I walked into smack into a concrete wall over a...

And I never get anything done

I walked into smack into a concrete wall over a low doorway yesterday, and this morning I was so disoriented I didn’t go to work. It was probably half from physical pain and half from personal loathing that fostered the former. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do on a day off, I almost always get nothing done, and just end up feeling worse than when I called in sick, because of guilt. I stayed in bed until three, which means I more or less slept fourteen hours. After that I just did what I usually do to abuse my body when I’m down– ate a half pound of cheddar and watched TV. It’s now ten and I guess I’m going to bed soon. It’s been raining constantly since last night, so I guess someone could say this makes me feel worse, or justified, or something.

I feel rotten for a lot of reasons. I hate myself for being so unprofessional and doing such a bad job of handing myself at work. I make bad judgment calls, I’m weak, and I always have something to complain about. I can’t handle any kind of relationship. Because whether I screw up in action or not is just a matter of timing and alcohol, because all I am is lonely. I hate how I’m so starved for attention in general, and drinking just makes it all the more obvious. I want to feel pure, and good about myself, knowing that I’m a good person, and I do good things. I don’t want to feel tempted and drawn into sloth, gluttony, and conceit.

I want to make beautiful things, but when I have the time presented to do that, I just do mindless things to fill up the space because it’s too depressing to get started and I don’t feel motivated. I’m tired virtually all of the time, just emotionally, which makes me tired physically. I’d say it was my circumstances, but the truth is I’m probably just tired with myself. Everything that sucks in my life is my fault and of my making. And just whining like this shows how lame and self-centered I really am, because even my tired, dissatisfied ennui is like indescribable levels of comfort and peace greater than probably half of the world even has a chance to experience.

I feel like I’m making no progress whatsoever in my life, because all I do is abuse and fuck up every relationship I can create. Interest rates go up and I slip farther into debt, and scores of follow up emails go unwritten or end up heartlessly responded. I have tons of phone numbers, but how many of those people know me for what I really am and aren’t disgusted by it?

All I see are warped, distant images of what I think would make me happy, and they float on clouds so far away I can obsess and dream about being satisfied if I had them, but whenever they drift close enough to become reality they just grow tainted and hollow from my the poison within that creeps out through my skin.

The boy with the green handkerchief and the red...

The boy with the green handkerchief and the red badge of courage

I was lucky enough to be able to carry the omikoshi today, since I was at work until about 11:40 last night (that’s beta). Suffice it to say today rocked and there was no better Sunday spent in recent memory. But boy, does it hurt. You can’t accurately comprehend what over a ton of wood and gold means on twenty-five mens’ shoulders. If it was just carrying, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it BOUNCES– left and right, up and down, and it leaves a mark [see picture]. But we do it with pride, and we pay respect to the village elders and to the god that lives within.

Today I wore my first tabi (kind of like a sock but a shoe), and the full garb of a devout village partitioner, thanks to the kindness and support of Tanaka-san and her family. When on break I plied a new mother with a vast array of questions on childbirth and what it feels like to be a parent as she held her fragile, sleeping, one month old cherub.

I vaguely remember going to a very long party afterwards, but there was drinking, cheered chugging, and eating, and Billy Joel, and then I decided to leave, since I had ridden my bike from home to Yushima (about a forty minute ride to the other side of town). So I made the long voyage back, Rt. 17 to Sotobori dori to Yasukuni dori to Ome kaido. I then got bored so I stopped at Shinjuku station and ate rice cookies and drank a Draft One while helping some drunk high school girl and her friends, all of which reminded me far too much of a typical third-year night at Virginia. I gave the poor rag doll of a person my TEPCO handkerchief, even though she was for the most part unconscious, and after about an hour of idle chit-chat and cajoling I came home, and here I am drinking mint tea and wanting to take my (long since expired) contacts out.

Japan is a blast, and a living textbook, and it will be a countrywide classroom of enlightenment and wonder until the day I die.

I think a lot. I really can’t imagine not...

Think, think, think, think

I think a lot. I really can’t imagine not thinking as often as I do. Some people say I think too much. A lot of people say I think too much. I think when I’m in the bathroom; I think when I’m walking down the hall; I think when I’m riding my bike home from work every day. My dad spends a lot of time on the road driving to visit job sites. I think it’d drive me nuts not really doing anything but driving down interstates, but he says he likes it because it gives him time to think. He may be the only person I’ll never eclipse in hours logged consciously thinking. I wonder what he thinks about. He doesn’t talk much, so it’s gotta be pretty non-trivial stuff.

