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"Letter-Letter 312"
January 11th, 2002

"The Bad Economy"
"Trip to Nagoya"  by Yo/Gr
"Regarding Volatile Views"
"When a Woman Loves a Man....."  by Tanyle
"Starting Over"  by CAI
"Something Between the Lines?"  by APP & LHS
"Worth Saving"
"It Doesn't Hurt to Try?"
"How Can We Sell Words?"  by Tanyle & LHS
"The Purse"
"The Music in Me"  by Laf
"Boring Professors"  by KCM
"Life is What You Make It"  by GDJ
"Fun at the Company"
"Going Back"  by CAI

"The Bad Economy"     [Top of page]

Friday.  It's been a day of reflection.  I've been applying to different companies for over two months now, and the interviews have been primarily for rewriting and/or translation positions.  A couple of the companies I've had interviews with seemed like they would be good companies to work for, but everywhere there are vastly more job seekers than positions, and thus finding a good job with decent pay is not proving to be easy.  One place that is just starting up a business offered to let me come in on my own time and discuss how I can help the company make money!  Sounds like sales, something I'm not proficient at, but I'll try spending at least a day there to see what happens.  It could be good for networking, if nothing else.  I thought I was through with "corporate training" classes (i.e. English classes at companies), but.....

Yesterday evening, I taught my first business English class in nearly two years - five men in their early twenties who are slated to be sent overseas, some in a year, some in two years.  As they are then to stay overseas for from fifteen to twenty years, the class has somewhat of an atmosphere of military cadets in training to be sent off into the unknown.....  I went to the company in a dark mood, not at all happy to be going off for yet another English class.  With fifteen years of doing so in my past, I already know pretty much what will happen.  The students are busy with work and don't have the time to learn a foreign language.  They will come to the two hour class once a week, and after a few weeks, when they haven't become masters of the language, they will start looking around for somewhere to lay the blame.  It's all very logical really - they can't blame the company, which is spending a bunch of money on a language training company (which then gives me about a fifth of what they are getting).  They don't want to blame themselves (who does?), and the only contact they have with the language training company is the poor teacher (figuratively and literally) who trudges out to the company week after week.  The company blames the students for not becoming masters of the English language, and they blame the education... so the company lodges a complaint with the intermediary company... and the intermediary company says "I see... well, obviously the teacher is at fault.  We'll send you a new teacher right away!".

You might think I'm exaggerating here, but more and more, it's exactly as I describe above.  In fact, I'm replacing another teacher for this class, which is good for me, as the students will have to wait at least a little while before they play the same cards again.  On the other hand, they're dealing with a veteran of the JW Office wars, so I'm going to make it more difficult for them to lay the blame for their inevitable failure to learn the language at my feet.  How?  E-mail!!  The following e-mail was their first homework.  Their level is quite low, so I included instructions in Japanese, written in a friendly style, which is good for them I think, but might cause me trouble with both their boss and mine, to whom I BCCed the message.

First homework assignment for the Thursday evening class:

January 11th, 2002  -  Homework Assignment Number One

Hello gentlemen,

This is your first homework assignment.  You are to respond to this e-mail, acknowledging that you've received it.  To be friendly, you are also to add something extra - it could be a comment about the weather, a question, or whatever you like.  You don't have to write a lot, but you need to write something.  As I understand that homework is something both your company and the one I'm working for expect you to do, it will count against you if you don't send me anything.  Don't worry about making mistakes.  Indeed, now is the time for making mistakes - with me, the instructor, so similar mistakes can be prevented from occurring with your customers.

Ganbatte kudasai!!


Lyle Saxon

Following the bit above, my note in Japanese basically said:

I know how you feel... it's embarrassing to write in a foreign language - unlike speaking, where the mistakes just disappear into the air, writing it down creates evidence of mistakes.  Be that as it may, you must write something.  Basically, write that you've received this e-mail, and then add something.  Anything will do, but if you write nothing, it will lower your grade for the class.

And I do know how they feel.  I went from feeling confident and in control as I wrote the English part of my e-mail, to nervous and embarrassed when I began writing the Japanese part.  My written Japanese is good enough to convey what I'm trying to convey, but bad enough to be embarrassing all the same!

Well, enough about teaching English.  The job hunt continues, and I've been quite busy with sending out my resume, arranging and going to interviews, and doing sample rewrite/translation work for different places.

