Even if love is blind, the neighbors ain’t

Went with Jessy to the symphony last night, mostly because I heard there was a movie involved. The folks played the score live for the silent film Sherlock Jr., which I had never seen before but apparently is one of Buster Keaton’s best. We had to sit through the first part of the non-film orchestra performance before we got to the movie part, all of the non-movie stuff was ridiculous insufferable po-mo wank. Fashion-wise clad in the clothes we taught and officed in we occupied an interesting space between a few of the trying-too-hard hipsters with wartime knee boots and the guy who was wearing a North Face windbreaker and crocs. Wine and liquor was eight dollars a glass so we got a coffee for two dollars and paid with a debit card which is insane. It felt neat to be out on the town, though really we were mostly just shuttled there from our home and back again with not that much ambling. We parked across the street for five dollars then walked across the street to an area where it was valet parking for fifteen dollars, and I wondered who has fifteen dollars to have someone drive their car, and it was a lot of people, people who I imagine are real assholes.

One of the things I gave to Jessy for Valentine’s day was a large candle that has wooden X-shaped wicks that crackle and pop as the candle burns, which as it turns out is soothing but also makes me think constantly that I am going to have to watch for flare-ups or some sort of enormous pop like in a fireplace, but of course I don’t have to be worried about that. It makes our house smell like Christmas, which is probably why it was still left at the store a couple weeks before Valentine’s day for a very affordable price. Come to think of it, the hand soap I just bought also smells like either Christmas or a big strong man, it is some kind of spicy berry, every time I wash my hands in the kitchen I am like, something interesting is going on in here.

Now that Altoids have been part of my life for a couple of decades I am confident in saying I no longer find them strong at all, let alone curiously strong. No, no, the curiosity is dead, Altoids.

CURIOUS DALLAS, TEXAS THINGS OF THE NOW
– It is like 45 degrees and everyone in the office is in a panic because it is “so cold”
– I am sure going to miss all the Mexican foods I can get up in this bitch when I leave Dallas
– What the fuck, Bertie Higgins just came up on my music here what is this
WHAT THE FUCK WHAT

We only have a few days left until the Academy Awards, which I guess they are just officially calling “the Oscars” now, but I kind of hate that. I haven’t gotten to watch the awards show in like five years, which kind of hurts because I really do love movies and the show is one of the few remaining cultural television events like the Super Bowl since nobody really universally watches the same television shows anymore. Jessy and I have been grinding through the movies to try to at least see all the Best Picture nominees, mostly so we can more appropriately place our outrage when the movies we wanted to win do not win. Right now we have seen I think five of them, which would have been “all of them” back before I left this weirdo country, and now they nominate like nine or ten which I mean sure good but I got some movies to watch still. Movies yet to watch: 12 Years a Slave (too depressing), Philomena (too do not know anything about), Gravity (too space), and Captain Phillips (too tom hanks).

I went to a place called Grandy’s today for lunch, it is apparently like a fast food thing, the best equivalent I could draw is KFC if KFC also sold chicken fried steak with gravy on it. They asked, do you want a second fried pork cutlet thing for a dollar, and why the hell I said yes I do not know. I could not even start into it, I had to throw it away, I felt Japanese guilt. In Japan they’d have asked me if I wanted it for free and I’d have said no cause I’d’ve known I’d’ve not been able to eat it. But here I paid a dollar cause it seemed like a good deal and look where that got me. All in all it was pretty slammin though.

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We all live in a house on fire

One of Jessy’s students, let’s call him Timbo, apparently told her yesterday that “[he] hates black cops” which was more than just casually alarming because he is a generally polite space-cadetty young boy of the tender age of seven. His friend, in contrast, disagreed, being all like “no, black cops is awesome.” Doing her civic and professional duty, Jessy side-barred the boy’s mother when she came to pick him up. Today your little boy said he hates black cops, she says. Black cops, the mom says. Timbo ya goof ball, she tells him, that game isn’t called black cops, it’s Black Ops. Oh right, Timbo says, rendering a series of potential considerations in Jessy’s tender first-year teacher mind: is it good that his mother is at least aware of the video games he is playing and corrects him on their pronunciations, or is it bad that Timbo is playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, in which you assume the role of men who stab/shoot/slice enemies amid a virtual hailstorm of words including but not limited to fuck? Perhaps it is a little bit of both, perhaps it is a little bit of both.

AMERICA, OK
– Bought an iced tea at the 7-11 yesterday, it was available in Gulp, Big Gulp, Double Gulp, and Super Big Gulp sizes despite the fact that if anyone tried to “gulp” any of these massive drinks their entire esophageal passages would explode immediately, also the iced tea tasted kind of dirty, like I mean it tasted as though there was dirt in it
– I got some pad Thai at a restaurant in a little strip mall over by the Interstate for lunch yesterday and ate it in my car, it was probably the second best that I have had in my life, meaning that the pad Thai ranks for me are as following: #1: dinky store under an old apartment building in the middle of Iowa, #2: random little strip mall store in yuppy eastern suburb of Dallas, Texas, #3: Thailand
– Speaking of food I gave Jessy a meal at a sushi place around here called “Hypnotic Sushi” cause they had like some kind of gift card deal and it looked fun but now that I think about it I sort of wonder if I really want to be hypnotized by raw fish
COMIN’ TO SAVE THE DAY

My pal James, who used to assist me in nuclearly obliterating all competition in a variety of trivia contests, is currently posting offensively excellent pictures of his sweet hostel views on Facebook, the following of which I have reproduced here without his permission.

