I’m writing this in a coffee shop in an old file I haven’t touched for at least a year. It’s quite funny how, when you write a fair amount, these little ghosts of the past crop up and remind you of who you were even a short while ago. This is why people keep diary’s. Personally I once read some stuff I wrote, eight years ago now, in a diary from my first trip to Japan.
I tore those pages out and burned them. At the time I thought it was a very Kafka-like thing to do but instead of being unsure of the quality of the writing and having it later turn out to be wonderful, I was quite certain that no one would ever want to read the insignificant concerns of an early 20 something that, judging by the material, still had the emotional maturity of a modern day pre-teen.
Not much has changed really but I think I might have learned to hide it at least marginally better in the most of a decade since. Right now I’m going through a series of “big people” problems which, while stressful really don’t amount to much more than a series of first world problems that are amplified by my (some might say foolish) choice to live in the most expensive city in the world and the sore headed decision to try and survive on a job that doesn’t require me to wear a suit. That is because my suits are in pretty crap condition after three years of wear and tear and I hate having to pay for dry cleaning all the damn time.
So if you’re interested in reading about my issues and problems and why I voted for Obama (I’ll try to keep politics to a minimum) read on past the break. If not, just know that I’m going to try and be more consistent with my updates here just as soon as I get everything sorted. Which should be by January. Ooh! New Year’s resolution, score!
The biggest bur in my backside currently is the fact that I have to move again after less than six months in my current apartment. Now when I mention this it confuses some people. Let me explain my situation from my most biased position.
Two years ago I moved into a tiny shit box of a run down slum because I had to move out of my first home since it was provided by my company, GEOS (another shit company but that’s for another post). Looking back on it, it seems rather unfair to set it up like that, residence contingent on employment regardless of ability to pay. But “this is Japan” so tough shit. Anyway, my next residence was just supposed to be a stop gap measure until I could find a better place. However, moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life according to some chart. Plus the new place was cheap (for Tokyo) because utilities were included in the rent and they didn’t demand very much money up front.
Quick knowledge dump about renting in Tokyo. Unless you go to a share house or something similar, renting an actual grown-up type residence can cost anywhere from four (4) to six (6) months rent up front before moving in. Yes that’s six months as in half a year. And no, this price only includes first months rent the rest is deposits and the should-be-illegal-bullshit key money and other screw jobs. The place I’m moving to at the end of the month is a bargain at only 3.5 months rent up front. Remember as well that we’re talking about city where 500$ a month can get you a place so small you can touch both walls while standing in the middle of the room and have that be considered extremely cheap. Tokyo gets ranked as most expensive city almost entirely on the fucking extremes in rent. So to sum up, for the price of a decent used car in most areas of the States you can get the privilege of a roof in Tokyo.
So that wasn’t very quick. Sorry about that. Back to the old place. The old place held up pretty well except for the fact that the bathroom and shower was shared by some frankly unhygienic people. At least I didn’t have to clean it but with my evening oriented schedule the cleaning guy would usually come around right when I needed to use everything.
After the earthquake a colony of cockroaches moved in to the building. They must have gotten in through the plethora of cracks left in the concrete of the walls because I don’t remember them being a problem before. I told my rental company and they pretty much said there was nothing they could do because “old buildings attract bugs”. So I bought poison traps and spray and kept everything reasonably tidy and that brought down the daily roach extermination count to about two or three from five to six. So big improvement. Seriously I don’t even care anymore. One fell on my hand when I went to get a cereal bowl today and I didn’t even flinch. Then I gassed it. All “artists” have to go through a roaches crawling up the walls phase to legitimize their work don’t they? At least it seems like the ones that become rich and famous only after their deaths do…so, crap.
The point of this part in the ramble is to get to the first move I underwent. The reason it is confusing to some people is because I only moved down the hall to a slightly larger crap shack in the same building. The benefit was over a 50% increase in living space (from 20 sq meters to 30, or ~215 sq feet. -> 322 sq feet) for only a ~12.5% increase in rent (~850$->970$ per month). Whatta deal! I thought moving would throw the roaches off my scent but no such luck. There are just too many points of entry and I can only murder the ones that show themselves. So it’s a losing battle.
