Weekend

So it’s about 4:00p, and I just finished my first meal of the day. That’s not good for a lot of reasons, but it’s usually the way things work on the weekend since I have no kitchen. What did I eat after fasting for 30 hours you say? A lamb wrap from a foreign (meaning non-Japanese) street vendor. I think 90% of the street vendors in Tokyo are foreigners (maybe American), which is kind of funny when you think about it (if you’ve ever been to New York). Anyway, the funny part of this story is I’m looking at the menu (written and Japanese), and make my choice. Here’s how the dialoug went.

Vendor: [coolly, slightly blase] Hey, how’sitgoing?
Me: Uh, fine. I’ll have a normal [size] wrap.

Me: How hot is the “hot” sauce?
Vendor: [nonchalantly] Not hot.
Me: Ok, I’ll take that.

It’s the kind of banter I think Sword would appreciate. It had the cadence we respect with familiarity.

So I was in Akihabara. Akiba is dangerous in similar ways to Kabuki-cho, but from a different angle. Regardless, in either place you’re [I’m] likely to walk in with the intention of just a pleasant stroll or some window shopping, but you end up walking out feeling good having received more than a few things you really don’t need, and with a lot less money. As my friend Rodney once said “In Kabuki-cho you’re not in danger so much physically as you are fiscally.”

I haven’t been to Kabuki-cho since the eventful “Night of Sin” last summer. I’m not going to write about that here, you’ll have to email me for the mortifying details.

Anyway, this time though the end result was the same, the threat was an abundance of cheaply priced electronics stores, discount video game dens, and eight-story figure and otakumono purchase palaces. I think I was pretty good all things considered. I stuck to my promise of only five minutes in Aso Bit City (on the first floor mind you), and I didn’t even go _into_ GAMERS. I did, however, pick up Mr. Driller: Drill Land and the much-debated Zelda: The Wind Waker for Gamecube. Only cost me 3900 yen, that’s a DAMN good deal, even if they were used (which they weren’t).

Technology is a funny thing. I don’t understand it sometimes, and this results in much amusement (at least for me). For example, last summer I thought my apt. had a rice cooker, so I filled it with water, set it to hot and dumped some rice in the main receptacle. After wondering what the large round button on top was for, I pushed it and discovered it made the water bubble about and through the gauge on the front. After some more pumping I saw the rice go zipping through the translucent pressurized conduit like a Mr. Wizard experiment. Ok, that was interesting. It wasn’t until several months later when I saw someone use a similiar device TO PUMP HOT WATER INTO A TEACUP. Ok, so it wasn’t a rice cooker. I wonder if the next person to use it after I moved out got two-month old rice in their tea. Hmm…

Ever since my 10-year old Land’s End sandals disintegrated after running full speed into the train station steps and falling (cheap pieces of junk!), I’ve been wearing the same pair of shoes all summer as I couldn’t fit any more in my baggage when I first came. So I’ve been wanting several, if not at least one, new pair of foot protectors for a while. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds. People are smaller in this country. I found an AWESOME pair of shiny brown leather shoes (looked like Indiana Jones‘) at a department store near Akiba’s eki, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Me: Konno kutsu de wa, ni juu kyu sento saizi ga arimasu ka? (Do you have these shoes in size 29cm?)
Vendor: Ni juu kyu?! (29?!)
Me: Hai. (Yes.)
Vendor: Nai desu yo! (Hell no, are you nuts?)
Me: [meekly] Ni juu hachi? (28?)
Vendor: Konno kutsu wa, ni juu nana made desu. (This shoes only go up to 27.)
Me: Honto? Sumi masen. (Really? Uh…sorry.)
Vendor: Hai. (Ok.)

Yeah. It was like walking into a miniature poodle shop and asking if they had any shetland pony-size models in stock. They just don’t come that way.

Speaking of dogs, early in the day I witnessed another poor victim of Japanese people’s attempt to over cutesify things. I can’t overstate this point enough…Japanese develop dogs the size of rats, in MULTIPLE breeds. It’s not like they’re all chihuahuas, it’s just that every daschund, welsh corgie, terrier and shih-tzu is about the size of a Skecher. And they’re all constantly dragged along against their will by people of all sizes and age, or humiliated by being put in purses, bike baskets, or shopping bags. There’s even magazines endorsing putting suits on them, perming their hair and all other kinds of insane modifications. Like they’re Barbie dolls or something. … This pitiful creature in particular was especially abused, its white ears were dyed hot pink and it was being pushed in a baby carriage.

