Bad Christmas

BADDER

I

t’s hard for me to remember a truly “bad” Christmas. I have been blessed for most of my life. I can truly say that most of my Christmases have been nice to some degree: Being with family and friends, exchanging gifts. So when I did Japanese Studies at Waseda in 1984, it was my first Christmas alone. I was a poor soul, as I mentioned in a previous post, and could not even afford a phone back then–for those of you who don’t know, it cost something like 60,000 yen to “purchase” a phone number in Japan (this is re-sellable), which is probably why cell phones took off like a rocket with young people in Japan before it did here.

Anyway, I couldn’t even phone home. I have no presents to speak of, and the only thing I had that was Christmassy were three greeting cards I had received and scotch-taped to the wall. But I was healthy, and living in Japan on my own, studying what I wanted to study. The situation was “self-inflicted”, so to speak, so I could live the consequences, albeit by myself, with a bottle of shochu (soju), and a small TV.

Well last week, when I saw my beloved Bruins lose to the Wyoming Cowboys, I had no inkling that this Christmas would develop into a badder Christmas. After the game and doing some more grading, then cooking the ham for the Christmas Eve get together we were having the next day–I was cooking in the middle of the night–I decided to check my e-mail at 8 in the morning before going to bed. To my shock, I learned the mother of my former boss had passed away.

“The mother of a former boss?” you my ask. Yes, she was very special to me. She was kind and generous and firm when I was a rambunctious youth. As I have written here before, my boss and I got along very well and was in many ways my elder sister. Her mother was my mother. Of course, she was like everyone’s mother. (There is a lot missing in the details; I am still sorting out any limitations there might be.) But we would watch the store every night, she would cook dinner six days a week for those of us still at the store after 7PM, and I would drive her home after we closed shop at 9PM–10 PM Friday to Sunday.

She was deific. She could do nothing wrong. She was the sweetest person I have ever known or ever will. She was over 100 years old when she died last week.

I thought about going to LA immediately for the funeral this past weekend, but the next morning, Chrismas Eve, I woke up with a fever. By late afternoon, I was at 100ーF by late afternoon and 104ー by midnight. I was delirious. No way I could get to LA. I could barely send off a coherent email of condolence to the mortuary. For most of four days, I was horizontal–short of breath, hacking, burning up, only to sweat out tons of fluids as M lowered my fever with force-fed Tylenol, then getting chills as my fever worked its way back up. I finally got to the doctor the day after Christmas.

I had told M to have everyone open their presents on Christmas as they should, but the family would wait for me to feel better, she insisted, and on the evening of the 27th we opened our presents. I got underwear, socks, and sweats. Pretty typical for this husband/father, I suppose. Nothing elaobrate, always essential.

Besides the presents, perhaps the only good thing to come out of the last few days is that I lost 5 pounds. Go figure…

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Bad ChristmasBADDERIt’s hard for me to remember a …

Bad Christmas

BADDER

I

t’s hard for me to remember a truly “bad” Christmas. I have been blessed for most of my life. I can truly say that most of my Christmases have been nice to some degree: Being with family and friends, exchanging gifts. So when I did Japanese Studies at Waseda in 1984, it was my first Christmas alone. I was a poor soul, as I mentioned in a previous post, and could not even afford a phone back then–for those of you who don’t know, it cost something like 60,000 yen to “purchase” a phone number in Japan (this is re-sellable), which is probably why cell phones took off like a rocket with young people in Japan before it did here.

Anyway, I couldn’t even phone home. I have no presents to speak of, and the only thing I had that was Christmassy were three greeting cards I had received and scotch-taped to the wall. But I was healthy, and living in Japan on my own, studying what I wanted to study. The situation was “self-inflicted”, so to speak, so I could live the consequences, albeit by myself, with a bottle of shochu (soju), and a small TV.

Well last week, when I saw my beloved Bruins lose to the Wyoming Cowboys, I had no inkling that this Christmas would develop into a badder Christmas. After the game and doing some more grading, then cooking the ham for the Christmas Eve get together we were having the next day–I was cooking in the middle of the night–I decided to check my e-mail at 8 in the morning before going to bed. To my shock, I learned the mother of my former boss had passed away.

