Friday, October 18, 2013

When you read other people's 2007s

You start to want to read your own 2007.

(I have read jottings from a couple different important peoples' 2007s lately.)

It's good to blog.

In terms of epochs of my life:

1. The town life of a toddler (before I can really remember what was going on)
2. Tribal existence in a country forest with bicycle (till 6th grade, 1996)
3. 青春 (middle school and high school, graduated 2003)
4. I'm an adult (all boundaries pushed, college before Paris, pre-2005: I started blogging)
5. Paris (lots of things changed, spring 2005)
6. California dreamin' (college after Paris, finished early Dec. 2006)
7. REAL LIFE (after college, pre-Twitter, 2007, 2008, early 2009)
8. Alternate universe (June 2009-Nov 2011, but also the dreamy period after that leading up to...)
9. Yet another realm (Japan, i.e. everything since March 2012)

Here are the most important events that have happened so far:

1. Summer 1985 Born (lol)
2. 1993? Some kids back from a foreign exchange taught us how to count to ten in French and it was the coolest thing in my life up to that point. Even if Paris wasn't as huge as Tokyo in the grand scheme of things, realizing that I cared about learning languages was.
3. Spring 2000 Got up the courage to partner with a guy I liked in my math class on a project which ended up leading me straight to Japanese and also further into the Internet. (Also was my first boyfriend.)
4. Fall 2005 Inspired to start writing freelance. (By my first serious boyfriend.)
5. Fall 2007 Went to Japan for the first time.
6. Summer 2008 Paradigm shift. For better or worse, we cannot say. (Via a guy who later claimed to be my boyfriend.)
7. Summer 2009 Got hired at Twitter.
8. Winter 2012 Bought ペンギン・ハイウェイ based on the cover.

That's only 8 things. I dislike the number 8. I wonder if there are two more important things.

I guess I'd say...
x. Fall 1996 Finally got to play saxophone (5th graders were not allowed for some reason; this is not on the original list because while it was crucial to my high school years, it became irrelevant later on except for the super bitter sweet nostalgic feeling I get whenever I listen to symphonic band music or jazz.)
z. Spring 2012 Moved to Japan (but I pretty much see this as a direct extension of #7 because it would not have been feasible otherwise, and the ball was already rolling at #5. I knew I would get here, even if at the time I had no idea when or how.)

I guess there is plenty of other stuff that happened. I mean, my whole life happened.

My universe is expanding and I have my own cosmic microwave background.
Seems to make sense.

One thing I think about a lot, though, is when I will feel like I'm in "real life" again, and/or how I will know when I am. Which I realize doesn't make sense, but if there is a time that I feel was "real" then wasn't it? And isn't now not? Actually lately I'm getting closer to that feeling, but...something still seems so meta. Maybe it's because I'm living in Japan I have this film of over-awareness that I didn't have in SF? SF was raw and crazy. Japan is still crazy sometimes, but I'm watching myself from somewhere. I wonder if it's really just Japan or if it happened earlier...I wanna climb back into my skin.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

flying update

I have a hard time flipping back into work mode lately. The stuff I am doing in non-work mode is too damn interesting and I'm so alone during much if it that my head spins off in a million directions and I can no longer concentrate even on that much less the project at hand. It's cool, though, I still have time tonight.

Today woke up to an alarm at 6:30.

I had a dream about running around a huge college campus to hand in a term paper.
There was a map like a video game with a glowing dot, but I couldn't navigate the halls properly.
It was a mess.
I haven't had a dream like that in so long.
I can only blame it on the fact that I am desperately wishing I could be an undergrad in a Japanese lit department.


I had granola and soy milk and did some newspaper work.

Then I went to K-town and did some work there.

Lately I have been getting omiyage from people via a representative. The other day I found a box of shark fin-flavored Pretz from Hong Kong on my desk ("from the CEO, for girls only, I got shrimp-flavored") and today I was given a mini snow globe from Germany ("when you have time, you should thank O-san").

Lunch was brown rice doria with chicken and asparagus, but they were really stingy with the asparagus.

That is why after work I went to a place in Akihabara where I knew I could eat a lot of vegetables.

