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Friday, January 12, 2007

I seemed to have switched internal timezones to some kind of working girl alternate reality - trying to sleep in this morning, I only made it to about 8:20 am when my body went 'Hello!!! Get up!!!', so I did, alas. Read some more of my 'Last Templar' book which I LOVE, I think it's probably better than the DaVinci code, although my movie memory may be clouding my book memory a bit. Also talked to Navina, and as a result bought the new Snow Patrol album on itunes, since they're coming to Japan in April, and I really like it! (also thanks to Peta, Sasch, Aly, and Toby for the birthday itunes gift certificate - I have lots of music I want to buy at the moment, so its much appreciated!!).

I decided to head back over to JRA for some more barrel practice, and this time decided to take the bike. I figured out where it was on the map (only three big streets required to get there, which is pretty key to the success of the whole mission), and headed off. For awhile, I thought I had over shot a turn, because I'd only ever driven that route once or twice, and obviously, it's much quicker in the car, so I was a little unsure of where I was. Anyway, just as I was about to give up and call Peter to confirm my coordinates, I looked up and realised I was at the correct corner, which was handy!

When I got to JRA, I stopped in at the little canteen thingy for a drink, and made the mistake of ignoring the red background on the price button of the vending machine (red=hot drink, and blue=cold drink). I was all proud of having kind of ascertained what I was drinking from the katakana (miruukiseku, or something along those lines, which I took to mean milkshake (and of course someone is going to comment and tell me I was completely wrong about that too, haha)). Which it may well have been (strawberry milkshake), except that I got the hot version. I can't say that I've ever had a boiling hot strawberry milkshake before, but it wasn't quite as horrid as you might expect. I'm not sure that I'd have the strawberry kind again, but I might try the chocolate one, probably a lot like thick hot chocolate or something. Anyway, for 80 cents, it certainly could have been much worse!

After I recovered from the shock of my hot strawberry concoction, I headed to the barrel, again having no trouble getting an armband (I love how they just don't ask any questions when I poke my head in and ask for an armband... I mean, wouldn't you wonder who the stranger foreign chick was?) I figured out a couple of cool new sequences of moves (I LOVE choreographing bits of routines!), and then just as I was working on something, a guy came up to me, and it turns out that he is the teacher of vaulting with the Tsudamaki club, Sagutchi-san.

Given that his English is about as good as my Japanese, it was a stilted conversation, but we went through compulsories together (they seem to do the same ones, although reverse scissors seemed new to him), and then he asked me to show him some other easy, but not completely basic moves. I think he was a little bored by my sideways sadie, prince stand, flagpost type moves, but he was pretty impressed with my hangs (apparently you CAN do them on that barrel!), rolls, shoulder stand, etc. I taught him how to get over to the neck Debbie/Mt. Arrowsmith style (three easy steps!), and he jumped up on the barrel to try it out - he's going to be teaching that to his kids, as opposed to the good old 'scooch' technique they've been using so far.

I managed to ask if I could see their horse, so he took me to meet Sakerasen (i think!) who is a nice 15.2ish dark bay that I've seen standing in the cross ties before. I asked if it would be
OK for my to come watch the vaulting sometime, and he said it would be fine, but they only vault when I teach, unfortunately - maybe one day someone will cancel and I'll be able to check it out.

I biked back to the house, which takes about 40 minutes when you know where you are going, so not too bad, and happened to cycle up to the door just as the mailman appeared with a package for me to sign for - it was my Christmas/Birthday present from the Roys, a VERY comfy pair of PJs (but you can wear the shirt out and about as well), from Scanty. Thank you guys!!

Then I had some lunch, followed by a nice long stretch (that needle isn't going to get to 180 degrees on it's own!) while watching Sex and the City. Venus and I went for a quick walk, and then I took the bike down to meet my new student at the Blenz on Aoyama Dori. I was a little early, so I went to Aoyama Book Center, and browsed for a bit, and also started a really interesting book called 'Ugly Americans', about the underworld of high finance in Japan (like American kids straight out of school making millions and spending wildly, yakusa, the bizarre places where you can pay to be a chiikan/train groper/all around perv and grope some actresses in a simulated subway car, etc). I know that's not exactly a complete plot description, but I only got about ten pages in before I had to go teach!

It was a pretty easy lesson, his written TOEIC score is like in the 900s (Harry potter is an 830 or something), so I wasn't exactly teaching so much as just practicing chatting with him. He's ridden before, and somehow we got on the subject of vaulting (yea, that's not easy to explain to anyone!), and I found myself trying to explain how big two acres is by comparing it to the scramble crossing in shibuya... (photo from

Using that logic, if we wanted to, we could put roughly 250 000 people a day through our backyard!

After the lesson, I just pedalled back home (who would have thought I'd get so good at weaving in and out of old ladies and oblivious couples?), had a bagel, and am waiting for Peter to get home so we can watch the new Ugly Betty. Tomorrow I teach from 10:30-2, and then as far as I know, we have no plans, so we'll see what turns up...

Listened to lots of podcasts today (DNTO, Metpod, and 2 This American Life's) with the combined biking I did totalling about 3 hours today... I have to say that the This American Life from January 1st (Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time) was GREAT! One of my favourites they've done, especially the act with the author, and the preamble with the cop, very entertaining! You can listen to it streaming, free, here.

Wow this was a chatty blog for nothing much happening, sorry about that! Hope everyone else is doing well, and that those of you in Victoria thaw out soon!


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