So while standing in line to get the train back home (the pink-eared dog passed me again), I chose my line to wait in carefully. Carefully of course means the one that ends with a girl that has about as much fabric on her body as I have cash register receipts from today’s meals. She was especially brown (for a Japanese person), and her little yellow shirt stopped a couple centimeters below her ribs leaving a wide swath of flesh before her incredibly low jean shorts started and ended a hand’s length later. And she had this way of standing…of bending one knee and crossing her foot over the other, pooching out her hip. It said “Gee, I sure am wawwying if I will eva eva get an interesting email on my pwetty cell phone (in Japanese).” Yeah. I wasn’t sure if I turned on or repulsed. I think the majority of men standing in line around me felt the same way from the looks on their faces. I sat next to her because I had to, but unfortunately she got off two stops later and I never got a good look at her face/front. Oh well. It made me grin anyway.

The last thing I’ll talk about [my neck really hurts now], is how ridiculous Southern accents sound in Japan. I could make a CD and it would sell a million copies just by adopting an absurd Jeff Foxworthy-voice and saying “KO-NEE-CHEE-WAA”. Maybe I should put up a .wav file or something. There were two colorful, NASCAR-loving individuals on the train home. I wish I could have recorded their embarrassing drawl as it spilled over every mispronounced syllable. But then again, I shouldn’t talk. Just yesterday someone I talked to asked me if _I_ was from a particular region of the US because my Virginia twang was peeking through. Ugh. Good thing no one here has heard me on the phone to home.

With that, I’m watching an episode of Mahoromatic and going to sleep [how the frick did it get so late?!].

Dream

Man I was just having the BEST fuggin’ dream…. it was so funny that I woke up laughing and pounded the wall next to my bed; right about where the girl next door is sleeping.

I was at a party. A college party. Do you know how insanely hard it is to find anything involving hard liqour and 20-somethings at someone’s house with loud music and stupid costumes here?! College here is NOTHING like it is in America. Dammit. I want to go funneling or drink some nasty blue liquid with my housemate Brandon. It was a party that was occuring this year at school…I’m sure one is just about to happen now, as it is Friday night of the first week of school in Pittsburgh. Fernandez is probably already mixing his red drop extract with tap water and Vladmir.

The reason I was laughing was that I was really buzzing and telling Brandon and Enorme’ (Fernandez) about how I had just come back from spraying Eddie Murray’s name on people’s houses…in PAM! It was hilarious. One of the girls I met last year and I had been talking…this was yet like phase 5 of the dream that had already taken hours. I introduced her, let’s call her Regina, to my brother because they’re both like 19. I used to sleep with her (so young!) but I pissed her off or something (in real life) so we didn’t talk to each other anymore. More exactly, I didn’t call her and she didn’t call me. But it wasn’t happening so I left my house where she was visiting and went off to get a beer and do the Eddie Murray thing.

But at this party were people from my fraternity at Virginia. [Yoda voice] “Old friends, long gone.” Andy was there (he’s like 28 now), and Kuang. The guys that gave me my sendoff when I visited northern Virginia for the last time this May. NOT the guys that got married and act like dicks ignorning me now.

Anyway, so the house seemed different, like the locale always does in my dreams…an amalgamation of places I lived while at Virginia and Carnegie Mellon. The uber college party residence. It was cool. I wanted to get my sweetass Cerwin Vega speakers back, but they weren’t even using them. I was kinda laying over a piece of furniture, maybe an end table, and Brandon the housemate kept dumping beer and stuff on my stomach, then giving me 50/50 rum and coke Long Islands or something to drink. For some reason there was this mystery liqour called “Limejew”. I have no idea why. It was great…. 50% R-E-A-L, real liqour schnapps, real not tap water…I don’t know. We were all laughing insanely (as Fernandez, Brandon and I were wont to do) about nothing, except me shouting out in the stupidest Jersey gangster accent over and over, “You fawck!”

Yeah, falling over into a girl’s lap, drinking more, and following other critical steps of The Five Stages of Drinking on old, ratty, carpet. Man I miss college.

Cheers, guys…I hope you have a great one tonight for me.