I kinda decided somewhere along the line during my life in Japan, when a good view could literally be mount Fucking Fuji out my window, that you have enough good views and after a while they are all the same, like the fifth or sixth temple you’ve gone to, or another shrine after you’ve already been surrounded by vibrant little things at Ikuta on New Year. The views that are more interesting are essentially the bad ones, the bad views. I like a bad view every now and then, what’s more entertaining than this room that’s all dressed up to look real nice and you even have a low wattage bulb in the desk lamp next to your hotel bed and then you open up the curtain and it’s a literal brick wall? I have fond memories of a story that my step brother used to regale me with of the time that he and some of his classmates took a trip to New York City as part of the chorus class and they checked into some hotel there or whatever and he said that the most notable thing about it was that instead of some kind of painting or framed art on the wall or something there was a poster advertising the movie Heat, the Pacino/DeNiro thing, and it was actually glued to the wall, covered over with like some kind of glue plaster like that shit you’d buy at the stationary shop so you could paint over puzzles with it to preserve them as framed art or whatever? it was painted over with that shit on the wall so nobody could steal it I guess, so nobody could steal the poster for the movie Heat. I wonder if anyone actually tried to steal it, I guess my stepbrother at least examined the situation, cased the joint, the joint being the poster for the movie Heat.

What I mean to say is I like a bad view. My favorite place to take a piss, or at least one of the most frequent places I would go, was in the side part of the Sannomiya Hankyu station, and I’d go there because it was maybe the only train station restroom that I knew of where I could get to it without having to actually use a ticket to get through the gates? I’d pull a gaijin smash and beep through with my prepaid fare card, go take a piss, then come back through the gates and be all like “I mistake, I mistake” and they’d cancel the fare out so I could go back to the bar or karaoke or whatever immorality I was participating in. Anyway the urinal that I’d always use had this little flip-open window right in front of it, and when I looked out of it it would pull me away from my reality in this sort of different way than I was expecting, because it reminded me that I was actually high up, which is a thing you tend to ignore or forget in Japan. Often times, quite without you realizing it, you are either three stories underground or four or five above it, having gone up a few steps to a station, an escalator or two, something to a platform, a walkway connected to another building, who knows where the fuck you are. I’d stand there with myself in my hand lettin’ er rip and peer out that window and it looked like inside a television or something, a few old slimy black pipes connected to walls that were parts of buildings I had no spatial awareness of, a big old crevasse below it, little bits of old rainwater dripping down onto something or other, and the vague voices of people that probably didn’t realize that their words carried up to this place, wherever this place was, whatever this place did. For a minute there each time I didn’t stop to say “hey look at the view out there, where I am not,” but “hey, look at what that view has done to me, here, where I am, look at how it has made me notice where I am,” and I always found it more memorable than that nice pastoral, that picture on the wall out my window.

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I never travel without my Stetson

The struggle straggles on dear reader–yet bound to the perils and quandaries of adapting to New Life I grit my teeth and like palm trees that stood their ground during Andrew hope that no blades of grass or other tiny projectiles come flyin’ my way. I hold my arms in real tight and try to make myself a small target: awake at six, breakfast made for the two of us somewhere in there, dressed and out the door by seven to drop her off and hit my own job by eight, pick her up at five-thirty, supper ready by six-thirty or seven, maybe we squeeze in a movie before I pass out like a cantankerous old fuckhat at nine and a half tops.

The natives remain a source of intrigue, though I struggle to define them as easily as I did in the strange land of Japan, where everything already has a convenient social perception and stereotype automatically baked into it, stitched on like a mattress tag that you may flirt with the idea of removing but dare not actually ever attempt to rip off because hey you never know when you’re going to need it. I do not, in practice, see anyone wearing cowboy hats or driving massive Olds or Buicks with steer horns on the fronts of them, I have never met anyone named J.R. but lots of people say y’all it is true, in such constructs as “did y’all get y’all’s reports this morning” &c.

Today there was a terrible driver in the car behind me, he was picking at his face while examining it in the flip-down mirror. He didn’t use turn-signals and crossed the solid line to get into the turn lane that I was also going to get into, the impatient little ass crinkle. I was half-singing to a song playing through my radio at the time, I had changed it away from the normal talk program I tend to listen to during my “morning commute,” I really am a fucking American now aren’t I. I fancy the guy behind me is a serious asshole in real life, because it makes me feel better, and speed up to get in front of him. I watch his face in my rear view as I do it and his mouth takes the shape of a heavily-serifed capital letter I, and I just shake my head, this poor cretin, this dumb mother fucker, I wonder what he ate for supper last night, and if he is upset about DirecTV removing the Weather Channel, and if he is the kind of guy who buys bottled tap water.

