It’s just before 7am on a Saturday. I’ve been woken up by my internal body clock, which is currently collaborating with the army of cicadas that live all around us to ensure that I’m up early every morning.

It’s been a bit of a tough week. Whilst my holiday preparation at work prior to my 9 day holiday paid off (I came back to find no problems waiting for me) this week has seen a pretty heavy workload, made all the heavier by the necessity to do some extra teaching to make up for the class that I’d cancelled last week.

The result has been that when I’ve got home, I’ve been absolutely exhausted – so exhausted in fact that I’ve gone straight to bed: our internet has not been turned on for three days!

I dislike this kind of routine a great deal, as it sees all my waking hours taken up with my day job, and no progress made in other areas of my life. It leaves me feeling that I have literally sold the day for X amount of yen.

Mind you, I have taken steps to mitigate that. It was Wednesday when I was a little early for my job at a factory in Saitama that I stopped off at a convenience store and bought a pad of plain paper and a pencil. I then sat on the bench outside and started to draw. Since then, I’ve done about 7 drawings – most whilst sitting on the Hibiya Subway line. These I will turn into postcards and a book.

Twinkle and I have seen very little of one another. The contrast between this past week and last Saturday – a day we spent together – really brings it home to us just how much of an impact our current worklives has upon our relationship. It’s not good! The plan at the moment is to continue in this way until the end of series 1 of the podcast (September). Then take stock, and see if all the investment in podcasting etc can somehow be drawn against.

In a bid to reclaim some time from unnecessary distractions, I’ve carried out a big clean-out of my RSS feeds – unsubscribing from a load of sites that didn’t really tell me anything (…there then followed a mass-unsubscription from the Daily Mumble…!!). I’ve also trimmed my Twitter friend list a fair bit, so I’m now following under 400 (criteria for unfollowing was things like 1) not being updated in over a month 2) tonnes of updates every day 3) swearing / negativity in updates. As a result of this I’ve actually found Twitter to be a lot duller… and have lost all motivation to post myself, as people following me may have noticed this week. Maybe the answer is to follow a load of angry internet addicts after all!

Exciting finger update: I posted about my finger being ravaged by some strange skin condition recently. Well, the steroid cream really did do quite a bit of damage it would seem – we’re talking serious thinning of the skin here. Anyhow, I’m now using a combination of tea-tree oil and raw aloe vera straight from one of two plants (that are rapidly shrinking!) to alternately attack the infection (?) and promote new skin growth. It does seem to be working, but alas, ultimately it’s only dealing with symptoms – I have no idea what the initial cause was.

My spouse visa expires pretty soon. I think Monday is going to see me paying a visit to immigration. No big deal there, but it does remind me that almost a year has passed since my return to Japan. Anniversaries often prompt reflection, and this is no different.

I think I’m doing OK. It’s difficult to judge really. I tend to use the yardstick of other non-Japanese in Japan who have similar interests and goals to mine – I feel I’m measuring up OK there. The majority of them spent several years working in jobs that did not necessarily enable them to use their talents or expertise to a great extent, but rather, just paid the bills.

My Scottish brother-in-law is another person whom I look towards. Now a successful business owner (and father of three) here in Tokyo, he’s a great example of someone who has found a niche (football training) and then worked damn hard to make use of it. I find him inspiring.

Is what I’m doing adding value to the world? I believe so. I know for example that the podcast has made some people decide to take up Japanese study again, others to discover the amazing educational resources in the world of podcasts, and generally entertained many others. I’m happy with that, although I know it has to do far more than that to make it truly worthwhile.

Anyway, it’s time for me to make my bento and catch my train. See ya later.

Joseph