Flamenco Date

The flamenco show in Shinjuku with The Flamenca from the gym was a very famous flamenco troupe that she used to perform with, and they were really quite good.  Not quite as showy as Expo, but not as much technique, but I liked it anyways.  It was in a very expensive Spanish restaurant, and I drank for free.  They were going to have a nice Spanish meal for me as well, but because of a misunderstanding, we ended up meeting very late, and didn’t have time to comer.

After the show, The Flamenca was acting very Japanese, saying, “ikimashoo?” and I said, “Are you crazy?  We stay and drink and talk with your friends!” so I stayed out till the last train talking with all these older flamenco dancers.  It was all in a Madrid Spanish dialect, so I understood only about 25%, but with my heart, I understood just about everything.  These Spanish girls were very flirty which I didn’t mind.  They wanted to talk about what I thought of their show, how it relates to what I do in circus… supposedly they are all coming to the gym soon to watch my number.

I guess it was a ‘date,’ of sorts, and I’m liking going on a lot of dates with interesting people.

Seeing The Flamenca at the gym now is fun; I guess she is the new friend that will take me to the end of this stay in Japan.  It is clear that we have a fun flirtation and mutual interests, but that we have a ‘working relationship.’  I will go see the flamenco show again with her before I leave.  The Importer is organizing a big meal this Sunday for all the gaijin gym members so we will be having gazpacho and Sri Lankan food and wine and Japanese foods at a big house in Tsukiji.

I have two more days of work; just five classes total.  then, who knows what is going to happen.

Tonight I’m going to the Yasukuni Shrine matsuri with The Journalist who’s about to leave to study at Johns Hopkins which I guess has a really well-known school for international studies/foreign relations.


I just needed a yes or no answer.  I wrote The Contortionist to find out her availability beyond the festival in Taiwan, and found out two things: no, she’s not available, and she’s seeing someone.

She says she still has feelings for me, that she has terrible regrets about things that happened, but that she has not seen me in such a long time and has no idea when she will see me again.  Despite her romantic feelings for me, she says that one of the things she learned from me is the importance of the friendship above all – the person itself and not the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, that the rest may come later. It is dangerous really to let yourself feel so strongly about a person you loved in person once they are gone, you know.  The hard times, bad times, even at the end, and those are important to remember as well.  I can’t deny that I was excited about the possibility of seeing how things might have been between us when she finished with Cirque Theatrical, but whatever, things are the way they are and of course I am OK with that.

For Taiwan, she would be available from the 15th, could catch a plane on the 16th, and be able to work starting the 17th.  Funnily enough, Taiwan Productions has assumed that she and I would be sharing an apartment if she comes because they don’t know we broke up, but despite the news about her new boyfriend, she seemed to think that she would have no problem staying in my apartment.

My official recommendation to Taiwan Productions is to go with her aerial act but have a dynamic option as a backup in case her availability changes.  Another option is that as soon as I get into Taiwan, I could start working on my straps technique again to have a good 4-minute straps number in three months.  I’d just need that equipment as soon as possible and to practice two hours a day – easy, no problem, and I’d be happy to do it.

Fuck, man.  Time to let it go.  Going out with four Spanish flamenco dancers tonight…  oh, the pain of show business!

Lithuanian Woodstock

Four more days of teaching, and two of those days have three or less classes.

I miss The Political Scientist a lot.  She tells me that she wishes she were still here, but everything changed after she left.  I have to live on 10,000 yen a week, so there is no money for going out, and I’ve been in a pretty bad mood from all the bad news from Taiwan.  So of course, I am missing her, and she are missing me, but I assured her: she is not missing much.  It is like she left the party just before everyone got tired of dancing and started sitting around.

Maybe I need to figure out a way that I can start working on shit in Lithuania.  She says she’s been talking with producers in Lithuania about new circus because Lithuania is expected to get a big economic boom when it switches over to the Euro.  She is trying to sell us as one way of getting attention.  Nothing real yet, and I’d get this residency in Taiwan first to credibly establish myself as an international artist, but a nice possibility!

I think about her and how I feel about her more than I will ever let her know.  I am glad that we are what we are right now.  Undefined.  I am comfortable with amorphousness.  She told me that she saw her Lithuanian ex-boyfriend again.  I am sure they have both changed so much in the last year and a half I can’t imagine how that must have been.  Evidently, she is training at a gym in Lithuania that has everything – including a sauna complex and jacuzzi – all that the men have at our gym at Big Box and that women don’t.  When I think of her, I imagine her in that Vilnius Cafe where she said people were cool.  I will be dressed so poor the next time she sees me; I think she will find it a little sexy.

