06 December 2005

A long week

I spent most of this year preparing for the Japanese Proficiency Test Level II. After twelve months of back-breaking labor, I am finally finished. My trip to Sendai to take the test was a kind of bus-riding epic as the projected four hour ride stretched into eight hours due to a shit oad of snow and some confusing route choices by the driver. I missed my dinner with the friends I was staying with and instead ate a bagged piece of bread that claimed to have "the flavor of cheese." I wasn't consequently in the right test-taking mood, but if I'm anything, I'm resilient.

Being certain for the last month that I was going to fail, I didn't have a whole lot to live up to and although I probably did fail, I did better than I thought I would. I tried hard and I'm beginning to think that's worth a lot more than I have given it credit in the past. As they collected the last answer sheets, I felt a light inside of me that I have missed for a while. I walked outside and we got on the bus and for the next two hours, I felt incredibly content. More than I have in a long, long time.

I wanted to write that out out. I want to remember that moment for at least the rest of the week.

I've also been working out — I gained 5 kg since September and am starting to look pretty hard in areas that I used to be soft. Working out is less about getting sexy although it's certainly about that, and more about getting some control of my body. Also, with winter here, I need something to help me keep my will to live as I wade through a foot of slush to and from my car. My will to live increases to almost 90% after twenty minutes on the treadmill.

Hanging around the men's locker room, I've had an epiphany. The man's body is a beautiful thing, for the most part. It's strong and broad and symmetrical. Broad shoulders are sexy, sure, I think I can understand that. Men's bodies are beautiful until we take our trunks off. And then it's like, everything goes wrong. There is nothing attractive about the penis. The perfect caption for a picture of a penis is: "'Huh?" It's just ugly as sin. So men, let's stay beautiful and keep our trunks on.

Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to punt on my MA paper about Kanye West. I was trying to put a square peg into a circular hole. West presented too many silly problems, the kind of problems that I didn't really want to talk about like how you explain to a Japanese dude why it's okay for Kanye West to use the n-word in a non-pejorative sense. I don't want to have to explain proper uses of the word "fuck." Instead, I'm going to write about a much more upstanding woman and a much more upstanding song: Madonna's "Hung Up." Certainly, there are many of interesting things to be said.

I've been knocking Christian song lyrics lately, but I remembered one that I really liked and thought I'd share. Rich Mullins who, despite writing his share of dumb shit, managed in a couple of places to nail it. I remembered this song today, "Jacob and Two Women" and the lines: "And her sky is just a petal pressed in a book of a memory/ Of the time he thought he loved her and they kissed."

He manages to really pull something off with this petal. The sky, I could take or leave, but this petal — this kiss kept and held in the memory. A kiss as a petal in book. A kiss that is not a certain love. Sky compressed to a moment or kiss or flower petal.