Friday, July 29, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.345

Last Sunday, a gunning engine noise from the parking lot beneath my apartment woke my partner up early in the morning. It was loud enough to be mistaken for a construction noise, but the culprit was a middle-aged man who was gunning his standing minibike. He seemed to enjoy the noise immensely and kept on the disturbance for a good fifteen minutes. Then, there approached a car from which a man said something to him. Considering the time and the noisiness, my partner reckoned that should be a complaint. To his surprise though, it was a compliment on the minibike and the middle-aged man elatedly showed it off. Not everybody takes that loud noise as a disturbance. Such situations have constantly fallen on to me. When I’m tormented with shrieking kids at a restaurant, other customers often seem pleasant for it. I like to shop at a quiet, empty place while others purposely choose a crowded, thronged place. Is it some kind of a punishment to coexist with humans who have totally opposite values? Or, is it for learning anything from it? Although I hate noisy people and I always make noise as little as possible, I may offend someone with something other than noise. That would explain why people don’t like me so much…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.344

My sister always wanted to be a writer but she has settled for being a local government employee. In a dream I had the other night, my sister said, “I haven’t written anything because I dread that my work won’t sell.” And I replied, “Even if it sold, you would dread that your next work wouldn’t sell while people around you expect a great deal. So, you dread anyway whether it sells or not.” I woke up and was marveled at what I said in there. In my real life, I’ve never thought that way while I’m craving success in my music career where nothing has sold. I heard my subconscious talk in the dream. That made me think. If I dread either way, it’s meaningless to be disappointed at myself who is still an unknown or to be impatient to make a hit. In fact, too many artists with a big hit got caught by alcohol or drugs and died young. As an artist, it’s ideal to create music at my own pace without any pressure and hold on. Having said that, I can’t shake off a stupid desire to make a big hit and show off at a high school reunion in front of my old friends who ended up housewives…

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.343

This summer, people in Japan are fussing about saving on electricity because the accident of the nuclear power plant after the earthquake triggered a nationwide shortage of electricity. Japanese people love to endure something together with everybody in unity and they seem willing to cooperate with the request of the government and the power company to save on electricity. They voluntarily switch to appliances that consume less electricity or fix a thermostat temperature for air conditioning higher. I hate doing something together and have no intention of reaping the harvest of the power plant’s fiasco. But since I moved out my old apartment where the electricity charge was included in the rent and started to pay the charge for my new apartment, I have coincidentally saved on electricity purely to reduce the bill. I replaced all light bulbs in my apartment with LED bulbs and use electric fans instead of an air conditioner that I don’t have. It’s ironic that I’ve joined the electricity-saving frenzy just because I’m cheap. By the way, I’ve looking for a solar-powered lamp at online stores lately. There hasn’t been the one practical enough at a reasonable price on the market yet. If I got one, my electricity usage for lighting could be close to zero. I’m fascinated by the idea not for saving on electricity but for saving my money…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.342

The region I newly moved in is situated at comparatively high altitudes. Therefore, it’s a little cooler than a suburb of Tokyo where I used to live. There has been no need to use air conditioning at night so far. The problem is the daytime. Although it’s obviously hot since it’s the summertime, making do with an electric fan isn’t impossible. Because I’m having my first summer here, everything is new to me like how hot it’ll get or how many rainy days we’ll have. I had been undecided about buying an air conditioner and went take a look at it at a nearby home improvement store. For my apartment, an air conditioner can be put in only on the window frame not on the wall, but all the air conditioners of a window-frame type had been sold out. I looked it up on the Internet, and they had been also sold out at discount appliance stores. Now that it’s not available, I feel like I should have bought it earlier. Some online appliance stores still have them at the list prices, but getting one without a discount means for me to admit I failed to seize the opportunity. Now I fully intend to persuade myself that air conditioning is not necessary in this summer no matter how hot it is…

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.341

The building of my new apartment has a spa for the residents. As a common practice in Japan, we must take off our shoes to get in the spa’s locker room. I hate taking off my shoes at a public place, but I go there every day to take a bath and a shower because the service charge that I pay every month includes the spa fee. Of course, I can’t walk barefoot around the floor that other people step on with their socks or bare feet since I have germ-phobia, so I have my own solution. I bring slippers and wear them when I take off my shoes to enter the locker room. This way, my feet never touch the public floor. One day, a middle-aged woman approached me and told me to take off my slippers and stay barefoot inside the locker room. Listening to her reason for a weird demand, I realized that she thought I had used the slippers as my shoes and therefore I had entered with my shoes on. I explained to her that I did take off my shoes and wore the slippers instead of being barefoot, which was as clean as barefooted. Actually, wearing slippers is cleaner than barefooted, for that matter. But she still insisted that I should be barefoot. While I had no idea why she wanted me to take off my slippers so badly and I kept telling her how clean my slippers were, she finally made her hidden point clear. She said, ‘Because nobody is wearing slippers here!’ Her point wasn’t about hygiene. She didn’t like to see someone different. Like a typical Japanese, she wants everyone to live in the same way and feels secure by that. She’s the exact opposite to me. I feel secure when I’m different. I’m confident other residents will follow and apply my way in time, and after a few years, everyone including that woman will wear slippers in the locker room. I walked there with my slippers on as usual, a little proudly today…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.340

