30 October 2003

Now I live in Japan


Now I live in Japan.

More to follow when I get internet service. Much more.

17 October 2003


This will be my last entry stateside. DK and I should be well on our way to Japan about this time tomorrow, our flight leaving Chicago at 1:30 and arriving in Fukuoka at 8 on Saturday evening. We are both, of course, full of excitement and guts. We got our visas and some yen and gifts for the people in Japan on Tuesday. As far as different currency goes, I think yen is bitchin'. Some of the bills have quail on the back. Quail! Now I've seen everything.

Abraham Lincoln must not be that important in Japan because I didn't see him on any of the bills.

I can take my guitar for $130. Yeah, I know, it sucks the big one. But mailing it would be $300, so I guess I'll take what I can get. It'll be good to have over there too. I can play it for the ladies, you know, and for the people at the church and the quail. Oh, the quail.

DK and I have also been talking about what constitutes "martyrdom." Basically, I was wondering if, when riding our bikes to work, we are struck and killed by a truck, would we be martyrs. DK doesn't think so, but says that if I am struck and killed by a truck, he will stand up for my martyrdom. So I guess that's really all I can ask for.

Anyway, other than that, I just been keeping it real at home. Saw the Cubs lose three times in a row. You know, I don't think I ever watched a complete game that they won. I must have jinxed them.

So this is where I'm going. Send your love to me via email: Spihlaja@Knox.edu and if you want to hear our weekly updates for the church folk, e-mail no further than prayfukuoka@hotmail.com. Love you all.

13 October 2003

Giving it away

I’ve given away my car, my cell phone, all my cd’s, my cd player, my flowered shirts… I think this is what missionary work is about. I spent the weekend trying to be with the people I love so much at Knox, only to be hurried most of the time and not really spending quality time with the people I needed to. I didn’t say goodbye to a couple of people because we just missed our opportunity. My sister left today and I cried for the first time about this whole thing. For what it’s worth, I’m genuinely scared.

Death Cab in Iowa was pretty incredible. The bar was tiny like I suspected and made for a more intimate experience. The cubs won that night then won again then lost tonight. I drank a little, smoked a little.

Berto is living in a house with some folks, especially one young lady who enjoys quite the nightlife which means she has really loud sex. It sounded like a rollercoaster, lotta excitement.

I think that’s all for now.

08 October 2003

About Music

This entry will be devoted (mostly) to music.

I saw Braille and Monday’s Hero on Friday and have to say I was duly impressed with Monday’s Hero. I was told that I would be and I was. I certainly was. There is a shortage of good, serious, balls-out rock these days and I am pleased to see the gap is being filled, at least in the Chicago/land area. At the show, oddly enough, I saw a friend of mine from my church bible study, Kristen. It was odd in that I never imagined her as a person who would go to a rock show (she’s a 23 or 24 year old researcher for Baxter). Anyway, apparently her husband was out of town and she was there with her boss’s boss who happened to be Shermie Gass’ dad. Now, I haven’t seen Nate Gass is well over two years since that one time we went to Ohio to see Radiohead, but apparently his band was playing too so his dad corralled Kristen into going. It was really weird: me, Kristen, and Nate’s parents totally hanging out together.

Saddle Creek finally mailed me my Bright Eyes and Cursive records and let me say, I’m enjoying them more than I thought. I’m unhappy with the MTV invasion on the indie scene and the trouble that has wrought on many well-meaning musicians, but both of these records were written before the invasion. I feel like there’s a little purity left. Plus, they haven’t charged my credit card yet. Anyway, I am very friendly to the hyper-awareness both bands have that they are particular bands writing particular records for particular kids in a particular scene. It’s like commenting on your work while you’re creating it. It’s theory at it’s best.

I think if I wasn’t going to Japan, it would be just about time for me to start playing in a rock band again.

Speaking of Japan: ten days. That’s right, get your lovin’ while you can.

Now, I'm packing to go to Galesburg for the week. Death Cab on Wednesday in a tiny bar Iowa City with Berto and Jules. I don't think there's anything better than that.

PS I'm really worried about Roy, you know from Siegfried and Roy. That guy totally bought it. But, and I really hate to say this, I really do, it totally was a big win for the freaking lions. I mean, they've been being taken advantage of, in the worst ways, for like their whole adult lives. So there you go. The terrorists should start thinking about strategic tiger maulings. Ruins the economy, kills one of the greatest stars our country has to offer. It's the best of all worlds.

03 October 2003

The Art Institute of Chicago before moving

I spent yesterday at the Art Institute. I went by myself which I’ve been finding myself doing a lot these days (being alone, not going to the art institute). It’s been good for me, I think. I enjoyed looking at the paintings that I wanted to see without all the nonsense of having to keep up with someone or having someone whine about not seeing what they want to see. I took a load of pictures, many of which didn’t turn out as you’re not allowed to use flash in the galleries. A funny story about that to follow.

As I was taking pictures, my flash turned on accidentally. I didn’t think anyone noticed until one of the attendants, an older black man, came over and began to tell me that if I couldn't turn off my flash I needed to—but I cut him off, apologizing, saying it was an accident. He said he understood, but his supervisor saw and asked him what he was going to do about it. He said he was supposed to kick me out of the gallery, but I seemed like a nice kid. I apologized again, and he held out his hand with two pieces of candy in it (there’s a display in the same gallery from which people are supposed to take candy, an illustration of lives taken by AIDS each day). He said, “Everybody likes candy, right?” and smiled at me. I smiled back and took the candy.

There’s a new Francis Bacon on loan to the Institute. It’s pretty incredible. The picture I took of it didn’t come out.

I followed a tour around for about an hour and learn about Impressionism and gas lighting in French circuses. I realized that art is something I need to learn more about. My oil painting class in college didn’t cut it. Made me think of other things I wanted to learn more about. These things include Modernist philosophy, Jazz (see next paragraph), the Klu Klux Klan, the Japanese language, the French language, France, baseball, and the opposite sex. A more complete list to follow.

I’m now eight hours into Ken Burn’s Jazz. Louis Armstrong is still my hero. I picked up one of his records yesterday. I like it.

Also, the first chapter of my opus "Omerza Walking" was accepted for publication in the fall issue of Catch. Presence, the ugly stepchild of a short story, struck out once again.