Sushi, Priorities, and Rituals

Sushi on December 22, 2007My Wednesday night sushi ritual has been hindered by one of my 2008 New Years Goals (the one where I want to save up 3-months’ worth of emergency funds). I’ve instituted an $80 per week allowance for myself to pay for groceries, lunches, dinners, parking, books, laundry, clothing, alcohol, entertainment, home supplies, et al. “$80 a week?!? Are you serious?” Is pretty much the response I get when I tell people about it. But I realized that I’ve been able to live quite well while on the allowance (I started it a month ago. Check out this Lifehacker post if you are interested in how the heck I am able to do this).

It’s all about prioritization. If I really want to go to dinner with someone on Friday night, I will make sure that I don’t go to dinner on another night so that I save my money for that Friday night event. I noticed that I am drinking a lot less alcohol as well–formerly, I would easily spend $20/$30/$40 a weekend on drinks alone. Now I’ve instituted a $5/week alcohol allowance. Yea, that’s right. $5 a week. On alcohol. I can’t even buy a cocktail from the Top of the Mark with my weekly allotment, so I just have to be diligent and save it up from one weekend prior.

Thus, if I go to dinner/lunch with you or have a drink with you, that means I’m prioritizing that event and, more importantly, you. Feel special!

Fringe benefit: I didn’t realize that when I signed up to be on this fiscal-responsibility plan that I would end up cooking so much, but that’s what’s happened. Every weekend, I look at the week ahead, and plan a little culinary adventure for myself. Last week was a trip through Korea (I made pork bulgogi, nine-fillings pancakes, pickled cucumbers and daikon, and kimchi), and packed it for lunch for work all week. The week before, it was my aunt’s delicious Filipino spaghetti recipe. This weekend I made lugao, which is a Filipino version of a rice porridge with chicken (otherwise called congee in Chinese, pospas in Cebuano, or arroz caldo in Spanish). Yum. May this goal be the rebirth of my love for cooking? This is a good start.

Sushi on December 23, 2007Oh yes, back to the point. I used to go to No Name Sushi without fail once a week, mostly on Wednesdays, but sometimes on Saturday if I didn’t make it earlier. Now, I really have to prioritize, and sometimes No Name doesn’t make it on the priority list that week. I don’t know why, but it’s kind of pained me to not be able to go. For the last three years, it’s been my ritual. My thing. Hiroko’s been kind of a surrogate grandmother to me. When I enter through the broken door and sit in that crappily ventilated shack of a restaurant, it feels like I’m going home. Hiroko and I communicate with each other with a blend of familial gestures, her broken English, my broken Japanese. And it feels like what going home to your Japanese obaachan would be like.

Sushi on January 16, 2008I didn’t realize that I had such a strong bond with this ritual, but really in many ways it’s more than a ritual. So I guess looping back to why I wrote this post in the first place, if I go to dinner with you on a Wednesday night (or on any night for that matter)… man, you must be really freakin special. I mean, really. Really special.

Sushi on January 30, 2008

(The first and third pics are from January and the second and fourth are from December).

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