The following is a fictional story. It may not be suitable for children under the age of 18.For part one: A Stranger Upstairs
The sun is particularly bright on this summer day. The heat is in the air, but so is the coolness of the wind; brushing up against my skin like a thin shawl. The feeling, even with the heat, brings my skin to a chill. The grounds surrounding the old house are still. The garden to the front, the lonesome pool to the back.
A mile or so away is the country club where all the rich or slightly rich families go to bask in each other’s wealth. Close to that is a retreat with cabins fit for snooty elites that come for the stories to tell and not the vacation itself. I guess I am apart of that group, but I don’t care for it or any of them. While the families talk by the poolside and play various games, I search for my sister.
Her presence is not there, but someone else catches my eye. A beauty, a picture of youth itself. Small frame and firm in all ways. Her hair thick and lips to match. We share a glance, and for a moment, I forget about my sister entirely. I go to walk to the young woman, but another rich guest stammers in my way. A friend of my father’s I assume, I never care to remember any of them. As he talks incessantly, I look around to see the beauty is not there. Damn!
After nodding and pretending with earnest that I am following the conversation, I am released. I decide to go back home and see if my sister has returned. Through the gate which takes me to the pool to the back of the house, I see someone at the edge. For a moment I catch the sun’s glare and mistake the figure for my sister. I go closer. To my surprise it is the young woman from the other pool. She is but a few feet away as I walk closer. Now we are inches apart, I crouch down to get a better look. Her face is a soft oval, eyes the color of bamboo in the sun. We share a smile, and like that I take her upstairs.
I don’t know her, but after two hours, I knew more about her body than I probably should. Together in bed I caress her skin, soft, lush, firm. After resting from the plateau we silently agree to go for round three, but a loud thump from the wall stirs my calm. Her eyes widen at the thought of someone else being in the house. Quickly I rush to put on my clothes and run next door to my sister’s room, the origin of the sound. The young woman following me like a shadow at mid day.
I enter my sister’s room and find her laying on the floor, her head bleeding from the top, eyes glazed over. The young woman screams, my mind empties as my hands frantically find their way over to my sister to cradle her limp body.
Hours later and we are at the hospital, my parents are there, hovering over my little sister like two wraiths ready to take her soul. They look so forlorn. I’ve never seen them so concerned. I walk up to the bed to hold her hand, but my parents push me away with their eyes as if this is all my fault. I leave and go to the waiting room. Holding my face in my hands, I ponder the reason for why she went missing in the first place.
Midway into the night I leave and go back home. Beside the pool is the familiar girl who I shared time with earlier. Her eyes are downcast, but yearning. I go in closer as she asks me if my sister is okay. If she were a few years younger, they could be friends. Seeing her silhouette with the night framing her gave me a chill. Or was it because I felt eyes on me from the house? I guess I was quiet for too long and she embraces me, our lips firmly pressed together, tongues like wriggling eels. So much passion for a stranger.
I could not shake the feeling of that chill, even as other places warmed. So I looked up to see if anyone was watching. There in the highest window, the attic I presume, nothing; but eyes were watching from that blackness glossed over in glass. She tries to turn my head for more, but I tell her I have to go home. She insists that she stay with me. I honestly don’t want to be alone, so I let her.
We pass the kitchen and up the stairs. Down the hall I see the door and it is slightly open. Odd. It is a junk room that I never visit, and the maids have no reason to clean. My heart feels like sand heated by intense fire. I go forward, but she pulls me back. She has a bad feeling, but my curiosity is too strong. I am at the door, but something inside me says don’t go inside. After a deep breath I go back to my room, my new lover in tow. Under the sheets we go for that round three. As I drift into sleep, I feel the eyes are on me, watching, waiting.
Part three: A Stranger Upstairs
Author is Jasmine Clark. The work is fiction, and shall not be published, or sampled without the author’s permission.
Hello Groovy People!
Now that the summer has officially arrived, I am working towards my first love, writing. Although the last few months have been difficult, to put it mildly, I feel that it was not all for nothing. Others may see my change in passions erratic, and yes, I do seem to be going from one big adventure to the next. However, I believe that it is important to focus on what makes one happy. Writing is the thing that always put a smile on my face but was never given my full attention. With teaching completely behind me at this point, I want to go towards what I know I can accomplish.
You’re still here right? Ok. So back to what I was saying about writing. I love it and I have so many things planned for the future. This year I want to truly focus on marketing my book, Journey’s End. I also have a short story that I will copyright and post by the end of the summer.
