May 31, 2005

The End of May

Things have started to look promising again, much like life was at the end of May last year. For some strange reason, May 28 has been, in consective years, quite an auspicious date for me. Last year I met my former girlfriend Rie (at the time it seemed fortuitous, yes). We dated for an ephemeral 3 months, still keeping in touch, though in an awakward way. This year, I feel (as usual) humbled by something going good for me. Whenever something happens like this, I instinctively hold my breath as if the one moment I have long been waiting for will come soon enough. So now, let me quit this stupid reaction of mine. Let me breathe. Day by day, I tell myself (now on the third day of quiting smoking). What am I talking about? What happened? Love? To be honest, I really don't know yet. I met a lovely girl in Osaka by the name of Kanako, with whom I have yet to spend much time with. But the prospect of doing so has made my hours a little more lightened, peaceful, and my thoughts are a bit clearer. As long as I can focus on other things, on my life ,that is, I think I will be safe from making most of the mistakes that I have kept on making until now.

This year's rainy season, in contrast with last year's, has been creeping into being in a meticulously coquettish manner. By this time last year (the 1st of June, which will fall tomorrow) Kibi was thick with the gray haze of humidity, with the rice paddy frogs' chant of ceaselessly droning vespers (late into the night), sudden, one-day storms, soaked clothes, sweaty clothes, close calls riding my bike through the muddy, puddly, insect-infested mikan fields; a month was spent being lonely and staring out the screen door every night not wanting to do my laundry because of the risk that opening the screen meant--increasing my apartment's mosquito population dramatically. However, a new year has come, and so far I have not felt the rainy season 梅雨, as hard. Every day is slightly warmer, more humid, the breeze hasn't kicked down, but fails to cool me as much as before. I find myself sweating again in class (a lot), which is a good thing (unless I forget to wear deodorant). Overall, the entry into summer has been a gentle one this year. I run the risk of employing a pathetic fallacy if I were to say that my current state of mind is similar to this year's rainy season. Last year was a plunge in the purest sense--in a dark, restless, urgent state of mind, hurling myself into and out of relationships as though I were riding my bike through a typhoon. This year, my emotions have begun to settle, even if my words are still too unclear, abstract, free floating, and inconcrete.

For exammple, take the act of eating watermelon in the sun. One of the best fruits in the world, try a few slices of watermelon on a hot day, especially when hungover, There is something about the texture and flavor of watermelon that resembles the emotional equivalent of a hopeful, grateful forebearance. "It's all good!" Was the catch phrase some few years ago. Maybe it is. If it isn't, well this here, this present moment, still can be good.

May 27, 2005

broken silence

that is why you call out
from the solitude that you have befriended
to see if this image dissolves
when exposed to the passing looks
of other solitudes, who feign an interest
in themselves or you, you cannot know;
because, in truth, it is a limp neither,
you shudder for a second
under the burden of thinking,
looking away for a moment
in the meantime a shadow flashes behind you,
your thoughts turn, as they do
and in all these pictures, these human eyes,
looks of strength and weakness
resistance and surrender to the dance
of all that happens within and without;
there were words we once used to listen
now we only speak to others of ourselves
as though it were still the same person
as yesterday, the day before,
prattling at length the life-lies that break
the heart you have & every good silence,
when there is no more food we order more.

Aches and Pains

It's probably not so hot today, but my body is quite warm. Nothing to post about today except that it is a marvelously clear day. I wonder where it is going--this day. If I can wake up, I will take part in it.

May 24, 2005


O! Joyful Day!!

Thus I commence with the first full day of christening my new toy, a purchase resulting from my quasi-book wormishness (or, upon looking in my newly-acquired 電子辞書, my 本虫さ). Yes, I shelled out the big bucks (a daily occurence in Japan, whether its a toilet roll or a Rolls Royce) yesterday for an electric dictionary, which I can't seem to use very well for reading uknown kanji. But hey, it's great for looking up Japanese words and getting detailed explanations of them in English! Just keep my ears peeled for new words that I hear and maybe I will start making progress after having frozen for a while in my study habits. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to impress my neighboring teacher, Mr. Hiramatsu, whose dictionary doesn't hold as many volumes as mine. With a whopping 90 dictionaries crammed into my pocket-sized reference powerhouse, nothing can stop me from assembling the most extensive, cryptic, and impractical Japanese lexicon this side of the Kinokawa! Nothing except the Facts: I can't read most of the Kanji that shows up on the screen, or if I can, I usually forget it in a few days. If there were only a Kanji pill to take which would allow our brains to absorb Kanji like a sponge fills with water. Maybe I do that every day, only to have the process of sleeping, or doing anything else besides studying, ring my brain dry. Yes, learning to read (we'll leave writing alone for now) Kanji is like trying to drink the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon, but hell, even if I feel like I have gorged myself so far, I know that all these human beings who call themselves Japanese also do not know every single kanji in the world. It's like every time you learn one new character, you take a bite from a piece of chocolate cake that gets bigger and bigger, richer and richer. "Please, no more!" I please, but kanji is like the crack for many gaijin in Japan with spare time and an abnormal predilection for learning such bizarre things like words. So now, without further ado, I return to my extremely unfruitful 探究 (search, quest)、my 閲覧すること(browsing, reading, and researching for pleasure), which has probably left my Kyoto sensei quite skeptical about my utility as an Assistant Language Teacher. How about changing the acronym to make it more suitable to what we really do? That is, Always Leaving work early To go home.