PS  I received an e-mail from a friend still stuck at the JW office informing me of the latest people to leave or be thrown off the ship.  Both Ms. Iroppoi and Ms. Honyaku are leaving at the end of this month it seems.  They were probably the nicest two people still there... I suppose once the company is composed of 100% sharks, they'll start biting each other.....    [Top of page]

"Trip to Nagoya"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: RightAddress?
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

..........  I just beat the snow, actually drove through it before it got bad, (I was in Nagoya).  Anyway, now I'm enjoying the thrill of being broke for another 27 days!  Yeh!  But I guess that's the price one must pay for actually doing something away from here.  Nagoya was good, a little hard because I have really become used to living in the countryside here, but it was nice to have a choice of places to eat and things to buy (oh, but then no money, so looking was interesting).  Met with my girlfriend's parents, they seem very nice.  All in all, it was worth the seven-hour drive back, a bit longer than going - due to traffic (and I am very very happy I went by motorcycle, I can imagine the time it would have taken by car!).

Hope your New Year's was good.  Do you do the shrine thing on New Year's Day?  Oh, one thing you might do when you have some free time, is to sit in one of those massage chairs - the most expensive one is really nice.  Tokyo should be great for that, you can choose a different store, maybe a few if you need to, and the salespeople, well - they do try don't they!


"The shrine thing", by the way - is the tradition here of going to a shrine to pray for health, happiness, etc. for the coming year.

"Regarding Volatile Views"     [Top of page]

(Nishi-Tokyo  January 12th, 2002)
Since September 11th, I've received several passionately written letters representing a wide spectrum of points of view... that probably should all be put together - but at a latter date.  Most of them are at least a little bit political and/or religious, and it's an editorial policy of mine to leave politics and religion out of this as much as possible.  I bring this up now, as there was one particularly well-written submission dealing with the issue in a broad sense, and I found reading it an enlightening experience, but can't get past a strong feeling that the timing is wrong.  So... at a later date, when it's history, and not history in the making, maybe I'll put the volatile letters together.  As a whole they balance out actually - but each and every one of them would certainly make someone extremely angry at this point in time.

"When a Woman Loves a Man....."     [Top of page]

Subject: about KCM's Love/Like
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002
From: Tanyle  [Singapore]

Well, this one [KCM's Love/Like question in LL-311] strikes me as an interesting topic!  I have some input, as (coincidentally), just a few weeks ago some gal friends and I were discussing this.

One opinion was that you know you truly love a person when you are able to sacrifice for him, make provisions for him and his life style, and accommodate him in your life.

A second opinion expressed by some of my friends was that if a girl loves this way (i.e. sacrificing for another, making provisions, accommodating, etc.), it could just turn out to be blind love and that is how some gals/guys get "cheated" or taken advantage of by those they love.

Personally, I think that the first opinion does sound a bit like putting a man before oneself.  No doubt it is selfless.  Nevertheless, one must not forget also to love themselves and give their own life equal attention.  Love is about respecting each other and yourself.  When you respect and love yourself, others will respect and love you too I believe.

In line with the second opinion, the extreme would be blind love.  Indeed there are many willing parties who go to that extent - e.g. some mistresses who ask for nothing material in return; wives who would rather be the scapegoat for criminal offenses committed by their husbands, etc.

At times, I guess women go to this length for their beloved ones because they just want to be loved in return... or maybe it's that there exists a selfish need in them to be needed.  They feel good that they're needed at such a time of crisis when they help someone they love.  So - do they do what they do for themselves, or for their loved ones?  I can't come to a definite conclusion, but I suspect it's for their own sense of satisfaction.


"Starting Over"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-311
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002  -0500
From: CAI  [US]

..............  Things started out in Mid-October when my husband decided to go to Thailand for a vacation.  In November, a week after he arrived back, he informed me that he would like a divorce.  I had no idea what happened.  Mid-Age-Crisis!  I don't know.  We have known each other for 15 years and been married for 4&1/2.  It didn't work out.  So all within a month, I put in my notice at work, packed my house and moved out of state from Minnesota to Indiana and purchased a home there and unpacked while looking for work.  All in a matter of three weeks.  Whew!  Where there is a will, there is a way.

