Follow @covillanueva c.o. villanueva in time and space: 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

i am dead

I am dead,
cause everywhere around me
I see pictures of
you. I was
good. I was good. Then
you came back
into my life & I
started dying right after
you left me
again. I was
good. I was
good,
I said.

I quit those things
you hated
about me. I left
that place that
you hated
to be.
I got somewhere
new.
I got somewhere
new.
I lost
40-fucking-lbs
thinking of you & I
got someplace new, just
to be so lost again now
thinking of you.

So
I go
to my door to get
inside
my silvery green leather
(it smells
so new),
slip my head inside
my golden knit
cap &
I pull on
my white Chuckie
T's.
They are so so white & that's
gonna change
- gotta be - &
I leave
the smoke of my place &
I drop this
lighter that makes music &
I cross the threshhold
& breathe for
the first time
today,
in peace.
There.

That lady I passed, she had a smile on her face.
Who was she thinking about, that lady? Secretly
I wish it was me.
Finally, there's no
you.

I cross over &
watch briefly
these ramen goers leaning over
steam &
slurping away.
I don't know where I'm going
but I see a red-painted door. There,
the grocery store &
donuts & cakes. No,
no
not them today. But fried chicken,
maybe.
So many good things that are
bad
for
you are really cheap
today. It's a Xmas sale but
I don't know
what I want. So I'm just gonna
feel this
avocado.
This guy's ready
& so is this one too but
no not you.
Maybe
in a few days,
baby.

There's that chicken I was
maybe looking for. But
I have some
at home &
I wanna
cook that up like
I used
to do
for you,
wrap it up, like
you used
to do to
me,
but with soft skin &
no,
not with this bag of lettuce
in my hand.
I think
I'm gonna squeeze
a slice of this fat
tomato
in, too.
That should be good,
& that California red over there.
Soon I'll be jumping on the grape train,
drinking & then
thinking of
you,
till the end of time.

(But suddenly now wishing of
drinking
to this new
you
sometime.)

I walk outside.

You know the music in my
head
makes me scared - like
Yusef once said - & now
Liam says how many special people change &
how many lives get rearranged, where were
you -
yeah where were
you
baby -
where were you when we were getting high?

(But then
you,
so where are
you
now?

Cause
these Neptunian colors
paint pictures in my mind &
the music we dance to
plays on until
time
stops.
You
should
know.)

So then this other you just slipped into the sunshine & gardens over there & out through the doors of
my head.

(I feel alive
cause I'm thinking of
you.)

I must've stopped being dead. Or maybe
(I'm lost
somewhere in Heaven.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

why i like flowers

They last only a little while, coming in spring, but dying soon after. So they come back again & life feels clean. (Smells good, too.)

They come in many colors & they make girls happy. (I hope so.)

And they have exotic names that I can't remember. But their scent lingers with me sweetly, long into the night, long into this cold winter.

They are the greatest thing.

(I feel like a bee right now, ready to go home & make honey.)

Flowers, that's what they are.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

in a little while


(photo: a heart-shaped rock I pulled out of the Itadori River in Gifu)

I just want to forget that anything happened. But then, that wouldn't be right. It was an experience, that was all.

One day I will carve out a place in this world, but now I'm all over. I think I'm going to the sea, not to get away from, but to get closer to me.

TD asked me to write about love for the Feb issue of his magazine. So I've been thinking a lot about it recently. What is love? So I asked BusyBee. She said,

It makes me feel alive.

That's perfect, I thought. I have been a zombie, the living dead for a long time. I wondered what it was like to feel like she said.

BusyBee's man is in France. I met him. He's skinny & tall but she says he's sexy. What she likes most about him is his strength, but it's not physical. "All these guys who talk to me are afraid of you," she said. "But he's not." Then she said if she doesn't see her guy soon she's gonna die. She was serious. Life for her is love & sex, pure & simple. So she bought a $2500 ticket & will stay there just eight days. She said she can't hold out much longer.

I too wanted to feel alive, so I went out & tried. And it worked. Then soon after I had music in my head & my stone heart started to melt.

But now I'm thinking of the sea, getting away from here, getting closer to me.

People either push you forward or hold you back. They lead you where you should go or hold you where you shouldn't be. This new one taught me to keep moving, so I go, never still, don't slow me down & let me get out of here.

In a little while, I'll be there, falling into the sea. It's that pure & simple.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

coin laundry


It's been a year since I read that book, the one that got me to quit smoking. I lasted four months & had given the book back to Kentaro before I needed it again. I smoked & couldn't stop. I asked him for it back, but he told me that he gave it to some Africans. Maybe they were his neighbors or something. Kentaro never read the book. He still smokes.

This morning on my walk to work I was wondering how I did it. It was all mind control. The guy said to just think about it all. It's an addiction. People who smoke are drug addicts. I think maybe 35% of Japanese people smoke.

I remember back to that school I taught at two years ago in the bad part of town. Some of the kids smoked in class & they were junior high students. The teachers would nudge them to put them out. Some of these kids never wore uniforms, they rode their bikes through the halls & spent most of the time sitting outside on the school grounds, smoking & chatting with the teachers. At this school, each yanki (yankee, or bad student) had a teacher who'd follow them around. These teachers were huge, bigger than me, & they had a lot of patience, more than me. Often they'd gather behind the trees outside of campus, smoking away, out of view of the kids. I remember that one kid who hit me & I heard that he got a job at a gas station after graduation. He was happy. I was happy I finished that school, too.

. . .

Back to my walk. The air was so clean, the sky so clear, the rice paddies long barren. I started reading signs. Katakana is easy enough. ラーメン (ramen). コインランドリー (coin laundry). I thought how cool katakana is. It makes Japanese more interesting than Chinese. Then I saw this old house with a wooden horse girdle, those things they put on a horse to pull a cart. It must have been hanging there a hundred years.

Mind control. My mind is out of control. How did I do it? I need to find that book & stop thinking about the signs I've read, the music in my head. Slow down my beating heart, slowly, slowly love.* The sky is clean & blue. I wish I could dive into it.

*U2 from In a Little While

Monday, November 30, 2009

thoughts



Something sleeps on the surfaces
Solemnity dug down beneath
Bestial shapes of beauty snug
Safe between waves of words

Scenes so scary they transcode
Forms of profane speech to color
Becoming song
Becoming song

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

xmas cake

BusyBee, she's a girl I know. Twenty-nine years old & ready to marry. She's tired of playing the field. She says she used to be an expert at it. Now she's getting excited about Xmas.

When she was a little girl in her small hometown, she used to wake up early on the 25th & bake cakes with her mom. Last year she was living at home. On Xmas day she baked cakes for both her parents. They had to work.

Now she has a tiny little apartment next to the station. We stand out on her balcony sometimes smoking cigarettes, drinking beers, talking about life, watching the train go by. She has a pot of tomato plants & some herbs out there. I'm not sure what kind, but she uses them in her cooking. Sometimes we see one of those dark trains go by with no riders, like a ghost express, & BusyBee gets scared. It's kind of cute.

The other day she told me, "Vandelay, my microwave sucks. It's too small & I can't bake a cake in it. It doesn't have ... how do you say ... an oven." She says it so sweetly. I can't imagine her saying anything mean to anybody. She's like the opposite of me.

