It is that time of the year when I say things like the division of time into arbitrary blocks isn’t really cause for celebration, but I realise that this dissection of time is useful to me, to review my life in manageable chunks.
This day last year, a friend discovered that I had never celebrated the last day of any year in a manner accepted globally. I did not stay awake, nor did I watch the ball drop, and I have not yelled out numbers with a drink in my hand. So she, along with her husband, decided I should try this out, and invited me to dinner at a posh restaurant. We drank expensive champagne and ate overpriced food, we clinked our glasses and wished each other a Happy New Year. We couldn’t hear ourselves over the DJ’s efforts, and I will not be repeating this activity. I prefer to remain at home with my irritations, where no pretense is required.
The most significant change this year is that I have finally started eating fruits with alarming regularity, and I stepped so far outside my zone of familiarity, I even tried several fruits for the first time. I will not presume that you are interested in finding out how this change came about, but I shall still make it known that I achieved it by ceasing all purchases of bread. I forced myself to eat fruits for breakfast, which I claimed was both my punishment and reward.
I think I can qualify my fruit experiment as a success. I am pleased to report I have no allergies, though I suspect I experienced some mild itching on my tongue after consuming a peach.
When I lived with parents, and guardians, I would escape to the bathroom for hours, and people were always concerned that I had severe gastrointestinal issues. They worried about the movements of my bowel, and told me they never took longer than fifteen minutes. Yet here I was, locked away for over one hundred minutes. They wondered if it was because I took reading material with me, perhaps I wasn’t concentrating enough.
I wanted to be alone, and I loved the bathroom, the site of many tears and whispered phone conversations, of unintentional and pleasurable discoveries with the handshower, this coming together of filth and hygiene. I imagined when I moved out of home, I would outgrow this habit. I haven’t. I received a poster for free—it said You belong—and I taped it to the bathroom door. I believe the poster aims to convince immigrants they belong.
I watched numerous movies this year, and I enjoyed all the time I spent with myself at the theatre. It was somewhat disappointing to find that there weren’t many other women who had come by themselves; at most just one or two. Why is this? Are women in America inclined to think of cinema as a communal pastime, to be indulged in with a romantic prospect or family? What about women who don’t think of films this way? Would they rather watch Netflix in their nightclothes?
Earlier this week, I watched Shoplifters, and I would like to describe it as a Bala film in Japanese, except with better craft. A group of social misfits take care of each other, they form a family of sorts, and their means of earning may not be approved by everyone else. When the law catches up with them, the officials see them as dangerous, possibly deranged, and send each person off to an existence that is significantly worse. There are no happy endings, only misunderstandings. Maybe this movie is novel to a foreign audience used to fetishizing Japan, and maybe this movie is novel to a Japanese audience used to ignoring the failures of their society. It doesn’t take much for a movie to make me cry, yet I remained curiously unmoved, and I traced the outline of a faint repulsion—for sitting in comfort and watching the misery of others, and thinking of the actors’ performances.
And we come to the end. Thank you for frequently returning to this blog; I wish for you many epiphanies and good health in the coming year.