Sunday Night: Friends and Takoyaki

Hi Friends,

Two days ago, my father sent me an email which began, “I hope this email finds you sober.” To hear him tell it, I’m a hardcore partier, something which couldn’t be further from the truth. His email cracked me up, and I had to share it, because I don’t drink much… well, not all that much….well, not everyday.

However, last night my housemates and I had a get together at our house, where we invited some great people to come to our Borderless House.  For  four hours we imbibed grand sake, wine and beer, and ate takoyaki and chicken nabe. I must tell you all that I have vowed not to drink on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights anymore, because waking up for work the next morning is just too difficult and it’s really hard to teach with waves of tiredness washing over me. Not to mention, I also don’t understand why I woke up in someone else’s sweater, as well as my sweater, my dress and my tights.  I must say that partying in one’s own house is great; at the end of the night one simply crawls into bed.

Some pics:

*Takoyaki being gently nudged by chopsticks.



 

* Playing Wii… at least I think that’s what they were playing.

Flashing the peace sign is the most popular way to pose for photos in Tokyo.

 * See what I mean…

* Chicken nabe in the pot, a huge dried squid on the plate.

* Holding Yebisu, Asahi Dry and Asahi Clear… Japanese beers represent!

* These guys are way too cute… can’t wait to see them at 40.

And here they are again; the direction: “Look intelligent!”

* Clearly, the ladies look more intelligent… not that it’s a competition or anything (but isn’t everything?).


* The direction: “Look hip hop!”

Round 2

Round 3



*Yi, a godsend.

When our guests left, Yi made a large plate of fries, which was the best possible thing she could’ve done. The best advice my brother ever gave me.

Ciao,

e was “To avoid a hangover, eat greasy foods.” Amen.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

Val

“It’s Getting Frosty,” but “I Hear Music In the Streets”

We keep the wall between us as we go. – Robert Frost (Mending Wall)

Hi Friends,

For the last two days, it has been rainy and cold in Tokyo. However, this morning I walked to work in the rain, grinning like a fat cat, singing “Borderline,” followed by Fulton Street,” then “Victim.” I paused in my tracks for a second, wondering why in hell I was feeling so euphoric, despite the settling chill. When the temperature drops below sixty and the sun’s nowhere to be found, my mood is usually in the toilet. And there I was, on a blustery day, singing on the way to work. To work! What the hell? I wondered if I’d finally gone over the edge into such a state that the only thing that could happen was a sudden and unhappy crash. Then, I got a grip on myself and continued to sing. Why not enjoy a moment for as long as it lasts?

My fear of fleeting happiness wasn’t unfounded. It seems in the past that when I have been deliriously, giddily happy, it was often followed by a period of sadness. Maybe I should rephrase that and say that it was hard for me to hold onto joy… largely because I was unable to bring down the many walls that I’d erected around me over the years. There is an art in appearing to be open and revealing nothing, an art I perfected. Let me tell you that in conversations, deflection is key.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall (…) –
Robert Frost (Mending Wall)

It always seemed the only way to protect myself from being emotionally crushed/devastated was to not let anyone get too close. There were people, who refused to let me push them away, but for almost every close friend or lover I had (the lovers were few), I rejected them when I felt we’d reached our peak of closeness. I’m still not quite sure why up until now I haven’t laid on a strange man’s couch (a professional that is). I systematically, subconsciously, made myself miserable. Things couldn’t be too good; bliss couldn’t be trusted.

Thankfully, many of my friendships were able to recover my temporary insanities. I’ve asked my friends how they would know if I ever truly “lost it,” as many of my past actions have pointed to the road of crazy. They assure me they’d be able to assess my level of crazy and tell the doctors to let me have the bed with the view. Somehow, I feel this note is repaying one small karmic debt.

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour. –
Robert Frost (Nothing Gold Can Stay)

Life is fleeting, but for as long as we’re here, our happiness doesn’t need to be. I can trust my feeling of contentment and hold it close; I won’t dim my joy to make others who want to be miserable and complain feel better.  Sustainable happiness can be achieved by adhering to the spiritual laws laid out so clearly and concisely by the gurus; the messages I’m holding close to my heart are: Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Don’t take anything personally” (from The Four Agreements),  Deepak Chopra’s “This moment is as it should be, because the entire universe is as it should be” (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success) and the Bible’s encouragement to “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18).

