Thursday, January 29, 2004
a busy day
But kind of nice-busy and the sort that makes people accuse me of being a spoilt expat wife. Probably rightly. But I do want to collapse in a heap now. I was at prenatal yoga at 10 am, finishing around 11.45. Dashed up the road to my taiko class, which starts at 12 and is not, unfortunately, next door. Straight from there to meet some friends for a nice lunch - thai rice and a dessert buffet, yum. Chat chat chat. Realised I was supposed to be meeting another friend and her 2-week-old baby in 15 minutes so had to fly to get on a bus (which then sat in traffic making me late). Supermarket, home, feed cats and straight upstairs to log on to MSN for a scheduled chat with my sister.
Phew! Must lie down.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Happy birthday!
Everybody wish Cameron a happy birthday. I'm going to make him a cake.

brain of jelly
I went to the butcher today for chicken breasts. Only instead of asking for them (tori no mune) I asked him for tiger breasts (tora no mune) and wondered why he looked at me oddly. He did give me chicken though - presumably he didn't actually have any tiger in stock.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Sorry Sharon, I'm still here and fine and no baby yet - just stuck somewhere between really busy and terribly dull, so nothing to write about! Along with a list of emergency phone numbers and another of people he has to telephone and email, Cameron has a page of instructions for posting to the blog so, in theory at least, a birth announcement should appear at the appropriate time. And if it doesn't you know who to blame!
Our weekend was really very quiet. I didn't set foot outside the door on Saturday despite all good intentions, but that wasn't my fault, it was down to certain people being signed into MSN messenger and willing to chat when really they should have been fast asleep in bed! I can't be held responsible. Saturday night we watched 24-hour party people, which Cameron really loved and I liked a lot (I thought the acting was brilliant but felt the second half dragged a bit and - guess what? how unlike me - should have been cut a bit). He loved it so much he watched it again yesterday! Sunday was taken up with a childbirth class: another knitted uterus/plastic pelvis combo and we had to hold some ice to see how we dealt with pain. I quite enjoyed it though it was a long day, and I think we both learnt a lot. If nothing else, we learnt that Cameron has to not crack terrible jokes when I am in labour, else I might get violent. And we met some other couples with babies due the same week as us; we might be needing them for sanity in the future!
Yesterday I finally got my head down and finished off that silly writing test. I've been told I was 'mid scale' in standard, which of course I am disappointed by (what does he mean I'm not brilliant?!) but it also seems that I spent a lot less time on it than they expect - and because they already know me (though not, I suspect, had I been applying for a job from scratch) they are happy to send me some writing work in the future. So a small subdued hoorah for that.
And today started out hectic. My mornings are always more fraught when Cameron goes to head office instead of the lab because he gets up 45 minutes later than usual and it throws me off completely. Jura went awol too, making me late leaving, so I decided to go to the pregnancy group by taxi to save time and energy (though not cash of course!). The taxi driver seemed to get fed up of me about 10 minutes from where I was supposed to be going and dumped me out at the bottom of a hill. I expect he was thinking of my health and the walk probably did me good. Pregnancy group, sushi lunch with my friend Sarah, home to let in the heating-repair men. How embarrassing: it turned out that the filter just needed a good clean. But to be fair to all of us, Yolly included (she cleans the downstairs one), I don't think we could be expected to know that there was a filter hidden behind a grille in the ceiling of the upstairs landing. How very Tombraider.

Friday, January 23, 2004
Oh they are all insane (and yes I know this blog is getting very baby-focused but 7 weeks from my due date what do you expect?!) I just emailed an order for a baby sling. The reply came back:
Thank you for your order. I will send out the wrap today. Don't hesitate to call me if you have any questions.
Have a great delivery (actually that part is horrible but afterward when you see your baby it is pure bliss!)


