Well, season of goodwill has finished.
I'm back to complaining to this blog.
I finished work yesterday, last class and cleaning up the classroom - stripping off the Christmas decorations and putting up the Japanese New Year door decoration.
Some students got seriously on my case after they discovered I'd been using the same decoration for 5 years...SUCH bad luck apparently. I should burn the decoration mid-January and buy fresh every year - because the shrines need the business.
I don't believe in this stuff at all - but after the past year - I'll get into ANY superstitition going and give it a whirl.
So in the picture you see the old and new decorations. Can you tell the difference? No, me neither.
Meanwhile at home....
Yujiro is getting into his ski life. He is trying practice skiing to test his leg strength etc and the ski school are trying to get him booked in for classes.
I'm happy for him - finally he can get into the life he loves. He can get out of the kitchen and into the snow and mountain sunshine with the guys.
Trouble is....feeding Okaasan.
I'll do evenings - that's fine. Whether he is here or not. I'll cook and sit and chat to Okaasan.
But I really, really object to doing lunches for her.
It just isn't necessary. She can get up off the living room carpet and walk 5 steps away from the TV into the kitchen and do SOMETHING for herself - heat something up in pan, put boiling water on instant noodles...whatever.
It won't be healthy maybe, but she won't starve.
He's molly-coddled her awfully the past year, cooking every single lunch while he was home and unemployed.
I am not going to do it.
If I am home I want to have MY day of my plans and that includes making my own lunch and eating it when I want to.
So we had all of this as a slightly tense discussion at bedtime last night.
Hmm. Don't go to bed on a fight is the old saying. Well, it wasn't a fight. But after we turned off the bedside light the negative feelings were whirling around in the darkness.
I'm reading a great book at the moment called The Year of Living Biblically, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Living-Biblically-J-Jacobs/dp/0434017116 by a New York writer who tried to follow the bible's rules for a year in his every day life. I'm identifying with his struggles a lot! I know what I SHOULD be doing with Yujiro and Okaasan - but there is a large, selfish part of me that is screaming "NOOOOOOOO!" a lot of the time.
At dark moments I get depressed about this life. I'm doing pretty badly. I congratulate myself if I spend a few hours with Okaasan at a concert, or sit and chat to her over lunch. None of this is coming naturally.
At Christmas dinner I watched Etsuko, one of our friends, work Okaasan into Happiness with lots of cheery chat and ego-stoking - like workers in old people's homes...and endless loop of bright, noisy chat and opinion-comfirming questions. Okaasan was a bit suspicious at first, but she blossomed into it all and lapped it up - becoming animated and happy.
I just don't do that. I'm not that kind of person even in English - a gusher. It feels false and patronising.
If Okaasan was living with a Japanese Oyome-san she'd probably get all of that and be so much better for it.
I sometimes wonder how this will all play out - will I stay with this guy and his mother? Will I eventually move out? Will he find a woman who'll do the care of this old lady so much better than me?
I led an entirely selfish life until now. No brothers and sisters. Single life until 30 years old. In charge of my working life. Couple-life with an independent-thinking guy. What I wanted to do - I did.
And then at age 48 it changed. I have to do things with this old Japanese lady. I have to care. I have to....but I don't have to go downstairs an hour from now and cook for her.
Yujiro can telephone her from the skiiing and remind her to get up off the carpet and go and find something in the kitchen.
I'm staying put in my pajamas upstairs. Gonna do my business accounts. Gonnna play word games on the computer. Gonna clean out the fish tank. Gonna watch a few more Sex and the City episodes.
Tomorrow night here is a ski instructors' party. I said I'd "do" Okaasan. But now a friend says tomorrow night is good for the get-together we've been planning for after Xmas. So. Yujiro gets to go out with the guys and drink away his cares. And I get to go out and chat away my cares to a sympathetic ear (and she has 2 great cats!!).
Okaasan will be Home Alone with food delivery.
It isn't warm and friendly. But it's our reality.