Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Despair and Hope hr631

It happened a long time ago when I lived in Tokyo. My partner and I had dinner at a restaurant one night after we hung around the mall. We came back to our apartment that we had rented on the top floor of the building as our home and the office for our record label.
When I tried to turn my key on the front door, I noticed the door had remained unlocked. It was weird. I may have forgotten to lock the door when I left, which was highly unlikely since I was fussy about locking and couldn’t leave without making sure that the door wouldn’t open by trying the knob for a couple of times. I got in feeling dubious, but our apartment didn’t look unusual. Then my partner suddenly said, “Why is the cabinet open?” My heart began to beat fast with overwhelming uneasiness and I hurried into the bedroom that had a balcony. The tall window to the balcony had been smashed broken. It was a burglary.
I called the police right away while my partner was gingerly looking into the bathroom, the closet, and behind the drapes to see if the burglar wasn’t still hiding. Those minutes were the scariest as too many movie scenes flashed back to me. Thankfully, there was nobody. The police arrived quickly since the station was ironically only a block away from my apartment. Such a location apparently wasn’t safe enough to prevent burglary.
The policemen came in and looked around. As they saw the messy rooms, they showed sympathy saying, “It’s played havoc, huh?” It was funny because my apartment had been messy as it was long before burglary. But probably thanks to it, the burglar didn’t notice an envelope that held a few thousand dollars for the bills and was mingled with scraps of paper on the table. Instead of cash, a dozen of Disney wrist watches that was my collection, a cheap wrist watch that was my partner’s memento of his late mother, an Omega wrist watch that I received from my grandparents as a souvenir of their trip to Europe decades ago, and one game software were missing. Actually, those items had been the only valuables in my office apartment. Other than those and litter, my apartment had been quite empty. The reason was simple. I was near bankrupt at that time.

sofa chair beside window

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

I had started up my music label with my partner and it had grown steadily as business. A person I had trusted offered substantial financial support and I took it. I rented this apartment and hired staff with that money. Then the financial supporter tried to take over my label and threatened to suspend further finance if I refused. Amid horrible disgusting negotiations, money stopped being wired into my account. The label came to a standstill for lack of funds. I laid off all staff and saw what took eight years for my partner and I to build from a scratch crumbling down. The blow was amplified by anger and self-loathing from the fact that I was deceived by a person I had trusted. Despair and emptiness led to apathy. I stopped doing or thinking anything and had played a game every day.
In hindsight, if there hadn’t been burglary, my partner and I would have kept paying the costly rent for the apartment and playing a game until we spent all the money that was left. But something clicked when I saw the very game software I had played every day picked among other many games to be stolen, and the glass window of my dream penthouse apartment smashed. It marked the point where I hit the bottom but also was a wake-up call. We moved out the luxurious apartment immediately and rented a cheap studio apartment in a small two-storied building.
That move left some money in my bank account. The deposit of the penthouse apartment was returned, too. Also, I received an unexpected insurance payout. The expensive rent of my former apartment included a damage insurance. The insurance company assessed the damage based on the report I submitted to the police. For some reason, they calculated the payout more than the total price of what were stolen. I discussed with my partner about what to do with the money. We decided to go to California. A new start from zero. And that was to be the beginning of all these, everything that I do at present. My works have been taken to the world by that decision, made by the burglary.

