Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The trials of ageing

Well, not a whole lot of quilting to report, If I posted a picture of progress on my mola, you would have to look hard to find what I have added since a former picture.

The big focus for this month is getting my driver's license renewed. It expires one month after my birthday which means the end of November.

In Japan, when you reach 70, you have to begin a series of driving tests every three years. One has to book an appointment at a driving school for the lecture and assorted tests. The first one I took at a driving school in Suginami where we were living at the time. It had the usual eye tests and reaction time tests and a "road" test on what I call a Micky Mouse course, plus several hours of lecture pointing out how dangerous old people are when they get behind the wheel. Rather a depressing way to spend half a day.

The last two tests I took at a driving school near my home in Nerima. My husband booked the test day and I just drove over there and took all the assorted tests in one half day. Now it is my fourth time to go through the process and the local school could not be booked.

Actually, I was not able to do any booking. My daughter, Norie offered to make the calls for me but with much trying, was told it wasn't possible to fit me in until after the new year as they were all booked up. It took her husband, Hiro, an hour to finally get the driving school to schedule me. At that, it was not a great deal. There was something about a postcard from the local police (something I never got and there was no information on what it was or how to get it) The location they chose was not the one in my neighborhood, but one farthest from where I live in a strange area that has changed so much over the years, one would never find your way even if you had lived there formerly.

Today Norie helped me figure out the route and met me at the station. It was a good thing too because there was no information where the bus was to meet people. By the time we figured out that white bus was the "Green" one, and waited for the crossing light to change, the bus took off without us. So ... we waited and waited for the next one. At last that one was green. Well, finally we got to the school. I probably could have walked it in the time it took to wait ... had I known which way to walk.
Of course there were more papers to fill out but this time I had Norie's help. Then wait some more ... pay the fee ... then wait again.

Finally, I was ushered up to the 4th floor and Norie had to leave as the projected time did not fit her schedule. I got separated from the rest ... all men ... and sent off to another room. There it was explained to me that if I passed the test with a score above 75, I could come back for a two-hour lecture and the Micky mouse course. If my grade was below 75, I would have to take the three-hour lecture instead. Then came the test. First question ... what time is it now? Yes, on previous tests they did that ... make you put away your watch and then ask you to record the time. No problem there.
Then came the questions about what day is it month. year, etc etc. OK, then four sets of four pictures.

Look at one card, listen to the guy say what it was ... tank, drum, eye, stereo set, OK, the tank was referred to as a weapon, so the tank shoots, it sounds like a drum beat, I open my eye to see where it is and find a stereo set. Good. give me the next  set. Three more sets making 16 pictures, then I was asked to write down what I saw. No problem. Then I was given a sheet if clues as to the pictures and wrote down the 16 words again in that order. Then there was a puzzle with numbers where I had to go down a page filled with numbers and cross off all the 2s and 4s. OK, I can do that. Then I was given three more numbers to cross out. I am wondering what this is testing me for. Then I had to draw the face of a clock and put the hands at a certain time. Well, I guess it was a good thing I didn't have to convert it to am and pm with bigger numbers. In all, I finished the test and they took it off to go over my answers.

The guy brought me a cup of Japanese tea and told me I had aced the test at 100%. Well, do I go out and say I got 100% on a senility test? Am I 100% senile? anyway, I was not allowed to book my actual driving test and the two hour lecture while I was there at the school but must do it sometime after getting home. The paper they handed me was all in Japanese except for my name and the 100% at the top. Hopefully Hiro can wangle me the next session before my current license runs out.

My take on this whole thing is that they are trying to make taking the test so difficult that senior citizens will just give up. A schedule that takes you on numerous trains you are not familiar with to a strange station ... requiring you to ride during rush hour with no chance to sit and some dude shoving past with a backpack in your face, knocking your glasses to the floor and bending them out of shape. The "post card from the police"not an item really needed.  And the need now to start all over again trying to book the next segment. I have heard that lecture already three times and it is very demeaning, on and on about how dangerous the old people are. Then a chance to get behind the wheel of a car that is much different from what you usually drive.

When I was growing up, the elderly were respected for their knowledge and experience, In Japan they have begun "Respect for the aged day". What a laugh. I had to work, riding to and from school that day. Any chance to sit went to the youngest and fastest and I was lucky not to be shoved out the door at the stops. I have heard a member of the government say that old people should go out to the mountains and die so as not to take up space and finances.

So ... I decided not to get old. When I reached 50 I began counting in the other direction. This year I am a teenager again (and this time around I am going to get it right). Sunday I went to join a group of Americans at Shibuya where we protested the Trump ... who was enjoying a sunny day (for once) playing golf.

And, upon coming home from the trial, I enjoyed a piece of celebratory cake that Norie had made for the occasion.

She passed it to me as she left the driving school saying to be sure and light the candle. Done!

 I have so many things on my plate but I am afraid to fill in events on my calendar, lest I get a conflict with the #1 driving test.

It would have been nice if I had assembled a bit of take-along work to soothe my ruffled nerves. Maybe while listening to a two-hour lecture ...?