As I said I think on the way home from work. I even think about what I think about, and file it all away in invisible drawers. If you asked, I’d probably tell you that sixty percent of the time I’m thinking about sex. It’s kind of cliche’, but I guess it’s true. Overall I guess I think about sex more now than I ever did in college, but the environment in which I’m forced to travel in kind of fosters it actually, if you think about it. This is mostly at night, so I’m tired from work. And of course night is time you’re most likely to be feeling rascally. And there’s not too much to look at. It’s dark, I’m riding uphill for several miles of construction-riddled war zone, and just about the only thing that stands out are the people walking down the sidewalk. There aren’t many, but nine out of ten are women aged twenty to forty. And they all have on the cutest outfits. Tokyo women have such nice style. The demographic truth is that there are several million more women in Japan than men, and markedly more so in the big cities, because that’s where the better jobs are supposedly. I’m not a sex-fiend, or anything; your body tells you things and the fantastical human mind twists and amplifies those things. I don’t make a practice of hunting down every pair of heels in a skirt, but the there is a very Faulkner-esque sense of meaty mortality present in my mind. But this is just a fraction of what I think about. It just happens to occur almost entirely on the road at night, with the dull throbbing knowledge that I’m going home to a house occupied only by a handful of Moogles and mini-carrots.

You know, it’s like the best way for things to happen is to not think about them, if you can help it. But I generally don’t like the idea of not thinking because that just seems apathetic and base. As sentient, creative beings we have so much potential, and to just let stuff happen seems like a hell of a waste. Because if you just wait for things to happen, they’re not going to. My friend Adrian once received a Christmas present in the form of a t-shirt that read, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” This reminds me of something Tsunetomo says,

Until the age of forty it is best to gather strength. It is appropriate to have settled down by the age of fifty.

I suppose you’re supposed to be satisfied with how good things are (however good that is), because if you always want what you don’t have, you’ll never enjoy what you do. But if you never have ambitions to improve yourself or your standing, what does that say about humanity? It’s pretty fatalist and weak, and we might as well all be hunter-gatherers.

On a clerical note, I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not realizing until last night that Brandon’s birthday was this week. I know I’d be a little bruised if my birthday came and went and he didn’t say anything. I mean, I know when it is, and I always have, I just didn’t realize how late in the year it already was. Pretty lame. Something must be done about this.

FF8 Airship music (making this up as I listen)
Beat in your soul and you’re flying so fast and far away,
Dancing-dancing-dancing
A blue feather before a sea-of-clouds
And you can swing breathe, and fall

Inside the fantasy you’ve longed for
Inside the dreams you knew

Over the hills and woods that grew when you were..young…
Beat in your soul and you’re flying
Dancing and dancing dancing now
A blue feather before a sea of clouds

Sounds like a mid-80s David Bowie or Moody Blues song.

Last night I met Yamamoto-san and Nakajima-san, and we had Okinawan food (my third goya dish of the week), and I drank a glass of 120 proof liquor, finished off with a bottle labeled “Ureshii Wain” (happy wine). I had some fucked up dreams about running around through the construction zone on Yamate dori, with Yamamoto-san reading vibes from the ground to tell which way to go to find food. I fell asleep at my desk about three times today.

Getting back to things happening without thinking about them, I think if now was three years ago, I’d be worrying a lot more about my relationship, and very hungry for active scoping, but instead it’s like my mind is in another room and I have these crazy-doped up half thoughts about being married and having kids and stuff. Not like “I need to make these things happen”, but more like it’s just general acceptance of something to be taken for granted. This is not orthogonal to the way I’d expect to feel, but it’s definitely a good slerp away from the base orientation from which I traditionally have looked at things. It doesn’t seem bad at all though, just something that’ll happen sooner or later, and like most things that take time and effort be incredibly challenging but infinitely rewarding.

[What the hell am I saying? I’m twenty-five! Aren’t a little young for this> …ack.]

I should be fat. I’ve had like four thousand calories today just because I’m so bored that I have to eat. I’ve been over every scrap of data on the internet, written a blog, napped, and done about thirty pages of kanji homework. All that’s left now is to play some emulated games I guess. I’m just too damn good at the one I’m making.

