YV2 - Self monologue
I crossed my legs beneath the kotatsu, situated in the corner of our tiny apartment. There was precious little floor space, so there were no bedrooms or bathrooms, or even a separate kitchen. A closet, a couple of futons, the tea table, and a fridge were about all the comforts of life. A lot of it was a pretty severe downgrade from Mama's old place, back in the States, but my career (and, to some extent, nostalgic love) had brought me to Japan. Specifically, to Osaka, in a cramped, neon-lit district called Sotenbori...a spot where, if you were female, you were either on a date or you were about to be asked out for one, whether you were into that or not.
My birth name was Antonia Justine Travaglia. My father was an Irish immigrant to the States and a complete deadbeat, which is why the task of naming me fell to my Italian immigrant mother. I was granted the nickname "Ruby" in high school, on account of my ridiculously red hair. I didn't particularly like it back then, but it was catchier than Antonia, and there's a special place in hell for people who call me Toni.
I was born in the US, but the man I fell in love with during college was an exchange student from Japan...or at least, that's what he'd told me until well after the wedding. See, despite my studying for a law degree in college (and minoring in journalism), I'd somehow never figured out until after our first anniversary that my husband, Yasuyo Fujiyama, was actually a well disguised envoy to the States by way of one of Japan's biggest organized crime rings: the Omi Alliance. Somehow, they didn't care that one of their men had married an American girl - I guess they were more concerned over the potential leak of information than they were about the mixed race. But as long as I'd sworn to keep my nose out of the business, I was considered safe. Well, safe-ish. Sotenbori, much as it's a major epicenter of Osaka, is home to some pretty dark corners that a woman would really not want to be caught in. One moment you're wondering if you can take a shortcut around the crowds of hostesses and pocket tissue shills, the next you're being stalked by a bunch of men in loud suits who think they're being sneaky. That's part of why Yasuyo takes it upon himself to make sure I'm trained in basic self-defense. He's not a master by any means, but his guidance has brought me to the point where I'm at least not likely to get snatched or killed out here. And that comes in handy, in my line of work.
Though I studied law in college, my journalism minor got me a lot more gainful employment when it turned out nobody in the US would let me practice law (something about my attitude being unsuitable to a courtroom). That's what I've wound up doing here in Japan: I'm employed by an online newsletter about the latest goings-on in Japan, for English-speakers. It also doubles as a social-network, where you can post blogs and photographs. My boss is honestly a bit of an eccentric, and often gets into trouble with strange people due to his unorthodox photography and tenuous command of the Japanese language, but the pay's fine, and the checks haven't bounced yet. It was either that or running the counter at the POPPO store...and this, as weird as it can get, is a little more my forte.
I hammered out the finishing touches on my article for today, a guide on where to find the comforts of life that you'd be used to if you came from outside of Japan. As great as the takoyaki is around here, I've heard from a few expatriates on MacSiv that sometimes, a guy just really wants a big greasy burger. And of course Japan has McDonald's restaurants, but my article is spent comparing a few sandwich places, from Wild Jackson to Smile Burger, and the handful of bars that happen to also serve snacks. Sure, it's almost never a plate of french fries, but drinks tend to go down easier with some finger food.