month free of charge, I should have enough saved that I can find a place of my own with some friends. But, we will just have to wait and see. I am thinking tomorrow (the 1st) should be the day we get it but who knows what kind of payment schedule Nova had with the landlord.

Anyways, since the start of the blog, Joel and I have gotten several offers: some for food, others for privates, one woman is going to send me a mouse to help with job applications, and a possibly interview for a newspaper. I know a mouse is only $12 but that is half a weeks worth of food.

I have been thinking about it a lot lately and I have noticed some signs that you are poor:

1) All calculations are done in food costs (see mouse example above).
2) You hate to break bills because for some reason, change doesn't seem as valuable.
3) You add a little less laundry detergent to your clothes to try and prolong the life of the detergent box.
4) Looking in the wallet is a dreaded activity.
5) Rice and noodles are a staple of your diet (good carbs and they fill you up fast).
6) You have so much free time and have applied to so many jobs, you just do not know what to do with your time.
7) Any plan in the future is a blessing because it gives you something to look forward to.
8) When out to dinner, you try to find the cheapest item on the menu. However, you hardly go out to dinner so this is not something that happens very often.
9) You know of every single park within 15 minutes walking distance of you apartment.

I think the worst thing about this is I have generally tried to be free with my money and not really worry about it. I have always been used to helping friends out and buying beer and all that stuff. Now, I hate even hanging out with friends because I feel like they want to take me so many places and to dinner and I can't afford to go. I hate being that guy who messes up plans and I hate being that guy who my friends have to pay for. I think that is the worst thing about all of this, accepting help from other people.

Hopefully, by the end of the month I will know more clearly where things stand. Right now, I do not know if I want to continue with private lessons or try to find a regular job. I will just have to play everything by ear and see what happens. Take care, hope every one is doing well. I was talking to a friend about Teach for America and it might be a possibility in the future. So, perhaps I will be back in 6 or 7 years instead of 10. Miss you all and wishing you the best.


Japanese Blog

In order to take our situation to the Japanese media, Joel and I have started a blog with the help of our friend Hiroko and some businessman we met Saturday night at 9:30 pm. Please take a look at the blog as I will be updating in daily. I have a feeling that this one will take a back seat for a bit until the craziness with the other one is done. However, I will still try to update this one bi-weekly or so. As for the new blog, please no comments!!! Joel and I are expected to reply to all comments so if every one of you ads a comment, that is 100 comments I have to reply to. So, if you have a comment, please just email it to myself or Joel. Thank you very much and the new website is as follows:


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know. Right now, things are looking on the up and up. There is already a potential interview in the making with hopefully more to come. Keep your fingers crossed as we are using this an opportunity to find jobs. Also, if you know anyone in the media back home, perhaps you could pass on this website to them as well. Thanks for all of your help and continued support. I will be sure to keep you posted on the latest and greatest. Turn that frown upside down and smile.


Sorry Mom

So, I talked to my mother this evening on the phone and tears came to her eyes. I know I shouldn't have told her, but I stepped on the scale today and realized that I lost ten pounds. It is definitely not because I do not have food to eat, trust me. I have a huge bag or rice and plenty of pasta. I usually have eggs and bananas for breakfast. I have money for food, everything is okay. Hiroko's parents told Joel and I we can go over there any time for dinner. So, for those of you who are worried, I have plenty of food to eat. It was all fat that I lost. I think I am a bit stressed out about Nova, but who wouldn't be. I got some more private lessons and things are on the up and up but more about that later.

One of my Japanese friends gained 20 pounds when she came to America. So, I definitely think its the portion sizes as well as the amount of fats in the foods. As an American, I never realized how little you can eat and still be satisfied. You are always taught that you need to finish your plate and restaurants serve probably twice as much food as you need. I am not eating fried food or greasy food, the most unhealthy thing I have had to eat the last couple of weeks is probably toast with margarine or a few fatty pieces of steak. Everything else has been extremely healthy. So, no worries. I have food to eat and plenty of it. I will take a picture of my cupboard tomorrow and post it online as well as the refrigerator. There is always PB&J and things haven't gotten that bad yet. Take care, hope everyone is doing well. If you want to diet, come to Japan, lose your job, and watch the pounds melt away... SMILE!!


Japanese Family

Great news! I now have a Japanese family who is willing to take care of me. Hiroko, a friend from school, who my mom and dad met, introduced Joel and I to her parents two nights ago. We got to Hiroko's (pronounced He-ro-ko) house and hung out with her mom for a bit, looked at some of Hiroko's pictures. Her mom made us a nice dinner, probably the best one I have had so far in Japan (probably because it was the first home cooked meal I had eaten besides the ones I have made). There is a picture in the picture section which shows the meal. It was a giant frying pan that is placed in the middle of the table then everyone just grabs whatever they are hungry for. It is a lot different from American meals where everyone has their own plate and own food. This is just a giant communal dish that everyone shared. It was a great experience.