I want to make more posts on my experiences in Japan that can really help the avid traveler. Is there anything you would like for me to share? Also, I want to start a travel series of the places I visit. My next destination in a few weeks is New Zealand! So look out for that too.
My biggest downfall is myself, so this new change and hard work will be very stressful. I have to remind myself that I can do it, so please stay tuned!
Hello Groovy People,
So I wanted to make a post about how I kept up my hair while I lived abroad in Japan. In 2016 I wanted to go natural, but at the time I was too impatient. The idea of doing my hair in a foreign country was terrifying, especially since I was going to keep it permed. The thing about permed hair on African American hair is that if you don’t keep it up, it falls out or has tremendous complications. However, I wasn’t sure if I could find an adequate hair dresser in Japan. After all Japan is known for being homogenous and lacks diversity.
So I began researching before I left America. There weren’t too many places, but from what I saw online they all seemed good. When I went to Tokyo I decided to go to one salon and see how it faired. I tried the first location on my list, called The Room 806. Before I travelled there I called first to ask a bunch of questions. It is always a good thing to ask before you go to establish the tone of the personnel.
I see it this way, are they able to give you honest answers and are they polite? If they are, then that is usually a good sign that you can trust them. I also asked about my hair and if they had staff who could do it. I was assured that the hair stylist was the best and that he could perm my hair with no problems. Now the reason I was nervous was because of prejudice. You often hear people saying that certain people can’t do certain other people’s hair. And for the most part that may be true due to many factors. However, never let such things stop you from giving people a try. So I made the appointment and went to the salon!
I went with my friend because it was my first time and I believe in safety first. Also, if you are alone in any country and it’s your first time going somewhere new, please go with someone!
Getting there was an adventure because it was located in Roppongi. Although not a big part of Japan, it was hard to find the salon due to it not being on the main road. If you have ever tried finding a location with google while in Japan, you may notice that reading maps are ridiculously hard. (I can make a post about that if you’d like!)
After getting lost twice, we finally made it! I met my hair stylist Ico-san (ee-co-san). He was a cool Japanese man who know exactly what I wanted. He took the time to make me comfortable and was so meticulous in trimming and styling my hair. By the time I left it was a few hours, but I did not have to wait for another customer. The great thing about getting my hair done in Japan is that I never had to wait for other customers. No double bookings or late starts! Anywho, Ico-san was wonderful and I gave him a tip (you don’t have to tip in Japan, but I could not hold my gratitude. Also I am very American so Ico-san accepted.)
I must say that before going to Japan I hardly ever went to the salon because of the long waits and not being able to see the stylist I wanted/needed. Luckily during my year in Japan, I was able to see Ico-san on multiple occasions and as a result, my hair was healthy. Well, as healthy as permed hair could be.
So if you are ever in Japan and want to get your hair done, please see Ico-san and say Jazzi sent you!
Room806, 5 Chome-16-52 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan, phone number: +81 3-5545-5486, Hours: 11am-9pm Sunday-Saturday
On April 19 I had an interview in Brooklyn New York. I spoke about my book Journey’s End. This is the first of many great things happening! Enjoy.
The interviewer is Marilyn Silverman who is the Assistant Vice President, Marketing of the New American Chamber of Commerce. The radio show is called the Writers’ Café which can be reached on their website www.chambercoalition.org
Hello Groovy People!
It is May and in a few months I go to New Zealand. I’ve always wanted to go, but the lack of money was a constant buzz kill. With proper planning, and time, a lot of time, I made it a reality this year.
Why was New Zealand on my bucket list in the first place? Well, why not! It is a country full of natural beauty and the filming location of some of my favorite movies and t.v. shows. Those shows were Xena and Hercules, and the movie was the Lord of the Rings (the good versions).
I have a serious case of wanderlust so that is another big reason. Whenever I am in one place too long, I feel the urge to leave and travel far.
I certainly will take pictures to document my time there for you to see.
Hello Groovy People
The following is a really personal post. My deepest inner thoughts. I may delete it, but since I have such a small following, I may allow it to stay.
When I originally left Japan I did so with becoming a writer on my mind. The goal was to work a regular 9-5 that did not require much mental input so that I could dedicate my energy fully to writing. The job would more so act like a safety net, providing me with an income while I went for my dream.
However, my insecurities and my inability to tune out others led me to pursue teaching. Basically when I published Journey’s End, I spent some money on a spot in BookCon. The idea was that my book would be among the best and be seen! When I finally went to BookCon, I realized that my book was in a section that no one went to, and my lack of understanding marketing led me to believe that I could never compete in the writing world.
