Okay wait wait wait, I have one more thing to say on this blog before it poofs:
I was just sitting here between a beer and a cheese cracker, and I thought to follow up on a couple of curious comment notifications I've received in the past year or so. These weren't comments posted to anything recent, but rather to a rambling entry from June 2005 (which, in hindsight, was poorly written and based entirely on hearsay I didn't even remember correctly).
So I thought I'd Google "Hazel the Mummy" and find out if for some reason that particular entry popped up high on the list of returnables.
... no, but it turns out that if you read to the bottom of Hazel Ferris's Wikipedia page, you'll find a link to my blog tagged as "A brief remembrance at Livejournal.com" ... so there.
Well people, needless to say, there hasn't been much going on around here for the past... erm... year, despite my original best intentions otherwise, but hey! A new life has been blooming oh so slowly in a private sector of the internet, and I think it's time to just band-aid-rip come out with it:
Sergeant Pluck Himself: At the moment, a 10-month pictorial retrospective of what the hell I've been up to since ex-patriating the country (oh, but I re-patriate myself next month, Uncle Sam!) and a similarly loose-ended and infrequently updated nonsense blog catered to those who, for the justification of their choosing, wish to pin me down to place and time (that wistful mistress!)
So yeah, check it out if you wish, and Chiefbroom, I'm sorry I couldn't sweep your floors into the afterlife, which I once thought incredibly likely. You know, life is all about shedding skin for 67% of the earth's inhabitants.
I was holed up in two different hotels for the past two weeks, until yesterday, when a couple of things happened: 1.) I moved into my new apartment, Leo Palace, and 2.) Returned to Katano-shi for the second time, the first of which was me dropping in on Chie with no prior notice and surprising her to tears, so this time was a little more organized and congregated; my second welcome-back party so far, this time with beer-flavored non-beer, squid jerky, and corn potage-flavored corn snacks, among other things.
The first hotel had a TV that swiveled via remote control, which didn't help the televised programming one bit. And that's how I passed training week, it feels like, two months ago. The second hotel had a plastic-encapsulated bath, and i mean this, room, so I could shower while sitting on the toilet, if I had so desired. It also took me almost the entire week I stayed in this second hotel to find out that an iron was waiting for me behind the front desk, if I would just ask, and so I did (my Japanese is improving from horrible again, slowly), but still, the iron didn't help my dirty shirts (I packed for the one week of training, not the second week of purgatory) with its ironing board, smaller than my lap. I steamed away some leg hairs, trying to iron in my underwear, very painfully, and not for long.
Takatsuki has real color. Small streets, bicycles, flashing neon grab-ya-by-the-eye signs, 24-hour bento, all-day-crowded okonomiyaki/takoyaki/yakisoba stalling on the corner claim tickets, covered shopping arcades, and I found out how and where to eat for $2 a meal... microwavable packs of rice and boil-able vegetable curry pouches.
Training week ended, and now I'm a teacher. It's really stressful right now, but I like it, I think. It's just hard to gauge whether the students like it, or more importantly, if they find it worth the money. I hope I can figure out, quickly, how to balance fun and educational lessons, and the part that really kills me right now, the preparation time involved to make these happen on schedule, one after another, someodd 30 times a week, and still have room in my day for myself. BUT. The people I'm working with really are a joy, my students too, so far, and that goes a long way to help work feel less like work, you know?
And so, my apartment has a loft above the kitchen, where I can sleep and wake up to parade music on Sundays, and a washing machine full of dirty water, now that I've washed some clothes. If anyone knows how to drain a Japanese washing machine, please let me know; the clothes that so previously occupied the water are now hanging above my bathtub, in a room, with its 4-function fan, that doubles as a drying machine. I'm also trying to decode the elaborate poster on how and when to throw away my different types of trash, of which there are about fourteen. I could, in theory, chop some vegetables on top of my refrigerator, in front of the microwave, the most likely place of doing such a thing, given the size of the kitchen. Chie told me to ask whether or not the faucet water in Takatsuki is potable, which I hope it is, because I've been drinking lots of it, happily, to replace the lots of water I've lost in more unpleasant, diarrheal means; I was thinking instant rice and curry pouches, but if water's the culprit, I can keep my secret love...
All this is to say that the first half-month of this experience has been a whole mix of things, many of which have strayed far from pleasant. I'm still trying to figure out how to live my life in this environment, but given that I've only been in an environment that I can call "mine" for less than 48 hours, things really aren't bad at all. It takes time to problem-solve. I teach my first kids' lesson tomorrow (5&6 year-olds), so I'm looking forward to singing songs at work. Especially the last one:
English class is over, we are going home. Goodbye, goodbye, we are going home.
