I’m bogged down with it completely.

There is no formal casino in Japan. Instead, there are innumerable pachinko parlors all over Japan. A pachinko is a very popular Japanese gambling game that is partly like pinball and partly like slot. They buy small silver balls to play with, and the machine brings out the balls if they win. They exchange the balls for money or items like cigarettes and chocolates. For some reason, it’s not allowed to exchange directly for money. They get a certain strange item with their balls once, and exchange it for money at a small dark hut behind the building. A pachinko parlor is sort of a mix of a casino and a game arcade. It has a large number of pachinko machines side by side in aisles and exists around almost everywhere people live. Sadly, it doesn’t make people a millionaire. By playing all day, they win a few hundred dollars at most. As for me, I’ve never played a pachinko in my life. My life itself is awfully like gambling and I’m bogged down with it completely…

I also had a fear of heights.

Many municipalities in Japan hold a fireworks display during summer. The one for where I live took place yesterday. It’s an annual event of 90-minute fireworks. When I first moved here, the fireworks were visible from the window of my apartment. But soon a house was built right in front of it and blocked the view. I had been out to see them since then and had found a perfect spot near my apartment. But then, Seven Eleven was built right in front of my spot and blocked the view. So, this year, the event started with spot hunting. Soon after the fireworks began, my partner found the spot. It was beside a fence that surrounded a construction site for a condominium that had been abandoned due to the recession. The fence stood on a five-foot-high mound. I needed to stand on the 15-inch-wide edge after climbing the steep mound. While my partner easily reached the spot, I was fighting with my fear of slopes. As I was about to give up, my partner declared that the spot had the most splendid view for the fireworks around here. With his help, I managed to get to the top of the mound in every conceivably clumsy way. There, I made a discovery. In addition to almost all kinds of phobia, I also had a fear of heights. For 90 minutes, I clung to the fence with all my strength that would be unnecessary for people except for me. But, the view was indeed magnificent, the best spot ever for this fireworks display. On top of that, thanks to the height, I got to see the fireworks of Tokyo Disneyland, which I had heard the sound every night but never been able to see from my neighborhood. And today, every muscle in my body is screaming from the climbing and clinging. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…

What kind of threat is she posing to me?

I’m poor at recognizing people’s faces. Sometimes they’re all the same – sometimes I can’t remember my acquaintance’s face. When I lived in California, I had rented a room in a hotel where a long-term lease was available. The rent included breakfast and supper and I had eaten with other tenants or guests. One day, I went into the lounge where the supper was served as usual, after coming back from a vacation in Florida for a couple of weeks. A woman came up to me and asked, “How was Florida?” I was frozen with terror. How could a total stranger like her ever possibly know I was in Florida? Is she a CIA or FBI or whatsoever agent? Why is the US intelligence after me who am the least important human being in the world? What did I do? What kind of threat is she posing to me? What does she want? With all those thoughts, the tongs in my hand were trembling while holding my favorite Chaw Main. I managed to squeeze my voice out of fear and asked her how she knew I was in Florida. She stared at me with a look of surprise and said, “You told me so yourself.” She was my acquaintance. Although we had had a meal together for several times, I didn’t remember her face…

iron plates for the roof

The rent of my apartment includes utilities, which means I can use them as much as I want. Since it’s murderously hot everyday, I’ve spent most of time inside my air-conditioned apartment, working for music and watching America’s TV shows. A few days ago, there was a note in my mailbox from the management company of this apartment. It said that even though it’s utility-included, my usage has been so excessive that they may charge me unless the usage drops to an ordinary amount. Well, I do have my say on this. First of all, I need air-conditioning more because my room is a duplex apartment and the roof is merely nailed iron plates that conduct heat extremely well. It’s their fault, not mine. Secondly, who decides the ordinary amount? Japanese people are obsessed to categorize everything and they don’t allow someone or something sticks out. I hate to be categorized and fight against it all the time here. They should accept there is someone who works at home during the night and sleeps in the daytime. Thirdly, the note asked me to care about the environment. They must think using the word ‘environment’ makes them a saint. It was them who had chosen iron plates for the roof! Before they start charging me, I really need to get out of this apartment…

All I had to do was to receive them

I placed an order of groceries at an online supermarket and had them delivered today. They carried a special promotion to give a customer a box of laundry detergent for free any $50 or above purchase. I had calculated carefully and made the total $50.48. After the delivery person left, I noticed the detergent was missing. There was a piece of paper instead, that said one of the items I’d ordered was sold out and its price was subtracted from the total. As a result, the new total got less than $50. I felt furious and was on the verge of calling for complaint when I recalled the delivery person. In the midst of the unbearable heat, he came up to my door, carrying heavy grocery bags and boxes, yet smiling and courteous. All I had to do was to receive them, and still, I was complaining about a dollar or so. I wonder why the smaller money is, the more persistently I pursue…

very nervous, so lonely and extremely hungry

As my condition got better in the hospital, I went through a thorough examination to be determined whether I could be released from the hospital. For the examination, I was required not to eat anything but water for 24 hours. As a child, I had hardly skipped a meal before and I felt dizzy from hunger less than six hours into a fast. A girl whose bed was next to mine had put up a drawing above her bed. There was a shining sun in it, and it looked a sunny-side up egg to me. Because it was a full examination, it was going to take long in several different rooms. Although I asked my mother to accompany me during the whole process, she didn’t make it, again, as usual. I gave up after waiting for her as long as a nurse let me, and went for the examination with the nurse. The building where it took place was far from my hospital room and I needed to be in a wheelchair because my illness had required me to be inactive and quiet. All those things made me very nervous, so lonely and extremely hungry. The result was good and finally, my hospital life in the summer at the age of nine ended after one month. I survived nephritis but almost died from hunger on the day of the examination…

worst mother of a patient

Since I was in the hospital for nephritis, I needed a special diet. I wasn’t allowed to take in salt. Each meal for me was salt-free and it tasted horrible. My mother felt pity for me and brought salty snacks every time she visited me. She encouraged me to eat them under my bed lest anyone see that. One day, I was caught by the other kid’s mother. She asked me where I got the toxic foods. She was astounded to hear that my own mother had brought them to me. After three weeks in the hospital, my condition got better and I was allowed to take a bath. My mother unusually came to see me early on that day to accompany me in the bathroom. Back in my hospital room, she bound my hair with ribbons without drying it. A nurse saw it and sharply scolded us because I might catch a cold. My mother was smiling, embarrassed, but wouldn’t redo, as it was too tiresome for her to dry and bind my hair all over again. I admit I was a bad patient, but my mother was the worst mother of a patient…