PS – HOT…HOT…HOT…EEEAAAAHHHH!!!!….

Photography

…more abstract photography…art…expression… it’s interpretative and you want to create a sense of emotions in concert, so let the mind complete what’s left unfinished in the work. [but make sure what’s left unfinished is intentional, not poor form!]

photography is static but we can induce a sense of movement and presence in a fragment of time. i’d like to add music, but in doing so i may incur the expectation of something physically dynamic, of change; something with the effort for presentation more on the artist’s part and less on the viewer.

i want a studio and one day a week off my normal job to work in it. i wonder if i had this; how much would i get accomplished, in what manner would i approach it? music, photography, pencil, paint… but i really don’t know anything about any of these… i hardly know photography. i need to take a more aggressive approach to learning and trying these things.

i want to spend my free time learning. my identity has to be about learning, especially since i’m out of school. i fear for my life becoming stagnant. ignorance and routine is the worst fate i could encounter.

it’s so hard to concentrate… the music (cafe del mar chill out house vol II cd 2) has got me in the mood, but not to read about the code progression in a flight school qualification tool. i want to make things… move around, be cool, have a breeze and incense (it’s hot). a large, bright screen far away from me to work with.

“when claude debussy died in 1918 in paris, the germans were bombing the city, and it was raining

am i sure i’m not wearing two dark socks today??

life was deconstructed to be a sequence of twitching exhales from subdued joy on a sea of stone-cupped tea and cast-out bread crusts…

eating foods organic, earth sugar and paper rubbing against scratched cheeks.

slide to dozy apparitions pictures in front of my eyes, heart on DVD playback from deleriumdarden court, hammocks on a porch, the smell of brandon on bedsheets, low chairs under desks on carpeted ground. sunlight through moisture through trees through screens through windows. dark snaking hallways and peeling white paint in the town built around a University of sorts.

innocente…living all alone…

Images

Ok, cool. Now that imaging works at least on a primitive level, I’ll start concocting ways to insert images more intelligently. Perhaps I could put a small picture below the “more tactics” banner on the left, like a photo of the week kind of thing. Of course, if your interests lie more on my photography than my ramblings, please check out my photography subsite or my portfolio proper.

By the way, with summer ending, the photo feature should be up in full swing by September 23rd! I’m looking forward to playing with Photoshop in more creative ways.

Trash

Ok, well thinking about money, and what’s possible with HTML, and bending rules and stuff I figured I’d see if I could put an image in an entry, albeit in a manual and obnoxious way.

Here goes…

If you can see that, we’re sweet and I can start putting up small versions of my photography and such. Kind of obnoxious that it was to be inline with the text like that, but templates are messy with the automation we employ.

School’s out…forever?

So school started yesterday. I just realized it now, over my monitor lunch of mustard sandwiches. This is the first time in 18 years that I have missed the first day of school. 18 years. That’s 78% of my life up to this point, and I really don’t remember more than a few camera outtakes about the first 5. So basically my life as I know it is like over, and now for the first time practically ever I have to figure out what that means and not go insane with identity loss.

I guess a lot of people go through this, I wonder if it happens the first day of school for them too? It didn’t even occur to me all summer, it was just another internship…any time now I’d get back to a college town, already have like 10 emails in my inbox about parties, and just grin quitely as a housemate storms past the mammoth entertainment certer, in from Kroger or Giant Eagle with armfuls of Jack Daniel’s and generically labeled “Cola”.

I miss the fact I’ll probably never eat at another cafeteria, unless some number of countless days and knee-high socks later I’m helping my son or daughter move into their dorm. I’ll be gushing over how we _have_ to eat at Newcomb and get to the omelette bar, while Jr. will be grinding his/her teeth just counting the nanoseconds until I un-double park the station wagon and leave him/her to the inaugural parent-liberation.

That’s pretty depressing, isn’t it? The Mo’jox are off basking the warm glow of independence that only $16,000 / semester can provide, while the big purple sofa is already soaking up someone else’s drool. What color is the grass on The Lawn? How many people will throw up tonight as a result of St. Maarten’s? What sort of risque carousing will follow a GSA opening party at Doc’s? Why can’t the lame traffic lights and incompetent driving elderly of Pittsburgh inconvenience me now?

Yea. I guess I’ve been working so much lately at tomorrow I didn’t notice yesterday had come and left without me.

