31 March 2006

Back in Japan

Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time.
But all the people can't be all right all the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
'I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,'
I said that.
I don't mind telling you that I have been completely fucked up since getting back to Japan. This always happens to me when I go home and then come back to Japan. It's like the Japanese cultural wall is waiting at Narita to slam me back into my place as a frustrated minority. Certainly, there are any number of great things I can learn from this, but instead, I'm taking my frustration out by shouting at Yoko, sulking around, and rolling my eyes. Yeah, I'm a winner, a real winner.

I guess I should take some of Joel Osteens's advice — "I'm a victor, not a victim." I should be more upset about people like Osteen, but instead, I think he's really nailed on the head the fact that religion is more or less just psychology. You get Joel Osteen telling you that God loves you and wants to open the windows of heaven to pour out blessing and you start to believe it. The same thing happened at my church last week: the worship leader getting everyone pumped for some inane song said, "Do you believe that God wants to meet you this morning? That his presence is real?" while pounding on an E chord. Yes, given that E chord and your encouragement, I can feel just about anything. Later, the Pastor took the pulpit to tell us all that that "thing" we "felt" but "couldn't explain" was "God." Well, count me in.

Sorry, that's all really cynical. Allow me to prophecy — something horrible is going to happen to Joel Osteen, more so than not getting a good parking space at Target, and the ministry is going to collapse when he finds out you can't just smile about everything.

I should apologize for quoting song lyrics which, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the least agreeable things to do on a blog.

Lastly, yesterday, I went to the library, pulled a book off of the shelf, and read it cover to cover. It was a good feeling. Now, I have another Japanese author to try to emulate.

27 March 2006

Points

Yoko and I made our way back to Japan after running around the Chicago for a couple of days. It was fun. We bought a nice dress and ordered my tux rental and then decided that the tux sucked. Well, I decided that. So we're looking for another suit and found a kick-ass Calvin Klein one-button suit that is apparently very rare in Japan. More importantly, since returning to Japan, I got this TV from my friend Jim who returned to Tennessee for free. It's so big. The playstation is getting some use again. Yoko and I rented a movie about elephants that wasn't very good, but I understand the whole thing with some help from the Japanese subtitles and I was mad proud of myself.

Yoko did well in the States and we had the most beautiful week together, really. Like we were married already. I enjoyed most every moment of it.

My two traffic violation tickets for not fully stopping at a stop sign and going through a yellow light that turned red, have given me 4 points on my license. This wouldn't be a big deal except that if you get 6 points, those assholes take your license away for six months. If you take a moment to consider my offenses, it's an atrocity. I should claim some sort of diplomatic immunity or something. All that to say, I gotta drive clean for a year or face the consequences.

This is secretly a blessing in disguise as now I can put more energy into my new health hobby of riding the shit out of my bicycle. Also, with the help of my Stateside acquired odometer/ speedometer/ tripometer, I can now quantify my fun. I have ridden over 100 km since Friday with a top speed of 42.4 km/ hr. That's effing hauling for those of you unfamiliar with the metric system or bicycles. I bought this new shirt that I can ride in because it lets out the sweat, but doesn't let in the heat. Fascinating. I also got a kick-ass rain suit and am now looking for a good, waterproof bag to put on the rack that I bought. Really, it's everything I dreamed it would. Yoko called me bilingual for the first time ever and I was really surprised. I certainly don't agree with her and it was probably just some lover nonsense talk, but it felt good to hear and believe for a minute.

17 March 2006

See you on Sunday?

I'm packing to come home but this here just about did me my packing in. You can download MP3s from like 75% of the artists. The new Talib Kweli? Of Montreal? Tapes 'n Tapes? Please, someone, drag me away from the computer.

I'll see you, and you too, on Sunday?

15 March 2006

Rumors

1. Contacts are awful. I'm remembering why I got out of this game in the first place. Well, what's 8000 yen between friends or lovers.

2. Yoko is not, nor has she ever been pregnant. I can say with at least a 95% certainty that she will not be pregnant when we get married, but the spirit works in strange sometimes miraculous ways, does it not?

3. It's cold as a fucking penguin again.

13 March 2006

How I want to be, or How I want to be Edgar Allan Poe

You might recall that I had originally intended to be in Paris this week, but as things never quite developed for that — I got engaged instead. I'm sitting in Niigata, enjoying the worst late snowfall of the year. Yoko and I went into the apartment last night at about 7 and then at 9, heard something falling outside, looked out the window and saw that about a half a foot of snow had accumulated while we were, uh, enjoying each other's company. Now, with snow on the ground, I can't really enjoy my riding my bike or, really, doing anything productive. Snow has that effect on me, I guess. This morning I redid my business card and thought about all the things I probably should be doing.

I had a shitty weekend for the most part. It all started with a trip to the optometrist which was going really well, I thought, until they were having trouble finding contacts that would work well for me. Apparently, this is due to my astigmatism.which is Ran-shi in Japanese, by the way and no, repeating the word again and again doesn't help me understand what you're saying. The result was me having to buy these ridiculously expensive contacts that will correct the problem. Having to spend three times as much as I had originally thought put me in kind of a shitty mood.

It wasn't that so much as this weekend I've been unable to speak in Japanese to save my life. Every so often I have weeks like this where I make a serious speaking mistake or misunderstand something important and then feel insecure about my speaking which only adds to the problem. This weekend was the worst because I was super-frustrated and unable to explain why which just led to more frustration. It's like being in a Japanese box that you can't get out of. Maybe this is why children cry so much — because they can't express themselves. Given that I feel like a child anyway as I am preparing to get married and feeling woefully inadequate and coupled with being unable to express myself fully in my mother tongue, I am suddenly very small again.  I feel like I'm five.