It seems there aren't any ovens in Japan, at least I haven't seen one. There are lots of fish broilers. My microwave has a reinji ("range") function, so I can bake up stuff, but I never do.

. . .

I walked to another pond today, during lunch. This one was not quite as nice as my pond. There was a chain link fence surrounding most of it, a sign saying "Dangerous. Do not swim." I imagined someone diving into those muddy waters. But on the other side the water looked less murky, & there was a new walkway, fresh grass. Two old guys were there fishing. One pulled up his rod with three minnows squirming on it. I'm not sure if that was what he caught or if it was bait.

Anyway I walked back through more rows of vegetables. Wow, the broccoli plant was huge. I was tempted to grab one & put it in my pocket. Broccoli Rocks. I saw some nasu (eggplant), cabbage, lettuce, radishes, etc. All of this made me want to be a farmer.

(I know this isn't so interesting. I'm currently fasting during the day & I feel like shit. My tongue is rough & I have a bad taste in my mouth. It's the toxins. I can feel my liver repairing itself. My body just wants to sleep. Earlier it wanted to eat & I nearly gave in. I grabbed a can of tuna but stopped just before opening it.)

On the way back, an ambulance went by, loud sirens, a man's voice in the loudspeaker probably said something like, "hey get the hell out of my way!" & the cars actually pulled over. In Japan, I've seen police cars, ambulances, firetrucks trying to get around idiots that won't pull over. Many just keep driving, not a care in the world. (I'm kind of pissed off at Japanese drivers now cause I nearly got hit twice on my walk.) That's why they use loudspeakers, I guess.

I also saw an interesting sign. It read, "No hunting in this area." What?! I was still in a residential neighborhood. The sign was official. I've never seen a gun in this country. I've heard of hunters here, but thought they were myths. Like Momotaro, the boy who came to Japan in a peach.

. . .

BusyBee tells me about the "illuminations" in Japan, how wonderful they are. She's right. They brighten up the city & it kind of feels like Christmas. Couples stroll through the lights holding hands. It's romantic.

Xmas here is for lovers. They drink champagne, eat cake, & other stuff. I imagine the love hotels are booked months in advance, but there are so many of them. Even if you are out in the sticks, I'm sure you can find a room.

Friday, November 20, 2009

a missing screw


An old man just fixed the door to the tissue culture room. The giant button that slides the door open was missing a screw. So the button, strangely, kept tilting.

This old fella saw me & got excited. He spoke to me in English:

"My name is Yoshiharu. I'm a maintenance man."

He bowed & we shook hands. It was an international moment.

He then started speaking to sensei in Japanese: "I used to work at Expo 2005. I was in charge of all the air conditioners. Every night I partied with the foreign people. I can't believe they drank vodka straight out of the bottle."

Sensei was translating but I could understand every word. This guy was real. The language he spoke was simple & to the point. And he gestured like he had latin blood.

"I had many girlfriends, black, white, yellow (Sensei lies & translates girlfriends as friends). All the gaijin had a Japanese girl."

Yep, that's what we do. Gaijin & the J-girl. Oh yeah. More on this topic another time.

. . .

So I want to write about the last two days. It has nothing to do with anything. But it might have something to do with me.

(The lunch lady just came & delivered a bento ("the boxed lunch"). I used to order them but don't anymore. There's an older lady that usually comes & she always smiles at me. She asked the secretary about me, "who is that foreign guy, why is he sitting there?" I thought that was funny so I started talking to her. She's always speaking quickly, passionately, so I can't quite catch what she says. I do grin & nod a lot. This makes us both happy.)

Anyway, my head has been pretty messed up recently. After I moved out to the inaka ("the sticks"), well close enough, & stopped dating that cool local chick who spoke clear English (she was just a station away), all I do is sit in my place & drink. I used to go to the gym a lot. But now I'm tired & just like relaxing at home. It's my escape. But I realized two days ago that I've gone completely insane.

It started with a dream, actually a nightmare then a dream. The first woke me up at 2am in shock, you know how terrible dreams are? And the second was the most amazing dream I've ever had. It was visual, exciting, an adventure through time & space. I wanted to make a movie out of it, but unfortunately I had to wake up & go to work. I forgot most of it.

I do realize that I'm living in a dream. It has been a nightmare & an improbable adventure, something like a film projector rolling a fairy tale behind my eyes, obscuring what's really in front of me. (This is going nowhere.)

But even a drunken begger on horseback goes somewhere, right?*

. . .

So yesterday I walked to the supermarket during lunch. The whole army of housewives were out, picking through the vegetable sales rack, admiring tomotoes, collecting tempura for dinnertime. And there was me. I got some tuna for my diet. Some tomotoes & saba ("the mackerel", so delicious here). Then I saw some pizza & grabbed two slices. Oh well. I can always eat healthy tomorrow.

On the way back I kept thinking about things. All the crap I've done, the jobs I've had, the places I've lived, all of it amounting to nothing, really. All those old goals, & girlfriends, the transitions, the new paths & "fresh starts" - all of it just nothing. Where is/are it/they/that/those that I really wanted?

But suddenly I realized that it all led me to the place where I was walking. I was walking down a street lined by vegetable gardens. The day was sunny. I could smell manure, but only briefly. It was perfect.

(I walked to the grocery store during lunch. That was all. And I really didn't want to be anywhere else. Really. Not wrapped-up in some woman's candle-lit bedroom. Not behind the wheel of that black Mustang rolling through the desert at a hundred. Not in Jack London square watching the fog fall into the bay, me making friends with those damned pigeons. No, not anywhere else but there, walking my manure-scented lane.)

Now tell me I'm crazy, that I'm missing a screw.

*Thomas Wolfe, from You Can't Go Home Again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

memories (for Ray Charles, a fellow Georgian)




(blog entry published in the Dec 09 issue of RAN Magazine)


Suddenly, walking down a street, be it real or be it a dream, one realizes for the first time that the years have flown; that all this has passed forever & will live on only in memory.*

I'm in a dream & she's there, sitting at the other end of the table at this nomikai (“the let’s get drunk & meet party”), maybe five couples separating us. I shout hi & yell my first words to her in Japanese:

Do you want to get married?!

It was supposed to be a joke, yeah, but it still made an impression & that joke led to another & yet another, a little of this & that, then this, that & the other. What was meant to be a one-year adventure in this land of rising sun had become something like a safari to nowhere. And somehow our blood, sweat & tears lasted longer than five years, up until this latest Feb 14th, when in place of a gift she told me on the phone: It was indeed finished.

Our dreams finished, my dream deferred.

I had a woman, way over town (in Komaki), that was good to me, oh yeah.

She saved her loving, for early in the morning,
(Ooh la la) just for me.**

(Thanks, Ray. These memories are a bitch.)

But hold on. This here that I'm writing is not about her. This is not about her. Not about her at all. It's about me. This is about me. I'm writing all of this for me. So,

Should I stay or should I go?

I don't know. I look back at my six years here, & remember when BabyFace told me he was leaving. I couldn’t believe it. I thought we were both lifers. I said,

Why in the hell are you leaving, BabyFace? And you're leaving your beautiful girlfriend behind! Can't you see the love in her eyes? She loves you man.

BabyFace looked into the distance, then smiled his blue eyes at me. He said, "I don't know, I don't know what I'm going to do. I’m just going to go back to Indy & see what happens."

That was over a year ago. BabyFace is now in law school. I heard his beautiful girl is coming to live with him.