So defeated I looked at other options. It also didn’t help that I could not find an office job. So back to subbing I went. People close to me suggested getting a real job and so I planned on going back to school. Subbing, as wonderful as it can be, was not paying my bills, nor was it a decent income with healthcare.
Are you confused yet? I sure was. I was so ready to be fully dedicated to writing, but seeing my book in the back of a huge expo with other titles no one bothered to read was crushing. I felt that I had to go for a job that could sustain me. Yet, my plan was to stop teaching all together. I think the issue is that I give up too easy. I give in too easy. I’ve been conditioned to get a career in teaching because it pays the bills and has healthcare. But I don’t want to teach! Not anymore at least. At one time, yes, I did want to teach. But at this time in my life, I want to change gears.
I am constantly trying, desperately, to please others. To do what is acceptable by society, and the people around me. But what I really want to tell people is that:
Teaching was great and I’ve done it for over 10 years! I may have not been a traditional teacher, but I taught. I am exhausted, I am done and I want to focus on my first love, writing!
But, people don’t get this. They don’t accept this. They think that my thoughts, my desires, my true intentions are unrealistic. Yes, I can certainly fall flat on my face. But until I truly live for myself and try my best, how can I know? How can anyone know? I think I’ve gone through so much hell because I was not fully honest with those around me, or myself.
I think the biggest reason why I don’t say how I feel is because I fear rejection. Rejection in the form of people judging me, telling me I am not realistic. Or they misunderstand my words altogether.
But I am so tired of doing what I think is right for everyone else. Can I be honest? I loved teaching and always will love teaching. But after 10 years of my own version of teaching, I am tired. I no longer feel a passion for it like I used to. Writing has been something that consumed me as a child and I let it go for a more realistic and conventional life. Unlike most people, I truly see the reality of this one life. I don’t want to waste anymore time by pushing my love of writing to the side.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that teaching is what I used to be, but being a writer is me too. Now I want to be fully committed. I want to take classes on writing and seek out agents and publishers. I want to make my dream a reality. Hell, I made living in Japan a reality. I am teaching in a class now due to my determination. I want to say the same for my writing.
My purpose is not just teaching, but writing as well. But the sad part is that I can never say this. Not without the rejection of others. So I’ll do it alone, in secret, in my own way.
I doubt that I can make changes.
I doubt that I can do my best.
I doubt better things wait for me in the future.
I doubt if I will be here in the future.
I’m being crushed under the weight of terrible thoughts and disappointment.
I’m being suffocated under the weight of my insecurities and loneliness.
I feel helpless
overwhelmed and underwhelmed with life
I cannot be stronger because of how weak I feel
what more can I do?
what can I do that I haven’t done before?
if nothing changed then, what can I truly expect now?
pointless and petrified I sit here with nothing to ponder
but my own demise
my own self loathing
wallowing in self sympathy
Japan is a country with a dwindling population, with more elderly than live births. However, looking at videos of rush hour train service and the famous Shibuya crossing, you might think that Japan’s population is huge! This is simply not the case.
Japan is an island with a terrain that is massively mountainous. As a result, the cities and towns that have livable terrain are densely populated. Hence why cities like Tokyo seem so full of people.
To combat this, the Japanese create cities that are vertical. This means that buildings, whether they are commercial or not, are built up. Even a super store like Costco (yes there is one in Japan) is made vertically. The parking deck is on top, while the escalators drop at about a hundred or so feet to the actual store below. Even the shopping carts, which are just as massive as they are in the States, are able to be placed on the escalators for ease.
Even with densely populated cities and vertical buildings, nature is not neglected. Tokyo has many parks and places full of green. The buildings also have places full of foliage too!
Believe it or not, but if you want peace and quiet from the bustling city, you don’t have to find parks or temples, you can simply go to the top of the biggest mall high rises.
Let’s take Futako Tamagawa, a city where I lived for a year while I taught abroad. Futako Tamagawa is located in Tokyo, and easily accessible from the Den-en-toshi line. With easy access to other places in Tokyo such as Shibuya, and Jiyugaoka.
This is a town for mainly families, as you can’t go far without seeing a mother and her child going about their day. There is a park where you can enjoy a stroll. However, during the day, it can be quite busy. I personally liked going to one of the malls called Rise. There are about four distinct malls in the center of town. You can’t miss it!
In rainy weather, you can go underground, which has a ton of eateries and shops. Yet, if you are in search of solitude, head to the top, and I mean the very top of the high rise mall. Since there are about four different malls, access to each roof top varies.