A week or so ago I read an article in the paper about the problem of senior drivers and requiring them to only drive those new self-braking cars. Yeah, and where do they get the money to buy one of those? My list of four accidents were all caused by young men with cell phones. Three while I was stopped for a red light and one when I was parked and unloading my car. I drive a van and can look down into passing cars and it is scary to see how many young people are texting with the phone held below the steering wheel.


  1. That is ridiculous and I think if they did that to me, I would give up, lol.
    And yes, most accidents are caused by people on cell phones and drunk drivers, neither one is something we older, wiser people do.


  2. I think you are right, make it so complicated that us older ones decide it is easier to take public transport. If I lived in a larger city, I would do just that, as there is free travel for those of us over 65 who have what is called a " Gold Card". Raining galore and gale winds here early this morning.Well done to get 100%, a purple rosette coming your way!!

  3. Unbelievable ! I think "older" people are not much respected in my country, either. And by the way, was does "old" mean ?? You can be old at 20 years old... and very Young at 80. It's all about the mental, the way you approach life, your ability to consider your options, AND a big sense of humor (which so many "Young" people are now lacking!)... This reminds me of that wonderful song "Young at heart" (Sinatra), which I love.
    Don't worry, dear Julie, you're younger than many among us. Of course you'll have to bear that 2 hours "conference" YET you'll have some hand-piecing with you. YUP ! :D

    And also, Julie, : I just LOVE your picture. You're gorgeous. Congratulations, my friend !


  4. That sounds like quite an ordeal. Congratulations on getting this far, and good luck with the rest.

  5. Love you MOM! Sorry I couldn't make it to the party in person, but it was great catching up with you over Facetime while Ken was in town. Hope you enjoy your teen years!

  6. Wow - crazy awful stuff. Don passed 72 and only had to go in for an eye test and a written test to make sure he was allowed a renewal. It seems a bit demeaning to suppose you can't count numbers and such. I do think there should be stricter requirements for we older adults concerning our driving - but what about stricter rules, and lectures for the younger ones that are causing most of the problems.

    Hope your week gets better - glad to see you protesting trump - he is in a lot of trouble right now with his cabinet and advisers starting to turn on him and giving testimony - let's hope it brings about the results we are looking for. Notice I didn't capitalize the name - capitalizing it can get one into trouble on social media - Big Brother is watching us - what has our country turned into? I'll just carry on and enjoy my own little world until the bigger world gets better. Two governor races went to Democrats today - and let's hope for more!

  7. You are really having to jump through hoops with all these tests. I do hope you can get the out of the way as soon as possible.
    I hope you enjoy your teenage years again. You going to a protest reminds me of exactly that. It's a long time since I have been to one.

  8. I am sorry, but I did giggle at your writing, my husband said to me, "forget about driving when your 70, I don't think I could cope with you going through what Julie went through". I read your post to him. Congratulations on receiving 100%, don't think I have ever had that score even for a colouring in page!!! Pleased you enjoyed your cake, looks delicious. You look wonderful.

  9. Hi Julie,
    Many congratulations on passing a very arduous and demeaning test! Many people, regardless of age, could not have scored 100%. Julie, the younger people in the seats reserved for seniors on the subway seem so clueless and unaware, that we think you should just go over to them and ask them to allow you to sit there. Seniors should not have to stand all that time on the train, just because the younger people don't get it.
    Happy Birthday, and once again, many congratulations ! 😊 Hugs and blessings, from Marina and Daryl Lynn

  10. Happy Birthday Julie and Congratulations!

  11. Happy Birthday and gosh I'm so glad I dont have to go through all that! Good luck, not that you'll need it, for the next round.
    Mary (70 too)

  12. People with cell phones, while driving, drive me nuts! I see it all the time, and so far, have been able to avoid them hitting me. The driving stuff really does sound like a pain. Good luck.

  13. Happy belated birthday! I am surprised at all the requirements and lack of compassion in renewing your driver's license. My impression had always been that the culture of Japan valued older people much more so than most countries. I would have certainly expected a younger person to volunteer their seat on public transit. Congratulations on what you have completed in regard to renewing your license and best wishes on the remaining session!

  14. Oh, gosh, Julie! I'm sorry you had such a hard time, and that it's ridiculously difficult and demeaning to get your license renewed. I do wish that once we reach 65 here in the States, we all had to go for driver testing every three years, but within reason! What you describe is crazy, and I'm sure you're correct about it being designed to drive seniors away. The amount of texting and videoing while driving is horrid. Young folks don't have the monopoly on that at all, though. It makes me insane how often mature adult friends of mine post videos they obvious took while driving - sometimes at crazy speeds during heavy traffic. Good luck getting through that wild bureaucracy to get the rest of your steps fulfilled. I hope it goes more smoothly, and definitely hope your glasses don't get smushed again - how shameful!

  15. You said it! I'm going to be one of the seniors who just give up just because it sounds like such a trial to get to the starting line! I don't much like driving anyway but out here in the country if I don't have a car, I'm not going to get ANYWHERE!