Friday, January 09, 2009

Debut and Good-Bye Mande's J-Life

This is to let people know that I am officially planning to close this blog down at the end of January. It will no longer be available for viewing, but I started a new blog called "working mom in japan", and you can still access it through my profile.

Nonetheless, the new blog's address is I still need a place to write, and I wanted to go in different direction.

Thank you to those friends who were always encouraging of Mande's J-Life and said they enjoyed reading it. Please continue to read on my new blog. I look forward to seeing you there!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I normally hate getting forwards from people, but recently got a nice, concise one from my friend, Sara. I want to include it here because it goes nicely with my "Break Up" theme.

There comes a point in your life when you realize

who matters,

who never did,

who won't anymore...

and who always will.

So, don't worry about people from your past,

there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.

Give this heart to everyone you don't want to lose in 2008,

including me, if you care.

Try to collect 12; it's not easy!

No, I am not going to forward it to 12 people who I don't want to lose in the year 2008. That is dumb. But, I do want to comment on a few things.

First, after posting my last entry, certain friends who are close to me and who knew about the situation, told me that it was too obvious. Well, I know when I am being obvious in my writing, but do I really care whether "Lara" reads it or not. There is no chance that Lara and I will ever be friends again, and I don't feel that I said anything particularly negative about her. Despite what happened, she is still a decent person and I am sure she is living a happy life. I think I made that quite clear in my entry.

Second, I alluded to a second break up which happened quite recently. I want to write about it in the worst way, but these same friends advised me not to. For one thing, it is too recent and still a bit raw (though not nearly as raw as the Lara thing left me). Also, there is a possibility that this person and I will make amends and begin our friendship anew. After all, we knew each other and were close for a long time before our friendship exploded into a million pieces. These friends advised that no matter what I write and how subtle I try to be, there is also the chance that it will be read by the person in question and that certain details about my workplace will be revealed. When it comes to my place of work, I would certainly not want this to get out. God forbid that one of my students were to read about it. So, because of these reasons, I cannot write the story of Break Up Chapter 2. Just try to imagine my pain and broken-heartedness, and think of all the people you have hurt in your past.

Tangent Warning:
I have hurt people too. (Mostly ex-boyfriends or guys who claimed to like me, and I certainly never cared much at the time.) But, during college, I became overwhelmed by the thought of breaking other people's hearts because someone (we'll call him C) broke my heart. It was partly my fault and I take full responsibility for some of the dumb choices I made, but when C finally dumped me for another girl (whom he eventually married and has kids with), I was stunned. I had never expected such a thing to happen to me. For several months, I attempted to lay low. I didn't want to date for fear of breaking someone's heart. I looked back on my past and regretted all the hearts I had left in the dust (all 3 of them). Then, I slowly got back in the saddle and started dating again, but lo and behold, the guy screwed me over. Then, it happened again, and I saw how easy it was for guys to screw over girls. I thought, "if they can do it, so can I!" So, I went on this rampage and started breaking hearts all over the place...only I don't think I was actually breaking any hearts. I doubt they were all that attached to me anyway, but I made sure to screw them over before they could beat me to the punch. This became tiring after a while. It comes so easy for guys (more power to them), but it just wasn't for me. Okay, why am I even talking about this? Obviously, you all know the end of the story. I eventually got back together with my high school "boyfriend" who I met while studying abroad in Japan and married him. So, none of that stuff mattered in the end.
End of Tangent

What is my point? Oh yeah, friends.

Keeping friends and losing friends is all a part of life. Although it's fun to wonder what would have happened if you had stayed in touch with so and so, it really doesn't matter. I once heard that a person can only manage 7 close friendships at a time. So, if you have 7 close friends and you meet someone new, most likely, you will end up distancing yourself from one of your current 7 in order to spend more time with your new friend. (I know you are now counting on your fingers right now!)

I actually agree with this theory. Do you?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking up - Chapter 1

I am going to do something I rarely do. I am going to write about 2 incidences in my life which broke my heart and caused two friendships to come to an end. I know this happens to everyone at some point or another...well, at least I do hope I am not the only one to experience such a thing. My husband seems to think it is rare because he, himself, claims to have no "enemies."

Well, I certainly wouldn't go so far as to call these two people my enemies, but they are indeed friends whose friendship is no longer available to me for whatever reason. I word that as if I am a needy person, but I also hope that is not the case.

Case #1
I'll call her Lara to protect her identity.

Lara and I met through a foreign wives' group at a time when we were both pregnant. Very nervous and anxious first-time moms-to-be, we found we had a lot in common, and for one year, we were, for lack of better phrasing, attached at the hip. We shared many things between us: tips, great web sites, woes, complaints, ideas, encouragement, funny stories about our husbands and babies, mother-in-law horror stories, etc. She seemed so smart and resourceful. For example, before buying something, she always fully researched the product and decided whether it was worth buying or not. She was also very soft-spoken and gentle when in public, but in private, she had very strong opinions about everything. I found that intriguing. I couldn't pretend to be so gentle in public.