Only good things friends, only good things.

Ciao for now,

Val

 

 

Letter from Tokyo: “The Waking”… “I Know What Time It Is”

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
–  Theodore Roethke (The Waking)

Hi Friends,

I just woke up with a huge smile on my face. Today’s not only my day off, but my first day off in the first pay cycle where my fellow orientation members and I have received a full paycheck (the last check we received was for a five-day period). We were all suffering and broke, but not one person to whom I spoke regretted the decision of moving their lives to Tokyo. Some of us came with more cash, and were thus a tad less miserable; some of us borrowed from family; and, some of us ate ramen every day for the last three weeks (and even the ramen eaters were thankful to be here). No more ramen this week! (We’re unbroken!).

I’m meeting up with my orientation classmates tonight to celebrate our elevation from poverty (we’re kinda like the Jeffersons… without Florence), but first there are so many things to do in the day (go to the bank, head to the supermarket to buy something to eat with my Wonder bread– probably butter (if I’m feeling generous with myself– cheese), buy some lotion for my ashy elbows, etc..

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I want to start feeling more and thinking less. My problem has always been overthinking, overanalyzing, and not simply being in a moment. I was talking to my coworker B two days ago about my attraction to two younger guys and asked him what I should do, and he said “You’re really overthinking this. That’s a problem with women.” He’s right. Being attracted to, and possibly hanging out, with younger guys (and not even that much younger) doesn’t require as much contemplation as I’ve devoted to it. It’s not a big deal, especially since we’re all grown. My  favorite cliché is “Life is short,” so why forget that? Starting today, it’s going to be about live live living, and encouraging my entire being to   “dance from ear to ear.”

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Life is good, isn’t it? Another thing I’ve said before, which I’ll reiterate, is that living in a shared house brings with it  an immediate group of people to hang with/watch tv with (albeit bad Japanese shows)/talk to ’til the wee hours/and party with. In my Borderless dwelling, we’re all on the same page (well, except one housemate, who’s extremely reserved). My housemates have planned a party for this Sunday, which in essence without labeling it “party” is something we do every weekend: food, snacks, alcoholic beverages, and a bit of giddiness. The party will be a nabe party; I’ve been told that nabe is a large pot of beef, rice, onions, and other things thrown in. (I didn’t pay attention fully, as I won’t be a part of the preparation– just the consumption).

My housemate RT asked me last night why I seem so happy. He said that it wasn’t natural that someone who’d uprooted their whole life would have no sadness or yearning for home. I’ve been here for less than three months, and thus am planted in the Honeymoon Stage, but even after the three months are up what would I yearn for? My friends are scattered around the globe, my parents are in Jamaica, Skype allows me to speak to everyone who’s also on Skype, there are enough English speakers around to not have a language deficit, everyone here is so polite (!) and there is absolutely nothing in NY that’s not in Tokyo (except snow). There’s nothing wanting or missing… life is full. Wait, that’s a lie– I need some black haircare products (I’d go to NY to pick up some Organix leave-in conditioner and fly back).

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

I know nothing. The older I get the more I realize that I know nothing, and it’s starting to appear that no one else does either. It just doesn’t make sense; it would seem the older one got the more answers one would have, but it seems there are just more questions. I’ve been listening to Kool Moe Dee non-stop for the past two days, and his question “Do you know what time it is?” has been reverberating in my ears/head/mind. What time is it?– not the hour, but in the other sense? He knows what time it is, but what time is it for me? Time to explore/create/be joyful/be bold/”be”/paint the broad strokes and not just the details/write some letters/again- time to live live live. What time is it for you?

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Adrenaline flows through me. The shakiness I feel is the best possible kind; the uncertainty that comes from being open to whatever life presents and the anticipation of what’s waiting for me. I can only “learn by going where I have to go,” so I’m going to get dressed and face this Happy Thursday.

Ciao,

Val