On the way in to work today I was heading down the...

A short, surreal moment

On the way in to work today I was heading down the crosswalk at the intersection of Kyu-Yamate and Rt. 246 and I just happened to pull left around a group of oncoming pedestrians at the same time someone else was performing a mirror maneuver from behind them.

“Yield to tonnage” applies to bicycles as well I guess, and so my basket and fender job beat his micro-wheel foldable bike, but it was pretty clear there was going to be some kind of mess unless I did something. This wasn’t a series of clear thoughts though, it was just a reaction, so I poured on the brakes and somehow with my twenty-five year old reflexes managed to jack knife my bike so the rear wheel swung out to the left, bringing me orthogonal to my previous course and his front wheel actually slid under the clearance of my frame behind the fork, so all that happened was a little tap of handle bars and a brief face-to-face encounter. He immediately said in a meek voice “I’m sorry.” and I reflexively spat out “Gomen, gomen.” (Sorry, sorry.) as I kicked the tail back out behind me and started moving again. This all took place in about a second in a half. I probably I should have like stopped to see if he was all right, but since it was just a fender tap and shock, I guess it wasn’t any big deal. It did make me wonder though if a more serious collision occurred would I actually stop to see if the other person was ok.

I’ve been thinking lately that I really want my old Schwinn World Traveler back, even if the rear wheel is run over and bent. I guess I either convince my dad to go to a lot of trouble or I find great success in Japanese net auctions.

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Actually, I can’t clearly remember the last...

I want to eat spaghetti

Actually, I can’t clearly remember the last time I cooked something western for dinner. I left work at eight-thirty today while the rain had let up, thinking I could return home before it got worse. But of course I was a full twenty seconds down the road before it started up again, not torrential, just a good, steady low pressure rain. Though not the kind of person who won’t stop for directions (still, I rarely need them), I am the kind of person that will never backtrack under any circumstances just because I can’t stand the idea of wasting time. So I tied my five dollar GAP painter’s shirt around my head like a turban and rode home, getting myself and my BKB soaked, just because that’s the way I am. It’s like Tsunetomo says,

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower you try not to get wet and quickly run along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

So, I was resolved to get wet, and wrapped the shirt only to keep the rain out of my eyes and improve visibility.

In any case, that’s why I’m so hungry. Because the house has no preparation-free food, and I worked my tail off integrating new assets into our game today. I said I was going to write the next three posts in Japanese, and technically I did, but I had to remove one of them due to a work-related blunder. Still, I think I did a good job, even though anyone who speaks both languages fluently will probably be disappointed with the disparate contrast of my writing styles in each language. I’d say it’s fifty percent the fact that I can’t speak coolly and verbosely in Japanese, and fifty percent because it’s just difficult to convey this markedly western sort of diatribe in my nascent Asian tongue.

But I want spaghetti, the really awesome sauce that my mother makes so wonderfully and I fail at so miserably due to the fact the best meat I can afford in Japan is ground pork and beef mix. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I had red meat. It’s just ridiculously expensive here.

I’ve been watching My So Called Life more and more recently, and it just snows me because it’s a) obviously quite nostalgic, and b) so dead on accurate; then, now, and fifteen years down the road. I’ve been thinking lately how much I love acting, and how fulfilling it is to entertain people. I guess it’ll be a long, long time before I can ever do a half-decent job acting in Japanese though, so I’d be better off focusing my efforts on finding an English-speaking troupe in Tokyo. I’m sure there are several.

The never-ending wealth of community activities in Honmachi are extended by the addition of a kendo class in June. Though this is probably the worst possible time in the project to try to pick something up, I’m going to try my damnedest to make something work out.

I’ve been invited to help carry omikoshi on Saturday. Maybe if I totally grind it out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning I can make it. Cheer for me.

友達のルイさんはすげぇ上手なアーチスト。彼女は色んな本の絵を書きます。ルイは僕の日本の一番古い友達だ。...

