I’ve been looking forward to Friday, September 9 all week.  Today I have a Face Time call with my homies/besties/peeps in Newport Beach.  It will be 8pm Thursday night in California and 12 noon Friday afternoon in Japan.  They’re getting together for dinner for our annual back to school celebration (kid free days again) and commiseration (they’re growing too fast) combo.  It was great to chat and catch up in person.  I’m so glad they included me via 21st century technology.  Sandi had gone to Tokyo Central on Harbor Blvd. and bought all sorts of Japanese foods.  I think she needed some guidance since she didn’t buy the most gaijin friendly foods.  She had a lotus root, daikon, manju and other items that didn’t make sense for dinner.




Back to School Selfie with the BFFs in Newport Beach and me on Face Time!




Everything sounds great back home.  There were new schools, new kid friends and new jobs to discuss.  I told them all about biking in Japan and about our house and school.  I miss my friends!

After the kids came home on Friday we had a free evening.  I had wanted all of us to check out a Japanese class at the local community center but it got too late to go.  So instead we played the game of LIFE.  I know that our neighbors must think we are loud Americans but playing a board game really increases our volume level.  We had to shut the windows and turn on the air conditioning so as not to alarm the neighbors.  Kaiyo had a tumultuous time in LIFE.  I wish I would have taken a photo of him playing the game but he was so upset during the entire thing that it would have been cruel.


Here is Kaiyo’s take on the game:

So, in the starting of the game, I decide to go to college, because it’s usually better in the long run. I go to college and get a job as a teacher, but since I went to college, it should have high pay, right?  Well, it gave me $40,000 a payday, and to put that in perspective there are only TWO JOBS worse than that.  Over half the normal, non-college, careers were better than the teacher!!!  And if you’ve never played LIFE, when you go to college, you take a $100,000 (5 $20,000s) bank loan which you have to pay back with interest — $125,000 ($25,000 each) later.

So I spent most of my pay getting rid of the loans. On these turns I got really low numbers and by the time I got to the part where you buy a house, there were only two left: the mobile home, (costs $80,000, you sell it later for $80,000) and the Ranch Style (costs $160,000, sells later for $180,000). So the Ranch Style would seem like the obvious choice, right? Well, I did a couple of calculations and I would have to pay back more in loans then I would get for the house. So my character was forced to live in a mobile home. Which I still had to take a $20,000 loan to get!

To review, I’m a teacher getting $40,000 a payday (every seven spaces), living in a mobile home, with $100,000 in debt.  If there was a homeless class, I would probably be in it. Then, my sister landed on a spin to win space.  In spin to win, each player puts down a bet on a number, and if the wheel lands on that number you get 10X the amount that you paid. I’m obviously not going to lose any money to gambling, especially since it’s only a one in ten chance that you win. But as a joke, I put down my $100,000 in bank loans on #3 because I’ll lose it if it doesn’t land on that number (you can’t actually do this in the game).

And guess which number the wheel landed on?  IT WAS A 3!  I started laughing and crying at the same time, and Halyard said that my face looked like a contorted koala (which it probably did).

So my character was on the brink of suicide (me quitting the game) but he pushed on. And in a turn or two later, my mom found out in the rules that when you go to college you actually get a choice between two jobs.  So we decided that everyone who went to college got to choose a new card and that was their new job.  I picked a lawyer, which had a $90,000 pay!  It was like a new light for me.  My character got a forgotten job opportunity as a lawyer.  I could finally pay off my debts.  But a turn later, BEFORE I hit a SINGLE PAYDAY I landed on a space that CHANGES MY JOB.  I’ll bet you can already guess which job I got.  That’s right, the teacher.  A couple turns later we had to end because it was my sister’s bedtime, and we never really finished.  That was my time playing LIFE.

(Parent note:  Kaiyo complained bitterly almost the entire game about how miserable it was to go to college, have enormous student debt, and then become a teacher).