Huh?

(I mean, BabyFace was a rolling stone, man. I guess we all eventually gather moss.)

And I remember how Zee did it. I'll never forget him, his long Osama beard that summer, his infatuation with 70's music & killing zombies on Xbox. Zee bought a one-way ticket then went into hiding three months prior to departure. He didn’t want anybody talking him out of it. That was over two years ago. I saw him when he came back to visit last spring. He had shaved his beard & joined the Marines. He had become a real Officer straight out of Platoon.

Huh?

And there was that blonde from Ohayo who liked poetry & water. She lasted five years on this rock. She said the party's over. It has been over three years since that day we recited,

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.***

I heard she’s living underwater somewhere in the Pacific, wearing a mask, strapped to an oxygen tank, chasing fish.

From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.***

Yeah.

There are more. There are too many memories of people leaving, of farewell parties, of me getting their stuff, like blenders, kotatsu (“the heated & blanketed table”), desks, beds, kitchen utensils, even barbells & squat racks, & cramming all of it into my tiny apartment with paper walls. I would then see my friends off to the station, us saying sayonaras & sharing hugs.

This has happened way too many times.

Where are they, the departed ones? Some are back home living in houses with harder walls, some working at insurance companies with weekly staff meetings, staring at computers, etc etc. It sounds so boring. But some are in Uni, others rampaging through the jungles of Southeast Asia, some living lives as expats elsewhere, writing books, learning how to write books. But all of them pursuing dreams.

What about those who didn't leave? Why did they stay?

I remember the sax player from California. We met on the Meitetsu line to Utsumi, the beach. Both drinking Asahi's on the train, naturally we gravitated toward one other. He was telling me about his beach pub crawl, how he did it every summer Sunday. I asked him how long he'd been at it.

"Twenty years," he said. "I came here on vacation & got stuck."

Huh?

And then there are the multitudes of us who come here & get stuck living with Japanese in-laws. My friend SpaceMan found himself in this predicament, but he eventually escaped.

And of course there are those Japanophiles who love everything manga, everything Japanese drama, everything kanji, katakana & hiragana, they love everything Tokyo & Roppongi & Fukuoka ramen & Nagoya Yama-chan, tebasaki (“the chicken wing”) & & ad infinitum.

Those Japanophiles want to be stuck. I know cause I used to be one. Yet I’m thinking I'm not one now.

I had a woman, way over town, who was good to me (she left me). Oh yeah.**

(Thanks again, Ray. I think I just became unstuck.)

Sure, I like Japan. I like the food. I love the chicken wing! I like the sexy clothes, the J-girl thing. I even like the kanji & the terrible singing at karaoke.

But this ain't my home. These are not my people. This is not my country. And she’s no longer my woman, Ray.

I want to go home. And I want to go home now. Back to Georgia, where moonlight shines through the pines. This road leads back to you. (And the party's over.)

... suddenly, these memories intrude, rise up like ghosts & permeate every fiber of one's being.*

It’s all just a dream. Wake up.

*Henry Miller, from Black Spring
**Ray Charles, from I Got a Woman
***Robert Frost, from Fire and Ice

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

where's it at?

I sit at my desk, the rain falling outside, trying to clear my head to write. It ain't happening. This morning I woke up with a two-bottle-a-wine hangover & looked at the text I sent her. I got up, drank coffee, ate milk & muesli, got my stuff together for the walk to work. I could take the bus, but I didn't have an umbrella - it got destroyed in the last typhoon - so I put on my rain gear that I used to use before my bike got stolen.

It was a hot walk to work. Many people biked with umbrellas to the station. Some walked. One high school girl strolled slowly in front of me. Her skirt on this wet day looked like a beach umbrella, above skin sand-white, her long red hair the sun. She was on the phone giggling when I passed her. Then three high school boys nearly rode their bikes into me. They were staring at the girl & one fell off his bike trying to avoid hitting me. The other two laughed but the girl didn't miss a beat, still smiling to whoever it was she was talking to.

I sip some tea. I have fifteen more minutes before I have to go upstairs & stop the centrifuge. I'm extracting DNA from mouse tails. It's boring as shit. So, I couldn't find the pellet (DNA at the bottom of the tube) & now I'm worried that I'll get no results. Sensei looked at the results from yesterday & said "no progress." Thus, I'm repeating the extraction, but he's monitoring me, looking for the step where I fucked up before. I'm tired & still sitting at my desk.

. . .

What am I looking for & where's it at? Take me away from here, fly me away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

bridges

I look down from the bridge & see how shallow the water is.
Diluted chocolate, flowing southward, to the sea.

That was a Sunday over a year ago.
I went for a walk because I didn’t want to think.
I sat in a blackened river park & watched shadows go by.
The city, the lights on in the buildings, twinkling snowflakes.
I got up to go home but couldn’t move.
I remembered the people who lived under the bridge.
They all had blue tarps & were always cooking.
Smoke from their camps rose up to where I was looking down.
I made my way down the bridge & toward home.
Cars went by me like cattle being driven, somewhere.
All I needed were raindrops, cause I like walking home in the rain.
I walked through a park where two men were arguing.
Old, long beards, dirty clothes. One had a bicycle & went away.
The other sat on a bench, making little clouds, suckling a can.
I got back onto pavement & worked my way home.
And then fell onto my futon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

hard, not soft

I always seem to write when I walk. And I never write drunk, or at least it's stuff I don't want to read. But I haven't had a drink all day & I want to get through the night without the nightly ritual of going to konbini (convenience store) & buying chuhi's (sweetened Japanese liquor; tastes like juice but gets you drunk). I don't know what I'm going to do tonight. But I don't want to do that.

About walking: I had some time to kill during lunch. Usually I go to the pond. But today I just went where my body wanted to go. I made a circle around my building & didn't want to come back. I thought, the pond. Then my body turned right instead & I walked toward the baseball field.

(I know this sucks but I haven't written in five months. I was drunk, etc. etc., that time.)

Then I saw her car. It was parked there once before, the same spot. It seemed obvious. Like a message slipped under the door at night. No, not that. It was a reminder. That's what it was.

I remember her driving around in that white station wagon, me always a passenger, her telling me, "I wish you could drive."

"I love to drive," is what I always said. But can't in this country.

I remember that time she took me to the park to meet my circle of extended friends. It was a BBQ but we were there to drink & see who showed up. It was that day she disappeared in the woods & I didn't have a corkscrew to open my wine. I eventually drank it. She dropped me off for band practice & went to see her folks down south.

Another time she picked me up from the studio. We went to Don Quijote's (a store) & I got detergent, we looked at crazy costumes, & ate tako-yaki. (Insert cliche, "Only in Japan.")

And the time we went searching for her favorite Chinese restaurant, finally found it, paid to park, & worked our way through the crowd of drunk people laughing outside. But it was closed. On the way home she asked me if I was nervous with her driving & I said no. I was never nervous & that was strange.

I want to write more about the white station wagon with surfing stickers on the back, but, like I said, I haven't written in months.

Up ahead, on my walk, I saw some fuzzy looking things sticking out into my path. They were on both sides, drooping green stalks with soft-colored cotton balls on top. I decided to touch one & missed. I touched another & it was hard, not anything like it looked.

I listened to my music, felt the heat of a defeated Summer, & avoided as many dragon flies as I could. I'm amazed by their eyes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

i better be careful or i'm gonna fall ..