It was like a dream. I sat and drank espresso till it seemed like dinner time, while reading some people talk about novels in this extremely over-my-head kind of way. I really want to learn how people become able to make judgements like that and just go riffing along about things. Or maybe I just wish I could lie on the floor near their feet while they talk, as long as I can hear.

I took the Yamanote line to Mejiro and walked home from there. It got a bit brisk so I was able to wear my Cool New Jacket Which Is Difficult To Zip today. You really have to choose carefully beforehand whether you will wear it zipped or unzipped and if you intend to zip it, you must zip it in the way you would like to zip it before you go before the public. Otherwise, if you fail repeatedly to zip your own jacket you look like an idiot.

I don't actually know why I'm blogging all of the sudden, but...but yes I do, it's because I have work to do. You'd think if I wanted to procrastinate I would go read some more Maupassant, but my frequency of procrastination is tuned so finely that I can't seem to do anything actually productive. The ONLY productive option right now is work and therefore I am left with unproductive options. I could roll around on my futon. That would be perfectly acceptable. I might.

Last night My Favorite K and I ate vegetables and fish and rice and soup (because we both like this kind of food and I'm so glad we have that in common) and walked walked walked around Nakameguro, Daikanyama, Ebisu. All roads there lead to T-Site, at least, I can't seem to go anywhere near Daikanyama without setting foot there, and he looked at cooking magazines. I looked at them over his shoulder, but also at him looking at them (which was more fun, I think).

Tomorrow is Friday. You know what I did last year on that day? Drummed taiko in the Oeshiki festival down the street. It was really fun. This year I was invited once again, but I can't go because I will have a translation to edit (the translation I'm supposed to be creating right now). I think I'm ok with that, but it's a little sad. It also makes me realize how hard it must be to keep up traditions as an adult. Like for your kids even or what not. Culture is hard work! Actually!

Honestly though, I'm losing my mind about literature lately. I need to meet people to talk about books with and more importantly learn how to talk about books. If anyone has some ideas, let me know.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Just before 夜の部

I call it 夜の部 to make it sound more fun, but really it's just more work. I should be excited to accomplish things and do a good job because I had a great day; keep that positive energy flowin' or whatnot, but I feel sort of crunched.

To exist in Japan I have to fit myself into a box called VISA and lately it is feeling pretty cramped. At the same time, my head is going in a zillion directions, so I know it's partly my fault.

Anyways, here's what I did today:

AWOKE. Couldn't remember my dream.

BREAKFAST. Specifically avoided eggs because I knew I was going to have Khao Pad Kra Prao Gai at a place that puts an egg on top for lunch. I had a natto maki and a banana and coffee.

WORK. I had to put some finishing touches on a translation project and then social media for a bit.

LAUNDRY. It had to be done. I did it in my usual extremely non-fussy manner that is part of the reason I have no real fashion.

LUNCH. Met my friend Simon for Thai food. It's always really good to catch up with him.

POETRY x FASHION. I went to an event in Shimokitazawa at a bookstore cum bar where the poet I like read some poems. I didn't know he used to play saxophone. I guess we have that in common. I wonder if he still plays.

THAT DREAM. The fashion part of the event was interesting, too, but its overall form was eclipsed by the fact that one of the photos jogged my memory as to that dream last night. Suddenly on the screen was an image of a women missing half of her right leg, but looking extremely stylish in heels and a great short dress, so that you ignored her disability (? Sorry if I'm butchering pc codes in this paragraph, but I'm just telling you what happened as simply as I know how) completely or perhaps even her prosthesis itself is cool. I wish I had the link, but I don't. Anyhow, I remembered that last night I dreamed I was told one of my legs would have to be amputated. What a weird coincidence. And I really wonder where that dream came from.

SHINJUKU. After buying some books related to translation that I need to somehow find time to read, I maneuvered through the evening Shimokita crowd to the Odakyu line. Felt the need to procrastinate (as I do even now...) so had Freshness Burger while contemplating life, etc. The classic burger seemed highly unadorned besides some vegetables, which was great.