We watched a movie called “Dallas Buyers Club” last night, the title made me think it was about a salesman but then Jared Leto was winning these awards for cross-dressing or some shit and then the movie starts with a frail Matthew Mc-connahee bangin’ some ho in a rodeo pen and then they are all like, getting drugs and I had no idea what kinda movie it was before I started. As I watched it all I could think was that they sure made a decent movie and I bet it hardly cost a bit of money to make it, it only cost five million dollars, which is basically nothing but a fraction of that would pretty much set me for life. I borrowed Dallas Buyers Club from a friend who I know who lives somewhere who is borrowing it from his friend who does the voting for the Oscars, they send out copies of movies on DVDs so the voters can see them without having to go to the goddamned movie theater and pay twenty dollars like all the other poor fucks to get pissed off by little stupid babies and idiots who don’t know how to just watch a movie. As it turns out I like to see movies in my house too so I borrowed it from that person. I promise I will cast a vote, not that it will count for anything, kind of like a real election!!!

CURIOUS AMERICA, PRETTY WEIRD SHIT
– There are new “Doritos” corn chips on the market here, they are called “DYNAMITA” and they called them that I guess because they look like little sticks of dynamite? they are “rolled” chips which means they look kind of like little tubes, like if you were to roll up a money into a tube to snort coke out of only it is a dorito, boy don’t make that mistake next time you’re snortin’ cocaine, if you grab that dorito hoo lawdy! it will be bad for you i think
– It turns out that dead cat from a couple days ago is actually still there, I just didn’t see it that one morning so that’s kind of a bummer but I always wonder like how many dogs that these wasps from up on Swiss avenue walk by it are all like “hm i’d like-a get me a bite of that dead ol’ cat there” and probably it is not a small number of them who think in that way
– Our heater/cooler or “HVAC” as they like to call it here stopped working on Friday, and the landlord was like oh hey I’ll give your number to the heater people, and they called me on Monday to schedule an appointment to come fix it, and I was like okay so when can you come, and they were like oh we only do service from eight to four-thirty Monday through Friday, and I was like well what if I have a job, which I do, and they were like um, and I asked if they could come on a weekend, and they were like no, and I wonder, how did they ever actually become a business going to people’s houses to repair things that people without jobs could not actually afford to own or operate, and I thought maybe I will start a pizza company that only delivers pizzas between eight and four-thirty, and when people call in to order a pizza I will say “ooh, sorry bro we only deliver pizzas during the time you are at work” so basically we are never fixing our HVAC sorry landlord
– I wonder which random chain-restaurant I will be forced to go to for lunch today because there are no normal restaurants
I’M SO TIRED OF YOU AMERICA

If I keep doing this and get used to it again I promise I’ll get better at it and I will be able to bitch about everything but still be entertaining to myself and maybe you. For now though it is just bitch bitch bitch. Maybe I will get some of those animal horns to put on the front of my car.

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I’m really not what you’d call into your basic kink

I’ve been makin’ mashed cauliflower lately for supper, for some reason. I boil up a chopped head of fresh cauliflower in a cup or two of water till it’s all soft and then mush it with some cream cheese and butter and parmesan and whatnot and it is super taste because it stays really hot, hotter than mashed potatoes probably even. So last night we are sitting at the table eating it up and this lady comes to the door, Jessy goes to get it and I jaw at my roommate for a little while and drink my beer waitin’ for her to come back, but she doesn’t for a while so I decide to go check it out. The lady at the door is some kinda crazy cat lady, she asks if we have a black cat which we do, but Kiki is right there next to us, and she says well she’s asking cause there is a dead black cat out in the road off in front of our house. In my mind I am all like “yo why is this my problem lady” and then she gets to the meat of the issue: she lives next door, and she knows the cat is there in the road, and she can see the cat, and she doesn’t want to see the cat anymore, and she wants to know if I will “remove” the cat.

There has been for a few months this black cat that has on occasion freaked us out by looking exactly identical to Kiki who walks around our house and out in front of it, my roommate once saw him and thought oh shit, Kiki got out, but then he came inside and there was Kiki right there, no big whoop. He would only come around in the afternoon or as we were gettin’ home and we haven’t seen him in a while so I guess this is that one, doppleKiki, bizarro-Kiki for all yinz Superman guys.

I grew up on a farm and all, I have been surrounded by dead cats, buried in piles of cats!! But what does she mean remove I ask her, do I like, do I pick it up and put it in a Trader Joe’s bag and give it a nice organic trip into the plastic dumpster or. She says well yes you could throw it away but then like, what if it belongs to someone, and they go looking for the cat, and they can’t find it and look for it forever thinking it’s alive but it is dead, so maybe we should leave it so they can stumble upon its fresh corpse and get the grieving out of the way. Whatever lady, she decides I should move it from “sort of the side of the road” to “the actual side of the road” up against the curb. I put double layered plastic Target bags on my hands and I am still wearing my flannel “room wear” which is what they call it in Japanese I have no idea what kind of shit this is called in American.

