Tuesday, December 30, 2003

New Year's Eve in America with Angela. My last post of fading 2003. I haven't been as prolific, as attentive to the ever ready blog, in recent weeks as I've been traipsing all over Northern California enjoying a holiday vacation with family and friends, but I'll be back to it with renewed interest in another week when I get my usual life back. The blog will go on! The vacation has been a timely respite from my usual Japanese regimen, which seems an old memory. I can't imagine what I do in that country.

I don't know what we're going to do tonight. Not exactly, anyway. I know we're driving into San Francisco and that we'll eat somewhere. Right now, I'm drinking holiday blend coffee and tinkering with this computer while Angela gets in a few more winks. I was supposed to wake-up an hour ago to spit out this final addition (edition?) of the year, but couldn't resist sleeping for another hour. I can't be in a rush to do very much while I'm on vacation.

In past years, this has generally not been a day to write home about, but this year seems more promising. I have to find some entertaining activity for both me and Angela. Whatever happens, I don't think we'll complain very much.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Japanese people are shy. If you ask them to describe their personality, they tell you they're shy. Men or women. I believe them. In nearly a year and a half, I've only had a handful of broken conversations with Japanese people. I've befriended a couple people but, for whatever reasons, can't seem to develop a strong relationship with them. They are too busy. They work too much. They don't invite me to do things with them. Maybe they just don't like me, which is highly probably knowing myself as well as I do.

When I'm riding my bicycle around town, there's only one thing coursing through my mind. Ludacris singing: "Move bitch, get out the way." It has become my bicycle mantra.

And there are no sidewalk laws regarding bicycles here. Bicycles rule the avenues or the sidewalks or wherever they happen to roll. Japanese people are like deer in headlights when they see you pedaling down the sidewalk at break-neck speed. In a city with over 8 million people, Japanese people walk around like no one else exists. Perhaps it's just the treatment for foreigners, or perhaps just rude foreigners like myself. They want me to teach them English.

And I don't know if there's another country on the planet that is so obsessed with learning English. A country full of people who won't talk to foreigners because they're too shy, but if you ask them why they study English, they tell you they want to speak to foreigners. That or they want to watch movies without subtitles. Hell, I can't even understand some American movies.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Tom left a few days ago. We had a great time together, and he had a list of women to check-in with while he was here, but I don't think he came away with what he wanted, although he may have gotten more than he bargained for hanging out with me. It's kind of hard to get what you want if you only have a week to work it, though.

It got Winter cold this week all of a sudden. That seems to be the way it happens in Japan. All of a sudden it's the next season. We'd been enjoying an extended fall with relatively mild weather, but now I can't ride my bicycle without wearing gloves.

And it rained today. It hasn't rained too much lately, which is nice, because it usually seems to rain here a helluvalot. It's not so bad to work when it rains, though; you can't do much anyways if it's an off day.

Five more days until I can get on a plane and get out of here for a few weeks. Vacation doesn't come fast enough when you have a plane ticket in your pocket.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Tom arrived last Wednesday and we've been drinking and carousing too much for the few days that he's been here. We were supposed to go to Kyoto yesterday, but after waking at 3PM, we didn't really have the time to do anything which involved serious travel. Instead, we just walked around Umeda and looked at architecture and ate a nice bowl of ramen.

We took a night off from misadventure, last night, and we're going to Kyoto today. What about work? I'm, uh, sick. *coughs*

Tonight, we're going to a club. Dancing. Tom wants to meet some Japanese women. I'll simply be acting as a chaperone. Angela has to work in the morning, otherwise, she would be my date. I'm on my own tonight.

Fortunately, I have a day off tomorrow, so we're going all night. Not something I do that much anymore, but it's easy to lose track of time in this country and party until dawn, especially when you're inside a blackened club, numbed senseless by the strobes and pulsations and bass of the disco.

See you on the dancefloor.

Monday, December 01, 2003

It's seems amazing that another week has gone by again. What have I done during this last week that disappeared from my life? It's hard to capture it beyond saying that I worked, and I worked one extra day last week, which means I had one less day off. You lose track of time when you have to work too much. It's not good.