A year ago, I was helping out at the Lithuanian Pavilion.  I still forget that she has left sometimes.  I look around the gym to see if she has arrived or not and then feel stupid.  When she is not here, it is like she is here but not here, you know?  But maybe that is a good skill to develop – where any one day I don’t see her is like any other day I don’t see her, even if it has been months since the last time.  Taking days one at a time may prevent loneliness.  Some might argue that it amounts to forgetting people, but for me it is like having everyone here with me in this town; just too busy to meet up today.

If The Political Scientist and I are ever together for a long enough time I think we need to be more open to how our relationship may evolve.  Our ‘no dating’ rules over the last few months were maybe a bit stupid – yes, all we have is a great time behind us, but in a way, now I feel closer to her than I would if we were dating.  If we were boyfriend and girlfriend, I would only concentrate on everything that is keeping us apart.

I feel like now, I am strong enough to deal with everything that we might go through in the next couple of months.  I have no right to negative emotions about her, I cannot judge her life, and that is nice.  Conversely, she is free to evolve and change the way she should so that when I next see her, she will not be the Political Scientist I remember, but someone better and different and stronger.

I wish I could write her more, but there is absolutely no internet at the house and I only have enough money to log in at an internet cafe for 30 minutes a day to do all my business, try and write a blog entry, and write her.  Once we have internet at the home, I can write her all the messages I want.

She also met with the director of the Lithuanian pavilion who is getting married next month.  Her current job doesn’t satisfy her, so she’s trying to get into “Vilnius – the cultural capital of Europe 2009”.  While they were talking, a colleague came up to talk about their need for talent which may end up being a job opportunity for The Political Scientist.  She says it may not be the most interesting job, but the money wouldn’t be bad and once she get into the ministry, it is easier to get something better later.

In the meantime, she’s applying to graduate programs right now to get her Masters in either EU or Asian studies.  I’m going to talk to The Politician about what the best options are for her.  From what I know of US schools, any foreign affairs/international communications study she does there is probably going to be very US-centered, so with her Asia and EU focus she’ll have a gap in her knowledge, which can either help or hurt.

She wrote me today to tell me about a huge summer music festival that come call “the Woodstock of Lithuania:”

“if it’s true that only unhappy people cannot dance, then the 10,000 thousand lithuanians gathered by this lake in the middle of the country were some of the happiest ones i’ve ever met.. there’s a nice cafe in vilnius oldtown where nice people meet: imagine something like that but 1000 times bigger and in the open air.

‘Cool’ Lithuanians wait all year for “Blues Nights” and this year I got a chance to understand why they feel this way.  Some people call it Lithuanian Woodstock, as it takes place in the open air and though the music isn’t really rock, the ‘hippie era’ atmosphere is somewhere there..though I am not sure how much drugs are actually involved; beer would be more popular, as I’ve hardly seen a person who would be walking without carrying a bottle of Svyturys.  It starts early in the morning on friday when people try to come and take the best places around the lake and in the forest for building their tents. I was amazed how efficient lithuanians are when it comes to using the space for tents – you could find them built right next to the lake and all the way to inthe forest, even in the places where you’d think only elves and fairies would live.  I’ve heard this year was the most crowded, as the festival gets more and more popular every year.

After everyone gets settled, they start wandering around and getting to know the neighbours/other. maybe alcohol is to be blamed, or maybe all the people are just so relaxed and nice to one another, but there in this forest, I was proud to be surrounded by these people and it was a relief after seeing all the grumpy faces on the streets after coming back to Lithuania.

You shouldn’t expect everyone you talk to that night to become your best friends for life – with a few exceptions maybe – but surely you will feel more than welcome to almost every tent you would decide to visit and every girl/guy you give a smile to would smile back at you. I have made friends with a Polish bassist who plays with an American band; he was in a hurry before the concert and asked people in line at a bar if anyone could let him buy a pack of Marlboros.  I said I could, then we started talking, and after the concert had a beer.