Cameron went out with some colleagues after work last night. When he came home, he was carrying a bag of oranges and grapefruit for me - a gift from the owner of the restaurant they'd been in (where he's not a regular or anything - in fact, yesterday was his first time there). How kind is that! Unfortunately I think he'd had a few drinks as he decided to 'bond' with the baby by patting my tummy, waking it up and causing it to rhumba about for an hour so. So today I am feeling underslept and a bit grumpy. And I think our heating has broken as I have the thermostat turned up to the mid-30s but it is still so cold that my fingers feel stiff and I can't type properly. The bedroom is warm though so I don't know what that's all about (it does have the sun streaming in and is only 'warm' not 'suffocating' despite said thermostat. And actually now I think about it, the thermostat is in that bedroom with the sun so maybe that's why I can't get the back of the house to warm up. Brr.)
I still haven't started the writing test - but it's been a great incentive for doing all those long-put-off jobs I've been avoiding! I really must look at it this morning. This afternoon I'm back off to the baby shop, this time with a friend with a car (and a car boot!) and a list. Which is getting shorter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Oh dear I haven't been very good this week. Running about madly during the days (what my midwife and some friends refer to, probably rightly, as 'overdoing it') before collapsing in a heap on the sofa for the evenings isn't conducive to blogging. And most of my thoughts are baby-oriented as my nesting hormones kick in, so that doesn't make for an interesting blog read, does it.
Let me think. Our weekend was really very quiet, with me attending a book-group meeting (the female eunuch) and Cameron playing footy in the snow on Saturday, before having people here for dinner. I am so addled I can't remember anything interesting about the book discussion, though I am sure it was, very. Sunday we did next to nothing, really. I made scones but forgot to add the bicarb so had a temper tantrum when they came out like rocks, then roused myself from the sofa around 4.30 and took myself out for a walk in the fresh air before it got dark, while Cameron made it to the gym around the same time.
Monday I went to the midwife clinic to attend the aromatherapy class that the midwife has been mad-keen to run in English - it would have seemed churlish not to go. I had the idea I was going to have a checkup while I was there but she claimed we never made an appointment so I have to go back next week. We made massage oil then massaged each others' hands - I have very hard hards, apparently, yet anothe side-effect of 'thinking too much'. So I spent the afternoon trying not to think about the manuscript I was editing.
Went baby shopping this morning (I bought three, ha ha ha) then back home to work. In a fit of insanity I have a writing test to do, see if I can branch from med-editing to med-writing. Sounds like a good idea but perhaps not when I have a very small hormonally challenged brain and am stopping work in 2 weeks anyway! And I'm scared to start - what if I can't do it? What if I'm not brilliant?!

Friday, January 16, 2004
I have just eaten the most enormous lunch. Is it possible to develop stretchmarks on your stomach simply through overeating? It was delicious though so I am quite happy - and it has more than made up for two days of cereal and plain toast, having had some sort of icky tummy bug. Which I probably gave myself by eating leftovers - it was only a matter of time and apparently pregnancy does depress your immune system (which has had the pleasant side-effect of making my allergies go away so I am definitely not complaining).
Actually that is about all I've done today. I was up super-early, dressed and everything by 7.30, as we had some men coming at 8 (workers start early in Japan) to quote on cleaning the carpets. The quote - living room carpet plus two sofas - was 62,000 yen (>£300)! So I don't think that will be happening. One of them saw Jura and commented she looks well-fed, cheeky so-and-so. I explained about them growing thicker fur for winter but I don't think he was convinced. We then had a bit of a chat about the black-cat delivery company (did I know them, yes I did, oh. That sort of thing.) and I told Jura she was very expensive (as the carpet was dirty...) which was the funniest thing they'd ever heard. I do like chatting to Japanese workmen!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
a very very dull post
given that I've not done a thing today. I've waited in for a delivery that hasn't come: very annoying as it was due this morning and I had things to do this afternoon, but no work to keep me occupied while I'm here. While waiting I've been feeling sick and faint (so maybe best that I didn't go out) and I've managed to fit in two little sleeps so far. I have unpacked the plastic bags of baby stuff and put it into drawers, made a list of things we still need, and investigated some online shopping possibilities. Most of which on closer inspection prove not to ship to Japan. I did a bit of yoga but stopped when I got dizzy. I read New Scientist. I wrapped a parcel to send to my sister. Now I can feel another little sleep coming on!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
I just grabbed a notepad to make a list before going to the supermarket. On the top sheet is written (my handwriting):
head implant
fan like hairdressers mirror
apron lifting
Has anyone got a clue what I was doing?