IKEBUKURO. Wouldn't you know it, I took the express. And then wouldn't you know it, I took some exit and ended up who knows where on the other side of the station. I decided that it was fate, and walked home, during which time I thought I would like to tweet, やっぱリュックじゃないとダメだ、私。but had my hands full of my bag, which had gotten too heavy with books and things for me to trust to the shoulder strap.

MINOR GROCERY STORE VISIT. I bought bananas and soy milk. There is some granola I have that has too many raisins in it, but somehow I feel like I should persist in eating it until the bag is gone. Other than the too many raisins, there is nothing wrong with it, I don't think...

WORK. I really want to just read or listen to more Japanese people say more things, but I can't because tomorrow got unexpectedly busy.

Here wait, though, I can think of some more things to say quickly.

I finished the short story chapter in 文学レッスン. Saiichi Maruya (who died last year, I just read on Wikipedia : /) seems to make a lot of comments about this history based on nationality. I don't know if that is common in lit commentary or not, but like at one point he was even saying that maybe the short story initially became so popular in Japan because Japanese people like small things (like bonsai and dolls). Really? And among bourgeois French there would not have been very many novel readers, which is why they were so good at short stories? And Ireland was not yet developed at the time, so short stories were the thing and Ulysses was James Joyce trying to escape the short story? Is that true? I'm kind of taking all of it with a grain of salt. I guess I want to see what other people have to say about short stories. And read A LOT.

But I'm also trying to figure out ways to get what I've been reading to stick with me more, which is why I'm going to try maybe blogging more. I don't really expect what I'll say to be that interesting, but I just want to be able to reference it later.

Between stories in きつねのはなし I've been injecting some Maupassant. "Boule de Suif" was pretty great. It's a super interesting predicament, but wow, humans are evil, huh. I just can't imagine being that cruel to someone, especially after they've fed you. War, food, sex. This story is really in the thick of it.

While reading "Miss Harriet" most of what I thought was how tsundere the titular character was and how over the top it was that she died at the end.

"Francesca and Carlotta Rondoli" is another where it's just like "Really man, really?" But I really like these windows into the heads of guys who do stuff like leaving girls waiting for them, etc.

That reminds me, in the titular story in きつねのはなし the narrator Mutou lies so much. Not only to the creepy Amagi, but also to his gf and Natsume. I kept wishing he wouldn't. It didn't seem to help him that much anyways...

Now I'm running pretty late to 夜の部 but...maybe I'll be able to look back at this entry and remember what today was like. When I look at entries from back in 08 or whatnot, I sometimes can't even remember I spent a day like that. Reading entires like that is a really weird feeling, but I won't have it to savor unless I write something like this now and then.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Little Roommate

Had a dream where I don't remember what language was being spoken, but in which it was revealed that I had had a tiny roommate all along. That said, my room was also different, although I think I was still in Japan. Actually the room itself seemed a little confused, changing shape depending on the scene. There was one that was kind of door shaped with the kitchen on the left and the doorway on the right, a big window cradled in the living area at the "base." Another one was super shoeboxy, didn't even have a kitchen, or a bathroom. Or anything, really except a bed. Everything in that one was kind of a dirty yellow tan color, and I couldn't figure out if it was a product of the light or just bad design.

A bout of dancing in front of the mirror or whatever girls do in their room's when there's is no one around  (I think it was tongue-in-cheek strip tease prompted by the fact that the jeans I had tried to put on were so worn out I might as well not have been wearing any) had just at that exact second finished, so could properly feign doing "nothing" (albeit poorly dressed) when the guy (full-sized) walked out of my kitchen.

"[uncontrollable yelp of fear and surprise] Where did you come from?" (I was soooo not just dancing around in my near underwear.)

"Over there... I live here."


"I live here, in that pan."

"No! No, you don't! And what do you mean "in that pan!" That's my pan!"

"But you never cook, and indefinitely turned over to 'dry' like that on the rack, it makes kind of a nice...tent..."

"Don't change the subject!"

"I have to go or I'll be late for class."

"You're a student? I have a student freeloading under a pan in my kitchen?!"

"No, I'm an elementary school teacher."

