Dear Friends,

There isn’t  a medley created that could better encapsulate/capture/comprehend every mood/aspect/facet of my December like Bob Marley’s “All in One.” The All in One medley includes: Bend Down Low, Nice Time, One Love, Simmer Down, It Hurts to be Alone, Lonesome Feeling, Love and Affection, Put It On, and  Duppy Conqueror.

Bend Down LowBend down low, let me tell you what I know.

My last student tonight, Noriyuki, was such a wonderful, vibrant man, that I had to introduce the word “energetic” into his level 1 vocabulary. He practically jumped after every utterance, and even my two Red Bulls weren’t enough to keep up with the energy that belied his years. Not once did I look at my watch, or daydream, or fantasize about anything (shoes/men/french fries). Toward the end of class, he asked me where I was from and what I was doing for the holidays. I told him I was from New York, via Kingston, and then I drew him a map because he thought Jamaica was in South America. As a new arrivant to Tokyo, it didn’t make sense to me to go home for the holidays; the plane ticket, plus the airfare, and the requisite gifts would’ve been an expense that just didn’t seem logical. However next year, my Christmas season will be filled with warm beach days, rum-soaked fruit cake, crimson sorrel liberally laced with rum, all night movie marathons in bed with my mother, parties with friends, lazy afternoons, and ackee and saltfish breakfasts on my mother’s terrace.

Nice TimeLong time we no have no nice time, do you think about that?

It’s been almost three weeks since our last Borderless House party. The last party we had at the house had me so done in, and uncharacteristically embarrassed by my behavior, that no alcohol has passed my lips since. However, my housemates and I decided that it just wouldn’t do to let Christmas day slip by uncelebrated. Un-tequilaed, un-beered, un-saked.

My housemate Yuki has said to me that “Life is short, so just enjoy it and don’t think about small things.” She’s not only sweet, but so right. Let the past be in the past. Three sentences ago, I was embarrassed by my behavior three weeks ago; now, I am no longer.

One LoveOne love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.

My Japanese housemates will be in the house as it’s New Year’s and not Christmas that’s a big deal in Tokyo, and my fellow American, Smith, is sticking around too. I’ve been informed that Christmas is huge for lovers (kinda like the Japanese Valentine’s Day), and it’s also a big shopping and “Sales” day. Though, I’d like to know, which day in Tokyo isn’t big for shopping? (The stores are always overcrowded and people use money like toilet paper). For Christmas, we’ve invited about fifteen to eighteen people and planned a potluck dinner/games/drinks/all-around debauchery and  a promise from me that I won’t molest anyone.

Simmer DownSimmer down, you’re licking too hard.

I don’t have too much to say, but I was simmering and stewing over a situation that I can’t control and upon my deathbed in 100 years won’t be a big deal at all. Okay, I’ll tell you: That same damned attraction to a guy that I’m trying my hardest to not like/to avoid/to resist. Futile. To reiterate, “Zinsei wa mizikai”– “Life is short,” I’m just gonna live/love.

Love and AffectionThis one’s called true love and affection.

Every day in Tokyo is a good day. Two days ago my friend Todd sent me an email asking me why I like Tokyo so much. I’m not even sure if I’ve answered him yet; and if I haven’t, I’ll copy and paste the reason that I’ll write here. I’ve visited and had passing fancies with quite a few cities, but Tokyo’s the total package. Some places have great food, some have great people, others have great tourist sites and cultural events; some have great parks, history and fabulous fashion, some have hot men and nice clubs, Tokyo has it all and more. It’s a city’s city. The only real problem that I have with Tokyo is that the trains stop running way too early.

Japanese cuisine has always been one of my favorites, but I never realized how limited my choices were/ how much I was missing out on. Looking back, I see how criminal it is that many Japanese restaurants in NY only offer sushi, sashimi and tempura. (C’mon!) Japanese customer service is  a whole new level of outstanding/polite; some of my expat compatriots get annoyed or frustrated by it. As a Jamaican and a New Yorker, it surprises and thrills me, and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve never been to a store, or a bank, or any customer-oriented place where I wasn’t immediately greeted upon entering. Every time. When one leaves any store, the employees thank you for frequenting their store, even if nothing’s purchased. I worked in retail for enough years to know that in NY, we’d not only actively avoid the customers, but roll our eyes if they entered too close to closing time, or break time, or almost anytime. The point is, I don’t care if the attitudes portrayed here are perceived as “fake” or not, I appreciate it…. love it. Let’s not even get into a discussion about the hotness in men/clothes/overall “style,” that’s for another day, but as I’ve told my mother I’m unsure of how any future city will compare, since no past city can compare. I understand why I’ve met so many people who’ve come here for a year or two and have been here for a decade or more (that’d be my entire workplace actually).

Duppy ConquerorYes mi friend, we deh a street again.

Friends, we’re here– less than five days to Christmas. With or without family nearby, we’re going to create that “family feeling.” We’re going to be kind to each other, like we should be all-year round; we’re going to show “love and affection;” we’re going to eat and drink ’til our “bellies full;” we’re going to remember those who aren’t with us, because they’re separated by distance and remember those whom we still love and are no longer with us. I’ll raise my glass to all of that.

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And the sums from whence the parts came:

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Cheers,

Valerie