I was on my way to L-chan's house last night & got lost .. I called her ..

"I'm near the Sugi Pharmacy.. My map is fucked up.. Oh.. I see Coco's.."

"The curry Coco's or the convenience Coco's..?" she asked.

"The konbini Coco's.."

"I'll be right there,.." she said. "I'm right down the street.."

We rode bikes to her house through side streets,.. alleyways,.. & I saw a beautiful little park. Nissin is nice. It's much nicer than when I used to live here.

I lived in a place called Akaike five years ago. It was my first time in Japan. I used to hang outside the konbini (convenience store..) with Jimbo & we'd eat friend chicken & drink beer for hours,.. watching the girls walk from the station,.. living life.. Now Jimbo is back in Australia somewhere.. He won't talk to me after Lips left him..

We got to L-chan's & I don't feel like I'm in Japan.. I mean.. it was like some place in San Francisco,.. or maybe SoHo.. Beaded curtains,.. fabrics from India,.. cool stuff everywhere,.. & they had a little garden outside.. L-chan said her & her partner did it themselves.. They've been at their place for three years..

After a beer we got down to business.. She taught me the proper way to arrange my fingers.. Each finger has to be near one fret.. My fingers didn't cooperate..

"Fuck I'm going to play this bass well,.. if it takes me years,.. fucking work fingers.." I said.

L-chan laughed. The little studio room was set up.. A couple of amps,.. a bass,.. a guitar,.. a Mac with cool software for recording & studying music,.. music shit galore.. I felt so at home..

I've been playing bass now for about three months.. L-chan has been studying bass her whole life.. & now she's teaching me.. She helped me with some songs my band is working on.. The two guitarists don't really give a shit about the bass so much.. They both say it sounds good when I play .. but when I go back to rehearsal on Sunday I want to show them a few things L-chan taught me & listen to the playback.. because I'm thinking it's going to sound pretty damn cool..

On the way to my girl's house on my bike,.. the big heavy bass on my back,.. I thought about how the journey of life is there & you just have to reach for it.. I got to her house & reached for her & felt her vibration..

I haven't written in a while.. I better be careful..

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

going around something is the same as going through it

I was lost in my thoughts of everything that has been happening with me & her recently, so I decided to go for a walk. It was 1:30 in the morning. It was raining. But I had my iPod.

I thought of walking to the 100 yen store, but I didn't want to carry anything back & I don't like window shopping. So I walked toward the station to see what was happening in my little neighborhood. I took my earplugs out. Something wasn't quite right with the Audioslave I had been listening to. I listened to the drops hit the pavement, the trees, the parked cars. It sounded like music so I put my iPod in my pocket.

I am aware that this feeling deep in my stomach is not from her at all. And this feeling is not bad, in fact it does feel bad & is the complete opposite of the feeling I told her about. Such is the duality of the ethereal.

Three men were standing outside of the hostess club. I did not look back at them & would not be affected by their eyes. I felt like crossing the street & began to walk my usual route. The late-night sports bar was open. I thought of going there another night. I turned down the street to the cantina. I didn't want to walk past the place we first had dinner. But the street I turned down was not the street to the cantina after all. I saw a park, & those dome-like things with metal bars I climbed on as a child.

I looked down a street to my left which ran parallel to the train tracks. I saw lights. I could smell ramen. It looked interesting. It was a street that I had wanted to walk down in the past. I crossed over & saw Jack's Inn Cantina.

This feeling is not me. It's not from her but I made it. It's pointing to me.

I passed an apartment building and saw light coming from a second-floor window. There were stuffed animals sitting on the window's ledge. There were at least ten.

I saw the owner turn over the CLOSED sign of the cantina. I looked at an apartment window in the distance: a woman's silouette closed curtains. I thought about non-resistance. I'm learning that it is one of the greatest things.

Sometimes going around something is the same as going through it.

That day she disappeared into the woods created a space in my life. I had wondered who would be next to fill it. Maybe it was the one I met today. The girl who kept wavering from my gaze, but kept searching for it again. I hoped so.

I heard what sounded like a bell. Then again. And again. It was the rain hitting something metal. It made music again. And then men's voices in the distance. Loud, arrogant, drunken. I looked at them but didn't want to see.

Then one said, "you drunken mother fucker" & grabbed & punched one of the other ones. The third one acted with weakness. He rested one arm on each as the one began the throw to the ground of the other one as I kept walking. They went out of view. I didn't hear this other one hit the ground.

I was close to the station & heard the bell sounds again. What would I see next? A convenience store & a couple walk in. I hopped over the railing to jaywalk across the street & thought about how good a tuna rice ball would taste at this moment.

But once inside I decided to buy a drink. The man blocked my path to the coolers. I walked back down the aisle to come up the other side. They were choosing chuhi's & giggling, lost in their moment.

I began to reach for a Coke Zero. I then remembered it was what she had with her that day. The girl's back blocked me & as I reached around anyway she moved forward.

Another one wearing a large gold necklace with alphabet pendants & a short skirt walked in as I was walking out. She looked like a hostess & was talking to someone on the phone. I could hear her say that she was also off today.

As I walked toward home the girl's strong perfume lingered with me & the night's soft music resumed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

it's bad to poke holes

M&M-san, the hot sales lady who comes twice a week, spent a long time at my desk. She says she's going back to her hometown for Golden Week.

Golden Week is the one time of the year that the Japanese take a vacation. And they all do it together. And it's not really a week, but around five days.

"I'm going to do nothing," she says. "But I'm going to eat a lot."

"What's the famous food?" I ask.

Every city here has a famous food. There's even a town that is famous only for squid & the people have squid everything, even squid dessert. It's true cause I read about it in a book.

"Rice," M&M says.

I start laughing. "Rice is famous everywhere. What else?"

She looks into my eyes, looks up & to the right, all while smiling & says "sake."

I start laughing again. Sake is famous everywhere in Japan, too. Right?

M&M then looks at me & asks about the gym. I flex my muscles & she grabs my arm. Then she pokes my belly. I lift up my shirt (I'm at work, yeah, but I'm crazy) & she pokes again.

"A little more," she says.

Yep, still a ways to go.

M&M doesn't like to exercise. She can only swim 25m & then must get out of the pool. She does ski & has recently started snowboarding. Her prefecture is famous for snow. She showed me some pictures:

A building & snow.

A train station & snow.

The train tracks, covered in snow.

Houses, trees, animals, children - everything & everyone - covered in snow.

"But I love basketball," she says.

I tell her we should play together & she agrees. Who knows when & if this will ever happen, but hey.

Anyway, she leaves but I see her later talking to Mazda-san. Mazda-san sees me & then tells M&M that I have an earring. She saw it when she ran into me drinking beer with my friends at the park one day.

Both of them get all serious & start exchanging words & looks in Japanese. M&M wants to see it.

"I don't have it," I say. "Next time."

I then look at her ears as she pulls back her hair. No piercings. I'm shocked.

Mazda-san then says, "it's bad to poke holes in things in Japan."

I look back at M&M. I don't know how to respond to this. I just smile & say goodbye, quietly walking away.

my body

My hands are red. I think it may be from all the Jim Beam & Coke Zero I drank last night. Or maybe it's from all the sun I've been getting lately. I look at my head in the mirror: It's red, too.

