18 February 2007

Sleep, Sushi + Sake

Today was awesome.

Angeli and i slept in forever (she slept on the couch like a good girlfriend and i slept in my comfy bed and dreamed like a teenager), then we woke up and talked and talked, then i made salmon melts, i fed the buddhas in my house--meaning, i lit incense for them--i read a story to angeli, and then, for dinner we--get this--drove to indianapolis and ate tons of sushi, oishitoshi, maki, maguro, ebi tempura, drank some sake, life was great--and then we got right back in the car, and drove back to sobe. the reason we could be so absurd and spend 5 and 1/2 hours driving for a one hour meal is cuz we were just talking the whole way. and when we weren't talking, we were having nice little moments, just listening to ivy, luna, dean wareham and britta phillips in the car, singing along to "mermaid eyes." it was funny cuz obie, angeli's boyfriend called her 3 times when we were driving, and she was so happy cuz she was starting to get mad that he hadn't called, but once he did, she was ecstatic, and she forgave him instantly. . . my kinda girl.

It's been so long since i've taken a little road trip with one of my friends. . . it was kinda like oberlin revisited, driving past corn fields, angeli smoking a parliament light, listening to tunes on the stereo, little incestuous conversations, loving and celebrating your friendships, your rapport, predicting where each person will be in 5 and 10 years, my god, it feels good to have friendships like that where you can celebrate the world in one weekend. our predictions were:

In 5 years, she'll be married and i'll be working on my 2nd or 3rd book, traveling the states giving reading tours, after living abroad for a few years (japan?) i'll move to sanfran and in 10 years, she'll have changed jobs, have 2 kidz, she'll have at least 2 albums released, and one of my books will have been picked up by a production studio, my writing will chill out, i'll have kidz too, and i'll have moved to another place that has actual seasons, like maybe seattle, or new york. . .

We'll see in a couple years how off or right on we were. . . god i love that girl. she's one of my best friends in the whole world.

16 February 2007

First Date with Erika, JET Interview + Hello Angeli!

1. Okay, today i had my first date with erika. she has great eyes and she's very sweet and interesting and i'd like to kick it with her again sometime. when we got to my fave japanese restaurant, it was fucking CLOSED. so then we walked in the russian tundra to big bowl, and ate food and talked and sipped green tea and had an intense but thorough conversation. i'm so glad i met her post-thesis cuz it just wasn't gonna happen before. i feel like i talked way too much though. shit happens man.

2. My JET program interview was interesting. i felt extremely comfortable--all things considered--and i think i answered the questions with polish, articulation, intelligence and humor. but i couldn't quite figure out whether it was enough or not. a sample of some of the questions.

AMERICAN CONSUL TO JAPAN (judge #1): --well, the main question i have for you is, why now? why join the JET program now? you're significantly older than most JET applicants--which isn't a bad thing at all--and people will certainly point that out to you in japan, but i'm curious to know why now?

--I guess, there were other things i wanted to do first. i wanted to volunteer, both abroad and here. i wanted to work with kids and do vounteer service before i considered leaving the states. and i wanted to earn a master's degree first, and i guess this seems like the perfect time for me. but above all else, i want to be closer to my family. i have japanese cousins and uncles i've never met in japan and they live in osaka, tokyo, kobe. this is a perfect way to travel, do something i love--teaching--reconnect with my sobo's family, and find new material for writing.

FORMER JET PARTICIPANT (judge # 2): so i see you left the peace corps early, what's to stop you from leaving japan early?

--Well, i would have stayed in burkina faso except i didn't feel my village needed a TEFL teacher. my students asked me to teach them physics, math, biologiy, geology, disciplines i was simply not qualified to teach them. the skills i did have to offer--teaching english, language, reading--they were already getting from other burkinabe teachers. i was in essence taking away hours from them and that didn't seem like a good enough reason to stay.

JUDGE #1: so you're planning on finishing your novel in japan?

--no, i'll be done with my novel in april hopefully. but all MFA grad's usually spend 1-2 years revising their thesis because no school expects us to have actually written a complete and ready-to-sell novel in 1 or even 2 years.