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An Earthly Paradise hr596

When I lived in California, the apartment I rented had an outside Jacuzzi. I liked taking it at night, seeing the sky above. Under the palm trees, I watched an airplane’s small dot of light blinking and moving through the stars. It was the moment that I felt like a winner who obtained a life in paradise by getting out of not only Japan but also my family to which I had been a bound successor. Prices in the U.S. were extremely low compared to Japan back then because of the strong yen. It seemed to me that everything was on sale and I literally lived in a bargain country. Sadly, my life in paradise didn’t last long, though. The Japanese economy crashed and yen turned weak. Inflation had edged up in the States as well. Price hikes assaulted me in all directions. I became unable to pay the rent even if I had moved into a cheap motel. I was practically kicked out of the States and the plane brought bitterly-discouraged myself back to Japan where I returned to a life of reality in a teeny-tiny apartment. Time went by, and I had benefited from technological advances like the Internet and computers, and also from the fall of housing value in Japan. Those benefits let me live in a condominium that has a communal spa. I take a Jacuzzi there watching a beautiful view of the mountains with lingering snow out of big windows. One day, I felt so euphoric that I thought this wasn’t real. I thought I may have already died from that northern Japan’s severe earthquake or from the subsequent meltdown of the nuclear plant, and must be in heaven now. That reminded me of the sensation I had felt in a Jacuzzi in California. I had never expected that I would experience an equally enraptured life here in Japan when I parted with it there. If I traveled back in time with a time machine, I could talk to my other self who was in despair on the flight to Japan from the States. I would say to her, “Years from now, you will get another chance to live in paradise!” I would tell her that she wouldn’t give up music and would have completed two songs back in Japan that had quality she had been craved for and entirely satisfied with. How easier the flight would’ve been if I had heard those words there. I was too hopeless to imagine so much as a speck of the possibility. I always find myself foolish in hindsight whenever I look back later. There are tons of things I have to say to my past self beforehand. The question is, what would my future self tell me now if she looked at me taking the Jacuzzi here. Would she say, “Embrace the moment. It’s the pinnacle of your life”? Or would she say, “Prepare yourself. It’s just the beginning”? I desperately hope for the latter…

 

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A 1000-Year Life Expectancy hr594

I’ve heard some scientists and science-fiction writers say the average life expectancy of humans will get even longer fast and we could soon live up to 1000 years old. If it’s true, it’s a huge game changer. Supposing I live until 1000 years old, the shape of my life will be entirely different as of today. First of all, the pace of living will get slower. I won’t have to hasten anything since I’ve still got more than 900 years left. I won’t fuss over the quick completion of my new song for which I’ve been deep into mastering. When I complete it without hurry, I will move on to another song and take plentiful time to finish it again. Even such a slow worker like me can stock ample songs in over 900 years. With that duration of time and the number of songs, the odds can be better that one of my songs could be found by some chance and be a smash hit, which will make me a celebrity and lead me to Monaco to live in. Secondly, I will be freed from fear of aging. I seriously resist getting old, sometimes quite hysterically. Of course no one likes to see their skin sagging and all wrinkled. But when I see my deteriorating looks, I feel a deadline for making my dreams come true. Getting older means getting closer to the deadline for whatever we haven’t yet achieved. The sense that we might not make it is dreadful if we have something to accomplish. Now that the deadline is well over 900 years away, how peaceful I can feel for the moment! I don’t have to pronounce my dreams dead just yet. The day could come when I see people all around the world listen to and hum my songs. If I moved in Monaco at the age of 300, I could live there for almost 700 years. In the course of 1000 years, it could become a common practice that a human body is replaced by a cyborg. Aging could be extinct. I could be a ballerina as I dreamed of when I was a child. Or, I would be the president of the united world when I’m 500 years old. As a simpler alternative, I could win the lottery before I die, since the odds turn good with the innumerable lotto strips I will get in over 900 years. That could give me a come-from-behind fortune. By making a smart investment of it, I could end my life as a team owner of Formula One. It seems anything is possible once I have 1000 years. This rapture is weirdly familiar to me. My grandfather. He had the habit of saying he would live until 100 years old when I was little. Back then, not so many people lived so long and everyone of my family used to scoff at him. Although he couldn’t reach 100 but died at 96 years old, it was close enough to his fantasy goal. In that respect, I could go as far as 900. But I noticed a long life expectancy is not necessarily all good. Life requires money. I’ve made ends meet with bare life so far in my life. As anything is possible, it’s also possible this state continues as long as I live. 1000 years of financial worries? It definitely sounds like a living hell…

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Defection from A Negative Empire hr578

