November 2, 2018
It was recyclable waste collection day, which is only once every two weeks, only for 40 minutes from 7:00 a.m. It’s so hard for me as I’m not a morning person. I missed it last time, so last night I separated a month’s worth of recyclables—cans, bottles, plastics. I loaded them up in my car, and brought them to the neighborhood collection point. At that point, at least three people were standing to check if we had sorted the waste correctly. If they find the wrong thing, we need to bring them back home and bring it again on non-burnable waste day which is only once a month. It’s so embarrassing to have my significant pile of my wine bottles checked even if I separated them correctly. Good thing the people who are on duty today were all strangers!
Today was Friday. I was in Singapore most of last week. I went straight back to work on Sunday. Stacks of papers greeted me, from notices of important meetings to an order form for Osechi, traditional Japanese food prepared in advance for the New Year. I sorted out a huge pile of documents little by little so as to prevent a landslide, and finally the end of the week was here. I was going to hang out with my jazzercise friend N tonight even though I hadn’t been to jazzercise classes for ages. I was going for a drink downtown after several months’ absence. I wanted to go home right after closing time.
My train of thought was broken by a phone call from Mr. K, my trading business partner.
“Yes, the buyers highly evaluated your city’s products,” he said. “Let’s start exporting from small amounts.”
“It’s an unexpectedly great offer,” I said. “Thinking back to all the trial and error the past 4 years, I’m rewarded and filled with pleasure.”
Mr. K said, “We’re just getting started, Mihoko.”
I’m so lucky this year. According to my fortunetelling this year, my marriage prediction is the best it’s been in 12 years. It hasn’t come true yet, but my work is going very well.
I started to email the documents Mr. K wanted. But then, a phone call from Ms. S of A Hotel came in. She wanted confirm some details about a party.
“This is the last confirmation. 54 attendees, 4,000 yen full-course meal including drink, right? The singing performance by the chorus group will be from 19:30, correct? The arrangement of a room for folk dancers can’t be changed from now. When can we expect the payment for the party?”
I knew that she was going to call me, but I was a bit tired of being asked questions one after another. I was confident that there weren’t any mistakes as I had checked it many times up through today. Or so I thought. As I browsed the participants list and seating chart only to find that two names weren’t on the seating chart! I couldn’t believe it. I put their names on the chart. Just in time for the end of my shift. It’s 35 km to downtown. I needed to leave the office as soon as possible, otherwise, I’d be caught in a traffic jam and late for the dinner.
I was 10 minutes from the parking lot. As I approached downtown, I could see more people than usual among signs showing a traffic-free zone, and heard a nostalgic folk melody. It was the eve of the biggest local festival, so it was crowded with dancing groups wearing the same yukata (cotton kimono) for dancing. I was so bad at dancing to that old melody when I was a kid, but I felt uplifted seeing the dancers and viewers enjoying the music. Also, yesterday was Shochu Day. The biggest shochu event is held downtown until tomorrow night. Shochu is a distilled alcohol local to our region; there are 113 shochu distilleries in Kagoshima Prefecture compared to only one sake brewery.
I pushed my way through the crowd. Their happy faces made me happy in some strange way. I found myself at the Japanese diner where my Jazzercise friend N was waiting. The diner is N’s go-to spot; they serve tasty seasonal dishes.
“You’ve been so busy, Mihoko. I haven’t seen you in Jazzercise class for ages! I enjoyed the Halloween lesson so much!” said N.
“I really wanted to go! What did you dress up as?” N showed me her photos in her princess costume.
N: “How have you been lately in love?”
Me: “Ah, no one to use my marriage fortune with. 2018 will come to an end within 2 months.”
N: “Well, I have two boyfriends now. What should I do? I don’t know what I want to do…”
Me: “I think you should enjoy both…not sure though.”
I should drink shochu diluted with hot water at a time like this, but I wanted something stimulating, and kept drinking whiskey with soda water, called a “high ball.” Although it doesn’t go very well with tonight’s menu, the combination of the chilled glass with whiskey and soda is addicting.