Monday, December 01, 2008
In my apartment I can sit on the floor and drink tea to the sound of old Japanese men singing Enka through the paper thin walls. My bathroom's name is Rush Limbaugh and sometimes I can hear rock and roll music during week nights when I sit on the toilet. There are cockroaches in summer and, to my dismay, they like the silver ware drawer. On Saturdays when I sleep until 10:00 my apartment shakes because of the construction of a 60 floor monstrosity in my block. The new apartment complex threatens the life of a tiny house standing strong in the shadows of the growing building. The owner wants to live in that house forever and will not be bought. The construction already claimed the lives of the coffee house I liked and a neighborhood record shop where I bought a cd of Brazilian lullabies, Tom Petty, and Papas Fritas for 700yen. The first time I felt the tremors, I thought it was an earthquake and so I went back to sleep. I have neighbors. I know this because I hear them washing and climbing with heavy feet up the stairs before my alarm goes off on week days. This is annoying but I'll never say anything about it. I hang my laundry on the balcony. It's sunny and I can see the rooftops of the other houses. I often think I'll sit up there some night with a bottle of wine. Some times I can see renegade cats with short tails creeping into our "garden." They don't want to be noticed but I like to see them drinking rain water that collects in the stone basin. I always wonder why their tails are so short? In my apartment there is a piano. The owner bought the piano a long time ago and, when she moved, she couldn't get it through the door. The piano stays. It was the main selling point when we decided to rent this place however, we never play it. The piano is out of tune. It makes a really nice desk. Some day I hope we get it tuned. The apartment is 1 minute from Asagaya station. I timed it once. I can hear the song that plays every time a train arrives at the station. That's about every 10 minutes. It's a nice song though, much better than Enka. I leave my apartment at 7:10 exactly and it gives me enough time to get to the station, climb the stairs, and some times buy a hot yuzu drink before I board the 7:13 train. Yuzu tastes like lemons but better. One day I left my house at 7:10 and, as I walked toward the station, I realized that I'd left my train card in my house. I hesitated for a moment before dashing back into the house...running up the stairs...only to find that the card had been in my pocket the whole time. I ran all the way to the station and caught the train...completely out of breath and with no yuzu drink. I'm living in my apartment with two Japanese men. One of them is my boyfriend. He and I have different tastes in decorating. He's a minimalist and likes name brands. I am cluttered and most of my things are bought second hand. I think the living room should be cozy and I want a comfy sofa and a rug. My boyfriend likes the straight-backed chairs we bought and doesn't want to buy a rug. Our other roommate would probably agree with me but he's never home. Like the typical salary man, he works too hard, smokes too much, never eats at home, and, sometimes I think he sleeps in manga cafes. I miss him. He's a good person to talk to. The landlord has no idea that I live here. She's probably a nice person because she likes pianos, however she, like many Japanese land lords, doesn't want to rent to foreigners. Maybe she doesn't know that I plant tulips and scrub tiles. Or that I wash dishes and I distain cockroaches. Maybe she wouldn't mind my living here if she knew.