Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.78 Jan 1, 2010

A Happy New Year! It is said in Japan, 'New Year's Day sums up the new year'. To make the new year happy, I need to spend today happily. Yet, I can't feel pressured. Whatever I do today, it's supposed to be repeated all year long. So, no pressure. Just be happy. I wish you a wonderful, happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.77 Dec 30, 2009

Many stores in Japan hand out a free calender for customers at the end of a year. When I was a child, my family never needed to buy a calender for a new year because we got amply for free. Some stores offer free-to-take calenders in front of the entrance at this time of year. I went rambling down the street near the train station to get some. There are many shops and I got a lot of calenders for free last year. This year, the recession was obvious here and I couldn't find one. A store put up a sign which said, 'Buy one and get a free calender'. It's not my option. The era of a free calender has passed...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.76 Dec 29, 2009

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...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.75 Dec 27, 2009

A clothing store in the mall is going to close for good and I went there today for the closing sale. I often get a surprisingly discounted item when a store is closing. It has helped me save much money. Recently, more and more stores have gone out of business in the area I live, and the mall I went today has also had less and less shops. As a new shop hasn't opened, they put tables and chairs for customers to rest where the old store used to be. Now the mall has the break areas everywhere. While I enjoy a sale, I lose a store to shop one after another around me...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.74 Dec 26, 2009

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...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.73 Dec 25, 2009

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.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.72 Dec 24, 2009

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...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.71 Dec 23, 2009

To avoid a crowded store, I did the grocery shopping online today for my holiday meals. In this way, I could enjoy shopping calmly and comfortably, sitting in front of a computer and sipping a cup of coffee. I was in a good mood adding sale items to a shopping cart one by one. And I found something wrong with the total amount. As I was taking time to shop around, the prices of the sale items were returning to their list prices. I didn't know that they were time limit offers because nothing mentioned. I guessed the quantity for a sale was limited, thus first come, first served. Now my relaxing shopping had changed into a battle. I shopped as fast as I could, sweating and hunching over a computer. and was done shopping exhausted. Even at home, the hustle and bustle catches you at this time of year...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.70 Dec 22, 2009

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...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.69 Dec 20, 2009

The finals of an annual comic tournament is going to be held this evening, in 30 minutes actually. It decides the best comic in Japan among both professionals and amateurs and is broadcast live on TV. I have been looking forward to this event for a whole year, predicting who would win this year. I have zest for comedy shows and it's like the Super Bowl to me. Every year I cheer and laugh excitingly in front of TV. But today, for some reason, I haven't been feeling well since this morning. This year I will watch the finals feebly after the yearlong excitement...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.68 Dec 19, 2009

In spite of my bad horoscope of the day that everything I do would backfire, I dared to do my holiday shopping anyway. Only I changed the place to shop. On my way to the mall, I had a snack at IKEA. They had an all-you-can-drink bar for soft drinks only at 55 cents at the cafeteria. The selection was coffee, tea and soda. Because I'm cheap, I challenged to drink to my limits even for 55 cents. I was fully content and beginning to think that it wasn't such a bad day as my horoscope had said. I arrived at the mall in a good mood. But then I started to feel queasy. It seemed I had too much drink. I ended up doing my holiday shopping this year with fending off the sick feeling all the way. I bought this difficulty for 55 cents. Backfire...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling No.67 Dec 18, 2009

Today is my holiday shopping day. I have planned and looked forward it for some time. My plan is near perfect - what to get as a Christmas present for my partner, where to go, what to wear. First thing in the morning, I checked my horoscope on TV. Mine was the worst of all. It even elaborated carefully how bad it would be. According to it, everything I do today backfires, and I should spend the day quietly. I still don't want to think of myself a superstitious person, but how can I enjoy the holiday shopping bearing that negative information in mind? A trivial piece of a horoscope easily shattered my whole joyful plan...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 17, 2009

I took a test of translating an English article into Japanese, again. Last time I took one, I got 'C'. That didn't make sense to me at all. I was deeply offended enough to take a test again. Although I know so well that revenge never works, it seems I never learn my lesson. The result came today and it was 'C'. AGAIN. A grading comment said that I misunderstood the article. What's that supposed to mean? The article was such a simple one that I thought it was almost a joke. If I misunderstand those easy sentences, what do I not misunderstand? Perhaps I have misunderstood the whole thing in this world all my life up to now. Oh, by the way, do you kindly understand what I wrote? As a 'C' holder, my English can be misunderstood...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 16, 2009

People in Japan are everyday gourmets. They fuss over food all the time. Too sweet, too salty, too stringy or too dry. Even not so wealthy people are keen on taste. The TV shows on food are rampant all day long. People are willing to wait in line for hours in front of a small noodle restaurant. The shelf of prepared foods at grocery stores and supermarkets has a huge selection. Western, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, you name it. As for me, my tongue seems to appreciate pretty much anything. But ironically, I can't get as much as I like because I watch my weight. Before a splendid view of a wide variety of prepared foods, I bear a grudge against myself who is so easy to gain weight...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 15, 2009

