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Tundra

僕は簡単なものが好きかな。単純の生活が欲しい。地球と一緒に調和です。一日が終わってから、満足の感じが欲しい、成就の感じ。僕は文句が言えない。東京が好き。日本が好き。私の存在が好き。この美しい存在を報いたいです。誰に良く分からないから、他の存在の事に報いたい、生けている物。どういう風にこの世界に生まれたの?なぜ常僕は自分の存在を複雑的に作り変える?今日はややこしかった。だけど、良い日だった。学べた。他の人と人生を分け合えた。良かった。

今日また見出せた。風が吹けたり、太陽が上げたり落ちた。明日、凄く魅力的な日を作りたい。

頭の中の音楽を止まらない。

Skiing

Every muscle in my body is sore. Fortunately, this is a very good thing. It has been a very, very, very long time since I exercised to the point of really being able to feel it. Twenty-five miles on my bicycle around town on a Saturday just doesn’t do it anymore. But now, I am tiptoeing around like I’m barefoot in a room full of mousetraps with a spine board on my back.

I went skiing in Fukushima over the weekend, travelling the Tohoku Kosokudoro (Northeast Highway) past Nasu, much like I did when hitchhiking to Sendai last summer, only this time in the lovely accommodations of a modestly sized tour bus. Unfortunately, this time there was no complimentary showing of Whiteout.

I’ve been skiing only four times in my life, though recently I’ve been doing so more frequently with staggering acceleration. The first time I went I was being hosted at the University of Utah, having been accepted as a Ph.D. candidate to their School of Computing. It was actually a really nice program, and I was entertained in a manner almost on the level of a dot-com bubble Microsoft intern. We had about three banquets, two parties, a drinking night, and to top it all off went to Alta just outside of Salt Lake. I tried my best, but had a problem with regulating my speed. It was late March, and consequently the snow had thawed and refrozen into a very hard layer of ice. I left the slopes up with a concussion because I couldn’t for the life of me control my high speed falls. At the mixer later that evening, I ended up spending most of the affair in between the tiger silk sheets of my host’s bed, just wishing everyone downstairs would party a little quieter. My head throbbed with wincing agony for three days.

One would think that this would discourage me from going again. Yet, for better or worse, I’m not one to learn from pain, or more positively, have it discourage me from doing something twice. In the winter of 2004 Mikiko and I joined a tour group in Nagano with one of my old friends from ATR. Unfortunately, the three years of not skiing had hardly improved my skills and resulted in one more concussion, with me missing yet another party to the dismay of my hosts. Perhaps I am doomed.

However, I’ve now been skiing twice this year and surprisingly had no major injuries, which I believe is on account of rain. Both times started out rather dry and uninspiring, with lots of people to wait behind at the lifts and to carefully pick my way around on descent of the bunny slopes. Luckily though, Sunday was an absolutely horrid day weather-wise as it was foggy and raining with steadily strengthening winds for the better part of the day. What this did was drive all the “casual skiers” off the slopes and into the cafes and hot springs to beat an early path back to Tokyo. This left the dedicated (read: crazy) to go about skiing harder and harder, taking on slopes of increasing difficulty, making upwards of six runs an hour. The rain poured and I mummified my cell phone with toilet paper to keep it mostly dry in my drenched inner coat pocket. The more the crowd thinned the bolder I got, tackling steeper slopes with quicker turns until there were precisely five people left on the mountain.

So alone I set to zigzagging down the intermediate courses with flair, my legs compressing and unloading like the suspension of a finely-tuned car, lowering my stance to a virtual crouch, dragging the tip of my uphill pole along the ground for magnificent sweeps to curb my speed. Resonance echoed through bone as my gloved fingers raked the icy ground. Though I occasionally found trouble keeping my weak leg in line on turns to the left, the converse was rife with the satisfaction of simple physical purity, much like a perfect golf swing. I fed off of the frothing verve that erupted from the harmony with earth; a bond between the snow, my heart, and the universe. It pleases me to no end to have my temerity repaid several times over with such visceral, tangible rewards. The beast that lies within hungers to exert itself with such abandon, and the thinking man which holds its leash is ravenous to sing about it.