Last night I stepped on the scale, naked, in the Gold's locker room. 81.6. It was teasing me. The red numbers jumped to 82.0. We're talking kg people. :-)

My head is very fucked up right now. For the last three days (since I met that woman who put music in my head) I haven't been able to think straight or write. And when I do think & when I do write, weird shit comes out.

When you're a gaijin man in Japan & you're naked in front of other men (Japanese) they all stare at your wanker. It's curiosity, I guess. Back home we'd say, "hey you fucking homo! ..." But here I've gotten used to it.

I remember once when I was happily relieving myself in the subway restroom when a young man a couple urinals down, finished his business, & then stood there staring at my _____ until I finished.

So back to the rest of my body. Last year I weighed 104 kg.

...

I just read an old journal entry from two years ago when I was fat. My voice sounded different when I read the words just now. Maybe it was because I was fat.

I just posted it here but then deleted it. It was shit writing & long. I'm sure you have better things to do with your day than to read long crappy writing, yeah?

...

There's a problem with the confocal microscope. Brains says someone touched the apparatus up top. I didn't do it. Brains is always blaming people for stuff, & Muscles is always blaming me. So when Brains & Muscles get together, I like to leave the room. This happens quite often & it happened yesterday:

We had our monthly staff meeting &, as usual, Muscles says something to Sensei before the meeting is done. It's always something about me. And this something was also about the 1.5ml tubes.

"There's a big box of tubes. Why does Vandelay always order just a few bags? What's wrong with him? Why ...," she goes on.

I start to feel the tension rise up to my shoulders & I push it back down into my stomach & then recognize what I'm doing & stop & feel like laughing or smiling but I just sit there while she goes on.

The conversation between Muscles & Sensei begins to wind down & I take the opportunity to say I understand, so I say "sounds good."

This pisses off Muscles. She stares at me but then looks away & with a strong stern voice she says "Oh sounds good. Well you can't just say that. You need to remember!"

Remember what? I think.

No one in this place tells me anything & when they do it's always blame. That's how it is to work in Japan. If you think I'm wrong, ask anybody who has worked with Japanese.

I let it go.

Breathe in...

Breathe out...


(Repeat 2x)

Aummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


That's why I keep acting like a buddhist. My friends & family think I'm insane. But if you're always having to let shit go ... you end up becoming one with the universe.

I digress. Back to my body.

I've been putting too much shit into it. Like alcohol. And recently, smokes again. Ah it's terrible. My brain has become a vegetable of late.

So yesterday I go to the supermarket & see lots of good shit but I end up buying large leafy lettuce, no fat tuna, soybeans & cottage cheese. I love cottage cheese.

I get back to work & peel off the container & - all the while talking to Dr. O- about the wonders of the stuff - my cottage cheese looks quite different than before.

It's all watery & strange.

I look at the date: it expired a month ago. Shit! I'm glad I didn't eat it. So now begins another adventure when I go back to the store & talk to customer service. How I'm going to do this in Japanese I have no idea but I will get my money back or a new cottage cheese. I love that stuff.

I'm going for a six-pack. I never had one.

There's 7 calories in 1 gram of alcohol. Four each in carbs & protein & a whopping 9 calories from each gram of fat.

...

I walked to the convenience store to get some gum. My breath smells like the smoke from last night.

I thought how much I'm like my father. I need to keep moving. And I will keep moving. I will fall in love but I won't get married. I won't try to settle down because that is not my nature. As much as I want to settle down, it is impossible. It is not what I need.

You can't always get what you want. So I'll try sometimes.

...

I decided to tell her:

When I think of you I get this feeling inside, & I like it. I'm not sure what this feeling is, but I haven't had it in a while. I won't act on this feeling, but I wanted to thank you. Even though I'm not sure if this feeling is coming from you, or if in fact I'm making it myself, I think you're part of it somehow & I want to know how you're a part of it & my hope is that you might feel something when you think of me.

Fuck I can't say that. Can I?

...

I got my cottage cheese & ate nearly the entire container. That stuff is goooood, goooood for your body.

Friday, April 24, 2009

who are you??

Nerves came in this morning (Friday! I love Fridays!) & said I shouldn't say dare desu ka.

"We say donata desu ka," she says. "Dare desu ka? is too direct. You often say dare desu ka. It sounds strange."

Oops, I think. This often happens in Japanese. I suck at the language. I just say whatever comes into my head. But there are many levels to Japanese & at work I shouldn't say dare desu ka. It's like saying "Who are you??!!"

"It's just my style," I said, & we both started laughing.

...

Last night I went to Shooters. I wasn't going to go, but then I ran into Manchy last night at the small eikaiwa I teach at. An eikaiwa is an English conversation school. They give me money to do what's easiest: speak English.

I was outta change so Manchy bought me a nomihodai. All-you-can-drink. What a great bud. Then we ran into E-chan. He was out getting drunk just like we would eventually do, but of course we didn't plan to. Just one. Yeah, right.

We all caught up. E-chan is doing well. Manchy is doing well. I am doing well. The whole fucking world is doing well. This brings me onto my next point:

Abundance.

...

I took some time & thought about this. I also went to pay my overdue Softbank bill & some other bills, like electric & gas. I'm wondering why in the hell my gas bill is going up when it's getting warmer.

I also checked out a website on abundance.

Basically, the law works like this. The Universe gives to those who already have. Yes, it's true. It's fucked up & not fair, but that's the rule. So, if you don't have, then how in hell are you going to become abundant?

That's the state I'm in now. Let's turn around, shall we?

Ok, I am abundant. We are all abundant. You, there, reading this now, are abundant. I'm looking at my life & I wonder how I could have so many great friends & how I could've met some of the most amazing people already in my life. And I have a great family. Yes, we are difficult. But we are so fucking unique it's amazing. And I could go on & on & on.

This is where I'm at now. This was not where I was at last year. It's abundance. The Universe rewards those who already have. So, I have. You there, too.

But I am thinking these days that the greatest gift of all is me. There's nothing else, really, that I need, & there's no one, really, that I need. Sure, I want. But I am beginning to sit back & look at things differently. Now, I'm relaxing in the background of my own consciousness, thinking "fuck, I have a lot of wants."

And that's me. Who are you??!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

this green tea sucks

I want to call K-san Nerves. That's going to be her new moniker.

Nerves tells me she doesn't like the tea. She says it politely. "This tea isn't so good." She actually means it sucks. "I'm in charge of tea & this tea isn't so good."

"I like it," I tell her. She's happy with this. She has gone on with her day.

Nerves runs around a lot. She works hard. I'm afraid though, one day, she's going to run into me when I'm carrying a beaker of something dangerous & that something dangerous will get all over her & me.

Nerves is from Ehime. Do you know it? I don't really. It's on the mysterious & slow-living island of Shikoku. Where's that you may wonder? Well, it's the smallest island of Japan (there are four main ones) so grab a map & look. Ehime is supposedly famous for tangerines, which they call mikan. In fact, tangerines (what we say in the US) are a variety of mikan.

Nerves is always either happy or frustrated. When she's happy, she has the most beautiful smile in the world. This usually happens when one of her daughters visits from out of town. Last month her daughter graduated from uni & Nerves was so fucking happy. It was awesome.

She gets sort of happy also when her husband visits from Kobe. He's one of those business bachelors in Japan.

