The First Cockroach of the Year
I saw him a while ago…. perhaps about April? Or maybe the start of May.
I came out of the staff room and he was just sort of hanging out on the footpath. He ambled along for a few paces, then stopped. He looked kind of dazed, like someone who had woken up just a bit too early and was just getting their bearings and trying to figure out exactly where the hell they were. Normally, when you get close to a cockroach, their instincts kick in and he scuttles out of the way superfast, into a dark corner or behind some large object, in that disgusting manner of moving they have. And for good reason, too, since if they don’t, someone inevitably stomps on them with righteous ferocity. As I did with this guy, then kicked him into the gutter. Everybody hates cockroaches.
And then a long time went by with none, until recently they’ve started to reappear and generally creep everyone out. My girlfriend rang me, hysterical, the other night, because there was a huge one in her house and it freaked the hell out of her. I dont really know what she expected me to do about it – she lives on the other side of the city – but I guess cockroaches make people crazy.
Tonight, I took her down near a river near my house. In the sultry heat, by the gently flowing river, with the willows draping into the water and the subtle lights shining through and reflecting off the rippling surface, it was all quite nice – until a giant winged demon landed on my head. I turned around and in one glance saw five separate monsters writhing their way in and out of the boards we were sitting on. Was a real mood killer.
But it’s getting to that time. I think we have officially hit the Season of Ridiculous Weather. Tomorrow’s weather forecast shows we’re in for 36 degrees Celsius with 72% humidity. I don’t even have a clue how bad that actually is – I don’t really have any frame of reference. But, I can tell you firsthand that it is bad. The humidity is the killer. It’s like living in a giant sauna. But not one of those normal saunas, more like one of those Steam Rooms. I remember when I was living in Sydney – and complaining about the heat there – I used to live near a sports centre, with a gym/steam room. Not being used to such luxurious surrounds, I used to enjoy challenging myself to stay in the steam room as long as I could possibly take it, before rushing out and into the cold pool. But the funny thing is, when that becomes daily life, it’s no longer any fun. Especially when you have to wear clothes. And ride your bike to school. Wearing a schoolbag. Up a hill.
My only respite now is the air conditioner, which I tried to hold off on for as long as possible, for reasons which I said were environmental, but were actually secretly sneakily financial. But I’m not alone on that. I can see right through you, Kyoto Board of Education. But now that I am officially on holiday, as of Monday, it means I have a real job trying to motivate myself to get out of the house. Seriously, it’s pretty ridiculous out there. Although, in saying that, it does feel a little more bearable than last year. At any rate, my tiny little room is now too filled with Japanese fans, empty drink bottles, and discarded clothes for my liking. I should clean up – especially if I want to keep those dodgy cockroaches at bay. I never did get that mince out from behind the sink – maybe it’s OK now?
The only good thing about Japanese summer is the festivals. And to be fair, the festivals are awesome. Last week was the Gion Matsuri, which almost nobody I talked to actually seems to have attended, but was filled with people none the less. Absolutely filled. The main reason people avoid it, is that there are too many people. But I will write about that later. Other festivals are coming up, including Daimonji, and various fireworks festivals. However, I think for most of them, I will be in Cambodia.
That’s right, I’m going to Cambodia! Japan wasn’t quite hot enough, so I decided I’d have to go a little closer to the equator and battle some malarious mosquitoes. I’m going to be getting dirty and contributing to the world with some good old-fashioned volunteer work. But again, I will write about that later.
For now, I have to step back from the computer, spreadeagle myself on the bare futon, point the electric fan directly at myself, and sweat myself to sleep.