JUDGE#1: so you're planning on writing about the JET program?

--Oh no, i'm planning on writing about cultural diaspora, about being japanese american in japan and being treated like i'm only american, which is interesting for me since in america, i'm treated like i'm not japanese cuz i don't look japanese, a problem of phenotype really. . .
JUDGE #2: so what ways do you plan to become part of the school system? how do you hope to work with our colleagues.

--Good question. first off, i plan on spending alot of time with my colleagues. one thing i learned in americops and the peace corps is, you have to follow a certain level of professional integration if you hope to earn the respect and the cooperationg of your colleagues (head nodding from the panel, i'm thinking cool, i'm finally getting them to feel me). you have to follow a certain level of protocol, you can't fight the whole system. also, i'd like to sponsor an english poetry/haiku contest. next, i'd like to start an afterschool creative writing class, with the blessings of the principal, of course and or an english club.

JAPANESE WOMAN, MAYBE A SCHOLAR, NOT COMPLETELY SURE (judge #3): what will you do if one of your colleagues makes an english mistake in front of the whole class.
--oh, i'd try to bring it up later on, one on one, and point it out, if i thought i could do so without offending him, and if not, i probably wouldn't say anything at all.

JUDGE #3: what would you do if you're working in a small town and one of your colleagues asks you to take out your nose ring or your earrings?
an aside: when i told shiga sensei, my japanese teacher about this question, she was shocked, she couldn't believe a japanese woman actually asked me this, since it's rude to ask things like that, even though everyone will certainly be thinking it.
--well, i'd probably just take it out during class, and not because i agreed with him, but because it would be really uncomfortable for both of us if i just ignored or defied him like that. he would probablhy feel disrespected.

That was the gist of it. it was crazy. no questions about japanese history, no asking me what are the 4 main islands? who's the current prime minister? what are the 8 largest cities in japan in descending order? what american commander essentially opened up japan to western trade during the tokugawa regime? when was the japanese constitution written? what ranking is japan's GNP? i was waiting for all of those. they were at the tip of my tongue, my hand was on the trigger, ready to fire shots into the air like a target game at a carnival. but no, nothing like that at all. it felt good, i loved my new shoes that went along with my hot BR suit, i thought was blazing in my own jacksonian kinda way, i thought the interview went very well, but i have no idea how they felt about it. so now i wait until he end of april or the beginning of may. . . yo, that's a long fucking time.

3. Angeli came to town. . . it was hella cool to see her again. we went out for thai, and after i found out she makes 160,000 dollars a year, i bought her dinner. . . the irony was delicious. . but that's cool, she was like my sugar mama for the rest of the weekend.

It was so great seeing her. . . i hadn't seen her since D.C. 2003, right before i took off for azerbaijan. . . almost 4 years ago, and i think she actually looks BETTER now than she did in adam's morgan as i chomped on vegetarian ethiopian food.

We talked and talked and talked and talked, eventually we drove back to SoBe, the next day we slept in, went grocery shopping, devoured bags of chocolate chip cookies and (soy) milk, i made a greek salad (added feta for her) and we we soaked up the juice with decent italian bread, nibbled on plates of nuts, fruit, chocolate. . . .

The past two days have been just marvelous.

14 February 2007

Living in the Spaces between Things

I'm grateful I live in SoBe cuz i pretty much forgot it was valentine's day ALL DAY LONG. it was only in japanese class that i remembered. it was kinda hard not to, shiga sensei passed out platonic valentine's chocolates that said things like "you're cool" and "i love you. . . as a friend." okay, i made up the second one. i know if i was in chicago, or nyc, i'd be completely inundated with billboards of handsome couples exchanging gifts of whisky, micro-fiber teddies, polar fleece ski vests and menthol cigarettes. i love you, here, smoke a dinner mint will ya?

It's strange being in this place bewteen women, between relationships, bewteen palpitations, between worlds. i don't like it at all. but i think it's really good for me. i used to be a serial monogamist for so long that i'd forgotten what it was like to be bored with myself, or more importantly, to be friends with myself. africa changed all that.