[All in all, I ended up skiing for about seven hours on Sunday, right up until they turned lift off at the resort. I was the last one down Andromeda (Why are so many slopes named after constellations?), and the nighter four color lights of blue, purple, green, and yellow cast fanciful shadows across the thinning powder. I must have started exerting a certain air of accomplishment as I was asked once to carry an errant ski up the lift by an attendant, and cheered on by two separate groups of people while braving the woods to retrieve a lost pole.]

In my place, in my place, living lies that I couldn...

Tatami thoughts

In my place, in my place, living lies that I couldn’t face. I was scared, oh yeah.

Minutes make hours, and I am away from the place of my birth. Things mean something, something different to every person, to every person I’ve thought, though far more than any one person should think, thinking about thought and about people, about pianos and things undone, unsaid, and unfelt. Why was life so dramatic then and so subdued now? Is the me that was passionate and admirable lost? It’s like walking in a forest, following yourself side by side on a close but different path, which in time diverges and is obscured by brush; appearing less and less, then a more obscured and alien face, through ice.

How long must I wait for that grand something that is coming for me, for me who is increasingly patient? Do I ever remember what it was I was waiting for any more? How am I supposed to grow, why does really everything I grew from have to fall away? Why do I have to look after it singing please, please, come back and sing it out to me, come back to me. Can I live and not become what I always swore against: reactionary, cynical, and jaded?

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry…

On a highway no an off-ramp, I lived in Vista just north and east of Carlsbad, the land of rainless nights and sunny construction. Winter at the beach and wading into the Pacific in February to be washed clean. Back, back to something I believed in, what an ignorant asshole, how did I wander away from that wide starry-eyed dreaming? Under stars on a river bank, describing passion and verve in simple words and dying to touch a soft hand. Did I drive myself into the worst kind of accident? Not a wreak that ends a selfishly violent life, but a nagging injury, one so subtle and minor that I’ll never notice it until my case is terminal.

What is really happening, and who am I to have opinions on how others should live their lives? The older I get the more thinking time I collect and the surreptitiously bigoted I become, pleading so desperately for an open mind but growing ever farther from the simple careless minister of life that I romanticize.

I’ve got to tell you in my loudest tones, that I started looking for a warning sign. And I’m tired, I should not have let you go. So I crawl back into your open arms. �@

Coldplay is the bridge from my college life to the bleak, chained wasteland of my twenties.

And in a wide sea of eyes, I see one pair that I, recognize. And I know that I am the luckiest.

SOMEDAY I WILL BE ME. [–written in exceptionally large, rounded cursive, like the kind I used in eighth grade.]

You can do anything you want with your life, we are a free people and that’s a wonderful thing. If I am ever to be a prisoner, it will only be of my own doing, to myself.

What do you want, David?

To not forget who I was, but be a stronger and more beautiful version of me. I want to mean something to myself and understand it.

I’m not tired, I just sleep.

I think way too much.

I need to live more simply, cleaner, with more control over my life. In my life; there are good games to play and be a part of you, but don’t waste your time on bad ones.

I was thinking of something…think I’ll get it done yesterday.

[Here I have a sketch that I drew quite randomly, just following the ever-moving silhouette of my hand on the paper beneath the pen.]

Gotta make a living, gotta pay the rent. Is that really supposed to be such a big deal? NHK some sort of shut up the misconceptions in my head such a terrible thing, stopping caring, such a terrible thing indeed. Much left me no I’m sorry I shouldn’t leave. The world has more for you. Good night. Let the moonlight take the lid off of your dreams.

Am I right? I’m lonely and I’m right.

Thinking for me is like a toy that I always carry with me. If there is ever a moment where I’m not actively doing something, I slide into myself and start playing. It’s like a ball which I throw back and forth between two hands, an endless game of catch with myself.

Long bus trips always mean two things: poor climate...

Bus trips mean adventure

Long bus trips always mean two things: poor climate control and the same canned rowdiness at the back of the bus. Long ago I had my first bus trip with the TJ thespians to see Blue Man Group and Broadway. Cliques solidified faster than crazy glue and on the way back Kyle Thomas lost out in a game of truth or dare, prompting him to walk up and down the aisle with his pants pulled down saying “Take me as I am.”