I went to a grocery store in a mall connected to the train station, aiming at half-price prepared foods. I have enough knowledge about the times they put on half-price stickers to what remain unsold according to stores. For this store, it is usually past 8:30 p.m. I arrived at the store at 8:45 p.m., the perfect timing. The shelf was full of half-price items. At the same time, I saw a notice about a liquidation sale of a different store in the mall. The sale was up to 50% off for everything but the store was closing for the day at 9 p.m. Two stores of a half-price sale for only one of me. I often shop without finding any sale items but when I find them, they come all at once. A mystery. I need one more me for sale shopping...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 13, 2009

At a discount store, I found cans of soda on sale at five yen each - about six cents. Only six of them were left. My partner was pushing a shopping cart on the different aisle, and I had to secure the six cans lest anyone got them. After holding them in my arms, I walked toward my partner. He noticed me and for an instant, he seemed alarmed. He mistook me for a thief by my appearance. For fear of the flu, I usually put on a medical mask where people gather. Also in this case, I was holding goodies, hunched over, with a wicked smile in my eyes, somehow tiptoeing toward him. Maybe the deal was too good and made me feel like a thief...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 12, 2009

A coffee company send me a newsletter once a week. They assigned a number to each member upon sign-up, and pick a winning number for the prize of two thousand dollars every week. When I checked email today, I saw my number on the newsletter. I screamed with surprise and joy. My heart beat weirdly, sweat poured off. As I fixed my eyes, the newsletter showed my number as a reminder, not as a winning number. I didn't win, of course. I buy a lottery ticket every week that you can win up to four million dollars. I learned today that I couldn't survive if I won that kind of money, because two thousand dollars was enough to almost kill me...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 11, 2009

It's the season for a year-end party in Japan. It's called 'Bonenkai' which means 'a party to forget this year'. Too negative. During the course of a year, there should be something good to remember, at least a couple. So, my partner and I adapted a new party with a different concept. My partner even created a new word for its name. We call it 'Obonenkai' which means 'a party to remember this year'. We threw it today. I found other different aspects in our party than the name. People have a 'Bonenkai' party with many colleagues and friends, over an expensive meal. Ours is just two of us, over half-price prepared foods that are left unsold at a grocery store. It's just like my style- or let's say, 'Hidemish'...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 10, 2009

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...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 9, 2009

It was my long-awaited day of half-price takeout pizzas. Up to this time, I had missed the opportunity every month for various reasons, and I had to get one this month. It was a very cold evening with an icy wind blowing. From my place to the pizza store is a twenty-minute walk. I was determined enough to endure the cold for a half-price pizza. The place was tiny and packed with customers. I plowed through to the order counter, where the clerks were busy taking orders for delivery by phone. The phone kept ringing one after another and they prioritized delivery orders because they were for list prices. I held on there for ten minutes, waiting for the clerks to hang up the phone and take my order. That moment never came. I overheard that it would take two hours to receive a pizza. Other customers were waiting that long standing in a crammed store, doing nothing. I don't have that kind of patience. I left the store empty-handed and walked back home in the cold for another twenty minutes. Getting a pizza at half price is such a hard attempt. My patience isn't qualified for it...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 7, 2009

I love Christmas. So much. I am anxiously counting down to Christmas all year long, every year. At long last, the holiday season has come. I decorated the tree and my apartment joyfully. After the decorations were all put up, I got grabbed by a feeling of melancholy. Being in the holiday season means that it will be over soon. Even before Christmas Day comes, I lament for it to be over. How many days are there left to celebrate Christmas? Very few! A negative countdown has started...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 6, 2009

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...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 5, 2009

I did the shopping at the mall and bought a summer dress. To save money, I get summer clothes in winter and winter ones in summer because they cut the price drastically for what remains unsold during the season. The summer dress with a cardigan cost only 350 yen, which was about $4. Ideal shopping, but on the flip side, I can't wear them right away. Usually I need to wait for half a year until the suitable season arrives. And sometimes, I forget about having bought them by the time to wear in season. Am I really saving money...?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 3, 2009

One of the biggest disadvantages to live in Japan is that you can't watch the TV shows of US. Some of them are available but at least one year behind. The saddest thing is a sitcom. They are too unpopular to be broadcast. So are animations such as 'The Simpsons' and 'Family Guy'. Online broadcasting doesn't allow access from outside US. 'LOST' Season 5 was on cable and just finished. Even on cable, it was one year behind and the season 6 will be here next summer. I will have to fret about what is going on there until then. In US, it has already started and they know how the hydrogen bomb went. Went off? Or what? I am left in this craving...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 2, 2009

The season finale of 'Lost' Season 5 was on air in Japan. Since my partner remarked that I resembled Ben Linus, I have felt an affinity with him. I even mastered to do an impression of him. In the season finale, there was a scene that Ben confronted Jacob. I was deeply moved to tears by that scene because what Ben said to Jacob was exactly what I have had in my mind for a long time. I completely understood how Ben felt. Does that mean I resemble him not only in appearance but also in character? Ben is a bad guy. What about me?...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hidemi's Rambling Dec 1, 2009

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...