I walk out there and wait for there to be no cars seein’ me dinking around with a dead animal in the middle of the road and all, and then I wonder ya know, I guess this thing is kinda fresh, but like did it get hit by a car or something cause I ain’t really want all this guts and all on me. I slide my hands under it, only vaguely considering how I will one day scoop up my own black cat’s finished body, and can only notice how soft and warm it still is, so soft that I wonder if maybe like its goop is all splattered out under it, but as i kinda slide him over to the curb he ain’t leaving a trail or anything so I just kinda go with it. I hold him at length like I used to hold Jessy’s little brother all “oh he he yes this is a nice thing to hold this oh yes” and set him down gently against the edge then go back in and wash my hands and finish my beer and look at my own goofball cat who has no idea I was just shuffling around a corpse of something just like him!! BUT

But then today me and Jessy leave the house for work and just as we are about to go out the door I am tellin’ her hey, I wonder if that dead cat is still there by the side of the road, and we step out a few steps onto the lawn to peek around our car and look, and there sure ain’t no dead cat there. And I say hey, the cat is gone, and I look over to my left to see her reaction, and right there on the goddamned lawn is a black cat, having somehow emerged from somewhere, lookin’ right up at us, and we say hey cat, and the cat walks over into the bushes. WHAT THE FUCK so in conclusion, the cat reanimated and is still alive.

curious america
– I went to this Thai restaurant for lunch the other day, I had to wait to be seated, wait for the menu, wait for the dude to come take my order, wait for the order, wait for the dude to come back to ask me “if I am done” after my food was all gone, wait for the check to be brought, wait for him to pick it up, and wait for him to bring me back my goddamned change. This is far inferior to Japan, where I sit down of my own volition, peruse the menu which is ALREADY ON THE TABLE, push the button, order with a person who comes to me, then brings me my food and a receipt that I take up to the register whenever I am ready to go. Get your shit together america not everyone has an entire fucking hour for lunch to waste like me
– I snagged one of the “natural organic rolled oats” “healthy” granola bars from the break room, it has like 23 grams of sugar in it oh such health so natural

- Almost everyone in the office is gone because of the flu or something, they came in today and sprayed my entire workstation down with actual Lysol spray, it made everything sticky and now my head hurts mission accomplished
– Have you heard of these “Butter Finger” candy bars, I haven’t had one in like a million years but I bought some the other day, I don’t think I have ever opened a Butterfinger that wasn’t cracked in half or thirds and they crumble all over hell good lawd
that’ll do

There was a crazy traffic jam today, I was over a half-hour late for work, at least it wasn’t traffic jelly AHAHAHAH uhhhghhhh

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A faded word on an old bumper sticker

If I really add them all up, I suppose I am now on my 14th paying actual job, which means that I have gone through the processes of getting to know my coworkers, finding break rooms, learning about the surrounding eateries, crunching out the commute routes, and mentally calculating the maximum possible amount of weeks/months/years I could theoretically do This Job Without Going Crazy more times than I could count on both hands and a three fingered foot.

Before Christmas I worked in “the greeting cards sector” and now I am technically working for a publishing company. What I do is basically email people, we use the AP style so I have to say email instead of e-mail now which I mean, come on, but whereas Japan saw me be a foreigner for money, I am now a professional organizer, I get information from one party, pick two parties to do a job for a fourth party, and then get it put all together to the satisfaction of all parties before passing it to the fifth party to print in the magazine to be read by an amount of other parties. I keep them all straight, I use GMail, my job is mails. I neither write nor photograph nor sell nor print, I just make sure everyone else does that stuff, and then I take all that stuff, and I give it to someone else. Also i look at google maps

Jessy and I drove 3,700 miles during a couple weeks over Christmas to go see everyone, man that was a lot of driving.

CURIOUS AMERICA THINGS OF THE NOW
– I used to think Japan had lots of flavors of stuff, let me tell you that America has the flavors, and so well-stocked, there are like eight flavors of Wheat Thins now, I was okay when it was “wheat” as the flavor
– Taco Bell constantly releases new products but most of them are just a burrito with the tortilla in a different shape
– It takes me half as long to go 25 miles to my new job as it did to go 5 from my apartment to work in Kobe
– The beer in this country sure is top notch
– Virtually every Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or Korean restaurant here serves things from every other country, they are all the same, they all have some name that includes “palace” or “paradise” or “royal” or “sushi” it does not matter nothing matters
– Everything is cheap
END OF THINGS

My grandma in her house has a folder which contains every single entry from this very online repository, the sum totality of Nom A Day, all that has ever been written. Apparently my aunt, while I was living in Japan, took to printing off a month or two of them on paper at a time and bringing them to my grandmother for her to read since she does not have a computer or cellular telephone or any of that “computer stuff” but she does have cordless phones though. She showed it to me when we went back to visit her. It is a fat manilla folder, tied together with string like some sort of historical archive, which I guess it now is, if Historical Archive is a title allowed to be assigned to a collection of musings about how Christel Takigawa is my future wife and talking about dog poop. She noted that I had mentioned her in the Nom A Day only a single time, I have now made it two.

