Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Justice Is Served hr607

The world has come to where Mr. Trump is the President of the United States of America and a villain smiles with the joy of victory even in the movie ‘Avengers Infinity War’. As for me, I had lived this desperate time while I held onto hope by watching ‘Star Wars The Last Jedi’ repeatedly. In the days like that, something huge has finally occurred. Although it is unthinkable and significant enough to be the top news of the world, I’m sure no media reports it and I will take the honor to proclaim the news to the whole world here. The apartment building that I live in has a small gym for the residents. It’s called gym nominally, but in effect, it’s a space with a couple of massage chairs, few exercise machines most of which are outdated, a square exercise mat, and a TV set. Although it’s not a sufficient facility as a gym, I exercise there three or four times a week since it’s free for the residents. The biggest problem is a combination of the TV and the exercise mat spread in front of it. There are residents who are just watching TV lying down on the mat without exercising. Families are watching TV with the kids and let them play around there. They use the space as their second living room or a playground. They almost always set the TV volume so loud. To make things worse, Japanese TV programs are atrocious. Dramas are actors’ shrieking only without content, game shows are babble about nothing, and commercials are all close-up of young women. It’s nothing but a torture to ride an exercise bike engulfed by the picture and sound of those. Even when I exercise alone in the gym quietly without TV, someone who comes in after me walks straight towards the TV set and turns it on without hesitation. They don’t have minimum courtesy to ask if it’s all right to turn it on. I think they regard it as a TV room not a gym. To lessen my discomfort, I had started bringing my smartphone and earphones. I have to listen to music at max volume to compensate the loud TV. One day, a man came in when I was exercising alone. As usual, he turned on TV and began to watch it lying on the exercise mat. That’s the cue that I got used to now. I turned on my smartphone and began to play music in my earphones. On that particular day, I became really indignant at what he was doing because he was a regular and had annoyed me with the loud TV for a hundred times. I unconsciously muttered, “How dare you turn on TV?” The thing is, I was listening to the music at max volume and forgot to control the volume of my own voice. I didn’t mutter, but almost shouted the sentence. The man looked back at me with sheer terror on his face. I was as surprised at myself as he was. Those unpleasant gym days had been my norm for years because of the TV watchers. The other day, a man was watching TV as usual when I came into the gym. A familiar sight. But what happened next was completely different from the usual. As soon as he saw me coming in, he jumped up as if he got startled, and he turned off TV right away and left the gym. I wondered how angry and intimidating my look was. I started riding the bike peacefully without TV and noticed something below the TV screen. There was a sign. I got closer to read it. It said in big letters, ‘This TV is for an exercise video only. To watch general programs, use TV in the lobby. Management’ A miracle happened. Someone who understands what is right exists in this apartment building other than me. It was literally too good to be true. The existence of my kind of person was so hard to believe that I briefly thought that I sleepwalked to the gym one night because of excessive anger and put the sign by myself. I rubbed my eyes to see if it was an illusion. No. The sign was real. For the first time in a long while, I did a pleasant exercise at the gym. It was a refreshing, clean time in which I had all smile on my face…