8+ disjunct thoughts

I think I set a new record for greatest stumble from the bed to the office chair. Went to sleep feelin’ groovy, but a combination of the PC waking up (and screen staying on) in the middle of the night with an AC that didn’t shut off, ruined it. So eight hours with the possibility of morning activities sank into ripping myself away from two dreams at once at about 9:05 to stumble out the door with a new shirt at 9:07.

I knew a guy in college that was the master of the stumble. He called it the “sink shower”. Sink Shower Satler (name changed to protect the unwashed) is what we called him. Yes siree, he could throw some deodorant in his pits, cologne on his neck and water over his face and he’d be ready to conquer Alpha Seti Six. And he looked good too.

Unfortunately, I can’t pull this off as my hair is longer and gets greazier faster. But, I had no choice. It was done today and must remain so until I get home at night for a shower (since I live too far away to get one at lunch).

So I’m on the train thinking…

thinking about how huddled form I am on the train, a fixture. Comparing my visage to that of the infamous kobold from Quest for Glory I: a ragged blue mess, making you unsure whether it is an animatable character or simply part of the background.

thinking how my fingernails look like insects, or someone else’s ripples of hyponychium and striated plate.

thinking where are the guys from the graphics lab at Virginia? The revived lab we built…the gLab?

thinking about drinking in Olsson 001 while coding for the CS340 robot games (which we were shafted at by a change in specification during the games).

thinking i want to live inside a cold cheeseburger….when do i get to sleep?

TARE

Do you remember those digital scales from AP physics and chemistry in high school? The ones that had the TARE button on them to reset with the current weight? But of course you were thinking “TARE? Stupid Oxford Metrics or whatever idiot science company in Connecticut…first of all it’s T-E-A-R, and second this has nothing to do with paper or assholes so why is this button on the scale? Why don’t they just say “ZERO” or “RESET”? Crumby moron eggheads failed English.

I think that was a rather inefficient way of saying we’re moving on, so TARE a new page off in your mind before reading on in this blog.

Damn it, I forgot what I was going to write about. Oh yeah. Miles Davis. So there’s the jazz fanatics, the casual listeners, the idiots that put Kenny G on the Weather Channel local forecast, and there’s me. Yesterdays. It’s a good piece. I recommend you find it. And when you do, read the following poem aloud (and ideally have a glass of bourbon on ice with a steamy summer night). The man makes me think things. Lots of things. I miss writing.

Enjoy.

From Eight Years and Ten Thousand Miles, the early works of Steven Rorrer…

Yesterdays
Steven Rorrer

soft and dear your face
on the brim of my mind so late at night
how can I best describe
the way you hang around my thoughts

a 45 that keeps on playing
a duet, horn and piano
up and down the register while I nod
as the bass keeps time

the bourbon in my glass is cold
and I hold it to my forehead with eyes closed
throbbing behind the sweat of my skin
still hot from the fervor of your touch

why are you here so close , when I am far away
every night you sit at my table
sucking the cool menthol from your lips
as the condensed vapor runs down my arm

your eyebrows shaped in dark, thin lines
looking sure, you blink a moment
holding a cigarette between willowy fingers
as you uncross your legs and adjust your seat

here every night at this time I drink alone
but you join me just the same
I wonder where you are; are you sleeping
or up late alone as well, sitting there with me

Happy

So Nobue got a job with a supplement company just down the street from Kyoto eki. This is really big for her, it’s her first like career job and she really worked hard to get it. When she called to tell me she got the job, she couldn’t stop laughing she was so happy and I think people were rioting in joy in her room. So I bought her a huge armful of miniature sunflowers and such and had it trucked down there to meet her Saturday morning.

Yeah.

I’m happy for her. I’m really happy for her. Bittersweet, oh yes. I guess I’ll continue watching from the sidelines. Or maybe I should just leave the stadium.

End of summer

Though a little late (given I disclosed the information to a certain party manually already), here is the last entry penned during my fabulous summer vacation. Now that it’s a week later the impact is beginning to wear off and leaving me feeling lousy and confused again, but oh well. There’s not like I can do anything about it anyway and it would probably just bore you to hear me talk about it more.