About the comments regarding like and love in LL-310... I don't want to answer that question, as I had felt that I had it down pat, but apparently it just wasn't so.  Am I negative on the marriage scene again... yes, I am.  I hear that my soon to be ex-husband married me so he could see me get ahead in life.  Not that he was in love with me, but just so that I could get ahead in life.  Wow... learning that after all these years sure did hurt.

Personally I think that you have to be real careful.  What you might consider love, is just liking the other person, and thinking that you love that person to the extent that you begin believing that you are in fact in love with them... whereas in reality you really just like that person.  Maybe that doesn't make sense - but it's the way things have seemed to happen for me.....

As for the job hunting... I did manage to find work - not my dream job, but it's something to pay the bills for now.  We all have to work to survive.

Now, after being in Indiana for one month and knowing only one person here - my best friend and her family... I am homesick.  It was very tough through the holidays.  I have now informed my ex that I am wanting to move back to Minnesota again.  He wants me to try it a little longer.  I don't.  I have my mind made up, so will be putting this house up for sale and moving back hopefully in the Spring.  I have a great job waiting for me, as well as all my friends and family.

I thought that it would be easy to just start all over.  It isn't.  When you have all of your friends back home, long distance bills sure do add up.  The job market is very tough here.  I do like the weather though.  Hardly any snow... whereas back home there is a lot of it.

If anybody can help me here by giving me advice about moving back, please do so... I have been trying to weigh the pro's and con's here and yes, it has been tough.

Well group, keep up the good work with all of these letters.  I do so enjoy reading them.

CAI/Indiana     [Top of page]

"WhatToDoWhatToDo..."     [Top of page]
(Hiroo  2002/01/15  19:11)

What to do - what to do.....  I'm at a point where I've accepted a few different job offers for some odds and ends, and the time is fast approaching when I will have to make a decision about the company I'm at right now.  Being a project in the works, it's better not to talk about it, but I'll say this much:

It's a new company, being set up by a foreign guy, and he is hiring all foreign staff.  He seems quite open minded, and the woman who he just hired to work full time seems friendly enough.  But... the company is based on software and I would be the only person hired to write words and not create any software.  As the owner isn't even sure exactly how that fits into the operation, the initial deal is that I am to come by the office as much as I can - do my other freelance work, and then figure out how to make some money.  The only thing he's promised to pay so far is my transportation costs here.

One other problem... the air in this place is awful!  It smells like air freshener, one of the worst smells known in the universe... and to think that the companies that produce that junk actually obtain money from people who want to smell that horrible odor ... incredible!!!

At the moment, I'm sitting at a desk next to a conference room where the owner is interviewing another job applicant.  Now this is interesting!  I can see the interview process through a smoked-glass partition, and hear everything that's being said.  I don't think I've ever been in this position before.  One of the things about being a freelance gaijin in Japan is that you tend to erroneously begin to think that you are the only foreign person around.  When going to interviews, you may run into other space creatures like yourself, but you don't generally sit in on the interview process as a (very interested) observer!  Nothing like knowing the competition to know where you stand.

Time to stop talking about this situation I currently find myself in though.....

"Something Between the Lines?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-311
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002
From: APP  [Australia]

Good news for us.  My partner finally found a job and started working three days ago.  I must say it is a big relief.  I sure hope you have found something also.

My Christmas story -
On Boxing Day, my partner and I went to his parent's place for a family Christmas.  I am considered a daughter-in-law as I have been with their son for almost seven years now, and have been treated as one of the family by all - including "mom" during that time.  So, what happened this Christmas I ask?  Why did everyone else get the usual great gifts except I from "mom"??  Who knows, but I will tell you what I did get.

First I have to go back a couple of months.  My partner loves to collect things and is always coming home with someone else's junk which I have to say is definitely not my treasure.  He came home with a knitting bag one day that had a cardigan all knitted but needed sewing up and the neck and button bands knitted.  I took one look at the murky brown colour and told my partner that I would not finish knitting it because; A: my knitting days are over and B: it is a colour I would never, never wear.  I told him to give it to a charity, as they would finish it and give it to someone in need.  But no, his mother was visiting... he told the story to her and she took it.  So you can imagine my surprise (yes you guessed it) when I opened my gift - there was the yukky brown cardigan all finished.  I couldn't believe it - I was so insulted.  I tried to compose myself and think that she was just being thoughtful and must have forgotten the story and thought it was my unfinished knitting.  But even so, why give something as a gift that had already belonged to that very person.  It wasn't like she knitted the whole %$#& thing, now was it?

