2005, year in review
In a particular movie favored by Brandon and I, a wary and cool Minnie Driver speaks of assessing the status of one’s life:
Everybody’s coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.
At the time of course she was talking about her ten year high school reunion, but I think it can apply to most any sort of premeditated (ha) reflection. Still, 2005 is over and for no reason other than the fact that listing what I’ve done with my time makes it feel slower, here it is:
In 2005 I hoped (though not explicitly resolved to) find a quiet heart, and be at peace with myself, treating those in my life with great respect. I also aspired to get in better shape, eat healthy, drink less, and grow in one art form.
To be honest, I give 2005 a three out of ten for personal growth. No, I’ll give me a four. I eat a lot more soy-based products than I ever have, and have even mastered natto (fermented soy beans with a rancid smell). What this means is the protein I was lacking from not eating (expensive and quite often sickeningly prepared) meat, since I came to Japan, is close (but not enough) to being in balance with a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the increased crude soy intake, I’ve gotten significantly better at cardiovascular health, though not through any great effort of discipline and initiative, but just by the nature of my (often negative) neuroses. It’s no secret that I hate spending more than the bare minimum amount of money and time on nearly everything, so I got lucky when my company moved to someplace in the heart of Tokyo. I now commute a simple twenty-five minute ride from my house that is cheaper _and_ faster by bicycle than subway. It’s not incredibly laborious though, so my quads are only mildly toned. My body fat is down to record levels, however.
Unfortunately, financially and emotionally I didn’t improve much at all (one might say I regressed in the former thanks to exchange and interest rates). Despite constant penny-pinching, I still have less than seven thousand dollars of cash on hand and am nowhere near to accelerating my seventeen year crawl out of my college loans. So much for the power of a graduate degree. Additionally, I got trashed and humiliated myself three times, one incurring a concussion and having my Nintendo DS run over in the process. However, to my credit my casual (read: any) drinking has become almost non-existent during the past three months, but this again may be fiscally and climate-motivated.
Still, the worst I suppose has to be my apparent lack of spiritual and emotional growth. I’m still bitter and depressed about much of the state of my professional life, and am sinking deeper into a rut of resignation and hopelessness. I haven’t gotten better at a damn thing artistically since moving to Japan, in fact I’d go so far as to say that I’ve gotten worse. My photography sucks and I’m lazy, and I make excuses to myself about my computer being slow and my equipment inferior. I also have had a MicroKORG for 2.5 years and haven’?t done jack shit with it. My gardening has not improved either, it was a very bad year for harvest thanks to trash trees and vines blocking my sun and an insect infestation on my mustard greens. The only redeeming thing whatsoever about me is an unexpected advance scholastically. I started studying French and read half a dozen books on Japan, as well as several novels. I failed miserably, however, in setting up a plan for Japanese language accreditation (ni-kyu).
Now that I’m done complaining about how much I suck, here’s the things I did bit by bit to make my life interesting…
I attended a dousoukai (high school reunion) in February and met a few interesting people. I went so far as two interviews with Komatsu electronics, and very briefly considered relocation to Hiratsuka. I attended the annual Game Developer’s Conference for the fourth time, and got to have lunch with Michelle and make amends with Amy. I also suffered a minor breakdown from project-related stress and cried on Randy Pausch’s shoulder.
I went to the beach about HALF A DOZEN TIMES, heavily favoring Enoshima on the Odakyu Line. I was wont to enjoy one of the simpler pleasures in life and fall asleep happily drunk after lunch under an oversized umbrella. I also made it to the remote island Oshima, place of exile for the great Japanese warrior Tametomo. Being a great fan of tradition, I camped out thirteen hours in thirty degree-plus heat to hold a seat for the annual Sumidagawa fireworks.
On my delayed Golden Week break, I hitchhiked to Sendai in Miyagi-ken and camped out by the Hirose river in lieu of an overseas vacation. I got to carry a large omikoshi at Yushima with my new friends from the dousoukai. In early August, I spent my belated obon holiday by going to a rave in Yamanashi prefecture and met some new people there while volunteering. I did considerable research in bicycles, though I still haven’t bought one, despite firm knowledge that I want a full size Miyata 1000.
I also believe I won a friendly competition with a fellow baseball enthusiast by attending four (Japanese) major league games, all rooting for the Swallows.
I helped sell vegetables at the Honmachi bazaar for a second year, as well as provide security for the children’s omikoshi at the end of summer festival.
I kept my Christmas tree from the last holiday alive all year, as well as a fledgling pineapple plant Michelle got for me in Hong Kong.
I made it out of the country for recreation once by visiting Seoul for New Year’s and met some nice people there, and learned to appreciate kimchi. I got to see my best friend and supporter Rodney four times, and was a little sad to find out that he is moving to Singapore for a few years to work on research.
I suppose the biggest thing of all that happened this year was that I went back for my best friend Brandon’s wedding, even though I still haven’t written about it properly (procrastination to do it “right” at its best). Since it’s already late and I have photos to sort, I’m going to pass the buck at least one more time. (You have to give me credit for transcribing all this backlog though!)