Now this was too much. And he had to leave anyhow. It did actually dawn on me that it made no sense that a full-sized guy could live under a pan, but the only possible explanation was that he shrunk himself down when he arrived home, so as to not be a burden on me, and I accepted that immediately. Regardless, he was now a burden on me and the flood of all the previously-normal-but-now-extremely-embarrassing things that had occurred over the months since I had moved into that apartment momentarily crushed me.

But maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a roommate. The only thing was that at this point our relationship was unequal, since he knew probably more than he ever wanted to know about me and I knew nothing about him.

The next day I came home (to room v.2 for some reason, the yellowy one) and there were a couple elementary schooler's notebooks on my desk, as well as a box of cherries labeled "cherries," but also "must not become contaminated." It seemed he had given up hiding himself now that he'd been discovered.


Actually there was a lot of other stuff that happened that I can't remember, but yeah, I dreamed a tiny elementary school teacher who could also be normal human-sized lived in my room. What the hell, lol.

For the record, you could not hide under my pan cuz I DO scramble breakfast if nothing else.

Oct. 8, 2013 in Five Minutes

Woke up late because I stayed up till 2 a.m. worrying too much about things I don't have to worry about. Late is 7:24.

I decided that was late enough to be lazy about breakfast, though I regret going to the cafe down the street. I should stay home in the morning, but I just wanted to leave my apt.

I read some lit stuff 'n then some きつねのはなし. Trying to take "good notes" but they aren't that good, they are just notes. I want to think more about what I'm reading instead of random nonsense. Why did Mutou lie to his gf about his heater? That bothered me.

Today was a JT day so I did JT things and then ate lunch. I did something novel and put half of the main dish in a box to take home because the cafe I go to is chill like that. A guy chatted to me about whether I am a student and if I can write kanji. He does triathlons and sometimes has meetings for work  near where this cafe is and studies English.

The afternoon was sort of a blur of JT things, but then it ended and I ate risotto with shrimp, kabocha, and broccoli that I am kind of addicted to. I don't know how many calories it is but it feels balanced because of the amount of vegetables. There is also porchetta or something in it, but I don't eat all of it.

I guess my five minutes are up, but I have some work to do anyways, so I guess it's good timing...


Things I'm Reading (10/6/2013)

Here are the things I'm reading outside of stuff I do at/for work:

きつねのはなし (I missed him so much even though he was there all along)

文学のレッスン (because someone said it's "easy-to-understand")

裸でベランダ/ウサギと女たち (which is kind of lonely because I'm used to aurally mainlining his poems)

The readings from this Introduction to Theory of Literature that I can scrounge up.

Back issues of

I'm considering getting a Kindle so I don't have to think anymore about how to acquire books in English. The back of 文学のレッスン has a reading list that I'd like to pick my way through, but I'm certainly not going to read Japanese translations of everything.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

October 5th, 2013 in Five Minutes

Woke up around 7:23 or so without my alarm, which was set for 8. Fried two eggs in olive oil, ate them with two slices of a round loaf from the neighborhood bakery and half a grapefruit and a cup of instant 7-Eleven coffee. Worked on some translation. Worked on my day job. Ran out the door because I was attending an orientation at the Museum of Modern Japanese Literature. On the way I ate lunch from this bakery in a savage fashion in the street, but it couldn't be helped. Not only did I have a pizza like thing, I had a rhubarb tart. RHUBARB. It was a good day just for that.

The event was good. I was very quiet. We saw original (real) manuscripts (that should not be even exposed to the light) by Natsume Soseki etc. You should not wear gloves (plastic ones?) because they catch on the paper and might rip it. Clean, dry hands are best. I'd like to attend more events at the museum but it seems like it will be a long time before I need to use their archive for something. I am level 0 lit nerd. I had a really unique lemon parfait with tea at the cafe there before I left.

On the way home I bought a salady thing. Then when I got home I worked more on both jobs. And then I read a ton of stuff about lit theory.

Oh I also finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao today.

All of these things combined to make me want to blog. I guess.

Wow, the timer went off with this incredibly obnoxious and unexpected noise.


Lately it seems like I'm super preoccupied with this notion that I must ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE, as quickly as possible because I've FALLEN BEHIND. I need to go BACK TO BASICS and recover things, but also THINK CRITICALLY, something I'm always convinced I never learned how to do.