Okay, so in a room full of people all opening gifts, I tried to look happy.  I was handed another gift from "mom" - this time I'm thinking "a thoughtful gift".  .....  I got a huge golf umbrella.  She plays golf, I do not.  Everyone who visits my house passes an umbrella stand at the front door and knows I have umbrellas coming out of my ears!!  I truly have 15 umbrellas in that stand.  So again I am disappointed and thinking she probably scored the umbrella free at golf.  But wait - there's more.  She ("mom") came over to me with a small gift and a big grin on her face and said - "One more present for you - a very special one".  Ah, I thought at last, the other gifts were just for fun, this is the good one.  I opened it in glee with a thank you and smile already upon my lips... looked in... and then looked up at her smiling face with utter confusion on mine.  "They're your glasses, silly" she explained, "I found them in your knitting bag."  I told her they weren't mine and then she looked confused, so I told her quietly about how I came by the knitting bag.....  Unfortunately, instead of her showing any embarrassment or offering a much-needed apology, all I got was a shrug of her shoulders and she turned her attention to someone else.

I know she is not a nasty person so I have to believe she thought she was doing something nice.  So, all is forgiven, although she will never know just how insulted I was.


PS  The car is a Mitsubishi Mirage VRX CE Hatchback - racing car green.

Ah!  Just as I suspected about the car!  When I read about that in the first place, I imagined that it was probably a car I would be likely to buy myself!  Like they say - "The difference between men and boys - is the price of their toys".....

Now... about the gifts.  Hmmmm....... living in Japan where accidents are not generally forgiven because they are accidents, and where people agonize over the appropriate gift to give someone, I would be inclined to think that there is more here than mere "accidents", but rather things done "accidentally on purpose" - as my brothers and I used to say.  (Yikes!  I'm not sure we said that or not!  Loss of faith in my own memory!  A sign of getting old!  Ayayayaaa.........)

And something about the glasses... I've seen/heard "You've forgotten your glasses" used on this island to mean "There's something right in front of you that I see, that you would see too, if you just took a closer look."  Symbolism, roundabout non-confrontational ways of saying things... it all sounds very traditionally Japanese.....  A big umbrella?  Hmmm..... not sure what that means.  "We're under the same umbrella" would be nice, but it could also be "Watch out - there may be a big storm coming."     [Top of page]

"Worth Saving"     [Top of page]
(Hiroo  2002/01/15  19:47)  I've often pondered the fact that Japan honors and preserves the very old things, is forever eager to obtain the new, but for the most part ignores the period of history between now and the end of the Edo era, about 140 years ago.  So much so, that I have come to place a higher value on relics from that 140 year period than the really old things.  I was therefore quite pleased to discover the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum within a section of Koganei Koen Park ("koen" means park actually).  It's a fascinating outdoor museum, with authentic buildings taken from different areas of Tokyo and reconstructed in the park.  I spent about five hours there and took around 600 pictures, but there were still several buildings that I couldn't get to at all before it closed.

"It Doesn't Hurt to Try?"     [Top of page]

Every week, there are a number of "Japanese national only" help wanted ads in the Monday edition of the English language Japan Times newspaper here, which used to ruffle my feathers, but I've gotten (nearly) used to seeing over time.....  I tried sending my resume (in both Japanese and English) to a few of them anyway, with cover letters like the following:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing in response to your ad in the January 7th, 2002 Japan Times.  I would appreciate your consideration for either the advertised position or perhaps some other position.


Lyle Saxon

One of the responses I received is copy/pasted below.  Now - keep in mind that this is from a large US multinational company!  I am still dumbfounded when people suggest that I try to find a job with an American company over here - as American companies are the last ones to consider hiring already-here foreigners, although they are happy to spend huge sums of money to replant US execs (and their families) in exclusive Tokyo districts like Azabu.  The letter below is exactly as I received it, with only the company name and address changed to protect the guilty:

Subject: Re: Resume
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002 16:37:29 +0900
From: job <job@multinational-int.co.jp>
To: Lyle Saxon <lylehsaxon@netscape.net>

as the ad is looking for a japanese, there is no possibility for you.


