Commentary

Inside The Whale

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After seven years at the same job I’m gone. I told a co-worker who came into my classroom unexpectedly during break time to fuck off. For some reason he thought he could slither into my classroom and eyeball me like he wanted some trouble. Honestly he looks and talks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

I don’t know what he wanted because I had been trying to teach my students about voting for three months, because in Japan, now, if you are 18 years old you can vote. So, I was using the last shitty election in the United States as an example of how to become an informed voter and the differences between the parliamentary system in Japan and the direct democracy styled of the United States. I think I was successful but no matter where you go in this world somebody will hate on you. Well, I’m not one to hold back what I feel and after questioning why he came into my classroom and telling him about his own problems, with his students he told me to shut up and I told him,”fuck you!”

It was pretty much the beginning of the end but not because they, an administrator and others wanted it that way but because I went to the head master and told him, “I want to leave. I can’t work like this,” and so I resigned. I’ve been looking for other work but it has been difficult but I always stick to my guns or my pedals. Lately some job prospect has come up, thanks to my Australian educational consultant. So, like Jonah I jumped into the sea and swallowed by a giant fish that but we say was a whale. George Orwell wrote an essay about it too.

The best part was riding to work and looking at all of the people, beautiful women, exotic cars, accidents, school girls skirts blowing up in the wind.  It felt good. As I became a better rider, I built better bikes to compensate for the changes, but this would not have been possible without my cycling mechanic Jedi master. Whatever vision I had in mind, he could make it work and add more if necessary. It was wild, riding too Mitaka-ku was like going through Lego City. Everything wasn’t fantastic but I had fun almost getting hit by cyclist going the wrong way on the street, which is common, racing other riders on street like two vagabonds from Two Lane Blacktop.

Cycling is addicting. Once you get on the road you want to ride more and so you go through a metamorphosis like in some Kafka novel and as you change so does your bike if you can afford it. This is what happened to me. It was gradual at first but then the change was complete.

Like Jonah in the whale I survived but at times I feel like I’m still stuck in some giant fish protected from the outside world because I’m stuck in the fishes belly. So for now while I can, I keep cycling, and though my new job prospect may not allow me to ride again through Tokyo, I’ll become a weekend rider but I’ll never stop being a crazy cyclist.

What happened?


At some point I stopped writing but several people that I know now have published books, newspaper articles or something else. It seems that everytime I came out of the ocean somebody I know or am acquainted had published something substantial but me. So, I’m wondering what happened to me?
There was a time when all I wanted to be was a famous writer and I wrote all the time, even keeping a diary and I was very disciplined. I was writing all the time. I started a novel and finally finished it but I couldn’t get published because I didn’t have an agent. I wrote another novel and it was the same scenario. I never stopped writing poetry and I have several hundred poems that I have written in notebooks and on various sheets of paper. Then for some reason I just got dried up on the beach. Now that I am living in Japan I still write poetry and I have written a short story and left other incomplete but it’s not the same.
What can I do?
I thought about just copywriting my stories and then just posting them here online for people to read. I wouldn’t make any money but maybe somebody would take the time to read what I had written. The other option is self publishing but since I just spent several thousand yen building a new road bike it will have to wait until my money is not funny.
My wife has been egging me on to write for some publication be it magazine or something else. Excited about her suggestions I saw several adds for writers in some well known publications here in Japan but I just never pursued it. I just stopped or got sidetracked. Maybe I’m just addicted to social media and so busy watching other people take selfies or other forms of self absorbed activities that I’m not into myself enough. There is a another reality too, my life has changed a great deal from those days. I have a family and I’m working all the time and so when I do have some free time I want to relax and play with my kids or vegetate but who doesn’t have these responsibilities! So, I can’t really use that as an excuse and it must be that I lost my motivation and my ambition because my idealistic dream of how I wanted it to all be didn’t materialize and so I moved onto other things, like making electronic music and cycling.
Recently, after talking with my mother she mentioned an opinion piece my friend had written in the Los Angeles Times. I explained to my mother that in college while working on our school newspaper together we were friends but also rivals, he got the scholarship, apprenticeship to the Los Angeles Times and I went to the LA Weekly. What really made me feel like a seal in an aquarium was seeing that an acquaintance had published an article in the Japan Times. I found out because he talked about it on Facebook. I didn’t know he was a writer and I don’t think I will read his book because of the subject matter.
Now I feel like a sardine. I feel like somebodies lunch. My mother did encourage me to write, not fiction but about something real which is what I never really did before because I was motivated to write fiction. It’s what I wanted to do. There was a vision I had to write the great American novel. I did it for myself but it’s stuck on my computers hard drive getting fossilized. At some point, what I feel will come out and I will get published but I just have to get it out like when you feel you have to vomit and then the words will come to me like some dream. At least I hope it happens that way. Don’t bang on the glass. Thank you!