Hello Blog. How many times have I written a sentence on your face just to delete it, thinking, things are too good to be wasting time writing about life when I could be out living it? It's nothing personal. It's just life getting in the way of reflecting on life to you.
In a week and two days I'm leaving the country for the foreseeable future. (The future being, in my case, much less than that -- a year, two years... who knows? The foreseeable future, then.) Life in the United States has become increasingly disturbing for me, and I'm extremely excited to cut down the excesses, trim the fat in society, etc. The latest reasons, a combination:
1.) Watching the BBC's "History of World War II" documentary on Hiroshima 2.) Visiting the Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the world, measuring four whale sharks), where I saw a quote carved into a wave-shaped bench: "History is written by those who make the wake; not by those who ride it or watch from the shore."
One year ago these things wouldn't have bothered me, but so much has happened in that year... I sometimes wish I had never gone to Japan in the first place, and that I had never finished my last year of school. And anyone who knows me today will know how that's the lie of lies; it's just that the intellectual responsibility that comes with my past year's experiences is proving to be much more difficult to manage than I ever thought possible.
It's extremely sad to me that an organization as reputable and wide-spread as the BBC still creates blatant lies in writing its "histories". History, for the western public world, is a movie, a dramatization, a stereotype that will never die. It's simply entertainment, when actual, compelling, worthwhile history is more along the lines of anthropology; compiling all sides and perspectives of a situation in order to arrive at a more complete (and fucking COMPLICATED) truth. It's not a script; it's not something you watch in an hour and a half. And in that sense, the quote at the aquarium is right; history is written by victors, but that one version of history is only relevant to the victorious. Every person outside the English-speaking sphere of the world (which is still, reassuringly, very, very large) is living a very different reality in very different histories. And in that sense, yes, history is written by those who make the wake; and a wake, by nature, is a disturbance to the natural ways of the world that expands until the wake itself exists so far from its source as to be completely blind to what it originated from in the first place.
Blog, we live in the Information Age. It's time we use that technology to actually connect with the rest of the world on a human level and learn. It's going to be really difficult with all this information in the world, especially when it turns out to be completely different from everything I have ever known in life, but I'm ready for change, and I hope you are too.
With that said, I wrote more than just that one sentence I can never pass, and I plan to write many more.
People who read the blog, you can expect to hear all about my trip (and maybe even see a hundred pictures or three) in between the other clutter, which I hope turns out to be as important as it feels to me.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
How often do people use that phrase out of context, I wonder? What does it take to make a sentence, or a half-sentence, that transcends its own context? Not that I've read A Tale of Two Cities, or plan to anytime soon, but still... people should be more literary and crap, and recognize when they speak in quotes. What else would we need to say? (Later: Music, I think. Speak music.)
That's why I took this job, I think. To stay awake until eight in the morning, either writing words or reading words, working on that on-going literary education. I guess that means I'm writing these words, in-between reading Julio Cortazar's words out of Blow Up: and Other Stories. Judging from "Axolotl", these late-night readings will be nothing but entertaining. I hope I can re-create something of that for the all-knowing You, who will probably be reading a lot more of my words, now that I have some time to write them...
Which is to say, I graduated, and it was the worst month of my life. I had no time for anything, relentlessly, and I still didn't even have enough time to finish everything in a timely manner. It was a little embarrassing, having such an ungraceful exit, but now I have what may come to seem like too much time, so I'm trying to enjoy the transition. So far: one hour, no boredom, White Album, dessert leftovers offered for later. Things look good if the next seven hours continue in similar fashion.
By the way, it might be hard to reach me this summer. For example: Today I work until 8am, sleep until 3:30pm, I hope, and work from 4pm until midnight. But I'll have a whooooole lot of time here in front of the computer for two-thirds of the day. If you need to reach me on Thursday, June 21st of 2007, send me an e-mail, because I sure don't want you poking around in my dream space, even if you can.