I mean... what do you say to that?  They get points for sloppy honesty at least.  Some companies advertise for "Native-level Japanese ability" which may or may not be referring to only the language, but is still much less harsh to read than "Japanese national only".  Discrimination?  Yes, naturally, as a matter of course.  This is exotic Japan after all, and how can you be open-minded and exotic at the same time?    [Top of page]

"How Can We Sell Words?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Writing Freelance
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002
From: Tanyle  [Singapore]

I was wondering if you know of any websites and/or publications that pay people for contributing articles (in English) for anywhere in the world, either international or local in focus.

I enjoy writing, but I do need to work on it a little.  I'm not familiar with this trade.  I'm thinking that taking up freelancing would be good at this time, as a way of compensating for missing out on annual wage increases for two consecutive years now.....

I'm not sure what type of articles I would write - I guess the majority of them would be related to experiences in life.

Any ideas or recommendations?


While reading Tanyle's letter, two things come to mind.  One being basically "If I only knew the answer to that for myself!", and the other being that I would like to get to the point where I can pay people for their submissions.  As it is, I don't receive any money for publishing this on the Internet, and I am in no position yet to pay anyone for their submissions.  Tanyle - if/when I figure out the answer to your question, I'll begin paying you for your submissions to the LL-Letters, but until then, I would like to join Tanyle in asking the question - how to make money writing... you can't eat the words on the screen after all.  Any answers out there?

....... Sigh.  No sooner do I write the above on February 2nd, 2002, then I scroll down to see what I put in earlier for the next article... and find a rather heavy piece by myself.  Allow me to say here that later on the very day I wrote the following - in fact, at the interview I was en-route to while writing - I picked up some more freelance work, so things are looking at least a little better than they seemed at the time.......

"The Purse"     [Top of page]
(Written by hand on the Yamanote and Utsunomiya Lines on January 18th)

Not sixty seconds in the door of the Office Depot in Ginza (Ginza isn't as ritzy as it once was) I spotted a purse siting in a chair that was part of a chair-desk display.  Figuring someone left it there, but also considering that it could conceivably be part of the display, I picked it up... heavy... "not likely a display"... opened the flap... thick wallet... "definitely not a display prop".  So - I walked over to the registers and handed it to a woman there, telling her that someone had left it on the chair over by the desk.  She thanked me, and I returned to my original course into the store, ending up buying some pens - one of which I'm writing this with now (a BIC "round stic" - twelve for Y199).

"All's right with the world" I wanted to think... but instead found myself thinking of that wallet and the likely money it held... and then began telling myself I had done the right thing (I had!), and feeling increasingly depressed that the thought of money in the wallet wouldn't quite go away.  After buying my pens, I gloomily walked down the street thinking "I think I understand how crime rates go up when people are desperate...".  I was finally able to get a hold of myself by thinking "OK then, if you must entertain the thought - how would you feel right now - walking down the street here, if you had taken anything from that purse?"  I did just that, and had to agree with the logic - I'd feel like a slimy %$#&$%#, so I put it to rest with the final verbalization, "You're not ashamed of yourself walking down the street now - you can't buy that - for any price."

That said - I'm not ashamed, but I don't know how I'm going to buy food in February, or even pay the rent in March.  The economy is bad?  Yes!  I believe it is!

"The Music in Me"     [Top of page]

Subject:  The Music In Me
Date:  Wed, 16 Jan 2002
From:  Laf  [US]

Here it is mid January of 2002 and life has definitely started the year on a high note.  I am almost afraid to talk about it for fear of putting a negative spin on it.  However, since I have such positive news, I guess we'll chance it.  Besides I really want to share this with you.  Let's see... how shall we get this together in a semi-lucid format....

I guess saving the best for first is going to be the plan.  The last several months have been hell for me.  The diabetes was suddenly totally out of control.  Blood sugar levels are supposed to be between 70 and 110.  Mine were between 200-390.  Nothing we did was impacting it.  I started injections of insulin... no change.  They steadily increased the dosage.  I was up to five injections per day.  I was awful.  I felt awful.  Aabbb was frightened for me.  I was completely terrified.  I gradually stopped all of my hobbies.  It was just too much to do much of anything.  I started really begging my doctor to get me to an endocrinologist (I figured it was time to see a specialist on diabetes).  The doctors office kept saying they were trying, but the soonest they could get me in was February.  Finally, the week before Christmas, my boss called his best friend (who happens to be one of the best endocrinologists in the southern United States).  He got me an appointment in two days.  This man has the bedside manner of an irritated pit viper... BUT... he happens to be really good.  He looked at my blood records and then talked to me.  Within five minutes he looks at me and says... "Well, first of all anybody should have been able to see by the blood pattern that you are Insulin Resistant.  They haven't been treating the right problem."