When getting into a Japanese house, you must take off your shoes. It’s more than a natural rule to Japanese people and if anyone entered with their shoes on, it would mean not only uncleanness but also an insult. When an English tourist once visited my apartment and started to get in without taking off her shoes, my Japanese friends there all at once shouted to warn. While it was just an ‘oops’ thing to her, it was a shockingly offensive gesture to them. Even some restaurants and bars in Japan make customers take off their shoes. For some reason, the area I have just moved in has many places with that rule. I loathe taking off my shoes at a restaurant. When I was a child, half of my house was in Western style, where we came in the hall, walked around the hallway and had meals at the dining room all with our shoes on. Although I was not so much used to eating with my shoes off, now it’s perfectly all right at home because I've developed sort of germ-phobia. But, sharing the floor with other people is a completely different matter. I can’t possibly step on the floor where people touched with their dirty socks or bare feet. Whenever I open the door of a restaurant and see the floor for shoes to be taken off, I leave the place right away and try somewhere else. Consequently, there are too many restaurants in this area that I can’t enter…

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.339

The area that my new apartment is located in is regarded as a sightseeing spot. I visited one of the tourist attractions nearby. It was a small theme park situated at an altitude of 3,000 feet in the mountains and the aerial rope way transported the visitors. Attractions of the park were a garden with alpine plants, go-carts, miniature golf, petting goats, restaurants and that was pretty much it. It had much less attractions in much smaller space than I had expected. There was intermittent rain during my visit and the low cloud hung over the park. It grew even lower and white cloud slowly covered me. Along with sparse visitors and unfamiliar flowers and trees, I had a weird sensation of being in the hereafter. When I came home, I saw a gigantic, perfect rainbow in an orange twilight sky from the window. Since I moved in here, I’ve encountered strange things that had never happened to me before. Life has been so different from the one I led at my old apartment in the Tokyo area that I can’t think I live in the same world. Perhaps, I might have died from Japan’s earthquake in March and wandered into another world since, like the characters in ‘LOST’. Seeing nature all around me everyday makes me feel that I’m a trivial entity, and that the high mountains, rivers and woods have a will to make unusual things happen…

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.338

I’m an avid shopper at Costco, but since I moved in my new place, it has become too far to visit readily. The other day, I was astonished to find that a tiny local general store on the forlorn street near my apartment carried some Costco’s merchandise. Indirect stores for the Costco’s merchandise usually add big profit margins to it, so that it costs less to shop at Costco directly even with the membership fee and the transportation expenses to get there. But this local shop’s margins are trifling so much so that the prices are almost the same as at Costco. Although the shop has only few selected goods, among them are what I regularly buy, such as salsa, tortilla chips and mixed nuts. It’s a totally unexpected reunion with Costco for me. The shop hands out a stamp card for the customers and gives them stamps according to the sum of purchase. The accumulated stamps are exchanged for freebies. I’ve gotten a small bag of Lay’s, cookies, and a jar of salsa for free so far. With the scant profit margin and the generous freebies, I can’t possibly believe that this shop is profitable. It’s a wonder the owner manages the business, as I seldom see other customers and there is too little merchandise in the shop. Is he working as charity for me by going to Costco, paying the membership fee, getting exactly what I need, and selling without profit? It’s a magical shop rather than my favorite shop. I have a strange rule that my favorite place is almost certainly to be out of business. Does it work this time too, and will the shop inevitably close down soon…?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hidemi's Rambling No.337

I don’t have an air conditioner in my new apartment. Looking at other rooms of the building from the outside, I see quite a few rooms without an air conditioner. Does that mean I can make do without it for the whole summer, I wonder? Surely a cool breeze often comes in from the window as the mountains and the woods surround the building. But it’s getting hotter day by day and I’ve wavered between whether I should get an air conditioner or not. When I lived in my old apartment near Tokyo, the air conditioner was already constantly on at this time of year. I would have died from a heat attack if the room hadn’t been air-conditioned in high summer there. An air conditioner has been a must-have item for me, but then again the temperature here is generally lower than the one in the Tokyo area. While air conditioning in my old place didn’t cost me a penny since the room originally equipped with it and the rent included the electricity bill, I need to buy it and pay for the bill here. This building is air-conditioned in the hall and the lobby and there’s a draft when I leave the door slightly open with the bolt on. Because I’m cheap, I’m still seeking the way to use the draft instead of installing an air conditioner…