I’m a singer-songwriter living in Japan. Yet, I’m totally unfamiliar with Japanese recent entertainment. As I haven’t caught up with Japanese pop music, TV dramas and movies for decades, I don’t know any tunes, any titles and any names and faces of a band, a singer or an actor. I have lost interest in Japanese entertainment as a whole except for comedians for a long time. The reason is simple: there’s nothing worth listening or watching at all. Every single thing I encounter is rubbish and I have stopped trying to find something good. It seems that as a nation falls into decay, its entertainment perishes accordingly. The most common sales pitch for movies in Japan is ‘You can cry hardest.’ The tears in the pitch don’t mean what we shed when we are moved or touched or happy. They mean specifically the ones when we are sad. The sadder a story is, the bigger hit a movie scores. As a result, movies that center only on death of one’s beloved are overrun in Japan. That kind of movie is what I want to watch least. I prefer foreign movies which themes exist, touch me, and consequently make me cry. But Western films are not sad enough for Japanese people and every year the number of foreign movies that come into theaters shrinks. Even the Japanese comedy TV shows are aired less and less although they are the only domestic entertainment I can enjoy. I used to be an avid frequent visitor of a Disney theme park in Tokyo where I could feel like I’m visiting America. Sadly, Japanese taste has been greatly increased there and changed its atmosphere so much that I’ve long since stopped going. While less Western culture flows into Japan, more and more Japanese games and animations are going abroad. I’m afraid that the Japanese negative spirit might brainwash teens and children in U.S. through them. Thanks to cable TV I recently subscribed, I enjoy TV shows and movies from U.S. every day. Unlike domestic counterparts, good ones are abundant throughout the channels and I can easily find myself absorbed in. Zombies, devils, serial killers and the FBI come at me every night and I fight against them. That gives me food for thought, and makes my brain active and me feel positive. I’m duly aware of a lot of problems, but I can see hope exist in U.S. I suspect that’s the very reason why Japanese people are inclined more for domestic culture. They have lost hope and want to share denial of hope with others. They see themselves die with characters in the Japanese movies. I will stay away such a negative and would rather wander around cable TV channels from U.S. I intend to devour good entertainment as much as possible for my own survival. And I believe that will lead me to create good works of myself and help them be part of good entertainment. It’s not a matter of fame and money any more. It’s a matter of life or death. Well, of course it’s even better to stay alive with fame and money, I admit…

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A New Life hr563

I usually watch US TV dramas and movies by recording them on a digital video recorder. As the selection is unbearably limited in Japan, I make up other US programs by getting DVDs. Recently, my DVR hasn’t been in good shape and I needed to come up with a new way to watch US shows. I use a fiber-optic Internet connection at home and it earns points every month. Those points are redeemable for a Hulu subscription and I noticed my accumulated points were worth about six-month free Hulu. I decided to get a Fire Stick TV to watch Hulu on the TV screen and stepped into the Hulu world for the first time. An almost countless, vast numbers of US shows and movies have become available twenty-four seven. It flipped a switch in my brain to an English mode and let me feel as if I lived in US. Rather, I felt as if I lived inside the drama, to be exact. I finally got to watch ‘The Walking Dead’ that wasn’t aired in Japan and I’d been dying for. As I watched two or three episodes per day every day, I thought about the story even while I wasn’t watching it. I’m all jumpy when I walk along the dim hallway of my apartment building every night. Since I live in a remote, rural town, a view from my apartment simply consists of mountains, woods and the sky. Thanks to that and Hulu, I now can forget about being in Japan except for the time I go to the city once a week. I even get the illusion that I successfully escaped from life in Japan without living abroad. It may be possible that I have acquired my desired life by this way in which I plug away at my music here and take a trip to US or Canada once a year or two. And that makes me wonder. Is my desired life writing and recording songs in my small apartment that nobody would listen to until I die? On the other hand though, it’s a waste of life to get money and fame by writing a catchy empty hit song with casual effort. Does that mean life goes to waste either way? It’s ideal that my strenuous song makes a smash hit by chance and I get successful without losing anything. Does that mean we have to live depending on luck? Is the only way we attain happiness by giving up greed for money and fame, or does that mean a loser? Too many US TV shows have led me into too much thinking. They are interesting and amusing enough to cause lack of sleep every night and I’m in slightly poor condition. As I’ve been concerned about dizzy spells that occurs once or twice a day lately, I had a dream in which I had massive vertigo and the world was whirling…

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