"I’ve seen the world, been to many places. Made lots of friends, many different races ... Under the moon glow down in Mexico I dreamed, one thing was missing that’s you ... I wanna share the world with you, you see. Springtime in Paris feels so good to me. Oh, this is for me reality, so please make all my wishes come true."2
"I made an impassioned plea for the idea that it's good to have an open channel, that there's value in uncertainty, that's more important to permit us to discover new things, rather than to choose a solution that we now make up- that to choose a solution, no matter how we choose it now is to choose a much worse thing than what we would get if we waited and worked things out. And that's where I made the choice, and I am not sure of that choice. Okay, I have now destroyed authority." -April 27th
"But my silent fears have gripped me, long before I reach the phone. Long before my tongue has tripped me, must I always be alone?"
Oh the humanity!
I was recently told I resemble 'Ross' from the TV series Friends
. Of course I don't see the resemblance, and I kind of figured myself a 'Chandler' instead. But I had a Ross experience the other day- Bad flirting. I went to Central Market, the fancy grocery store down the street, since they're the only ones who carry the really good springrolls and I needed
some. I was browsing the aisles, loading my cart with more expensive shit than I can rightly afford, when I hit the granola-bins. You've seen these in your grocery store: The self-serve bins of granola, nuts, carob malted milk balls, and semolina flour. Central Market has a huge department of this self-serve stuff, and I really like the toasted pumpkin seeds. But they were out, so I bought half a pound of cornnuts instead. (If you've never had cornnuts, they're giant toasted corn kernels that taste like the duds at the bottom of your popcorn bag. Yum!)
So I brought my springrolls, cornnuts, butterkase cheese, croissants, and tarragon chicken salad up to the counter to get rung up. It was getting late in the evening and it was pretty empty in there so I made chit chat with the girl as she's scanning my items. She picks up the bag of cornnuts and playfully asks me, "You really eat these?" Now, we weren't exactly flirting, but I always make an effort to be "cute" whenever possible. However, I said the first thing that popped into my head (bad sign, right there)
It's worth pausing here for emphasis, because when the bad-flirting kicks in, we should observe a moment of silence for my dignity ...
"Yeah. You know, I just can't get enough corn in my stool."
And then I got the blank stare you're giving me right now through your monitor. (I know you are, I can see it.)
She finished scanning my items and couldn't even verbalize the total amount I owed. She just pointed to the monitor. I think her lips moved, but I'm positive no sound came out. My neck realized the fuckup first and swung my head down towards my feet, avoiding eye contact at all costs. I just swiped my card and got the hell out of there as quickly as possible.
Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.
It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man. I say that we do not know what is the meaning of life and what are the right moral values, that we have no way to choose them and so on.
Why do we grapple with problems? We are only in the beginning. We have plenty of time to solve the problems. The only way that we will make a mistake is that in the impetuous youth of humanity we will decide we know the answer. This is it. No one else can think of anything else. And we will jam. We will confine man to the limited imagination of today's human beings.
No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literary or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.
-Dr. Richard Feynman, from his lecture "The Uncertainty of Values"
University of Washington, April 25th 1963
[Associated photos at Yahoo photos - Kyoto album.]
After a week of meetings, my father's group had a few days left to see Japan before heading home. I'd seen a lot of Tokyo on my own already, but we all took a guided tour which included the boat trip on the Sumida (a couple of the pictures in the Tokyo album are from that trip)
. One day in Tokyo was enough for them (crazy!)
so we took the bullet train to Kyoto for a couple of days. The bullet train is fantastic and as comfortable (and nearly as fast)
as flying. We finally got to see Mt. Fuji (it was too hazy to see it from Tokyo)
and a lot of the countryside and coast.
One of my father's Japanese colleagues convinced us to book a stay at a Japanese style hotel, called a ryoken, instead of a western hotel. It wasn't comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm so glad we did it. Japanese hostesses (not geisha!)
greeted us when we arrived with tea and cookies served at a floor-seating table. When we returned from sightseeing, the tables were put away and futon mattresses were on the floor. In the morning, the ladies would wake us up for a HUGE breakfast (eggs, cooked fish, rice, soup, vegetables, and tea)
down the hall while they put away the futons. It's a little unnerving having someone else come and go from your room like that, but it's part of the experience.
Our ryoken was a block off of the main pedestrian mall, Nishiki-Koji Dori, a covered but otherwise open market of every sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound you can imagine. We 'discovered' a kitchenwares shop along the street proudly displaying an enormous selection of knives and utensils, all hand-forged on the premises. Dad and I each bought a kitchen knife, which the shopkeepers then stamped our phonetic name into with a small metal punch. I thought it was just a neat souvenir, but I later found out that the store we just wandered into (Aritsugu
) has been making knives for over 400 years and are some of the most respected in the world.