It’s always been impossible to sleep. Next to the window is freezing and the aisle seat is beyond boiling. It’s almost as bad as a plane. When I came to Japan during winter break at the end of 2002 to look for a job, Nobue and I took an overnight bus to Kyoto to save money. She got a terrible fever from the poor circulation (or maybe because I left the heater on while we slept in our Akihabara efficiency). She had to go to the hospital and then back to her house where her mother could take care of her, so I spent the “night” (5:30am to noon) in a love hotel near Yasakajinjya. A depiction of the Disney Snow White resided over my pink bed and tiny bottles of complimentary massage oil. The next day I met Nobue’s mother at the Hankyu store and then I was smuggled into her house (in case her father came home). Then we spent the afternoon wrapped in many sweaters while her mother made me the best damn pork cutlet ever sired on the face of the earth.

There’s something very true about all of this, as Kamiyama expounds in Cromartie.

さらに、今日からブログはなるべく一杯に日本語を書くの積もりです。ずっとでは無くてけど、まあ、取り得ず&#...

もっと

最近あまりブログしてないね。なんだけ、仕事はそんなにピンチでは無いけど、何となく頭は大分仕事モードだ。先日一杯優先リストを書いてるん。個人的に幸せの為、生活のバランスの為に必要の事が入っています。例えば、「入ってます」と「入っています」と何が違う分かる?もちろん。貴方は恐らく日本人だから、丁寧語分かる。しかし、昨日まで何が違う分からなかった。僕としては「入ってます」だけは正しいと思ってた。それから、僕のメールとかはよくそのまま書いた。^^;; それで、僕はおかしい事を言えば、絶対に教えて下さい。

さらに、今日からブログはなるべく一杯に日本語を書くの積もりです。ずっとでは無くてけど、まあ、取り得ず…だけど、何時も日本語だったら、海外の友達や家族は我慢出来ないかもしれない。それから、彼らはあきらめる。

とにかく、まず一ヶ月に翻訳と外国語を勉強して頑張ります。よろしく!

因みに、このエントリー名、「もっと」と言うは「Judy and Mary」の曲名。メチャンコおもろい。最近会社で一杯新しい(僕として)音楽を聞いてみてます。サンボマスターもかなり好きだ。ここまで僕の一番好きな歌手は:

SMAP
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION
サンボマスター
Judy and Mary
宇多田ひかる
千歳元
浜田真理子
米澤智子
葉葉 ;)

I don’t know very much about my Great-grandmother...

Generations

I don’t know very much about my Great-grandmother Armstrong, that is to say almost nothing. What I do know, however, is that she pioneered several of our family’s cherished recipes, which are quite simple to replicate in theory, but very difficult to get right. Aside from that, I know that she was very sick when my mother was pregnant with me, and by the time my mother went into labor she had already been in the hospital for some time, weak and unresponsive. However, the story goes that upon being told that her grandson’s wife had just given birth to a new baby boy, she opened her eyes for the first time in days and smiled. Armstrong is a good name. It’s an old English name.

My grandmother sent me this picture of Great-grandmother Armstrong, but this seems odd as she doesn’t like computers. I think perhaps it’s really from my Aunt Lily or Uncle Al, who are more tech-saavy and prone to check her mail for her. Also arriving this week were some more of my Christmas presents. Surface post means boat when you live in Asia, which translates into six to eight weeks plus customs. I received one gift last week which included a bottle of our family standard Royall Lyme cologne. Also enclosed were a couple of Farley Mowat novels my grandmother has been trying to get me to read since age eleven.

Having asked for Dances with Wolves at first I thought grandma was a little confused and just was focusing on the whole “wolf” aspect of things too much, but as it turns out I did receive Dances… yesterday, along with some very American breakfast foods. I hope the nice people at Japanese customs in Kawasaki enjoyed themselves with my non-perishable snacks, for they retained them a full two weeks longer than my Farley Mowat books. Oh well, I suppose I can sleep more safely knowing that incoming parcels are spot-checked for hazardous materials, like my Pop-Tarts.

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Years ago, in one of the University of Virginia...

Maid for a day

Years ago, in one of the University of Virginia E-council’s more spirited moments, there was an idea to have a fundraiser in the form of renting a council member as “maid for a day” where they would basically be at a renter’s employ to go about taking care of all the messy business those engrossed in thermodynamics rarely have the time (or inclination) for. I don’t recall exactly how it turned out, I didn’t participate.