“The mother of a former boss?” you my ask. Yes, she was very special to me. She was kind and generous and firm when I was a rambunctious youth. As I have written here before, my boss and I got along very well and was in many ways my elder sister. Her mother was my mother. Of course, she was like everyone’s mother. (There is a lot missing in the details; I am still sorting out any limitations there might be.) But we would watch the store every night, she would cook dinner six days a week for those of us still at the store after 7PM, and I would drive her home after we closed shop at 9PM–10 PM Friday to Sunday.

She was deific. She could do nothing wrong. She was the sweetest person I have ever known or ever will. She was over 100 years old when she died last week.

I thought about going to LA immediately for the funeral this past weekend, but the next morning, Chrismas Eve, I woke up with a fever. By late afternoon, I was at 100ーF by late afternoon and 104ー by midnight. I was delirious. No way I could get to LA. I could barely send off a coherent email of condolence to the mortuary. For most of four days, I was horizontal–short of breath, hacking, burning up, only to sweat out tons of fluids as M lowered my fever with force-fed Tylenol, then getting chills as my fever worked its way back up. I finally got to the doctor the day after Christmas.

I had told M to have everyone open their presents on Christmas as they should, but the family would wait for me to feel better, she insisted, and on the evening of the 27th we opened our presents. I got underwear, socks, and sweats. Pretty typical for this husband/father, I suppose. Nothing elaobrate, always essential.

Besides the presents, perhaps the only good thing to come out of the last few days is that I lost 5 pounds. Go figure…

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Bad Christmas

BADDER

I

t’s hard for me to remember a truly “bad” Christmas. I have been blessed for most of my life. I can truly say that most of my Christmases have been nice to some degree: Being with family and friends, exchanging gifts. So when I did Japanese Studies at Waseda in 1984, it was my first Christmas alone. I was a poor soul, as I mentioned in a previous post, and could not even afford a phone back then–for those of you who don’t know, it cost something like 60,000 yen to “purchase” a phone number in Japan (this is re-sellable), which is probably why cell phones took off like a rocket with young people in Japan before it did here.

Anyway, I couldn’t even phone home. I have no presents to speak of, and the only thing I had that was Christmassy were three greeting cards I had received and scotch-taped to the wall. But I was healthy, and living in Japan on my own, studying what I wanted to study. The situation was “self-inflicted”, so to speak, so I could live the consequences, albeit by myself, with a bottle of shochu (soju), and a small TV.

Well last week, when I saw my beloved Bruins lose to the Wyoming Cowboys, I had no inkling that this Christmas would develop into a badder Christmas. After the game and doing some more grading, then cooking the ham for the Christmas Eve get together we were having the next day–I was cooking in the middle of the night–I decided to check my e-mail at 8 in the morning before going to bed. To my shock, I learned the mother of my former boss had passed away.

“The mother of a former boss?” you my ask. Yes, she was very special to me. She was kind and generous and firm when I was a rambunctious youth. As I have written here before, my boss and I got along very well and was in many ways my elder sister. Her mother was my mother. Of course, she was like everyone’s mother. (There is a lot missing in the details; I am still sorting out any limitations there might be.) But we would watch the store every night, she would cook dinner six days a week for those of us still at the store after 7PM, and I would drive her home after we closed shop at 9PM–10 PM Friday to Sunday.

She was deific. She could do nothing wrong. She was the sweetest person I have ever known or ever will. She was over 100 years old when she died last week.

I thought about going to LA immediately for the funeral this past weekend, but the next morning, Chrismas Eve, I woke up with a fever. By late afternoon, I was at 100ーF by late afternoon and 104ー by midnight. I was delirious. No way I could get to LA. I could barely send off a coherent email of condolence to the mortuary. For most of four days, I was horizontal–short of breath, hacking, burning up, only to sweat out tons of fluids as M lowered my fever with force-fed Tylenol, then getting chills as my fever worked its way back up. I finally got to the doctor the day after Christmas.

I had told M to have everyone open their presents on Christmas as they should, but the family would wait for me to feel better, she insisted, and on the evening of the 27th we opened our presents. I got underwear, socks, and sweats. Pretty typical for this husband/father, I suppose. Nothing elaobrate, always essential.

