The bloggings of an Upstate NY-born Tokyoite. Now with 20% more verbosity!

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

the vestibule of success

Life is good. Almost finished with the post-Golden Week (Japanese Spring Break) push and onto Obon (Japanese August holiday), which is my favorite time of the year, as much as I hate the icky-sticky-greasy-sweatwhileyou'restandingstill-summer in Tokyo. Why? Two weeks of paid vacation baby! You can't beat that. The battle plan is an absurd 20-hour ferry ride from Ibaraki prefecture (neighbor to Tokyo) to Hokkaido, followed by a week of kicking it.

The northern-most island in Japan, once disputed Russian territory, including a city designed by an American architect and more country roads than you can shake a stick at, Hokkaido is a far, far cry from the cramped lifestyles of Tokyo. I'm eagerly awaiting going there with a few of my dearest European brethren, whom I shall refer to in abbreviated fashion: L, a sassy girl from somewhere in England that is not London, is a close friend and my bad influence a.k.a. drinking companion. We recently drew omake (4-panel comics) about two of our favorite school staff members at work, seeing as how we agreed they both deserve their own cartoon or something. Next is S, originally my Japanese classmate, a computer programmer and an altogether good-hearted individual with a passion for traveling the globe. Finally, a Welsh fellow I don't know well except that he seems cool and is in good with the others. Two of those three also happen to be licensed drivers!! If I miss anything from the States besides good pizza, it is most certainly roadtrips.... although roadtrips around islands aren't exactly an option where I'm from (and don't even open yer yaps, Long Island does NOT count by any stretch of the imagination) Should prove to be an interesting journey.

Before that, 3 more weeks of the work-crunch; although in reality a lot of my part-time work (namely kindergarten-stuff) from my second job is almost finished until September. I'm currently sifting through Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged when I have time for it. I recently caught up with Gantz, my favorite horror/action/pulp comic full of vampires and alien invasions, and am now reading JoJo, a cult classic of Japanese comics full of quirky and unique characters and superpowers named after bands. And lots of blood!

Musical taste has taken an unforeseen dive into screamo, post-hardcore and hip hop lately: At the Drive-In, Wu Tang, Eric's Trip, Modest Mouse, Maudlin of the Well, Small Brown Bike, End of a Year and Ceremony (the one hardcore band on the list), just to name a few. I feel like 11 years of metal is finally starting to burn me a bit and I need to look to other things. Why can't more bands just have good, unique vocalists like all of the above? Such is the way with anything I suppose: If there's a lot of it, most of it sucks.

I think I rocked the N2 JLPT, (new-format level 2 Japanese Language Proficiency Test) a few weeks back, but I won't know until September. The whole experience was worlds apart from the autumnal/winter isolation and late-night crams that went into Decembers finger-of-god, skin-of-teeth passing grade, and was in the spirit of summertime an exciting romp through the land of new things, namely being able to listen and read a lot better than I could 6 months back. Dating someone native in Japanese might have helped the former, and no question my addiction to text and imagery definitely aided the latter. But really it teaches me the greatest lesson of all: all things take time. I want to be better at Japanese today, and I can be, but only by seemingly invisible increments. So inch by inch I crawl towards some unknown vestibule of success. What is success? And why on earth is it contained within a vestibule? Such are the questions that no man can answer.

Other topics of relevance to my life which remain yet unmentioned: discovering a good American crime-drama a.k.a. The Wire (8 year late-pass please); coming to find hipster-infested, gyaru (blonde-hair barbie-doll type girls)-ridden Shibuya is my favorite hangout spot in Tokyo; a slight grimace at (but overall of) enjoyment of the single life; a dive back into some junkier foods and not having enough time to do proper workouts as of late; thinking what a shame it is the days can't be like the nights in the summer in the city; and wondering why other countries don't have genres upon sub-genres of comic books for every conceivable notion from robotic monsters to making a band to raising children to old people exploring the moon to whatever else the imagination can whip up.

That's all.


"Everything flows; nothing remains."
- Hermaclitus