“The World’s Alright With Me”

Simplicity is beauty. Choose a day as your day of simplicity. Speak little, and listen with attention. Eat simple and natural food. Create time periods for not doing anything – just walk, look around, live the moment. – Brahma Kumaris

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was payday. Any payday’s a good day, but yesterday my check was too big. Complaining about too much money may seem like a weird complaint, or one that should get a back slap, but my sizeable check forced me to take a look at my routine in Tokyo. Last month I worked more than sixty extra units. Sixty-three to be exact.

My contract requires me to work twenty-six and a half hours a week, and I enjoyed that open schedule for the first few months that I was here. However, I felt working three hours on some days and six on others left me with too much free time and not enough cash to be as consumeristic as Tokyo requires. I work across the street from the Nihonbashi Takashimaya (a major department store), one block from Coredo (a mini-mall), and two blocks from the Yaesu underground shopping plaza. It was a win- no gain situation; so, a few months ago I decided to open up my schedule and work bonus shifts at 7:45am, and any other available shifts. You’d be surprised at how many businessmen want to get their English in before heading to work.

Of course, my intention for working slavishly were dual: to save for a rainy day, and to finance my newfound expenses like lash extensions and bi-weekly hair straightening at Hayato. Thus, I’ve been working six days a week from early morning ’til night with large breaks in-between. When I have a break, I bike home and take a nap. Rarely do I make plans for the afternoon, ’cause just like a toddler, an old biddy, or a European, I know the afternoon’s nap time.

Yesterday was payday. The night before payday, I wrote a “Things to Do” list, and I wondered how my attempts at simplification were falling so woefully short; for example after paying rent I listed: 1) Buy Skin Food scrub 2) Get Clinique oil cleanser 3) New lipstick (fuchsia)? 4) Lashes at Sourcil 5) Buy skirt in other color at Coredo 6) Dress at Zara (and Nolley’s?) 7) Try finding shoes at Mitsukoshi or order online. I paid the rent, and decided to buy none of those things (except the cleanser). Sometimes, shopping’s like a feel good drug. For a very short time it satisfies, and then you’re right back where you started– wanting. We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.

As much as I love Madonna’s hit from the eighties, I’ve never considered myself a material girl. Designer labels are unimportant to me, having a lot of money was never a top priority, and I always felt I could do more with less. (Let the other Val speak for a minute here): I’m not materialistic, but I like “nice” things, comfort, the best of what I need whether it be skincare, haircare, or individual lashes added to mine. Yet, yesterday was a wake-up call; if my check could be a third more than usual, it meant that I wasn’t doing anything except working. Unacceptable. I live in a beautiful country that I haven’t seen; eight months later, I still haven’t been outside of Tokyo– not even to the zoo. (And, you all know I love a good zoo).

So, in the spirit of reclaiming spirit, calm, and true beauty (nature baby!), last night I decided to actually take my given two days off (not work on Thursday), and go to Hakone. Hakone, a ninety minute trip from Tokyo, is famous for its sulfuric hot springs, open air museum, and black eggs that when eaten can add seven years to your life. (I’m gonna eat two– it may also explain why every psychic I’ve ever visited told me I’d have a long life). See more here: http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/introduction/index.html. I’ve booked a room in a traditional Japanese ryokan (guesthouse/hotel), where there’s no internet and included in the rate is dinner served in my room. The best part, my room has a private hot spring bath on the patio. (There’s still the option to do a group bath– same gender only). So friends, in two days, I’m looking forward to a peaceful retreat filled with insights, followed by a clear mind, followed by platters and platters of fresh sashimi and sushi, and a soak in hot springs. That’s the thing about money, it shouldn’t be maligned, it makes things possible. Ok, I’m off to nap.

See you soon (from Hakone!),


12 thoughts on ““The World’s Alright With Me”

  1. Wow…simplicity can be fantastic (and oddly nurishing)! Hope you have a peaceful excursion. Keep your mothers words in mind though, when you’re older being able to go to places like Hakone without working triples could be just as satisfying. Also…that new lipstick might bring you more than you’d expect😉

  2. 🙂.. You’re absolutely right about not forgetting my mother’s words about saving, and my former resolve to save and I haven’t. The old me would’ve seen this check and gone much further than Hakone– I’d be writing you from Okinawa. The old me would’ve also bought everything on the things to do list AND gone to Hakone. This me made choices. But, you’re right… maybe I should get that lipstick!

    In my post-Hakone post, I’ll write the details, and tell how the room and trip didn’t cost an arm and a leg…not even an elbow… ok, maybe, a little bit of elbow.

  3. Va! why in the world would someone with gorgeous, thick, full, (I could go on) lashes want to spend money for artificial lashes!!!! This was the one thing in your post that made me fall out my chair! I love the ryokan trip though and hope that you enjoy it immensely:-)

  4. I think I’d have gotten 2 of everything on the list and forgone the trip (but this why you’re the one exploring the globe and I’m …not…). Take pictures!!

  5. Vanessa, my mascara had you fooled (for the record, it was L’Oreal Voluminous).🙂 Love your comment though, it sounds just like a mom.

  6. But of course, what kind of person (blogger) would I be if I didn’t take pics and tell you my thoughts?🙂 Seriously, I can’t wait (only a few hours to go!

  7. Good for you Val. Too many times we become slaves to the pay check, and push and push to earn more and more, then what? You can’t even spend it on yourself. What’s the point?

  8. Nards, your ears must be ringing. Just last night mummy called your name (all good things of course). Your point is my point exactly. We can’t work with no reward… and I guess that’s different for each person. I’m writing you from the train to Hakone– my reward🙂.

  9. You’ve gotta see my natural-looking false lashes, you’d want to see Madoka too.

    The days off were wonderful! (Just got back.)

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