I have come to believe that becoming an adult is realizing the consequences of things.  I don’t think that people gain responsibility as they grow up for the shits and giggles of it, but that they realize what will happen if they don’t take action.  If you don’t work, you won’t have money to live off of and buy nice things with.  If you don’t make an effort to keep in touch with people, you won’t have any friends to hang out with when you’re bored.  If you don’t have children, you won’t have someone to do menial labor around the house.

I think it is difficult to really teach people about circumstances when they are children because children don’t typically truly feel much consequence to their actions at all.  Didn’t shower for a few days?  Who cares, you don’t have B.O. yet.  Spent all of your allowance on magic cards football and baseball paraphenelia?  You’ll get more money next week and three square meals for free in the meantime.  Ate an entire carton of ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  Sure you have a horrible stomachache for an hour, but you got to eat ice cream all day!  Scratches heal quick, weight comes off quicker than it came on, and just because you goofed off a lot today, it doesn’t mean you can’t goof off just as much tomorrow.

No, no, no.  You don’t learn the magical tradeoff of consequences until you’ve ran through the magical childhood years, skipped over the adolescent ages, and haphazardly plowed through your teens.  The wondrous compensating power of youth is quickly waning while the burdens of maturity quickly loom ahead.  This is being a young adult, and it kind of sucks.

When you eat too much, you gain weight.  It now appears in places that you care about, has a visible and irritating presence, and stays until you work it off.  If you stay up late, you need just as much sleep as you normally do to function.  No more snapping awake from two-hour power naps to go about the rest of your day like you’ve got a permanent I.V. drip of Red Bull, instead you get tiiired and craaanky.  If spend all of your tiny income, by the time next week rolls around, you get to do nothing! It’s exciting, isn’t it?

Well of course, just because the things you do are now tangible, doesn’t make them bad.  Now you exercise because it feels good and you can see results, not just because your gym teacher tells you to.  Treating people maturely and respectably will get you treated with maturity and respect in return (If you’re really good, they won’t even toussle your hair.).  When you accomplish something by yourself at this age, you may not get the immediate cascade of accolades from your parents, but it really does mean a lot more to you personally.

I am, of course, writing about this subject to cheer myself up and rationalize my holiday escapades, which have left me ten (10) pounds merrier and hundreds of dollars ($) in debt.  When I get around to doing some of that positive stuff I wrote about, I’ll probably let you know about that, too.

It’s funny; my mother is always telling me to update my blog and there’s always little things about my everyday life that I feel like I should write down, but I can never really seem to make the two things coincide.  It’s taken a lot of time to get to this post, and with all I have to say, I’m not sure how much of it is going to come out.  Even as I write this, I start to reconsider what I am ok with writing about, and more importantly, what anyone besides me would care about.  Though the blog is amiable to the reception of my personal, honest feelings, one should expect a fair share of well-polished lies.

The fact that I’m beginning to write this post at 3 AM on a Wednesday morning should paint you a pretty good picture of where I am at right now.  Same place that I’ve been for a few years now.  If you guessed that I am writing because I should be studying/working on something else right now, you get a cookie.  I still prefer the serenity and solitude that the twilight hours offer me.   Sleep, in my mind, has been relegated to an inconvenience and an indulgence; a bothersome thing that I would rather do without until I actually start doing it.  It gets in the way of my studies (you can laugh, too), forces us to work our schedules around it, and generally is the last thing I want to do with my time.  Not that my time would go towards anything particularly productive, mind you, but it still feels like quite a waste of it.  Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t like making excuses and you don’t like hearing them.

Let’s try again!

So… Tokyo…

After making it full circle back, I realize that there`s a lot of stuff that happened that you might want to read about.  I`ll try to make it painless.

First stop after leaving Tokyo proper was the nation`s oldest capitol of Nara, a magical place where temples and shrines run rampant, the wildlife grows beautiful and free, and living expenses drop to the sane and affordable.  Well, what do you think a group of college students are going to notice first after leaving the 2nd most expensive city in the world?  Millenia-old temple grounds are fascinating, but three beef croquettes for 100 yen is something I`ll remember for the rest of my life.  Honestly though, aside from a healthy dose of visual culture (which sadly starts to blend together after marathoning temple visits several days in a row), the most note-worthy experiences I have from Nara are being able to go clothes-shopping without cringing in fear of the tag, and finally breaking down to do some karaoke.  The former only making a small dent in my budget, and the latter making only a slightly larger scar on my dignity.  Oh, also there were deer.