She also had weaknesses (don't we all?). Hers was Japanese. She probably could speak and understand more than she let on, but she tended to depend on others to translate for her and help her out in a variety of situations. I, supposedly being better at Japanese, was often called upon to help her out. And, I did help as much as possible because she was my friend.

One year passed since we had met. At that time, I was having a lot of problems with my husband and we were seriously discussing "you-know-what." (Things are much better now, so don't be alarmed.) Anyway, I mentioned our issues to her a few times, and when it got really bad, I did call her up crying once or twice. But, isn't that what you can do with your friends...cry on their shoulders?

During the period of time when my situation with my husband was at it's worst (we had almost but not quite reached a turning point in our marriage), Lara began acting strange around me. She began to do the things that you typically do when you no longer want to hang out with someone but you are afraid to say so. I am not naive, so I noticed it immediately. And, I called her on it.

Through several emails exchanged between us, she admitted that she wanted to limit her time spent with me because the problems I had with my marriage were stressing her out. Perhaps my initial reaction to this was more of an over-reaction because her next move was to quit the playgroup we had started together. Then, quit other groups we both belonged to as well. Then, just drop out of my life as if she never knew me. What was my initial reaction? Well, I suggested that we only discuss playgroup-related stuff from now on if talking about personal things made her feel bad.

Well, one issue here is the lack of face-to-face communication. Though I tried to call her a few times, she never picked up. Our communication on this matter was done only through email, which very quickly could have turned into stalking since it was so obvious she wanted nothing to do with me anymore. So, on the advice of my husband and other friends, I stopped trying to make amends with her.

What I needed to do was go on with my life. I wanted to enjoy the remainder of my child-care-leave year with my daughter and dog. I needed to start preparing mentally for going back to work and becoming a working mom. And, I needed to continue managing the playgroup Lara and I had created together, and I needed to leave it in the hands of someone who could continue it after I return to work.

But, the fact remains, my heart was broken. For months, whenever I thought of Lara, I felt angry. I also felt sad and embarrassed. How could I explain this to my playgroup members? Lara didn't even bother to say goodbye to them in person. I kept wondering what I would do if I ran into her on accident since we live so close and shop at many of the same stores, but in the past year, I have never seen her. Perhaps she runs the other way when she sees me coming.

By the time I went back to work, about 5 months later, I finally reached a point where I didn't think about her every day and wonder what the hell I could have done differently. At work, my mind was occupied by other things, and my days were so busy that I no longer had time to be angry at people.

The one thing I did learn from this situation though was how supportive some people had the capacity to be. The people in my life who really do care for me, were there to listen and give their support. Mostly, it was my husband who actually sat and listened for the first time in a long while. He tried his best to give reasonable advice, and he often asked for updates to show that he cared or was thinking of me. And, he knew that in some weird way, this was partly his fault for if we hadn't been having marital problems, Lara would still be my friend. Or would she?

I will never know, but one thing I do know is that in an even weirder way, it gave my husband a chance to show his love for me and that was helpful for our marriage.

So, Lara, if you are out there, which I highly doubt, but I want to say thank you for being a bad friend because sometimes, that is what people need to grow and learn.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Challenges & Complaints

I see that my old friend Craig has finally started writing again, and I quite enjoyed reading his blog. He has a quite a nice writing style when he is not writing about computers. That is not a diss. It's just that not everyone can understand all that techno-babble.

I am still working on various projects, and because I am spread too thin, I am afraid to say that my projects are not making much progress. Slowly but surely - well, a better way to describe it would be "1 step forward, 2 steps back." I probably shouldn't commit myself to so much stuff. What is funny though is when my husband questions my "busy schedule" saying he can't imagine what could possibly keep me so busy in the evenings.

Well, let me just say that I am way to busy to even sit down and write a list of all the tasks I have to accomplish each night while trying to squeeze in just a little bit of project time each day as well. Even though he seems to have no idea what I've been up to, I want to slap him when he says such things.

Well, here is what I have been up to:
1. Volunteering for AFWJ as their newsletter editor for the Kanto District
2. Volunteering for the Convention 2009 committee which will take place in Chiba
3. Still working on creating the Bilingual Kids Club
4. Still trying to develop the on-line magazine, which is much much harder than I thought.
5. Updatng my 2008 Chronological family scrapbook each month
6. Planning this summer's trip to Wisconsin
7. Exercising to shed some baby weight - (of course, this doesn't work well when your husband buys a huge bag of chocolate at Costco and then leaves it on the table...)
8. Watching the first season dvd of Beverly Hills 90210 (Hey, I remember wearing flourescent biker shorts and thinking I was so cool.)

I would advise myself to drop something from the list, but I know that some of this will end at some point.

Of course, there is also daily chores like laundry (Japan with its obsession of using balconies merely as places to hang ones laundry!), preparing Ailin's stuff for daycare, dinner-related chores, etc.

