Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Genetic Parsimony from Atavism hr571

I was brought up by my grandparents who led an extremely saving life. Although we were well off and lived in a big house back then, most lights were kept off to save the electric bill and the house was always dark. Turning on the TV was available by my grandfather’s daring permission. We would eat dinner in the poor light under a small kitchen fixture. My family had farmed in those days and what we ate were vegetables we grew in our fields. We grew some kinds for our family’s use, but most vegetables on our table were what were too damaged to be sold in the market. We ate eggplants almost every day in summer and spinach in winter. Meat seldom appeared and we lived like vegetarians. Protein was supplied mainly by beans from our fields. We kept hens that brought us eggs. Sometimes my grandmother got cheap fish at a nearby mom-and-pop store and grilled it that seemed to have more small bones than flesh. Every meal was bland and tasted terrible, as my grandmother saved seasoning. Snacks were hopeless too. Since my grandparents had tried not to waste money on them, we had only few snacks of Japanese style cookies that occasional visitors brought as gifts. They were damp and limp because we kept them as long as we could. I usually didn’t have any appetite and was thin probably owing to that eating habit. When I visited a relative’s house and ate there once in a while, everything on their table looked gorgeous. In that case, I devoured and called the house a restaurant. My relatives would wonder and ask me what I ate at home while they were watching perplexedly the way I was eating their regular meals. My grandmother spent most of her spare time sewing and mending something. She mended holes in socks and patched futons so that we could use them for a long time. I had never seen her get new clothes and she wore an old kimono every day. Her scarce cosmetics were the cheapest ones on the market. My grandfather went out by using a senior citizen’s pass for a free ride of public transportation, wearing an ancient drooping jacket and shoes with a hole. Whenever he ate out, he brought back the leftovers in a doggy bag. As a child, it was a mystery to me why they lived like that although they had plenty of money. I hated it and longed for a better life. Then I grew up and got to live in the way I liked. And now I find myself mending tirelessly my tattered socks. I’m not rich, but not that I can’t afford new ones. I replace elastic at the waist of pants, turn off the lights in my apartment as much as I can, buy and eat old food that is half price, ask for a doggy bag, and find free samples for my cosmetics. I think it’s not about saving money. I simply hate wasting. Not just money, but anything. If we waste time continuously, we will end up wasting our whole life. When I avoid wasting something successfully, I feel like I’m smart and that feeling brings me joy. I imagine my grandparents thought the same way. I gradually don’t loathe being stingy myself while I’m duly aware that someone notices and sneers at mended marks on my socks…

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A Wise Shopper hr570

I’m always impressed by the size of houses that appear in TV shows and movies of U.S. Even when the setting is for a poor family, they live in a mansion by Japanese standards. That’s why the story is often confusing when the house tries to tell how much its inhabitants go through hardship. Japanese people live in tiny space as much, including myself of course. One of my favorite pastimes is bargain-hunting. I like searching for goods that are marked down by 80 percent or more and getting them. When I’m out for a store, I keep my eyes peeled for a cart or shelves of bargain items and pounce on like a hyena. Those items usually have a small sticker of the discounted price over the price tag where the list price had been shown. Some of them have a layer of numerous stickers as they got discounted more and more repeatedly. I peel the sticker off carefully to look at the former list price and to see how much it’s reduced. Sometimes the reduction is huge, which means I hit the jackpot. Imagining there are people who got it at the list price, I feel like I’m a wise shopper and it would be foolish if I didn’t get it. So I buy things dirt cheap, most of which are clothes. Back in my apartment, I squeeze the catch into my closet. The closet is already full with those discounted items and hangers are no longer necessary for my clothes because they are sandwiched each other too tightly to drop. I use many cardboard boxes to store my stuff that make my tiny apartment even smaller. My apartment doesn’t have a walk-in closet, but it seems like my apartment itself has turned into one and I live inside it. I can’t throw them away because it would make a profit of a discount a loss. A number of my cardboard boxes are growing and I don’t catch up. I can’t find one particular item when I really need it. Although I know I have gotten it and stowed somewhere, I rummage around and just can’t find it. And that item shows up from somewhere when I least need it. And it’s gone again somehow when I need it. As I repeat that, I can’t tell why and what for I got it in the first place. The other day, I made a firm resolution to clear some space in my apartment by putting my stuff in order closely. It was a troublesome job but I tried to make my apartment bigger and look better. It worked to some degree and my living environment was improved a little. Only a few days later, I needed a scarf when I was going out. And I couldn’t remember which cardboard box I had stored my scarves in and where I put the box. I again pulled back out numerous boxes and opened them. I couldn’t find it. All my scarves that I had collected through the years by bargain-hunting was sucked into a black hole in the galaxy far, far away and disappeared. I wonder how many years will pass until I see them again…

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