The days pass especially quickly during the holiday season.

And, yeah, I still have to prepare for the holidays. I haven't even begun to deal with my Christmas gifts. The holidays this year include a trip back to America to visit the family. I missed our annual shindig last year, the first one of my 33-year existence, so I'm looking forward to it. Three weeks of holiday fun encompassing Christmas and New Year's.

There's been quite a few changes in the family, too. I'm bringing my girlfriend, Angela, which will be the first time I brought a significant other to the sacred family Christmas affair; my sister had another baby, Wyatt, congratulations, Ang!; my brother's wife is pregnant; my parents bought a new car; my uncle Tom died, R. I. P.

How do you deal with these changes when you live 5000 miles away from the people you love? I don't know. I'm still working on it. Needless to say, I'm happy to be going to the old folks' home this year, closing another chapter on another year in our lives, celebrating with the people that care the most about me. I hope your holidays are as happy as I think mine will be. Overly sentimentally yours...

Monday, November 24, 2003

Two days inside, in bed, picking the dead skin off my fingers, the remnants of my previous bout with the mystery rash, and sweating out some kind of new sickness while I stare at the big red smile of the portable heater. Body aches and a sharp cough. The cigarets stare at me longingly from across the room.

I managed to do a couple loads of laundry and mostly clean my room, but anything else was simply too exhausting. Even reading was a chore or it just served to put me back to sleep. Thankfully, Angela came over and made me a pot of soup, brought me some kiwis and mandarin oranges.

I'm hoping to return to work tomorrow. It's a kind of financial castration to take a sick day at this job, whoring English to Japanese people. It's really a sales job, which I thought I would never do, but there you have it. It's not the first time I did something I said I would never do, so I guess I'm used to it. The only problem is that I'm not a salesman by any stretch, which makes me the kind of employee that's good enough to keep his job, but not good enough to go beyond that. This company probably rivals McDonald's for turnover, but then McDonald's isn't exactly unsuccessful.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Looking forward to my weekend tomorrow. A normal two-day weekend. I think I'm going to visit a mountain near Osaka. It's the season for viewing fall colors, which means Japanese people visit parks and such and look at leaves. A poetic activity that rivals only blossom-viewing in the Spring. It seems to rain every other day, so I'm hoping for a lucky rain-free day.

Now? Smoking, writing and doing internet stuff until I have to get ready for work, which is fast approaching, so I'm trying to bang this out before I jump in the shower. Waiting for my roommate to finish.

Killed two small cockroaches last night. I thought they would go away when it got colder, but I guess they're just not as big.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

I always dream about my job. Most would probably consider that a dreadful nightmare, but I can't help it. I don't think it's due to serious stress from the work, teaching conversational English. Talking to Japanese people who are learning English can be somewhat repetitive, but it's certainly not stressful.

I also talk in my sleep, which can be a nice combination, if you have a chance to observe it. When I first moved to Osaka, I think I woke-up every night for two weeks introducing myself. When I realized what I was doing, I would lie down slowly and finish my introduction, not quite sure if I was really in my bed or just sleeping through a lesson.

Today was unusually memorable. Initially, the sound of my roommate scuffling to the refrigerator roused me from my slumber. After that, I think I woke-up every half-hour or so, staring through the wreckage of a messy bedroom to navigate the time at each interval, exhausted from some brief dream I had just lived through, teeth clenched. I grind my teeth when I sleep. I had no idea what I dreamt about, but I would quickly fade back into my arm, drooling on my pillow, ready to begin another voyage.