Her brother came home after we had ate most of the dinner. He was shocked as he came up the stairs and saw two Americans sitting at the table. Hiroko, Joel, and I went to the store to get more beer. Her mom likes to drink beer but never has the chance since no one in her family really likes it. Plus, we forgot about the noodles we were supposed to have with dinner and needed to make some room after stuffing ourselves earlier.

We got back from the store, had some noodles, talked to her brother for a bit, and then her dad came home. Her dad is a fun guy, energetic, a jokester, but very nice. As soon as he got home, he got on his phone and started making some calls. He set up an interview for us the next day through one of his friends. After that, he drove us home (which probably cost him about $20 total seeing as there is a $7 fee to take the highway each time). Her dad told us we had a place to stay and food to eat if we ever needed it. He told us that we could come over everyday if we wanted. Hiroko is headed to America in a few days but I have a feeling Joel and I will still go visit her family at least once or twice.

The next day, we were off to dinner and an interview. We met her dad at the station and he took us to their house. We hung out with the family for about half an hour until Hiroko came home. We then went to dinner at a place where there was an open flame as well as grill at the center of the table and you cooked your own food. Hiroko's brother ended up buying so that was a plus. Then, we met her dad and were off to the interview, a bit late because of dinner. Oh, by the way, we changed in the bathroom of the restaurant for our interview. I am standing there changing, Joel is taking off his jeans and he looks at me and says, "I lost my pants." All I could do is laugh. Then, he started laughing because he didn't know what else to do. Between our station and the restaurant, Joel lost one of his two pairs of suit pants. His pants are lost somewhere in Japan. Anyway, we go to the interview, the guy cannot offer jobs because he is a small outfit. However, to make an hour and a half meeting short, he offers us $100 a month to keep a diary and send him pictures. So, Joel and I accept. He is hoping to involve the Japanese media and use Joel and myself as a figurehead for the Nova situation. I do not know what kind of connections he has but I know that I know have $100 more dollars than before, just to write. So, when I get the web address for that site, I will be sure to post it on here. That will be more of a daily diary where this is just here and there. Hiroko's dad dropped us off around 1 am which meant they didn't get home until close to 2 am.

This whole situation has just served to remind me that there are great, caring, kind people in the world no matter where you go. I honestly feel comfortable if I had to go and stay with their family even though I have only met them twice. Hiroko's mom packed Joel and I goody baskets both times and that is all I have had to eat the past two days, just food she has packed for us or dinner their family has made or bought for us. All around, they are just great people. Mom, they do like sweets, so if you come, make sure to bring a ton of chocolate for them.

Hope everyone is doing well, I know that I am doing a lot better now that I have a place to stay in a pinch or a home cooked meal if I ever need one. Today, I have another private lesson deal. So, I will make a bit more money hopefully and then I am meeting with a friend I met to give him some flyers to hand out. Things are nowhere close to where they need to be but at least they are looking a hell of a lot better then before. Remember to smile.

PS - Played baseball with the boys again this week. I had a big outing, two grandslams and a solid performance in the field. Joel had a few errors but we had fun and thats all that matters.


First Pay Day

I knew the title would get you, but don't be alarmed. Although I actually received my fist pay, it was not from NOVA. I gave my first private lesson today at a Starbucks. I would have to say, for being my first one, I do believe that things went rather smoothly. The young man I had as my student lived in Canada for about a year and his English was spot on, a few grammatical errors here and there but overall, excellent. At the end of the lesson, he scheduled another one for next week so I was quite pleased. My trial lesson fee is 1,500 yen and each subsequent lesson is 2,000 yen. Also, he told me that he would inform a few of his friends about my lessons. I figure if I can get 10 lessons a week, I can survive pretty easily with what I have saved up and with 20 lessons, I should be doing okay, not making bank, but surviving. I am going to give some of the flyers to my friends as well and ask them to pass them on. Of the 128 million Japanese, all I am asking for is 10 students. This Sunday I am going to do a voice room with a couple of students from my old branch. That is where it is a more relaxed atmosphere, I pick a topic of conversation, guide the discussion, and allow the students to talk as much as possible. I am hoping to get anywhere from 30 to 50 USD from that deal. So, by weeks end, I will have made a whopping 50 USD total. Better than nothing, better than nothing.

New fax from our nefarious president has informed us that the pay situation should be solved in a day or two; but, I highly doubt that. However, as soon as the real pay day comes, I will be sure to let you know.

