Royal Heartbreak

So shit just got royally fucked over here…  and as can so often be the case, it is due to a woman.  Not sure that I will be leaving Japan on the 11th anymore.  How can ending a long-time tenuous relationship with The Contortionist fuck up my plans to leave Japan in two weeks?  Well it’s complicated, but basically, I have had to reevaluate my professional goals now that my obligations to her are nullified.  It is suddenly worth my while to stay in Japan long enough to qualify for a new visa and stay here to continue my business instead of flying to Europe to work on projects with her next year.  As such, I’ll just miss my flight on the 11th, and will stay until at least the 24th of January, but more likely, by the time all the immigration red tape settles, the beginning of March.

While all this is not decided, yet (I just discovered the information that led to my deciding to end the relationship about 5 minutes ago) it means I probably will not be visiting Boston where, among other things, I was planning to see my best friend from MIT.  I feel like the two of us could have really used a good night of commiseration and foolishness imbibing intoxicating spirits all the while mocking ourselves for being clichés.

But the cliché may be the fucking point.

Fuck, I feel more free than I have in a long time, but it is a scary freedom.  I feel old.

I will decide on the 9th if I miss my plane or not, but right now, I feel like being able to return to Japan and pick this shit up where I left off is preferable to starting over in Europe, empty handed and alone in the spring. But I am probably just falling victim to my own suppressed emotions.  Fuck having been such a nerd all through grade school… it upped my autism quotient and makes it harder to be human now.

Fuck. The Contortionist and I are really over.  I had suspected for a month or so that things were going to go this way.  I don’t hate her or anything, I just feel nothing which, in a way, is worse.  I guess that seems cold, but I mean, if she writes me or talks to me, I know I can be friendly.

Anyways.  all that happened tonight.  I think I go get drunk with a bunch of girls now…  heading to a temple and shrine with The Political Scientist to see in the New Year, and then to a club with her and some French friends to dance until dawn.

A whole bunch of news and shit about business, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like a good time to talk about it.

Signs of Life

A few job possibilities are materializing that should allow me to get a visa and on top of that, a whole bunch of new people seem to be interested in the Taiwan show – enough to have booked meetings over the next week with someone new every other day.  Of course, all this happens Just as I am supposed to leave in two weeks!

Still, the plan is to leave January 11th unless something concrete materializes, and by something concrete I mean: I can get a visa and will have income of 2000US a month.

So we will see.

The internet is worse than ever, right now, and because I am interviewing like mad, I only get to check email in Shinjuku every other day or so.  We are supposed to have a new connection starting January, so things might improve starting then.

Lithuanian Christmas and Grad School

For Christmas Eve, my roommates are hosting a traditional Lithuanian feast in our terrible little cell of an apartment for some of my closest Japanese friends.  It’s an intricate affair with twelve courses of traditional dishes that are prepared the same every year.  Twelve because of the twelve pagan months in the old tradition, and because of the twelve apostles in the newer Christian tradition.  It’s pretty solemn, with no music, just calm conversation, no alcohol (though I think that the new Lithuanian custom is to bend that little rule a bit).  You need eggs to signify beginnings, apples because of Adam and Eve, fish because of Jesus… some other things, but I can’t remember them all just now.

On Christmas day, I hope to do something fun outside to enjoy the crisp air.

Science

Lately I’ve been reflecting on continuing with performing arts versus returning to science.  I am at a crossroads and if I decide to continue along the path I am on, I will hopefully end up as a producer and director of shows, arranging international tours and residencies and things like that.  This is a long-time dream in many ways, but on the other hand, I have been missing science for the last year or so, and I worry that if I do not do something to maintain some sort of science knowledge, I will never be “let back into the club,” so to speak.  I am feeling like if I do not steer myself back towards science soon, I will miss the boat completely, and a return to science has always been an option for me – timing is always such a tricky issue, though.

It is frustrating because I love both worlds, but I cannot pursue both at the level that I really want to which means that trying both will actually hurt my chances at either.

So I guess 2006 will be a real test for me.  I will be directing two shows and hopefully managing their tours from Taiwan to Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada with The Rocker, and hopefully producing and performing in a new one-man one-act show to shop around for my own tours in Europe and the USA.  But at the same time, I’m starting to apply to jobs in science, specifically biological, astronomical, and geological/planetary science-related research positions.  The plan is to apply for an astronomical data specialist at the Gemini Observatory at Mauna Kea.  It involves almost exclusively acting as a local consultant for visiting astronomers in dealing with the Gemini database and aiding with processing and handling of image files in IRAF… reading the job description brought me right back to my undergraduate years.  I’m also applying for a job that involves nothing but observing Near Earth Asteroids night after night after night…  once again, thesis work memories come flooding back.

As I go along, I’m going to need to evaluate what I am getting in terms of experience, happiness, and money from my two possible paths, and eventually I need to make a decision.

Politics

Politics is coming into the picture because I have realized that the two things I like about this life I have right now is the travel, the flexibility (well, both kinds, I guess), and the person-to-person contact…  I like trying to make people sign up to do things they never thought of doing before to make the world a better place…  or, if nothing else, help me eat better in the short-short-short term.

