One Hundred Hours In

Day four is always the worst for jetlag. This is my brain at day’s end. However, with all manner of stuff sorted and behind me, I relax with French bread, Hokkaido butter, brie and Gouda cheeses, cabbage salad, and a French Bordeaux.  Life is glorious.

Here I am in the middle of a palpable COVID-19 fear-vibe which the press feeds with abandon. I begin to question the right to the freedom of such press. Might it not be up there with hate speech to foment such paranoia when it would be much more productive to help shift people toward a level Buddha mind?

Here’s what voice of reason Malcom Drake posted online.

  • As someone who went to medical school…I feel bad for people who don’t understand what’s happening. This corona virus is not something that should be causing ANY panic, but the way the “news” is reporting it, people are being convinced it a “serious” issue, when it really isn’t.
  • To put it into perspective Sars, Mers, Ebola, Swine flu, H1N1, and the “bird flu” ALL had much more significant mortality rates, (from 10% to 50%, with Ebola having the 50%), Covid-19 is at 2%… even the annual flu has higher numbers. People, also, don’t understand the significance of the numbers. Of all infected 81% are mild cases with people already recovering and another 14% are not life threatening. The 5% of “critical” cases are among the elderly and people who have compromised

On sunny days the mood lifts a little; however, an elevated mood of anxiety and hostility even resulted in an unusual altercation on the train on account of what is business as usual in Tokyo. It’s not uncommon to see Japanese commuters cough and sneeze without covering their mouths or cough into their hands, then grab onto the bars or straps and even booger mine while riding the trains. It’s been going on for years.

Also, the ignorance concerning and the cavalier misuse of masks is not new either. Since my arrival I continue to observe the habits I’ve seen since first traveling here in 1998—soiled masks dangling from an ear, or pulled below the chin to blithely sneeze into the train carriage, as well as constantly touched/contaminated to eat, apply makeup, or engage in conversation.  Malcom Drake also had this to say:

  • Also, people should be aware, “surgical” masks only work for Exhalation NOT Inhalation; they are designed to prevent the spread of infection, but are useless in preventing contraction of a virus.

In addition, along with all the details (and dozens of email) regarding taking possession of the apartment, filing the requisite forms as well as items in the suite which needed attention, there was the problem of cancelled school. The real estate agent (who was aware of my situation) emailed before noon on Monday. Before the end of office hours of the same day he needed to know whether I planned to cancel my April lease as a month’s notice was required.

Image credit to Tokyo Skytree Website.

Before boarding my Tokyo-bound flight I’d emailed the school administration to inquire whether I might be able to find private lessons, but like the real estate company the office isn’t open on weekends. I had no expectation that I would get an answer from the school before my decision was required. These things take time and it seemed to be running out for me.

With rain pelting down and my mood tanking, I wondered how I was going to make up my mind. All along, I’d simply followed the signs. The whole enterprise was green-lit all the way almost to the point of being spooky. Now what? I wanted to stay, I was super-stoked to study, but not to loaf around for two months with nothing to do. Frankly, I needed and longed for  another sign.

Image credit to Sogetsu Ikebana website

Ping! An email from Sogetsu administration. They’d found a teacher who would accept me. Could I attend her morning class the next day?  The teacher needed to know immediately so that she might place and order with the florist. My sign! After saying yes to the administration I emailed my agent: I’m staying.

Then, a teacher found, I had to find her (not that difficult once you know where to go, but not that easy based on Google Maps which has led me on quite a number of scenic tours in Japan). In the end, she had to come to the station to find me, and that’s how we started the first class.

Lovely! Even so, everything was unfamiliar. Not at all like waltzing into a classroom where I know where everything is or what to expect because I know and have worked with the teaching staff and assistants for many months. Like most people I am a creature of habit. Having acquired an apartment in the same building I enjoyed in 2017 and 2018, I had been looking forward to my little routine of walking to Sogetsu Kaikan for lessons every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. That said, something different isn’t necessarily something bad.  After a class yesterday and another today, I can say it’s a good fit.

Then another happy surprise. This morning my friend in Yokohama sent me an email to let me know that the supermarket near her home had restocked toilet paper. She’d bought a 12-pack and was shipping it to me. It would arrive before noon Thursday (tomorrow). Wow!

Earlier I had written that poet Nayyirah Waheed’s words gave me focus and loft.

live that life. the one that gives you

breath. and. takes your breath away.

After 100 hours of my Tokyo life I begin to understand why people retire and head for the sofa. It’s so easy. So comfortable.  (And so boring.) But right now, that’s all I want. A little bit of nothing to do—and time to catch my breath before my next class on Tuesday.

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