Between our stays in Nara and Kobe, we had a one-night trip to Koya-san, a mountain that is famously the center of Shingon Buddhism, which was founded by Kukai, a very significant figure in Japanese history, run-on sentence.  Tsutsumi-sensei had tried to freak us out a good bit with her preliminary description of our lodgings.  She had told us that We were to be staying in a small temple ground that had traditionally housed those of religious faith that were traveling on pilgrimage, also that the monks there lived very simple lives and asked that the guests there took the utmost care to respect the grounds and preserve their way of life.  When we arrived, we were greeted with cable TV, beverage vending machines, and even a three-story elevator.  We had been hooked up with quite a post Japanese ryokan, replete with incredibly comfortable shoin guest rooms, refreshing bath facilities, and an extensive dinner and breakfast of kaiseki-ryori (As a meal, it was so-so.  As an experience for my mouth, it was amazing).  The wait-staff, all fastidious monks with shaved heads, were very friendly and obliging, even allowing us to join them for a 6AM meditation session before breakfast.  The rest of the mountain town was quaint, but pretty unremarkable, again except for the presence of some fine Buddhist architectural sites and a vast graveyard.

Next stop was off to Seattle`s Japanese sister city since 1957, Kobe.  You may have heard of the Kobe tradition of taking great care of their cows (massages, feeding them good beer) in order to provide great beef (at which point the cow is not really so well taken care of).  Everything you heard is true, and with the predominance of yakiniku and shabu-shabu places all around the city, the people here agree.  Beef aside, Kobe`s landscape and natural beauty shine brilliantly against the vast sea it borders, it`s major landmarks easily visible due to their proximity in the relatively small town.  The metropolitan side of things is nothing to scoff at either: the Sannomiya area could easily go toe-to-toe with any of Tokyo`s busier areas, featuring a dazzling array of department stores, mall-like complex buildings, shopping arcades, underground bazaars, and even a Chinatown.

Our stay in Kobe was sponsored by Evergreen State`s sister college (apparently.  I still don`t get why), Hyogo University.  Their hospitality included several meetings with some of their students, particularly those in the Japanese-US Relations Club, some get-together parties, and even the chance to participate in a few of their P.E. courses.  Through all this, a few acquaintances were made and the Japanese students were able to show us a more practical and modern side of Japanese culture that no textbook could possibly do. 

On the other side of things, as our class soldiered on through Week Three of the trip, our friend, Drama, made an appearance, causing tensions to boil over and making us all swim in it.  Although, if I think about it nothing particularly unexpected happened at all.  You can`t believe that a dozen and a half liberal-arts school kids could get along perfectly amiably for any amount of time, really.  I could go into details, but you could just as easily just watch a re-run of The Real World / Road Rules 42.

Ok, next time, I tell you about Kyoto.  A cool elderly couple, passive-aggressive schooling, and the cardboard reason I`m behind my budget.  All this and more, coming to you in

Well, at least I`ve been making the effort to try and post…

Needless to say, a lot has happened since my last update, which is the standard case if you’ve been paying attention to my track record at all.  Unfortunately, traveling in a large group on a semi-tight schedule with constantly shifting locations does not afford me much time to hunker down in an internet cafe and type to my hearts content.  Other than the occasional store-display oasis with which I check my e-mail, I’ve been essentially cut off from the world.  It’s been hurting me too, dear reader (I haven`t seen a Starcraft match in ages now.)

Well it seems that the stars in heaven have aligned, the temperature in hell has hit 0 degrees celsius, and a Eurasian Wild Boar just barrel-rolled past my window because on this fine, lazy Sunday afternoon, I find myself with a laptop, wi-fi, and half a bag of O’zack potato chips.

