July 15, 2005

夏ばて Summer Exhaustion

Hello, friends. Recently I haven't been blogging, which most likely means more things are happening in the world, both locally and globally--whether it is the ceaseless killing in Iraq, suicide bombings in London, the Bush administration's willingness to destroy, damage, deplete, or just deviate from any thing or action that could bring peace to this world and the human beings in it (ok, maybe a few people at the top rung have their slice of Elysian repose, for now), or just the troubles between my mom and my older brothers, the dawn of Japan's hottest two months, and now being caught between sentiment and reason in my beautifully simple (yet ever so unavoidably and heart/mind-rendingly complex) feelings for Yuka. In the process of feeling, seeing, hearing, reading about, taking part in all of this--i.e. the present moment--I have forgotten my habit of putting a little of it down for someone (often myself) to (proof)read.

Last night, after hitting the gym and running a bit along the train tracks between Wakayama Station and Miyamae Station, I got home, took a cold shower, and went for some grilled chicken at the local yaki tori spot. But really what I felt was needed was an ice cold 生ビール.
Lots of 生ビール. By the end of my meal, I was quite tipsy and stuffed with all that chicken and beer. I decided to walk around the neighborhood, as sweltering as the air was. I made it to Family Mart, where Tsuji-san, the coolest and friendliest of the Family Mart staff (also hands-down the most 英語ぺらぺら), greeted me as cordially as ever. However, I just wasn't feeling the same after so many long and emotionally up and down talks with Yuka, that I could barely speak to him. I mumbled an ”暑いですね” and an ”ありがとう” and parted with a few cans of plum and orange flavored Chu-hi. It is probably a bad thing when, on a Thursday night alone, one spends five minutes at the beverage cooler scanning the labels of each Chu-hi for the best mixture of highest alcohol content and good flavor. I just can't stomach so much lemon Chu-hi. Does this make me picky? Well, now in 南太田公園, the park just behind my apartment, drinking Chu-hi, talking to Yuka on the phone, getting bit by mosquitoes left and right, top to bottom, overhearing the fascinating but incomprehensible conversation between the two fellows who sleep in the park every night (I had a slight flashback of Berkeley's People's Park), I felt a strange mixture (not just the spirits imbibed) of being blessed and being cursed. That is, though I always make my problems to be worse than they are, I have been lucky to make it this far, to sit in a park on a hot summer night getting drunk, bit by mosquitoes, and even seeing a few stars from the depths of Wakayama's neon glow. Today I have had stomach problems, yes. I drank some strange stomach medicine given to me by the school nurse, manufactured locally and resembling rabbit feces. Yes, it's not what you would want or expect stomach medicine to look like, but it did seem to help just a little bit. Much cold barely tea later, a few wonderful junior high classes later, a bunch of cold buckwheat noodles later, I am able to be here now, still writing and saying goodbye to my bloghood temporarily. The next two weeks I will be in 勉強-land, participating in Kansai International Center's Intensive Japanese Workshop. It might feel good to become a real student again as opposed to grumbling in all my half-assed attempts to really study Japanese. After that, I will go on a camping trip in Misato, a small mountain village southeast of Wakayama City. There I will make handmade udon, then curry udon, swim in Kishigawa, hang out with the 中学校 kids. They are an absolutely wonderful group of kids. I need to figure out how to put pictures up on this blog. I managed it once, but it was not really me who figured out how to do it. My technologically defunct ways need some instruction, but I just haven't put much effort into this whole "using the computer" thing lately. After camp, I am off to Berkeley for a short 12 days, then back to Wakayama and the start of the Fall semester. For now, take care friends of Wakayama, of the world. Have a nice おぼん, Japanese festival of the dead, 花火 season, and summer holiday.

Signing off for some time...

Though it is a sad one, I really liked this poem, written by Louise Bogan:

At midnight tears
roll into your ears.

July 07, 2005

Not Knowing Will Do

The hand falls short of what it is pointing to,
a word somehow misses the soft target;
who one is on one edge,
and what one made on the other;
there are two places to be at the same time,
one puts another before oneself,
in these acts we see another left behind.

I am thinking of what to do while not doing anything.

This afternoon, blank screams of joyful teenagers echo
across campus, through the windows, I listen to them--
from a distance their sound is fainter than the taste of barley tea
or the smells of the playground in fourth grade--
spilt nacho sauce baked into my navy blue corduroys,
the water fountain's metalic-tasting water,
woodchips, buttercups, and pussy willows;

I follow and you come back, you move on and I follow.

July 06, 2005

A Whole Lot of Nikujaga

Last night, I managed to scrounge up some culinary aptitude from the depths of my being, a being which is often found in Family Mart or one of the many yaki-tori restaraunts in Wakayama, not wanting to cook because I am utterly lazy sometimes. Looking in the Japanese cookbook I got from my predecessor (one of the many useless things I recieved from him, but one of the very few that I kept until now), I decided to concoct for Yuka and myself a delectable improvisation of the traditionally winter-themed dish of 肉じゃが (literally, "meat & potatoes"). Opting to bypass the devil's tongue option for my specialty dish (this ingredient being one of the most tasteless and disturbingly squishy food items I have ever consumed) , I got into the thick of things when it was dashi time. Going heavy on sugar and mirin, a little lighter with the shoyu (soy sauce) and sake, the food was, as my dining guest proclaimed "最高”ーfabulous. This afternoon, I brought the leftovers to school to eat as lunch (saving a very significant 350¥in bento money), stuffing myself full of more meat, potatoes, rice, and a few straggling onions and carrots. Maybe not as 美味しい as last night, but hell, I must not complain now that I have 350¥extra to spend on useless items at the 100¥Plaza. Taking a mid-afternoon alfresco lunch break, I made my way to said paradise of cheap (with nuance of "shitty quality" definitely applicable to all) goods, and indulged my penchant for buying useless Doraemon goods that I will probably never use. Considering that Japan is a country pervaded by Doraemon paraphernalia, I find no end to my collector's ambition, nor do I really have one. But, to add to my Doraemon towel, teaspoon, coaster, balloon, comics, I now am the proud owner of a 100¥ Doraemon whistle and a chewer of extremely sugary and untasty Doraemon gum.

Now I am stuffed and realizing that I have a lot to do this afternoon, the most important thing not being to toot my Doraemon whistle. Time to go back to work, oh I am still here. Reading along in many books, studying Japanese, finding life mysterious and beautiful in Japan, as anywhere. The rain stopped today after almost a solid week of sticky, muggy, rainy days. Tomorrow is 七夕、tanabata, "the star festival" celebrated on 7/7 to commemorate the meeting of two stars, Altair (the shepherd) and Vega (weaver)--in Japanese it is Hikoboshi and Orihime--who meet on this evening and this evening alone. According to the story, Orihime's benevolent father allows her to marry the boorish but sincere Hikoboshi, but after they neglect their work, they are separated from each other and can only meet on this one evening. Maybe in some way it is significant of loving someone romantically--you want to see them more than time or work or any other limit allows. Even if you had every second to spend of your life with someone you love, still there is a feeling that that would not be enough. Traditionally people will write wishes and proverbs and poems on strips of paper and tie these to bamboo branches in order to have them come true, or to make offerings to the god of good handwriting. Maybe I will go see the stars tomorrow night, if I am lucky. They certainly beat the lights at the Tokyo Pachinko down the street.