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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 8th Is A New Year - The Monkey

Who says I can't prepare you ahead of time? Well, everybody, I suppose. Whatever. I had a bad month.  

January… what apiece of f%#*(^&  s_+)t!

Start the effing violins!

My car died the day before Christmas—poor lightweight Mazda 6 wagon and its no-longer functioning 200+ horsepower), and three days after that, the wife's vehicle (the Ford Escape, a clone of the much better Mazda Tribute I owned before) needed a major repair.

Then the printer/scanner died.

Then the kid's baseball association needed a first payment for the upcoming season…

Then the main home computer wiped out pretty much everything I ever placed on it—despite the best efforts of one of this blog's loyal readers who is, in her secret guise, an IT professional.

Then the computer died.

So I bought a 16-year-old car. I was going to do a joke there, but why bother. It only cost $1200. Then there was the other car's repair: $2,200. $150 for a new printer/scanner. $500 for baseball. $1,600 for a new touchscreen all-in-one PC computer.

I know this is ONLY in Canadian dollars, but you have to realize I get paid in the self-same Monopoly money.

On the plus side, I did get a turkey for a Christmas bonus (still in the freezer), a few hundred after Christmas as a bonus (where the hell was it before Christmas?!), government funds going back five and 10 years for back income taxes and child medical care, and even some money from an aunt who never believed that things could get much worse for me than they were in the five years previous.

Just before Christmas of 2015, I might still have had crippling debt and not own or rent my own house, but I was no longer living from pay check to pay check.

Oh yeah... I'm editing this on January 31... and it's raining, and my roof is leaking. Global warming, indeed.

I was ahead. And then all of the above.

I'm not complaining to you guys… I know we all have our own financial issues - my retirement goal is to die before I retire so I don't have to worry about how the fug I am going to survive. Or, like everyone else - the lottery. Come on lottery!

I'm not as far behind the proverbial eight-ball as I was, but I'm not ahead.

It's funny. In Japan, I made a ton of money. I spent a ton of money. And, when it was time to go home, I earned extra money by teaching night English conversation classes, making $10,000 in just three months.Or rather, I saved $10,000.

Beats what I was doing for the other 33 months I was in Japan - enjoying myself immensely, I suppose.

Now… that's a lot of money to save (or not spend)… and for whatever reason, I was considered popular enough to be in high demand, with group classes of six individuals paying me ¥10,000 ($100) each per weekly class. I also taught a few other groups on a weekly basis and still managed to maintain enough time to have a full-time girlfriend, and do my writing, and even to teach junior high in my day job as a JET.

I'm not saying you can go to Japan and get filthy rich… but I'm not saying you can't.

Japan costs a lot… not just in airfare, but housing rent (and months worth of key money), food, drinks. I didn't buy clothes in Japan because they didn't have clothing in my size that wasn't designed for the young and upcoming sumo wrestler. One could teach at a private teaching school, but I've heard stories (and read them) of how they will work you to the bone (high turnover… why IS that?), and you may not make or save huge amounts of money - especially if you live in high house rental areas like Osaka and Tokyo…

I was on the JET Programme and had the luxury of having my accommodation found (no key money) - just monthly rent that was partially (mostly) paid for by my employer the Ohtawara Board of Education. The place was fully-loaded with furnishings and appliances and dishes and cutlery.I was probably fully-loaded a lot of the time, too.

It took awhile, but after learning a bit of Japanese and developing a good presence in my community, I was sought after by people looking to learn English conversation, but also by the local female population for other fun pursuits that were offered free by my self. Not the English lessons, however.

Recall, however, that Every Situation Is Different.

While I was the luckiest SOB while in Japan—those blogs I wrote are real!–I know that I wasn't that lucky before going to Japan.

While my luck was generally pretty good upon my return to Canada following Japan, it has sucked these past five-plus years.

But that can't last. I need to make better luck for myself.

The only problem is that whomever said "Nice guys finish last", was correct, but I don't feel like changing myself to become an a$$hole.

Oh well… there's still 11 months left in 2016 for MY year to turn around. 12 if I go with the Chinese/Japanese zodiac.

How's your year been so far? Don't feel bad to tell me that it's been great or sucky. Tell me why. Tell me how I can change my luck. Should I start putting ads on this blog?

Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife is fun for me. My escape… when I write. Putting up ads makes it seem like work… I have no problem doing extra work, but this blog is unspoiled… and I think I want to keep it that way.

So… in anticipation of Japan's new year based on the Chinese zodiac on February 8, Happy 2016.

It's the Year of the 'Fire' Monkey and last until January 27, 2017.

People born in the Year of the Monkey are supposed to be: sociable, innovative, enthusiastic, self-assured, quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, but it is also believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar.

Believe it or not, I am not a monkey. I am a lucky wood dragon.

For you monkey people, along with being gentle and honest, they also can have everlasting love life. Other bad things include an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others. They are also suspicious, cunning, selfish, arrogant, jealous…. which sounds like every person I know.
Not sure what critter you are?

If you were born in January or February it may be slightly different as the new year moves between 21 January and February 20.
  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960;
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961;
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962;
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963;
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964;
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965;
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966;
  • Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967;
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968;
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969;
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970;
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971
For the record… I am due for some good luck. As a dragon I am supposed to be: lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, charismatic.

Aside from barely being able to touch my toes (what, not that kind of flexible?), I like that the dragon's first descriptor is 'lucky'.

Kill the violinist!

I'm pretty sure we need less violence, more violins and more Roseanne Roseannadanna,
Andrew "I just stepped in monkey poop" Joseph
PS: Image at the very top is a piece of indigo dyed shibori Japanese textile I have for no reason other than someone gave it to me after seeing I owned a large wall-hanging Dragon version in my Ohtawara-shi apartment.


  1. It's always something (loved Gilda). I appreciate that your blog is ad free (it's so nice and clean :-D), though if there was a way you could make money off camel toe searches I certainly would not blame you for adding ads ....

    Hope this monkey year brings you luck. 

    1. I knew you would love Gilda! Sometimes I do write for my audience.
      So far... the car is running well... the computer, too.
      It's sunny out and I just saw Kung Fu Panda 3 with my son. It's a good day. Monkey Monday soon enough!