1999

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Prince dying is like art crying. One of the best and most influential artist of a generation. One of the most memorable parts of my life was going to see the movie Purple Rain with my sister. My aunt who had so many of his records before he had become more famous, greatly influenced my appreciation for music. Listening to Princes music made you feel that you could be original and not care what others think about you. That you can make music in your own way and people would respond because it communicated the need to just be yourself.
Yes, I saw him in concert like so many other people. The artist he spun off of his own creativity and their talent he cultivated. It’s the end of an era or just the beginning. The torch has been passed to us. Now, so many people make singles but can’t make albums. I don’t even listen to a lot of new music because I’m too busy discovering music from the past I’ve never heard before. Prince made so much music and some I may never here, it will take decades just like his career. It hard to make people understand how much he influenced generations of his fans in so many ways.
So many of us are slaves to others opinions and cultivate image more than creativity. If you do anything good it will speak for it’s self but there is nothing wrong with being confident. It’s true that he made some music that I did not like and that is the same for any other artist that I like but it’s just rare to find anyone who could do so many things and well.

What now?

It’s funny or it isn’t how you can have a family but still feel alone. An email from the states said someone read my resume and they want me to apply for a job. Should I go home? It’s tempting. At the moment it feels like I’m divorced. I’m here economically and paternally for my sons. What a way to spend spring vacation. It could be worse. Finally it stopped raining and I can go out and ride my bike but it’s still cold. My wife is colder, I love her but we’ve changed. How dumb a statement could that be when nothing stays the same. Nothing is easy in life. Look at the U.S. I love home but this is the first time in a while when I felt so scared to be an American. This election looks so fucked up, Trump is a racist asshole and Hillary and Bernie are boring.
It looks like the end but more exciting in Japan where people just seem to be moving increasingly more faster. I came to this realization that Americans are violent and Japanese are rude.
Which is worse?
Maybe I should take the job. I’ll miss my kids. I already took off once just to go home and see my dad who recovering from a back surgery but is about to have another surgery. Medical loves him. I can’t watch or wait anymore. That’s why I take care of myself physically but mentally it’s a lot harder. My bicycle can’t do everything. How many movies can I watch on Amazon? I could think of worse behavior like paying for storage. There’s things I can’t say on Facebook. People say pictures say a thousand words but some of that is caca because pictures don’t tell it all.
My tongue get’s stuck sometimes when I really want to say something to someone and I realize I didn’t do it. The one good thing to come out of all of this is that I’m writing some poetry everyday but I’m not back to where I was creatively so long ago. I’me so distracted by the internet. I need something else. Children are great. They give me inspiration but I have to know when something is not my fault, whether its external or internal. All I know is that I’m tired of fighting with my wife. Being with her sometimes is like watching someone float down a river on a boat and they tell you to try and jump on their boat and once you land on it they tell you to jump off. She lives life like she rides her bicycle she just takes off and you have to follow her or just find your own way to where ever we were suppose to be going in the first place.
What now?

Face hater

For some reason we make friends with people on Facebook that we normally wouldn’t. Then when they write something or post something that makes us wince and we wonder if we should defriend them. Outside of Facebook it’s easy to not like people but within the world of Facebook, I have to ask myself, “Why am I friends with this person?” Realizing later that they are still the person that does the same things I never liked, which is why I didn’t talk to them in so many years.
At times I’ve detoxed from Facebook. I had a problem with hackers and so I closed my account for a year. It was good to be off and lately I’ve been away again for almost three weeks now and I feel fine. Now I’m contemplating what to do next.
“To defriend or not defined, that is the question.”
I’m not saying I haven’t embelished some things from the past but I did it enough a few years ago to irritate an ex and late I ended up defriending her but now I understand how she was feeling. I wasn’t the the same type of situation recently but someone talked about an issue as if I had not contributed to it, a news story and well this person came off like a self centered jerk.
So here I am wondering what to do next. I don’t mind his wife but as wife’s go she probably tolerates him but recently I realized that he hadn’t changed much like a lot of people and so I am wondering what I should do. Or I am just taking all of this shit too seriously but being the thougtful person that I am I take things personal sometimes, I should say that I’m sensitive but that means I care. Otherwise confront the person head on and leave my conscous clear or just go with the Facebook flow and pretend to like things I don’t like and be friends with people I normally wouldn’t have been friends with after so much time has passed but as they say, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer!”