Hey, I take back everything I said about not liking birthdays. The postman has just struggled laden up the path to deliver all sorts of lovely things - thank you everybody!

Bah. All I wanted was a new ribbon for my fax machine. Last time I just took the manual to the shop, waved it at an assistant, and came away with the right one. This time, however, all he would say was that they only had ribbons for Japanese machines so he couldn't help me. I didn't remember until I was on my way home (mutter mutter, tooth-grind tooth-grind) that it is a Japanese machine, I just happen to have an English manual for it! How irritating. How unhelpful. How stupid of me.

Monday, January 12, 2004
Momo's been to Tokyo (and London). And she didn't come round for tea!

Well, that wasn't so bad; in fact I think I can proudly say that I turned 30 in quite a dignified manner (with much less trauma than Cameron for sure - though that was some time ago now of course...). Thank you everyone for your good wishes. Mum and dad rang in the morning to tell me how old they now felt (and to wish me a happy birthday!) then we spent Saturday night in an extremely posh hotel in Hakone - and, even better, when Cameron told them it was my birthday they upgraded our room! We've stayed in some posh hotels over the past few years but this was the first time I have encountered remote-control curtains. I spent some time playing with them - is this what happens when you are no longer in your twenties?! Oh and it had a button to press to lift the toilet seat, save you having to sully your hands. On Sunday we visited the Hakone open-air museum - here is a couple of photos from last time we went.
Today is coming-of-age day, which means there are lots of 20-year-old girls dressed up in bright kimonos, fur stoles and hair ornaments looking very pretty. I'm not sure what 20-year-old men do? More importantly, it means a day off work although we've not done much with it.

Friday, January 09, 2004
The last day of my 20s!
Though I feel and walk like I'm about 100 anyway, so what difference will it make.
I spent the morning at the hospital. No, nothing wrong, just a routine checkup - I have to be seen and registered at the hospital in case I end up giving birth there instead of the clinic for whatever reason. They have a ludicrous appointment system - several people are given appointments for one time (we were 9 o'clock) and then seen one after the other. I had to pee in a cup (should have drunk that cup of tea before leaving the house), measure my own blood-pressure with a fancy machine, weigh myself. Fortunately my nice midwife (So-san) had come along to the appointment too so she helped me fill out forms and find the scales. Everybody we met asked me whether I had any anxieties (no? are you sure?), to the point where I felt quite inadequate for not being anxious. If we go again I must think of something to answer, or perhaps Cameron could do that bit.
We eventually got into the doctor around 10, not too bad as So-san had suggested it might be up to 90 minutes and I've heard stories of 3-hour waits. He had the most amazing bushy black eyebrows and seemed very kind, though his English wasn't very good (I asked So-san to make sure he didn't tell us the sex: she said it's ok, he won't speak to you and she was nearly right! He did point out head, femur, heart on the scan and kindly gave us some printouts "as a present" so Cameron told them it is my birthday tomorrow. I don't think they believed him.) The scan revealed that the baby is precisely the right size and has settled with its head down: all good news. I think it has Cameron's nose (but frankly could have been looking at an elbow or something!)
I thought it was head-down as all the most vigorous leg-like movements are towards the top these days and sometimes there's a weird hand-like fluttering down by my bladder. I'm not sure what the hard round head-like thing I feel just below my sternum is - maybe its bottom?
Next I had to go and have a blood test. They seemed to take rather a lot but as it was the special blood-giving department it was incredibly efficient - makes the british blood-donor people look like a bunch of amateurs. I have to be tested for both HIV and HCV, neither of which had been done before because my doctor didn't think it was necessary (and consulted me on the matter!). If you go to the hospital you have to be treated like a Japanese lady, which means having all the tests and doing what you're told.
We then went back to the obstetric department to speak to a midwife. I have never in my life heard anybody speak so fast! Usually I pick up words and at least know broadly what people are talking about even though the detail passes me by. I didn't have a clue with her but found myself breathing in for her when she'd gone on for too long! So-san whispered to me afterwards that she had found her difficult to understand because she spoke so fast, which made me feel quite a lot better. We then nipped upstairs to have a little look around the maternity wards. So-san kept telling me that I won't need to go there, but it was OK for me to look just in case. They were fine (actually much nicer than the other hospital I visited) with lots of very small sweet babies lying about the place and plenty of private rooms. I feel quite happy knowing what it's like (though I very much hope I don't have to go there given that not a soul we met spoke any English! That said, they were all very kind and very smiley.)
We finished there around 11 so I hobbled up to Roppongi hills to buy myself coffee - being so decrepit, by the time I arrived it was more like lunchtime so I had a sandwich instead. And that's been my day.