When Nerves is frustrated, it makes me contemplate my own patience. She talks & talks & talks. In English. I'm used to it now. She worries a lot about the details. I think this is very Japanese & also very important. I don't give a rat's ass about details & it shows in how I live my life. But hey, that's just me.

So Nerves only works three days a week. The other days she teaches English to children. She's the second person I've known from Ehime. The other was a very sweet English teacher from one of my Jr. High schools I taught at.

I hope to make it down to Shikoku one day. They have 88 temples to see. Some people dress up in white robes & use walking sticks & walk to all of them. But today most people just drive. They call it hachi-ju-hachi. Eighty-eight. It's famous. All the best Zen priests in Japan have walked it. Maybe one day I will, too, & visit Ehime & have a tangerine, I mean, a mikan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

my cat cleo

N-san, one of the chemical sales guys, told me my eyes were red. He has a high-pitched voice & always smells of tobacco, especially on rainy days. I put two drops in each & told him I didn't understand what he was saying. I said, in Japanese, to "please be kind to me in the future," which is a kind way of saying thanks for now, see you later.

I just got back from the toilet where I sat & cried for 10 minutes thinking how sad I felt yet remembering how happy I was to remember all the great memories that Cleo & I spent together.

I found her about 10 years ago in Hollywood. I was visiting my girlfriend, M-, at the time. She lived in a run-down area of L.A., but isn't most L.A. run down? I heard a loud meowing & up she came all crying & rubbing against my leg, the skinny little rat.

...

(Dr. O- keeps looking at my computer. I can't concentrate.)

...

(I just wrote out a sketch for my first book. I will call it "When We Were Young.")

...

Back to Cleo, I remember how D-, my old 90-year-old landlady in Redondo Beach, saw Cleo in the window. She called me up at work & told me I had to get rid of her. I started looking. Then a week later D- came into my apartment to let the plumber in, & she called me & said she fell in love with Cleo, & that I could keep her so long as it was "our little secret." I stayed in Redondo Beach for a year, long enough for Cleo to tear up the curtains & my old love seat I brought from Georgia.

I left the old love seat outside in the trash when I left for Hollywood. I wanted to be closer to my new job at Disney & also to my girlfriend, M-. I moved into the apartment directly across the hall from hers, where she lived with her Mom, Dad & two sisters. Of course I brought Cleo.

Cleo & I lived there for nearly three years, long enough for M- & I to break up & for me to fall in love with a drug addict. Cleo was there for it all. Finally I had to leave town & brought Cleo with me on our cross-country journey.

It took us three days & she would not piss or shit once. She cried for two and a half hours, long enough to get out of California. But once we made it to Arizona, she started to relax. It was there, driving at night, that I had my greatest spiritual awakening. Cleo was there for that. And in New Mexico, while I stood outside & stared at the stars, holding her leash, waiting for her to do what she would not do, I thought about how alone I was at that moment & got back in the car, afraid of being exposed to all those stars.

We also stopped in Texas on that hot afternoon where I tied her to a tree & watched a guy mow his lawn. I was burning up.

We made it to Mississippi on a Friday night & watched people come & go from the convenience store, buying lottery tickets, alcohol, condoms, headed to the casino nearby.

We made it to Georgia, to the house I grew up in, where I explored the woods, fished in the creek, & where Cleo was able to start a new life.

Mom tells me she's dying. Her teats are swollen with cancer & she will not eat. She is lying under my bedroom window, strangely on the spot where my old cat Rusty was buried 25 years ago. She will die any minute now.

I don't know how it's possible to be happy & sad at the same time, but I am. I mean, I'm sad because I won't be able to see her when I go back in two months. I wasn't able to say goodbye. She always remembers me. For the last ten years she has always been there, somewhere, in me. Now I must let her go. But I'm happy she was able to live in the woods the last six years, to have kittens, to chase opossums & squirrels, to live out her days. I'm happy for that.

even ducks avoid the rain

I often leave the lab during lunch to get away. I usually end up going down to the pond to sit & ponder or stroll around the edge for extra exercise. Today I went for the exercise & not to ponder.

Most people were walking outside with umbrellas, but after living in Washington State for a bit, I find umbrellas useless. I really do. If it's going to rain, I have my coat/jacket & baseball cap. I walk a little quicker.

I saw S- sitting outside near the helicopter eating a bento. He was enjoying the moment. I saluted him & walked to the pond. I could see three people fishing. Father & son & another son. They had long poles. One kid held the pole while the father threw the line in. I could see the big red & white bobber go flying into the water.

I then thought back to San Diego, when Dad & I & M- went deep sea fishing. We took an overnight boat, & M- was the only girl on it. All the guys were getting restless after a few hours & I was wondering how much longer it would be before we would be in Mexico with lines in the water. We were going for tuna. And by the time we got back home we had three or four, if I remember correctly. That was seven years ago.

What I do remember is on the way out, & sleeping near the bow of the boat with M- curled up against me, both of us exhausted & sweaty, the storm doing nobody any good. Finally morning arrived & we were drinking coffee & preparing baited lines.
The sea in the morning, if calm, is the most beautiful thing I can imagine. That was the reason to fish. We could buy tuna anywhere. But how often could we see the Mexican sea at dawn?

As I walked around the lake I thought of the beauty of a rainy day & how wondrous the trees have been looking lately & how much I am happy that I am alive.

The ducks & the other little birds were floating & flying in pairs. Two ducks flew away when I approached. I watched them soar together through the air, & land between other pairs. All of them were curled up together, avoiding the rain.

Monday, April 20, 2009

grapefruits moon

I hadn't heard from her in a while, so I sent her an innocuous message: "Wasn't today such a beautiful day?!"

She called me & said she was with the friend who wanted to meet me & would I meet them at Lawson's. Sure. I had no money. Well, I had hardly enough to bring me through the week until Friday, this month's fabulous pay day.

I had only met her that one time when I picked her up off the train. She was sitting next to me & after everyone else in the car had gotten off at their stop, there she sat, we sat, the two of us on our way to the last station. She didn't move over, so I complemented her on something attached to her phone. In Japan, girls (& guys, me included) have random shit hanging from the phone. In many cases the shit is bigger than the phone. I forgot what S- had on her phone. After we got to the station I led her to Mr. Donuts & she chatted away while I sobered up. That was a month ago.

So last night I went to Lawson's and the girl she brought was all smiles. We strolled around laughing, etc., looking for this Grapefruits Moon S- was going on about. It sounded familiar. I had seen it somewhere before but couldn't place it.

(Btw, S- isn't bad looking. She has a Cindy Crawford mole over her lip & one of the sexier voices you'll hear in this country.)

Turned out it was a place that I used to pass everyday when I walked to the station from work. S- made a circle with her hands, saying "grapefruits moon." Ah, you mean "full moon." The Japanese add an -s to grapefruit & supposedly think the full moon looks like one.

The place was cool, modern, hip. I just ordered a nomihodai for ¥1000. Nomihodai means "all-you-can-drink." This nomihodai was for 80 minutes. Not bad. I proceeded to get drunk.

The girls ordered lots of food: a giant salad, some spaghetti with marinara sauce, with a huge clove of garlic that T- thought was a scallop, pizza, etc. etc.

I just drank. S- joined me in the challenge. T- didn't because she had to work tomorrow. "Me, too," I exclaimed.

The girls told me about where they want to go. "I want to go to New Zealand," T- said. "Why?" I asked.