電話で9です

お久しぶり!なんか、二ヶ月くらいまったく英語ばっかりだったので、ごめんね。それで、次の三つのブログは日本語だけで書く予定です。日本語をもっとつかえるようになりたいから、よく使われている日本語とかを勉強している。ちょっとずつちょっとずつネットで新聞などを読んでる。特に僕の良く知ってるの話題、例えばゲームの新発売。

友達のルイさんはすげぇ上手なアーチスト。彼女は色んな本の絵を書きます。ルイは僕の日本の一番古い友達だ。2002年のエンターテインメント会議(IWEC)で会いました。僕は大学院の先生と一緒に会議を参加した。その後、京都へ行って僕の実習期間開始の予定があった。会議で僕の上司と先輩に紹介した。それから、先輩は飲み会でルイさんを紹介した。その時からず?っと友達だったよ。彼女は僕の最初の萌え系先生でした。そして彼女は芸術を勉強して絵を描いている。インディ漫画を作って出した。僕のコピーは特別なサインがあります。(わい!)本当にカッコイイ物だ!見てご覧。

一冊は「Powerpuff Girls」のパロディー、そしてその他の二冊は電子少女とナースについてです。

この本を作ったのはずいぶん昔だ。ルイは学校を卒業して、今は就職している。たまにバイトで他の絵を描いています。最新作は「すい?とPゴールド」シリーズの4冊目の「コスプレカフェ殺人事件」ソフトマジックオンラインとかAmazonで買えます。本屋さんにもあるはずなので、今週僕は探して買うと思う。

ルイのネットサイトをおすすめします。

ルイさんにこのポストの確認と修正ではお疲れ様でした。^^;;

Unfortunately, it seems that I follow the Mariners...

Rooting for the home team

Unfortunately, it seems that I follow the Mariners a little too closely (ask me what young somedays pinch hitter Greg Dobbs’ OBP is [.222]), and the local baseball scene not closely enough. If you asked me to name all of the teams in the Pacific and Central leagues, I’d probably field about a seventy percent success ratio, roughly equivalent to my knowledge of Japanese prefectures. My obsession with the Pacific Northwest is not entirely at fault; my allegiances in Japanese baseball are mixed and not so deeply rooted, much like my fandom of American sports circa age eleven. The Orix Blue Wave [recently merged with the Kintetsu Buffaloes] has a place in my heart because that’s where Ichiro gained his fame before making the noble trek east. Similar circumstances exist with the Yokohama Baystars, but due to the membership of Kazu Sasaki. The first place I lived in Japan was Nara, whose neighboring Osaka is home to the most maniacal of Japanese baseball fans, those supporting the Hanshin Tigers. (Never, never, never surrender!) Now I’ve lived in Tokyo for two years, so I guess I’m supposed to like the Giants (the national team with unending parallels to the Yankees).

However, though all these teams have had their ups and downs (more downs than ups except in the case of the Giants), Japanese baseball seems unique to me that though there are only twelve teams, a good number of them are quite obscure and lacking mass market fanbases. In Japan corporations own the teams (and many of them have endowed their names as such), and this is how we end up with clubs named after computer and office furniture rental companies (Orix), and meat distributors (Nippon Ham Fighters). But perhaps none are quite as unmenacing as the Yakult (obscure soft drink company) Swallows. Yes, the Swallows. A tiny little red-breasted bird that makes even the Hiroshima Carp seem menacing.

But as I said, I’m largely ignorant for lack of reading the news other than the wimpy web version of the Mainichi (but this is changing). So I was quite surprised to learn that Tokyo is even more like the New York of Japan in that we have a lesser-known, less well-funded club a few kilometers from the Tokyo Dome, much like the Mets of Queens. The Swallows do indeed play in Tokyo, and at the Meiji-Jingu baseball park, a surprising ten minute walk from my previous home in Sendagaya. Now I know where those cheers and bright lights were coming from on the days FC Tokyo was away.

Meiji-Jingu baseball park [1 of 2], is a lot like Harry Grove Stadium where the Frederick Keys play. Baseball is not full of steroid cream-lubed behemoths here; for the most part we play in humble single deck stadiums with moderate concessions ranging from thunder sticks to fried sardines. Beer is served by student workers, hunched-over from the pony kegs strapped to their backs, and the “American dog” [corn dog] is served right along side the octopus ball with a smile. Prices are quite reasonable– about fifteen dollars for open seating, and it’s all happy families and balloons at the seventh inning stretch. The jumbotron (courtesy of Toshiba) has somehow gotten a western ad company to do the player introductions, and so crazy MTV-ish video sequences are accompanied by obnoxious hip-hop music that I can guarantee virtually no one understands.