Well, I have a beef with TV shows that I grew up with such as the Cosby Show. Okay, Claire was a lawyer who always left work at work and each night she came home at the same time to a perfectly kept home, a stocked fridge & a present husband. Cliff was a doctor who only worked the occasional odd shift when delivering a baby in the middle of the night, but that never took long and he was always back home for the next scene. He never seemed stressed out, and the family had plenty of time to banter (or communicate) and deal with their daily issues (however big or small). I have a few questions.

Where was their cleaning lady? How come we never saw her? When & how often did she come to clean the house?

Who did the grocery shopping for all those kids? How did Claire always know what to make for dinner?

What about laundry? They must have gone through a lot! Did the invisible cleaning woman take care of that too?

The 80's really pisses me off. Where do they get off portraying the working woman as someone who could do it all without the help of, well, a paid staff.

And, just one more thing...I was complaining to my mom one day about how I needed someone to come in and help with laundry and cleaning - there are always things that just never get done. I said I wanted to spend my weekends enjoying my time with my family - why should I have to be down on my knees cleaning out bathroom drains with a toothbrush? And, putting away a week's worth of laundry that has been piling up on my bedroom floor?

She said, "You need a wife. Those are the things that wives do, and that's what you need."

Ha ha, Mom.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

GWL Challenge - Weigh in & Scores for Week 6

Though we continued to weigh in each week, we were unable to do the sports challenges consistently. For one thing, Jeff had a family emergency and had to go back to the USA for a week or two. We couldn't possibly perform challenges and keep score without him, however we did "play" some tennis once. I put play in quotes because Karl and I both su-u-u-uck when it comes to playing tennis, and we got more exercise from chasing balls around the court.

Week 6 results meant that a winner would be declared. Here are the results:

Jeff - down 2 kg
Karl - down 6 kg
Paul - down 7 kg
Mande - down 200 grams

Last week, we also went to the batting cages. It was my first time, and admittedly, I do suck at this sport as well. It was fun though. I have no form when it comes to hitting a ball with a bat.

Update on our GWL challenge:
I started this entry in May, and am now finishing it up. Our wonderful plan sort of lost it's potency when some people didn't want try out certain activities, such as ice skating and running. (Okay, I admit that I was the one who didn't want to go running, but I could have wiped the floor with them in the ice rink!!) Anyway, it sort of started to fizzle out, but the guys were doing so well on their own. Each of them made extra time to exercise each day, and they were really watching their diets. Each of the guys was steadily losing weight each week while I stayed the same.

The only things I lost were my drive, my confidence and finally, my interest. I knew that I needed more, but felt frustrated that I couldn't make more time for exercise. Meanwhile, the guys decided to start working on their muscles now that they had more control of their "fat." They did the 2-week trial period at Gold's Gym (yes, we have one right here in Makuhari!) and fell in love with the place. Now, they have bought memberships and are well on their way to becoming muscle men.

(Meanwhile, I have fallen off the wagon and am back to eating chips and drinking coke. But, that is a story for another time.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

GWL Challenge - Weigh in & Scores for Week 1

It was suggested that I actually post the weigh-in results and scores each week. Okay, if you insist...JEFF!!!

Week One - Weigh-in
Karl - lost 2 kg
Jeff - lost 2 kg
Mande - no change
Paul - lost 3 kg

Week One - Golf Challenge Competition
Karl - 20 points
Jeff - 14 points
Mande - 14 points
Paul - 8 points

Next challenge - Batting cages!!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

GWL Challenge #1 - Golf

From front to back: Jeff, Paul, Mande & Karl

The Gaijin Weight Loss Challenge kicked off last night with our first Wednesday activity. We went to the driving range in Makuhari to hit golf balls. I used to do this as a stress reliever back in my bachelorette days, but I had not touched a golf club in 8 years! To be honest, I had to ask Jeff for some pointers on how to hold the club and how to swing properly.

While Paul had never swung a club in his life (Tennis is his sport of choice.), and Karl apparently had gone to driving ranges in the past, Jeff was the pro among us. He used to be really into golf and he actually owns a set of clubs.

Jeff in all his glory

Let's get down to business here. Makuhari's driving range has free parking and charges 500 yen for unlimited usage. You can rent a club for 200 yen. And, you can fill your basket with golf balls - 600 yen for 55 balls if you use the 2nd floor, and 50 balls if you use the 1st floor.

The weather was perfect, the company was swell, and a good time was had by all, except maybe Paul, who hit the golf ball machine more times than he hit the ball, and who took longer to get through his basket because he kept missing. Even though we gave him shit for sucking so bad, we assured him that he would kick our asses in tennis.

Paul - wishing it was a tennis racket

Boys will be boys, so as you can imagine, they wanted to use the last of our balls to make a competition. We could earn points based on the "straightness" of our drives, first using a wood, and then using an iron. Being the only girl, I couldn't care less about points and was much more worried about relationships and how everyone is "feeling." But, screw that, I won 2nd place in the wood compe, and 3rd place in the iron compe. I have no idea what we are earning these points for...but we'll have to think of something. They are already brainstorming about good competitions for upcoming sports.

Mande getting ready to go pro