what is it with me and this country?
Am I a different person when I’m in the United States? Does using Japanese all day long cause my brain to fire in unfamiliar patterns, increasing the chance that some of those mental sparks might escape and set my surroundings aflame? Should I have trained to be a firefighter instead so that I’d be more careful?
In four days I will reach my four-month anniversary with Tokyo. If I add that to my time in Hakodate, then I’ve spent just over half of a year in Japan. During my two months up north, I managed to get hit by a car when riding my host family’s bike home from school. That allowed me to experience a Japanese hospital and police station. Then in my first two months in Tokyo, I lost my wallet, which gave me an excuse to say Hi to the police again. Undesirable situations often enter people’s lives in foreign countries, so perhaps it makes sense that I’d get one of those for each visit to Japan. But the problem is that I’m establishing a rate of one per every two months.
You see that table above? If you looked at the pictures of my work, then you’ve seen it before. Well, it doesn’t look like that anymore. You might say that I altered its configuration. But you could just say that I broke it, and you’d be telling a clearer truth if you did. Yep, I broke an expensive piece of furniture in the photography studio of a very upper-class hotel. Thankfully this tale doesn’t involve the police, but I still wish it were one that I didn’t have to tell.
First, I’d like to say that whoever thought it was a good idea to make a tall, narrow, wooden table and then stick a slab of marble to the top is an idiot; that table was the most ridiculously top-heavy object I’ve ever encountered. It’s still my fault that I’ve got to refer to the table in the past tense like that. But I may as well not take blame for the annoying design.
Our office is too small, which is how it should be since it’s in Japan. Today there were five or so people and tons of video-editing equipment crammed in there, which left too little room for me. So I was relegated to work in the studio, where the only workspace available was the topic of this entry. To get me out of customers’ view and near a power outlet (for the laptop I was using to do album layout), my boss moved the marble-topped beast to the opposing wall.
Later on the office cleared out enough for me to return. So I placed rubber pads underneath two of the table’s corners and dragged it back across the shiny floor. It was awkward but nothing more until I reach the other side. Then like an under-equipped knight who decides to fight a ferocious dragon, I had either the courage or the stupidity to make a clumsy move. Once that high center of gravity crossed the tipping point, the whole thing came crashing down before I even realized that there was actually nothing I could to do stop it. It made a very loud noise. And suddenly before my eyes were several large, jagged pieces of marble, no longer adhered to the wood as the designer had so wittily envisioned.
I think the marble hit my left leg a tiny bit on its quick journey to smack the floor, but I came away basically untouched. That seemed to satisfy my coworkers, who kindly insisted that it was okay as long as I wasn’t hurt. I appreciate that. But I still wish that stupid stuff like this could be a little less inevitable. If someone drives a car into me, then at least my conscience is clear. If I make a dumb, avoidable mistake, then I have to look for some kind of explanation that isn’t there to be found. Neither case is fun, but they both teach me that I need to be careful in Japan. I’m a like an unwary Mr. Hyde over here.
I hope that November and December pass quietly.
Sunday, 2007 October 14