First of all, yes, I am alive. To all those who’ve contacted me to ask if I’ve been killed, kidnapped by a cult, or am rotting at the bottom of a pit in my neighbor the Screamer’s house, I assure you I’m quite healthy. I have not succumbed to a mysterious Asian disease, been abducted by aliens, or had all my fingers broken by the Japanese mafia. The short explanation for my unforgivably long absence from this space is that one month ago, I moved into a new apartment downtown. Said apartment does not have a table or an internet connection. In the small inventory of things a blogger tends to need, these two rank at or near the top of the list. Scoff if you must. But the next time you feel like getting creative at a computer, try placing it on the floor, sitting cross-legged in front of it, and seeing how long you can work before your spine collapses into its constituent bones and cartilage in a pile at the bottom of your back. Add to this the fact that for a month now, my only access to the internet, and by extention to this blog and the world at large, has been several blocks away from my new apartment at the Fukui International Activities Center, where I’m limited to 30 minutes a day at a computer that, unless I miss my guess, runs on steam. It’s an existential riddle for the modern age: if you don’t exist online, do you exist at all?

But this situation may be about to turn a corner. I’ve been harassing my new landlord for an internet connection, which involves contracting with a monopolistic Japanese service provider to run a cable up to my fifth-floor rooms and will apparently cost me roughly a month’s salary. But I figure you’re worth it. Also, my new digs are actually quite fantastic. Fifth-floor views of the old Fukui castle ruins and moat right across the street, within walking or biking distance of downtown, the train station, supermarkets, and a bonanza of bars, restaurants and karaoke clubs. Also, I’m pleased to report I’m now living in an apartment in which kerosene and electric heaters are no longer necessary. Let me repeat that, in case you miss my full meaning: I NOW LIVE IN A HEATED APARTMENT!

I’m back. Let the celebrating commence.