Thursday, February 26, 2015

A New War Begins...

Hello, hello again. One and all. I hope the brief glittering moments of the spring that is to come are finding you in good health. I can say at last that I am back in full swing and that my health meter is nearing full for the first time in forever.

I spent most of January with no energy and often felt on the verge of sickness, but not quite tipping over into cold land. I was also having increasingly frequent headaches, which again, I thought were part of that, “Well, it’s JANUARY for crying out loud!” feeling sick (but not actually being sick) and having no energy package. Anyways, I noticed one day that the little wooden beam running around my walls had a large accumulation of dust on it and made a mental note to clean it up at some point.  

Little did she know…

Great. I’m narrating myself now. Wow. This is going to be a ramble-y post.

Anyways. Back to the dust. The first weekend of January I finally decided to be an adult because I was having one of those days where you just want to clean everything for no reason. Must have been a blue moon or something. So, I decided, before I would game (and thus waste that oh-so-rare cleaning urge), I’d just do the dishes, go wipe up the dust a do a couple other small things before settling into 7 Days to Die for the evening.
                  
Dishes and side cleaning jobs went well. I saved the dust for last, thinking it would be easiest. I pulled a wet wipe out of my recently discovered tub of Kirkland wet wipes (sometimes I love my predecessors) and hopped up on the bed to clean it off. Upon closer inspection, the dust turned out to be an old enemy coming back to haunt me. Mold.


The war began. Disgusted, I quickly eradicated it from the wall. It’s only natural that there’d be mold, I thought. The walls sweat a river every time I bring the heater into the room. A little mold isn’t a bad price to pay. But then, being me and being a perfectionist, I decided to check the wall beside the bed. Yep. You guessed it. More mold. Black and thick and more disgusting than the dust-looking mold I’d found up top that I’m also having trouble eradicating.

Oh. Even better? It’s also in the tatami. Great. Cleaning tatami. After asking a Japanese friend of mine, I learned that A) using just water on tatami is bad. Not much of a surprise there. B) If you put 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar in a small bucket of water you can use a damp rag soaked in it for cleaning tatami. C) Apparently you can also use rubbing alcohol on tatami because it evaporates so quickly.  Long story short, I did my best, but that mold stain is not coming out.

Believe it or not, I actually DID get rid of a lot of mold. It was almost halfway to the purple spot.

Anyways, an hour of using カビキラー (mold killer) and scrubbing later, my walls are free of mold, but the smell is unbearable. Deciding it was for the best, I peeled the bubble wrap I’ve been using as insulation off my window to open it. Stupid me. I forgot the construction people are painting the north side of the building this week. I.E. I can’t open my window as it’s taped shut. Opting for the next best thing, I decide to put a fan on the wall and made a deal with myself to sleep on a futon in my living room for the next night or two. (Thank goodness I bought that futon in case I had guests…)
                 
Fast forward a couple of nights and I go back into my bedroom to check on things and I notice that the smell, for some reason, has gotten really, really bad in the bedroom. No mold, but the smell is awful. Remembering something about being able to air out tatami outside on nice sunny days, which coincidentally were supposed to come for the next two days, I took to prying my tatami out of the floor. Okay, prying is a bad word. I carefully wiggled and pried and grip with the tip of my fingers and finally, after much crying, managed to get one tatami out of the floor. But hey, now you can see what tatami looks like when it’s not in the floor and what the floor looks like underneath.

Yeah. I was surprised too. Getting the first one out was the hard part as they’re all fitted together very tightly. The next 3 and a half were a breeze to pick up. Another half hour of scrubbing at mold I’d found under the tatami has left me wondering whether I’ll be able to save my tatami or not, but I think I’m labeling that room off limits for the time being while I dry/air out my tatami as much as I can. While doing all of this however, I noticed that A) upon lifting up the tatami a wonderful cedar smell overtook the room (thank you floor boards) and B) that the mold smell had disappeared from it entirely.

 

 


Wait a minute… If it the overwhelming smell of mold wasn’t coming from the tatami… 

So I checked my all in one box spring/bed frame and noticed a couple things. One. What I thought was the box frame material was, in fact, a sheet that hadn’t been removed in gods know how long. Two. Underneath said sheet was, you guessed it. More mold. Luckily, it hasn’t infected my new mattress, but this means I had to figure out how to get rid of large garbage in Japan. Luckily, there’s a phone number to call in my area and they’ll be out next week. I’ll just have to put up with the smell until then. Unfortunately, this means I won’t be sleeping on a bed until I can get a new frame because I don’t want to encourage the mold to come back anytime soon.  

On the plus side, now that I’m sleeping in the living room I’ve been a LOT less sickly, my headaches are all but gone and I actually HAVE energy again. 

So. The lesson from all of this? Lesson number one, my futon is surprisingly comfortable. Like, really comfortable. Even if it’s annoying having to pick it up every day so I don’t get mold in the living room. Lesson number two, mold sucks. Lesson number three, I should have listened to the internet more. Japanese houses are meant to breathe and they need to be aired out and you need to make sure your tatami rooms stay dry. Don’t seal off your windows, you will need to open them and change out the air to help prevent mold. If your walls are sweating profusely, take care that it doesn’t get into your tatami and that it doesn’t turn into mold, because who knows how long it’s going to take to rectify the situation. Last lesson, for all you new and incoming JETs out there, no matter how much your trust your predecessor and think that the stuff you’re getting from them must be good, check it yourself. Maybe they didn’t know, maybe they did, but don’t let yourself sleep in a moldy bed. >.< 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Let's Watch!

A couple of weeks ago, I was moping about as I tried to figure out a lesson plan. I finished all my volunteer related material. More grammar review would be overkill (they could do this grammar stuff in their sleep). Also, I really, really didn’t want to do Valentines Day. My JTE’s request for this lesson? Frozen. Specifically watch a couple scenes and do “Do you want to build a snowman?” Now. I love this movie. Watched it three times in a row this week. Three times over the weekend and will watch it 7 more times next week. Oh yeah. I’m a Disney NUT. 

                 However, I learned that many of my students had never even seen the movie. So, midweek, I made a plan. Next week we're going to have our first “Let’s Watch” lunch series. After class I approached one of my JTE’s who didn’t have a problem with it, but directed me to my head JTE because she didn’t know if the students are allowed to eat in the LL room. From there I was sent to the head of the first years (because they’re my main audience) who cleared it. Twenty minutes later we were handing out flyers to the home room teachers to post for the students. Following my JTE’s advice, the posters are in Japanese, but if it gets them to come and hear English and watch an awesome movie, I’m cool with that.


                   Right now, it’s PR time. I have a big poster right outside the LL door and I’m approaching students and asking them to come. At first, they’re nervous and don’t want to come because the movie will be in English, but they relax and get very excited since I’ve decided we’ll have subtitles in Japanese this time. We’re still a few days out from the lunch time showings, which will run Wednesday-Friday next week, but I’m very excited.

                   I hope we have at least a few students show up. This is definitely something I’d like to continue and turn into a series. Last three days of the month lunch or something like that. Mix it up and show some (school appropriate) films that everyone knows. My fingers are crossed, hopefully I can give you an update soon.