The Money Pit hr650

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I made up my mind to become a professional musician when I was eighteen living in Japan. I had imagined that the hardest thing to be one was to keep up better works by strengthening talent, which proved wrong. The hardest thing is money. Scraping up funds for activities as a musician without losing time and energy for music is most difficult. It’s equally the case for either an artist who has made a smash hit or the one who has been unsuccessful like me. And it has remained to be the case today after decades passed.
At the very beginning of my music career, I regularly rehearsed in a studio as a member of the band that strongly intended to become professional. It was the first serious band I had joined. I somehow managed to play well enough compared to other skillful members and didn’t get fired at the first session as I had feared. The band was based in Osaka that is a 45-minute ride by train from Kyoto where I lived. The studios the band used were all in Osaka, which meant I needed to pay the studio rental fee and the train fare each time. I was a college student back then, but barely went to class. Instead, I worked at the restaurant as a cashier and spent everything on the band. My time was dedicated to music and I came home just to sleep.
The studio was equipped with a synthesizer but I didn’t have my own although I constantly appealed my passion to become professional. It had gradually seemed odd that I used a rental synthesizer in every session while I tried to motivate other members to be professional as soon as possible. A thought that other members questioned my seriousness began to cross my mind as I continued to play with temporary sounds. Since we played our original songs, original sounds were necessary. On top of that, when I practiced back at home, I used the piano for a synthesizer that was quite ineffective as practice. I finally decided to get my own synthesizer. I chose the latest model at that time called Yamaha DX7 that was featured in almost all the pop songs and albums in the music business of 80s. It cost about 2500 dollars.
Before I joined the band, I had saved money out of my years’ allowances and was going to use that money to study English in England. The amount of my savings was about the same as the price of a DX7. I had put it in time deposit at the credit union bank for higher interest and for my friend just a few months before. That friend of mine had worked at the bank by giving up going to college because she needed to support her handicapped mother and two younger siblings when her father suddenly abandoned them. I wanted to help her in some way and set a time deposit through her with hope that it might raise her performance evaluation at the bank. Sadly, my rare good deed couldn’t last any longer. I went to the bank, apologized her a million times, and cancelled a time deposit. While she kept telling me with a smile “Don’t worry, don’t bother,” I was bathed in guilt, and yet I withdrew my savings and went on to get a DX7. I chose a DX7 over staying in England and being her friend.
After all, it was just the beginning of the long way that I have walked on until today. Since I decided to become a professional musician, I had lost my friends and my family not to mention a college degree as a dropout. What I gained instead are thousands of sleepless nights for worry about money. Even while I stay awake in the night yet again, I still believe that the happiest thing for a human is to fulfill one’s calling.

Podcast: the evil world

the evil world
When I was little, my mother constantly said bad things about others. She believed that, even when someone was kind to her, there must have been some plot behind the nice gesture. To sum up what she talked about every day, there are only evil people in this world.
In kindergarten, mothers would fix a lunchbox for their kids and the kids would eat lunch with their classmates and their teacher. At one lunchtime, when I was opening a lid of my lunchbox, I inadvertently dropped it to the floor without having a single bite and it overturned there. I lost my lunch. While other kids laughed at me, my teacher, who had been trying so hard to make me play with other kids because I had ignored them and had hardly talked to anyone, cleaned up the mess for me and took me to a small candy store outside the kindergarten.
She told me to pick any bread I liked. I picked one timidly, feeling afraid what kind of trap this would be, as I didn’t have any money. She suggested one more. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and shook my head. She picked one more piece of bread by herself, took out money from her own wallet, and gave all the bread to me.
I was stunned. She bought me lunch. It was the first time that someone unrelated to me was so kind to me. Since then, I had started talking to her. Even after I finished kindergarten, I had kept exchanging letters with her and I still send her a Christmas card every year.
She was the first person who destroyed my mother’s theory of the evil world and taught me that there were some good people in this world…
 
Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

my voice didn’t come out

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Eight years ago today, I moved into this apartment. There are things that I like about it such as the utilities-included rent, the unique design, and the view. It has the flip side though. Every time the wind blows, TV is down. The roof is so thin that raindrops sound like the percussion. The walls are also thin and even subtle sounds I make trigger the neighbor’s banging. Those things keep me looking for a better place constantly. Each and every place has a flaw. Too dense, too rural. At least one side of the place borders the next-door neighbor. It seems that an ideal place for me to live in doesn’t exist. Well, to begin with, is there such thing as an ideal place to live in on this planet…?

 Last night, I had a nightmare. In it, I got up and found myself alone. I was a child still living with my family in my hometown. My parents and my little sister came back from McDonald’s. They had breakfast there without me. I grabbed my mother’s arms and said, Listen to me! Listen to me very carefully!! You must treat your kids equally! Whatever you do to my little sister, you should do the same to me! You can’t keep doing nice things only to her! Besides, how could you bring home nothing for me? It’s McDonald’s where you can get take-out!! But, no matter how hard I tried, my voice didn’t come out. I repeated those words very hard again and again but only my mouth was moving. In the end, I shouted at the top of my throat, and awoke from the dream.

I’m still exhausted. I dream a lot every night. And this one is one of the repeated dreams. Although the details are different, I am ignored by my parents and left alone each time. I’m fed up with this kind of dream but I know I will soon have it again. When am I released from this…?

