What’s in my pockets
As I get older I begin to forget more things. It’s really annoying. I don’t mean that I forget information. No, not that. I mean that when I leave the house in the mornings there is always something that I forget to take with me, to put in my pocket. Not a day goes by that I have not forgotten something. Sometimes I notice it when I need a thing or want a thing the most and can’t find it, then realize that it is still sitting on my bookshelf at home. Other times I don’t realize until I get home and find a thing still on my desk. Fortunately I didn’t miss it. Sometimes I am half-way to the station when I realize it, and I must decide: go back and get it, or keep moving forward through the day without the forgotten item.
Now, when I am fully dressed, depending on what I am wearing I have anywhere from four to thirteen pockets on my person, and usually something in every one of them: coins; paper money; good luck charms (of which I have several and continue to gather more because as I age I become more superstitious); handkerchief; pocket tissues; small hand towel; pocket calendar; notebook to write down new Japanese vocabulary; red pen; black pen; pointer; pocket watch; computer memory sticks; lip balm; nail clippers; bank book; speculum; Alien Registration Card plus other cards - credit card, health card, telephone pre-paid card, train pass; calculator; personal seal, or “hanko”; passports (in case there is a major earthquake while I am away from home and my apartment gets destroyed); house keys; pocket dictionary; Aspirin; glass cutters; pocket Tetris game (for my amusement on the trains); condoms; deck of cards; folding fan; extra shoelaces; a rosary; rubber gloves; comb; tweezers; compass; rape whistle; adhesive Band Aids; talcum powder; rubber bands; eraser; Tokyo Transit Map; blindfold and surgical face mask.
I remember the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” Was that their motto? Never mind, I hated Boy Scouts. The reasons don’t matter. Every day when I come home I empty my pockets. Then when I go out again the next morning I have to re-load.
Before leaving the house I check with Junko,
“What am I forgetting? I’m forgetting something. I always forget at least one thing.”
“You always forget everything!”
“You don’t understand.”
“No, you always forget everything!!”
Some things always go in the same pocket no matter what I am wearing. For example, loose coins always go in my right side trousers’ pocket, pocket watch, fingernail clippers and paper money in my left side trousers’ pocket, and hand towel in my left hip trousers’ pocket. But other items might go in different locations depending on the ensemble. If I am wearing my suit jacket, then the bank book and pocket calendar go in the inside jacket pockets. But if not, then they go in the exterior zip-up pocket of my shoulder bag, or sometimes in the interior zip-up pocket for greater security. My house keys might go in my jacket’s left side pocket, or in my denim shirt’s right breast pocket. Or, I might put them in my left side trousers’ pocket, attached to a long keychain clipped to my belt. If I change into different trousers - from dirty jeans into clean jeans, work clothes to jeans or vice versa - I must transfer some of this trove to my new pockets, but not necessarily all of it, and not necessarily in the same order. There is always scope for situation-appropriate variety. So you can see there is a cornucopia of choices.
When I am fully dressed, depending on what I am wearing I have anywhere from four to thirteen pockets on my person.
But the deciding factor if I forget something is always time. How much time do I have to prepare? And, how much of a hurry am I in when it comes time to leave the door. I have to wake up, get up, shower, shave, dress, swallow some pills - medicine and vitamins - get breakfast (that means going outside to get it), wait for the wife and children to be done with their morning showers before I wash a load of dishes, wash a load of laundry, put dishes away, hang up laundry, put away yesterday’s dry laundry, read two newspapers, check my E-mail, feed the water lizards, wash my hands after that and then brush my teeth, and sometimes do some vacuuming as well, and sometimes take the trash out all practically simultaneously. Then I have to change clothes once more to get into my working attire before I usually have to rush out the door in a dash, even though I got up at an early-sounding 5:00 a.m. It reminds me that the big things in life are always based on a huge accumulation of little things. No matter what I have planned for the day, I have to a long check list of household chores to accomplish each morning or I will be in a funk all day. If ignored they will still be waiting for me when I get home, and when I get home is the prime time to relax. So, every one of those little things needs doing every morning in order for me to start the day right. And it doesn’t matter if I am tired, or sick, or it’s raining outside, etc.
I move back-and-forth around the apartment so much and in such a hurry that it’s a wonder I haven’t worn out the carpet. What are my children doing? They haven’t been trained to help with household duties like Canadian families might do, so they watch television and eat their own breakfast while mama showers and papa is continually criss-crossing in front of their line of vision deeply involved in these various chores, practically crying with the frustrating unbelievability of how little time there is to do things regardless of how early he gets up.