Letter from Tokyo: “Wake Up and Live”

Dear Friends,

This morning, I skyped with DB who told me that his greatest disappointment with his move to Washington, D.C is the lack of close friends nearby. We reminisced about when we lived in Jersey City how we’d pop over to each other’s apartments to cook (well, he’d whip up scrumptious Southern dishes and I’d watch), have ridiculous conversations, write papers together at the kitchen table, or make lethal vodka and mango slushies. This man’s humor, ability to apply Brandy lyrics to any situation, and his exaggerated Southern drawl make him special. Special is a gross understatement.

In our conversation, he told me that I’m living in a happy bubble at the moment. Folks, it’s true. I’m living in a happy bubble.

1) I had linner (lunch/dinner) with M in Omote-Sando.

* My entrée. (Wipe the drool from the side of your mouth).

* Do you see M‘s face? Friends, that’s what contentment looks like.

When I’m struggling to fit into my clothes, I certainly won’t be able to say, “How did this happen?” I’ll know how it happened, and I’ll have loved every minute of it. (I’ll draw the line when I pick up my first pair of sweatpants).

3) I have a friend who’s dangerous for my waistline. He’s a “foodie,” who cares about getting a good bite; he’s also 6’2, slim and active, so he doesn’t have to worry about every delicious bite that he puts into his mouth. For some reason, in the past few months, I’ve started worrying a lot less about calories and the foods that I eat, even though I’ve failed to start my exercise routine. My newfound love for food may be dangerous for my waistline and my wardrobe.

Just this week, this is what B and I did:

* We went back to Brozer’s. I proposed to the burger, then devoured it. Then, I proposed to the cook. (No, I didn’t, but should’ve).* I have an insane passion for Belgian waffles, always have and always will. Last week, I mentioned to another friend, LD, that the one thing I miss about New York is diners. Breakfast at anytime, eggs at 9p.m., pancakes at midnight. He told me that he didn’t know where I could find waffles, but that pancakes and diners are in Ebisu. Then two nights ago, B introduced me to the café on the top floor of Maruzen in Nihonbashi. Are you kidding me? Waffles were less than five minutes away this whole time. Thanks B.

* This was at Muji… we ate so quickly, I only got a shot of the last bite.

DB has said, and repeated today that I don’t have a palate that can appreciate great food, since I’ll call an apple “delicious,” but trust me, the food here is ridiculously good/scrumptious/heavenly/delightful/more than satisfying/sublime.

2) The community that DB feels is lacking in D.C, I’ve found in my house. I can’t explain to you how un-alone I feel. Though my room situation is less than ideal, when I was looking for another place to live, my recurring thought was “I don’t want to leave the others.”  Let’s take a look at yesterday. It was a holiday, so my housemates were home. R skyped me at 12:30p.m, and asked me what the plan was for the day. Plans had rolled around my head the night before, but I was still in bed after going to bed quite late. He forced me to get up, take a quick-ish shower, and get my act together (as my father would say).

While I was getting ready, he prepared a delicious bowl of granola, yogurt, bananas, and cranberries for me. (Could there be a better guy?). Then we walked to Kinshicho where we had some overpriced lattes at Starbucks, sat for awhile, he caught up with a friend, and I left them to do a little shopping. Really lovely afternoon in Tokyo: “The sun (was) shining, the weather (was) sweet.”

Everyone in Tokyo’s sniffling, hacking up a lung, or about to get sick; so for dinner, R fixed a super spicy cup of soup for me to knock the cold off my chest. Hm, reading this you may get the impression that I never cook for myself, which is completely untrue. I make a wicked plate of spaghetti and olive oil.

Later in the evening,  after watching a movie, I was full of energy and ready to walk…. to Kinshicho for a gin and tonic. I went upstairs to see who was gonna come with me, who was down for a bit of fresh air… and a cocktail. Ah. RT and Y were in the living room watching some celebrity show, and RT told me that there was no need to walk to Kinshicho for a drink, because he had a bottle of vodka that he’d brought back from his trip to Uzbekistan under the counter. I still took a walk. I went to the corner store for lemons, tonic water and a bag of ice and we a good time. Yi came home from work at about 10p.m and joined us in our Saltines and cheese, miso, potato chips and edamame fest. Yi and I stayed up quite late, and even contemplated taking a stroll… today, for sure.