The best part is that after about a month from when I moved down the hall the rental company informed me through text message that they would be closing down the apartments due to their poor quality preventing them from being rented by anyone who wasn’t trapped there by inertia and a lack of funds to move away. But things weren’t so bad, I was saving money and had a decent stock saved up.
Before I move on, some of the other issues about this place. I’ll try to keep it brief. Tatami mat floors that were probably older than I am. These things collect dust like nerd condoms which is great because after spending a few hundred bucks over a month on doctors to tell me I had a dust allergy this made a lot of sense. Also it’s next to a major roadway that is apparently the most direct route for just about any shipping destination in the city as well as the local hang outs of all the jackasses that think making their cars and bikes extra noisy can make up for a micropenis. Sleeping soundly through the night is really not much of an option. The people that live on my floor are strange with their comings and goings being about as noisy as the cars outside. Slamming doors seems to be a regular pastime where they’re from. It’s on the 4th floor with no elevator. Yeah that one is pretty weak but that’s why I added it last. To the place’s credit, it is so close to the local station I can see it from my window. There’s a grocery store on the first floor of the building so it doesn’t take me long to do the shopping. The internet is extremely shitty. Wait…that’s another negative. Never mind, I guess that’s all I got.
Back to the main point. Now if I’m being honest there are two things I did that don’t make me look very smart at least in terms of money management. Though it is a fair point I guess, my line of thinking at the time wasn’t so bad.
I booked a trip to Italy and bought a new camera.
Now the camera is easiest to defend from my perspective because without the camera I have now I really wouldn’t be able to justify charging for photography. I’m not even sure that I should be charging even now because it’s still a tenuous proposition right now. If I can get it going it could solve most of my money worries, however. So the camera was a business investment paid for with a loan from the bank of inheritance. Also, I’d hoped to sell my old cameras for far more than what I got for them at the second hand shop. That’s on me though as I didn’t want to go through the hassle of eBay or shipping stuff especially since that opens me up for scams. I just didn’t have enough time to get full fair value for them. That’s on me I admit it.
Going to Italy? Well that’s always been a dream of mine. When the chance popped up to sign up for a relatively cheap (let’s just say I could get about three trips to Italy for what I’m paying to move) package tour I was in a better position financially and still had all of my job hours in hand. I also hadn’t bought the new camera at the time. I also haven’t taken an extra day off that wasn’t disaster related in over two years. Now at this point there’s no way I’ll get back full price so that money would have been pissed away for just a dream, and a dream that caused nothing but stress and bad feelings. At this point I’d rather have the experience, yet that’s only because I’m fortunate enough to be able to cover it. Sure it’ll be harder and more of a challenge than if I hadn’t followed my heart rather than my head but this brings me back to the idea that my problems really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure someone huddling under rubble in a bombed out Syrian town really doesn’t want to hear about my disappointment over how much my vacation to Italy will cost. It sucks that humans are still capable of being so, so, shitty to each other but also my head is not stuck so far up my ass as to think that my complaining about it on the internet is going to solve anything. In fact, grumping about my problems is far more likely to have some actual effect on them.
I wish humans could resolve their problems without resorting to explosions. I also wish I could go to Italy without it being such a financial boondoggle. As they say; “Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first.”
Well, this is getting so long that I’m having to go back and read the earlier parts just to reconnect with the bloody point. If I can just get through the end of the year without any other serious complications money wise things should be looking up. I’m going to try and be more consistent with this blog because I clearly have a lot to say. (Even if most isn’t very good) There’s a lot about Japan I want to tackle in depth such as the state of the economy from ground level view point and the constant stress of being an outsider. You know, cheerful shit.
I’m also thinking about a great deal of other projects though I’ll probably need to work on focus as I tend to pick something up for a while and then move on to something else and only come back later once I’m bored with the last two or three things.
I wonder what’s on TV…
PS: I just discovered that emails sent through my contact sheet go straight into the old spam box so if you’ve tried that before I’m sorry. I wasn’t actually ignoring you on purpose or anything like that. If it happens again cut me some slack. I’ve got a lot on my mind don’t ya know?
PPS: Forgot to mention Obama. Maybe next time!