If you've seen Lost in Translation,
you'll recognize Nanzenji from the scene where Charlotte takes her own trip to Kyoto and sees the Japanese wedding party. There's a quick flash of her looking up at the sunlight coming through a thousand perfect leaves of the maple trees- I had exactly
the same experience at Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple. If you only have 1 hour to spend in Kyoto, go there. It's not nearly as old as Ginkakuji (which predates Columbus' discovery)
but the shining gold pavilion floating over the water is something to see before you die. Nijo Castle is beautiful and fascinating, but the floors squeek. Actually, they squeek on purpose and it's a rather pleasant squeek called the 'Nightingale Floors', designed to warn of intruders without being offensive to the inhabitants. (I tried- you can't walk on them without them squeeking.)
We didn't have train reservations for the trip back, but after almost 10 days of total immersion I walked into the train station and got us 5 tickets back to Tokyo plus the train to Narita airport. Several of the trains were already booked, so it wasn't as easy as point & grunt, and I made a big impression on my traveling companions. *brag*
Kyoto was home to the Emperors for 1000 years before the capital was moved to Tokyo in 1868. It's a thoroughly modern city now, and even if you ignore all the temples, palaces, and the castle you can still feel something of what the ancient Emperors must have loved about this place. I love it too, and it's one of my favorite cities on the planet. I will eventually have a Kyoto mailing address...
[Associated photos at Yahoo photos - Tokyo album.]
In 2002, shortly after my father's project at work completed, he transferred to a new department in which he began to interact with corporate officials from Japan (instead of those in Russia at his last post). After a few meetings here, his group was invited to a series of meetings in Tokyo. He invited me along, though I had to pay my own way except for crashing in his hotel room. That was all the incentive I needed to dust off my passport and book a flight.
I flew alone, since the flight my father and his group were on was not the cheapest (your tax dollars at work)
. I arrived in Tokyo a few hours after them, and he decided he wouldn't ask his group to wait around the airport for me. Massively jetlagged, I arrived at Narita airport, about an hour outside Tokyo. Did I mention I don't speak Japanese? I walked off the plane and followed the more or less bilingual signs to customs, only to find myself completely alone. I didn't recognize a single face from my flight. Not a good sign. I cleared customs and followed the signs to the trains. I pointed and grunted my way into buying a regular ticket on the express train to Shinjuku, the neighborhood where I knew Dad's hotel was located. (I later found out dad and his group never saw the trains and wound up taking a bus that took nearly twice as long.)
As the train pulled into Shinjuku station, it was after dark so all the information kiosks were closed. I exited the station, suitcase in tow, to Shinjuku at night (see photos 4 & 5)
. In Houston everyone has at least one car, so mass transit is pretty much a mystery to me, as are taxis though I've read about them. I feared getting in a taxi and being driven all over town taking the "scenic" route, draining my wallet in the process. My guidebook said the hotel had a free shuttle bus to the train station, so I wandered around the outside of the station looking for it. Although everyone on the street I approached for help was courteous and (apparently) sympathetic, nobody was willing to risk speaking broken English to me and they weren't very helpful. (It must have been a nighttime phenomenon, as they were all young adults. During the day, I found older adults willing to help, even approaching me if I looked confused for more than 30 seconds.)
15 minutes later, and a huge heaping helping of dumb luck, I found the bus and caught a free 2-minute ride to the hotel. Japan is such a wonderfully confusing place, with a completely foreign language (not like Mexico, where you just add -o to the end of an English word to get the Spanish equivalent)
and yet I managed to find my way from the airport to the hotel, through what turned out to be the busiest train station in Tokyo (the busiest commuter city in the world)
in the cheapest, most efficient manner. When I made it up to Dad's room, I literally collapsed from exhaustion, mental and physical.
During the week we were in Tokyo, Dad and his group sat in meetings while I explored the city. I saw shrines, museums, and palaces. I wandered through neighborhoods and ate in local restaurants relying mostly on smiles, kudasai (please)
and arigato (thank you)
to communicate. I saw suits of samurai armour and swords, strange and beautiful art. I saw pachinko parlors and video arcades (just like Lost in Translation-
strange games, including one that looked like a standup comedy act). I strolled through parks and gardens that seemed like I was a thousand miles away from the towering office buildings only a few hundred yards away. I won't bore you with all the details, but I loved every second of it and wish I had taken a hundred rolls of film with me.
In a city of 10-12 million people, I never felt so safe and so comfortable.
Top Ten List
Top Ten ways my marriage was like the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome:
10) The protagonist is one heck of a good-looking man.
9) The antagonist is a crazy lady who thinks she runs the world.
8) The world is actually run by a smart man with tiny hands.
7) Saying the wrong thing could get you brutally killed.
6) Near the end, someone is giving you the finger.