They thought this was funny so they both started laughing. "I want to speak English. I like sheep."

"I like to eat sheep," I said. They started laughing again.

S- had two cell phones. "Why do you have two cell phones?" I inquired.

"One is for my boyfriend," she said.

So her boyfriend gave her a phone so she can call him for free. At least that's what she said. And she said she keeps a separate phone for her friends. She showed me the friend phone. It was worn & gritty, covered with stickers. She said she hardly looks at the phone her boyfriend gave her. This was the first I've heard of "the boyfriend," so I said "yes" when she asked me if I wanted to see a picture.

I saw a picture of an average-looking fellow with eyes closed making a strange face. His nose was scrunched & strangely contorted to the left.

S- stared at the picture. "Where is he?" I asked.

"Hamamatsu." (hours away)

This is the thing about Japan. People love their long-distance loves. I used to have one (sort of) and I hated it. There are millions of men living away from their families in Japan, and both parties are apparently happy. These men are called business bachelors. My boss is one. And then there are the millions of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships scattered across Japan (& the world). I have dated a few of these lonely girlfriends. (Oops, the secret is out.)

Back to this picture:

T- is done eating and S- keeps putting it down. She has given up on the alcohol at this point. I proceed to order my fifth & final vodka drink. By now I'm feeling pretty damn good and T- is looking quite sexier than before I started drinking. S- finishes eating & I pay my ¥1000 yen & we walk outside. S- is obviously drunk. She has only had a few drinks by this point. She said she is going to run home. She's wearing high-heels. Earlier she told me she entered the Hawaiian marathon in December, but she has never run more than 5 kilos at a time. T- and I say goodbye to S- & she reluctantly heads in the other direction.

T- points to her building in the distance. "I live on the 14th floor," she says.

"Wow, really?"

I think about walking her home but just say bye & take care because I'm tired. I head home & before bed just stare at my body in the mirror & wonder when I'll get my first two-pack.

H.M.

H.M., he's always teaching me new words. Last night it was manjack. Now, what the hell is a manjack?

Manjack or man jack, a term, especially in Caribbean English, meaning "a person," "the average or common person," "everybody," or "anybody."

Go Wikipedia!

I remember when Gene first told me about H.M. That's really all he ever talked about. It was in his room, while he was strumming the guitar, depressed over some girl, but once he got onto H.M. he had fire.

The book was Stand Still Like the Hummingbird. I never finished it until years later. I don't know whatever happened to that book or to Gene. I called him up before I left for L.A. to say goodbye. He had moved back in with his Mom. He was looking for stable work.

I remember that night when we snuck into the swimming pool at 3am after getting drunk for the first time in six months. We stripped off our clothes & stared at the stars & floated in the stillness that happens just before dawn.

I also remember that night he disappeared from the bar. I walked back to my apartment where the car was parked, and there Gene was in his little Plymouth, with the big girl he had been talking to that night, wrapped up in her wild white flesh, his glasses having been knocked off along the way.

And then there was that night he wanted to see that stripper. We drove down to that joint near Tech & I think he was in love with her, or something, & I remember this beautiful black girl giving me her number. That was over 12 years ago, when I had long soft hair. I never called.

But what I remember most of Gene was that he was in love with H.M. & that passion got passed on to me. I remember what I felt after finishing Tropic years later: anger, sadness, & then that stillness, again.

I miss Gene & wonder whatever happened to him & his wild & crazy curls, his intense eyes & furrowed brow. The guitar-playing fool, the water-colorist, my old friend.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

my relationship to the present

I have been thinking about this constantly since reading it last night. After I read it, I decided to get off my ass & go for a walk.

I walked my usual route, past the station. It was Friday night. Many people were out getting drunk. I took a turn down a street I'd never been down. I looked in a little place calling itself a cantina. A girl inside, facing the glass door so we caught eyes, threw a dart while lifting up her leg. Another girl sat at the bar with her back to the door. I glanced at the menu. Beer ¥470. Not tonight, keep walking buddy.

I walked under the Higashiyama train line & took a right turn at the corner. I thought about my relationship to the present. "I am walking," I thought. How much simpler does it get? Movement through space. That is how I anchor myself in the present.

I took a left turn and headed towards Max Value. Three girls walked by me. The one closest to me stared into my eyes & grabbed a big lock of her hair. Keep walking buddy.

I saw the cashier who checked me out earlier, when I bought two chicken breasts & some mackeral fillets for ¥555. She was sweeping the entranceway now, getting ready to close. Up ahead I noticed three girls, two of which were propping each other up as they walked. They walked slowly. Both wore short skirts. I came to a red light & crossed to the other side. Three young guys in suits with crazy hair, smoking cigarettes, were laughing & pointing at the girls stumbling on the other side. One of the guys came inches of bumping into me. He was trying to create space. I walked on.

I saw three more guys outside of a bar. One was standing up drinking a pitcher of beer. The other two were crumpled over with the white sticks drooping from their mouths, their eyes expressionless. A bike nearly hit me. The bar was full of large groups of college students. I saw a girl take a long drag. The energy was Japanese. Drunken, young, confined, Japan.

There's a pressure here & you'll feel it once you step off the plane. Even if people get drunk, they do so in a structured way. There's always someone to prop you up when you walk home.

I turned onto my street & everything got quiet. I looked at the houses, their sculptured hedges, lights on in the windows. Two bricks tied together with a string sitting on the sidewalk. I walked on.

Friday, April 17, 2009

the trouble with plurals

S- keeps missing his plurals. He doesn't say the final "-s" at the end of them. He has a success rate of about 20%. I've been telling him this for two years. But we laugh about it.

Last night Dr. R- wasn't stalking me. For the past couple of weeks she mysteriously appeared on the exact train & car I was traveling on to Fushimi. She said she wasn't stalking me yesterday. We had a good laugh.

M- didn't come to the lesson. Maybe she was stuck in her laboratory. But the three of us watched a video on animal memory. The damn chimp won every time. He was able to learn arabic numerals & push them in order (we can do that). Then the numbers were blanked out, & the guy could still do it (we couldn't). Even people that were trained for 6 months couldn't do it as quickly as the chimp. How about that? One thing: the chimp was getting a peanut each time. If you're starving, & you were competing for food against the chimp, would you win?

After the lesson I walked to Sakae to my meeting place for M-. He owed me 3,000 yen for the bed he got from me last year. I've been too lazy to get it from him, but now I have like $50 until next week, so I had to get it from him. Our meeting place was outside Sunshine Sakae where all the hosts gather. They dress in suits & wear pointy shoes & spiky hair. Women (well, mostly girls, really) walk by & the guys approach trying to get the girls to come to their club. The girls are usually hostesses themselves. It's a how money is circulated. From the rich guys --> hot girls --> spiky-haired guys --> ? --> rich guys.

M- says he's still with his girl. He's mad because she won't stop working at the maid cafe. She dresses in a maid uniform & serves guys. M- says it's kind of shady but he trusts his girl. She's only 19, I believe. M- says he's starting Jr. High from May & he has convinced his girl that she can't keep coming to his house at 2am every night. So she's going to quit. I'm curious.