On another note, Joel and I played some playground baseball with a group of 15 year olds. That was last Sunday and it was a lot of fun, definitely helped to get my mind off of things. So, we made plans to play again this Saturday. I will try to get some pictures of the field/playground and our teammates. They were pretty funny, Joel and I would just make contact and they would cheer. One of them would hit a home run and they wouldn't do anything. Afterwards, we had to take a picture with them on their cell phones. Reminded me of myself when I was younger, only with ice hockey, not baseball.

Right now, it is 3:15 am and I decided to post this blog. I do not know if I am stressed out that much or what the deal is, but I have not been sleeping well at all. Last night, it was 4:30 until I got to bed and the night before that, 3:30. Just writing in the blog and chit-chattin with friends online.

Tomorrow, Joel and I are off to a friends house to have dinner with her parents. She speaks relatively good English and I asked her what was on the menu. Her response, "I can't explain it in English." So, without being rude, I hope to take some pictures of the dinner tomorrow. I am going to take her parents come chocolates as well. Surprisingly, I have eaten most of the chocolate I have come with.

One bright side about this whole situation, I am in the best shape I have been in since I stopped playing ice hockey. I get to do my push ups and sit ups twice a day as it adds some routine to my life.

Still looking for a name for my plant...

Take care, hope everyone is doing well. I have kind of been down in the dumps lately, just stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed. But, I think tomorrow it is time to take a different approach. So, hopefully I get my head out of my butt, stop sulking, and get a little more lively. There are jobs out there, I just need to find them. Hope no one got overly excited about the title and you at least got a laugh out of it. Smile, it could be worse.


Latest and Greatest

I realize that I have not written in a while so, I figured it was high time I added another article. As usual, there is nothing much to report on. However, there are a few details about my life that I can tell you about.

For starters, I switched rooms. I was in the center/smallest room of the apartment but my roommate left for China. So, I now have a window, bigger room, and somewhat of a desk. Also, there is a closet so I can actually store my clothes someplace where they are not in eyesight.

I got a plant and would like to name it something but have yet to come up with anything good; so, if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

I have applied for about 6 teaching positions and posted my information on several websites regarding private lessons. To date, I have one private lesson and there is some other potential business workings in the works. As soon as I know of anything, I will be sure to keep you posted. With the help of Joel and our good Japanese friend Momo, we have templates for flyers; now, all we have to do is go to a copying place and get some copies made.

I am now on a schedule. I will stay in Japan until after the New Year, at which point, if I have no job, there are three options. Number one and the least likely, come home. It is always an option but not one that I want to willingly make. Option two - South Korea to teach English. I heard that the English business is booming there and plan on doing some research over the next few weeks. A very likely option. Finally, option number three is PeaceCorp and off to Africa. It would allow me to continue my worldly travels and help those in need. So, that is my basic timeline as of now.

I found a beautiful view of the city at night and have been there the past couple nights. It allows me to think clearly and to relieve a lot of my stress. So, I think it will be a place I visit quite often.

All of my job applications, I heard back from one company who is reviewing my information. I should know in two weeks what the deal is unless they do not contact me at all. So, keep your fingers crossed.

I am reading a book call The End of Faith... it is a great book and I think the author is a genius but perhaps that is because I have not had an intelligent conversation since I've arrived.

I dipped into my American funds yesterday. Would we have gotten paid, after everything was taken out, including rent, taxes, etc, I would have had around 900 USD in the bank. The new projected pay day is this coming Friday now but I highly doubt that will happen. So, I have not been to work and continue to apply to jobs online.

As of right now, that is pretty much all I have to report on. For the time being, the lady situation is a bit complicated considering she is extremely busy and my life is crazy, to say the least. But, as details emerge, I will be sure to keep you informed.

I hope that everyone is doing well and just remember, when you go in to a job you do not like, at least you are getting paid :) which is a lot more than I can say right now. Smile, I am trying my best to...


News on NOVA

So, the 15th was supposed to be the big day to figure out if we were going to get paid or not; but, now, the president has sent out a fax saying we will get paid on the 19th instead. So, I have to wait four more days. I know a lot of people, including Joel, who are calling off until they get paid. So, the company may be finished before the 19th. However, I am going to go to work and give my e-mail address to the students to see if any of them are interested in private lessons. So, I think the company is done with, over, but maybe, just maybe, they will find a way to make it through. Things are not looking good. But, either way, I am staying in Japan and going to find a way to be here for at least a year. Hope everyone is doing well, don't worry about me because I am not worried about the situation. Take care.


Ferris Wheels and Fun

Not a whole lot going on here. Just thought I would give you a quick update with what is new in my life. Rode a sweet ferris wheel in Umeda on my day off. I will put up some pictures today. We went with our good friend from the cell phone shop, Notsue. We might end up teaching her mom English in exchange for a meal once a week. Also, I got e-mail on my cell phone so that is pretty exciting.