Tokyo went by in a blaze of over-stimulation, each day packed with a disconcerting array of sights, sounds, and flavors.  Veterans like myself often forget just how bizarre this city is without input from several new travelers.  Here’s a run-down of some notable events.

  • On Thursday, we went to the somewhat anachronistic Kabuki-za theater in downtown Ginza to catch a performance of three plays.  The first was an account of the abdication of the throne by the last Tokugawa shogun to the Meiji emperor.  A rather wordy and dry performance, but the sets were absolutely stunning (you should have been there, Nicole), switching from a large castle gate to a luxuriously furnished living quarters and then to a grandiose bridge that blends, extends, and disappears into the background.  The second, about Minamoto (edit: Thanks, Toranosuke. Sorry, Tsutsumi-sensei) Yoshitsune’s trials and tribulations,  was a classically celebrated work with some quite clever wordplay, powerful monologues, and very strong physical acting.  The third was a very funny, light-hearted comical parody of a popular type of Japanese stories called “love suicides”.
  • On Friday morning, the class went to central Tokyo to see the Imperial Palace and an art museum that was featuring the works of a famous Japanese artist, Higashiyama Kai.  If anyone cares, my favorite works of his that I saw were “Nostalgia”, “Pond in a Garden”, and his wall-length room paintings.
  • Friday afternoon had us viewing Kyogen, a less popular Japanese traditional theatre form that is very similar to Noh, but with a focus on comedy.  The plays were all quite brief and, while enjoyable, had a very strange, Japanese sense of humor about them.  Quite a bewildering experience for all parties involved.
  • Saturday was a free day, very important to the entire class seeing as trying to fit the immensity of Tokyo into a week borders on madness.  Taking full advantage of this rare opportunity to enjoy ourselves unhindered by schedules, I opted to sleep a lot.  In the afternoon, a group of us decided to get lost in Shinjuku and wander around aimlessly until I found a landmark that I remembered.  We finished off with 1-Liter beer mugs at the Lion Beer Hall.
  • Sunday had me obligated to attend a lunch meeting with Mr. Go, a man who should prove instrumental in the summer course part of my trip.  A young, successful entrepreneur, Mr. Go is also a very friendly, relaxed guy who offered to take us out drinking and karaoke-ing afterwards.  I spent the afternoon getting my hair-cut (so-so. I can’t seem to style it myself to look as good as it did.) and cramming a day’s worth of impulse purchases into thirty minutes in Akihabara.
  • Good News: Mega Macs are still here. 

Next up, the trip to Nara and fun with time dilation!

Things are going well so far this trip.  Almost too well.

We arrived in Japan as a group without too many problems.  Some strange mixups about luggage arrangements and optimal transportation routes threw a wrench in group cohesion, but all in all, a pleasant arrival.

The Olympic Memorial Youth Hostel we are staying at features some great, unique architectural design that I would show you if I hadn’t forgotten my memory card reader at home.  There are tons of youthful travelers and students from around the country staying here, as well as a sizable amount of other foreigners.  We’re situated near the beautiful Yoyogi Park, which is a stone’s throw away from Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku district and my personal stomping grounds of Shibuya.

A lot of the class is getting along quite well, an outcome that wasn’t quite predictable seeing as how none of us had really spent time with one another outside of class before.  There are some hiccups and minor scuffles, but what group of 18 college students doesn’t have those? 

We’re finding ourselves with a lot more free time than we were previously led to believe and some people are taking liberal advantage of that.  I myself am updating this blog as I wait for my laundry to dry, an exciting event that may or may not precede a haircut and a punk rock concert later tonight.

On Wednesday night, only a day after we arrived, the group found themselves in Shibuya looking for a nightcap.   I bravely took up the position of group leader and lead my colleagues around to my usual spots and sights.  When we entered my favorite personal little dive, Bar Q, I was touched when Susumu, the owner, recognized me instantly and we started talking like I had been there the whole time.

I remain optimistic for the rest of the trip and am only slightly worried about the effects of time dilation with our currently super-busy Tokyo days versus the slow-paced school days we’re planning for in Kyoto.  Well, slow is not necessarily bad. *cough cough updates*

Well, starting tomorrow, I should probably have something interesting to talk about again.