She calls them my “print outs” and seemed concerned that because she had them I might somehow no longer have them, I explained to her that I am in possession of the “originals” though really I am not sure what an original even is since all this shit is just on the WordPress thing here. Last year I downloaded the whole thing outta curiosity to see how much writing it actually was when I used to put out a couple thousand words a week on it and was surprised to discover the total was 135,000 words, roughly three times longer than Fahrenheit 451 or a quarter of the size of War and Peace. All of that about Tomomi Itano wearing assless chaps while driving a golf cart in the winter.

It is either depressing or uplifting that I ran outta Nom steam as I got closer to America, maybe I just need to look harder at this weird old country to find everything that’s as fucked up about it as the entirety of my daily life in the land of the rising sun.

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A positive, get-it-done city

For all they say about Texas bein’ the land of the yee-haw and cowboy bewts and root-tootin’ assless chaps spurs kickin’ up a dust trail gitalong, little dogie, all I have really seen that was way outside the realm of the ordinary was a bar fight culminating with a man pulling a literal switchblade and brandishing it, like in the movies, then apologizing to the whole bar profusely after the man left (and mere moments before we got the fuck outta there).

But then, what kind of operative word is “ordinary,” anyway? To me, fresh off four years in perhaps the least ordinary place in the world which had become Most Ordinary to me, virtually anything different is of note. I derive no small amount of enjoyment from being able to purchase bottles and draughts of my most favorite beers from a variety of excellent drinking establishments and supermarkets, only one of which I was ever afraid I might get stabbed with a switchblade in. There are tacos, tacos everywhere, generally of the soft variety and in great quantity over burritos, which I for some reason imagined would be more popular. No, in the few days since moving here I have eaten pan-fried fish tacos, a tikka masala chicken taco, a few shredded pork tacos, a mushroom and cream cheese taco with lettuce as the tortilla, fried crawfish tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos. I am even eating a frozen burrito as we speak, which seems less than exciting after all them good real tacos I been eatin’. I have yet to eat a single piece of “barbecue.”

My current state of affairs affords me a peculiar and unusual viewpoint. For the first time since when, eighth grade? I have no school work to do, and no job lined up, and am on the verge of being unemployed and thirty (yet well clear of a basement belonging to any of my parents). Having now become accustomed to the unsettled drifter lifestyle over the last three months, I face no real problems living out of just a small duffle bag, and wonder “what do I need all these other boxes of items for, and where will I put them? Surely not on the furniture I also do not yet have–I am writing this sitting cross-legged on the floor with my laptop resting on a black trunk. With enough money in the virtual safe to last me a few months of paying my rent and student loans (along with the occasional purchase) I’ve been afforded a unique opportunity to have time to write and square away all the things that I need to get squared away. But surrounded by my fresh young upstart roommates who are all working impossible hours as new teachers in the Dallas school district I can’t help but feel like a bit of a lowlife. I’ve given myself a full month at least, to pound out as much as I can on the novel, to get the steps put in motion to get a new driver’s license, to take care of picking up the Huge Load Of Shit I Mailed from Japan at the warehouse in a couple weeks, to absolutely walk three buildings down to the Garden Cafe this Thursday for what is apparently some seriously sublime chicken fried steak.

Can I still do this hmm i wonder CURIOUS AMERICA THINGS OF THE NOW
– The local big supermarket FIESTA and its extensive selection of Jesus-themed glass ensconced votive candles (also plenty of chorizo)
– There being absolutely no bottled green, or any other kind, of tea that does not include fifty grams of sugar, citric acid, or a battery of artificial sweeteners
– Having no phone “Where did you leave it?” “No, I don’t have one” “Oh, did it break” “No, like I don’t have a phone number”, which makes me feel strangely less on edge but also isolated from The Cool Kids
– Dollar Tree, a store where everything is a dollar, and mostly I mean there are three-liter bottles of soda and bread products branded with Larry The Cable Guy’s fucking face
– A surprising assortment of bars that have really excellent beer and at which I can order different beers instead of just doing what I did over the last four years which was say “beer please”
BETTER CHILL OUT NOW

It is probable that you’d have already noticed this, seeing as how you are now viewing this very article, but the dickrats over at Go Daddy dot shit decided to not automatically renew my nomaday dot com address and would like to charge me eighty dollars to get it back. I am not cool with that, so in the spirit of America I have changed the URL to nmdy.us. You may notice the .us! That is because I am now in the US. Simply remove all the vowels from “nomaday” and add a .us! The domain cost me 99 cents for a year, which also seemed quite American.