But for the most part it’s quaint. This is what baseball probably was like in America forty years or so ago, given it bears a festive Japanese flair. The cheerleaders are men in long happi coats (traditionally used for festivals, or big sales at appliance stores), with rally bugles and abnormally loud and energetic boastings. Each team has its own special cheers. The Swallows employ a sea of turquoise umbrellas upon scoring a run, though I’m not quite sure why yet. Every player on the team receives his own custom rallying cry when he comes to bat, with a standard array of calls depending on the player’s generalized personality. One Yokohama swatter in particular draws a cheer about a frog due to the impressively low squat he employs for his stance.

One thing that stands out, having now seen half a dozen games in Japan, is that there is a lot of really bad pitching in the majors. Most starters don’t last more than three innings. I’ve seen terrible play after play blown due to atrocious control. A great (horrible) example of this is how yesterday the Swallows’ starter intentionally walked the eighth batter to get to the pitcher, who was then walked in turn to load the bases.

Since Giants tickets are so hard to get, and the Swallows’ park is a mere nine-minute subway ride from my house [God, I live in a great location…no more hour-long treks to Yokohama for me!], I think I’ll be going fairly often this summer. I’m laying down a personal goal right now for six games this season. Yesterday’s was the first with a mortifying 12-1 loss to the SoftBank (formerly financially challenged supermarket chain Daiei) Hawks. It was great for the first inning when we were ahead, but after that it was just humiliating. Still, it was a great evening out. The Sapporo draft beer was top-notch (quite acceptably-priced at five dollars), and you can even bring your own food into the stadium if you want.

There are several reasons for this, but they’...

Yes, I post less

There are several reasons for this, but they’re not worth discussing right now. In the meantime I’ll just say that our schedule has been extended again, and now my “vacation” to someplace outside of Japan has been pushed back to July. I was wanting to go to France first, but recently I’ve been dying for a nap on the beach so much that this Hawaii thing people keep recommending is starting to sound more and more like the way to go. Anyway, still two months away (sigh).

It’s Golden Week in Japan, which is one of the three times a year when basically everything goes to sleep for ten days or so. We have a title to ship, so that didn’t happen for me (you may remember that last year I went to Bangkok), but since my manager is benevolent, and I am eternally waiting for assets to integrate, I did get two days off this week.

Tuesday I went to Kamakura, which is dubbed the “little Kyoto” of the east. It has a lot of temples and shrines and the like, mainly because it became the seat of government after a grand series of battles about a century ago. I had a big plan to see lots of stuff, but you know how things go when you’re with someone else. No one is as Clark Griswold-crazy as I am when it comes to checkpoints and sightseeing. Fortunately I am getting mellower and mellower, and it doesn’t really bother me much when we only accomplish twenty percent of my initial objectives.

For lack of a printer, I took advantage of the high resolution nature of the PowerShot to score some completely readable maps from the web and elsewhere, accessible at virtually any time. This small glade is part of the Kakikomidera, a temple dedicated to the protection of battered wives. A sad, but inspiring sanctuary. Also, we have here the second largest Buddha in Japan (the first of course being the one at Todaiji whose nostril-sized hole I wriggled through last summer). Originally, it was housed in a temple, but a killer tsunami washed it away. This place is not right near the seashore. Wow. So from this we learn that the timeless patience of Buddha is stronger than any storm or shelter built by man.

The train ride to Kamakura is a bit long, so I used my Yodobashi points and got a turquoise Nintendo DS and a copy of Nintendogs to play with on the way down. I now have a Welsh Corgi named Ein. (If you get the reference, two points for you!) We haven’t won any dog contests yet as “sit” is still a hazy subject, but we did find a soccer ball in the trash. Once used games become cheaper, I’m sure I’ll have Meteos, Electroplankton, and some other yet-to-be-released DS title. Maybe something with music and kitschy humor.

It’s been a week or so since my last gardening update, and as we can see here the edamame are now about six inches tall, and the carrots that get more sun are, not surprisingly, far more well along than those in the shade. The monster mustard greens are constantly fatigued, but there’s little to be done about it unfortunately. Spearmint tea is just coming into season. Hurrah. And with that it’s past bedtime after a long day of sports and talk about techno.