Going back to Japan for about 10 weeks, this time for educational and schooling purposes.  I’ve got research to do as part of my Japanese Language and Culture program at Evergreen.

Simply due to the fact that I’m not just trying to make my average college life seem interesting, updates should come more frequently than ever before.  Thanks to wordpress’ new, easier to use functions, you may even be treated to media updates more than once a season!

Hope to make this work out better than it has in the past.  Wish me luck.

I am happy.

That’s pretty much it.

Classes are going smoothly; I’m going to be getting full credits for this semester, which qualifies my conditional admission to the school so that I am incontestably a full time student again.  My teacher thinks that I’ve shown great improvement while in her class and that I possess a good capability to learn.  I’ve made a few good school friends and am starting to get along well with most everyone else in my program.

My roommate and I watch movies together with some regularity now (though it’s been tough this last week because we’re studying like crazy for semester finals) .  We don’t really do that much together, but when the situation arises, we have some pretty good quips and chats.  I really do wish that he’d start watching movies that I’ve heard of, though.

I’ve been educating myself on the subjects of Taurine, Guarana, Caffeine,  Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, and straight up sugar.  I’ve felt both ends of the spectrum dealing with this stuff and have found happiness and harmony through wise moderation.  Someday I hope to live a ‘dietary supplement’-free life.

I’m still getting fat. My left eye’s farsight has gotten slightly worse. I spend lots of money on unimportant things.  Gas prices are driving (lol) me insane.  My hair has started putting in input on why it shouldn’t be cut.

All of that doesn’t matter.  I’ve found a way to be happy without worrying about the things that aren’t doing well.  With the time I save not moping over them, I can work on improving them.  Life’s too damn short to spend time on things that are bad.  Late-night bouts of substance-induced insomnia and one-person man to man self-counseling has  given me a startling amount of insight into what I’m doing.   All of these, regardless of the subject that they originated on, have tangented into a simple message that I had forgotten way back to the time I entered 5th grade.

Live.  That’s it.  Just live.

Out and back at you soon.

It’s amazing how crunched for time I can make myself feel even though I am only going to school three (long) days a week.  It’s all about time management, something I can be good at if I’m pressed for it.  As it is now, I couldn’t be under less immediate pressure, so I’m just letting the good times roll. And roll. It’s actually snowballing…

Well, unfortunately, I lied about swimming.  Good hours for swimming are not good hours for me to be awake.  It seems that all the times that I want to hit the pool for a few laps are all the times that the pool is reserved for swim and water sport teams.  At-home weight training is going well on certain days, when the weight training mood is just right.  I thought that it would be quite easy to supplement my movie and show watching with some free weights as I watched, but I’ve discovered that the best state of mind for weights is to just space out, so it doesn’t work out unless I’m watching something particularly mindless.

Starting to get along better with my classmates, just in the nick of time for the semester to end!  (It’s a year-long class, so don’t worry)  As we all get used to each other and open up, it usually leads to more interesting conversations between us.  Usually.  There are some genuinely interesting and cool people who have genuinely interesting and cool things to talk about.  Often times it confirms my negative speculations that I am indeed surrounded by Narutards and FFVII religious zealots in disguise.  Still, as bad as these people seem, I’ve seen no sign of any of these weeaboos reaching near my power level.

A job would be nice.  Clubs would be nice.  A more evenly structured, healthy schedule would be nice.  Am debating if internet at home would be nice.  I don’t feel totally centered at the duplex without my all-reaching access to the world wide web, but cannot objectively determine if the cons of having such power at my fingertips would do more harm than good.  The interwebs are a fickle mistress, usually letting me go and leave as I please, but it doesn’t take long for the odd Sunday or Wednesday to pop up where I am completely at her merciless beck and call.

I was thinking of uploading all my Japan Trip photos somewhere so that you people can finally see them instead of waiting for my forgetful, procrastinating, ADHD ass to organize and present them.  For those of you who want something fancier, I think I’ll offer my home slide-show for anyone who asks.  I mean, the pictures are nice, but it’s really missing something without my monotone, droll voice to guide you through the journey.

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