5) The "pocky-clipse" happens at the beginning, not the end.
4) There's an awful lot of shit.
3) It wasn't all that long, but it should have ended sooner.
2) Nobody gets laid.
1) "Two men enter, one man leaves."
I'm not totally insensitive to other people's suffering, but I think I'm basically a Darwinist at heart and all these Levitra ads are really pissing me off. Not only is it a constant reminder of other people having sex, but the commercials are about people who can't have sex
having sex. A hot woman who wants a little afternoon delight and that loser-man has to take a pill? No, that's wrong. There are no shades of grey- there's black and there's white, there's right and there's wrong. Far be it from me to take away another man's pleasure but guys, if you can't get an erection, that's it. End of story. There's absolutely nothing wrong with my
dick. See? Look, I snap my fingers - boner. Ok, it may not be huge but it gets hard with very
little coaxing. Send your unsatisfied women over here because it just ain't fair.
Hell yeah I'm bitter.
Step 1: Get Drunk
The lovely and talented April
tagged me and gave me yet another reason to stop reading y'alls blogs. But I'll answer my 5 and/or add a few, then tag the next lucky losers...
If I could be a ninja (Tinyhands)
If I could be a fly on the wall (Tinyhands)
If I could be a rodeo clown (Tinyhands)
If I could be a celebrity (Tinyhands)
If I could be totally at peace (April)
If I could be on the other side of the world (April)
If I could be a cat burgler (April)
If I could be a supermodel (April)
If I could be in a movie (April)
If I could be a music executive (The Man In The Middle)
If I could be a grandparent(The Man In The Middle)
If I could be a computer hacker(The Man In The Middle)
If I could be a professional basketball player(The Man In The Middle)
If I could be a Customer Service Representative(The Man In The Middle)
If I could be an artist
If I could be a marketing director
If I could be a nanny
If I could be a psychic
If I could be an emergency medical technician
If I could be a firefighter
If I could be a designer
If I could be a policeman/woman
If I could be a teacher
If I could be a scientist
If I could be a farmer
If I could be a musician
If I could be a doctor
If I could be a painter
If I could be a gardener
If I could be a missionary
If I could be a chef
If I could be an architect
If I could be a linguist
If I could be a librarian
If I could be an athlete
If I could be a lawyer
If I could be an innkeeper
If I could be a professor
If I could be a writer
If I could be a llama-rider(by Ogre)
If I could be a bonnie pirate(By Teach)
If I could be a servicemember(By Jeremy)
If I could be a business owner(By Blue 944)
If I could be an actor(By Blue 944)
If I could be an agent(By KelBel)
If I could be video game designer(By KelBel)
If I could be a comic book artist(By Stoli)
If I could be a hooker(By Pollo Loco)
If I could be a crack addict(by Elizabeth)
If I could be a porn star(by Elizabeth)
If I could be a mime(by Garrison)
If I could be a domestic engineer(by Rick)
If I could be a chimney sweep(by laine)
If I could be a masseuse(by laine)
If I could be a taxi driver(by Brian)
If I could be a priest(by Brian)
If I could be the Sherrif Of Nottingham(Karen)
If I could be a dancer(Karen)
If I could be Santa Claus(Karen)
If I could be on a reality TV show(Dawn)
If I could be a magician(Dawn)
If I could be a rich man
If I could be perfect
If I could be a comedianIf I could be on the other side of the world,
I think I'd be pretty happy. It's one of the few places I'm able to put everything else in the world out of my mind and be totally at peace. (Ape- That should count for 2, but I'll play fair.)If I could be a teacher,
I'd teach people how to save and invest money, not to buy stupid, useless stuff they can't afford (like spinning rims on an Accord)
, and how to get out of debt.If I could be a music executive,
I'd insist that all artists actually be able to play some sort of musical instrument, write their own music, and actually perform live. Lip-synch'ing and dancing to someone else's music aren't enough.If I could be a policeman,
I'd wait by a school zone and write tickets all day long.If I could be a linguist
, I'd be cunning.
I tag Mike (who always assumes I'm talking about someone else)
, Jethro (who always seems to get left out of the fun everyone else is having)
, and Esther (who seems to be having trouble finding something to say lately)
A day in a week in a month in a year in the life of...
I think it's funny how we sometimes envy other people. Sometimes it's something specific- his car, her job, their house- other times you can't put a finger on it. You think it would just be better to be that
person. Of course it's sometimes no big deal to the object of your envy. It seems like that would make it worse, that they might not care about what you value, but I don't think it necessarily does. I've got no real point here...