I've been trying to figure out what it's all for, though. Like, if I read some popular science writing and hear some interesting factoids that is great — even if I don't remember it, it's great — but if I stack up enough of this do I get something? Do I actually get "smarter"? Does it matter? How about literature? Is reading books enough? How "close" should I read them? Should I study literature? I bet the more of those things I do the more "intelligent" I get. But what does THAT get me?

I guess one thing it gets me is another type of particle to add the busyness haze polluting my life (or is the haze the life? That is never clear. Well, it's haze, how can we expect it to be...) Conveniently, if I am busy, i.e. if I procrastinate by reading and studying and learning when I'm not working, I can put things like being a responsible adult on the back-burner. Clean my bathroom? Sure, I did that once this year. Cook? I fry my own eggs most of the time, thank you very much. A mention of the post office or the bank may inspire acute anxiety and guilt#, but at least I can take notes on this essay and refer to them later, and pretend that it somehow applies to something that will get me somewhere.

To where?

I keep trying to think of that, too. I guess in some way I'm on some kind of husband + baby trajectory but it's taken this insane arc and I can't tell what point I'm at along it. It could actually be the case that I've fallen off and I can't decide if that should be worrisome. It seems like it should because I ostensibly want to do that family kind of thing, but then I wonder how that fits in with workahol and this study bent. Or maybe it's just a way to run away from all that (a theory which I've heard someone has put forth in book form, but I don't know who or in what book), but you can't run away from the family thing, and again, what does that get you?

I guess I have some existential angst lately.

It seems to be because...things are going well, but I seem to want something from someone although I can't tell what it is. Like is it really the family thing? Do I just need to march up to someone and be like, 'Hey, let's get married and do that baby thing." I don't really think that would solve anything. To echo: "Does it matter? Where does THAT get me?"

At that point, it's like, why am I trying so hard at any of this? I seem to get happy now and then. It does seem related to satisfying work and satisfying study and the appreciation of art and good company etc. But it never seems so CAUGHT UP IN IT like I am all the time. The happiness I felt this morning came on without warning and lasted for a while and then dissolved into random anxieties## I was actually working at the time. Things were proceeding smoothly (it's similar to when I say "やった" to my partner on Skype out of genuine enthusiasm for successful problem solving) and so that must have made me happy? It seemed more than that, and also more random. Fluffier, somehow, and indistinct. Sunny, wanting to share so badly. The truest happiness makes me feel alone###

Oh that's another thing, though. Maybe getting "smart" is, in addition to distracting me from the perils of society (like the bank), it's making being alone ok, because hey, at least I'm "smart." It's somehow noble to be alone and smart. Maybe you'll write a really interesting, original, introspective blog post or something. (*cough* not)

I've been writing some blog posts actually, but just not posting them#### There are all these discussions I want to have, but I don't know who with, or when I imagine I have time to, or whether they would really transpire as I intend, or if it's even fair to intend a conversation to transpire a certain way, be honest, they aren't that well thought out and I'm just kind of getting caught up writing this sentence. I guess I just feel like people must be thinking things out there and I would like to hear about them. "ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE," says my head, after all. "There must be someone who can lead you to it. And you'll drink of course, without being made to. Whether you'll stay hydrated or not is another matter entirely, but..."

I have to move next year and I keep toying with the idea of some kind of shared living space, like having roommates only with more direction and intention, but that seems almost as intense as having a family, and about as lacking in privacy, too, so why not just hold out for the romance? ("Which is NOT to say that...I hold out," she pants, chasing steadily after the current and always hopefully last favorite.)

"But yes, while you're waiting, definitely acquire some knowledge."

#I'm on it, I really am.

##some anxiety regarding BEING ON TIME and EATING LIKE A WILD ANIMAL on the side of the road because I was IN A HURRY. Then I had to present myself as thoughtful, but I presented myself as so thoughtful that I said nothing the entire time even though I was surrounded by people who might have ended up great friends (seeing as we were all in a museum of literature to look at old manuscripts).

###Which always seems to link back to the family thing.

####For better or worse, I'm actually posting this one.