I got my money & crammed onto the train. I listened to my music & looked at the guys in their suits & the very few women, too few in fact, in this car. They were all next door in the women-only car. Division of the sexes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

structure

No matter what is in my brain
It will go away
One day
When the tide that is my life
Recedes
A picture of a girl I lost
That is etched in my brain
And causes me much heartache right now
Does not deserve to be there
The structure that was me was trying to hold on to her
The pain is such a relief
To feel is better than to feel nothing all
But what about another image, one that makes me happy feeling joy joy?
Is it not a lie to feel those feelings too?
The structure always falls
But it will affect me if I allow it
And who is I?
I AM.

hoop dreams

From the middle of the court, T- kept lobbing balls at the rim, but they kept hitting the backboard. We just finished 3-on-3 and were waiting for the four new guys, well three guys & a girl, to hurry up so we could run full-court. A girl looked on from the sideline. She looked young. She was crouching down next to a guy in his 20s, with tattoos covering his arms. He had shaved eyebrows & a little mustache, the kind you used to see a long time ago, and you sometimes still see in movies.

There were many I remember well.

One was a layup, where I hesitated in front of the guy guarding the rim, went around him to the left & did a finger roll while he fouled my arm. Swoosh.

Another was when I lined up behind the arc in the right corner, we needing a three to win, and high off the backboard, no, bang on the rim, bang again, backboard again, swoosh, with T- screaming, "yeah, yeah!"

And later in the left corner behind the arc, no one around & T- screaming, "shoot!" The Japanese guy guarding me running & jumping & me arcing the ball high, too high, I think, but then swoosh, while T- is screaming again.

T- is cool. He also has tattoos covering his arms. R-, as well. Me, with my little one on the left shoulder, but inside wishing I was as inked as these guys. In this country tattoos are taboo. On the court, they are a mark of passion.

R- was getting hot so he took off his shirt. His black skin & sweat, reflecting the lights above, his body sculptured in a Holyfield remake, made us all look on in wonder. The girl on the sideline kept staring. Her guy kept running over between games to let her sit on his lap.

Afterwards we sat exhausted while people slowly got up to leave. The girl walked out after the mustache guy. "Was that a high school uniform," T- shouted. Yes, it was. "I want her to sit on my lap," he said. "But I'm probably the only guy in here who will say something like that." We waited patiently, and slowly our lives outside the court started to come back to us.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the thought

it is thought that everything proceeds from the thought
action, and then you have another thought
but what is it, exactly?
there are just words forming a picture, or maybe an idea
but can you grab it? can you pull the guts out of it
like that poet tried to do to a chicken?
look at your finger & then close your eyes
feel your finger, but don't move it
feel it's life
feel it's plan
is it thinking?
now, tell me, what is more important to you,
a thought or a feeling?
this little finger can pull the guts out of any animal
but can your thought do that?
i'm thinking now that every thought i've ever had is nothing
even this one

swing

I wasn't going to go but lately I've been thinking it's better to say "YES" when I'm being indecisive. I gave Y- a call & sent a message to see if she'd be my dance partner. She actually was there. D- taught M- and her husband first. The husband didn't have much of a groove & M- was falling all over the place. But for it being their first time they were pretty good. I imagined they were going to get a groove on later.

Swing is so sexual I mean. You are standing there holding a girl's hands & staring into her eyes. How much more sexually charged can it get? I want to know.

Anyway, it was my first time, too. Here, in Japan, the son of a semi-professional dancer, getting dance lessons for the first time at 38. And when it was done I was thinking, where have I been all my life? Better late than never.

And to be in, of all places, Misfits. It's literally a hole in the wall. But since last year they cleaned the place up & it looks a bit more respectable. But there's always good energy there. And I have some interesting memories of the people. Let's call them Misfitians. I've gotten drunk here about 50 odd times. I used to hang out here with S- & his crazy antics, dragging his girlfriend up to the roof for a screw, and I've seen bands play in the place, I mean, there's just enough room for the band, and a few customers. I've amassed massive monthly tabs that I argued with the bartenders over, and I've seen people recite their poems & short stories to a depressed crowd. At least I was depressed.

Y- looked beautiful. I didn't know she could dance so well. She said that she used to tap dance for four years. D- was a great teacher. He forgot to zip up his fly & realized later, after dancing with the students for an hour, that it was down. I didn't drink. Just had two cokes. I have decided that I won't drink when I dance. That would be dangerous.

But I did it. After a few shuffles of the feet here & there, a spin of a girl & then another (repeat, repeat, repeat), I feel like a new part in me is shining. I want to try this again.

Later when I was at home in the bath reading A New Earth, I had a moment of realization. I was aware that I was aware. And if you know what I'm talking about, well, you know. They say a finger pointing to the moon is not the moon. Everything in my life that I've been doing up to this point is not me, but it's pointing there. I'm glad I danced, because somehow last night, I spent a lot of time "pointing" at myself, and I was aware of it later.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

letting go of the ego

Last night I went for a walk. I felt it. I had been reading this book called The New Earth. It had me thinking about letting my ego go. So I went. I went & walked & felt like, yes, this is accurate. To become aware of the awareness - that's it. And it is in recognizing that you're aware, that you find the true you. The true you has always been there hidden under all the "other" stuff that define us. For me, that means my job, my love life, my friends, my family, etc.

But can we ever escape the ego? No. It's pointless fighting it. Just let it be. Let it go. Let it do what it wants. Mine right now wants to write. Hence, I'm writing this. What will my ego want to do later? That doesn't matter right now. I've already learned that tomorrow is a dream. My keyboard is sticky.

I think that's why knowing yourself is so important. Once you realize who you are, you see how the ego attaches itself to things. The ego is always trying to identify with something. For me recently, it has been on meeting girls. Before that, diet. Before that, weighlifting. Before that, drinking. Before that, work. There's always a before.

But does there have to be an after? I don't know and it probably doesn't matter. But the ego will move on to something else. I'm thinking I should just let it define itself & I can sit back and watch it go. My ego is still trying to meet beautiful girls. Lately my ego has been bored at work. It's thinking of going back to teaching. It's also wanting to write a lot more, maybe even everyday. If all of this sounds strange, get into Buddhism. You won't regret it.

Anyway on my walk I walked by the station, and looked into Starbucks. Wow, there's a Starbucks. I then started planning how I would come back in a few weeks time & relax & hang out. Maybe meet new friends. I'm trying a shift from the bar crowd to the coffee house crowd.

I then had one of those funny moments that happen in life that make your day. I was about to step into a crosswalk when a car of girls stopped & motioned for me to go. I don't like to rush, or make people wait, so I motioned them to go. They kept motioning me & I didn't stop either. We were at a deadlock. Finally I found myself moving my arms in circles looking like those guys at the airport. I had invented some new strange dance & we were all laughing once the girls decided to go first. That was fun. I was completely stuck in the moment then.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I decided to write this poem

and all i have is this. it starts out with me thinking that i don't care what you're thinking. that's right. last night i called you the name of the lover that came between us. i didn't mean to. i called you first, but you didn't answer. then i called my old lover. she answered. i deleted both of your numbers a long way back when i was confident i would never need either of you. i was wrong. but last night i searched and found hers in a notebook from 2006. we had a great talk. she has a baby. your number, well, i knew yours by heart. but in my phone i saved her name to yours because i had been drinking since 12. then i called her back again because i wanted to say something else & you answered & i called you her name & you thought i was an asshole when i was just drunk. everything that i said last night was 100% honest. that i missed your body & and that you were the best & that you were more beautiful than her. love, me.