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

 

she misspelled ‘merry’ and wrote ‘Marry Xmas!’ instead

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My mother’s hobby is drawing. She drew a Christmas tree on her Christmas card that I received yesterday. Over the years, she has gotten influenced by me for a Christmas card which she didn’t have a custom of sending. This year, she wrote ‘Merry Xmas’ in English baldly and decoratively across the tree. It must have been a big challenge for her who is not used to writing English. Sadly, she misspelled ‘merry’ and wrote ‘Marry Xmas!’ instead. For years, she has kept urging me to marry, and it finally got her. A word ‘marry’ automatically pops up in her brain when she tries to communicate with me…

 

The Christmas card my mother sent me shows her character properly. My parents sent me a Christmas present of wine prior to the cards. They usually send in their joint names, but this time there was only my father’s name on the box. I thought he sent it by himself. It made sense considering how she had snubbed me last time we met. On her Christmas card which came later, she added with pretense of being casual, Cheers with wine!. She apparently had to imply that she had chipped in the present…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

the rest of the year is just a sideshow

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Mt. Fuji is regarded as a symbol of good luck. Looking out the window of my apartment, I can barely see the top of Mt. Fuji far away after the leaves fall off from the trees nearby.

It’s a season I can see it, but I haven’t been able to find it this year where it’s supposed to be. My partner told me that he has seen it for some time. I looked and looked for the unique shape of Mt. Fuji which was hardly overlooked. Then I noticed that the branches of the trees near my apartment had stretched upward. They block Mt. Fuji at my eye level but not at my partner’s who is much taller than I am. No matter how hard I jump, I can’t see the top. Starting this year, I am too short for good luck…

 

Eve has come. Only one day to Christmas. To a person like me who anticipate Christmas too much, the rest of the year is just a sideshow. As an athlete prepares for the Olympics, I condition myself for Christmas. You should do everything in moderation though, otherwise you would end up like me who feel sad thinking Christmas is over tomorrow while feeling extremely happy to have it at last. My consolation is a concept of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. I cheer up myself saying that Christmas Day is the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas, not the end of it. Well, how can I soothe this infantile myself twelve days later? Let’s say just 11 months to go again…

 

Merry Christmas! How are you spending Christmas Day? I am having rotisserie chicken, pasta and pizza at my apartment with my partner.

A box was delivered from my parents. It was a Christmas present of wine. My parents usually enclose an attacking message to deny what I do and I prepared myself for it. To my surprise, they didn’t do so for once. No attacking words from my parents. That can be considered as a miracle to me. I wish each one of you a peaceful, joyful Christmas. Happy Holidays.

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

Podcast: crazy

crazy
I was born at the small hospital in a rural area. Although not many expectant mothers checked in there, two baby girls were born on the same day, one of whom was I. We shared the newborn room, sleeping in a bed side by side. Before the birth, I’d had a possibility to have severe jaundice of the newborn.
My mother was told it would either leave a brain defect if I had it, or make me extremely intelligent if I didn’t have it. Instead of jaundice, I was born with a hip joint dislocation. My right leg had been regularly dislocated and hung loosely until I was one or two years old and my mother had to take me to the hospital each time.
About the time when my leg finally stopped getting dislocated, there was a piece of news in a local newspaper that a little girl was thrown into the river and killed by her parent. The victim was the baby who was born on the same day as I was and slept in the next bed to me at the hospital. Since both the town and the hospital were small, my mother and my grandmother remembered the name of the baby and the area she lived in. I was luckier and I outlived her without any more dislocation or jaundice. The latter should have resulted in me being extremely intelligent but my parents consider me simply crazy…
 
Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

One by one I lost them

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I finished sending out my Christmas cards. Japanese people don’t have a custom to send them. Instead, they send New Year post cards. I prefer a Christmas card though because a New Year card has some restrictions. For instance, it has to be arrived on New Year’s Day, or, you can’t send nor receive it when someone related to you has died the previous year because it is regarded as bad luck. I don’t make it time-consuming but once I start writing a Christmas card, I tend to take time decorating the card with stamps or stickers. Mostly, I would send them to my grandparents on both my father’s and mother’s sides. One by one I lost them and I have sent the cards fewer and fewer. In September, my grandmother on my mother’s side passed away. She was the last grandparent of mine. Now I have no grandparents and the number of Christmas cards I send is so small…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.

They don’t pick a time and place.

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I have just come back from a grocery store now. They had a great one-day sale today. Since I couldn’t go out for it last week, this one was kind of revenge. I arrived at the store and guess what. The sale items were all sold out already. Revenge never works. I got completely upset and was involuntarily scribbling a complaint on a comment sheet at the store. It was a totally compulsive move and when I came to myself, I submitted it to the box.

As I cooled down, I realized something. I got up at 12:30 p.m. this afternoon, had lunch, and by the time I was at the store, it was past 4 p.m. Maybe my lifestyle is a problem, not the store…

 

After shopping, I had dinner at Starbucks. Their subs are my favorite, but the main reason to dine there is that restaurants in Japan are full of housewives who take noisy, ill-behaved kids along. They don’t pick a time and place. From an expensive restaurant to even a bar, kids are there. Some Japanese bars have a play room for kids. There is even a baby at a bar at night. Crazy. The safest place for me was a cafe. But, they came. When I enjoyed a sub and a holiday cake with a quiet, relaxing atmosphere listening to holiday music in the background, this kid invaded the place. His loud babbling and shrieking filled Starbucks and ruined everything. Starbucks was my last resort and finally, I have no place to dine in Japan…

Episode From Surviving in Japan by Hidemi Woods

Audiobook  : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total.