The education imperative

I DO know that I need to be well on my way to a higher education degree by the time I am 35… this is a very important life goal for me, as I feel that I owe it to my family and to myself to put some closure to my academic life.  So as I see it, the next 3-5 years, no matter what I am doing, must be with an eye on that goal.  A degree in biology, physics, planetary science, business, political science…  I really don’t know.  I am interested in all these fields equally.  I still have a lot of thinking and living and deciding to do.

 

Big Dreams And Self-Doubts

My life right now is made up of just three things:

Meetings. 

I have so many meetings – straight up business style, e.g.  suits and money – that is it.  Fucking crazy.

Training 

Training is the most humdrum side of the life, actually, me, alone, in a crappy municipal gym.  Sure, there is some nice scenery from time to time; the foreign hostesses like to come in on their breaks and use the step machines…  but I’m really just there as short a time as possible.  Get shit done and then get on with the other 20 hours of my day.

That said, my handstand number is really getting nice.  It helps to train outside of school and outside of a show.  Just to train and do the technique because it is what you do.

Still, I wish there was more space in japan though, to move and to run around and to dance like crazy movement style…  it is nice to take an hour a day to just do flexibility, though…  it is very calm.

Writing

This writing is just a vestige of the acting days… I still feel like someday i am going to spit something out onto a piece of paper that might make someone smile or change their mind about something, and so I keep at it.  Think of it as the other half of the training.

Planning and uncertainty

Next year is taking form so much more slowly than last year… it takes a year to get anything confirmed, and I am just getting in on the ground floor of this brand-new building, so there is all this uncertainty and confusion combined with the hopeful feeling that I might be able to do something new with this place…

I guess if Taiwan is the plan, I’ll be here until mid-January, and then I’ll need to find something until March.  I was hoping to be in the States soon, after all… I am really feeling like I need a roadtrip.  it is hard to take one of those when you are on an island that is smaller than California.  And you don’t have a car.  Maybe I’ll take some time to put this one-man show together that I have been working on the last couple of months…  It could be really small, like 40 minutes, I think, but I could do it in my hometown with some other artists in the show and split the money…  just to get out of this business mode that I have been in the last six weeks.

Superspy Mythos

A friend of mine told me that my life out here sounds like an anime – asked if I’ve been fighting off attackers on motorcycles…I wish I could say that I was, but the only part of my life that comes close to these fantasy visions is some watered-down version of the hard-drinking, “love-em and leave-em” cliche of the superspy mythos.

Which was cool for a long time, I guess, but it is true that as thirty catches up to you, you start to wonder what the future is going to hold.

But on the other hand, with a hip-flask of tequila in your breast pocket and your index finger hooked around a Cuban at a jazz club “somewhere in Asia” as a mysterious woman with an accent looks happier and happier to see you as the night goes on, there is something to be said for the superspy mythos…

That’s not to say this is what I do on a day to day basis…  moments like that are just perks.

So that’s me, living a life that is stressful with money that comes in spurts… I wish I was more responsible with it, I wish I was less lonely sometimes, but I am glad that there are enough distractions around when I am…

Maybe I’ll even try to get in a fight with one of these scooter-kids out here tonight.

Disillusionment

Frustration

Had a frustrating meeting with a really well-connected producer last night about the project.  I won’t go into detail, except that it took the wind out of my sails when he basically said if we want to take a show to Japan, it needs to be a zero-risk investment for the partner here.  That is to say, if we can guarantee the investment, he knows of companies who would secure theaters, advertising, etc, but that no one will take the risk on an unknown company’s show.  All he could suggest was that if we do a real small thing in a 300-500 seat theatre we might be able to convince a publicizing company and the theater to share the risk with us.

Reality check

But really, even that’s too big for me to do on my own.  The biggest show I ever produced from beginning to end was three people, and everything fit into our suitcases.  Budget: 5000 euro, but made profit of about 25%.  We still succeeded in finding investors, publicity, a venue, transportation, a technical team, etc, etc, etc.

The biggest tour I ever produced was four people in a station wagon through four countries in Europe.  We still succeeded in getting festivals, venues, places to stay, food, make decisions on the spot, etc, etc.  Budget, maybe 3000 euro, and we made a little profit, but we were not counting (it was our first project like that).

So while I know ALMOST diddly-shit, I do know a little.  But, as I talk to these potential partners about bringing circus to Japan, I wonder if I am getting in over my head.  Each meeting is with bigger and bigger people in the industry, so I am worried that I’ll be overmatched soon.  I am realizing that you really need a strong portfolio to get your own shows made, and while The Rocker’s previous work and reputation helps lot with this, no one’s going to move until they see a final project and can see what this noise I’ve been making is all about.

No way forward

Things were going so well here.  I was going 200kph, and all of a sudden, the road runs out from under me.  I feel like everything I wanted just got pulled away from me; like I have wasted a good two months on a lot of nothing.  Just a big bunch of no’s that came through all at once that represent about six weeks of wasted full-time work for free.  Time moves very fast when you have no structure.  Very frustrating.

