Last week I found myself making a fortuitous trip to Tokyo for a quick business meeting and with time to spare over the weekend (At least, my weekend). As anyone who has ever seen me can tell you, I enjoy eating and, while in Japan, enjoy eating ramen in particular. And eat ramen, I did.
Since I was staying with my grandparents on the southside of Tokyo, I hit up Tabelog (the Japanese equivalent of Yelp, except on Tabelog, people don’t give one star reviews because the bus boy looked like their ex-boyfriend or five star reviews because the baby at the next table was really cute) and searched for the best ramen in the neighborhood. This is what I found. On Tabelog, anything above a 3.5 rating is usually pretty darn good and anything above four stars as a destination meal. So imagine my surprise when I came across Takano, a ramen shop but a mere several kilometer walk from my grandparents’ hovel with a sterling 4.05 star rating. My gastronomical target now in my sights, I laced up my new too-big-for-my-feet Clarks and left for an early lunch.
So after a fifteen minute walk from my grandparent’s house, I arrived at the place twenty minutes before opening and still found a decently sizable (that’s what she said) line awaiting me. As it turns out, waiting in line is customary here (as with any other great ramen joint in Tokyo- or the rest of Japan, for that matter).
Once I actually got inside, I found myself at one of those classic stereo-typical L-shaped counter-only Showa-poi shops with one of those maneki-neko’s waving at me from a shelf over the stove (along with a plaque noting its place in the Micheline guide). Not exactly stunning decor but the place was clean enough and gave the impression of a place people would actually be semi-comfortable in in a sober state. I mean, I’m not taking a chick here on a date probably ever but I’d come here with food friends on a weekend.
After another ten minutes of waiting (this time seated), my bowl arrived. And what did I get for my 970 yen?
Quintessential Tokyo-style noodles and broth (fishy and salty but not overpowering) topped with melt in your mouth slices of char siu pork and a perfectly cooked agitama flavored egg. Worth the wait (though I still think waiting two hours is a bit much during peak hours). I just wish I wasn’t fighting a cold when I went. Guess I’ll have to come back again.
Rating: 4 and a half Stephens (out of five Stephens)
Well, it’s been a while. I’ve certainly been neglecting this website/blog thing for a while and, for that, I apologize. It hasn’t been a matter of me being too busy to write or really not having a lot to write about but rather a matter of me being absolutely dreadful at managing my time and my creative energies being focused elsewhere (We’ll get back to that particular point in a quick moment).
Anyways, in order to prove that I’m still alive and still care, I decided to write something, anything really, and put it up in this neglected corner of my life (another hundred bucks down the drain). So here we are, almost a month through the new year (no matter how much I keep accidentally writing 2014 on all my documents at work) and I’ve yet to publicly disclose my resolutions for the new year, something that, as we all well know, should be shouted from the internet rooftops or at the very least screamed in a drunken haze at your drinking establishment of choice, to mean anything.
Now, I’m not normally a huge proponent of these sorts of things because (a) I’m very bad at keeping promises and (b) I feel like crap at the end of the year when I review my goals and realize I fell well short of them. That all said, this year I have a couple of things that I really want to do and, for the sake of my sanity and well-being, probably should do.
Hi there. It’s been a while. How’s everyone been doing?
Oh really? That’s pretty cool. I’ve been good. Going to work and not getting enough sleep, the usual grind, y’know.
What’s that? You don’t know because you’re still putzing around in (university/high school/ unemployed) or busy raising a family? Well that’s just fine and dandy.
So I’m coming up on the six month mark of the whole living and working in Japan thing and I think I’ve settled into what I guess people could call a generally adult life. I wake up everyday at a certain set point in time (except for that one day that I slept through all twenty alarms and showed up to work half an hour late) and generally go to sleep before the sun rises (though since the sun seems to rise at three in the morning here, that’s not always the case). I go to work, do my job, take long poops, spend far too much time on the internet and not enough time doing anything productive, I eat (a lot), then I sleep. In other words, for better or worse, I am finally an adult (if waking up at 10 in the morning and going to sleep at 2 AM counts).
I certainly don’t feel any different than I did when I was in college. Or really, high school for that matter. Sure my hair’s a little thinner and I may be wearing different sized pants than before but I still feel like I did when I was in high school, overdramatic romanticism and unrealistic expectations included. And yet, here I am, typing this up as I sit on the fifth floor of a non-descript office building but a few minutes away from the scenic (perhaps an overstatement) expanses of Mito Station, closing out a workday that I was supposed to have off (my colleague called in sick but that’s another story altogether).