Last week in my Mainichi (newspaper) reading, I came across a story about electronics store Yodobashi Camera collaborate with a contingent of maid cafes [cafes where the staff all dress in assorted cute maid-like outfits and refer to customers as “My lord”] in Akihabara to reduce plastic shopping bag waste. This seemed to suit me quite was as I a) ethically turn down the offer of polyethylene bags ninety-five times out of a hundred, b) am a big fan of Yodobashi, and c) am never one to turn down chance to go to Akiba to see something cute. So, I read the fine print and it seemed that essentially the first three thousand customers to Yodobashi’s hobby section the weekend of the 11th would receive canvas “My Maid” bags if they refused the standard plastic ones, at which point they could get them autographed by a plethora of maids from the participating cafes. There was even a “kickoff” event on Saturday. So, I enlisted a fellow moe aficionado from work, and we made plans to hit Yodobashi early Saturday to get a bag.

Unfortunately for me, I somehow quite at the spur of the moment decided to pick Friday as my first return to “casual drinking” after a long hiatus and Yusei and I got liquored up watching Swingers before going out to drink more, meet friends, and eventually end up (as always) playing catch in the small park next to my house at three in the morning. However, luck was with me and my comrade was late as well the next morning, so although I tore across town on my bike to get to the store by ten, I was left with a little casual browsing time before he arrived.

The bag was underwhelming, quite nondescript actually, being not cute or very conventional, and bearing nothing to indicate it had anything to do with being a “My Maid” bag. This probably explains why there was no line, and plenty of bags were left. The hobby section of Yodobashi is regrettably small, so I didn’t have much choice of what to make my token purchase of, but ended up mildly satisfied with a sentimental favorite, a scale replica model of the Keikyu electric train line’s 1000 series. I have not yet had the time to put it together.

Not to be dissuaded by the lack of aplomb with which the event was executed, my friend and I declined interviews from the numerous television stations on the scene and maid our way (Freud) to a cafe in hopes of getting some signatures on our newly acquired (depressingly unaromatic) shoulder bags. So over curry rice and Chinese tea we talked about language, the office, and days gone by; but in the end it was largely for naught as it turns out the cafe we visited was not one of those participating in the event.

Of course I wasn’t going to go home with just an eight dollar plastic train and a stinky blank canvas bag, so I relied on my not so self-effacing nature and approached a number of the maids along Chuo dori, who may commonly be found handing out flyers for various businesses on weekends. The results were mixed, some were dubious, some were busy, but several establishments’ representatives warmed to my mock innocent entreatment for their John Hancocks. Two even happily agreed to have their picture taken with me. I’m not sure if the thick glasses, cap, and 35mm camera helped or hurt.

After running out of maids and parting ways with my friend, I rode to work on the south side of town to help out a couple guys who were putting together a scene I was supporting. By the time I got home, it was two dozen maids, twenty miles, and a stubbly hangover. Not bad for a Saturday.

I finally managed to catch up with all of my queued...

At last

I finally managed to catch up with all of my queued postings from the last month (I think). There are a couple scraps of paper around my desk at home that I’ve been meaning to expand on, but they’re either not time-sensitive or way past their prime.

It’s been a bit, but sometime last month we passed the ten thousand mark on the blog hit counter I started two years ago. It’s kind of obviated by the fact that I get detailed reporting from my host now about the traffic, but since it’s so unobtrusive, I’ll let it be. [You didn’t even know it was there, did you? Look at the very bottom of this page.]

Regardless, I have noticed that the readership has been pretty faithful, about thirteen-fourteen hits a day over the last two years. Either about two dozen of you check in on my life every few days, or a small handful are very dedicated to making sure I don’t flip out. I appreciate that you choose to spend a couple minutes of your free time with me. Thank you for your continued, anonymous support, and I hope to bring more interesting things to look at in the near future. If you have any suggestions or things that you find difficult to use with the site, please let me know.

[Although rather surreptitiously, I have migrated all my travel pictures to Gallery. New content is added their from time to time, so you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed. There is, by the way, syndication (atom) for this blog as well.]