It turns out that my body can make insulin... it just no longer recognizes it.  Heck, it can't recognize the injections of insulin either.  The doctor put me on a little white pill called Actos.  It has one function.  It makes the body recognize insulin so it can use it.  He warned me that it would take at least a couple of weeks to kick in.  He said the goal was to cut down the insulin injections and gradually replace them with a pill that would motivate my body into producing more insulin on its own.  He told me that I had to walk every day and that I had to change my eating habits.

I did everything he asked.  I walk about a mile and a half every day.  I have lost weight.  The really great news is that I went back to the endocrinologist on the 11th of January.  He took me off all the injections.  I now take the Actos in the morning and a little pink pill called Prandin before I eat supper.  My blood sugar levels are between 90 and 115.  I feel positively like a new person.  A weight has been lifted off of me.  I realize I have to keep up the diet and exercise regimen for the rest of my life... but it is worth it.

No, the bad isn't about me.  It is about Aabbb.  I found out this week that he has been keeping something from me.  He was so worried about my health that he failed to pass on a piece of rather important information to me.  He needs  major surgery.  His doctor has been after him for months.  Apparently the rotator cuff in Aabbb's left shoulder has completely gone.  It needs to be repaired.  It is normally a tricky surgery but not considered major.  It becomes major when the patient has a heart condition like Aabbb has.  The part that makes it bad for us, is that once the surgery has been done, he will be unable to do the work he does for almost a year, and he may never be able to do it again.  That means we will be facing some very big financial decisions.  Of course, we have no choice about the surgery.  He just wants to put it off until June.  I have mixed feelings about that, but I suppose he knows how much pain he can tolerate.  Hopefully I will be able to work full time again by then.  I certainly will need to at least for awhile.

Well, Aabbb has gone into renovation mode again.  I cannot believe he decided to take on this project with his shoulder so messed up, but he did.  The week of Thanksgiving, he decided it was time to renovate the kitchen.  We have had this room - laughingly called a utility room - just on the other side of the kitchen since we bought the house.  It was 8 ft by 12 ft of wasted space as far as we were concerned.  The kitchen was 10 ft by 12 ft.  I have always hated it because with the appliances in it, there was almost no room to do anything.  You certainly didn't want more than two people in it at any given time.  So, Aabbb took out the wall between the two rooms, and also tore up the kitchen floor.  We have put in a light sand colored ceramic tile.  I now have the beginning of an 18 ft by 12 ft kitchen, which is - at the moment - a gutted area.  We can just barely prepare food there.  Almost all of my lower cabinets are out of the kitchen, so finding things like silverware or utensils has become a major job.  Cooking pans are another hard to find item.  I have now been told that the entire ceiling has to come down so new lighting and wiring can be run.  I keep reminding myself that it will all be beautiful and my dream kitchen when it is done.  I just have to keep reminding myself of this whenever I want to do something like cook a meal.....

Recently we decided to convert some of my karaoke music into CDs with graphic capabilities.  I got a new machine for our anniversary that has a television monitor attached, so the words of the songs are displayed on the screen.  All this requires are the special CD's that are called CDG (CD Graphic).  I realized - with over 32 CD's with at least 10 to 20 songs on each - that I needed to create some kind of inventory.  I decided to do two types.  One alphabetical by song and one alphabetical by the artist's style.  It turned out to be a rather difficult mission.  It took two weeks of work whenever I had any free time.  It turns out I have over 400 songs.  This means that if I go out to sing and the disc jockey doesn't have a song I want... I probably have it at home.  It gives me a lot more freedom in what I sing.  I love it.  It also means that when we have pool parties or barbecues, I can set the system up, and there is enough variety in my collection that anyone (who wants to) can sing.