Besides the presents, perhaps the only good thing to come out of the last few days is that I lost 5 pounds. Go figure…

Where did our poverty go?

by Murakami Haruki, from Murakami Haruki asahido, Hai ho!, 1989.

N

ot that I’m bragging, but there was a time long ago when I was quite poor. Around the time we had just gotten married, we lived quietly in a room with no furniture or anything. We didn’t even have a heater, and on cold nights we would hug the cat and steal some of its warmth. Even the cat was cold and so it clung to us humans with all earnest. When it gets to this point, it’s something like symbiosis. When we walked around town, we never had occasion to step into a coffee shop even if we were thirsty. We didn’t travel, and didn’t buy clothes. All we did was just work.

However, not once did we think we were unfortunate. Of course, I would think, “Ah, if only I had money,” but you don’t have what you don’t have, so I would just think, “Oh well, can’t be helped.” Once, when we were helplessly troubled for money, we were walking on the streets in the middle of the night with our heads down and came across three 10,000 yen bills. We thought is was wrong, but we didn’t turn it into the police, but instead paid back a loan. I thought at that moment, “Life ain’t something to thrown away…”

We were young, fairly naive, in love with each other, and had no fear of poverty at all. I graduated from college, but didn’t want to be employed somewhere, so I lived just as I pleased. An objective view would have pegged us as society’s losers, but for us there was nothing that even approached a sense of anxiety.

But man, were we poor.

I Love Xanga

W

ho said Xanga was a waste of time because it’s populated by a bunch of young people? Man, it’s precisely because its populated by today’s youth that I find it has value. Like a couple days ago, I was confronted with the problem of converting m4a files to more the more standard mp3. I asked some old geezers at work–of course, “old” still meaning younger than me, hehehhe–but they had no idea.

So I asked my friends here on Xanga. And it’s because you guys are young–well, most of you anyway–that they know the latest things going on.

Thanks to all who responded to the query. Ron2 hooked me up with 3ivx for Windows. Now I can hear all the m4a files on Windows Media Player! although I haven’t figured out how to convert… From what I can tell, I still need to get QuickTime Pro, and maybe I will after Christmas when my credit card cools down.

But I figured out how to do it anyway, thanx to SweetLilV. She told me about downloads.com I downloaded two sample programs by ImToo and Xilisoft (search “m4a” and “convert”) that converts most audio files. Unfortunately, because (?) they are sample programs, they sometimes don’t convert the entire file to WAV–the song would end after about two minutes. Those that would convert were strangely out of synch. They seemed slower. A 4:09 song turned out to be 4:34. The difference in speed is noticable. But for some reason, these programs would convert the m4a programs to mp3 with no problem!

Of course, being the anal retentive I am, I still needed to convert to the WAV format to burn CDs that will play in my car–a ’96 Maxima. And download.com also had for free the CD-DA Extractor. It won’t burn (I think), but it will rip and convert the mp3 files to WAV with no problems. So while this has become a two step process for me, it was worth it. I mean, this stuff is for free, so how could I complain, right?

Anyway, thanks to you guys, you are now listening to what Kizyr recognized as the same song as yesterday, the slower, more romantic version of “We Are” by Do As Infinity.

Now, I have a few other blogs, but Xanga is my baby. I love it, and more specifically, I love you guys for your help and generosity! By the same token, I hope that you find some of the crap I write helpful… or at least good for a laugh, and that being old on Xanga is not always a bad thing either. Geez, it’s like a freakin’ family here.

Anyway, I’m still grading. Finished Literary Japanese last night (this morning?) and will now tackle Readings in Mod-J now. I am half-way through. I hope to pull myself away from Xanga long enough complete it by 9PM tonight so I can watch the UCLA Bruin game, guilt free! We play Wyoming and this should ge the start of something big–but more about recruiting later… For some of you who have explicitly manifested disinterest in my sports entries, do not worry, this is the Bruin’s bowl game–okay, okay, it’s only the world famous Las Vegas Bowl–and so their last game of the year. Of course, there is always basketball! Hahahhahahahaa.

Anyway, I hope to be around soon, but just in case I find myself falling behind in my work…

Merry Christmas

The best to you and yours