The new rug has done us more of a favor than I had anticipated: where once there was wood, a vast expanse between disliked couch and adored TV, there now are soft, sound-damping fuzzies, bridging this heartless divide. Much as the sink-front rug revitalized the kitchen, so too has this latest endeavor in our living room, and quite homey do we now feel in this winter-time. New toys to enjoy join the fray as well: the long-desired, early-reserved special edition PS3 entered our custody and took up residence on the final shelf of our TV stand Thursday, completing the current-generation system trifecta all clad in white. Also white: our first Wii Fit balance board, which is so much more enjoyable to use with stocking feet now that we can step off of it and onto that carpet. The PS3 being a more than exemplary Blu-ray player, we took it upon ourselves to watch our first one, this year’s Star Trek, a gift from Jessy’s mother, and found it exceedingly Crisp, not unlike the air lately.
When I walk out into our entryway, the hall and its adjoining rooms, from the early morning heat all captured inside our living space proper, it hits me like Iowa at the farm, the air so cold and in such opposition that it almost has a smell, kind of tinny, of steel, some metal anyway, with a tang. It reminds me of going out to start the car before you’re off to work and of gas station coffee. In the train station I can see my breath like Superman even all the way up the escalator, and for a buck twenty can buy a Kirin Hot Lemon from one of any number of machines, a 280ml plastic bottle full of piping, winter-curing The Description’s In The Name goodstuff.
The grocery stores (or, cutely “SUPA”s, being short for supermarkets) are now stuffed to the gills with their Christmas items. Most plentifully, specifically through my observation, are the Christmas meats, which seem to run the gamut from finally-available bone-in chicken leg/thigh quarters (a surprising scarcity), to smoked turkey drumsticks (1,290 yen), to peppered ham, and derivations in between. Adorned with stickers urging you to have a happy Christmas, these meats know what time of year it is: you will either wait in line to pick up your pre-ordered KFC or you’ll get a goddamned brain and make fried chicken at home. I got a pack of wings just so I can give it a bit of a trial run before Friday. Battering and frying meats has always been one of my weaknesses and I used to just opt for the simplicity of Shake ‘n Bake, which I am pretty sure does not exist here along with big ovens. I suppose that meat and oil thermometers are in the cards, once I can figure out where exactly to find them.
Tonight is the office bonenkai, or “forget the year party,” for which occasion we will visit some eating and drinking establishment, and drink, and eat. These things are always pleasant and usually involve sitting together at a big table in a cozy low-lit room while successive food courses are brought to you and you drink all you can order before your time runs out. At the last enkai we had marinated raw tuna, chicken ramen, karaage, salad, ice cream, pizza, and a variety of other stuff. Tonight’s affair is a five-thousand yen attendance fee, which is Japanese for “expect awesome things.”
Day after writing but pre-posting postscript: we had a giant hot pot stew made primarily of angler fish, which my boss was not fond of. Later I made my first karaoke song The Beatles’ “In My Life” and all was right.
The enormous break is coming soon, and I find myself voraciously excited, despite not really having any plans. I think the prospect of merely enjoying my life, my home, my city–without the necessity of attending work–will be enough. Some people of my language teacher persuasion are going to or have already left for places like Thailand or Australia… excitingly, the place that I’ve always wanted to visit is now the place I live, and does not require travel to anywhere else (though assuredly Thailand is in the cards some time during the next few years for sure).
Laurence Fishburne is on TV and he sounds funny in Japanese.