Woman with dark sun glasses in the rain

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Winter has arrived once again here in Japan, almost. It’s getting colder. I ride my bicycle everywhere. Without it I couldn’t get to work. It’s a 50 minute ride. Maybe you know this already. The school year is over here. Unfortunately, it’s not quite over for me. I have to grade some exams but I was stuck home with my son because influenza, which is common here struck his class. So, Saturday and Sunday I’ll be grading tests.
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Sometimes while riding to work I see scenes out of movies would make if I could but it’s very much reality. A young woman running across the street and then looking back at a man, presumably here lover. A woman wearing black sunglasses in the rain, standing on the corner with an umbrella. A woman wearing a white shirt and white pants and maybe she was waiting for a cab but out all of these people it’s the women, but I can’t forget the midget I see in a business suit. He looks like he is doing well.
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A have a novel to finish and I’m in writers block and blog block and just block. I have to motivate myself and it’s hard. At one time it was my dream to be a famous writer. I’ve written several books but I don’t have an agent so I can’t get published. I have to self publish them. Some are stuck on computers that have crashed. What can I do? No matter what I have to keep writing.
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Home looks crazy now. The world once again is obsessed with terrorism because of recent attacks in California and Paris. Thousands of people have died in all of the wars and bombing and blunder in the last two decades. Americans have short memories too. Who do we vote for? This is a white moment. I could say dark but I’ll just say a white moment because so many people seem to be blind to reality when we’ve never had so much access to information at our fingertips.
“The violence, the violence,” I think that is what Brando would say if he could look at the U.S. Here I am in a self imposed exile in Japan. As one year ends another begins but as always I wonder were is it all going. What is in store for us. No matter what I have to keep writing. It’s hard mainly because of trying to make peace with the past and with myself. The memories that creep up like steam from the sidewalk.

Chicken Scratch

IMG_6209I’ve been here three years now. I can’t believe it. It  could be worse. The kids are fine unlike me they speak Japanese. Now it’s colder than hell, if that makes sense. I  was riding my bike to work but now it’s impossible with left over snow and more to come this week. My agogare was wearing off last year but a trip to Nigata kind of recharged my batteries.

My job is boring at times mainly because I feel that an educational system based so much on entrance exams makes students a little lazy. They only care about passing exams. Hopefully my children can avoid this fate. At least that is my plan. I’m glad President Obama was reelected but the road to the White House was rough. The fight, if you want to call it that, is not over. If only I could be as calm, cool and collected as the President.

Well, I have a novel and a few short stories to finish, as wells as some music projects. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be famous one day!

Dreams

I try to write all of my dreams down. Sometimes I forget to do it. It’s important to me.

I’ve been feeling better about being here but I still would like to go home at some point. Yesterday I strung up a guitar that my wife’s mother gave to me. It’s a classical guitar so it looks a little bit different from a regular guitar. Next I have to tune it. I’ll just have to see what happens. I just need time to do it. I’ve  been so tired from all of the teaching I do. Often I come home and I just crash but my sons want to play, so I can’t rest. It’s ok because I miss them a lot. Winter is approaching and it’s getting dark sooner. I have to be careful on my bike. I’m a pretty good biker but its pretty dicey on the streets.

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of songs. I just have to find time to sing them or put a beat to them. For some reason writing songs comes easy for me but then seeing them is a different matter. I write rhymes too but I just haven’t had time to record any music.

Lost Wallet

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I lost my wallet while riding home from Kawaguchi station. I didn’t notice that it was gone until a day later. I panicked. It had happened to me before in America on the train. That time my wallet was returned to me by a guy who worked in a chocolate factory but my money was gone, still I got it back. This time in Japan, I got my wallet back including my money. I was shocked. In America I don’t expect anyone to return anything that is lost. In Japan, I had heard stories of people losing all sorts of things only to have them returned, everything included. In Japan a person may bring a lost item to the police station and then the police will contact you and well the returnee may request a gift. I called the person who returned my wallet but they didn’t want anything in return. My wife got a box of chocolates once.

I consider myself lucky this time. It could have been worse. Sometimes I’m doing so much, so fast, that I lose track of everything, including myself.

Only in Japan!

The Park

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There is a park I frequent not too far from where I live in Kawaguchi. I often meet foreigners there like me.

We stand out.

I met a woman to today who’s husband is Japanese but she is from East Germany. I welcomed  her with the little high school German I remember. That started a whole conversation and an exchange of information. Like me she knows little Japanese. Welcome to Japan. She has been in Japan for about two years and was in Malaysia before moving to Japan. Like most expats we vented and compared and contrasted Japan with where we have been. I spent the rest of the of the afternoon watching my son dance and sing a long with Michael Jackson while watching This Is It.