I went to the Hong Kong Market yesterday, and to the regular grocery store today. Fresh cilantro, sprouts, snow peas, oyster sauce. Garlic, lots of garlic. I was expecting company and, though I wasn't planning anything specific, it never hurts to be prepared. I thought she might come around lunch time, but I ate alone. I got a call around 4pm that she wasn't coming at all. "I'll take you out next time." Yeah, I suppose so. I wasn't sitting around waiting by the phone by any stretch of the imagination, but I still feel taken for granted. I'll feel this way until the next time she comes over, and then all will be forgiven. (No, not through sexual favors, I just can't hold a grudge.)
I continue to believe, however, that I have no right to any hurt feelings. Right or wrong, I still expect to justify my emotions.
I like to browse the online personals and it got me thinking about "the market." How some people come on the market and others are taken off the market. Part of it is a timing thing. At any moment in time there are people in the market trying to make a match. Some need to be more patient than others. I occasionally mark a "favorite" here or there, and watch over the weeks or months as that person slowly goes longer and longer between logins. I wonder how analogous it actually is to the stock market- buyers and sellers trying to match up for the right price. (I don't know if y'all know this specifically, but the stock market only works if there's a buyer for each seller. There's not some magical entity there artificially moving numbers around. It really is as simple as it sounds.)
Some experts say you can't and therefore shouldn't try to time the market. That if you're going to be in it, be in it and over the long term you'll come out ahead when you pull out. Other experts disregard timing and say they can pick individuals better than someone else. My dad plays the indexes. I'm not sure how that relates to love, so if you figure it out let me know.
Spent a few hours (hopefully)
cheering up a hottie this evening playing DJ from my music collection. Funny that as I was doing that, another friend was sending me samples of music she loves. Very cool.
I watched Ray
last night. I didn't think it was great, but it was good and very enjoyable. If anything, it gives you an idea of the kind of talent that exists in the world. Take Georgia on my Mind
, for example. At a time when he (and most other top artists) were making hit records with a 5-piece band, he brings a string orchestra and full vocal chorus into the studio. And then there's the lyric, actually written by Stuart Gorrell. (aside: I hate calling the words to a piece of music lyrics, ploural. It's just my thing.)
I have a bad habit of (intentionally) substituting other words into songs just because they fit, so I've been singing Utah on my Mind
One of the more controversial theories about Ray's early life that the movie didn't explore (and naturally, I wish that they had)
was that his blindness at age 7 was the result of being attacked by ninjas.
In other news, I've just now noticed that setting myself invisible in Yahoo! messenger doesn't actually make me invisible. I thought I'd frighten the UPS man, and while I think I succeeded it was not due to being invisible.
Happy Cheap Cerveza Day!
I'll give you something to complain about
How about if I shut off the electricity for 5 and a half hours? No TV. No internet. How you like me now? What are you going to do, cry? Go on, cry, baby, cry. And reset all the damn clocks.
How about if I make you crave the chicken wings, but make you chicken-wing-intolerant? Spend some quality time on the crapper. Yeah, I know you like it like that. Bring one of your text books, you still need to read those.
Still want to complain about that other pitiful shit?
The power flickered at 7am, then went out for good at 8. Normally I sleep until 10 or 11, but when the power went off I didn't know what to do with myself. I cleaned and straightened up around the house. At 8-damn-30 in the morning. I shuffled around for the next 3 hours and decided to call the foetus for lunch. I love the chicken wings, but they hate me.
In retrospect, the day wasn't all that bad. If the power had gone out at night, I'd be doubly screwed. In addition to the other things I'd have to do without there'd be no security lights to ward off the ninjas.
I skipped dinner somehow, and I'm not one to miss a meal. I got on some wild goose chase about installing a different media player that would take advantage of all my surround sound gear. Would anyone else care? Do I care? I wound up so frustrated that it did everything except play DTS tracks that I nearly put my foot through the damn TV. Something else to complain about.
I spent probably 4 hours playing with that damn thing. I spent almost as many hours reading a blog yesterday. I am still fascinated by Japan and the Japanese. I haven't been able to decide whether I want to set my sights on China or Japan after I graduate. They each have their pluses and minuses, but seeing the pictures of Kyoto and the Ise shrine reminded me of the first time I felt my version of "at peace." It's what will have to suffice for religion and I think I'm being called home. I miss it the way you miss a travelling loved-one. I still have so many major issues to work out (job/money/visa, language, etc.) but I'm going to approach this like it's any other business project. I'll work out the critical path, a gantt chart. I'll just break down the major questions into smaller and smaller pieces until they're manageable.
And the women will flock to me, since gantt charts are like spanish fly.
The semester is almost over. My attention is elsewhere.
My skin is dried, splotchy, and wrinkly. Around my eyes, much older.
I have a noticeable patch of grey hair. It blends in and looks natural, but old.
My gut. 'nuff said.
I'm hot all the time. It's hot and stuffy in here now.
I have a very important term paper to write and a very important test to study for.
I'd rather surf the web. I'd rather she found me.