But really, I've already forgotten how busy I was only a week ago, because the past month has had more than its share of pleasantries. Take a handful of the following to forget the pain (and brain burns!):
-- BJORK. Event of the year, second only to the potential of the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago (tickets to which have already been birthday-given-early to me by the One and Awesome). Events include (while I look at the website) SONIC YOUTH PLAYING DAYDREAM NATION IN ITS ENTIRETY (which is, I declare, THE ultimate windows-rolled-down album of every summer since 1988, even though I didn't know it for those first 12 years or whatever), GZA and Slint both playing full albums as well, Yoko Ono, Cat Power, Iron and Wine, Girl Talk, Grizzly Bear, Voxtrot, Battles, Dan Deacon, The New Pornographers, Stephen Malkmus, Del La Soul (?!), Of Montreal (!!!!), Jamie Lidell, The Sea and Cake, Junior Boys, Deerhunter, The Ponys, Menomena (!), and so on from there, all for only fifty dollars. Holy crap, and give me my advertising check.
-- The aquarium. It sounds lame, but Denver's aquarium is really great. I've been twice in the past month, but I only fed the sting rays one of those times. (Insider trick: make a fist and stick your thumb out between your fingers to make a trick fish = heavy petting!)
-- Movies! Between adding film to my senior Asian studies thesis, a year's worth of free rentals from Blockbuster (one per week, won by my dad in an amateur golf tournament?), and Jessica's French class, there have been many, many movies this past month, most of which were either foreign or otherwise obscured in nature. Most notabled include: Hiroshima, mon amour, The Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna), Enjo, Silence, The City of Lost Children, Oldboy, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and at the drive-in, the new Pirates of the Caribbean, and at Red Rocks, Pulp Fiction, which was super great in that setting.
(How strange, my life all raveled out into lists.)
-- Family! Along with graduation, and along with the torture of finals, and with the torture of moving out, the torture of starting job training, of finishing my thesis three days after graduation, came family! And it was oh so good to see them, and much less exhausting than I was prepared for.
-- Uh, a world-record-breaking mass doggy wedding? This was one of the single most absurd events of my life, right up next to seeing Maximon in person...
-- Realizing over a year ago that yeah, the last six months of my college career are going to kick me in the ass, but realizing now that yeah, I double-majored, wrote two theses simultaneously, churned up a girlfriend who can show up in pictures with my parents on graduation day, got a job overseas, and a second job to cover me until then (or, mostly), all in the time it could have taken me to do any one of those things on its own.
I'm sure there were other notables in there, but I think that's enough to help remind me not to forget the past month entirely.
And now it's summer, and time is slow. Five more hours to go . . .
Hmm.. maybe if I write this out of my system I'll be able to sleep again, because I've barely slept at all since it happened:
I don't mean to offend anyone with whom I've seen a fairly large number of mind-blowing shows over the past five years or so, but the other night's Bjork and Joanna Newsom concert at Red Rocks was, and this is no contest in my head, the best concert I've been to, ever, period, etc. etc. Everything about it was perfect, and Red Rocks is its own perfection, so it was a gooseflesh party of the highest degree to watch perfect people filling a perfect place so much bigger than themselves with, sometimes, only a voice and a harp, and at other times, with FIRE AND LASERS AND AN ICELANDIC BRASS BAND AND THE DRUMMER FROM LIGHTNING BOLT AND, again, that relentless and beautiful voice that won't let me sleep tonight, just like last night. It was the perfect concert, and it's been years (Radiohead? Beck? Wilco? Pixies? ..and which time?) since I've been able to walk out saying that. Only this time, I really really really really mean it, and I hope for my health that I mean it for a long, long time.
..and since when was Red Rocks so GREEN?! I guess I've only been there in the summer or fall, with all the dead or burned-out prairie grass, but nope! It's lush, suckas! Time for picnickers, methinks, maybe every day..
Unh! If I could just catch up, graduate, and SLEEP... everything would be soooooo haaaaappyyyyy-y--y-yy-y---yyyyy.... y!
Times have been rough, kind of like a nice deer pelt -- jaggedy hairs stuck on one side with smooth and comfortable skin underneath. I've been getting into some pretty intensely psychological stuff for my Asian Studies thesis, namely the respective book and film versions of Fires on the Plain (Nobi), Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna), and Black Rain (Kuroi Ame). All are investigations into what happens to the human condition when pushed to do truly horrible things, and it's difficult to maintain a level head on life when I have to spend so much time unraveling intense pain like this.
But I'm turning it around -- things took a bad direction for about a week, but I finally stopped feeling pathetic enough to shave, do a load of laundry, clean my apartment, buy some groceries, and mentally get my shit together. Now I just have to follow through for a month.
And what a month it will be (and has been)! Oh, let me count the ways... - This is old news, but about a month ago was the most pleasant surprise of the year! One Jimi Troup got stranded in Denver's layover purgatory for about 7 hours, so I picked him up and we proceeded to add to my on-going list of get-rich-quick schemes. Watch out for Legend of the Blinking House...