Finally, the alarm sounded, signifying the official end of another night of fighting. Between the half-sleep after chucking off the alarm clock and actually getting out of bed, I started a number of short dreams, only the last of which I could remember. I was staring into the muzzle of a revolver, and I could see the silver tip of the bullet, which jarred me loose and got me out of bed. What did that mean? I never stopped to think about it. Needless to say, I didn't really need coffee this morning.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Staring at the smeared insignia of the stain of the cockroach on the textured wall near the ceiling, my cigaret tilts in its tray and draws my attention. This day, like so many other days, looking toward the screen, between glances, tracking the stain, lighting another smoke, scratching myself, returning to the semblance of layers of paper on a desk. Wading through it. An electrical current supports my intrusions into this wave as it washes over me.

Returning to relative health as the effects of the preceding evening's alcohol leaves me. Engulfing glasses of water from the tap now a new fire approaches. Waterproof.

Back at the stain, still in the same place, back to the windows. Proofing pages and documents in disorderly ordinal ordinary dormancy. Tackling an interior arrangement of errors. My good deed for today that nobody else notices. Making something out of nothing and returning to nothing. Linear illusions. Always going back over it.

Back to the sink for water and a reprieve from the uniformity of text and table. A new perspective. The dirty washcloth and a pile of days-old dishes. The dim kitchen light strikes me as being insufficient. I drink again the clear liquid.

I take up my cigaret, a kind of smoking pen swirling a fading script on the clouded air of this tiny apartment, control it. I write my name on the cloud and the tip glows brighter, ashes fall to the floor and appear on my clothing, glance at the clock on the wall. The wave of descending hours falls on me and I realize my moments are dwindling, the last few sparks before returning to the working world that churns sustenance.

Monday, November 03, 2003

The urge was striking me yesterday. Two or three times, actually. I sat down to scratch somthing out and ended up erasing everything. My boring post-halloween, hangover recollections.

Now, I'm back at it, but I'm determined to excrete something substantial, although it may not be engrossing.

Anyway, after a long day at work, scratching myself incessantly during my lessons because I was breaking-out with some strange rash, I'm impelled to document the illness. Whether it was the Black Currant Conserve I have been eating on my toast recently or the Rice Vinegar or the new laundry detergent or bed-bugs in my futon, I don't know why my body is reacting this way. If it doesn't improve by tomorrow, I'm going to the doctor.

I have little bumps on the sides of all of my fingers. There's one particularly scratchy area on my right leg. The back of my neck itches (which makes wearing a tie hell) as does the back of my head. There are large red streaks where I was scratching the backs of my hands and both of my arms, particularly around my shoulders.

And this is just the most recent ailment among a string of odd bodily conditions I've experienced while living in Japan. For instance, I've never had so many warts on my feet and other extremities. At the moment, I'm wart-free, but they seem to crop up at random.

When I first arrived here, I contracted Colitis. I don't know what it is, but food and water shoot straight through you. Aside from that, you're not hungry, which was good considering how quickly things made it from one end of the body to the other, except for the fact that you might die if you didn't eat or drink anything for a week.

The doctor asked me how I got sick and I told him I ate some strange sushi, but he said I wouldn't have the condition from eating bad raw fish. Anyhow, he gave me some pills, some powder and some pain-killers, which seemed to clear-up the problem.

A few months later, in the heart of winter, I had a throat infection. The throat-specialist took a picture of my throat, which showed a nice white patch on one side of my throat. He gave me two kinds of pills, which seemed to do the trick, except the condition reappeared a week later on the other side of my throat.

Additionally, I've had three colds, which makes it sound like I've been perpetually sick since I've been here, but it hasn't been so bad. I'm sure Tokyo is more polluted than Osaka.

Friday, October 31, 2003

OK. Just wanted to say hello, again. Finally, settling in to this my new space. I'm tired of moving my pages and continually redirecting people, most of which don't even check me.

Soon, I will add links to some of my poems currently in proliferation on the cubed-W so you can find better stuff to read.

Anyway, another day in Osaka. At least, this one is an off-day for me. Halloween, at that. I think I'm going to ride the JR loop-line and drink beer and watch the crazy Gaijin scare Japanese people. At least until my six-pack is finished. I might wear a funny hat, although it doesn't match my shirt. *sighs*

OK. Something more substantial next time.
New infomercial me appearing soon.