So, let’s start with the mall, Takashimaya.
With a unique design, this mall has several floors dedicated to shops, eateries, and a wonderful roof top terrace. As you can see, above the brown siding, there are many green shrubs and trees. You can access the roof from the elevator, or from inside via the escalator until you reach the top floor. There are small man made ponds and even a seating area. You may see some mothers with their children, but if you go in cold weather, you are more likely to find it absent of people all together.
You can also get to the mall from the street level via an outside escalator. Just traveling to the malls and navigating them is an adventure I am sure you can enjoy.
From Takashimaya’s rooftop, you can go into the main mall next to it and go up a few more floors from the elevator. These are positioned on the left side if you were to view the building from outside. Going up to the very top floor, you will notice the quiet, almost deafening sound of silence. Here is where many restaurants are located. (I’ll be sure to post a future article on the structure of the Japanese mall).
On this floor, in this particular building, there will only be a handful of restaurants, so there is little traffic. Go to the right from the elevator, and go towards the front of the building. From there, you will see perhaps two more elevators, which give you access to the rest of the mall. This area will only have two elevators and large windows. You can see the beauty of the landscape.
I didn’t know about this place until a week before I had to leave Japan. So I am sure to stop here in the future. There will be no place to sit here, so if you don’t mind being on the floor, sit and relax in complete solitude. Or until someone tells you, you can’t be there.
Looking at the picture above, you can see the brown windows of the mall I mentioned earlier. The building I am in now is taller. This building also has a green rooftop terrace a few floors down. Their rooftop leads to the one in Takashimaya. Basically they’re both linked.
Now, if you go down the elevator from where I am, you can go all the way down to the street level. Across the street, you may see KFC. On the left of that, is the area that leads to the train station if you were to make a right. You will also be on the low level of the mall called Dogwood Plaza, located to your left. This mall has several floors and includes many stores, and restaurants. The restaurants are located on the top floor. There is no roof access here.
If you go further into the area that is close to the train station, but keep going forward, you will eventually pass a bus terminal. Going forward you will encounter stairs. Go up and look to the left or right.
In this picture, you are coming from the bus terminal and you can go up more stairs to the left or right. From there you can choose the roof top which usually has little to no people. I suggest the stairs to the right above the movie theater. There are high winds so please be careful. There is also a seating area that many people use for quiet relaxing time. Rarely will you have someone on the phone, or using the space to hang out with friends. So if you don’t mind people being around, this can also be a place of quiet comfort.
If you need another place to relax alone, there is an open seating area not on a roof, but going towards the park. Come from the bus terminal, and keep going straight. Looking below, you can see the area is not very busy. Usually this area is empty even with people walking around. The seats are the grey round mounds on the ground. Awkward at first to sit on, they are not too bad. If you have a bad back, I suggest finding somewhere else to sit.
Many cities offer these types of quiet places of refuge. However, Futako Tamagawa is different in that this place is mainly for families and has little to no tourists. So it is not actually as crowded as other places. Going about your day is easy.
Going through the area on the weekend can be a bit more challenging than the weekday. However, I aways say explore and see what you can find. There are always nooks for lonely people, and you never know what you can find.
I hope you enjoyed my post, I hope you can use it for the future. Also, any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.
As I lay in bed, staring at the wooden ceiling, I can’t help but think of the old decor. The rustic windows, the floorboards weak from overuse. That smell of dust and dry air. I cling to the soft plushness of my comforter. My head burrows itself into the pillow as my feet bunch up the ends of the covers for warmth. It is particularly cloudy tonight, so there is little natural moon light. The room seems so dark and full of question. My mind races with the thought of what could be. I can barely see anything, so here I wait for sleep to come.
As I drift away to a solemn slumber, a noise stirs my body into consciousness. A bit annoyed, I soon delve into fear as I remember my entire family is on this floor, and not above. With my skin breaking into gooseflesh beneath the covers, I try to establish some reality. The house is old and at times, will create noise from the wood and worn out places.
I try to convince myself of this, and close my eyes to fall asleep. Then, I hear another sound, a breath. Try as I might to convince myself it is only my mind, I open my eyes to see a pair of dark ones staring back at me!
I scream, loud, until it screams too. It is my younger sister. She is covered in darkness, while begging me to let her stay. I sit up, and tell her to leave, but I must admit, I would like the company.
So here we are, one adult and almost adult sharing a bed. Tucked in close, so close that I feel her quivering flesh. I too must feel the same. I tell her to stop shaking, but she can’t.