The curse of interest

I started out so excited by everyone’s interest, but here I am, five weeks later, and the only three jobs that I haven’t heard a “no” from just have me spinning on strings with regular updates but no definite answer, just that, “they will have an answer for me probably next week.”  For example, I just got an email from Global Live Entertainment that things are going to take even longer because they are working out logistical issues, blah, blah, blah.  Basically, for two months, I have been working like crazy for them for free, and have no way to say, “HEY! give me a work visa and pay me or I am getting the fuck out of here!”  This is Asia after all.  I cannot be forceful until I have become indispensable.  If, for example, I could get them really interested in working with me on this cool possibility, I’d be able to say that I am getting the fuck out of here unless they find a way to keep me here, because I am living on my own funds on a visa that runs out tomorrow, and they haven’t done anything for me so far.  At first, I felt like I was getting too many job offers but now I feel like I’d be lucky if even one turns out to be real before I have to leave in a month!  This is taking its toll.

DSCN2129

Drowning

Sure, my contacts keep inviting me in for more and more meetings, but things just have a way of piling up here, one project on another on another, without ever getting a definite answer…  I tell myself this means that in about three months I will have a huge windfall, and that is when I will be able to relax and see all the people I need to see.  I keep thinking I am making progress, but I’m actually just running and running without getting anywhere.  I could just not start anything new here and just let all the current offers fall, one after another, until I can finally leave with a clean conscience.  Basically, I’d just go around Tokyo for this last month to tie up loose ends.

Losing steam and taking stock

I am losing steam.  I have no real energy left anymore.  I was willing to give myself one month of income-free efforts to develop a project, but this is getting ridiculous.  No one will give me a definite answer, so I am completely in the dark. I have not given up on my hopes of staying in Tokyo for another year, but the chances seem to be getting slimmer and slimmer.  Things are getting down to the wire, which is where I have done my best in the past, but we will see, no?  At worst, by concentrating on the business side of this project, I’m learning how to put it all together for my own work in the future, and I’m discovering that I enjoy all this business wrangling, and am actually getting the hang of it pretty quickly – but that alone isn’t feeding me over here.  I just need to find the right contacts looking for an Anglo-, Japano-, and Franco-phone to work on something arts related.  Ah well.  I guess that this is life.  This was one of those gambles.  Back to thinking small.  Too bad.

The grass is always greener on other side of the East China Sea

This is why I’m looking for work in Taiwan and things seem to be really moving together on The Rocker’s project there.  He wants me to help him create two shows in late spring and to help sell them in Japan… a big one for the National Theater and a small one for an experimental space which are both supposed to premiere as part of an arts festival that The Rocker will be also directing.  Actually, this festival angle just got me thinking about meeting with people who know about running festivals in Japan… that may be our best bet to bringing the show here, actually.  Anyways, if Taiwan does end up being a real possibility, I wouldn’t be tied to Japan, but could still be close enough to maintain contact.  But is Taiwan the only option?  I’m not sure where to go if I leave Japan, actually.  I’ve been spending the last three months so certain that I would be staying in here for another year, but alas, I guess everything can change in a second if the weather changes.  Still, the chance of projects happening is what keeps me working every day of every week for no pay…  hoping that if something works, I will make all this investment back.  This is something that The Rocker really seems to understand.

The cigar effect

Putting it all in perspective

Obviously, this is not exactly what I had really been hoping for over here in Asia.  Clearly, people with enough money to invest in live performance in Japan see “new circus” as Cirque du Soleil, and that’s that!  Their pockets may be deep, but everyone is so conservative-minded. I wish I’d taken a few more business classes at MIT.  I don’t want to be a trained monkey my whole life, because trained monkeys don’t get to wear the nice suits.  So right now I’m just trying to sell shows that don’t exist yet to people who have too much money to spend it on nothing, and that means a lot of talking with Japanese and French and Taiwanese guys while making half of it all up as I go along.  Full day of meetings again tomorrow!  I feel empty but have to pull myself together.  Who knows what can happen?  I have big plans for the next few years if all this works…  imagine the credibility that comes from producing a BIG show on three continents…  I want to make these show-making dreams a success!  After all, this could just work out someday…

The Nuclear Option

I have so much news coming in from all around, but none telling me if I have any jobs… so I am just sitting here stressing waiting on about four responses…And now it is the weekend, so I just need to find a way to forget about it!  I’m obsessing…Maybe I am worrying to much about it, but this plane that is supposed to carry me out of here in 2 1/2 weeks has me worried.  If something is going to happen, it has to happen soon!

In desperation I’ve opened my job search to include non-arts jobs and have been really surprised!  I have been going to gaijinpot.com and jobs on Japan.com and applying to every job, from business to eikaiwa (English conversation teachers), and I get so few replies!  When they do reply, they ask when my visa expires, and when I say end of January, they never call back.  It seems that everyone wants me to have a visa already, but I can’t get one without a job, it seems.

Really, any job will be fine for now, as long as I can stay in the country a little longer!