Today there is supposed to be a big announcement about the future of NOVA. I have no idea what it is going to be but as soon as I know, I will be sure to let everyone know. Either way, I plan on staying in Japan for a year. Money is going to be tight but I think between Joel and myself, we can do it. Hopefully, within that year we can both find another job at other English schools.

Joel and I made dinner for two of our Japanese friends last night. Joel made some curry and I ended up trying a Mexican dish. It was the first time I made it but it turned out pretty good. I think the ladies thought we were a bunch of gomers/goobers because they took pictures of the food. For some reason, I guess they were thinking we couldn't cook. Of course, there might be a potential relationship in the making... and for now, I will just leave it at that. Oh yeah, last night went and played in the rain. First time I have done that in a while but it was wonderful not having to worry about anything and just having fun. That is all for me at the moment. Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying life, I know for the time being I am.


Mr. Y

As I was relaxing on Sunday night, half asleep watching a movie, I noticed I had four missed calls and a text message. Who else could it be? Joel's text message read "wheres my wingman." Although I was not really in the mood to go out that evening I decided I would go for moral support as I could tell Joel just wanted to have a good time and throw back a few beers. I asked my roommate for directions to a "280" bar where everything, food and beverage, is only 280, hence the name. We got directions and off we went.

We arrived safely at the bar after drinking two beers on the way there. Being able to drink in the street is quite an unusual feeling and some part of me still feels as though I am a criminal. Nevertheless, we entered the bar (mind you, it is not really a bar as an American would view a bar but more of a restaurant, how it got the name 280 bar I do not know) and had a seat at the counter.

Before too long a Japanese man came up to us and asked if he could join us. Well, knowing Joel and I, you probably know what we said. I forget his name but he will forever be remembered as Mr. Y from this point forward. So, Mr. Y informs us that he is the president of Nitro Evolution and in my opinion, so begin the lies. We have a few drinks and I notice a scar on his hand so I asked him what it was from. Mr. Y informs us that his scar is from the Yekuza, better known as the Japanese mafia. He then proceeds to pull up his sleeve and show us to scars on his arm, apparently from bullet holes. At this point, Joel and I ask for the bill. Something to note - in Japan, they do not break up the bill, they pay by the table. So, if someone in your group orders a $20 steak and you get a $5 burger, the bill comes as $25 and from what I gather, you are supposed to split it equally. So, our bill comes and its $45 or 4500 yen. I throw in a 1000 yen because Joel owed me two beers and I only had 4 to drink the whole night. So, i figured I was good and didn't worry about it too much. Joel is half yelling at me in the bar, telling me how we don't want to be in debt to the Yekuza. As we were walking out, I thought it said we still had 500 yen left on the tab. So, from this point, I thought we skipped on the bill with a guy in the Japanese mafia. Turns out, I was wrong but more on that later.

So, we try to say goodbye to our new friend, Mr. Y, but he asks us where we live. We tell him Shin Osaka and ask him where he lives. He informs us that since he is the #2 mafia man in Shin Osaka, he can stay anywhere. Joel then asks him how he is getting home. His personal driver, of course, what were we thinking. So, I asked for a ride, only to find out that his driver doesn't like Americans and would cut us if we got in the car. Fair enough, we'll walk. As we walk along a little more he tells us his bodyguard is following... Joel and I turn and stare. He tells us not to make it obvious and continue walking. Next, we pass a nice hotel and he says he can stay there for the night. So, I ask to see the place. Sure enough, Chinese mafia live there and they don't like Americans either so surely we would be stabbed. Fair enough, I don't really need to see the place. At this point, we are trying hard to lose this guy and just go home. He follows us back to our place and Joel has had enough. He tells this guy he is scary. Mr. Y wanted to come up to Joel's room and "see it." So, we left him at the entrance and started to walk up the stairs, sure to not take the elevator. After about two steps, I took my sandals off so he wouldn't be able to hear us and Joel and I were whispering back and forth. This story does not do justice to the adventure and fear we faced but I hope you find it humorous, looking back on it, I know I do.

So, the next night I come to find out the true story, at least from Joel of what happened at the bar. Perhaps for me, this just added to the joy of the evening. So, Joel proceeds to tell me that he ended up throwing in $40 dollars into the pot for a total of $50 and gave it to Mr. Y. So, not only did Joel end up paying for Mr. Y's drinks, he also paid him $5 to drink with us. That a boy Joel. He asked me if I knew what happened and I told him no and after hearing the story, I just lost it. I could not stop laughing and laughing. That is all, hope you enjoyed the story and it made you laugh. Mom and Mama Fred, I hope it doesn't worry you too much.