She asks me if I can hear it. I ask her hear what? She tells me it is whispering. I don’t bother to ask what it is. I turn my body over and ball myself up like a small child. She still shakes, but soon my eyes become heavy, and I awake in a room bathed in sunlight.
It is daytime, finally. After getting dressed, and going down stairs, I see our maids, Hilda, and Beatrice. The cook, Rose, prepares a variety of egg omelets. I ask them if they’ve seen my sister. When I awoke, she wasn’t in bed with me. But they say they haven’t seen her since yesterday.
During breakfast, my parents eat while their eyes dig through their phones. It is a regular morning, silent and impersonal. I ask them if they’ve seen her. Who, they ask. My sister, I say. With their eyes firmly on their devices, they simply say, no.
She is seventeen, and has a habit of doing what she wants. But we are at a summer retreat in our grandparents home. I didn’t think she would be so eager to break free with all her friends being so far away. Yet, regardless of this, my parents do nothing, but make excuses. She is simply a brat doing rebellious teenage things, they say.
After eating, I go upstairs to see if she went back to her room. Why I didn’t think of this first is beyond me. Upon entering her room, I see nothing but a messy bed, and not much else. I don’t even smell her perfume, something she would put on before leaving, or anything out of place. I close the door and walk out to see an empty hallway. At one end, a window, from the right, a stairway leading down. To the left, a stairway leading up. On the other end of the hallway, a door.
I go towards the window and to the right downstairs. As I leave, I do so with the ache in my mind that something is not quite right…
The following is a short story. Part two A Stranger Upstairs
Author is Jasmine Clark. The work is fiction, and shall not be published, or sampled without the author’s permission.
When the cold air chills, it is time to reflect.
I think about what I’ve done, and what I want to accomplish.
Here, 2 years ago, I was in Japan working and planning a life as a writer.
Due to reality, I have to merge my lifelong passion with teaching.
Don’t get me wrong, teaching is a lifelong passion of mine too.
Yet, I’ve done so much in terms of teaching and working with children.
Writing has always taken a back seat, and I can’t stand it!
Balancing life with two big goals is tough, but I must do what is best in the long run.
I completed all four of my tests for teaching, and applied to a college to complete some classes.
Now I wait while my application is in the wind.
I also applied for a few jobs. I do plan on applying for more jobs in other districts.
With this part of my life at a decent standstill, I now look towards my other passion, writing…
It is not easy to stay motivated.
I know I know, what is up with your writing!
I have to admit that I am a bit scatterbrain with many of my posts.
The idea is for you to look at these personal posts as an opening into my mind, my personal journal if you will.
It’s not polished, is what I’m basically trying to say.
So, about my motivation with writing…
I find it harder to stay with it than when I was in Japan.
You see, in Japan I worked from 10:30am to 7:30pm. I had zero energy during my work days.
On Saturday nights, I often slept around 1 or 2 in the morning after hanging out with friends, or washing my clothes. So by Sunday, I had personal time.
It’s really funny that, as tired as I was, and as much as I wanted to rest on my days off, I did the most work.
I would write for hours on Sundays, in a public cafe!
However, the time had nothing to do with my motivation, it was my mindset.
You see, as tired as I was, and as much as I didn’t like some aspects of my job in Japan, I was really happy.
Happy to be in Japan! Happy to be a classroom teacher, happy to have a social life and actual friends, happy to go out and meet people, even date (although I was always friend zoned ).
Overall, I was really at peace.
Now that I am in America, I don’t have any of those things, and quite honestly, it disturbs my calm.
It makes it hard to get out of bed. I have way more days off than before due to my current job, and I still don’t write.
It is a rut I hope can just end.
I wish I could just say “be inspired dummy and go for your dream of writing!” but if you’ve ever dealt with anyone with certain mental illnesses, then you know it is a lot harder than just believing you can do it. You have to feel it inside out.
What I’m trying to say is that I feel like I’m in a daze. I have aspirations, but in my current mental state, I just can’t seem to shake off this sad feeling. It’s a heavy feeling. One that seems to keep me from doing too much.
Believe me, I am trying not to go in full despair mode! I am actively getting closer to getting my teaching certification. It’s just, with all my sad feelings, doing all of these tests, and preparations for my teaching cert., I just don’t have enough “energy” for anything else.
Have you ever felt this way?
Anywho, I hope a meditation app helps. I can’t really talk to others, they don’t seem to get it.
That’s ok, it’s my burden anyway.
I just hope that with a new job, it can give me some of what made me happy when I was in Japan. I’ll wait and see about that. Oh, and I’ll of course keep you posted.