I sure showed 'em!

A neighbor gave us some free tickets to Yomiuriland's waterpark so I
took three of the kids yesterday (the other one went off to a track
meet). Most Japanese pools are only slightly deeper than my waist, in
case people can't swim (and so many people never do learn to swim!),
and my kids and their friends never have any chances to actually jump
or dive into the water. This pool had a 5 meter deep diving pool
though, with some low diving boards and a platform about as high as
the old low diving board I remember at our local pool when I was a

People were enjoying taking turns timidly dropping off straight down
into the deep water and building confidence to actually try jumping
or diving. A few fathers (the moms probably didn't want to risk
wrecking their make-up by getting their faces wet) made everybody
(about 70 people standing around watching and or waiting for their
turn) laugh making huge splashes belly flopping off the 2 meter high
platform. The lifeguards supervised well and made sure that each
diver was out of the pool before they let the next person jump.

My daughter N challenged me to go off the platform so I stood in line and waited for a turn. The lower diving boards had shorter lines so I was able to see N and her big sister J jump a few times while I waited. When my turn finally came, the crowd seemed suddenly silent. What was this fat, white haired, foreign grandmotherly person doing up there on the platform in her bright blue swimsuit? N was smirking in anticipation of a big splash.

Did I walk and stand at the edge and drop off feet first? No, I took
two quick but firm steps and a jump and propelled myself up and over
half the pool, flying through the summer sky in a perfect swan dive
(my first in several decades). I heard a big collective "oooooh!" as
I glided splashlessly into the cool, deep pool.

Boy did I show them! :-) The amazed look on N's face was precious.
I think that this makes up for my dismal performance velcro-wall
jumping earlier this year (which she did enjoy though).


Shave and a Haircut Five Cents

Well, a little more than five cents...more like 3,000 yen, but still a good deal.

I'm noticing that as estrogen levels are down (the chemo seems to
have stopped the menses this time around), my hair (now that it's
grown back) is nowhere near as thick as it used to be yet is
prolifically growing in unnecessary places. Of course half of the usual volume is still more than most people, but my hair line is a little farther north than I seem to remember and a few stray eyebrow hairs showed up farther south (on my chin!) and I had a peach fuzz lion cub face that didn't feel too sexy.

I finally decided to do something about the pelt on my head so I went
to the local barber shop today and got a very short haircut to shape
and control things a bit and I also had them shave my face for an
adventure (included in the cheap haircut). The haircut took about 4
minutes but the shave was a 20 minute mini-spa for the rest of my

This guy caressed my face with his straight razor so thoroughly that I'm surprised I still have my recently regrown eyebrows (they're slightly more precisely shaped than before). He even did the bridge between my nostrils, my eyelids, the bags under my eyes and my ears. Then he massaged my face, head, neck and shoulders. I kept thinking of Sweeney Todd as I submitted myself to the barber's blade. Thoroughly chilling...which was good as today was meltingly hot.



I enjoyed breakfast with my neighbor at the Cancer Center this morning before we headed off for our various medical agendas. She had a mammogram and I had blood tests, an x-ray, a consultation with Dr. F and my Herceptin. Dr. F was concerned that the veins in my right arm are not faring so well these days and he recommended that I have a portocath surgically "installed." This is an overnight stay in Japan although I've heard that it's outpatient surgery in many states. He was ready to schedule me any time this month or next so I requested mid August when S should have some evenings off from teaching as most of Japan is on vacation. It's also probably a busy time at the hospital when people are trying to squeeze in surgery during vacation time.

Other than scheduling my surgery, we also looked at the x-ray results and the lung tumors haven't changed from the pre-Xeloda baseline x-rays of two months ago. Well, they aren't bigger at any rate. I'll know more about how they look after my CT scan on the 29th, which will be discussed on August 5th unless anything really drastic rears its head. The CEA (a cancer marker) number was up a little too, but that's been up and down along the way and is nothing to worry too much about.

My neighbor was finished before I was as I had treatment after my consultation and also had to drop by the pharmacy outside of the hospital to pick up my prescription. She decided to head back home on her own as the mid morning trains are not so crowded. I stopped by the market in Tsukiji to pick up some cheap tofu, cheese and squash before heading home for a late lunch of leftovers and a nap before going to J's school for a mini-concert. The brass band did an excellent job.

Tomorrow I start the paperwork shuffle to get documents from city hall that are required by the hospital at check-in time. They need some proof of who I am and who will foot the bill I guess. I will ask if they can bill city hall directly per a program I've heard about with the National Health Insurance system but I expect it'll be the same old run around.


Sizzle sizzle sizzle melt

N stayed home with a tummy ache and a slight fever yesterday but had too much energy this morning so I agreed to take her and L to the public pool which opened for the summer on the 10th. I was glad my swimsuit still fits but ended up staying in leafy shade of post-blossom wisteria arbor where the ants kept raining on me as I relaxed in the relatively cool spot with a good view of the pool. J was off at an event at the Metropolitan High School of Science and Technology on the other side of Tokyo with a friend, checking out possibilities for next year as they have to choose and test into a high school next winter. M was at track practice in another city as our city doesn't have a full-spec track and their junior high school doesn't have enough space to run more than 60 yards unless they run in the streets, dodging traffic, around the school. The kids go on weekends and pay a hundred yen to polish their techniques on a real track.

S stayed home with the door locked, so M had to break in when she arrived a few minutes before N, L and I did. She was quite distressed and angry to learn that he was actually home and just not answering the doorbell or opening the door when he heard her crawling through the tiny space that any burglar can use to deprive us of our treasures, if they can find any in this mess, that is.

Tomorrow is the second stage of M's Pre-2nd grade test of English proficiency. Wish her luck on the interview. J gets results back tomorrow afternoon from a recent practice entrance exam at a local study center. I have to go with her and make sure they don't pressure her into joining their summer study sessions as several hundred dollars per subject. The test was free and is a good diagnostic tool for her to find the areas she should be brushing up on over the summer.

Summer vacation starts on Saturday and softball, swimming lessons and other things all start on Tuesday. Looks like I'll be up at 5:30 every morning for a while. I plan to take a lot of siestas this summer.


Summer is here - I think...

I haven't turned on the news to see if the meteorological agency has officially declared Japan's extra season, the Rainy Season, over but it sure feels like it must be. We had thunder and lightening at 5:00 a.m. yesterday and the forcasted rainy day blew away with the wind making me sorry I hadn't worn sunscreen when I went out to do some errands. L is running around in his underpants as it's too hot to wear more and too sticky to sit on our chairs without them. The bathtub is full of cool water for the kids to use as a mini pool when they need to cool down.

I started to fill in my datebook with the various schedules and it made me dizzy with how busy the summer "break" is turning out to be. I plan to do as much as possible in the relatively cooler mornings and then sleep all afternoon every day while the kids go off to and return from all of their activities. Slow life - I have to keep telling myself.

Of course, before the actual summer break begins, I'm rushing off to meet friends who will also be tied to home entertaining and feeding their children or who will be off traveling or visiting family all summer. "Hurry up and relax before we miss the chance and can't see anybody until mid September."