Sign for what?

I was about to go to bed yesterday when I heard the ominous spattering sound in my room. Spring shifted to summer all of a sudden and I had turned on the air conditioner. The noise was a water leak from it. Beneath the air conditioner sits my PC with which I work for my music. I usually put plastic bags on the PC as a covering after each use and the water was dropping right down to it. It was a dreadful sight. I completely panicked and couldn’t figure out what to do first. Then I tried to turn off the air conditioner with a stereo remote. And I tried to grab a floor cloth to wipe up the water but couldn’t find my slippers. The PC holds our new song that had been finally completed yesterday after seven years. I thought the water was draining away the song and my seven years. Thankfully, the computer didn’t get wet while the monitor got a few droplets from the edge of the plastic cover. What are the odds that a water leak aiming at a PC happens on the same day when a song gets finished on the very PC? Is this some sort of a sign? Sign for what? Not to tweak the song any further? Or, to wipe the slate clean and start all over again? I couldn’t sleep well from thinking about it and from the heat without air conditioning…

 

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

destroying my cozy living environment

Next to my apartment is a parking lot. A loud noise of a car engine without a muffler woke me up early in the morning today. Sick people who enjoy driving a car without an engine muffler and with a booming car stereo are increasing here. I was able to go back to sleep but then the neighbor kids’ voice disturbed my sleep again.

The window of my room looks out on the front yard of a neighbor’s house. Kids and idle housewives were playing and talking loudly. Kids are my archenemies. They relentlessly attack me with their evil, highpitched voices and shrieks. When I first moved in here, there were few houses around. But soon, more and more houses were built, more families were moving in, and I got surrounded by kids.

Every time I move somewhere quiet, the area quickly gets booming and kids are running everywhere destroying my cozy living environment. Now that I’ve decided to move, the destination should be someplace quiet, kids-free, bugs free, and hopefully, people-free…

 

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

signs to move out this apartment

I have a strong phobia about bugs. My apartment is heavily armed by numerous bug repellers, such as electrical, herbal, you name it.

The other day, it was very cold like winter, and yet, a bug appeared in my room, right next to an electrical bug repeller. Impossible. A couple of weeks earlier, a light switch of the bathroom got broken. Combined it with the inconceivable way of the bug’s appearance, I took them as signs to move out this apartment. The last time I moved was also when I found a bug and a light switch of the bathroom got broken. It was the best decision as the move turned my luck. I’ve started packing my stuff even though I have no idea where to move. I’ve got a lot of cheap stuff as a result of sale-hunting and have little time to pack, so it will take a long time to move, anyway…

 

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

enjoyed cherry blossoms

I enjoyed cherry blossoms in full bloom, taking pictures at a park. Because it was night, there was nobody in the park so that I monopolized the view in the quiet environment. One of a few good things living in Japan is safe enough to walk around a park at night. Then, I arrived at the supermarket at perfect timing as they had just started putting half-off stickers on the unsold prepared foods. I got tons of Chinese food and took more pictures of cherry blossoms from a pedestrian bridge on my way home.

the three-way attack

It was caused by the low-pressure system and as I was afraid, my headache started. As the storm got stronger, my headache got worse. With the noise of blowing winds and a bad headache, I couldn’t sleep well. About twice a year, some kids visit and stay with my neighbors two doors down, and their running footsteps disturb me because the walls of my apartment building are too thin. Unfortunately, yesterday was one of their visits. Their relentless drum roll footsteps joined with the storm and the headache in the morning and I got up with the three-way attack. Although the storm subsided, I couldn’t go to the store today because I felt ill from the severe night…