The new extended music collection has also opened up another world for Aabbb.  Yes, I have now convinced him to get up and sing too.  He really isn't bad.  He has a nice baritone voice.  He can now practice his songs at home too.  That means that he has more confidence when he gets up to sing, he gets to participate when we go out on Friday nights, and he's more up for staying longer.  He is having a great time too.

Poor Bbccc (yes, the prodigal daughter is in residence again.)  She managed to sprain her knee and actually tear something under the kneecap.  It all filled up with fluid.  She had to go to the hospital the other night and have three tubes of fluid removed.  Talk about being in pain.  They then wrapped the knee and gave her crutches.  She has never walked on them before.  If it weren't so painful for her, it would actually be hysterical to watch her.  She is very unsteady and wobbly.  Fortunately Bbccc has a sense of humor about it.  She reminded me of that little round toy called a "weeble".  They used to advertise that weebles wobbled but they didn't fall down.  Bbccc says she is  living proof that this is not so.

I guess the closing note is this.  I feel better every day.  I feel like me again.  I have the sparkle back.  Even the headaches are getting under control.  Overall, I have a great feeling about this year.  I hope life has been treating you well also.

Laf     [Top of page]

"Boring Professors"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Thinking...
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002
From: KCM  [US]


Classes are going well, although I keep falling asleep... my professors are so boring this quarter.  I know they love their subjects, but I'm not feeling the passion at all.  They seem to approach the literature with an analytical mindset without infusing any kind of passion into it.  Or maybe it's just because they're monotonous.


"Life is What You Make It"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: New Year
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002
From: GDJ  [US]

There have been many changes in my life since I last wrote.  I am divorced.  My ex decided to date on the Internet and meet men in hotel rooms.  Needless to say, when I had proof, I left.

I have since met a wonderful lady and am now very happy.  That is a summery.  I will skip all the details, but I'll say this - if one of your friends feels that something is amiss in the marriage, I suggest getting a private eye and going for the gusto.  I did, and won.  Not that anyone ever really wins in this situation though.

..............  I got my private pilot's license and now have a high performance and complex rating and am going for my instrument and commercial license, which is my new goal in life.

My new lady and I became engaged and she likes to fly with me and do things together.  What a nice life to have someone who likes to do things with you and for you.

Life is what you make it, and I'm making it worth living by loving and being loved by a good women.


"Fun at the Company"     [Top of page]
(2002/02/01  Nishi-Shinjuku)

The following letter is one that I sent (today) to the company where I'm teaching English on Thursday evenings.  Generally I change names in cases like this to protect the guilty, but this time there were no real names in the letter in the first place, as I thought it would be better not to be overly specific... thus the letter is verbatim as I sent it.  It's written in a simplistic style to facilitate understanding by the people I sent it to, whose English level isn't very high.

One caution - for my friends from New York, the guy who is named "Mr. New York" in the letter below I named so only because that's where he's from.  If he had been from Ohio, I would have named him "Mr. Ohio".  He's an idiot, but allow me to stress that he's an idiot who happens to be from New York - he's not an idiot because he's from New York.  The danger here is that words themselves only convey half the meaning, and as I typed "Mr. New York" in the story below, I was not thinking friendly thoughts.  It never ceases to amaze me how much meaning is conveyed from between the lines, and as I imagine some of the disgust I felt/feel about that whacko is discernible, I hasten to say that I have all sorts of associations in my mind with New York, more good than bad, and so once again I request that my New York friends take no offense over the very offensive "Mr. New York" being named after their city/state in the story below!

February 1st, 2002

Regarding the party on the 7th floor yesterday evening.....

A summary:
Not realizing that there was to be a party at the company beforehand, I had already arranged to meet a friend at Nerima Station.

I called my friend to say that I'd be thirty minutes late so I could say a quick hello to the other two classes.

I arrived on the seventh floor at 8:45 p.m. to find that both pizzas had been completely consumed.  The guy from New York jokingly said it was my fault for coming late and I jokingly replied that it was his fault for eating too fast!

As it was nearing time to go to meet my friend, I mentioned to someone at the bar that it would be nice if my friend from Australia could join us and the barman belligerently said that he would be fired if someone from outside the company entered the building, so I said "OK......"

I prepared to leave, but as I was saying good-bye, a few friendly people said it would be alright if my friend came - so I called him back and invited him.