There's a part of me that feels like every day i'm not madly in love, or half-naked and sleeping in fetal position with the woman i love, my body wrapped around hers like a human throw, is somehow a wasted day. that's my romantic sentimentality i guess. but another part of me, knows, that i would NEVER have written this novel if i'd been in a relationship. deprivation is my first ashram and love is my first prayer.

Love and peace to youz. i'm sending you many blessings.

07 February 2007

How to Say Thong in Japanese

Today, when i was kicking it with emi, my japanese law school friend i practice japanese with every week (and also teach american slang to), she pretty much dropped a bomb on my head. she told me most of the words in my textbook for pants, underwear and shorts are all wrong. man, this blows. i'm learning ancient history posing as cross-culture. for example: in my textbook we learned that ズボン (zubon) is the word for pants and パンツ (pantsu) is the word for shorts or underwear. but, as emi told me, in MODERN DAY JAPAN, only baby boomers really use zubon for pants, which, makes sense, it's a weird word. NOW, emi told me, パンツ (pantsu) means, well, pants and ズボン (zubon) means, "i'm old." but it gets weirder: the word for knee length shorts is actually ハーフパンツ(haafupantsu--half pants, bitches), the word for short shorts is タンパン (tanpan--a word that looks VERY close to tampon), but the word for underwear is now シヨーツ (shoutsu).

In summary:

pants used to mean underwear or shorts, but now it means, well, pants
zubon means I'M RETIRED
half-pants mean long shorts
tampon means short shorts
and shorts, which now means underwear, not shorts, is the new way to say an old word that USED to mean both shorts AND underwear, but not anymore.

And, to top things off, the way to say thong in japanese is T-バック (T-bakku or T-back). i thought this was hilarious. emisan asked me in japanese why i was laughing:

--Why are you laughing? she said, but in japanese, just like that.
--Well, t-back sounds like a type of steak, like t-bone, or something you get at chilis, like baby t-back ribs or something. . .
--But that's not what's funny. the funny thing is, the word back, for many black americans, means "large ass," as in the lyrics "baby got back."
--Yeah, it's also really popular in hip-hop slang.
--So basically, your word for thong means, T-BIG ASS.
We both laughed about that one.

Once called thong, now called T-BIG ASS

04 February 2007

Today, Antarctica is Warmer Than South Bend

Okay, with wind chill it's -25 degree outside in south bend, indiana. i'm speechless. in toronto, by comparison, it's only -17. how in the world is it warmer in CANADA than it is in NORTH INDIANA. oh the mysteries of the snowbelt . the only consolation i have is that it's colder in fargo than it is here--it's -33 degrees. but then again, that's generally THE COLDEST PLACE IN AMERICA and south bend isn't supposed to be COMPETITIVE with the coldest place in america. WTF. one last note, and this is NOT hyperbole. it's warmer in antartica right now than it is in south bend--i'm NOT joking. at the Bernado O'Higgins base it's thirty fucking nine degrees. give me a break.

More later. i need to work on my thesis before coleen picks me up.

03 February 2007

South Bend Is the Same Temperature as Fargo

I just looked at the temperature online, and with wind chill, it's -21 degrees. is that a fucking joke? am i in sobe, or am i in north dakota? to give you an idea of how absurd this really is, i just checked the temperature in FARGO, north dakota, and it's -21 degrees, but north dakota is just south of CANADA, and we're just north of KENTUCKY. incredible. absolutely incredible.

01 February 2007

Undeserved Credit (Card)

The strangest thing happened. i was online and i decided to apply for a credit card even though my credit is abominable. it never works. it never works. it never works. every 2-3 years i try this, and it never works. but for some crazy reason, even though i have possibly the worst credit rating in the state of indiana, somehow, capital one gave me a credit card. i just got it in the mail today and i was like, no fucking way. this has GOT to be a joke. no joke. i shouldn't HAVE a credit card. it's really BAD for me to have a credit card. well, at least my spending limit is puny. but still.