Pack Rat Nation

The good thing, or it could be the bad thing, about sending your children to public school in a country foreign to you is that you gain a new understanding of the country you are in.

Take, for instance, the horrible clutter that overtakes most Japanese homes. Papers. Magazines. Books. Drawers full of bags. Closets full of PET bottles. Blankets distributed during active duty in WW2. (Oh, wait that’s my family.)

In other words, people hang on to a lot of crap in spite of the fact that they probably have only 5% of the storage space available in your average American doublewide. So it piles up in corners, on any flat surface. I once cleared a table at the in-laws only to discover that it was actually a sewing machine. All flat surfaces are in danger, just ask my piano.

I always thought this was mainly because it is so hard to throw anything away here. Paper garbage is only picked up by the city twice a month, and not if it rains. Since this doesn’t stop the “posting” bastards from filling your mail box daily with flyers advertising everything from real estate to pizza delivery, you can imagine how much paper builds up in two weeks. Now we have two types of homework and endless notices from the school, I can’t physically carry a whole month’s worth of paper garbage down three flights of stairs to the designated corner. It’s just too heavy.

Certainly the garbage-difficulty-aspect is part of the problem, but now I can see a different cause.

You never know what kind of crap they are going to ask you to bring to school, with absolutely notice.

Today, Me First came home saying he needed a toilet paper roll and a small, thin rectangular box tomorrow. Apparently I am the only mother in the neighborhood who doesn’t have a stash. Needless to say, procurement of these items has let to a bag of toilet paper by the potty and soup packets all over the counter. Sacrifices for the cause.

Earlier this week, we had a brouhaha over a piece of paper I had, in my innocence, thrown away. In the winter vacation homework packet, there was a half-sized piece of paper with a song written on it. The instructions said “Practice the song.” Note there is nothing about saving this measly half-sheet in infinitum.

But of course, I am not a Japan Novice. I have been here long enough to hold onto that for a couple of weeks. I even sent it to school with Me First five days in a row. It kept coming back, so I made the call and introduced the lil guy to it’s new home in the garbage bin.

Fast forward two days, and Me First is in hysterics because his moron of a mother has thrown this vital piece of literature away.


I asked my neighbor if she still had it, and the look on her face said, “Of course!”

“How did you know to keep it?” I asked. Apparently she never throws anything from school away. Uh-huh, now I know what is behind that closed door in her apartment: tons and tons of paper from school

Because you never know when you might be asked to produce it.

I hypothesize that this is a nation of people with PTSD related Pack Rat-itis caused by failing to hold on to some slip of paper back when the world was black and white.

Pat Rack Nation へようこそ!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. illahee
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 21:40:27

    my husband hates the clutter. i hate to throw the papers away, because you never know what you’re going to need. so, my husband turned to the internet and got a little scanner thingy and now he scans all papers onto the computer before throwing them away. i have to secretly save all the kids’ artwork….


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