16 May, 2013

Yesterday afternoon got a bit wild

This was the plan I started the day with:

am Work at home on various projects
Before coming to Japan I had no idea what a privilege
it was to live in one's own country. No one needed to
give me permission to live there. Living overseas on
a visa has given me a new appreciation for the freedom
we experience in Australia!
11.30 Go to the gym
12.30 Come home via the fruit and veggie shop
1.30 Leave (in the car) for Tokyo's immigration office (usually about a 45 minute drive, even though it is only about 15 km) to apply for an extension of our visas, which run out next month.
2.30 Meet David at the train station nearest to the immigration office and go to immigration together.
5.00 Get home by this time so we could feed the younger boys before they left for karate at 5.40 on their bikes with their dad.

Here is what ended up happening:

I left about 15 minutes late in my drive to the immigration office. It's been a few years since I drove there and it isn't a simple drive. I took a couple of wrong turns along the way, but eventually got there at just before 3pm. I missed picking David up and he walked to the office.

When we walked into the immigration office we knew we were potentially in trouble. The place was overflowing like we'd never seen before. We took our number from the machine and realised that about 60 "units" (eg. we had one number, but were applying for five people) were ahead of us.

We sat around for half an hour trying to figure out what to do. Theoretically the office closes at 4pm. What did that mean? (It meant that they stopped giving out numbers.)

The reason we'd decided to do it yesterday afternoon was because David wanted to minimise the amount of time he takes off work. This week he's been attending a conference at OMF on the other side of Tokyo. Yesterday they had the afternoon off, so the plan was to use that time wisely!

We didn't reckon on a long line, though. Usually this immigration office has fairly short lines. No idea why, as we've heard bad stories about other offices in other parts of the country.

By 3.30 we'd decided to cut our losses. David stayed to at least apply for himself and the boys (only adults have to present themselves with their applications), and that would have his application out of the way. I headed home again (only taking one unwise turn this time), to get the evening proceedings underway at home.

Good thing we did, because David didn't get served until 7.30: 4 1/2 hours after we took our number!

When I arrived home at 4.30, the boys were all home and in the middle of what looked like a very long afternoon tea. I've no idea whether they would have stopped eating if I hadn't turned up! Thankfully some homework had been done, but I ditched any idea of getting piano practise done.

Thankfully, too, I'd planned hot dogs for dinner. Easy (though they didn't taste that great, the sausages were way too salty).

In the middle of this is another story, believe it or not. Our middle schooler is about to finish middle school and hence, "graduate" from his middle school Sunday-afternoon youth group. I've been hoping the youth group leaders would make a point of inviting the 8th graders to the high school youth group, hiBA (high schoolers born again) but it hasn't happened, as far as I could tell.

So I decided to take action and figured out during the day that one of our son's friends was going to the hiBA meeting last night and no, they hadn't talked about it. So I suggested our son ring his friend and ask him about it (yes, boys, they don't communicate all that well sometimes without prompting...)

To cut an even longer story short, after two phone calls to the same friend he figured out some of his friends were meeting for tea at McDonalds and then going to hiBA. So I encouraged him on his way (one less person to worry about for the evening).

Then the remaining three of us had a hurried dinner of hot dogs and veggies, and hopped on our bikes for a 20 minute ride. For the second time in three days I was accompanying my boys to Japanese sports clubs, and I had no idea where to go. They loved it that they were "in charge" of taking me there (David's gone with them in previous weeks).

We got home at 7.30.

David got home a bit after 8.

Our eldest got home a bit after 8.30.

I collapsed at 9pm.

What's happened to my quiet evenings? You know, the ones where everyone's home for dinner and we quietly go about our business, put everyone to bed, enjoy some adult-only time and then slip into bed ourselves. Wow, things are changing. I knew they would, I just wasn't expecting it to happen so fast.

The happy ending is that I went back this morning to make my own visa extension application. I made no wrong turns on the way there or the way back (considerable stress regarding this yesterday). Plus I only waited just over two hours, during which I got a start on another editing project. Yay!

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