My Social Distancing hr629

I’m not good at being with people by nature. I always like to being alone and stay inside my room. Basically, any contact with others is uncomfortable. Not to mention phone calls, public places are dreadful for me unless they are near empty with few people. I hate to have a person standing right behind me at the checkout counter in a supermarket. Whenever I take a train, I search for a car that has the least passengers. My so-called ‘body bubble’ seems excessively large. I often almost utter a scream when a person bumps into or even slightly brushes me. Needless to say, chattering with others is excruciating. My apartment building has a communal spa for the residents and I use it everyday. The residents are inevitably acquainted with each other and small talk between them is rampant in the spa. I’m often caught up in it and desperately try to find closure of the conversation by sweating all over. To avoid an ordeal, I’m usually careful not to share time together with familiar residents as much as possible. When I see them, I practically run away. My partner calls me a robot because of my behavior.
The time of recent social distancing shouldn’t bother a person like me. Social distancing has been already my thing for a long time. At least I had believed so. I had thought it wouldn’t hurt a natural ‘social-distancer’ as myself. But I found I was wrong.
One of my favorite Japanese comedians from my childhood was infected with Corona virus and was killed by it in a matter of days. Until just recently, he had appeared on various TV shows and his funny face had been the norm for TV. The daily TV time in a Japanese living room has changed suddenly, completely. He was a nationally popular comedian who earned the monstrous TV rating. When I was a child, my family gathered in front of TV for his show at 8 p.m. every Saturday and laughed so hard together. Kids at school would talk about the show next Monday and laugh again together. When I was in my early teens, I danced his signature gig called ‘Mustache Dance’ so frantically in the dining room that my foot slipped and I fell hitting my face on the dining table. Those memories made me feel as if part of me was lost with him by his death.
Among my familiar residents in my apartment building are a mother and her daughter. They are athletes and rough, thudding around restlessly and talking loudly in a vulgar tongue all the time. I heard that they were moving out soon. Since I was bothered with their noisy manner and pushy conversations toward me at the communal spa, I felt relieved that I could reclaim the quiet bath time. One evening during the days I had waited for them to move out, I saw them at the spa. They left for the locker room while I was still in the bath and I intentionally took time in there to avoid meeting them at the locker room, as usual. After giving them enough time to clothe and go home, I stepped out to the locker room, assuming they were already gone. On the contrary, they were still there, standing side by side courteously toward me. They had been waiting for me. The mother told me that they were moving out tomorrow and this would be the last time to see each other. She said politely, “Thank you so much for all these years. You helped us in various ways.”
I had known them since I moved in nine years ago. The daughter was still a small child back then, who was running and shrieking around the locker room. She is to be a freshman in high school this spring. She occasionally talked to me about her school days or her passion for skiing. The mother once broke her foot at her workplace and she had been on crutches in the spa. I got out of the tub to open and hold the door to the locker room for her every time until she stopped limping. When we were late together at the locker room that went black after the spa’s closing time, we would clothe together under the light of my pocket LED lamp. Those memories flooded back to me all of a sudden at the last time I saw them although I had thought it would evoke nothing as I had been looking forward to getting rid of them. While I was looking at the daughter’s liquid eyes that were staring straight at me, I was overwhelmed by inexplicable sadness and my eyes began to be filled with tears in spite of myself. I clumsily said goodbye and returned to my apartment. A robot couldn’t say goodbye well.

holes and cracks

I found tall wooden shelves discarded at a garbage dump of my apartment. It was as good as new and I carried it into my place. The shelves seemed to be a product of someone’s moving-out. I cleaned it and made it my new shoe shelves.

I felt so good seeing my shoes arranged beautifully on the shelves. The pitiful thing is, though, that almost all the shoes cost less than $20, mainly $10, and about half of them are worn out and have holes and cracks…

there’s no telling when it’s done

By the contract, I have to give a month’s notice to move out the apartment I currently live in. If I move out in the middle of April as I planned, I need to send written notice by mid-March. But I’m not sure if my packing is finished in a month. Actually, there’s no telling when it’s done. I’m busy enough with my daily life and adding packing to it as an extra routine has been almost impossible for me. In fact, my packing has been going at a surprisingly slow pace. My own schedule has gradually backed me into a corner and sometimes I have an urge to cancel a move itself altogether. As I began to sag, I decided to postpone a move for another month until mid-May, to make packing easier with plenty of time. It’s the third postponement from my original plan of a mid-January move. It means to pay more money for the rent, but it can’t be helped…

I believe it will be wonderful as long as I stay alive without giving up.

These days, I’ve had nightmares about living in a deserted, out-of-the-way place repeatedly. In them, I was forced to join a dreary folk festival in deep snow with a handful of local people, or I was surrounded by uncivilized people whose language I didn’t understand, or I lived in an ancient, old-fashioned building. Those dreams seem to represent my vague unease for moving to my new place that is located in a remote, mountainous, snowy region. I’ve completed a song I’d been working on for seven years, and I’m about to move out the apartment I’ve lived for nine years. I’m moving to a whole new town where I have no acquaintances, and I’ll start promoting our latest song and recording a new song. Form then onward, I don’t know how my life goes. I believe it will be wonderful as long as I stay alive without giving up. I will enjoy and cherish every process to a new step, which hopefully would be the better one…

I feel as if I threw away my past.

As I’ve been packing my stuff to move out this apartment, various things of sentimental value to me have come out from the back of the shelves. I’ve lived here for nine years and forgotten about most of them since I stored them away. Some are no longer useful, but when I clear them out, I feel as if I threw away my past. That makes me melancholy. Occasionally, I find some money. It’s like I get a bonus for packing, but it’s simply what I stashed by myself in the first place and not what I newly gained. Mostly, what I find are numerous room slippers and old broken appliances. I don’t understand why I kept so many slippers without using. Packing and moving requires a great deal of labor and time. Worst of all, the broken appliances appear one after another and discarding them is costly. I have to pay for each one of them just to dump…