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Melancholy minus its charms

In about three months I’ll leave Japan for Dallas, a city I’ve never visited in a state I’ve never been to, much like every single place I’ve ever moved. It’s amazing how fleeting everything became so quickly, and already I find myself opening up cabinets to take stock of just what exactly I have forgotten I’ve owned in the last four years. In one bag, above our cupboards full of stashed foodstuffs that it is becoming increasingly clear we will never have enough time to eat, I discovered not only my last cell phone (the one I purchased when I got here) but also the cell phone before that, the one I used during my last couple years in Pittsburgh. Just looking at the fucking thing was like peering into a funeral parlor, peeking inside a coffin–did people really used to dress like this? The screen is the size of a Mamba. Could I turn it on if I wanted? If I did, could I get anything off it, this relic back before universal connectors and Wi-Fi? I spun it around in my hand a couple times just to remember how it felt.

I found my router, the one I had my dad send over for our Internet, which didn’t work when we switched providers. And my Wii cable, which doesn’t work in Japan but doesn’t matter cause I have a Wii U now. And a bunch of stuff for my 360, which broke months after I arrived. A charger for something I do not recognize. Four ethernet cables even though we use wireless now. A guitar strap for the guitar I replaced with a newer, better guitar that I probably can’t take home with me. When will this all be over?

I have considered cleaning up the apartment to be really nice and warm for when Jessy gets back from her week in Korea so that she might be suddenly aware that I am so great, but every time I think about it all I come up with is why should I clean when we are moving out in a little over two weeks? And then comes the oh shit oh shit I have to pack up the things I’m sending home, why do I have eight Famicoms, what the hell is all this shit, why do I have all this stuff, what the fuck was I thinking, maybe I should just stay here in Japan, no it’s too late, no it’s not yes it is you don’t really want to stay yeah you’re right no, no, yes no yes

Somewhere along the line here I committed the cardinal sin of transient men and decided consciously not only to Acquire Possesssions but mainly to acquire ones that serve as little more than souveniers, and now it will take boxes and boxes to send them back to America, a bed I have made and now must sleep in. I tell myself I’ll probably rather be with them than without them, during my imagined, impossible future in which I am happy and own a house and have a nice place to surround myself with everything I love, so I gather now while I can. And here we are.

I’m on the last day of “golden week,” that long holiday during which people who want to hate their lives attempt to travel Japan among everyone else who hates their lives, which is 88% of the population of the country. This year in an attempt to be part of the twelve percent basically I just stayed home and watched movies (Rocky III and IV, Titanic with director’s commentary, bizarre Italian crime movie Rulers of the City, and Bad Boys II followed by Bad Boys I, which was far inferior). I also took the opportunity to get rip-roarin’ drunk and fall asleep on my friend’s floor, someone put a pillow under my head I do not remember it.

I suppose this is what I wanted, really, that spark of unsettledness, of discomfort, of feeling, of change, despite the spurs. Everything difficult, from upset a rightsiding, another couple years of being the person I like being instead of the complacent bored fuck that sits around watching Rocky IV again.

curious japanese things of the lately
– Sure is gettin’ harder to fill this up each time
– Got an ice cream sandwich, that was kind of uncommon
– Switched the brand of yakisoba noodles I use in sobameshi to one that is a little thinner, it was a big improvement, what the fuck am i talking about
– Next weekend is our school culture festival, which means I have to work on Saturday and Sunday and it is gonna suck
– But I get that Monday off
– But Monday is my easy day goddammit why can’t I miss a Friday or something
end of things of there

I made curry the other day and it’s in the fridge. I’m getting hungry, which will at least give me something to do. What excitement!!!!!

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How happy he who crowns in shades like these

Like the workings of regular, timed machines, Japan yesterday found itself overrun with 850,000 (according to the news) fresh young graduates clad in brand new suits all pushing themselves confused off to their first day of work at the company that will slowly murder them over the next forty-five years. Unlike businesses in America, most Japanese entities coincide their hiring period with the exact end of the school year, and the first day of work is right when the schools start back up again. That means that every year on April 1st they all march off like little superheroes in costume. I like seeing at what point you can no longer identify the seas of new hires, the more stalwart will continue to wear suits until well into the summer, while the people with some free-thinking generally switch to cool-biz attire (ha ha, as mandated) once May or June rolls around.

Last night on the news broadcasts they showed footage from the welcome ceremonies at Mitsubishi and Panasonic, two companies that happen to have huge headquarters and factories in Kobe and Osaka. A typical component of these ceremonies is all the new hires singing the company song–yes, the companies have songs–together, pledging their undying fealty to the emperor company president. Also, you can never leave the company or you will be ostracized and blacklisted from other big companies forever, ha ha april fools, we are just joking, but no that is also a joke do not come back

TREE STUFF

The cherry blossoms are in pretty close to what I’d call full bloom, I read somewhere that it happened almost two weeks earlier than has ever been noticed since official cherry blossom blossom records started being kept in like the mid 1950s. I think it is because my French/Japanese waifu Christel Takigawa is in all kinds of new commercials this season, and she is SO HOT THAT THE TREES ARE BLOWIN OPEN nah she is really just kind of cute not really hot, not as hot as duckface Tomomi Itano who still drives traffic to my website via bizarre google search results even though she has left AKB48 now, Tomomi Itano Tomomi Itano. P.S. sorry Jessica

but you knew it was coming

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I AM A TOUR GUY

I led my mother around Japan for like the last two weeks as she visited us here, I have never been such a tourist in my entire life. We went to Chinatown and Arashiyama and Kyoto and sumo in Nanba and Nara and Awaji Island and all this stuff it was crazy. I cooked all the food that I am best at and we went to our favorite restaurants and watched Japanese television and Ghibli movies, did karaoke and went to a game center, ran through MEGA DON QUIXOTE and supermarkets, got our book signed at temples and shrines, drank under them cherry trees and oh so much more. It was great but also a little wack somehow, I felt like a tourist again since when there are three foreigners people will speak to you in English, a weird feel. Some old man who smelled like rotting coffee told me he loved New York, I was like that is nice dude I have never been there.

