Saturday, June 14, 2003

June 14

Well, if you're gonna live here in Japan, it's always a major plus if you can get a master fisherman as your friend. My ex and I had dinner tonight at his place. He had gone out early in the morning to see how lucky he was out on the bay. Sure enough, he was able to reel in a lot of mackerel and two red snappers (how many people can do that back in Lake Ontario?) for dinner. When we got there, he was already hard at work scraping off the scales off of his catches before he eviscerated them and then made a whole mess of sashimi and other Japanese fish-based dishes. It was like going to a really good restaurant in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo (it's the area that has that huge warehouse of fish getting auctioned off) for a free meal. Just lovely.

That dinner certainly helped out with today after having my first class with the kids out in the west end today. They were both nice kids but the bottom line was that they were kids, one of whom was in danger of becoming a teenager. It was the usual gawky shyness and lack of focus. It was somewhat arduous, to say the least. I have rather mixed feelings about only teaching them sporadically. I do miss out on a regular source of Saturday income but at least I keep my sanity.

Some feeling of poignancy also seeped into me during dinner. Y'know, I've been living in the same increasingly cramped apartment for 9 years; I can't really have anyone over, except for my very closest friends, without getting a sense of embarrassment over the growing dowdiness of my pad. And yet, the fisherman and his wife were able to move from their old cramped place to a much bigger and nicer condo within a year. I asked myself, silently of course, "What the hell am I still doing here?" I mean, various students have expressed some surprise at my longevity in my current home, and I'm convinced that I am the longest-living resident in the entire apartment building by a long shot. Heck, my real estate agency hasn't even bothered for my guarantor's stamp for the last two lease renewals.
On the other hand, I also have to realize that I am lucky that I can still stay here without needing a guarantor's stamp. I also realize how very difficult it is for a foreigner, even for a stealth gaijin, to acquire accomodations in this country, thanks to the lousy custom of key money and an oft-xenophobic real estate agency and a few bad apples. And finally, I have a barnacle-like attitude when it comes to a residence.

The second source of poignancy was when my ex was leafing through the wedding album that the fisherman and his wife had decided to show us. She fell in love with the wedding dress so much that she asked if she could actually try it on. Luckily, the wife had the dress in her bedroom so she actually allowed it to be worn. When my ex came out wearing the dress and looking so happy, I must admit that my heart flipped a bit. Usually, that's the clump of cholesterol coursing through the aorta but this time, it was just a reflection of what could have been. Also, the fisherman and his wife related that they often had spats over the most insignificant things, and yet they looked completely at ease with each other. Basically, they were soulmates. So I wonder in my late 30s if my door of opportunity has finally shut for good. I don't know the answer to that question....yet. But I do know that I may be in for some episodes of poignancy as I struggle through a new phase in life financially, and also in terms of not having a partner that I could really share my life with. Maybe all of the past events in my life have shaped me to the extent that I'm just not the type to blast forward, I'm just not the type to have a soulmate.

Friday, June 13, 2003

June 13

It's Friday the 13th, but my luck wasn't too shabby today. I had thought it would be since today was my first payday since my reversion to part-time status. It wasn't as low as I had feared. But I realize that I'll have to be very careful about what I spend my money on. Basically, I'm going on a hobby diet. Let's hope that I survive the month.

I found another place with a good deal for lunch. It's the COCA Chinese eatery that I usually go to for dinner with friends. I was actually dong a bit of scouting for a future event so I went there for lunch and found out that they had a decent 1000 yen special. Soup, salad and five steamers of dim sum with dessert. For Japan, that's not too bad at all.

Spent some of the afternoon at the World Magazine Gallery in south Ginza. It looks like that that place will be second home away from home for the foreseeable future. When mags cost 1000 yen easily in Tokyo, it only makes economic sense to peruse them for free. Then I just browsed through two CD shops, Yamano Music and the Ginza chapter of HMV. As I was passing through the floors to head for HMV, I noticed the open massage clinic right by the escalator. Great way to market. I certainly wished that I could've been in that chair getting my shoulders rubbed. The only thing I mind a bit is that technician who gets overly enthusiastic for shiatsu.