May 18, 2005

Early Summer Rainー 五月雨

On almost every afternoon that I find myself with nothing to do at work, I become unspeakably groggy. Some feeling envelops me, as though I am being swallowed whole by a leviathan that lurks somewhere in the dusty corners of the dead-silent staff room. Just now, I awakened to notice that someone was using the copy machine--and I thought to myself, "maybe I should do something today, maybe I should write down a thought or two on my blog, just to revive myself." Lately I have been away from this blog, opting for a pad and pen to share my thoughts with myself. That has been working, but I haven't. So it's back to this old junk...

Recently my life life in Japan has taken part in the following (of course in varying combinations): drinking almost every night, reading many novels at once (right now I am on "The Girl I Left Behind" by Shusaku Endo, "The Asian Mystique" by Sheridan Prasso, and "Robinson Crusoe"), writing more about things that provoke me--spiritually or merely superficially, going to a random train station in the countryside between Wakayama and Osaka for an unanticipatedly risque assignation, and, in the course of all this, losing any idea of what do at the end of the week.

I realize now how many of my high school students feel in class--this hebetude which weighs your head and heart (in Japanese it's just one word, 心) down to the floor. Every day I have the feeling that getting a Japanese high school class of 40 students to become active, enthusiastic, creative, etc. is like trying to light a water-soaked log on fire with a couple of stones. Maybe I underestimate my materials, but I am pretty much as nonflammble a spark as one can get. This cool and windy early summer day has brought on an effusion of recollections, so now I am wondering if I will remember what I had planned to do in the afternoon.

Back to the existential drawing board. What's on for tonight? Maybe a private English lesson for the two older ladies that I meet with once a week. Then, food, alcohol, tobacco, sleep. Maybe defecation will interrup this seemingly unbroken chain of consumption...

May 10, 2005


"Ecphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one art tries to relate to another art by defining and describing the essence and form of that original art, and in doing so, "speak to you" through its illuminative liveliness. A descriptive work of prose or one of poetry, a film, or even a photograph may thus highlight through its rhetorical vividness what is happening, or what is shown in, say, any of the visual arts, and in doing so, may enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its brilliant description. The kinds of art described in this way may include painting, photography, sculpture, architecture, etc." from Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia

In the seemingly excess amount of free time here at school, I have decided to write poetry, both of the sacred and profane. Here is an indulgence of mine, however ill-crafted, of the aformentioned poetic practice of ecphrasis. Recently I read an article about Izima Kaoru's photography exhibition "Landscapes With a Corpse," in which I came across a picture in a section entitled "Koike Eiko wears Gianni Versace."

A Picture of Koike Eiko

The pupil-like silver balls, overflowing the plastic pink baskets and glowing machines,
teem like fish from a net onto the glimmering floor, over her body,
her full breasts spilling out too from a feathery turquoise dress, legs limply crossed,
eyes almost fully closed, lips barely drooping open like a dreaming child's,
a bellied-up belle whose drowning form convokes the plug-in noise to join the silent current;
you watch the balls scatter further across the floor, they enter your thoughts--
covering the scene and converting it, the voiceless multitude subsumes her body,
the empty hall, this picture, some rolling into Koike's mouth, some dribbling off her exposed thighs,
her body carried by this tide through the tunnell of empty seats;
still there are more in the machines, an endless flux of praise--all of them hers--
the flood of these balls, indistinct, unending, like beads on a string,
like the river of time--from an unseen when to an unseeable when--
coursing over her still warm body, her dream comes true.

May 09, 2005

On the Wagon

I had a strange Golden Week in Yokohama. Many people there, all configured in couples, holding hands, sharing intimate moments in the port area of Yokohama Bay. I spent the days roaming around the city, enjoying museums, parks, boat rides, coffee, local talk with some Kanto natives, and the evenings drinking in solitude (for the most part). Back in Wakayama, I haven't done a great deal. School finally started today. I almost lost my cool in my first class back--the students talking non-stop and refusing to be quiet. Perhaps I ran a risk of raising my voice with the one class that I have bonded with in Kobe, etc. Well, it's not the end of the world if they're scared of me now. We'll see the next time around.

Now it's back to studying Japanese--another task that I have left off for so long, leaving my reading ability in tatters and my spoken ability at an 80% rate of being misunderstood. Unfortunately, for most girls that I have met in Japan, being understood is not the act that is valued in relationships, but rather impressing is deemed the standard of winning someone's heart. Even if your facade is entirely spurious, malicious, or oblivious, it is still of more worth than expressing how one truly feels at any given moment. A bit of a bigger mystery that I will never figure out, as the problems of existence will never be few enough to write on the label of a bottle.

Back to writing poetry again...One beautiful day after the next...