Tag Archives: christmas

“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.

Love,

Val

“Yes mi fren,” an “All in one” Christmas

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 Low- Bend 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 Time- Long 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 Love- One 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 Down- Simmer 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 Affection- This 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 Conqueror- Yes 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.

And the sums from whence the parts came:

Cheers,

Valerie