By the time music starts playing – which is around 9pm – most of the people are pretty much drunk or at least not completely sober. I am not a big fan of blues and not a very experienced critic either, but it wasn’t bad at all. I totally loved Joe Turner, an old blues man from Memphis; there was also this Latvian project called Latvian blues band, who’s guitar player didn’t look like an art person at all – if there is such a thing as “looks of an arts person.”  But when he started singing, he sounded exactly like these old fat black people who have sang/played blues for their whole lives. There were also a few Lithuanian bands performing, but I wasn’t paying that much of attention to the music as socializing was more important for me at that time.  Oh, the electricity on stage has dissapeared for two times maybe and for maybe 10 minutes each time; once again giving everyone some time to think on how we all depend on it so much; of all the instruments only the drummer tried to play something but even the drums were not loud enough; all the other instruments just sat there waiting for the electricity to appear again.

The whole thing for the first night ended around 3am and by that time I was more than ready for bed. We had a bottle of fine Chile wine between 3 or 4 people, lots of beers before that, and then some sake after the wine, but I didn’t have any hangover in the morning. Just the opposite – was very genki and even went swimming in this lake which was quite deep at least for the people who cannot swim.

Saturday was a big day for those who like fish soup and who are into beating records. the festival is also famous for it’s event when people try to boil this huge pot of fish soup and this year it was more than 1,200 l or smth, though I was gone by the time everyone could start eating.

As we left in the afternoon, we have missed the big party on saturday night – supposedly best music and also the semi-final game on a big screen.  But when leaving I was sure I will come back there next year if only I will be in Lithuania; and I will invite you together if only you’ll be some place closer next July.”

Before she left I had agreed to go out to dinner with one of her Japanese friends here in Tokyo, someone I never really fit with, but it was somehow easier talking to him when it was just the two of us.  Maybe she was right about him being jealous of my friendship with her.  He mentioned that he went to the airport looking for her when she let but didn’t manage to catch up to her.  He’s done this in the past.  In any case, our little “date” was cut short by the guy next to us puking.

Casting Calls

The former Cirque du Soleil Chinese straps duo has dropped out of our show.  They have only a military passport and no papers that allow us to process their visas for Taiwan. Because of the artist database I am building, I already have at least three options for replacements and one of those options is The Contortionist. As it turns out she will be available after August when her contract with Cirque Theatrical terminates, I suggested her as a possible replacement.  I haven’t told her anything about the Taiwan project, but I can definitely say that she is a real asset to any project she is involved with, so I mentioned it to The Rocker.  We might be able to use her skills in the creation.  Contortion, Contact Juggling, Aerial Hoop, Singing, and Tango Dance.  I’m not interested in trying to get back with her or anything; this is strictly professional.  I could do straps at the same time that she does her hoop number like I did in Shawinigan.  That always worked pretty well, the audience likes the two simultaneous aerial acts. I would need about a month to get my number back up to speed, though.

A Continually Developing Film Starring Us

Things did not go as smoothly with The Contortionist being in Hawaii as I had hoped, but at least it gave us a chance to say goodbye face-to-face instead of over email.  I miss her, but it is hard for me to think about how I can write to her feeing this strange push and pull; understanding that I am choosing not to be with her despite this being a choice that I make as much for her as for me.

We are in a continually developing film starring us.

She wrote me today telling me that she finds it difficult to move on.  I know she can no more forget me as I can forget her, but I told her that she should not let our past paralyze her.  She wanted to come visit in a few weeks, but I said that it makes more sense to wait for the Taiwan project.  My reasoning is that my schedule is even more hectic here now that it was when our relationship trouble started, and I might be leaving for Taiwan even sooner than expected as I am now co-director.  Even if she is free in the next couple of weeks, there is no guarantee that I will be, and I will not necessarily be in the calmest of moods the next 6 weeks or so.  I may have looked like a bastard, but I would have looked like more of one if I invited her here and could not spend time with her.

The Contortionist tells me that she is feeling stressed about the next step in her life after her tour with Cirque Theatrical finishes.  She must feel a bit like how I’ve been feeling since last August when the end of expo was just around the corner.  It’s a crazy time.

She’s planning to start studying to finish her academic education that was interrupted when she came to Montreal for circus school and asked me how she should think about choosing subjects; if she should do as few as possible or as many as possible, what subjects to choose, etc.

My advice to her was to try to do as much as possible for as long as she can.  She might be surprised at how well she learns under pressure or that she naturally does better at some subjects than others, and just go with that.  Having a variety of subjects to work on at one time is also important because often, if she’s sick of one subject, like math, studying French might be a great way to relax from it.  If she’s only studying French, she might not get that sense of “ah, finally, something I enjoy…”

It’s just like how flexibility training can be such a nice change from strength training that it almost feels like you aren’t really working, even though you are getting the benefit of working hard at two things.