…Originally recorded August 17th…

So I’m sitting on the floor in the end of a car on the Hikari Superexpress. It’s hot, I suppose that the tails of the train aren’t air conditioned. Two hours and forty-four minutes to Tokyo. My contacts are in so I can’t sleep yet, but we’ll see how that goes. I just survived a potentially disasterous event: Nobue and I had coffee. I give myself a 9.2 actually; no one cried and I didn’t beg or ask for a thing. True to my form I made my feelings quite clear and said that I wasn’t over her and I wanted to be able to understand her and give her what she needed, to complete her. Other than that it was pretty amicable: how was work? what am I doing? what she’s working on….God she was beautiful. So beautiful it made my fingernails ache not to touch her.

She said she’d never met up with an ex-boyfriend before, but she wanted to see me, so I guess that counts for something. Our mutual friend had told her the day before that I was in Nara, so she called me today when I was at lunch in Osaka. To say that I lost all power in my limbs and voice is an understatement. It was a damn good thing sitting down, seriously. There are so many paths my conscious mind could follow now that would send me into the throes of suffering, but I’m not even going to enumerate them. I’m taking out my contacts and going to sleep.

What the hell am I going to do with myself?

Kyoto

…Originally recorded August 14th…

I’ve been in Kyoto for three hours now. So far it’s been like visiting your old high school with a hangover…after having been dumped at prom. Though it’s a big city, I’m still in fear of running into someone I know. I’ve walked a grand arc through the places I used to frequent. I feel like I’m on an empty tour bus, “Wasteland of the Ignorant Fallen”. It’s still at least another half an hour until I see Rodney, but given my current mindset and his usual approach to support, I’m not sure I’m entirely looking forward to it. I want to be in a bed, near an open sliding glass door, inches from this rain and miles from anyone else.

Half the girls in this damn town look like her. Same hair, same makeup, same shoes, socks, build. Or maybe I’m seeing more similarities that there really are. [Ever seen Vertigo?] I’m actually quite disgusted with myself for the way I’m handling this whole thing, but I guess that’s why I’m in this situation: because of the way I handle things.

18 minutes.

I’m out of the rain, but sitting by the subway entrance at Shijo Karasuma is probably one of the top five places I could find trouble.

“The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation”, mine just happens to be punctuated by the occasional scream.

Economy

…Originally recorded August 14th…

55% of Japan’s 4 trillion dollar economy is domestic consumer spending. I’m on a budget of about 10 dollars a day for food, and that’s all for eating out as I don’t have a kitchen. Kyoto’s posh shopping district is in some ways even fancier that Tokyo’s Ginza. Shijo dori stretches from the Kamogawa to Karasuma and along the way is an avenue of specialty shops and department stores. The fine stone sidewalks are covered, so even in the rain commerce may commence unhindered. Jewelry shops and specialty tea houses nuzzle between the towering obelisks of Hanshin, Hankyu and Daimaru. The Japanese deaprtment store is a wonder of brillant presentation, each one feels like a Saks or a Bloomingdale’s with a cavalcade of meticulously arranged wares from Gucchi to gouda. They seem expensive to me but appear to be quite popular, always jammed with women with 3 bags on each arm. I usually feel underdressed just going there, but to see the marvel of better living is worth it.

I never wanted to be rich until I came to Japan and saw the packaging.

Lovers

…Originally recorded August 14th…

There are no lovers at the Kamogawa today. The steady rain continues, making the river run high and quickly. I’m perched like a pelican under my umbrella on a red granite bench, a small plastic bag for a seat cushion. Here, alone at the Kamogawa, just north of Gojo, I look across to the west bank and see the large pagoda’ed restaurant where just about this time last year I was taking Nobue’s picture. She was so beautiful…it made me feel strangely on edge, but weak.

I wonder why I came back up here. To torture myself is the only thing I can imagine. Maybe I thought I could come to terms with things somehow, but the contrary is quite true. It just makes me wish I would run into her. But if I did, I have no idea what I’d say…wanting to speak the precise words needed to make it all back to the way it was…to make it all perfect and magical, her and I in love like I thought we were. But the truth is there are no such words. There is no combination of feelings or gestures on appearances in any reality that would change things, let alone me understanding the way she felt. And as Reagan said “you can’t change her mind about how she feels, and even if some how you miraculously could, isn’t that something you don’t want, really?”

My heart is so twisted, I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore…a mix of pain, longing, peace and joy from memories’ nostalgia of everything dead.