Meanwhile, many of my friends are still grinding through college, though, let’s be fair, the hardest part of the college grind is largely the result of procrastination and binge drinking. I mean, university was a freaking piece of cake. I don’t know if I’m a genius or something (most likely not) but I got reasonably good grades throughout all four years of my university experience despite (a) not doing most (okay, all) of the assigned reading, (b) only studying the night before an exam, and (c) finishing the vast majority of my tepid, bloated, self-aggrandizing academic papers a whopping thirty minutes before the due date. I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything (I hear Marilyn Manson had some of his ribs removed so he could), but just imagine how good my grades would have been if I gave two craps about them.
I mean, the typical college student’s day probably goes like this:
Noon: Wake up.
1 PM: Go to class (or in many cases, ignore your alarm clock and sleep off that hangover)
4 PM: Hang out in the quad
5 PM: Go to happy hour. Get drunk.
6 PM: Ditch that discussion group meeting you reaaallly don’t like.
7 PM: Hangout with your friends. Get drunk/high/arrested.
2 AM: Get home.
3 AM: Realize you have a paper due in the morning. Freak the hell out.
And yet, half of the posts I see on my Facebook feed from my college friends are of the “FML” and “I’m so screwed” variety. I don’t know man, maybe if you spent a couple more hours checking upcoming deadlines and a few less hours practicing for your Frat’s Beer Pong tournament, you wouldn’t be forced to pull three consecutive all-nighters and sacrifice a goat to an ancient Mayan god in order to pass your bullshit “Transexual Black Jewish Lesbians in Chinese History” class. (No offense to those of you specializing in Black Jewish Lesbians and their huge role in defeating the Mongol hordes.) If you guys think life is going to somehow get easier once you get your diploma, you’re in for a shock.
Paying all your bills on time and remembering to wear pants to work everyday. Now that’s a real struggle.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, some of my friends have already gotten to the whole “settle down and raise a family and get that house with the whit picket fence” stage of life. Sure, this was pretty much how things went in all of society pre-1950 but settling down, getting married, and having kids all in your early-twenties just seems crazy to me. You can’t even legally rent a car at the airport for God’s sake! Six years ago, you were the dude drawing in the back of books in the school library. Now, you’re working really damn hard to pay off your mortgage and leverage your 401K. Damn dude. Adulthood must have hit you like a goddamn freight train.
I can’t even imagine having a kid right now. I mean, I already have a hard enough time wiping my own ass, let alone that of a small cretin unable to clean-up after itself. And where the hell would it even sleep? I barely have enough room in my apartment for myself. Shoving a wife and kid (or two) in there would probably result in a complete and total meltdown.
And the whole keeping track of your finances thing. What the hell? I am by no means a big spender but I can’t even imagine keeping track of my own budget. Asking me to watch my wallet for the sake of myself and two others would be like asking Hitler to imagine planning a Bar Mitzvah. Jiminy Christmas.
And the giving birth thing? Jeebus, ladies. How do you do it? The closest I’ve ever come to giving birth was that time I ate three burritos in one day and, after that, I couldn’t walk for a week. Much respect.
Young married people, I respect the hell out of you, but what the friggin’ hell?
Now that I’ve successfully offended everyone, it’s time to talk about myself for a bit.
My twenty-third birthday is coming up in two days, which is really what kinda spurred this whole rant/thing on. Where am I on the whole “College lazy person to upstanding adult” scale? Somewhere in the middle or maybe not on the damn thing at all.
I’m twenty-two, completely un-relationshipped (That’s totally a word, right?), living a couple thousand miles away from most of my friends, really bad at doing my laundry, and spend most of my free time watching film of Sacramento Kings games or weird Japanese TV (I’m pretty sure most of the people running the entertainment industry over here are on some pretty hardcore crap), and shouting at people who have different opinions than me on the internet.
Sounds pretty immature right?
Sure, I have a job and, sure, I do everything I can to fulfill my responsibilities and duties to the best of my underwhelming ability. BUT I also don’t have much of a plan for the future (scratch that, I just thought of a cool design for a Moonbase) and put far too much effort into doing trivial fun stuff that I really shouldn’t be devoting so much of my precious time to. So, hey, maybe I’m a bit of a deadender at this current juncture of my life, but you know what? That’s just fine.
I used to spend most of the time I now spend reading people’s dumb NBA trade ideas (“Let’s trade Demarcus Cousins for Bismack Biyombo!”) and tasting terrible popsicles (Beef stew? Suprisingly tasty. Spaghetti? Potentially rancid.) on worrying about the future. I mean, I spent a lot of time worrying. Too much time. Sure that worrying and constant fear led to a hell of a lot of creativity and some of the best writing of my life but it also led to depression, anxiety, and a whopper of a mental breakdown that forced my mom to fly all the way across the ocean to retrieve me.
So, hey, enough of the worrying. Let’s just enjoy the present and worry about what’s around the corner when it sneaks up and sucker punches us in the balls. Until then, these morons on the internet aren’t going to ridicule themselves.