Thursday, January 08, 2004
OK OK everyone, enough. I wasn't trying to fish for compliments, I promise (though having seen how well it worked I might try again!)
I've had a rather pleasant if painful day. I leapt out of bed cursing and squawking this morning with cramp in my leg, which might have got it off to a bad start - only the sky is blue and my email brought me no work, so I stretched my calf and had some instant oatmeal (quite nice but far too sweet) before pottering along to a prenatal yoga class. I was stiff and cold but it wasn't as strenuous as my normal class so I didn't do too badly, and the teacher was fun. After the class I took for a term in Warrington that was all breathing in pink, the frequency of angels, no yoga teacher can throw me. So I took searching for the yum completely in my stride! Once that was over I leapt into a taxi and dashed to Shibuya for taiko drumming. Phew! Just made it. We started a new piece called 'running horses' (bang click bang click bang click bang) then right at the end she casually decided we should whizz through 'dragon and tiger', last term's piece. From memory. Which was very...modern...given that about three people in the room had any recollection of it.
At some point in the class, the Pain set in. My hips hurt, my pelvis hurts, my pubic bone hurts (that's a weird one). I don't think it's yoga-related, just pregnancy pains, but it does ensure I walk like I'm about 90 years old (rather than still in my 20s!) and suffering from rheumatism - a good look, I'm sure you'll agree.
Hobbled around Shibuya a bit having lunch, buying bits and bobs, visiting the post office etc, before deciding this was just silly and I should come home. So I did. Ow.
I don't seem to have blogged yesterday. I wonder what I did? I know I had dinner out in the evening with my book group, a belated Christmas do, which was lots of fun. The day is a complete blank.
Some good news: my accountant has confirmed what we believed (and he denied) all along - that I am not liable for British tax. Hooray! I feel like a pop-star tax exile.
And finally, a new look (and a new friend?) over at Claire's place.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004
I was doing so well! Ok so I turn thirty very, very soon - but I was fine with it, no crisis or depression or overly long sessions in front of the mirror with wrinkle cream. Then my friend Sara emailed me, having seen this picture, and told me I looked grown up! She means old doesn't she, she's just too polite to say so. Wah!
Where did I put that wrinkle cream?

Oh, look at the date - better get those decorations down sharpish! Twelfth night and all.
Today I had to get up really early to get to yoga, which they have cruelly moved to start 15 minutes earlier. I think it did me good, though I was horribly stiff at the start. Lots of people commented how much I'd grown over the holidays and asked me when I was due - people who have never spoken to me before! I think I'm going to miss the celebrity status once the baby is born. There was another pregnant lady in the class today for the first time, so we hung out at the back in child's pose together. Her tummy is as flat as a pancake still so she managed to bend much better than me.
No work, so I wandered along to the international supermarket afterwards to buy a trolley-full of catfood. because that's the sort of exciting life I lead. One the way home I spotted a new favourite advert on the train: Victoria Beckham in a kimono (she looks quite good in it actually). I think it was an ad for some sort of beauty treatment or salon (or chain of salons, if they can afford the Beckhams?) because she and David were also there wrapped in towels - like this. It's taken over from my previous favourite: tobacco gum, not as an aid to stopping smoking but to be used when you are stuck somewhere where smoking is prohibited. The advert had a picture of people sitting on a train 'smoking' mobile phones, magazines, etc.