When the Australian arrived, one of the friendly men and I went down to escort him up to the seventh floor.

Up on the seventh floor, everything was fine... for about ten seconds.

Mr. Barman launched an attack against the friendly man who had gone down with me to escort my Australian friend up to the seventh floor.

I stepped in and Mr. Barman extended his belligerent attack to me.

Mr. New York joined in the attack on me.

The Australian felt awkward and offered to leave.

I did what I could to calm the situation down........


............................  ............  .........    .... .................

I ended up apologizing to:

Mr. Belligerent Barman - for having made him so angry.

Mr. New York - for saying to him that he and I were not from the same country and asking him to never again speak to me.

Mr. Friendly guy - for my (indirectly) being the cause of trouble with Mr. Barman.

The result:
While I realize that most of the people at the company are friendly, my experience with Mr. Belligerent Barman and Mr. New York was so extremely unpleasant that I don't ever again wish to partake in any drinking get-together at or near the company.  Individually, I'd be happy to meet up with some of the students after the class wraps up, but not before.

So - back to English - I hope we're all still friends, and I also hope that I never again meet Mr. Belligerent Barman or Mr. New York.

I'm feeling a bit the way my Australian friend put it "Trouble seems to follow me around...", but other than this incident, everything has been going smoothly at that company so far.  In fact, after writing the above letter and just before smashing it into the wires, I received this from the owner of the intermediary company:

Subject: meeting request
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 11:48:51 +0900
From: "Co Owner" <moketeiru@nant.oka.ne.jp>
To: "Lyle Saxon" <lylehsaxon@netscape.net>


As I told you, we have a opportunity to teach the presentation English for a president of enlisted company in Japan. We formed the team already, but I wonder you may be interested to participate. Anyway among other things , can you meet us soon except next Tuesday, which is first lesson day for him, but any time including Saturday , Sunday fine.

Please let me know.

Yesterday, Nerima Co. managements came to my office (Mr. Aabbb and Ms. Bbccc) and they are very happy you are doing well with Nerima Co. students.

Thank you for it.

Awaiting ,


Co. Owner

The letter is as I received it, except for the changing of names and correcting Mr. Co. Owner's errant spelling of "opportunity".  (It's an occupational hazard of rewriting that I find it very difficult to leave misspelled words alone when a couple of clicks of the mouse can bring them around.....  That said, the letter is full of other mistakes - including the word "managements".)

"Thank you for it" he says, but I have heard nothing from the nine people I sent my summary of Thursday evening events to - including him.  In all likelihood he's recoiling in horror at this very moment - "He's a troublemaker!  And to think I almost introduced him to another client! - (Shiver-shiver- brrrrrr........)"    [Top of page]

"Going Back"     [Top of page]

Subject: Hello
Date: Fri, 01 Feb 2002  -0500
From: CAI  [US]

Wow, it has been a busy few months here in Indiana!  Going to be busy still.  .................  Things have not worked out in Indiana as I thought they would.  The job market is very small (with even worse insurance benefits).  It was a very hard decision, but now that I have made up my mind to go back, I feel at peace with it.  I will have my old job back as well.



"Resolutely..."     [Top of page]

(February 3rd, 2002  Nishi-Shinjuku)  Time to wrap this one up.  A final note about economic conditions.  Partly because (mainly?) my own employment woes I'm sure, but greatly aggravated by constant reports of economic woes on the news, I think these are indeed serious days... certainly for Japan, probably for us all.  Too many people on the globe, not enough food, huge vertical differences between those with technology and those without.  There is nothing for it but to climb into the rigging, try not to be blown and/or washed overboard, and sail the ship resolutely through the storm.......

PS  In rereading this, I see that I was mistaken about the high-tech company (see "WhatToDoWhatToDo...").  By chance, the representative of the financial backers of the company came by one day while I was there and I found out that it's a dot.com company - complete with a record of high-tech boom excesses and post boom woes.  Rather than being a new company, it's a drastically downsized company that moved to a new (tiny) office in an attempt to stay afloat somehow.  Seeing the situation there as being very nearly hopeless, and having another offer of a job that actually pays money for going to the company (amazing - that!), I have given up on the Hiroo company.

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass
LLLetters@yahoo.com - Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
February 3rd, 2002 - (KFMM-14/LL312/HRE040616)
[Top of page]