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A Routine Thief hr593

I’m particular about almost anything. That’s why my daily routine is inevitably quite precise, especially for details in it. My routine includes taking a bath at the communal spa and exercising at the communal gym both located inside my apartment complex for the residents. One night, I found an unfamiliar woman in the Jacuzzi of the spa. This Jacuzzi has eight spots to sit inside and I have my particular spot I usually sit in. The spot isn’t popular, as other residents prefer different ones. But this woman was sitting right in my spot, which made me move to the other. The spa has a sauna that stops being operated early in the evening. I take it after its operating hour in the late evening as a low-temperature sauna since heat remains. No residents use it that way and I can monopolize it. One night, I found the same woman in the sauna, using it as a low-temperature sauna like I do. My days of a sauna monopoly are over. I’ve seen her more and more and it seemed she is a new resident in this apartment complex. I bring a big hook to the spa and put it on the wall of the shower booth to hang my bag of amenities from it. No other residents do something like that as they put their amenities on the booth floor directly. And one night, I noticed that new woman began to use a big hook on the wall of her booth. Now I was convinced it was no coincidence. She apparently imitates me. There are four tubs in total in the spa with different water temperatures and different tub sizes. I take every one of them. Other residents don’t take all, just taking a couple according to their liking. One night, the mimic woman began to take all tubs like I do. I exercise inside the hot tub while I’m submerged in the bath water, which no other residents do. And one night, the mimic woman even started exercising in the hot tub just as I always do. I sometimes have a chat with other residents when we share the locker room. And as she has become familiar to them, she also began to have a chat with them intimately and impudently while I still talk to them modestly. Before taking a bath, I exercise at the gym next to the spa, which is also one of my daily routines. The other night, I went in the gym as usual and, look, who was there, the mimic woman! She has started exercising at the gym and then begun to bring her husband there. They had used different machines beside me for several days, but her husband began to use the exercise bike I regularly use. Above all, she imitates my own timetable so that I see her every day, everywhere, doing exactly what I do. My spa and gym time was completely copied by her. Usually, it’s nice to find a person who has a lot in common with me. I would like that person and sometimes build a friendly relationship. In that respect, I should be pleased that I’ve got a new neighbor resident whose liking is the same as mine and with whom I have so much in common. The strange thing is, it’s not the case this time at all. This particular woman really annoys me for some reason. While I realize it sounds totally irrational, I dislike her so much. Every bit of what she’s doing irritates me and disgusts me. Her any behavior, the way of her talking, and even the tone of her voice get on my nerves. As I was curious what makes me loathe her, I studied her closely. She’s thin, pretty, and a showboat. She always has to be the center of attention. I’m jealous of her looks – that’s a given. And I’m indignant because she grabbed my routine that I took years to establish. But except for that, nothing is wrong with her. She’s just too much like me. I may be looking at myself through her. Now I see how I look to others. Does it mean I hate myself? Do others look at me as a loathsome person like her? I feel like they do. I can’t stand to look at my lousy behavior through her any more. Not to see her do my things, I had no choice but to change and reconstruct my routine schedule entirely…