CURIOUS JAPANESE THINGS OF THE WEEK OR MONTH, WHATEVER
– I bought a copy of Battle Arena Tohshinden for PlayStation because of its psychotic English text on the front, which says “Waw!? And now, what’s going on!? Toh Shin Den is about to present to you a super hot virtual battle, like one that you’ve never seen before at a rate of 90,000 polygons per second!”
– Rode a bus in Kyoto in which I was more squished than I have ever been squished, ever
– Have become totally hooked on kitsune udon, udon with sweet fried tofu on top, just in time to only have four more months to eat it all the time before I leave Japan forever
– Mad Men starts next week, oh god oh yes oh man this is not Japanese but
CURIOUS ENDING OF JAPANESE WHATEVER

I was tasked with changing places in the staff room yesterday, the first time I believe the foreigner has ever not sat in their original seat, the shittiest one in the staff room: right in front of the door where all the students bug you and you get hit with the drafts from the hall and you have people always walking by you and behind you and all this crap. They moved me back a row so my back is now to a wall, which means essentially I don’t have to worry about anyone jumpin’ up behind me or kids asking me weird questions I can’t understand. I am also next to the refrigerator, so all my refrigeration needs are covered.

Lots of new teachers in fresh brand new suits came here yesterday. I wonder how long the suits will last.

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Turn not pale, beloved snail

There’s this game store in town that I sometimes go to that has an inventory that has essentially not changed in two years. It is a little sorta room, and every time I go in there without fail the same man is sitting behind the counter. He sits in this chair against the wall so that you can barely see his head peeking up over it. I figured oh, maybe he has a little TV or somethin’ just behind the counter and he is playing a game because this is a game store. But I took a peek and there is literally nothing there, he just stares at the empty back of the showcase all the time. There is no feasible way that he makes enough money from that store to even live, I have no concept of it. All the games are overpriced, you would have to be crazy to buy almost anything from there, every time I go the exact same games are there nobody must ever buy anything except sometimes I buy something for a buck or two if I find it. Sometimes the radio is on, but never tuned to a real station, it is like half horrific static and half almost-melodies. I bought a copy of Wrecking Crew cause it was easier than paying the Yahoo Auction transfer fee and shipping, the guy sat back down after he handed me the bag, I guess the back side of that showcase is really something special.

The kids are graduated again, which means that there is officially fuck-all for me to do for the next month. For this situation I am excellently equipped, having only the best role models surrounding me, real experts, real savants on how to appear busy while not actually doing anything. For starters, I can type lots of words into the computer. This has the bonus side effect of making absolutely nobody even bother me at all because of all the crazy letters that are coming out and I am just typing so fast! Actually behind me some guy is literally coughing up pieces of his lungs, I am afraid he is going to die before long. Oh he just walked by me and belched sorta under his breath, like a secret. “Don’t tell anyone what I am about to share with you. This is my bond, my promise. Listen close child and keep it under your pillow at night do you understand me.” Hey while I am remarking on the crazy antics of my coworkers how about my office lady who just sneezed and then treated it like a shocking horrible revelation. She screamed in terror and shouted and raved, oh I sneezed, oh my goodness, oh. She does that for every minor occurrence in this office, like if she drops a pencil case or something it is the next great Japanese tragedy, a pencil case was dropped at school today, the news reporters will announce, and there were two Japanese pencils among the dropped, and some other foreign pencils.

Sometimes when the students come in here to get toilet paper they have to like squat down to get the toilet paper right in front of me, cause the box of toilet paper is under a table next to my desk, and I just am like man, look at you grabbin’ up that toilet paper, well, I know what you’re gonna do with that.