- But really, even though I have about a dozen ways to make a ridiculous amount of money on things too stupid to be taken seriously, I know I should probably have a more secure future plan for this whole graduation thing that I hear is quickly approaching... which is why I spent about a week mentally preoccupied with AEON's application and interview process, which traveled through Denver in April. The great part? I got hired! I'm just waiting for an assignment (preferably in Kansai, which is why I'm still waiting, because it's up with the Tokyo area as the most requested assignment), but it's extremely nice to know that I can and will be back in Japan by the end of the year, if I just let it happen to me. Oh man.
- I'm working on having free DU housing and an hourly wage this summer, but I don't want to talk about it until after the interview. Actually, that's a lot of why I haven't been blogging lately -- because things have been so on the rails as to be a complete embarrassment if they should fall the wrong way. But so far, they're not! Which means I can say...
- I've been twice-over recommended for English departmental honors based on the 1st draft of my creative writing thesis! Final draft (and hopefully significantly re-structured and expanded for personal satisfaction) due in about a week.
- And after mentally dropping out of the honors program three years ago, I'm still graduating with University honors! Apparently I took 20 honors credits during my freshman year instead of the required 12, so the minor things I ignored in the past two years can be waived. And I'm double-thesising, so, whammy!
- And now the May 15th Bjork concert at Red Rocks is Bjork AND Joanna Newsom! Holy Holy Holy!
Now if I can just catch up where everything this week set me back...
Well, I almost drowned somewhere back there, having to read an average of about two novels a week, (roughly) finishing one thesis to be told to go out and start writing the second, etc.; but I did not, in fact, die at all back then, and I hope I can keep that up a while yet. Instead, let me tell you about why I'm checking my e-mail someodd fifty times a day:
The ideal plan for me in my life, now, is rolling. It should let me know by Thursday if I'm invited back for the interview stage of short-term security. If I can get through all of this, I won't have to think about my life at all for at least a year or two, which would be great for my head, considering how that's just about all I've done or been reminded to do for the past eight years or so. Oh, and I'll be leaving the United States. If, that is, I can successfully jump through these last fake finales of hoops and other miscellany.
But then, let's say I DO make it to my ideal life, for now, within six months. (And when I say "ideal," I'm implying words like practical, culturally-acceptable, and humanly-possible along with it, otherwise I would be talking about something totally different and awesome.) I can't help but feel a little guilty for abandoning the life that's cropped up here over the years . . .
hmmmmmmm, yes, that was a heavy ellipsis.
But for now, I have two Bjork tickets for me and her birthday (who, I have to say, has proved to be really and somewhat disconcertingly special to me, and probably in disguise for the first year I knew her), and yesterday this came appropriately printed on my Papa John's receipt: "Your pizza experience managed by Christ," so I know things aren't all bad. Actually, the only things bad are how all my forks and spoons are rusting to the sink, and how I seem unconsciously determined not to contact the people I love - a regrettable paradox.
In fact, things are quite good (but busy busy busy), and did I mention there's a mass doggy wedding on the horizon to look forward to?
In the writing of this, I'm going to try not to let myself get too distressed. It's just that I really wish I could find a way to make a living out of this past weekend..
But to do that, I would have to get people to pay me while I surround myself with amazing and hilarious and genuine people who don't mind living now instead of then, let my dear friend Brandon sleep in a tent in the middle of my floor while he visits from New York (a tent which I'm not sure when or why I'll ever take down), make poor art out of magazine clippings and graphite, record thoroughly terrible crunk rap that becomes more than just a mockery of itself, and live a life that's uncompromisingly funny in the most unadulterated sense of the word "fun."
Of course, no one will ever pay me to do this, unless I can convince someone that it's genius, which I'm a little hesitant to declare. Instead, we're all going to change in directions we haven't quite figured out yet, and functional levels of sanity will be restored just before the lid blows off something truly great. And that, to me, is the most depressing part of all -- that all of this will move on with little to no consequence. I think endings sometimes make the best beginnings -- I just hope I figure out how to apply that to my life and really take myself somewhere.. But if it weren't for the quickly changing situations underneath it all, I would stay right here for as long as possible.
I truly think that one of the most perfect songs ever written is almost 17 minutes long, which seems a bit of a contradiction -- doesn't a notion of "perfectness" also come with an inherent sense of efficiency? In any case, Joanna Newsom's "Only Skin" is still as perfect as the first time I heard it. Seriously, do yourself the favor if you've somehow managed to miss this one.
Well, I guess I got that scattered bit down. I hope that's something..