Hello, greetings from the saddest spot in the local Starbucks. In the back of the store, with no windows, in a corner. A one person table against the wall. I’m sitting here with my laptop because I wanted a change of scenery. A moment of no distraction from all the stuff around me, so I can write this blog in peace. At least, as long as the battery of this laptop lasts.
I have been using Riemer’s laptop since Korea. He didn’t need it for a while because he also has one from the company. Or well. Several. Anyway, I borrowed the fairly new MacBook Pro, because my 2016 model couldn’t take it anymore. Just like me. So I went to Korea with the device, on to Japan, and the plan was then to buy a new one here. As a business. My business. That plan is still there, but I have to look into it. And that takes energy, so I don’t.
The MacBook Pro battery life is getting shorter and shorter, but whether that’s because I’ve ruined the battery with the constantly plugged-in dongle-with-charger, or because there are too many processes running in the background, I don’t know. I do know that I rarely turn the device off. Because then my wrong Apple ID starts shouting that it wants to log in, because it is somehow connected to my Teams/Skype. I don’t know exactly what’s going on there, but it’s not quite right. I’ll have to look into it sometime. But that takes energy, so I won’t.
After all, my head is exactly that MacBook with too many processes running in the background. At least, I hope so. Sometimes I think I’m just broken, but I think it’s the processes after all.
Last Tuesday, two people from the Tokyo government came to visit me, to check my office. Mikako was there too, so it was suddenly quite full in my little office. For the renewal of my start-up visa, having an independent office is a requirement, so they came to check that. They seemed impressed, and gave me the idea that my extension would be a formality. A long formality though; Mikako submitted the application in early August, but apparently it’s busy, staffing shortages bla bla, so it could take up to two months. My current visa expires in early September, but that in itself is not a problem, if I show the email that says my application is being processed. “But what if I want to get out of the country now?” – “If you want the application to go smoothly, you’d better stay here for a while,” Mikako said. Okay. Suddenly I wanted to go home.
Yes, in this Freudian slip state, I call Holland “home.” Crazy.
So I won’t be able to go home for the next few weeks. Fortunately Japan has meanwhile relaxed the entry requirements, by which the PCR test has been dropped. So if I have to go back and forth to the Netherlands, I can at least plan with some certainty. But not just yet, because of the visa. Well, okay. I will have to make friends then.
I am here to make friends
Charlotte once told me about Bumble, the app that not only has a dating department, but also a Bizz and a BFF section. I decided to take a look at the BFF corner of the site, found 300 Japanese who wanted to learn English (nothing wrong with that, but I already learn Japanese from Mariko, and then it’s not really equal) and a handful of expats.
It’s hard to pick friends on an app. At least, on Twitter I usually manage pretty well, but on an app where you have to swipe Tinder-style after a profile with four photos and six hobbies? That’s nothing. Mountain climbing? *swipe* Alcohol? *swipe* Extensive cooking? *swipe* Tarot? *SWIPE!* And then it occurred to me that all my Dutch girlfriends do these things too. That I might be swiping away an Aafke or a Maan, dismissed in three seconds as “too wild” or “too spiritual.” I decided to spend fifteen euros on the app, so that I could see who had liked me. That way I didn’t have to wait for a chance match. And the fact that these people had swiped me to the right immediately made them a lot nicer, haha!
After a few messages and voice memos with Adelaide, a cool chick who works as an English teacher, we decided to grab a drink in Ikebukuro. We found a rooftop terrace and drank bubble tea. Then we ate rice with meat at a little restaurant she recommended. I let myself be surprised, although surprises are not my thing. Adelaide was cool, and much more introverted/serious than I initially thought. Perhaps hyper-enthusiastic, self-selling profiles are not at all suitable for autistic people.
Getting to know new people is always difficult. Friday I went with Elyse, a Dutch girl I know through social media, to the new Starbucks in Shinjuku Gyoen. We had met twice before, but as we sat on the grass on the plastic picnic sheet I brought, something remarkable happened. She shared something personal, to which I also shared something personal. The conversation suddenly went a level deeper.
Welcome to my bed talk
Although I had a good time with both ladies, these meetings still cost me a lot of energy. And not only that, the conversations had opened all kinds of old drawers, with things I hadn’t talked about for a long time. No traumas or anything like that, but things that had left me reeling in my dreams. I spent the whole weekend in my bed. Earlier in the week I had bought a fantastic folding table, so it was no punishment to be in bed with my laptop. But still. I was tired.
“Geez, you sure are busy by the sound of it,” Elyse said Friday. “Oh really? I feel like I’m not doing a damn thing?”, I said. It’s true. Because what am I doing at all? Giving this website a new look. Working for clients a bit. Visiting the thrift store. I don’t do shit. I have yet to pick and buy a laptop. I was in a Dutch newspaper this week, to which two people emailed me where this webshop was that I mentioned. I have yet to fill it up. I still have to fix the screen door of my office balcony, still have to make a home tour video or blog, come up with/design/start a new ad campaign for my book, learn for the JLPT (Japanese language test I’m going to take in December), still have to visit Kei with my birthday present for Emma… And oh yeah, I wanted to write a whole new book about this adventure. But I don’t know how it ends yet.
And in the meantime, I want to go home. Because I miss people. People with whom I can lie on the couch, with whom I can talk freely about topics ranging from K3’s new vlog, to Jordan B. Peterson’s downfall.
Just a few more weeks. Then I’ll really go home, no matter how expensive the tickets are. Besides abolishing the PCR, Japan has also more than doubled the cap on arrivals. I hope this will also make the tickets a little cheaper, although of course the rest of the world is still a shitshow.
And suddenly I realize: it’s not at all surprising that I’m tired. My brain is always busy in the background. Learning a whole new language, starting up a business, meeting new people, and searching for clarity in a world that has completely changed in the past two and a half years. But it’s small steps that make everything better.