Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Room Without a View
It's snowing today in Tokyo. I know what you're thinking... 'snow, big deal.' Actually, I agree. Having grown up in the northeast, where it wasn't uncommon for us to experience copious amounts of snow, the few centimeters Tokyo sees every few years doesn't fill me with delight.
Nonetheless, I have to admit that, after living here for nearly 18 years, some of the shine of seeing snow falling has been revived. In fact, I might even be compelled to go out and walk around for a few minutes in it, take a few pictures, and attempt to wax poetic about the clean, quiet beauty of snow. Actually, that last part is a lie. I don't think I ever do anything poetic.
As some of my more astute readers may have noticed, my posting has become more erratic over the last several days after having been fairly steady for well over a month. This isn't because I have nothing to say but rather because I have no time or energy to say anything. This week, I'm working the equivalent of a full-time schedule (about 36 hours) between telephone testing and teaching privately. This requires me to remain tethered to the phone and remain in the apartment from about 10:00-8:00 for the better part of the work week to either answer the incessantly ringing phone or speak with the students who show up at the door. I spend the time between calls dashing around trying to clean and tidy up the apartment in preparation for the private lessons. It's pretty hectic.
Working from home is largely a blessing because I save about an hour and a half a day in commuting time compared to when I worked in an office (though I make a fraction of my former income), but, on days like today, where something atypical is happening and I'm shackled to my living room, it can feel a bit confining. It doesn't help that the view from my living room is relatively bleak and uninteresting. In fact, the wall that separates our apartment building from the house next door gives one a bit of a felling of being incarcerated. I'm sure though that it's a pretty typical view for anyone living in Tokyo on the first or second floor of buildings.
Getting back to the snow though, if you ask Japanese folks who were born and raised in Tokyo if it snows in winter, they always say that it does. Technically, this is correct, but only in that every few years, there appear to be a few days in which a bit of snow falls.
Memories of how often and how much falls appear to be embellished at times. One of my students is 20 years old. That means that I have lived here for all but the first 2 or 3 years of her life and she has lived in an area not too far from me. She told me that it used to snow in Tokyo more when she was a child and she remembers being able to make snowmen. I was here "when (she) was a child" and I can't recall more than one year in which the conditions she mentions occurred and I'm pretty sure that she couldn't have been more than 5 years old at that time. I figure one of us has an altered memory of the way things have been, though I can't say with any certainty that it isn't me. ;-)