Monday, January 05, 2004
wake up it's a beautiful morning!
Oh dear, 6.30 this morning felt very very early indeed. I must confess I didn't leap out of bed the minute Cameron left today - important to ease myself gently back into routine, I feel. I have spent the day working (and emailing people I neglected over the holidays, doing a stupid pop quiz, and so forth), feeling quite cheated about it because my sister is now on maternity leave and my mum has just retired - I want to not work too! Especially as it really is a beautiful day again - when I finished working I took myself out for a little walk, just around the neighbourhood, and it's cold and crisp and blue still.
Let's see, what have we done since I last posted? On Saturday we visited Kichijoji, an area of Tokyo that, despite being very close, we hadn't been to before. Our quest was to get some pictures framed - we'd had a shop recommended - and of course it took ages to sort out but hopefully they will come back OK. I'm a little concerned because one is embroidered and although we tried to communicate that it needed to be stretched properly, she suggested we could take it away with us until the frame was made so I don't know whether that will happen or not. Also slightly concerned in a routine manner about the fact that they will phone me when they're ready (given that today I have had one man run away from me at the front door when he realised I wasn't Japanese and another lady hang up the phone when I told her she would have to speak slowly because I was English. Sigh.)
The other item on the Kichijoji itinerary was to visit Bondi books, a newish secondhand english-language bookshop. We became aware of the shop when they emailed me and asked if they could link this blog: I said yes (of course) and had every intention of reciprocating, but not until we'd visited. Well, I see I've been deleted from their list of websites, which is fine and their prerogative - but why pretend to link people because you like them if you are actually just after the link back yourself? That's not polite. Humph (disgruntled). Anyway, we did quite well (because, after Santa's annual book drop, we were really in need of new books) despite the fact that he really needs new, bigger premises. Hiding books behind other books is not going to get them sold.
Yesterday was a really lazy potter-about day. Cameron went out to buy me a birthday present (Only 5 shopping days left, boys and girls!) only failed miserably because it was apparently another public holiday so everything was shut. I now have a big sticky-out bottom lip and no pressies. Then he went to the gym. I went for a swim and managed 15 minutes before a fat boy got in (one above the pool's capacity even if he'd been slim) and started doing a really vigorous splashy crawl in an extremely irritating manner, so I tutted and got out. And that was the extent of my day's activities, apart from making muffins in the evening to use up some mushy raspberries.

Friday, January 02, 2004
Happy new year!
Better late than never, right? We've been having a lovely holiday week so no blogging, in fact little computing apart from working on a little soon-to-be-revealed surprise for my friend Claire who deserves a bit of spoiling just now, having been left by her nasty-piece-of-work fiance with no warning and a van. How nice, though, to have days off and spend them at home rather than dashing off somewhere (not that I ever really dislike dashing off). I felt quite emotional today when I realised this is our last holiday 'just two' for who knows how many years - I like being just two! I'm sure I'll like being three too, but it will certainly be different.
Anyway. What have we done? We saw in the new year, while our friends and family back in the UK were just about having afternoon tea, quietly and at home. 'About a boy' on DVD, scrabble, and roast beef for dinner (something of a disaster as the beef was so rare as to still be mooing yet the potatoes were charcoalesque). We knew it turned midnight when the BBC news started, then flicked over to find a (very old) Jools Holland show on so briefly it did feel like home. I enjoyed it, even though it does sound very dull!
New year's day we went up to the Meiji shrine. Thousands of other people meant it took about 2 hours to get to the front, walking behind a sign with a picture of mighty mouse (?) and a message to walk forward slowly or wait a minute, depending which side was presented. When we got to the shrine we flung our money, had our word with the god (I did; Cameron forgot that bit), and that was it! Oh and then we had to go and buy a wooden arrow with this year's animal (monkey) on which, should we still be here, we'll take back to be burnt next year.
And today we braved the shops because Cameron needed new shoes. It was like hell on earth out there, the first day of the sales, so we pretty much bought shoes then ran away home.