People (Unreal life)

Burning Rice Fields and Other Things

I know you’ve come a long way baby, but you don’t need that heart of stone. You proved that you can do it baby, you can make it on your own. But, you can’t keep running away from love, ’cause the first one let you down. – Shalamar (The Second Time Around)

Dear Friends,

1) It was my extreme pleasure to teach M again, so soon after I wrote about him in the previous post. (M‘s the student who told me about “catching purpose”). Whenever I’m supposed to teach M, quite the opposite happens and it winds up that he teaches me a multitude of practical lessons and life lessons.

Practical lesson:

* I go into the class with the text; I open to the appropriate page; I say, “Okay, let’s get started.” Then, he does his own thing, takes the marker, marches to the whiteboard, and starts teaching me a bit of Kanji. What am I to do? (I love it).

Life lesson #1: I asked M what he’s going to do when he retires in six years, and he confided that the plan is to go back to school, preferably UC Berkeley, to brush up on Physics. He majored in Physics at Kyoto University, but claims that there are many things he’s forgotten and he wants to know if there are any new developments. (I don’t even know what the old developments were in Physics.) His passion for learning at an advanced age, like so many of the retirees I’ve met, my mother among them, is truly inspiring. It’s never too late to do anything; no time for excuses.

Life lesson #2: He told me that after the rice harvest, the fields are burned, so that the soil will be ready for the next season. The fact that the fields are destroyed to make way for new beginnings struck me. Endings aren’t bad; after a flaming, fiery end, there’s regeneration, regrowth, rebirth. If a rice field can do it, why can’t I?

* Rice paddies viewed from my train window on the way to Hakone.

2) Sadly for me, but not necessarily for her, another of my classmates is leaving Tokyo. She’s on her way to hotter, more humid temperatures in Asia, and all who had the pleasure of spending time with S will miss her. She’s laid back, cool, and completely unassuming, all the things I’d like to be. (Soon.) On Saturday, we gathered at an izakaya near her school to bid her adieu, good luck, and crossed our fingers that she doesn’t like her new country of choice too much. It was my re-entry into the world of alcohol, and what a serious education it was.

 

3) I received this great message just today, “Remember to enjoy your wonderful city.  Twelve million people in Tokyo, so there should be lots of great people in your future!”

4) Speaking of love, you all know how I feel about my bike Lucy. Last week Tuesday, in the typhoon that hit Tokyo, Lucy was the only bike standing outside my school. She’s fortified.

* You’d think in the middle of a typhoon, I’d have better things to do than taking pictures.

Two nights ago, I was talking to a friend about the fact that I took my bike to the bike shop to get looked at for a few different reasons, and I felt how a parent probably feels when they take their kid to the pediatrician. He started laughing, and then asked, “You do know that your bike’s an inanimate object, right?”  Well yes, of course, but…. In other news, I’m soon to inherit another bike; it’ll be my “going to the supermarket and running errands” bike, because it has a basket. (I wonder if it’ll feel that I favor Lucy– like a stepsister kind of envy?)

5) We’re going to stop with five, because it’s the number for rebirth and this post is all about starting again. What could be better than a picture of steaming ramen noodles, friends who refuse to keep it clean (though I plead), and my favorite place in Ningyocho (after Brozer’s of course)?

See you soon,

Val

 

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life

“It’s Been Such a Long Time”

Tell me how long has it been?New Birth (It’s Been Such a Long Time)

Dear Friends,

It’s 1:30 am; it’s been too long… so, let’s have small (internet) talk. I’d like for us to be really in touch, so I’ve deactivated my Facebook account (temporarily), hopefully it takes this time (the fourth time’s the charm). It’s amazing how much free time can be spent “liking” photos and comments just to stay in touch or pass the time. I wish I were like those of you who can stay away from it by just not logging in. I wish I could come to it once in a while without drastic deactivations and such. I’m an extremist, and as Sacha told me this morning “a drama queen.” (Why are emails and phone calls now passé?). Kamali, (a friend who deleted her account years ago and never looked back– or did she just block me?), will serve as my inspiration.

The same old’s been happening here in Tokyo, or as I like to call her “My Toki”: insomnia, too much eating and drinking and spending, vows to cut down on too much eating and drinking and spending and being laughed at by friends who say, “Again, Valerie?”, growing boredom by a lack of direction, contentment with my new place (it’s oh so private, as the housemates must be in hiding), Tokyo’s insane grip on winter and refusing to give in (though I hear the last of the cold days will end tomorrow– a whopping 70 degrees– don’t ask for celsius), teaching some great people (my student today told me that he started cooking after one of our classes about budgeting– Ha! As if I know the first thing about saving money), a growing relationship with my “natural” hair (we’re now in the stage where I can barely tolerate her), a growing relationship with my bike Lucy (I’m still in the stage where I’m insanely in love with her and the time she saves me in the morning), constant promises to myself to be productive (told my student Toshi today I’d buy sneakers and start running– he runs 20 miles twice a week), trying to find Japanese classes (maybe not actively enough as it’s so easy to get by without it– the whole nod and point works here), and revising my life. When I say, I’m revising my life, as per usual, I’m pretending things never happened– take for instance, a much earlier post about “a crush.” I’ve deleted the post, and am only a thought away from erasing it from my mind. Yay to revision!

*We’re almost there.

* My new room, albeit a bit small, serves as a great space for get togethers.

* Real ramen, it ain’t your Cup o’ Noodles.

*Trying to see some blooming cherry blossoms in Yoyogi Park– under the illusion it was spring, but all we were doing was freezing our fingers off.

 * The guy in the yellow tracksuit had a funny t-shirt on (he was a character), but Of course I can’t remember what it said, and I’m not on Facebook to check. The withdrawal’s already started.

Tomorrow’s an early start and a long day, so I’m off to sleep (hopefully), but we’ll talk– “I’ve been missing you.”

Ciao,

Val

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life, People (Unreal life)

“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

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