For what it's worth, it's becoming more and more clear to me that Yoko will be the perfect woman for me to marry because she, when I am frustrated, doesn't get angry or tell me to go fuck myself. She is patient, super-naturally so. I can't really believe it. She will be an excellent mother, I think. Given my tendency to try to do things that are over my head, I think we will make a good team. Plus, she's hot. I'm not quite sure what she sees in me, exactly, and everytime I ask her, she just laughs and kisses me.

And I think inadequacy is actually a good thing, provided it's not crippling. I'm going to have a chapter about it in my book, "Men are Women too." Maybe that chapter will be called, "Feel like you can't do it? Well, take an effing number." The chapter on sex will be called, "I think I care: What's wrong with me?"

We put together a damn good invitation card for the wedding which is fabulous because the English side of it basically says, "You're invited to the wedding" and the Japanese side says the same thing in 5 times as much space with all this ridiculous useless information because the Japanese are (apparently) frightened by lack of information. We printed our picture really lightly on this very light tissue paper that makes us look like ghosts. It's fabulous. I told Yoko that I wanted to look like Edgar Allan Poe at the wedding which seems really cool until you actually see a picture of Edgar Allan Poe.  This is sort of what I wanted, but I  guess I imagined him in a top hat, you know, and a black haunting tie. Haunting, that's a good word. Haunting. Maybe I should have said that I wanted to look like one of Edgar Allan Poe's poems.

08 March 2006

Occultist Weight Loss

Something for you Diet-Trackers. That's right, I'm within .5 kg of my goal.



I'm sorry you had to see that.

And only 122 days until I get married. Makes most everything in my life happier.

07 March 2006

I remember how big the Metrodome was



My family got our first color TV to watch the seventh game of the 1987 World Series. I remember that I fell asleep half-way through the game. I remember the names so well: Kirby Puckett, Frank Viola,  Gary Gaetti, Kent Herback,  Greg Gagne, Dan Gladden... I have all their cards still, I think, somewhere in my parents house. Kirby Puckett was a kind of superhero for me. So big, so capable. I will never forget stepping into the outfield stands at the Metrodome and being shocked by how big it was and how vivid the colors were. What I saw on TV was even more majestic than I had thought. And I was smaller, holding on tightly to my father's hand, filled with awe.

Kirby Puckett, I will remember you as you were: a giant, a  leader among the best, and a hero--my childhood in navy blue and bright red — because every time I hit a tennis ball into the woods behind our house, I imagined I was you.

06 March 2006

Truthiness

For those of you living under a rock, "truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination." Check out the whole thing here. Oh man. Is this like not the problem with everything? Example from this week: A friend of mine from Fukuoka has called me a couple of times to voice concern about my pending international marriage.

Statement: International marriages have a high likelihood of failure.

Really? Well, gee, I don't know how I could check that out but it seems to be true. I once knew an interracial couple and they broke up. Maybe I can think of three. Plus, I mean, if you think about it, it's probably very hard two cultures and two languages. Cultures are so different. And families too! Yeah, yeah, I'm sure that intercultural relationships are more prone to fail.

But see? Suddenly, we aren't talking about anything that's real, just perceptions of things. This happens all the time.

Person A: Humankind is naturally evil.
Person B: Hm, I don't know if I agree.
Person A: Dude, Hitler? Osama bin what's-his-face? Donny Osmond?
Person B: Hm, that seems right.
Person A: That's because it is right.

Take prayer. It seems that prayer changes things. Sometimes. Sometimes not, but sometimes it does. My evidence? One time I prayed and X happened and I chose to attribute that result to my prayer rather than Y or Z factor. What if Y or Z factor make more sense? Doesn't matter. It feels like my prayer changed it.

But wait, wait, unfortunately our gut or conscious is installed by our culture. That's right kids, what you think is right and what you think is wrong is most likely not the work of some deep sense of morality, but rather what you've been told is right and wrong. So if your Western culture has been heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian thought, then, well, you probably have a feeling that there is a God or right and wrong reflect your culture values. Oh, and that one time that missionary talked at your church and told you about how the culture he or she came from reflected a Biblical truth? Well, that dude was probably from a Western culture looking at the non-Western culture with the understanding that all cultures are the same. Maybe it is the same, maybe not. The most important thing is not to get another viewpoint or check it out yourself. No, no. Just feel it. Thus, you can get a truthy truth out of anything.

The next time you belting away "God of wonders beyond this galaxy/ You are worthy, worthy" think about whether or not you are making a factual statement or a truthy statement.

01 March 2006

How I came to (or) How I came to be a green and giver of helpful advice

This week, on a green kick, I rode my bicycle. I rode and rode and rode. And I thought about how it troubles me that I ride a bicycle, but I also ride a train. I think we should use another verb. Maybe pedal? Maybe a rumination on the homonyms "pedal" and "peddle"?

Tomorrow, again, I will ride and ride and try to beat the earlier high of 50 klicks in a 24 hour period following this map:



"But Stephe-O," you say, "I have no idea what this map's scale is. For all I know, you could be going, like, a mile and a half?"

Did I mention it is going to rain tomorrow? High likelihood of rain.




I pulled out the ol' "Relationship triangle of Success!" today, to much acclaim. Basically, as you can see, the relationship triangle of success tells us that we need some effing balance in our relationships. Pull too much on one part of the triangle, and suddenly the triangle collapses.



Not convinced? I look pretty compelling if you ask me. And Yoko seems convinced. And totally hot.

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