Sunday, August 12, 2007

Leaving Tokyo (for real this time...)

(post written on August 7, 2007, in business class! on the way from Tokyo to LA)

When did the realization that I'm leaving Japan finally come? Ironically, it wasn't from the boxes packed and ready to be packed scattered about the room; nor was it the empty closet sadly deprived of the wardrobe that had just been hanging; not even was it the sayonara party (see photo of post-party karaoke) that was held on a perfectly moonlit night the Saturday before on L's rooftop terrace.

After all, this is the 4th time I am leaving Japan. Boxes have been packed before, but I nevertheless managed to remain completely loyal to my Japanese hair stylist throughout our 3-year relationship, even despite times of overseas long distance. In other words, I have always come back -- or knew that I could come back -- and it never took me long to do so.

This time, I realized that I was leaving Japan when I went to cancel my keitai -- to turn off my connection to all my beloved friends in Tokyo. But still, I didn't feel any tears coming until I took a last look at the apartment and wheeled my overstuffed luggage out the door. I didn't actually shed tears until the limousine bus pulled up and I said good-bye to S, to the familiar neighborhood streets of Akasaka-mitsuke, and looked out the window at the myriads of Japanese salarymen dressed in their suits, crossing the street and going about their daily business. How could they know that I was staring at them through the glass of the bus with envy, because they were staying and I was not?

By no means am I trying to sound negative about the new life that awaits me across the Pacific. I know that I'll get used to it just like I got used to Tokyo -- of course, it's where I grew up! But what is clear is that, in the past year more than ever before, Japan was a home to me. At my sayonara party, I saw that I had built a life, close relationships with friends, and value for a place that felt safe, comfortable, and reliable. Isn't that what a home is?

Tokyo will always be a home to me. Despite the 3 years ahead of me that are planned out in the books, I know that even if it's just for a visit, there is no way I can stay away for long. I will love these memories too much.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Empty mind, empty blog

What does one say after 3 months in a blogless abyss? Of course life goes on, even if one's blog doesn't. The Tokyo nights have been getting longer, the workdays have been getting shorter, and the drinks have been emptying more quickly! Things have not been boring at all - just the opposite, really. To be honest, though, I just didn't have anything I felt like commenting about.

I've been taking 4 hours of French lessons a week, which means that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for working, studying, parler-ing francais, and sleeping. I also just ran 10K for the Tokyo FIT for Charity Run, so until then I was training on my free nights. Not to mention I have sadly become another spineless victim of the tv series Prison Break, which means the very few nights I spend at home relaxing, I have my eyes glued on Michael Scofield. Those activities, work, and the remaining dinners and nights out with friends literally make up my life. On the surface.

In my brain it's a different and much more complex story, as the pieces of life have been shaken up again, and they are starting to fall in different places... sometimes in French or Japanese, but mostly in English.

Last Friday the official announcement of my resignation circulated around the office. The world of recruiting will soon be a bittersweet, but mostly sweet, memory. And so will Tokyo, I'm afraid. I've accepted a brutal fate of three years of law school back in the US, starting in August. So once again, JoLo in Tokyo will have to change identities. Leaving Tokyo is a sad prospect as well, but I don't really see my long-term career in service industry marketing, so I suspect that it is not a bad idea to get some certified skills. All signs are pointing to University of Michigan at the moment, but there is still an off chance that I could be in New York. I'm not sure what I am hoping for myself. I've never wanted to live in Michigan in my life, but the academic programs there fit my interests really well, so it might do me some good to surround myself with some peace and academia for a little while, as in the Cambridge days I didn't take advantage of it as much as I would have liked. What can I say, though, in the other ear New York is calling me -- loudly, and with a bad accent of course.

In either case, I suppose things will work out alright for me. I just have to keep in mind that Japan will always be here (barring any horrible natural catastrophies), and I've already come here 4 times - what would stop me from coming back again if I want to?

To make myself feel better, I will be adding to the map below by taking a trip the end of this month to Vietnam and Cambodia. 8% of the countries in the world is really not a whole lot to have conquered, I realize. A bit of vacation time to bid adieu to Asia, and then I will leave Japan the beginning of August.

Until then, I will be having fun and doing all the things I like to do before I start law school and will never get to do them anymore :-)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Why I am so bad at blogging

Because my life is a circus!

And I've found some down time finally, at work (shh!), during the busiest week of my life! My college friends A & L are visiting this week, and it is my complete responsibility to show them a good time! I think so far I'm doing a pretty satisfactory job.

During just their first 2 days here, they have already taken umpteen photos of Mt Fuji, cabled/roped/boated around Hakone's Lake Ashi, breathed enough sulfur from the volcanic geysers to think Japan smells like farts, and partaken in every kiddy exhibit possible at the Hakone Open Air Museum. It gets better. We were arm's length away from Shaggy at the annual CLSA party, which began with open bar and ended at Velours at nearly 4am. Almost all the normal stomping grounds have been hit, and it's a sign that it's the end of a very busy week.

Tonight we are topping it all off with another party - my combined "pre-birthday" + friends visiting party, which should be a 60+ person extravaganza. I hope I stay awake through it all! The plan is to finish up at the fish market, where god-willing I will not be lying passed out in a pile of fish guts and octopi.

I'm almost asleep now, dreaming of... sleeping maybe?


Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Little "Peace" of Japan

The past few weeks have not brought a peaceful beginning to 2007. Domestic troubles in Frenchy land is the primary cause. My colleague said to me, "It's really funny how domestic troubles bring trouble to every other part of your life," and it's the God's honest truth. Work is tougher, sleep is limited and less restful, and in general, there's a big, ticking bomb interrupting the normal peace in your life. Fortunately, the bomb hasn't exploded yet.

I thought it would take time, and it has, and things seem to be on the mend, with another weekend behind us. Yesterday we took a long walk around Jyuugaoka, an area of Tokyo that brings back fond memories of my past, living with P in Gakugei-daigaku, and escaping the normal frenzy of urban life in the residential districts on the Toyoko line.

S and I discovered this cafe, an old Japanese house which had been turned into quite a hopping little business while still holding on to its traditional charm. I sipped a "matcha au lait" (green tea latte) and thought about the power of time. The setting of the old house, the fusion beverage I was drinking, and the fact that I was still sitting in front of S... all of it made me conscious that time is always running and every element of life is changing by the second. Change brings discontinuity, like the old house-turned-cafe in the middle of Jyuugaoka, but somehow it really works. So I'm hoping that S and I, despite all of our differences and discontinuties, will be able to fix all the pieces in a complementary way and make things work. The history is there, so only time will tell the future.