But everyone is different.  I know that if I just do one thing I get bored; I need to always have a choice and have to feel like there is more to do than I can ever accomplish.  For her, it might be easier to do just one or two subjects at a time.  I would say at least two, though, or she may get bored quickly!

It’s important for her to keep drop deadlines in mind so that she won’t get stuck with a class you are struggling in.  Maybe some of the classes she thinks will be hard will not be so tough after all and she will surprise herself.

She tells me that she hopes I will find someone extraordinary to be “my girl” but that she is having a hard time moving forward; that she is sorry about what happened.  I think we should maybe talk about us again after her tour is finished.  Maybe she’s right – maybe we could put this ugliness behind us and start over.

End of a Trip Abroad Back Home

I am sitting here, needing to leave in five hours to get to the airport and return to Japan.  Madness.  Looking forward to it, actually, but I’m sure I will be missing this vacation soon enough!

I finally did get a chance to do that hike, and it was perhaps the highlight of the trip.  Walking out, watching the humpback whales leap out of the water right next to the horizon, watching dolphins jump over each other in perfect synchronicity, watching the waves crash over the volcanic rocks below me.  Stopping here and there to explore tidepools or caves.  Having to steel myself to cross a bridge consisting of a single timber precariously balanced over a chasm.  I saw wild albatrosses feeding their young; chicks the size of their parents.  I walked on the only native and protected sand dune environment on the island out to the skinny westernmost point of the island where you can stand on a small jetty of volcanic rock and have the waves breaking on both sides of you.

Sitting there at the edge of the world with the oldest of the major Hawaiian islands crouching on the horizon under a blanket of clouds, I am surprised to find that I have been sitting not 5 meters away from a member of the endangered monk seal population.  Formerly numbering about 50, now growing in population to around 500 or 1000.  I am illegally close to him.  If I am caught, I will face a fine and prison time.  But there is no one around for miles, so I relax and converse with him in silence.  He has been attacked by a shark.  A tiger shark by the size and the shape of the bites.  He is missing a pectoral flipper, but seems to have taken it in stride.

This is the most remarkable beach… the sand is not sand at all, but bone-white coral shards, smoothed into round, palm-sized pebbles that are rough enough to keep from sliding over each other when I walk on them.  They hurt my feet; remind me of Taiwanese foot massages.  I also see a giant sea slug.  The older brother of the two I tried to rescue earlier in the trip.

After an hour of sitting there, seeing this place as hard as I can, I head back, scanning the darker lava for other monk seals.  I am not even surprised to find another one there, just on the other side of the rock that my shark-bitten friend was lounging on.  The third monk seal of the trip, the fourth of my life.

I body surf on Makaha Beach on the way home, knowing full well that there is a great white shark out there today, preying on the dolphins and seals that I have been communing with all afternoon.  He won’t bother me here, though, I think.  And he didn’t.

A man made blow-hole, glass on the ground, the way these mountains look after all this rain…  It is impossible to describe, and infinitely frustrating that way.  The whole trip has been that way a little.  Other stuff happened too, Hanauma Bay, dinner with my uncle, a trip to an American club, my last ever goodbye to The Contortionist, bookworm-infested paperbacks.  All impossible to explain in writing, I know, but these little journalings have been my humble attempts to capture some of this month-long journey abroad to my home.

Sakura Dreaming

I hope there are a few sakuras left when I get back to Japan.

The weather is drastically improved, and I have been taking advantage by going to the beach as much as possible.  There is a beach called ‘Sandy Beach’ right on the Eastern side of the island that had a 2 meter shore break yesterday… looked great for bodysurfing.  I went out and it was crazy!  The waves were great, and I was geting through it OK, but then saw that I had drifted about 100 meters down shore in about 1 minute and was getting sucked out to sea!  Strong, strong, strong currents.  It was the first time I had ever felt them this strongly.

The signs for sewage seem to be dissipating, which is good, it gives more options for my days…

The island is more beautiful than I have ever seen it because of all the rain and now the sun that is coming out to make everything greener than I have ever seen it.

I went out to Haleiwa beach which is the first beach I ever went to as a kid, and was amazed at how small it seems to me now.  the hike and the museum are still on my list of things to do because I am just not getting around to these things!

I hope that I will by the end of my time here.

Just about 50 hours until Tokyo!