Looks like my Friday circle is gelling nicely after all. My ex is adding her form of non sequitur-ish fun to the proceedings. Tomorrow, I meet up with her to head for a housewarming party the next station over.

Well, two American icons have departed this mortal coil. I never really remembered David Brinkley in his "Good night, David. Good night, Chet" days but I do remember having my pancakes on Sundays while watching This Week with David Brinkley. He always had that syncopated delivery which appealed to me.

The other legend of note who has now passed into history is, of course, Gregory Peck. The tributes today have referred to his Atticus Finch as the defining role of his career, a fact punctuated by his lone Oscar win. And of course, I would agree with that except for the fact that I, sad to say, have yet to see To Kill A Mockingbird in its entirety. To be honest, Peck will always be best represented to me as the stolid Joe Bradley whisking Princess Anne off her feet in Roman Holiday. I've seen that movie four or five times while I have to admit that I have not seen any of Peck's other flicks. Well, there was a bit of McArthur here, The Guns of Navarone there, and I did catch his cameo in Other People's Money with Danny DeVito on the big screen, However, as I said, it was just a cameo and it was obvious that his best days were behind him by that point.
Barbara Walters will always be stigmatized by that perhaps mythologized question she has asked of her interviewees: "If you were a tree, which one would you be?" I'm not sure if Walters had ever interviewed Peck but if she had dared asked that question, and if Peck had indeed been gracious enough to answer it, I would guess that Peck would have answered "Oak" or "Sequoia", both solid, grand and American.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

June 11

I met up with those people from the Asakusa Incident on Monday. The main guy seemed tired, depressed and somewhat cranky. I'm not sure if he had been still feeling guilty about the other day or the two weeks in town have started to get to him. The other two seemed OK though. We had lunch at an American style bar & grill place beside Shinjuku Station; the food's so-so but since two of the three had a rather major breakfast buffet, I didn't think a real Japanese restaurant would've helped their stomachs any.

Looks like I've gotten myself another customer for my services. That's good to hear since I was rather chagrined to get a payment schedule for citizen taxes, several years after my last schedule, tonight. And I've got my national health insurance to start paying off from next month. Oooh, boy....I could really use a nice-paying group class right now.

Also, came home tonight to a rather powerful stench of rotting garlic and onion in my kitchen after having cooked up something the other day. That's the one problem with garlic; the smell could punch a hole through anything. I ditched the garbage downstairs for pickup tomorrow morning but I'm not sure if the aroma will repel the stray cats and crows in my neighbourhood or actually attract them.

I'm looking at virtually the next two days off outside of one regular night class and my weekly Friday night circle.

Monday, June 09, 2003

June 9

Well, that meeting with friends turned out to be a non-starter due to some screwup in directions. I was quite explicit in telling the folks that I would meet them at Asakusa Station on the Ginza Line and even gave them directions on how to get there from the nearest station to the hotel. For some reason, they ended up waiting at another station completely, so I had to make some relay calls (No, I don't have a cell phone and no, even after this incident, I won't get one...not on my current financial status) and ask them to meet me at another exit. Well, I waited for 45 minutes for them to show up; they never did so I decided that was it. I didn't feel good about leaving them in Asakusa since I recommended the meeting place, but I'm not about to wait ad infinitum either, especially for people who can't take directions well.

I actually got a letter from Grandpa yesterday. He never sends one unless it's New Years (me and the relatives were never that close). However, he found out about the SARS situation in Toronto where my family lives, so he wanted to know how things were going. I had to get a message off to my brother who relayed it to Mom. So, looks like things are resolved although I'll still have to write a letter off to him. My kanji is so rusty.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

June 9

Caught the Matrix Reloaded again yesterday with a couple of friends. Looks like the mixed reviews back Stateside didn't scare anyone away. In fact, the movie scored the highest opening of any flick in Japanese history: 2.2 billion yen; sounds like a lot but it's actually about 25 million bucks US. I could understand things better with a second go at it and the FX still manage to thrill but the movie is still nowhere near as good as the first one.

On that update with my ex and the Friday night session. Looks like she'll be coming again; she and the other ladies got along after all despite all I had observed. Go figure! So she will not need my personal lessons. Well, that's fine. I'm meeting friends today anyways.