The heaters are on here in the office today for some reason even though it is kinda nice outside. It is still not hot enough to be considered “atsu” so of course the teachers still run in from the hallways screaming “samu, samu, aaah samu” even though it is fuckin’ gorgeous out there. But the Japanese language does not have any words for “the weather is inoffensive” because it was designed by masochists and it is easier to just say things that don’t mean anything. Ha ha I am just kidding. muzukashii

CURIOUS JAPANESE DERPS OF THE HERP
– my lunch today is a “wrap” and on the package it says “tortilla (ham cheese)” and it is basically a “wrap” but instead of it being like wrap stuff it is pretty much just a Japanese ham and cheese sandwich in a tortilla, which means it is 98% mayonnaise with a dusting of shredded shrimp farts
– my pal made a list of the best band names in Japan and it features such shocking names as Husking Bee, Yuji cut the man T, and Coaltar of the Deepers, you can read it here
– none of them will compare to my unmentioned personal favorite Japanese band name, Snail Ramp
WELL IT IS TIME TO STOP MAYBE

In the dying hours of last Saturday I half-drunkenly flipped through Japanese television after a spirited round of Jeopardy with a friend of ours, and stumbled onto a TV program I have seen before, entitled “BAKASOUL” featuring some guy in thick blackface impersonating James Brown. Baka means fool basically and boy were they ever. It featured “comedians” which means that they come out and say some catch phrase and then wait for people to laugh, which they do for some reason maybe because they don’t want to be left out. Last year I saw a band on there called “TOTALFAT” and it was pretty great. The last act that I saw before we turned it off was those comedians who are famous for wearing only Speedos, jesus it was stupid. In conclusion I love Japanese television.

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Now they grow up sharing McDonald’s and Disneyland

I’ve taken to wearing a beard and mustache, which I prefer to spell moustache, for no explicit reason. Having never actually witnessed what happens when I do not shave my face, I decided to give it the old college try for the first time last November, a month that some people have taken to dubbing “movember,” perhaps because mustache starts with an m and they want a sanctioned excuse to not shave and look like filthy mountain men. It was a short-lived experiment, I didn’t like the way it felt. When I left for Thailand at the end of December I decided not to bring my electric razor cause it was bulky. I haven’t shaved anything off since then except for a little trimming. So here I am, kinda mustachey, kinda beardy. It took a while before people at my schools started remarking on it, but things are in full swing now. It came to my attention the other day, via one of my good co-workers, that “many” of the students have been asking “why” I am now wearing hair on my face. I told him, as I struggled to come up with an answer, that I was basically doing it to see what it would be like. They thought it was hilarious, a reaction I often encounter when I say something that is not funny at all.

I told them that Jessy liked it, that it was just kind of interesting to see, personally, how it would come in, if my mustache and beard would ever connect (they won’t, it seems), what I would look like. I asked them if they had ever grown a mustache or beard and they said no. One of them is probably sixty, the other is two weeks younger than me. I considered asking why they had never tried it, just to put them in my shoes. I did not ask them. In a way this minor act of growing hair on my face almost makes me feel more foreign, since nobody at the school has a mustache or beard–I feel like I’m slowly re-Americanizing myself in preparation for the move back home.

Speakin’ of America I accidentally got into a conversation about old times today and found some pictures that I had of my room when I lived in Pittsburgh, and it sorta depressed me because I looked at them and the first thing I felt was man, I miss living in that place. Like you always think about a time when you are most happy or something, and I really felt “I was more happy then than I am now” and it was kind of a sad thought. I want to be happy! I wonder what it is I need to change or do. Maybe it is just the impermanence of living here that is driving me crazy, not that anywhere else I’ve ever lived has been any more permanent. It kind of seems like the times I get the most depressed are when I’m sitting here at night school doing jack shit except thinking about things that I used to do, which is probably confirmation of my brand new and groundbreaking theory that idle hands lead to minds that wish their hands weren’t idle but don’t have the ambition to make them move. Yes that’s it

CURIOUS JAPANESE THINGS OF THE NOM
– Today’s gummy snack from the FamilyMart, featuring three different flavors of gummies: melon soda, cola, and lemon sour, and named “Cola up! &Friends”
– My distinctly non-romantic idea that because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day me and Jessy should go on a date “to the curry restaurant in the basement in Sannomiya that we both really like” but hey she was like OH MY GOD YEAH and I was like take that, someone
– The loudspeaker van that I walked past on the way to school that was yelling in the top of its lungs about Japan needs to REVIVAL!!!!! but he sounded so angry about it
– Ate McDonald’s MEGA MUFFIN the other day for breakfast, it was pretty mega if i am to be perfectly honest with you. It is part of their annual “Big America” series of strangely-themed “American” sandwiches like Texas Burger and Idaho Burger that are both nothing like anything available in America and at the same time a good reflection of what a global burger company comes up with when they want to portray “America” to the average Japanese person
mcdsTHE END OF FOOD IN JAPAN

I went to karaoke last weekend again with some pals, a kind of renaissance of karaoke after having not really gone in over a year or so. Evidently, somewhere along the line, the Big Echo place replaced all their ancient fuckin’ TVs and the horrible stock videos that play behind the lyrics with brand new widescreen TVs and newly-shot HD videos. It’s kind of a bizarre change, updating the old fashions for the new. The old videos were really amazing in a way, most of them obviously shot at-or-around the turn of the century, full-frame, people in ridiculous clothes and dated storefronts, hilarious foreign actors recruited by Japanese companies to shoot these things. These new ones are sort of a strange anachronism, brand-new high-definition video matched up to goofy lyrics for Take Me Home Country Roads like some teenagers hangin’ out in an apartment eating pizza or whatever. I feel like there’s a short story in there somewhere, that whole scene must just be the weirdest goddamned thing.

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