Ice Yearning Chapter Two Up

The second chapter of Ice Yearning is now online. Yes, that means that the first chapter has been paid for.

So far, the money has mainly come from people who know me already, but that’s not really too unexpected at the beginning of a new venture. I do need to broaden the range of people reading it, though; my friends and family probably don’t want to pay for the whole thing. So, in a couple of days I’ll be starting some advertising. I have the data for a month without advertising, so I’ll be able to see what difference it makes, and make intelligent decisions about what kinds of advertising to use.

Here’s hoping that at least some of it works well.

They’re Back!

Yuriko and Mayuki came back from Nagoya yesterday, and I went to meet them at the Shinkansen station, Shin-Yokohama. There’s an express bus from Mizonokuchi station, which is faster, more convenient, and possibly also cheaper than getting the trains from the same place. The only disadvantage is that there aren’t as many buses as there are trains, so it needs a bit more planning.

It was very nice to see Mayuki again. (It was quite nice to see Yuriko again, as well.) Mayuki has made progress even in the one week she was away. Most obviously, she has worked out how to clap. Before she went, she was very good at banging on the tray table attached to her high chair, but banging her hands into each other seemed to be beyond her. Now, however, she claps enthusiastically whenever we do, and even does so quite spontaneously.

She’s also started waving. At the moment she seems to do it completely at random, but at least she’s doing it. Yuriko says that she’s also rolling over more often, but she still doesn’t seem to be particularly enamoured of doing that. Maybe she just doesn’t like it.

Today was the last class in Yuriko’s first kimono course, so I was looking after Mayuki for most of the day. She was a good girl pretty much all day, although it’s been hot and sticky, and I think that affected her appetite; she wasn’t drinking as much as normal. She only slept for the normal length of time, though, and seems quite lively, so I don’t think the weather has affected her too much.

It’s great to have them back.

All Alone

This week I’ve been all by myself. Yuriko and Mayuki have gone to Yuriko’s parents’ in Nagoya; the original plan was for Yuriko to sort out the boxes of stuff that she still had stored there.

I’ve been talking to them every day by Skype, and I think Mayuki recognises that it’s Daddy in the computer. She certainly appears to be looking at me and smiling and clapping. It’s plausible; she does a video chat with relatives almost every week, so she’s had plenty of chance to get used to it. She’s going to grow up thinking that video phones are the most natural thing in the world.

However, I’ve also caught up with Yuriko on what they’ve been doing. As of last night, she hadn’t quite got round to starting sorting out the boxes. They’re coming home tomorrow. I can’t say I’m surprised that she didn’t get it done, to be honest…

“Otaku”

As people with a passing familiarity with contemporary Japan are probably aware, “otaku” is the Japanese equivalent of “geek” or “nerd”, or maybe “obsessive fan”. It tends to be applied to people who like geeky things, like science fiction, anime, computer games, or roleplaying.

This morning the caretaker at our flats addressed me as “otaku”.

However, this is not as shocking as it sounds. The etymology of “otaku”, so I have heard, is that it derives from a very polite form of “you”, and is used because it’s the pronoun that otaku use when addressing women, because they get very nervous and haven’t the faintest idea what to say. Since she immediately followed it up with “anata”, which is a more familiar, and more common, form of you, I’m sure that is what she meant. It was an interesting experience, because I’d never heard “otaku” used to mean “you”, so I wasn’t sure about the purported etymology. Now, while I know it might still be a false etymology, it does at least sound more plausible.

Incidentally, one reason I’d never heard it is that it is very, very rare for Japanese people to use the second person pronoun. “Anata” is almost exclusively used from wives to husbands, for example. The reason the caretaker used it this morning is that she wanted to ask about whether I was eating properly, whereas I thought she was asking about Mayuki. I mean, obviously, Mayuki is the most important and interesting subject in the world; why would people ask about me. But apparently I look like I’m not eating enough or getting enough sleep. This may be because I’m not eating enough and not getting enough sleep. Possibly. Anyway, I bought a lot of chocolate for today to try to offset it.

Normally, Japanese people use the surname to specify who they are talking about, but obviously that wouldn’t work in this case, because Mayuki and I share our surname. It’s quite possible that the caretaker can’t remember my given name, so she had to use the second person. So, first she was very polite, and then she used the more common one, probably in case I wasn’t familiar with the polite use of “otaku”.

Talking of Mayuki, she’s fine. She was quite lively yesterday, although she had a long nap in the middle of the day. She has finally started eating her weaning food enthusiastically, after a few weeks of being rather ambivalent about the whole business, and both her lower front incisors are now visible in her gums, and one is starting to cut through. Last night in the bath she was standing up from sitting on my legs, so in the near future we expect her to start pulling herself up around the house. She’s also, finally, rolled over a couple of times. She still doesn’t do it much, but she’s proved that she can. Maybe she just doesn’t see the point.

Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ Day in Japan was yesterday. Ideally, Mayuki would have got Yuriko a card, cooked her breakfast in bed, and generally been helpful. Alas, she’s still a bit too young to manage that. She did give Yuriko a card, but, if I’m honest, she had a little bit of help with sorting that out. Next year she should at least be able to scribble inside with a crayon for herself…

Breakfast in bed isn’t really practical with an eight-month-old baby in the house, but we did set the day aside to do things that Yuriko wanted to do. The afternoon was thus spent looking around homes for sale. Most of these were ones that are actually realistic candidates for us to move into, although the £220,000 house we looked in at the end wasn’t. We aren’t planning to move in the immediate future, but we will need to move before Mayuki gets too big. Although it’s very common in Japan for young children to share their parents’ room and bed, that’s going to get impractical at some point in the next decade… (In Japanese, it’s called “sleeping like the river character”, because the kanji for “river” is 川; a slightly shorter line between two longer ones. The house we went to see at the end had signs in each room saying what they could be for, and one was “a big bedroom good for a family to sleep like a river”.)

One thing that looking around confirmed is that this is a very nice area. We looked at a couple of flats in an older development, from around early 1970s, and the rooms were large, and cheap, because the buildings are old. The first one we saw was, apparently, almost exactly the same as the flat in which Yuriko grew up. The floor squeaked just the same as in the house where I grew up, as well. There was also a lot of greenery around, which appealed to Yuriko. I’m a little unsure about old buildings in Japan, but given our budget and requirements we’re going to have to compromise on something, so an old building is quite a likely end result.

Mayuki was very good while we were looking around places, although I think she may have got a bit bored. She did fall asleep for a while at one point, but by the end she was complaining a bit.

In the evening, we went out for sushi, because we hadn’t done that for ages and Yuriko really wanted to. The local sushi shop had a fire a couple of months back, and is still closed, so we had to go to one a bit further away, although still within walking distance. It seems to be quite popular; we had to wait for an hour before we could sit down. Fortunately, we were sitting at a table in a corner, so Mayuki’s baby buggy didn’t get in anyone’s way, and we could pass her between us as we ate. Mayuki was not very quiet while we were eating, but part of that was because she was getting sleepy by the end; she did, in fact, fall asleep on us, and slept all the way home.

Mayuki has completely recovered from her illness now, with no apparent after effects, and she is keeping up a running commentary on me as I write this blog; “adahadahbuwaabaaa”. I’m not quite sure what this means she thinks of it, though. She’s definitely starting to complain now, though, so I’d better leave it here.