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Another World hr590

At the end of a glass corridor in the hotel, there were heavy double doors painted to imitate marble. It was an entrance to the hotel’s outrageously expensive exclusive fitness club although its appearance was rather like some shady bar. I mentioned the membership fee is expensive, but the degree of expensive far exceeds my definition of expensive. It’s a five-digit matter. I was standing at the doors holding a magic piece of paper that nullified the fee. It was given at the front desk when I checked in as I was staying here with a special low-priced promotion that included the free use of the club. I pushed the heavy doors open with my trembling hand. I prepared myself for a counter, but instead I saw a huge vase of flowers majestically sit on the center of a small hexagonal room. The club spares this space just to welcome a member. Walking into the next room, I finally found the reception desk behind which two clerks were standing. I handed them my magic ticket and they told me the club rules. Those were common rules such as no tattoos, no makeup, and a shower before a tub, but required my signature on the paper. Then, the clerk acted as a guide and courteously ushered me to an exclusive elevator at the back of the reception room. The elevator door opened to a member lounge and a member restaurant. Beside them, round marble stairs led to an entrance to the locker room. Along the carpeted hallway, several private massage rooms lined. Rows of lockers were surrounded by luxurious tables, chairs, and benches. Each locker had a display and the key was digital, by entering numbers of my choice on the pad. Inside, I saw a purple robe neatly folded. Up to this point, the place was already much more gorgeous than any club that characters of Michael Douglas had used in the movies. Since the club rule strictly indicated to wear the robe in the locker room area, additional purple robes of all sizes were abundantly stacked on the shelves, like at an apparel shop, not to mention fresh soft face towels and bath towels, which were all free to use as many as I liked. After my personal guide left, I removed my makeup at the spacious powder room section. All kinds of high-end amenity I’d never seen were arrayed with cottons, tissue and a hair dryer on the dressing tables with sets of mirrors. I was looking around restlessly like a bumpkin and went in the pool. It had a glass dome roof above and wooden tables and deck chairs, shower booths, a sauna, a Jacuzzi and a tanning bed on the poolside. On the edge of the big pool, there were wide round stairs to get into water that looked like an edge of a stage. Except for a pool side clerk who stood behind the counter and politely greeted me, no one was there. I monopolized the heavenly place, swimming, taking a Jacuzzi, looking out a night view of skyscrapers and streets. When I was leaving, a fresh towel was handed by the clerk. Next to the pool was the spa. It had both a Finnish sauna and a steam sauna beside a hot tub, a cold plunge and shower booths. I got in them repeatedly and used imported shampoo by an amount I never used daily. By then, I was dying of thirst and went out to the locker room area for some water. Beyond the powder room section was a relaxation section that had a circle of five or six robotic massage chairs. On the wall, I found something like a water cooler. I took a paper cup and my eyes popped out with surprise. What looked like a water dispenser was a free soda fountain! A wide variety of quality-brand soft drinks such as sports drink, 100% fruit juice and soda came out for free. While I was gulping down eight cups of all kinds, I was quite certain that I had somewhere died and was in heaven now. I spent three hours in total, which wasn’t enough to look at the gym, the indoor tennis courts, the indoor driving range and the putting greens. I wondered how happy I would be if I could live in this completely different world from the one I knew. I also duly knew I was only a visitor who had to leave since I can’t possibly think of a way to be a resident of that totally heavenly world…

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Stressful Relaxation hr583

After I completed recording the main vocals for my new song in August, I came down with a cold. I got over most of it within a week, but a throat condition remained bad. It has been persistent ever since and I still can’t shake off this nagging condition. My throat hasn’t reverted to normal yet, which inclines me to anxiety. I try to return to health by relaxing and warming myself at the communal gym and spa inside my apartment complex every day. Those facilities are free to the residents while there is a catch. Their operating hours are limited and they close early in the evening. By the time I finished working and eating dinner, I usually run out of time for going there. I end up doing the dishes and changing into a gym suit in a mad rush and dash toward them. It’s like I go through a time trial before relaxation. Then, after I’m successfully in time for the operating hours, most of the time what awaits me there is something annoying. For example, a man comes into the gym while I’m on an exercise bike and turns on the TV that he makes blare right in front of me. His girlfriend joins him later and they lie down on the exercise mat while watching rubbish before my bike. “This is the gym, not your living room! And not the place for TV!” That’s what I gulp down with effort instead of utter. I’m forced to curtail my exercise and go into the communal spa. There, the residents take their babies and infants with them. They shriek, cry and go on a rampage. The mothers let them relieve themselves in the spa not in the toilet although the toilet is right there at the locker room, and poop is often lying on the floor. “This is the spa, not the toilet! And not the place for infants!” That’s what I gulp down with effort instead of utter, again. I submerge myself in the jacuzzi with the babies who may urinate next to me at this moment. While I’m taking a shower, the announcement that tells the spa is now closing comes from the speaker with a melody of Auld Lang Syne. Now I have to finish up quickly. I rush out to the locker room, hurried to put on my clothes and make barely in time before all the lights are shut down automatically as the operating hours are over. I’m the last one left there when the spa is in the complete darkness. I’m so accustomed to it that I always bring a small LED lamp with me. “10 p.m. for a closing time is too early! Lights should be kept on at least!” That’s what I gulp down, but sometimes utter for this once, as I’m alone in the dark. I dry my hair with a dim light from my small LED and leave. My brutally hectic time of the day finally ends like this. Thus, relaxation is so hard to get. I wonder when my throat returns to a good condition…

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