I came home tonight from my final dinner in Japan this trip with the Morita family that can only be described as exquisite, with flavors and textures arranged not only within each course, but helped one course flow into the next. I will write more about it later, but let me tell you about the first song that happened to play on my laptop when I turned it back on.
It was Otis Redding’s classic Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. It’s a loner’s song, standing in stark contrast to the raucous sake-fueled conversation from dinner, but it’s also over-produced. Go find a live version, and compare it to studio edition. One’s got Redding’s plaintive, intense voice, punctuated and encouraged onward by the cheers of the audience, while the other has the same but dulled by the pristine recordings of seagulls and waves. I may be in the minority, but I find it disconcerting and distracting from a song otherwise brutally honest in its complexity. It’s not a song for a single adjective.
Thanksgiving emoting makes me feel the same way. I’m a long-time believer that people, like dogs, can tell when you’re full of shit. I’d rather hear something honest, or funny, and blessedly brief, than somebody rambling ad nauseum about their thankfulness for Ma, Apple Pie, and the Academy. Tell us what you care about, why you care about it, how it made your life better in the past year. Tell us what you miss. Or don’t say any of it, and just tell us how you’re most thankful for Jon Stewart for bequeathing Stephen Colbert to the world. Whatever works, be it true or funny, just spare us the platitudes.
So, since I’m away from family this holiday, I will with no fibbin’ share a brief list of what I’m thankful for: I’m immensely grateful for my parents. Sometimes I still wonder that we’re related, the way I used to when I was a teenager, and then I spend five minutes with either of you and it’s so fucking obvious that I could be no one’s son but yours. (Mental note: Woody Allen’s movies are an Entertainment, not a Template. Easily confused, but please don’t.) I am, probably much to their chagrin, thankful for my siblings. “Aimless and clueless” though we may have been, I am as proud of your successes as I feel inadequate about mine. We will do even more in the next year, and we will do it better.
I am thankful for all my friends, who have seen me through darkness and light and appear to enjoy laughing at me almost as much as I do. Life is better with you motley intercontinental lot, especially those who let me stay in far-away cities with them and those who traveled long distances to stay with me. I am immensely thankful for the people who have allowed me to learn from them. You know who you are, it’s unlikely I gave you much choice in the matter, and I am a better person for it.
It is currently half-past one in the morning. I have delusions of packing now and getting up in four hours for a visit to Tokyo’s fish market for killer sushi and some tuna-auction viewing. More likely that I will pack now and skip Tsukiji, but I’ll leave the curtains open just in case the daylight inspires me.
Now how the heck am I going to fit all this omiyage into my suitcases?