The people in my life are what’s making my Tokyo experience so special. Yes, I love the food, the city itself, the culture, the teaching, and having “foreign” experiences, but it’s the community that DB spoke about that makes all the difference. (Even the friends who pull knives on me).

See you soon,


p.s My brother sent me a live Bob Marley concert on youtube this morning that’s making my whole world! They’re both fantastic– my brother and Bob (every time).

“What’s Wrong With Loving One Another?”

Ye are the sheep of my pasture, so verily, thou shall be very well. – Bob Marley (So Jah Seh)

Dear Friends,

All has been well. Life has been good… has been great… more than well. The days have been filled with good friends, food, drink, merriment and life’s unexpected gifts. Actually, everything just mentioned are the gifts. “Puss and dog can get together, what’s wrong with loving one another?” Love is a gift.

A gift: I signed up to work on all the holidays, because I figured if I were here in Tokyo anyway why not make some extra cash. (We get paid overtime rates for working on the holidays). The other night when I came home from a pretty long day, I was hungry, dragging and not at all in the mood to eat anything I had in the cupboard.

My housemate R gives me the gift of his spirit, his outlook on life and his enthusiasm; but that night, he gave me the gift of a home-cooked meal. He made me dinner… and it was good! (A nice spicy bowl of deliciousness).

A gift: A few days ago my co-worker B introduced my tastebuds to an orgasmic experience. You’re going to scoff and say that there’s no way a burger can be so divine, but the hamburgers at Brozers are heaven. B tells me that there are even better burgers in Tokyo (one that costs $20 somewhere in Omote-Sando), but I don’t believe it. He took me to Brozers in Ningyocho twice after work, and they were closed. For some insane reason, they close at 9pm. So, we decided to head there for lunch on a free day, and folks it was well worth the wait. We ordered two burgers and split them (a bacon cheese burger and an avocado burger), and I’m thinking we should’ve ordered three. The beef was medium, juicy, packed between freshly-baked brioche bread, and served with slightly seasoned fries and pickles. One word- yum.

* The burger was bigger than my head, and y’all know I have a big head.

* I dug into the fries before the picture was taken… did I mention that it was also lightly coated in bbq sauce and mayonnaise? My god, the memory.

A gift: On Christmas Eve, four of my housemates and I bumrushed R‘s room and watched Love Actually. My friend Viajera dislikes Love Actually and actually wrote that in one of her blog posts, but it’s my favorite Christmas movie. If you haven’t seen it, why the hell not? It pertains to different kinds of love (some situations realized, and others unrealized), friendship and lasting relationships (all to a fantastic soundtrack). Love is the message, the carrier’s are gorgeous and funny and sweet. Friends, let’s make the remainder of this year and next year and all of them after that about love. “We don’t need no more trouble, what we need is love” – Bob Marley (No More Trouble).

A gift: On Christmas Day, I came home at 7p.m., and the house was already packed with guests.  There were about thirty-five people here, all festive, happy and full of high spirits. Literally and figuratively. My housemates and I had asked our friends to bring an inexpensive gift (maximum 1000 yen) for a gift exchange.

There were gifts galore, some people had bought two. We played musical gifts (just like musical chairs), drank a fair amount of alcohol (considering most of us were working the next day), and thoroughly enjoyed our Borderless House vibe.

* Our Santas

 * This guy is amazing… he knew every lyric to MJ’s Thriller… even “Baby Be Mine” (my favorite).

* It’s not easy being Santa…

Gifts: Family/old friends/new friends/shelter/employment/food/health/moderate temperatures in winter/the internet/music/youtube/flowers/chocolate/the moon/countless blessings/my friend Armin’s surprise package/ my winter clothes arriving just in time/daily confrontations with beauty/love/love/love.